Queen Victoria - Hamburg Short Break
Since Cunard surprisingly had solo cabins available 11 months before the 3rd-7th January 2018 cruise, I booked KC Grade 2014.  This would be my second solo cabin on Queen Victoria in two months, just four doors away from my last so at least I knew where it was and would have Benny as my steward.

And here we go!  I was recovering from abdominal surgery three weeks earlier which had been 8 months overdue and meant I couldn't lift, carry, push or pull anything for 2 months.  This would be interesting as a solo traveller!  My dad helped with my luggage to the terminal.  Cunard had texted and emailed everyone the day before to inform them of the change of terminal from Ocean to City due to weather so it meant a longer walk from the bus but at least it wasn't raining.  Bag drop began at 10.30am and quite a few were already waiting.  Once I had dropped the case my dad went home and I headed into the terminal where we still had to wait.  Neill Kelly, who I knew on Twitter, found me.  At 11am they said we could start going through.  There were two lines but the bloke calling priority called Queens Grill, Princess Grill and Platinum World Club with no mention of Diamond.  We had our own queue for security which was great then check-in and the old bearded bloke who used to work on Hythe ferry was ushering us to the desks.  We then had to sit and wait.  Neill had got through his queue fast so was letter A.  I was used to getting called first then going through security before ordinary letters.  The tide was pretty high.  I'd never seen the water so high along a dock before.  As we waited, I found out Neill was in my last cabin 2006.  Small world!  Clearance was given about noon which was Queens Grill followed by Princess Grill, Diamonds, Platinum and letter A.  Some of the decorations were still up after Christmas.  

Benny hadn't finished the cabins but I got the opportunity to take a quick snap of the only inside in Single Row.  Neill and I went to the Lido while he finished.  I returned to the cabin to rest afterwards and await my case, which I didn't actually see until 3.30pm because some idiot put it outside 2004 instead of 2014.  That was the first time it had happened and normally I wouldn't have been bothered but the post-op medical stuff I had to take was in there since it was too heavy to carry and I needed it badly.  Neill lifted my suitcase onto the bed after lugging it to my cabin, for which I was grateful for since there was no sign of Benny.  Muster was at 4pm and when it came to putting the lifejacket on, our guide let me off after I explained about my abdominal surgery.  

Then sailaway.  I went onto Deck 3 since it was easier for me.  Amy Killon Milo and her husband David finally found me.  They are long-term Carnival cruisers so this was their first Cunard but her mum Barbara was Platinum, having sailed on the QE2 as well.  Oceana and us had a bit of a horn battle then after showing Amy and David where Hythe was, we went back in.  Cunard internet didn't allow me to use the same username when I signed up, saying it was already in use.  That will be a pain in the bum constantly thinking of a new one and remembering it if you sail more often than I do.  After resting, I went to meet my friend Maureen Hunt in the Golden Lion where my ex Patrick Patton was playing.  She remembered him from the QE2 and stayed after I left at 8pm to meet Neill in the Commodore Club.  Before reaching the lift though, I bumped into Amy and David then Patrick chatted to me so I was a bit late.  

Upstairs, Lisa Harman was a revelation.  Usually it's just background music, which is why I never bother, but she was singing.  Her voice was amazing and her repertoire extensive.  Dinner and the queue was horrendous for the Britannia.  My table was 514 on deck 3 and just me and a bloke from Scotland called Roy turned up.  My waiters were great.  There was Ricky from the Philippines, who was going home the day we disembarked.  Brendan was Spanish from Barcelona, although you'd never guess with a name like that.  His mum is Canadian and it was his first contract.  Then there was Enrico the Sommelier from Cape Town, who had started on the QE2 in 2006 (the year I began cruising) and was in the Mauretania Restaurant.  Golden Lion again with Maureen to listen to Patrick then across the road to bed.  Those single cabins are in such a great location.  Our rough sea was basically gone by around 1am.

The following day was at sea so after I did some washing after I deigned to get up sometime after the noon announcement.  Having to do my own dressing changes while on holiday, I was glad of a launderette.  Not to glad of the number of people who just leave their laundry for hours.  I'd arranged to meet Maureen in her cabin on deck 5 but had to find an empty machine first on another deck.  At the time of writing, launderettes are free and Cunard supply powder.  Since the items were drip dry, I decided to wait until it finished then head to Maureen's cabin.  After a couple of hours, I returned to mine for a rest before meeting Maureen in the Golden Lion.  Once Patrick finished we went to the Commodore Club where I'd arranged to meet Amy, David and her mum Barbara for a drink.  Dinner, and again it was just the two of us, making the photographer think we were a couple.  Nooooooooooo!  I had spotted a balloon the night before so took a pic of it.  A few pics of the remaining decorations then to bed to rest.

