Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Last Few Days

Saturday 5th November 2016

We were entering the Bay of Biscay and it was forcast to be a fairly choppy crossing.  Mr G thought it was choppy on our first crossing but this was something else, I believe it was something like a 12ft swell.  Mr G isn't a good sailor and had already made good use of the travel pills I packed.  He lay on the bed most of the day watching TV.  I'm not as sensitive as Mr G but even I felt a bit queasy.  Poor Abraham was most disappointed he couldn't get in our room to do his housekeeping.  He urged Mr G to go sit in the centre of the ship, for example The Queens room where it is more stable.  

Tonight was our last formal night.  I did not feel up to it but we had arranged with table companions to exchange contact details that evening.  So I got dressed and went down for dinner alone.  I was getting a bit worried when I was seated at the table all by myself, but then Chris and Charles turned up. There was no sign of Bev and Paul.    It was a struggle to speak and keep up conversation without bursting into coughing.  My sinus' were extremely sore and prone to bleeding, did I mention I felt awful.   It was Lobster tonight ( I love seafood) but I could not finish it.    It was also Baked Alaska night and the Parade of Chefs which was well worth seeing. 

I made it through dinner, but didn't go to the Queen's Room so I've no idea what the Starlight Ball was like.  I had no dance partner and wasn't up to it anyway.  I went straight back to bed.

Due to the circumstances I didn't get a photo of my last formal outfit that night,  however I have one taken from a Christmas Dinner Dance.

I don't remember much of our last day on board except that somehow we managed to get packed.  I do remember being desperate to get off the ship and get home.  I felt I was never going to get better whilst on board.

On the last morning we left our hand luggage in our Stateroom whilst we went up to the Lido for our last breakfast on board.  On returning to the Stateroom to collect our luggage, we were surprised the room had already been cleaned and readied for the next occupants.  We felt totally undervalued and no longer of importance to Cunard.  Due to the speed of the turnaround I questioned how the room could have been de-sanitised so quickly and what bugs we were leaving behind for the next occupants.

Once back at home our daughter, a doctor, was deeply concerned at the state she found us in.  She urged us to go  to our GP so he could rule our Legionaire's disease.   Thankfully he did, we had caught a very nasty bacterial infection and were given a dose of antibiotics.  It took a further three weeks before we began to feel like ourselves again.

It was whilst we were feeling so ill that we received a questionnaire from Cunard re our voyage.  One of the questions was, Would we go on another cruise?  I was adamant I wouldn't.    Approximately one month later I wondered if I'd been too hasty with that reply.  After all, I had enjoyed the dressing up, making new friends and visiting the ports.   I came to the conclusion, I needed another cruise to see what it was like without having any nasty bugs!


Friday 4th November 2016

I still wasn't feeling good this morning but we had an excursion booked and I wasn't going to miss it. We were visiting the World War II tunnels.  Ours was a small group so we had a mini bus.  Our bus driver was brilliant and drove all around the Island before beginning the steep climb up to the tunnels.  It was so steep, with a sheer drop on one side, that one lady could not bear to look.  Just before we got to the tunnels we came to a stopping place were we could see the famous Gibralter Apes.

By this time I was feeling really ropy, I was shivering, couldn't keep warm even though it was a fairly warm day, and was feeling very shaky.

In the tunnels I had to put on my waterproof jacket to keep warm and held on tight to Mr G.

From Jocks Balcony (built by the Scots of course), we had a great view especially of the airport and runway that ended right at the edge of  the sea.

That evening I didn't feel like dressing for dinner, even an informal one,(Mr G was pleased as he's not a fan of getting dressed up at anytime) so we snook up to the Lido.  To my delight it turned out to be Indian Night.  It was like good home cooking, real comfort food.  Eating dinner in the Lido was a pleasant experience not as formal as the Britannia Restaurant but not quite as bad a cheap cafeteria.  The tables had been set out quite attractively with placemats, silverware, white napkins and candles. 

Cartegena, Spain

Thursday 3rd November 2016

It promised to be a fairly unique day, a port day in an unexpected port and also a formal evening.

