Queen Mary 2 - Iberian Adventure
Queen Mary 2, the last unique Cunard ship, was a very expensive dream for me and millions of others to sail on.  Having been on QE2 and being unable to sail on her any more, Mary was the Cunard ship of choice.  She was inspired by the past, unlike the Vistas, of which there are too many across the Carnival brands.  They try to make them mini Marys but you cannot make a liner out of a plodding off-the-peg slam-dunk cruise ship design so matter how they try to spin it.  But the problem with Cunard is they are very expensive to begin with, raising prices as cabins fill rather than lowering to sell out like RCI, Celebrity, Princess, NCL (or even Fred Olsen, who are expensive enough themselves).  Then there is the single supplement.  75% on top for an inside, double for any other.  Now when you have a two night cruise starting from £399 it’s nothing short of a rip off when you consider you can take a longer cruise with another line for that price and have a better cabin.  Since P&O took over running Cunard in late 2007, completing the transition in 2008, you would think they would also have similar rates for singles.  Anyway, despite all this, it was decided to book Fjords & Waterfalls from the 17th-24th June 2011.  It was the same cruise I’d done in June 2008 on Lizzie except in reverse and had such a great time I hoped I would again.  I’d got some prices from Becky in Thomas Cook in May 2010 but by the 18th June, they had increased by £60 so I booked C3 grade 6033.  With the rotten year I had with my mum being diagnosed with untreatable cancer and my own unexpected health issues from the early part of 2010, I would badly need a proper holiday by then regardless of outcomes.  Short trips are fine but it’s all go with little time to actually relax.  This would be just what I’d needed.  Well as usual with plans, things happen stopping them.  

Due to booking a cruise to Ireland, Greenland, Iceland and Norway on Aurora with Juanita at the end of July 2010 for the following year, this was in the balance.  Aurora was a couple of weeks afterwards and, paying single rate on Mary, it made money tighter than I wanted if my mum was still alive by the time both balances were due.  If Cunard hadn’t dropped Iceland from their itineraries during 2011, this would have been transferred and Juanita’s name added.  Even Aurora wasn’t a certainty, with her needing to find a lot of Aussie dollars in eight months, plus flight if she was unable to use her Frequent Flyer points.  But I couldn’t keep this trip just in case.  I popped into Thomas Cook on the 9th August and spoke to Rachel about transferring to Iberian Adventure for the 30th October-10th November 2011.  She got onto Cunard and a rep called Nancy was very helpful.  We basically kept everything bar the cabin, which was now 6028, opposite my other one.  I had to pay an extra £142, £100 of which was the admin fee!  This was the ONLY Canary Islands cruise all season, out of a very limited number of cruises at all.  I’d missed out returning there twice on P&O due to circumstances beyond my control so it would be nice to actually go.  Also at eleven nights, it would be more of a break and, let's face it, if you're paying that amount of money you may as well have a decent holiday out of it.  The Display Summary in April 2011 said there would be a Black & White Ball as well as Royal Ascot Ball and Buccaneer Ball.  You don’t expect the latter on Cunard!  I kept imagining people dressed at pirates going to dinner.  “Pieces of After Eight!”  All paid off in May and the countdown began!  Meanwhile, due to adding no salt to my dietary requirements on the 29th June to see if it helped with my feet swelling, I received a letter from Cunard on the 2nd July containing a disablity questionnaire!  I phoned Thomas Cook and Jackie subsequently called Cunard.  They apologised and told her the correct form was being sent.  However, by the time I got back from Aurora nothing had come so Jackie got onto them again only to be told they don't send any for dietary requirements.  Wish they'd make up their minds!  I booked excursions for Tenerife and Gran Canaria on the 25th July since Lanzarote only had tour names and prices so I checked P&O's site on the 30th to compare then chose one.  As the weeks drew nearer things were looking exceedingly worrying.  A fire at one of her stern gas turbine engines on Deck 13 on the 5th October, coming less than thirteen months after a serious capacitator failure and the threat of volcanic activity in the Canaries led me to wonder if someone was trying to tell me something.  After all, fate keeps me constantly away when I've booked cruises.

