Queen Mary 2 - Atlantic Isles Discovery
<A moment of madness on the 30th July 2012 when I decided to book another QM2 cruise.  It had been a long and painful day, having a scan for my kidneys while my back killed me and I needed something to cheer me up.  The trip would coincide with my birthday - another reason to go!  It had been a toss up between the repositioning of Celebrity Constellation from Southampton to Miami on the 30th November-15th December for a fabulous single rate with flight or this more expensive trip, also ending the 15th.  This ended up winning, mainly due to being put off after all the hanging around at Miami airport almost a year before.  I just can't manage it with my back.  A shame but there you go.  The trip was the same length as the one I'd done a year before only with two less ports (Lanzarote and Vigo were ditched while it now took three sea days to Funchal).  As it was a Getaway fare, it had to be paid at once so I went for a guarantee B5 sheltered balcony, which was the same price as a C4 guarantee porthole.  Sod it.  Bad weather with luck, Christmas decorations and my birthday.  Great way to end another crap year.  You're a long time dead.  I was allocated cabin 5051 on the 24th August, upgraded from B5 to B3.

Mary was in her rightful home on the 4th - yay!!!!  I had arrived that morning on Azura, which was in Ocean Terminal, so had to take my huge case, getting some odd looks along the way!  Then I walked to the QEII Terminal.  The last time I had sailed from here was the 13th October on Constellation, which had been the first time being there since I left QE2 for the final time on the 27th October 2008!  So far, each of my Mary cruises had been from the naughty corner so I was glad Azura was in there.  Black Watch was in City while Oriana was in Mayflower.  It was quite mild considering with the sun in my eye part of the way.  I was far too early, having disembarked Azura at 9.10am and this was now around 10am.  Only a short walk but longer when you stop to take photos and lug a heavy case.  I went to the Enquiries Desk and there was Nicky!  Nicky had checked me in two days before for Azura and also given me four of my five QE2 visitor passes in 2008.  I got a luggage label from her then sat and waited for a while before moving to the waiting room.  In there, an old woman kept getting up and closing the door despite the fact she was quite far from it and people left it open because they had mobility issues  It was unbelievably selfish of her.  Around 10.50am we were told we could take the luggage to the porters but the taxi queue made it impossible to get there so luckily one appeared and took my and a couple's cases for us.  Then we went to check in.  I was first - wooo!  I loved my priority check-in now I was Platinum.  Straight through security then up the escalator where I was given Green C.  A few photos of Mary then I sat and waited.  Despite there being seats, one couple decided to stand right in the way when you went to embark, later getting a chair and blocking the aisle even more.  Embarkation for suites was called first then C.  I knew which way I was going to headed to 5051 which I must say was very nice.  The balcony may not have a view except of sky when you sit down, but it was incredibly wide.  I noticed the bed creaked quite badly.  What would those next door or below think when I just turned over?  Then I went to the Golden Lion for lunch before going walkabout to get pictures of the other ships.

Muster was late at 4.05pm instead of 3.45pm.  My muster station was once again the Winter Garden only I went in by a different entrance and one I never realised was there.  Kevin Oprey was back as Captain, having been off sick for a month.  He'd been in command for three of my four Mary trips now.  By the time I got up to the Observation Deck at 4.45pm, Black Watch wasn't at her berth.  I thought I'd missed her but she was passing us.  During his pre-departure speech he said Azura looked like she was getting ready to go despite the fact she was already on her way out of the naughty corner.  We had a horn battle, which Mary lost due to being croaky.  Oriana also went before us and won the horn battle.  Poor Mary.  Someone give her gallons of Lemsip as well as fuel!  Despite supposed thermal socks, my feet were frozen as were my hands.  We finally threw our ropes just before 6pm and went astern to turn in the Itchen.  It was strange.  My fourth (and sadly last) Lizzie cruise in 2008 had done exactly the same thing but we docked port upon our return and this was my fourth on Mary.  I've had some strange coincidences during 2012.  Turning off Dock Head would be better in daylight though.  I could still see Azura and Oriana ahead in the Solent as I continued being amazed at the difference in size from Lizzie's turn four years before.  Lizzie was straightened well before reaching Hythe pier but Mary was by it when she was.  It was a breathtaking sight even in the dark.
I went in to defrost then did some shopping.  A pre-dinner drink in the Golden Lion and there was no ruddy poxy 8pm quiz driving those away who just wanted to relax.  Derek Conlon was playing, having boarded the day I left my last cruise, and surprised me when I went to dinner by saying, "Hello, Patricia.  How are you?"  I hadn't seen him on there since November 2011 so he has a good memory.  I was in the Upper Level of the Britannia for a change.  My previous three cruises I'd been on deck two.  My table was 201, in the corner by the window and had some really nice dining companions, Ann, Maggie, Phillip and couple Adrian and Jean.  The head waiter bent over backwards with my dietary requirement, even saying he knew I'd had problems in the past while the other waiters, Carmello and Jimmy were so funny.  Well it was a good start.  Afterwards I ended the day in the Golden Lion.  It's my favourite bar and great when there are no sodding quizzes.  Then bed after a very long day ship hopping.

The 5th was the first of three sea days going slower than a snail, or it seemed that way.  During my 2011 Canaries cruise, it was two sea days and six ports.  This was just four ports but all ones where we stayed on GMT.  I was up just in time to hear Mary's noon whistle, which is so mournful at sea. Then lunch in the Kings Court, such as it was, before a nice stroll around the deck.  Due to sleeping so late, I missed our passing Azura and Voyager, which was on her maiden voyage for Voyages of Discovery from Portsmouth.  When I returned to the cabin, Christita, my stewardess I had yet to meet, had done the room and left my Platinum World Club badge.

Despite sleeping so long (Cunard pillows are WONDERFUL!), I was still tired so decided to have a snooze.  I think it was the motion of the ocean.  Despite being a force 8. my back was okay UNTIL we or the wind changed direction then I was woken by pain and the ship juddering.  Luckily I dozed off again and when I woke up, my back had stopped hurting and it felt a little calmer.  After checking out my boarding photo (shame they've stopped putting start and end date as well as ports) I went to the Golden Lion.  Russell Holmes was doing it until 6pm then chatted to some people afterwards.  I partially overheard the subject of loyalty clubs and mention of the World Club changing to points per night instead of credits and it was meant to be known.  First anyone had heard of it.  I wish they would.  Many others have changed from the unfair system when multiple two night cruises make up jump tiers and it's high time Cunard did.  You need to reward those who put the money in.  It took me almost five years to reach the second level of P&O's Peninsular Club which is fair.  If I'd done lots of long cruises then I'd have got there sooner.  Why should Cunard be any different?  It was our first of four formal nights as well as the Captain's booze up but I didn't bother going.  At dinner, we'd now been joined by David and Ali, who had moved from another table.  Ann and Maggie didn't turn up.  Afterwards I had my balcony door looked at, only to be told it needed slamming to close properly.  That'll be fun in the middle of the night when people are asleep.  Since the ship was quiet, I went to get the decorations.  The cleaner in the Commodore Club put the lights on when he saw me snapping away.  Thank you!  I had a quick snack in Kings Court since the food was better than lunchtime.


© Patricia Dempsey 4th-15th December 2012
Not to be reproduced without permission