I decided to try out room service for breakfast today.  Everything arrived on time.  I'd ordered, cereal, toast and fresh fruit. The pot of tea, though covered with a thickish napkin was lukewarm and un-drinkable.

Our first glimpse of Cartegena viewed from our balcony

We completed our gift shopping (which we had planned to do in Sardinia), in Cartegena.  Mr G now had my cold and I could not talk without breaking into a massive coughing fit.  The coughing was keeping us both awake at night, and I just wasn't feeling up to much today.

I went for my afternoon nap but nothing would keep Mr G from his run around the port.

When I awoke it was time to get ready for formal evening, tonight it was the Masquerade Ball.  I was surprised that Mr G had not yet returned.  I went ahead and got ready sure he would be back in time.  About half an hour before sail away he still hadn't returned.  I was getting really worried now, was he still on shore? had he fallen and had an accident?  What if we sailed without him!  I could stand it no longer and phoned the pursers desk to see if Mr G had returned to the ship.  They confirmed he had.  As soon as I put the phone down Mr G appeared in our stateroom.  He explained he had returned ages ago and had gone straight to the gym, it hadn't occurred to him to let me know!

More people participated in tonight's theme than they had for Elizabethan night, though they were still few in number.

Five Ports in Five Days

Queen Elizabeth was to visit five ports, Barcelona, Villefranche, Civitavecchia (Rome),Naples and Cagliari (Sardinia), in the next five days.

Saturday 29th October 2016 - Barcelona

The City of Barcelona is a short walk from the port, even I could manage it.  We were heading for Las Ramblas, when we came across an antique/vintage market which I couldn't resist having a look round.

On either side of the path leading to Las Ramblas were various living statues which were very impressive.

We bought gifts for friends and family, including a few Christmas stocking fillers.  I in particular was interested to note the number of Asian owned businesses (I'm Anglo-Indian), I had not expected to find that in Barcelona.

The Evening was informal and some kind passenger offered to take a photo of both of us

We went to the show tonight as it was Phillip Browne, who had starred in several West End shows including The Lion King.  It promised to be good.  In fact it was absolutely brilliant, Phillip Browne was excellent, and received a standing ovation.

Sunday 30th  October 2016 - Villefranche

Villefrance was a maiden call for Queen Elizabeth. Whilst planning the cruise we had decided we would stay aboard ship for Villefrance and Rome as five ports in five days was too much for me.

As it was a port day there was no art class so I  took my art materials, found a steamer chair on Deck 3 and did some sketching. 

It wasn't going very well, I've forgotten so many of the techniques.  I gave up and visited the sunbeds around the pool.

Meanwhile Mr G, who has tons of energy, discovered from another passenger that you could get a tender to the shore, take a few photos and get the next tender back, so off he went.

Queen Elizabeth viewed from the shore.

After listening to the adventures of our table companions I began to regret not going ashore, but next time......

In the afternoon we visited the Queens Room to sample Afternoon tea.

Unfortunately the Harpist was not playing today so we just had to revisit later in the voyage,  we were quite restrained and shared a scone!

Monday 31st October 2016 - Civitevecchia (Rome)

As mentioned above I did not go ashore.  Mr G however went for one of his runs around the port and took some photos at the same time.

Another informal evening

I bought the shawl and hand fan in Barcelona.

Tuesday 1st November 2016 - Naples

We had booked the morning excursion to Pompeii which meant a much earlier start to the day.  Breakfast in the Lido, by this time I'd given up on cooked breakfasts and settled for cereal, toast and marmalade, followed by fresh pineapple.  We went straight from breakfast down to the Queens room to receive our group number and sticker.   The coach journey took us on a lovely scenic route including a glimpse of the Isle of Capri.   I was a little concerned going on a guided tour as I do not walk far or very fast and hoped I would be able to keep up.    We were told by our guide it takes 3 days to see the whole of Pompeii, we had two hours.   It was a lovely sunny hot day ( we would say a very good summer's day in GB), but our tour guide wore here padded winter coat and boots saying it was chilly.  I found the site very crowded and it was a struggle at times to get past other tourist groups.   Being a slow walker I was often at the back of our group.  When viewing a particular section ie. a beautiful tiled floor in a small room, by the time I got into the room, our guide started to move on to the next point of interest and so I only caught glimpses, when I would have liked to have had a more leisurely look.