The big day arrived.  Celebrity Eclipse was in too, preparing for her repositioning to Florida for the winter.  I remember the early days of Mary's reign when she'd bugger off around mid-October until April to be Caribbean cruise ship/world cruiser so was glad P&O had stopped that ridiculous practice and she was at home in the cold and dark too otherwise I wouldn't be here now.  My dad helped me with my case on the bus then I met up with David Templar, who I'd known several years through forums and now Facebook and Twitter.  He was down anyway so offered to help me with my luggage for the ferry trip over on the Ashleigh R, since both Hythe ferries were still out of commission.  We went behind Lady Madeleine, who was in action on the bum of a boxboat and passed the Lord Nelson.  It was a shame about the rotten wet weather.  Mary was flying the Royal Mail pennant, one of the last times she'd be doing so.

Unusually, there were no taxis whatsoever at Town Quay.  David waited with me and we chatted to a couple who were doing the repo on Eclipse, staying in Miami a couple of days then heading to New York by train to catch Mary back.  All right for some!  All this 'poor pensioners' crap Labour come out with is only a minority since most cruise like that or have a winter home abroad.  A taxi came and off I went to the naughty corner to board a great fat pudding.  When I went in the terminal, I was green L and they were on B but they went through the letters pretty rapidly so I only had a half hour wait.  The average age was over 60!  I was definitely in a minority.  Anyone who tries to convince you Cunard attracts a variety of ages on each cruise is lying.  Like P&O it's mostly old people because they have more disposable income, free time and play bridge.  You get more under 40s on Cunard booze cruises than long trips.  Check in was fairly fast, though I was told to go to one desk before a bloke pinched it, then another which hadn't finished but it was third time lucky - hooray!  As I went towards security, I passed comedian David Copperfield carrying two cups of water.  He'd been on my first Lizzie cruise and I bet his act was the same five years on.  Usual boarding photo, security then on.
It was a strange feeling boarding a Cunard vessel as a passenger again.  While I had visited Vicky in November 2009 then been partially-shown around Betty by Lisa from Cunard PR in January 2011 when I went with my good friend, the late journalist Steve Read, my last cruise had been the 22nd-27th October 2008 on Lizzie.  Back then, I was madly in lurve with a piano player whom I'd met a few months earlier during a Fjords trip on the same ship.  Unlike some singles I've come across on my travels (usually men!), I don't go cruising for a shag, which would make it less Love Boat and more Lust Boat!  I go because I enjoy that type of holiday and, despite some blokes (passengers AND sex-mad crew) trying to pick me up before and since, I'm just not interested in a five minute fumble to give them something to boast about to their mates when they go home or in the crew bar.  That particular time was different and took me by surprise.  I was completely head over heels and it had been a long time since anyone made me feel the way he did.  We're no longer together because he falsely accused me of doing something I hadn't (again!) while refusing to admit responsibility for his own actions (not for the first time!), but I don't hate him or bear him any malice.  His loss after all!  Life's far too damn short to waste it on bitterness, anger or recrimination.  If I ever bumped into him somewhere in the world and he apologised I'd accept it.  But he never said sorry or admitted he was wrong when we were together (even after I would prove it) so that's as unlikely to happen as me bungee jumping from the Eiffel Tower stark naked in the middle of a blizzard singing Moody Blue.  It was great while it lasted and I don't regret knowing him for a second, despite the way he behaved at the end and afterwards.  We had some great moments and plenty of laughs, which make me smile or chuckle and think of him fondly, remembering how much I loved him and enjoyed our time together.  I hope, wherever he is now, he's happy with the choice he made.  It's funny how two of the cruises I'd chosen to take during this year made me think back to the past with their good memories and bad, beginning with Aurora in July when I returned to Geiranger and Bergen for the first time since 2008, now my trip on El Fatso, and they're both connected to that Fjords cruise several moons ago on Lizzie.  Oh well.  Such is this weird thing we call life which, like men, can never be fathomed out!  My return to Cunard was a long time coming, mainly because I'd been tempted by other lines for far less money.  