Queen Mary 2 - Iberian Adventure
Well the Captain came on and repeated the norovirus thing, as he'd said.  We would be going first, just waiting on our pilot, who climbed aboard at around 6pm.  Captain Oprey had said we would be leaving at 5pm, not once but twice!  Silly mistake to make, especially since we were on GMT.  We began to back up, giving three blasts to signal going astern about halfway down, to which Liberty replied so we parped back.  The turn was very tight and we wondered if we'd hit something but didn't - damn!  That would have been fun!  Liberty silently slipped her moorings and followed us out.

Back inside and there was a knock at my door at 7am.  The conversation went like this:

Crew member - Good evening, Sir.  Madam.  We've come to sanitise your room.
Me - Okay.  Do you want me to leave you to it?
Crew member - No, you can stay.  You did report to the medical centre today, didn't you?
Me - No, I've been out all day.
Crew member - Oh.  Are you alone here?
Me - Yes.
Crew member (pulls pieces of paper from his pocket to check cabin numbers)  I'm very sorry to have troubled you.

You really couldn't make it up! 6025 the other side of the lift, 6082 (reverse last two numbers) and about another nine on my deck were on his list but for some reason he'd written mine on a bit of paper when it hadn't been on the list he was given.  To the Golden Lion to get a seat. It was semi-formal but, considering what people were still getting away with, I couldn't be bothered to change.  Semis should be scrapped.  Many cruise lines already have.  For dinner, I'd ordered the chicken and cheese croquette as my starter and nowhere did it say it contained bell peppers.  I pointed it out to the head waiter so he brought another, which I promptly split open to reveal red things.  "They're carrots," he stated. "Are they?" says I, knowing a stinky pepper when I see one.  So off he went to check and about twenty minutes later returned. "You're right," he admitted.  Now I never usually say I have an allergy because they're often listed on the menu.  Only a very few times they haven't, one such time was on Vision of the Seas.  I had a wonderful potato curry in 2008 so ordered it again a year later, only to find that particular chef added red peppers and the menu hadn't been adjusted accordingly.  It hadn't when I went this year either.  But Cunard just list the item and sauce.  This is where being able to TALK to your head waiter comes in useful then you can avoid things you don't like.  But then it would help if they knew what went in the food like the marvellous head waiter on Aurora in July.  Anyway, Helena, Richard and her sister told me they'd enjoyed David Copperfield the night before, even though they'd never heard of him.  Later, Judith invited me along to see a scarf she was buying for a friend back in New York.  $320 - eek!  It was very nice but a total rip off.  Glen, the manager, mentioned Stevie, a guitarist, in passing, and who I knew from Lizzie.  Stevie Stud, they call him.  I'm really not surprised!  We had a little chat about his antics and how he would say things completely deadpan which cracked you up.  I'm so pleased he's happy on Mary when he'd been unhappy on Vicky.  Stevie was on holiday but he thinks he would be returning.  I said goodnight to Judith and Glen and quickly popped to Kings Court to nab apples before trying the slow internet, getting booted so went down to the Golden Lion.  The lift reeked of poo but there had only been two to choose from at Stairway A since the middle one was broken.  Ugh!  Since I had an early start, I was gone just after midnight and tried the internet again with more success then went to bed.

Gran Canaria was new to me but not to the obese greyhound I was travelling on.  It was another she hadn't visited since the maiden voyage.  I ordered room service for 7-7.15am, which came on the hour this time and I had an unpeeled banana on a plate and covered in clingfilm.  Absolutely no chance of seeing our arrival because we were due 8am and I had to be at the theatre by 8.10am for my Essence of Gran Canaria tour (which left at 8.30am).  I had no idea where Balmoral was until we left, or who arrived first.  My dad had been following us on the AIS and said, while Balmoral went straight there from Tenerife, we went around the island.  There was an announcement about using sanitisers when you boarded the ship and it was flipping raining when we, on bus number one, went outside.  Media were there as well as a private car for a journalist from the Daily Express.  A cameraman couldn't stop grinning at his assignment.  I had a Filipino lady who lived in New York next to me and we had a nice chat on the journey.  As usual with volcanic islands, you end up going up mountains and this was no exception as we headed to the Bandama Crater, where it also bloody rained!  In the distance we could see Las Palmas bathed in sunlight - bastards!

