Queen Mary 2 - Hamburg Short Break
QM2 had been undergoing a long overdue refit during May and June 2016, returning to service on the 21st June for a two night cruise back home to Southampton where should would join Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.  It was time to resume cruising with my friend Rob Ellerington Parr, since our last was Mary in December 2013.  We tried booking online via Cunard's site but it refused Rob's two middle names so I had to call and on the 6th February it was booked.  We opted for the Early Saver fare and Guarantee BZ.  On the 25th May, the day I boarded Mary for her cruise to refit in Hamburg, we were allocated 4083, category BU.  I booked into the Travelodge at Terminal 5 the night before.

Time to go to Hamburg and the new look Mary!  I waited at Terminal 5 for Rob and his parents to arrive, which they did.  We did the self check-in stupid machine which said it couldn't complete the process.  When we went to another one it asked if we wanted our boarding passes reprinted when it hadn't done it in the first place.  I bumped into Mike Drain from work, who's a Northern Irish driver.  He was going to Frankfurt twenty minutes after our flight to Hamburg.  We had Gate A17 which was just by where we were sat, which was useful.  The flight was good and landed slightly early.  Hamburg airport may be pretty small compared to some but is very clean.  Luggage came very quickly and then we went to find the Cunard rep.  Transfer to the coach was done very smoothly.  It took about an hour to drive to the terminal.  It had been changed to Steinwerder instead of HCC-HafenCity.  When we arrived at the terminal we handed the cases over and went inside to be greeted by a huge queue!  No one expected hundreds of people at that time of day.  Thank goodness I had Platinum World Club status so we jumped the queue (this trip would take me to Diamond).  Security was fast then we were on the ship to be immediately greeted by the missing lifts in the Grand Lobby.  We went to our cabin and spotted the changes there.  New carpet thank goodness but the most important was the addition of a kettle, which Cunard had refused to have for years, citing it being dangerous.  No tea or coffee though or even a room service book.  We then went to explore the new Kings Court, which they promised would be better than the mess it was before.  It was still a pain in the arse, especially trying to find a seat, so thank goodness for Chefs Galley and the usual burger!  Bar service wasn't too bad but the Coke offered was unavailable so it was just Pepsi.  They also said they weren't doing the soft drinks package.  The receipt said, "Kings Court Specialty Dinning", which we found amusing.  But since it's supposed to be British, shouldn't that be "speciality" regardless of the other spelling mistake?  Then we explored the top deck to see the new cabins.  When I had been on to Hamburg, they were already preparing that area so now it was time to see the end result and it didn't look too bad.  They now allowed you to walk around on top as well, which was joined to The Lookout and now had steps leading down to it but the door needed repairing.  Our steward was called Joey who started off well by telling us he had been looking for a Robert, aged 46 and Patricia, aged 26 so hadn't throught we were those people when he saw us walk towards the cabin.  It certainly broke the ice and made for an enjoyable voyage.  Muster was supposed to be at 5pm but delayed, as was our 7pm departure due to an alarm on the forward propulsion system needing to be sorted.  Christopher Wells was the Captain, who also informed us we would be going at full power the following day to put the newly refurbished pods through their paces as well as doing some manoeuvring tests.  Also, although the pools and jacuzzis had been filled, the treatment plant for chlorination wasn't working so they would be closed. They had trouble removing the gangway, which also delayed us and finally, an hour later than scheduled, we headed off!  A few idiots in boats had to be blasted at but it such a lovely evening.  After returning to the cabin, an announcement was made about a crew emergency in the engine control room.  Captain Wells came on a bit later to apologise for that, explain what it was and tell the crew to stand down.  A quick drink in the Commodore Club where we had one from the pump and a can to take back to the cabin.  We decided we couldn't be bothered with the Britannia so tried the revamped Kings Court.  The choice was slightly better than before but still limited compared to the other two ships.  It was still bad for trying to get bar service.  I eventually was approached as I had almost finished my meal while a German lady at another table was irate at having waited even longer.  Excuses were made to her about the distance it was to the bar yet another waitress was bringing drinks from the Grills Lounge for others who ordered after her.  The menu for the following night in the Britannia was pushed under the door so I could pre-choose my order.  Didn't bother because it was going to be Kings Court again.

Early start to get photos of the public areas while everyone bar crew was asleep.  The carpets around the ship were one of the main changes.  The ones in the passenger cabin corridors looked like they'd faded on one side.  The carpets inside the lifts resembled a bloody murder, blueberry juice spillage and a load of sick whle those adjacent to the lifts by Stairways B and C were quite hippy trippy man.  I'm sure it's easier to get used to over the course of a week but not really two nights.  Some of the rooms were still pretty much the same.  The Atlantic Room received new carpet and chairs.  The Commodore Club had a new blue stripey carpet as well as now all white chairs in place of the few blue ones.  Contrary to popular rumour, the bookshop was still there, albeit not selling some of the same things as before but had moved some merchandise from the logo shop into there.  The library was mainly unaltered.  One of the major changes was the Verandah Restauraunt in place of Todd English, which had been there since entering service in 2004.  The Verandah, a staple on the original Queens, had debuted on the current Queen Elizabeth, becoming so successful the decided to replace Todd English on Queen Victoria with it.  One deck below, the Queens Grill and Princess Grill received a makeover, particularly the former.  They had replaced the mirrored walls while the waiters station my table for two next to a month before had been removed as they squeezed in more tables.  The Princess Grill at first glance didn't look that different but what they'd done was more subtle.  Kings Court was more drastic.  It had been a badly designed pit of hell in the past but the lifts from the Grand Lobby in Deck 2 were always useful.  They had removed those now and redesigned the whole thing.  The decor was interesting to say the least but I did like the lights on the ceiling.  Sadly while the centrepiece made it a bit easier to find things, the choice was limited as I had mentioned above.  But 5/10 for trying.  I noticed a few Norwegian Cruise Line influences such as the higer tables and sinks which people walked past.

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© Patricia Dempsey 21st-23rd June 2016
Not to be reproduced without permission