Mary ISN'T Lizzie, and I think that's the mistake many make then say they don't like her.  Lizzie never had a fat bum to rival mine for a start!  Mary should be enjoyed (or not) for what she is just like Lizzie for what she was and three years, three days after I last left Lizzie at the QEII Terminal, I was looking forward to experiencing her obese successor, who was squeezed into the naughty corner and turning blue, either from cold, breathing in too long or using Holland America Line's paint.  On a sad note though, it would be the third to last trip with Southampton registry.  Upon our return, she had east and westbound transats then would head to Hamburg for dry dock where she would be re-registered in Hamilton, Bermuda, on the 1st December.  Queen Elizabeth was the first on the 24th October, meaning seventy-five years of the GBTT callsign once used for Queen Mary and QE2, would be no more.  Three days later, Queen Victoria followed, but preparations for both had already happened.  They certainly wasted no time, being only five days from announcement to action.  They will then have completed the P&O cruise ship transition which began at the end of 2007.  Anyway, here was disappointment number one.  Cunard were once noted for your being greeted when you stepped aboard your ship and then having someone escort you to your cabin instead of just finding the thing like other cruise lines.  No longer!  There are still crew lined up but you're asked your cabin number then pointed to a lift.  The one at Stairway B was heaving so I took the scenic lift up and through Kings Court then through the Canyon Ranch Spa and down one deck.  Much simpler than that twat's instructions!  White Star Service?  P&O Service more like.  Such a shame a little touch like that has now disappeared.  What else will have changed in the past three years?  I was beginning to wonder.  I found my cabin very easily and, being close to Stairway A, made it easier to remember.  I was totally blown away by the size of the room when I opened the door.  It was the largest I've ever had, though the bathroom was pretty small.  Course, they still have the obligatory Pol Acker muck awaiting you to thank you for coming back.  I still have four bottles from Lizzie!  Not that I drink the stuff but I'd prefer something better as an appreciation of loyalty like a free cruise or $500 onboard credit!  I can dream!  My case turned up and he brought it in, handle facing the wall and I soon found out why - it was covered in orange scratches!
My letter addressed to "Mr/Mrs Dempsey" was rather amusing since I was a solo occupant.  It was only about my dietary requirement and who to speak to in Kings Court, so off I trotted to get some grub since it had been a long time since breakfast.  I had to speak to Stanley and he arranged my lunch and the drinks package.  The latter is new to Cunard apparently, so makes them even more overpriced common cruise line.  Drinks packages are a good thing though and I was surprised it wasn't a rip off like P&O's is.  You don't get the plastic container to have it in though.  You have to go to the bar each time you're thirsty.  Now, despite me saying to Stanley I only wanted tomatoes, cucumber and turkey, he packed the bowl with stacks of lettuce and various green stuff which he topped with the turkey.  It was one of the worst meals I've ever eaten.  The turkey was full of gristle and tasteless.  You expect better for a 'premium' line.  At least they still give you trays.  Nothing worse than a juggling act with plates and cutlery while trying to dodge people getting in the way.
Off for a wander around the deck now it looked like it had stopped raining - and it had!  It's wonderful to walk on real wood as opposed to other materials and a shame they skimped on the Vistas with their plastic, or whatever slippery surface it is.  Despite her vast size, walking around Mary's Prom Deck reminded me of being on Lizzie's Boat Deck, especially when you came to the tiered stern.  Of course, Mary's Observation Deck was higher up and totally separate but Mary still had a wraparound and another viewing point for us passengers.  An American bloke whose mother would be celebrating her 90th birthday on this trip took my photo.
I headed up to find the Observation Deck but there were no signs telling you where to go.  I went into the Atlantic Room but there were no doors to the outside world.  I eventually found it and being out there again reminded me of Lizzie.  Hers had been my favourite outdoor spot and it looked like Mary's could be on her too.  I was trying my best not to compare with Lizzie but there were some places you just couldn't help it due to the familiarity and feeling of coming home I always had on her.