I was very tired after the tour so made sure I rested once back onboard.

Wednesday 2nd November 2016 - Cagliari, Sardinia

Although still tired from the day before I was really looking forward to visiting this port.  The Yesterday Captain had mentioned in his daily update that Queen Victoria would also be in port at the same time and they had planned to do a little 'dance' when leaving the port at the end of the day.
So I went of to breakfast anticipating a lovely day.  We were just finishing breakfast, watching the coastline of Sardinia, as we made our way into port, when the Captain came over on the speakers.  This was very unusual, it was the wrong time of day.  He expressed his great regret but the port authorities had given our berth to another vessel.  Whilst QE had been offered an alternative, the Captain deemed it too shallow and unsafe, we would not be stopping at Cagliari and an alternative port would be found.

I was so so disappointed.  I had wanted to visit Sardinia since I was a teenager.  Then I thought of Charles and Chris.  They had arranged to meet up with relatives they hadn't seen before and had a suitcase full of gifts from family in the US to give to them.  Their disappointment must be so much greater.

Our very brief view of Sardinia

It was announced later in the day our new port was to be Cartagena, Spain.

I made use of the extra rest day and remained in our stateroom most of the time.  I woke from my afternoon nap to find a stowaway on our balcony

Informal Evening tonight:

The Forgotten Day

Friday 28th October 2016

This was a sea day but I have totally forgotten what we did.  I seem to have lost the Daily Programme which may have helped jog my memory. By reading over the other Daily Programmes I have deducted that this must be the day we went to the movies and watched ' Woman in the Van'.   I'd just finished a cup of coffee but hadn't had my usual ice cream lunch.  Then I had the idea of having an ice cream to watch the film with, just like the cinema at home.   So I filled my tub and carried it from deck 9 to deck 2.  I got some strange looks but I enjoyed it! 

 This was a formal evening, the night of the Elizabethan Ball.

I'd bought an outfit off E-bay.  It was far too long so I adjusted it and used the cut off material to make a matching headdress.  Mr G wore his Tux.

Once dressed we made our way to the lift foyer and played our game of guess which lift would arrive first.

I used the lifts whenever possible to conserve energy levels, however at busy times it was much quicker to use the stairs.

Tonight wasn't too bad and there was space in the lifts.  The doors of our lift opened and as we entered people were deep in conversation.  As we entered all conversation stopped.  I(I did not notice this but Mr G told me afterwards),  the lift started moving,  then one of the gentlemen said 'very impressive'.

Upon entering the dining room I was the only one dressed in the theme for the evening.  I was prepared for this as I'd read it was so on various forums.  I thought not everyone here dances, it will be different at the ball.   We entered the ballroom shortly before the Ball began.  I was relieve to see another person in costume, and then realised it was the Dance Hostess Janice.   Later in the evening another couple did appear and both were in costume, tights and all!  It was lovely to see someone else taking part in the fun. 

After all the discussion on forums re Dress Code on Cunard ships, and all the fuss made by some posters I was most disappointed that the 'Themed' evenings were not adhered to.   It did detract from the atmosphere.  I was asked quite a few times if I was wearing my 'national costume',  each time I replied it was Elizabethan for The Elizabethan Ball! 

Having danced for a while, we sat down for a rest and watched. As we were doing so, one of the Dance Hosts approached me and said ' Madame, you look Wonderful!'  That made my night!!

First Port - Cadiz

Thursday 27th October 2016

Our first port day, began much the same as the previous days except slightly earlier.  I had got into the habit of watching the morning show whilst getting ready for the day.   Breakfast was again in the Lido, we felt it was much more informal and slightly quicker than in the Britannia.  Today I decided to try the English bacon again but this time I hid it in a wholemeal bun and enjoyed a bacon butty.

