Queen Mary 2 - Hamburg Short Break
During May and June, QM2 was undergoing a long overdue refit.  Despite numerous pod and engine issues since her last in November 2011, Carnival UK kept her running as long as possible.  The one in 2011 had only been two weeks, reduced by a week.  This would last four weeks with some changes taking place, most notably Kings Court FINALLY being gutted and revamped while the gorgeous deck up top would have cabins added.  There was a two night cruise to Hamburg on the 25th May so I asked my friend Oskar if he'd like to go and get her before the alterations and it was booked on the 4th March 2016.  We booked cabin 6298 and deferred the flight back a day.  In the end he decided to book his own to Stavanger resulting in Cunard refunding his airfare.  On the 26th April we received an upgrade to 5124.  The 10th May, the day all three returned to Southampton from their world cruises, we were offered a reduced upgrade of £100 to go to Queens Grill so snapped it up since Q5 grade at that time was £799!  Our new cabin was 11130, right next to the Grills Terrace.  Most I've had before was two upgrades from Caronia to Princess Grill (dining in Britannia Grill) on the QE2.  What better way to go out on my 8th and last Mary cruise as she was before changes than being pretend posh for a couple of days?  The excitement went into overdrive!

Time to go for Oskar's second Cunard cruise but first on Mary!  She was scheduled to dock at 6am, which became 6.15am but she docked by 6.50am.  I got up to watch her arrive and later went to the Maples in Hythe to meet Oskar.  The Hythe ferry had more issues after Uriah Heep, the crapola piece of junk they brought in to replace Hotspur IV after they let her fall to pieces, hit the pier while trying to dock alongside the pontoon so was out of commission.  Great Expectations was back from its annual overhaul but still had problems including needing a gearbox change.  We were glad to be going over when we did.  We could see there was stuff happening on Mary's vast decks and we couldn't wait to see what preparations they were making.  There were quite a few workmen checking in from Blohm + Voss, Trimline and others as we waited in the separate area for Grills.  We finally began checking in around 11.15am and had to wait by security for ages, by which time they were calling Platinum and Diamond World Club members, which was almost noon!  It was amazing how many Germans were trying to push their way to the front of the queue rather than just park their arse like the rest of us.  The ship ain't going nowhere just yet and the food won't run out!  We went straight to our suite after the boarding photo.  Since Associated British Ports had revamped Ocean Terminal, increasing the number of security scanners, boarding photos for Cunard are now onboard the ship.  Vicky and Betty it's a normal staircase.  Mary was with the Grand Lobby as a backdrop.  Our cabin had a doorbell and we couldn't stop pressing it.  It was also the last cabin before the Grills Terrace.  The Daily Programme in the cabin was from the 10th May in German!  Ours, it turned out, wasn't the only one to have them.  We had a free mini bar, a whirlpool bath, posher towels, proper plonk instead of the usual Pol Acker gut rot and a butler as well as steward.  Lunch beckoned and being posh, albeit for a couple of nights, we decided to do what everyone in Grill should do - get burger and chips!  Then a wander since we could see containers.  There was a German TV crew filming for a documentary on the dockside and dogs in the kennel, with one getting a bit of exercise.  As we waited for muster, Oskar broke part of his bed.  I think he was just trying to wreck the place to make it easier during refit.  The brand new Red Jet 6 was towed on a barge to berth 25 from Venture Quays at Cowes for 4pm and was due to be towed back an hour later.  The canapes arrived and it was the first time we saw our butler.

Despite our departure being 4.30pm, muster was scheduled for 4pm so there was no way we'd sail then.  Our muster station J was at the aft of Kings Court where it was VERY crowded and hot.  Many were actually wearing warm clothing, including jumpers, hats and coats.  The muster was by Captain Oprey in English and someone else in German.  We were pleasantly distracted by the food being put out while I enjoyed watching the galley staff, especially the cute sous chef.  When the time came to put on the life jackets there wasn't the space so many struggled while the muster guides couldn't really check they were done correctly.  Then we were released - yay!  We were delayed due to unidentified baggage so we waited.  Meanwhile, Red Jet 6 was lifted off the barge just as we were finally moving so we missed her being lowered into the water.  Mary gave three blasts to signal going astern then another three when she was passing 40 berth, which we heard from our balcony then went onto the Grills Terrace for the rest of sailaway until we passed the Brambles when we went back to the cabin.

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© Patricia Dempsey 25th-27th May 2016
Not to be reproduced without permission