Hamburg on the 5th January and we docked in Steinwerder.  I knew Hafen-City was closed due to redevelopment, but had no idea why Altona was until 25th March.  Due to recuperating, I stayed onboard and had another lie-in.  Lunch in the Lido started a bit late while workmen were waiting to repair a broken window.  It turned out it had broken during the return from the Caribbean in December and one in the galley needed replacing too.  Reported my door to the Purser.  It wouldn't close without a kick, open without a massive push (which I shouldn't have been doing) and the handle was very lose.  Some more decorations had gone.  I met Maureen in the Grand Lobby.  Neill joined us then we all went to afternoon tea.  Maureen let me use her balcony for a photo of the city before it got dark then I had another rest until sailaway.  The sailaway parties had been brought inside.  Changez were in the Yacht Club while the jazz from the Royal Court Theatre Orchestra was in the Commodore Club.  I braved the cold with a few other hardy souls, including Neill.  

I spoke to one of the photographers abut no boarding photos and was told they've stopped them because, "It's fine for P&O but unbecoming to Cunard."  I know there are some who hate them but a lot like having them done.  They've always done them.  Yet they continue shoving a camera in your face when you're eating, have bingo and Inch of Gold.  Be consistent Cunard!  Golden Lion with Maureen and Patrick stopped halfway through when his mic or whatever buggered up.  Up to the Commodore Club to listen to Lisa then dinner.  Still just me and the Scottish bloke but I had a nice natter with Enrico about the QE2 and waiters in the Mauretania Restaurant.  I may love the Cunard bookends now (QV and QE) but I still miss that ship.  Our Maitre D' came to us twice asking if we enjoyed our meal but laughed about it.  Brendan, bless him, took my order for dessert but not Roy's.  We saw a bit of a waiter's gathering looking at our table before one came over to ask what Roy wanted.  Brendan apologised, saying he hadn't seen the menu in Roy's hand.  Someone on another table had a birthday.  It turned out to be their waiter's birthday too so they all sang to him.  Worbey and Farrell were in the theatre, who I'd seen in November so I decided to have an early night.

Our last sea day.  I got up at 10am, which was early for me on this cruise!  I bet Benny was shocked, although unlike November, he was invisible during this trip.  They were still serving breakfast so I grabbed some of that rather than lunch and sat with Amy, David and her mum.  Despite having disembarkation information, there were no labels despite being a Diamond World Club member, who were supposed to be given Green 1 so I asked and the lady said they'll be delivered  Waited for Maureen in the Grand Lobby.  Every trace of Christmas decorations had gone now.  Roy joined me for a while then Maureen turned up and we went to the Britannia for lunch after I quickly popped back to the cabin.  I bumped into Neill and we talked about his leaky window.  He showed me the rust and where it was broken.  It hadn't been like that in November.  A bit later I noticed mine had a fascia around the window and showed him.  He lifted my case on the bed so I could pack.  

Afterwards I went on deck then asked again about my labels.  Bloke this time who said we used our embarkation ones as they are in deck order in the terminal.  After seeing if Maureen had hers, we went back down to the Tours office and got them this time.  Maureen then went to ask the Purser about her assistance disembarking and was told they usually send a letter to the cabins but not on this trip.  How is anyone supposed to know where to go at what time?  It was funny the Daily Programmes on the 3rd and this day featured the wrong bookend, but the library books bit did make me laugh.  Neill put my case out for me then I went with Maureen to Commodore Club before dinner to listen to the fabulous Lisa Harman.  She would be disembarking with the rest of us but returning to QM2 in Australia.  Oriana passed during dinner on the way to Hamburg for repairs.  She was so far away the photos came out crap.  Golden Lion for Patrick and I popped out for Magellan, which was going the other way.  No chance of an early night with us rapidly approaching Saga Sapphire.  Our clocks went back at 2am so we reached her at 1am.  Then bed!

And so the cruise was nearly over as we neared Southampton.  Despite a medevac, Queen Elizabeth was still in for 6.15am while we and Sapphy were half an hour later than our respective 7am and 7.30am times.  There were a load of cases dumped in our corridor, blocking the door of 2010 so the elderly German lady transferring to QE had difficulty getting out.  I met Maureen for breakfast and we went to the Britannia.  Still Benny was invisible when I went to get my coat.
Disembarkation was a bit chaotic.  The girl said we had been given clearance to go but once we entered the terminal were told we had to stay put as not all of the bags were out.  After about ten minutes we were allowed into the baggage area.  I got a porter to help but, due to a fire near my home, there were no buses so my dad couldn't come and help and I had to pay £40 for a taxi.  It hasn't half shot up in price in a couple of years!  I was glad to get home after a relaxing break which helped a little with my recovery.

To see photos
of Saga Sapphire in the English Channel, click here while the departures are here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 3rd-7th January 2018
Not to be reproduced without permission