Back to the cabin to wait for muster.  For some reason we were a 5pm sailing instead of 4.30pm and muster was delayed fifteen minutes to 4.15pm.  All muster stations were deck 7, they said, and there was a call for friends and family guests to make themselves known.  My muster station was the gym - the only time I'd set foot in there all cruise!  Drone, drone, yeah, yeah, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  I know it's 'International maritime law' but why can't past cruisers be exempt?  Afterwards a quick return to the cabin to get my coat and bag then up to the Observation deck for sailaway.  Thankfully hardly anyone used the lifts at Stairway A so they were available - yay!!!!  Eclipse was already on the move, parping once at Town Quay, though whether that was at us or not, I have no idea.
There had been a call for all wheelchair assistants to get off the ship, then Captain Oprey came on to say that caused our delay when our sailaway party didn't start until 4.45pm.  You could tell he was from P&O by the crap he spouted, thinking we're all too thick to notice.  I've had a few like that.  We left silently and I felt a little sad looking at the QEII Terminal standing empty and unloved.  I'd taken my four Lizzie cruises from there and the tin shed in the naughty corner isn't the same.  I wished my mum was here watching me sail from home then I'd have asked if she saw us.  It started to spit and then became a downpour but thankfully the portside was more sheltered as the wind was coming starboard, and the observation deck is under cover.  More ships should have them!  We did blast as we neared the pier - yay!!!!  I was getting worried someone hated the whistle.
I went back inside since it was dark and there was nothing much to see, and had a Coke in the Winter Garden.  It took ages before a barman appeared from out the back but then the place was dead.  It's a shame because it's a lovely room but in a stupid place between Kings Court and the Spa so no wonder it's underused.
Since I was on second sitting, I went shopping!  This is always very important on a cruise to see which over-priced souvenir tat is identical to other ships.  They had umbrellas at $22.99, which were the same as P&O sell for £9.99.  Who says you're not paying for the Cunard name?  You only get one Cunard on it though compared to about four P&O Cruises.  The bears are the same found on Celebrity and the choice was naff.  They had a model for $300, the same price I paid for a Lizzie one about three times the size so I bought a cheap one which at least has Southampton stamped on her bum, albeit at an odd angle, but then so's her bum.  There was a great choice of fridge magnets and they had lanyards with Queen Mary 2 on instead of the cruise line.  I much prefer things with the ship rather than the cheap option many lines go for.  Crap choice of T-shirts - Mary solo or Mary and Vicky.  Mary and Lizzie I'd have bought!

The girl from the shop called to say she thought she'd forgotten to put some items in my bag so I checked and went back down.  That's what happens when you're having a good natter with the customer but I like people like that.  8.30pm was dinner in the Britannia.  The floor between the Grand Lobby and restaurant can turn your ankle if you're not careful.  I have no idea how long those pot holes have been there but it's a disgrace for a 'premium' line to have slack maintenance, especially when their core market are old people who can fall, break something and sue.  I was on table 85 while all my dinner companions had come over on the transatlantic and over seventy.  Margaret was from Maine and a huge Lizzie fan whereas Mary's a floating hotel and Cunard has gone rapidly downhill.  Judith was from Manhattan and also a huge Lizzie fan but enjoyed her trips on Mary.  She was very quiet that night.  Richard was Japanese-American, though I don't know whether he was born there or a naturalised citizen while his wife Helena and sister-in-law were from Brazil.  They were the oldest at 80, 76 and 82 respectively.  Here was disappointment number two.  The food was awful.  The steak I had wasn't well done as I'd requested and very fatty.  You get your veg dumped on the plate like cheaper cruise lines because they don't have silver service.  Ironic then that P&O, who run them, still do!  If you want separate veg, you have to ask and then it comes on a plate and divvied up.  Hardly the White Star Service they keep touting.  But they're very careful not to say certain things now so when you read what it entails, it may as well be Gold Anchor Service from Royal Caribbean.  I ordered the ice cream for dessert which had mostly melted by the time it arrived.  When you pay this sort of money you expect better.  Now we come to the dietary requirement.  I had only done this before on Aurora in July, since Grand Princess was short and Norwegian Epic had eateries everywhere so the chances of no salt were slim.  On Aurora, the head waiter would give you the menu for the following lunchtime and night to peruse then discuss options when you got to dessert.  