There was a rainbow as we drove towards Teror, which was the third in two days.  Our escort was from the Queens Room orchestra and from Sydney.  His lot had replaced those Stevie was in and he was very good at making sure there were no stragglers as we walked the cold streets.  And yes, another bloody church!  This one was the Church of Our Lady of the Pine, who is patron saint of Gran Canaria.  I found it amusing public toilets were below a police station.  There was a shop stop to buy perfume so I waited outside.
Because we were one of three coaches, our guide told us we would be going to La Hacienda for refreshements first.  This is the oldest country estate in the Canary Islands, dating back to 1572, and is a also banana plantation.  A plate was just given to you but you went inside for a soft drink or coffee.  By now it was warmer.
Our final stop was back in the boiling Las Palmas at the Altavista viewing point, where we had just ten minutes.  Poor little Balmoral, peeking out from behind that fat Cunard lump I was on!  I sincerely hope liposuction is part of her refit work.  Mind you, being that fat there's no chance of missing her in the panorama since she towers over everything.
Once we were dropped back at the ship, I went walkies for photos of Marykins.  There really is no doubt to me it's better having a cruise, as I mentioned before.  You simply cannot get photos such as these on transatlantics.  The people were so thrilled to have her Obeseness gracing them with her presence, they had a banner down the front of a building.  I love all these ports where you can get up close to the ships, even as just an observer.  Wouldn't happen in Southampton!  An elderly local asked a couple on a bench if they were from the Queen Mary, to which they replied no, Balmoral.  When I said I was, he asked what tme we were sailing so I told him 6pm, same as Balmoral.  The couple hoped we'd go first so they could get some better shots whereas I wanted then to so we'd follow her out.  Have to see which it would be!  Next to our ship were vintage cars.

Despite the request to use hand sanitisers, many just walked on without doing it.  I know they're not perfect but come on.  These idiots would soon blame someone else's lack of hygiene if they caught norovirus.  One thing I liked was the Golden Lion did lunch on port days, whereas on Lizzie it had been only sea days.  I thought I'd try the steak and mushroom pie, then wished I hadn't.  The steak was so fatty it was awful.  In the end I just ate the pastry.  Grabbed apples from Kings Court then went to get photos of our view and Balmoral.

Being a seasoned stalker and cruiser, I was the only one wearing a coat for sailaway and, as a result, the only one not freezing in the cold wind as we watched the drummers on the quayside.  The Captain announced his deputy, Robert Camby, would be taking us out "For practice" before going on to say the "other ships" would go before us, despite the fact there was only Balmoral.  While she singled up, we were throwing our lines ten minutes early.  He would have been told we were first off so what was he talking about?  That was his second mistake in two days.  Was he up on the bridge?  It was a great send off.  Us blasting, Balmoral even blasting at us, when she rarely pipes up in Southampton, car horns tooting then Balmoral followed us out.  When we dropped the pilot, we gave eight more.  Fantastic!
Back to the room and we were rocking quite a bit again.  We're never told the correct wind force!  After dinner I popped my head into the Queens Room to have a look at this Buccaneer Ball.  Okaaaaaay.  It was all very P&O, like the nightly games in the Golden Lion!  It wasn't a ball but a bloody disco for people who like 60s music.

Once the game was over, I went to the Golden Lion.  I spied David Copperfield carrying a tray from Kings Court as I got in the lift and wondered if he was just taking food or his other half had come down with norovirus.  Anyway, back to these stupid P&O games on Cunard.  Why on earth do they have them at 10pm when anyone interested are still having dinner?  On Aurora, they were held during the day so everyone could attend.  I didn't go on Aurora because they held no interest but some may have wanted to on Mary.  I sat with Maureen, George, Audrey and Jim and we had a giggle at a bloke on the next sofa fast asleep, even when his wife reappeared.  To bed after midnight and I tried the internet to do the blog.  Not only did I waste an hour and it wasn't finished, but I cracked my tooth on Tic Tacs!  It was so ironic my dental appointment had been changed so I had to wait until the 14th instead of 11th.  It was so sharp, my poor tongue kept being stabbed.  I hoped I could sleep.

Remember, remember the 5th of November....  Well I would because it was the day my tongue was in agony from my tooth!  We were now halfway through the trip and arriving in hopefully sunny Lanzarote, another new to me but Mary had last been to in January 2004.  I ordered room service for my usual time and it arrived just before, but it was flipping agony eating it, then hotfooted it up for our arrival.  I saw we were turning, and where Adventure of the Seas was already berthed, so back down to deck 6 and a hike to the end where I saw Audrey and Jim.  Adventure was new to me as well.  The first Voyager class I'd seen was Explorer when she called into Southampton brand new in 2000, followed by Navigator for her only Southampton season in 2007 then Voyager in Southampton in 2009.  I only need Mariner for the set, though would like photos of Explorer since I only got her on video.  Another woman was also on deck and told us there were only fourteen sprogs on this trip, mostly babies so her daughter had no one to interact with except her brother, whereas on the preceeding transat there had been four hundred!  That was what the kids club person told her.

Mine was the last tour at 10am and meeting in the theatre at 9.40am.  I had chosen Hidden Lanzarote, so hoped it was good!  As I waited, I tried the internet and it was fast - probably because of so many people having breakfast or buggering off!  When I went down, I spotted a sanitation kit outside the cabin opposite.  I knew the one next door had come down with norovirus and suspected those occuplants had too.  It was getting far too close for comfort!

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