Queen Mary 2 - Jubilee Celebrations
On the 7th March 2011, Cunard announced their three ships would be in Southampton on the 5th June 2012, to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  There would also be a less-publicised meeting on the 13th July many never had a clue about.  I received the preview brochure on the 9th and it told you to and from fares and also where to pre-register on the Cunard site.  I did that for the Queen Mary 2 trip, which was only five nights.  There would be a phone call with full prices starting the week of the 21st.  Mine came on the afternoon of the 23rd so I booked an inside for a ridiculous £994.  At least I was on which was great considering they didn’t go on general sale until the 4th April.  My P&O Grand Event trip was booked at the same time.  No cabins would be allocated or confirmation sent until it went on sale.  The confirmation arrived just after 11am on the 4th April, just under two hours before going on general sale but no cabin allocation.  Another arrived 57 minutes later.  I’d been upgraded slightly from D8 to D6 and given cabin 4061.  Looking at the Cunard site after general booking opened, I saw D7 and D8 were sold out and D6 would cost £1152. Because it was a guarantee, it meant we got allocated whatever after early booking by (I assume if it’s like P&O’s) Diamond and/or Platinum members if our selected grade has gone.  I like this direct pre-booking.  It’s fairer when not everyone can afford expensive cruises to get up levels.  On the 8th February 2012, I added my friend, Rob to the booking.  It was a very easy process and I discovered I'd been overchanged £30 on my original booking.  It would be his first cruise and a dream come true.  The e-tickets were issued on the 24th April, exactly six weeks before the cruise while dreadful paper luggage labels akin to Princess arrived on the 28th.

And so the 5th June arrived.  I'd booked the Blue Funnel ferry for to watch the arrivals, while Rob arrived on my doorstep at 12.30am.  We went on Ocean Scene for the arrivals and it was dry, contrary to the forecast, photos of which can be found by clicking a link at the end.

We went later to catch the ferry over and couldn't believe the horrendous queue, caused by the fairweathers and tourists who couldn't be bothered to turn up when two Queens were in, and probably won't bother on the 13th July when all three are in again.  I'd hoped the rain would have kept them away but no.  It was a jolly pensioners outing for a large group, who sang various songs while being raucous, queue jumping and shoving into people.  What started off as a bit of fun got boring VERY quickly!  The ferry was Hotspur, since the other was still in refit being re-engined and painted pukey green, and running extremely late due to the crowds so we got on half an hour after we'd planned to, the previous ferry being at noon.  Here the tourist pensioners surpassed themselves, barging past to take photos instead of saying a simple, "Excuse me", being more raucous.  I was close to belting several after being shoved around, my bag, which had breakables in, getting crushed, and my back hurting a lot.  I bet they complain about the impolite youth of today!
Due to the rain, our plans to walk were changed and we caught a taxi to Ocean Terminal.  It was a shame, especially with Mary bow in.  I had to get a new luggage label since those awful cheap Princess-type things was sodden and could easily be pulled off.  We were also filmed for the DVD - fame at last!  When we arrived in the terminal, we were given Green N and K was being called so not long to wait as Rob became excited.  Check-in was really fast but the queue for security was now towards the window, taking an age to get through.  Why on earth weren't more scanners used???  The boarding photo was taken here and once we passed security screening and were collecting the stuff, one of the men saw my Queen Elizabeth 2 T-shirt and said they won't let me on wearing that.  Haha!  The Grand Lobby was decorated in Union Jack bunting plus had a floral arrangement.  But what happened to the QM2 model which used to be there????

I'd arranged to meet Sarah from Lincs Cruise Club, who was one of the lucky twenty visiting the ship that day (there were also twenty on each of the other ships, not including the media, celebs and Carnival UK bods on Betty).  Her schedule was tight as it was so lucky they'd boarded late and were finishing lunch when we got there.  They'd had a whirlwind tour and were now off for a boat trip around the port, lucky things.  We managed to natter for a few minutes before she had to go and we went to find out cabin, since we'd missed food in the Golden Lion by ten minutes..  For an inside, the cabin was really nice, bathroom pretty much the same as I'd had to the Canaries.  Odd smell in it though.  Our steward was Adrian and really good.  Unlike last time, there was no letter waiting for me about my dietary requirement to take to Kings Court or the Britannia, yet they could still dump that awful Pol Acker muck on you.  I tried room service, to see if they were doing it yet, since I know Fred Olsen is from 5pm, and was ten minutes too early so bang on 3pm, I tried again.  Muster was at 4.15pm, our muster station a rather crowded Winter Garden, but it was over fast.  Still no roll call in the aftermath of the Costa Concordia disaster.  Then we went walkies after buying our soft drinks package and having a drink in the Commodore Club, bumping into Grant Thomas who was showing some friends around.  It was absolutely pouring with puddles on the deck.  Thank goodness for wood not plastic!  The Red Arrows had been cancelled due to weather, they said on Cunard FM (which was also broadcast on the radio withing a three mile radius of the ships) at 6pm.  My dad sent a text twenty minutes earlier saying the same thing!  We decided to skip dinner, so I went to the Britannia to see if I could pre-order the following night (hoping they didn't cock up my dietary requirement AGAIN) while Rob had a much-needed kip, bumping into Harry Cotterill and his dad on the way.  The Maitre 'D remembered me from last year and led me to the area where my table would be so I could do that when the manager came over.  It was still the menu and pen, which is totally wrong.  How can you be 100% certain you're not getting the same as everyone else, especially if you order soup or something made in bulk?  Come on, Carnival UK, run this side of Cunard the same as P&O.  I popped into the Golden Lion for a Coke and saw what they'd done during the refit.  Not bad but the carpet is awful!  On the other side of the dock was the Wilcarry barge being prepared for fireworks.