Does the P&O-run Cunard do it the same way?  Do they hell!  You got it with a pen to mark choices like in hospital with no discussion whatsoever and when I wanted to, he couldn't be bothered.  Margaret hadn't been impressed she'd informed them of her seafood allergy yet only had been given the advance menu now.  I asked for my dietary letter back but was given an instruction sheet on Britishness instead!  I'm sad to say that for the few hours I'd been aboard, P&O knocks spots off Cunard for less money and it never used to be that way.  I really hoped this wouldn't be a sign of things to come for the remainder of the cruise.  After collecting some apples from Kings Court, I returned to my gorgeous cabin, although having a porthole made it feel like an inside since you could barely see out of it.  There was a blind rather than curtains and Edwin had placed the cushions and bolster pillows behind it, thus eliminating draughts.  A robe was on the bed waiting for me.  It was a force 7 (the Captain said F4!) so a bit bumpy and I decided to purchase the internet, even though I had no intention of using it until Madeira.  Gold members of the World Club had two hours free and, as this was the first time I'd used it on Cunard, I hoped they'd debit my account accordingly.  Unlike Aurora, the manager was hardly there, only working a couple of hours here and there throughout thye day making it difficult to ask anything.  Mary creaked, pitched and rolled like a proper ship.  It was like she has the soul of Lizzie.  A few people tried to tell me she doesn't move in rough sea but they should tell that to my back which was being aggravated!  I decided to go to bed since my back was hurting so much.

What a night!  Several times I thought I'd be thrown out of bed from all her pitching.  It was doing my back no good whatsoever, despite the fact I love bad weather.  We were now in the Bay of Evil, the only place in the world (so far) I get seasick.  I couldn't be bothered to get up but then did quick-sharp when the Officer of the Watch came on at 11.10am to say Aurora was ten minutes away.  I quickly got dressed, threw my coat on and went up a deck, only to find the doors shut because of the weather!  We definitely blasted to her and I assume she replied but it couldn't be heard.  I could only get crap pictures through a wet window.  Oh, to be able to afford a balcony at these prices!

Since it was a sea day I thought I'd head to the Golden Lion for their pub lunch.  I'd only done it once on Lizzie and it was really nice, although the fish and chips Amy ordered had been some sort of fish, fries and mashed peas.  I thought I'd go early but hadn't banked on there being a quiz, mainly because I didn't check.  It was packed, more so than when Juanita and I went to them on Aurora.  Almost every available seat was taken but I sat with a couple of ladies, Audrey and Maureen, and then helped them with the quiz.  They were waiting for their husbands, Jim and George, who had gone to the lecture about Jack the Ripper in the Planetarium.  It turned out Audrey and Jim lived not far from me and had moved the the area a year before we did.  We didn't win the quiz but got a respectable score and I loved how the Cunard uniform had "Cruise Staff" on the sleeve - just like NCL!   It was just navy blue instead of light blue.  George turned up but Jim didn't.  He had been bored so left.  I had my lunch, which was cottage pie and not bad but needed an Oxo cube to add flavour.  They eventually found him, having missed their 1.30pm show in the Planetarium.  Passed through Kings Court and disappointingly, despite it being Halloween, they had a meagre display outside.  Too common for Cunard?  So is veg on a dinner plate!  I eventually found the photo gallery on 3L.  Mary is a maze!  Maybe she should have been called Maisie or Hampton Court.  You really need a long trip to work out when the hell you're going, so I was glad I booked one.  I bought my boarding photo and pre-ordered the DVDs so they better be worth the money!  I still remember the con on Aurora during the New Year 2007 cruise for two.  They had photo albums - for $99!  They know what they can do!  No, I don't want a crappy frame for a 10"x8" which you get on cheaper cruise lines, ta muchly.  I just want a bloody album to put the things in and not be ripped off for the privilege.  Have to go in the one I bought on Aurora then!  Such a shame.  I had a Lizzie one and a Mary one would have gone nicely with it.  It's nice to have albums with the name of the ship or cruise line on but not at those ridiculous prices.  It's like the shops.  ALL items for rich bastards so you can't get something as an ordinary passenger like on other lines.  All clothes were hundreds of dollars and don't even get me started on the jewellery and watches.  But then Cunard's not marketed at the likes of me, who can pick up my favourite trousers on a P&O ship or a lovely evening dress on Fred Olsen, so what do they care?  It was still raining, despite them letting us out again, so I just popped my head out.