Getting off the ship was a fairly quick, straight forward affair.  We had only two excursions booked this voyage and they were for Pompey and Gibralter.  Today we were hitting the shops(my favourite type of excursion)!  

Cadiz is a very quaint town with lots of narrow streets.  It was still quite early and not many shops were open, so we wandered around and got our bearings. Eventually we found the shop we wanted which was open and made our very first purchase .......... a box of paracetemol!  The cold had returned.  A few shops later I purchased a very nice red jumper.  We stumbled on a non-touristy bargain shop and had a wander round.  From here we bought a set of place mats (we've just moved house and wanted something new).  I love finding items/designs that are not available at home.  Just outside this shop was this very unusual tree:

We even found a street lined with Orange trees, I'm sure you could just reach up and pick one, but I didn't try.

We were back on the ship for an ice cream and coffee lunch, followed by my afternoon nap.  Mr G decided he was going to go for a run on dry land.  He had come up with the idea of  doing a run in each port.

After my nap and Mr G had returned from his run, we watched the sail-away from our balcony.

Deck 4 balcony's are a little wider than on other decks so we were able to look up and see all the champagne glasses!

Queen Elizabeth needed a little help.

Tonight was informal night and I wore a pink outfit (originally bought for my daughter' graduation)with the very first facinater I ever made.  Mr G wore his Navy suit.

This was taken on the stairs just near the Casino and Golden Lion Pub

This evening's show featured Mark Donoghue, a multi talented musician.  It was very good.  Afterwards I needed to visit the restrooms just outside the Theatre.  Whilst waiting patiently outside Mr G was surprised when a passenger came passed and said to him, ' Thank you, that was a very good show'.  A few passengers and thank you's later, it dawned on him that he had been mistaken for a crew member!  He was very wary of wearing his Navy suit after that.

First Formal Evening

Wednesday 26th October 2016 

Today was very similar to yesterday.  Breakfast in the Lido.  I tried the American bacon to see if it was any better than the English,  it was worse!  Instead of being lovely and crispy it was limp and very greasy. 

Then it was art class followed by lunch and my afternoon nap.  Except... I felt a cold coming on.  Determined not to let it spoil my first formal evening I headed to the steam room inside the ladies changing rooms at the gym.  It seemed to work as I felt much better afterwards.

Cunard Black & White Ball and Captains Reception.

Although Mr G is tee-total and I'm not a big drinker we decided to attend the Captains Cocktail Party just for the experience.   The reception was held in the Queen's Room.  We found a position next to the stage and stood and watched the proceedings accepting an orange juice from one of the many waiters.  Afterwards I kicked myself as I realised I could have asked for a softail.  We enjoyed Captain Hashmi's entertaining welcome speech and were introduced to various members of staff.

As it was formal evening there were plenty of ship's photographers about.

I'm afraid I don't take very good photos, I always blink!

After dinner Mr G went off to change into dance shoes and I made my way to the ballroom only find the entrance blocked!  I'd forgotten the Captains Reception for Second Sitting. Staff advised I could access the ballroom from the other side of the ship. I made my way there going down to deck 1 walking along to the Royal Court Theatre and up again to deck 2.  As I arrived at the outskirts of the ballroom I realised this was my chance!  I nobbled a passing waiter and bravely asked if I could have an Atlantic Mist, it was no problem and he returned a few minutes later.  I did feel naughty!

We had planned to dance most of the evening but as it turned out we did not have access to the Queens Room until 9pm.  

The Ball kicked off with an introduction to the Cunard Gavotte.  I had seen examples of this on YouTube but Mr G did not know what he was in for.  Apparently he was supposed to receive 'air kisses' from his dance partners, but they insisted on giving him real ones - he seems to have enjoyed himself!

A performance was given by the Professional Dance couple on board Dan and Olena, which was superb.

We ended the evening with a visit to the Lido for a hot drink before bed.  I was pleasantly surprised to find they even had Horlicks.