After quickly checking the weather, we went to the Commodore Club for a Coke then Rob phoned his parents, who had come down.  Not long after he returned, Captain Oprey came on to say we'd be moving off at 9pm, even though the movements had it fifteen minutes later.  We finished our drinks and headed up for our departure.  It was still raining but didn't seem as heavy as earlier.  Vicky was already moving back to 102 berth and at 9.20pm, off we went, making out way up towards the Upper Swinging Ground, cheering ast each other as we passed the other two ships.  I was talking to an American lady and we reminisced about former Captain Ian McNaught and how he's sorely missed.  Once we'd turned we made our way back down and held position by Vicky as we enjoyed a fifteen minute firework display.  Rob was catching them on his iPad while Grant Thomas was using his camera, smoke making it difficult and obscuring them.
We led the way out, Vicky following then Betty.  We had to be snails waiting for the youngster to catch up again!  There was a lot of racket as we went, including Shieldhall's unmistakable whistle, which was so great to hear again.
And so, after Mary gave more blasts at Calshot, back in after rounding the Hook as the wind whipped up.  I phoned my dad, since he had a taxi booked to pick him up after the boat trip and I didn't want him hanging around Ocean Village.  Well he was but thankfully he was okay and the taxi turned up as we were talking.  Back to the cabin and a gift - a ticket wallet!  Must have stacks since they don't issue proper tickets now.  Rob had heard we would be armed with goodies so was this it or just the first one?  Soon find out whether they'd be generous or cheapskates.
The pillows were so marvellously soft I fell asleep incredibly fast.  But then, I'd had two hours sleep before Rob arrived and was completely knackered.  Neither of us woke before the noon announcement, which shows how tired we were after such a long day.  Captain Oprey said we were passing Brighton, having gone west and turned at around Weymouth.  So a leisurely sea day as we headed to Rotterdam.
Since the Golden Lion was packed, we hit the shops!  The sundries one had been moved from next to Sir Samuels to???  I daresay we'd find it!  On this trip, VAT was added to already rip off prices.  There weren't many items for the Jubilee which surprised me.  In the Grand Lobby was the Groovy Jubilee Choir, which reminded me strongly of P&O's Great British Pub Night, even singing many of the same songs just as badly.  After dumping the stuff, we returned to the Golden Lion and found a seat.  What is it about people who stay put with no food or drink until the grub stops?  That never happened during my last trip.  Near the end of food serving time, Rob asked if he could have just a plate of chips so the waiter brought him a large plate of them.  A quick look through the bridge window before they shut at 4pm then to Connexions to get Rob's iPad connected to the internet.  To my surprise, the manager was Christian, who had been on Aurora in July 2011, and I'd told Rob about.  He remembered that trip and awful connection, telling me he'd heard Aurora was now all wifi, which they did after he'd left.  With a happy travelling companion, it was onto the deck as it tried to rain a little.  Lifeboat 16, removed in Australia back in February after getting damaged, was still conspicuous by its absence.  I know shipping it back from Adelaide or wherever is not cost effective, but you'd have thought they would have bought a new one ready to be added when she returned from the world cruise on the 27th April.  We saw on the other tenders, Southampton had been painted over with Hamilton stencilled on top while on one of the life rings, it looked like someone tried to scratch Hamilton off.  Then back inside and I found the Britannia Club, which I didn't realise last time was a mere corner of the normal restaurant, which people pay extra for.  Why????  Then a Coke in a quieter Golden Lion.
Rob was having trouble with his card in the door so we went to the Purser's Desk where he was issued a new one.  In the Chart Room, they replaced his soft drinks package with 'A' on with 'C'.  It was formal night but we couldn't be bothered going to the party.  We did go to dinner and our table, 165, was by the window.  Everyone was there tonight, a couple from Cheshire, another from Worthing and the last from Holmfirth, as the wife kept banging on about.  "It's where they filmed Last of the Summer Wine," she kept saying, as if trying to impress us.  Her husband seemed nice, having spent many years in the RAF, but she had more chips on her shoulder than Rob had for dinner!  We talked about many things and she had issues with all of them.  She asked me why I've done thirty five cruises when I hate it, but I never said I did, so pointed out no two are the same, which they aren't.  Then she asked, "What do you do which gives you so much time off to go cruising?", clearly resenting the fact I can.  I replied I was my mum's carer until she died and she left me alone after that.  Mental health came up and she objected when Rob said teachers need to give more time to those struggling, snapping, "Teachers can't spread themselves thin."  Her husband made a lame excuse after the main course about meeting people from first sitting and they pissed off.  Good riddance to Hyacinth Bucket!  She never joined in anyway so wasn't missed as the rest of us chatted.  It was a great night and really put Rob at ease.  Allen Stewart was the theatre entertainment, who'd been on my last Mary cruise, as well as Aurora a few months previously, so we skipped that and went back to the cabin.  No more Cunard tat so it looked like all we'd get was that ticket wallet.  Meanies!


© Patricia Dempsey 5th-10th June 2012
Not to be reproduced without permission