I was hungry so decided to try some room service and order the turkey burger.  Even though they said it would take half an hour, it was fairly fast being delivered and not bad food either, very filling.  After trying not to fall into the shower while washing my hair and it had dried sufficiently (I hate hairdryers), I braved the Prom deck, since the Observation Deck was closed off, and it had stopped raining but was quite cold.  It made me glad I'd given up smoking nearly four years ago because I was always bad at lighting up in conditions like this.  I got talking to a woman who was puffing away who'd been on Vicky earlier this year and said the food and service were bad on that too.  Walking around there were still areas we couldn't go to.
It was formal night, the first of four, and also the Welcome Aboard booze up in the Queens Room.  We were still rocking and rolling like a good 'un, but it put an awful strain on my back, and I'd been thrown against the wall in the shower a couple of times.  So glad it hadn't been onto the toilet!  Margaret from my table was in front of me outside the Queens Room and hadn't felt any rocking until then because her cabin was midships.  Somehow I got into the Captain before she did, but he hadn't been as friendly as some others I'd met.  There were a few crappy Halloween decorations about but generally fake cobwebs and plastic spiders.  No real effort.  I tried to get a soft drink but the crew member who told you which lift to take to your cabin wouldn't let me speak to the waiter who you got them from because it was "the handicapped area".  There was also nowhere to sit and with my back I can't stand for long periods without causing an awful lot of pain, made worse by the swaying of the ships' motion, so I ended up sat on a table near the dance floor trying not to fall off and she rolled about.  Cardboard vol-au-vents passed me and numerous others by, as did any waiters with drinks.  So I sat there, rocking on a table, mouth as dry as the Sahara and bored out of my mind.  None of the officers bother to speak to you if they see you're on your own, only to couples.  That's discrimination!  Not surprising considering we're discriminated against for fares so end up being ripped off.  The officers were swooped on from the off by Hyacinth Bucket-types but then if they will stay by the band rather than mingle it's to be expected.  Never had that on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity.  They'll talk to anyone.  Now considering this was FORMAL night, it was amazing how many people in the Queens Room were dressed in what would be termed, casual (including no tie) - and they got away with it!  On many forums and on Facebook I have read the dress code is strictly enforced.  Not on this evidence, it's not.  Have standards dropped drastically since the Bermudan registry announcement, was it just my cruise many couldn't be bothered to posh up and the crew couldn't be arsed to ban such people from the public rooms or have these past cruisers been in a parallel universe on another Cunard?  Once upon a time, in a different era, they had a strict rule you couldn't even enter the Lido on Lizzie without a posh frock and black tie on formals and semi-formals.  Now you can go anywhere and no one bats an eyelid.  What happened????  That was disappointment number three and it was only 27 hours into the cruise!  Anyway the Captain was introduced and gave his speech saying he'd been on thirty-five days, the ship has three sides - port, starboard and social.  He forgot back!  How can you forget something as massive as that?  When he read nationality numbers there was a huge cheer from the UK ones, to which he responded, "You've only booked a cruise, not won the lottery."  Oops!  Doesn't the latest former P&O man know it's not a cruise, but a voyage (even though passengers call it a cruise just like your stateroom is a cabin)?  Back to brainwashing school forthwith!

Going to dinner was a relief since that was the most boring Welcome Aboard party I've attended in my thirty-three cruises.  Yes, I currently had a downer on Cunard but that's because it's simply no longer what's pushed by the PR people.  My steward was great and I love the ship but sincerely hoped I wouldn't regret spending several thousand to get more of the same.  Margaret went to sit on John Duffy's table at dinner while the rest of us carried on as usual.  After grabbing fruit from Kings Court en route to the cabin, I went to bed early.  My back was so painful from the motion and I had a sinus headache coming on.  I was amazed though that I hadn't felt seasick once.  Even during my last cruise on Lizzie when we had a F6, I had to go to bed and try not to be sick.  So either my stomach's become stronger or Mary's so wonderful I'm safe from seeing my breakfast again on her.

One good thing on this ship was when you put the aircon to hot, it was bloody hot, not moderate with a bit of a chill.  It sorted my sinus out overnight whereas usually it can last a few days when there's crap ship/hotel room heating involved.  I had one at Steve Read's funeral and it was still there when I travelled home the next day.  I got out of my pit about 11am.  The bed was sooooooooooooooo comfy but only one pillow was soft.  I still slept well though.  First stop was the tour office about my disembarkation.  I had a hospital appointment that day so needed to be off early and they gave me light blue 4, which was painless.  I had heard shuttles were now pay but thankfully that was untrue and, like P&O, were still complimentary.  I dropped them off at the room then went to wander a bit until the noon bell ringing in the Grand Lobby and Captain's announcement.  As I was sat on the stairs killing time with Facebook, Twitter or both, Glenn Cairns, the security officer (thanks, Harry!) dashed by so I got up to follow and he then started to ring the bell earlier than the noon time.

Couldn't hear a damn thing the Captain was saying due to the chatter in the Grand Lobby and surrounding rooms.  I hadn't been the the bookshop, which was forward on deck 8, so I did that.  Saw Bea Muller's book, which she'd been threatening to inflict on the public for years and had a quick flick through.  I was surprised it was so thin considering she lived on Lizzie for eight years and made me wonder how much drivel was cut.  Well I'm sure some people will love it, despite its inaccuracies.  I had a few dealings with her on my last cruise and afterwards and couldn't find mention of her favourite piano player in it.  Maybe he's been cut out of the will!  She is due to be on Mary's Xmas cruise and the girl behind the counter hadn't encountered her before so I wished her luck.  After dumping the stuff in the cabin, I went for lunch.  The Golden Lion was packed so I tried Sir Samuels, which was also fairly busy so I ended up sat at the bar.  The service was slow and food not that great.  I was still hungry so went back to the Golden Lion!  Proper chips - yay!  Why can't P&O do that?  I sat with a couple who had done the trip from LA to Hawai'i on Vicky and they told me the weather was awful so the ship pitched and rolled badly.  They said at a lecture on Cunard, the lady told them the company don't like using stabilisers because it uses fuel and costs them money.  That I can believe, considering the amount of pain in my back!  I hadn't had all this on Aurora when we had far worse weather.  It was those bloody deck doors due to the high aircon pressure which aggravated it then the tender at Nuuk.
Grabbed some apples then had a kip to help ease my back.  Telly was as bad as on P&O, with far too much aimed at Americans and bugger all at Brits.  Another formal night and again, far too many hadn't bothered yet weren't kept out.  Makes you wonder what the point of having these nights is.  My pre-order dinner was lost so I had to re-order, which sort of defeats the object.  Margaret was on the officer's table again but my Coke and Judith's orange had been waiting for us on arrival.  During the meal, we ended up with a bloke called Trevor who claimed to be from Dover, worked for P&O ferries and was paid £50 a day.  One minute he was talking about travelling alone and the trips he'd taken, the next about this rich American girlfriend he had argued with so had ended up alone at dinner.  When he left, he told the others he had to check on his wife and told me not to tell them about his girlfriend problems.  The Sommelier hadn't returned his card so he came back for it, leaving the copy of his current onboard account which showed he spent a lot of time in bars and the G32 nightclub.  It gave us some hilarity anyway.  One thing which did annoy me was how the waiters waited until everyone was finished before offering dessert.  We'd been finished by 9.30pm and didn't get dessert until after 10pm.  I also had to ask for the next nights' menu a couple of times. Back to the cabin after the petit fours for a while after grabbing apples then to the Golden Lion about 11pm.  George and Maureen from the day before joined me later and we were the last to leave at 1am.
 


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© Patricia Dempsey 30th October-10th November 2011
Not to be reproduced without permission