Queen Elizabeth (II) - Guernsey Short Break
A short on Cunard's Queen Elizabeth on the 8th-11th August 2019 was booked on the 24th October 2017.  She had spent February until then the other side of the world doing cruises from Australia, Asia and to Alaska.  We'd booked GB Deluxe Inside 1058 but on the 16th January 2019, we were upgrade to EB Oceanview opposite in 1060.  The Verandah was booked in May, costing $39pp.  When I'd booked Sindhu on Oriana the day before, there was a loyalty club discount.  Sadly, Cunard give you nothing off.

There was just us in as my dad took his first Cunard cruise, and on his biggest ship to date.  But when we returned, the other two would be there for what looked like the final Three Queens all the while they kept this one on the other side of the world.  We were there in plenty of time, cases dropped by deck then up to departures to wait.  Last time I sailed from there I waited with the Grills but was told there was no priority check-in for Diamonds now because there are so many.  It's ridiculous only Cunard and Princess still do points per cruise instead of per night.  It only takes 15 two night hops to Hamburg for people to reach Diamond on Cunard.  Even though I'd drop down to Platinum, I don't care as long as it's a fairer system.  She gave me Grey A then we sat down.  Grills were called first, but I noticed the separate desks they, Platinum and Diamond had in the past were gone so was it really due to too many Diamonds or less terminal staff?  Grey A was next and as we waited for security, my friend Lesley Schoonderbeek-Cox and her husband Albert joined us.  They were in Queens Grill.

We were on just after 12pm and thankfully boarded on our deck so it was easy to find the cabin.  The pen had been replaced by a pencil and for some reason there was a card from the Grill suites by the Pol Acker gut rot.  Our steward was called Ben, who had spent 20 years on QE2.  We went to lunch in the Golden Lion, as I knew most would go to the buffet so it would be less crowded.  Until he bought a Queen Elizabeth lanyard, my dad borrowed the one I had from when I flew to Lisbon in 2014 for the Three Queens event.  Not many of those about!  Afterwards, I showed him around a little.  As it was the largest ship he had been on to date, we didn't want to overdo it so went as far as the Grand Lobby before returning to the cabin where he had a nap.  They had replaced the bust of the Queen from QE2 (now in Dubai) with the portrait which had hung in the Grand Lobby.

Muster was at 4.45pm, even though sailaway was 6.30pm.  Although we had to take our lifejackets, it was the first time we didn't have to put them on.  From the 11th August, they apparently would no longer be required.  My dad was getting into this part of the cruising lark so had got it ready for when we were told to don them.  I went to the Purser's Desk but there was a massive queue so changed my mind.  As I was there, I was collared by a bloke:

Bloke - "You work for Cunard."
Me - "No I don't."
Bloke - "I want my suitcase."
Me - "I'm a passenger like you." (shows my cruise card)
Bloke - (grabs my arm and points to the sleeve) "It says Cunard here."
Me - "I bought it on the Mary!"
Bloke walks off without making any apology.

Captain Simon Love came on an hour before sailaway to tell us we were waiting for "some technical maintenance to be completed" and we'd go to Guernsey the following day instead of Saturday due to bad weather coming and if we were unable to tender, he'd look at options.  Considering Magic Seaweed showed a F6 on the Friday,there was no way we would go.  We went to the Lido deck for sailaway.  They had sailaway food, which helped fill a hole until dinner at 8.30pm.  We left 15 minutes early and it was a great sailaway.  The Sail GP yachts were practicing for Cowes Week as we passed, their base during the time they were here in Ocean Dock.  We went in when it began to rain, dropped the coats back in the cabin and went shopping!  They had lanyards, so my dad wanted one of those.  As I was leaving, I spotted behind the till tucked away on a shelf a book saying QE2.  I asked what it was but the bloke had no idea.  It was $75 so I bought it.  It was actually a limited edition copy of the Ronald Warwick updated version of his book but there are only 150 of these, originally sold onboard for $108.50.  A photo, since they stopped doing boarding ones then a drink in the Carinthia Cafe.  The waiter politely reminded us about dress code but let us stay.

Dinner in the Britannia Restaurant and another photo with the backdrop of the ship, which I planned to buy.  Funnily enough, people on our table were directly in front so we just followed them.  It was a table for 8.  One couple had only sailed P&O, two sisters were annoyed they weren't with the rest of their group despite linked bookings while the couple we followed were originally from the Isle of Wight but now lived in Coventry and only sailed Cunard.  Our waiters were lovely.  Once the Cunard only couple and sisters had gone, the P&O pair complained about how awful Cunard service was in comparison.  Cunard couple only began on this ship and wouldn't hear a negative word, hence their silence until they'd gone.  Afterwards we went back to the cabin.

The following morning, as I suspected, Guernsey was off.  You could tell by the way Sark Belle was in the water what the tenders would be like.  It was ironic we hadn't been able to tender on my first ever cruise, which was QE2, though we tried until noon, raised the boats and stayed anchored.  And here we were on my dad's first Cunard (QE3) and weather scuppered it again.  We dropped the pilot and headed for Le Havre and waited for breakfast to arrive.  I was surprised Cunard still had a hot choice when so many have stopped it.  I do like a fry up when I'm away.  So it was going to be a lazy day, beginning with sleep after breakfast.

When we woke up, it was nearly noon.  Since this was his first Cunard, my dad had to hear the noon whistle.  I think Cunard are the only ones to still blow the horn.  They are on the lines I've sailed anyway, and I always enjoy it. We went to deck 10 so he could experience it.  Typically, I missed it due to dashing back to the cabin to find my phone which was in my bag all the time!  I got back up a few minutes after the announcement, which I heard on the Prom deck.  We decided to head to the Commodore Club via the Yacht Club, as I wanted to see what they'd replaced the QE2 Asprey model and her bell with.  Good job too since it started to rain as we were nearing the door.  The model of the original Queen Elizabeth was very nice but in place of the bell was the one on the Queen Elizabeth (I) side, which itself had been replaced.  The Commodore Club was quite crowded but we managed to find seat overlooking the bow so we could watch our motion on the ocean, especially as it was getting lovely and worse out there.

My dad decided to snooze while I kept an eye out for Independence of the Seas, which was heading to Southampton and went on deck as soon as I saw her.  I'd missed Sapphire Princess earlier due to the poor visibility.  Both ships would be getting home before midnight to avoid the lovely weather, although we had a F12 on Indy back in 2013 and she handled it beautifully.  Not sure how she'd do since they added all the gimmicks and extra cabins though.  We headed to the Queens Room fifteen minutes early for the 3.30pm afternoon tea but found not only was there a huge queue, but it was already well underway!  Room service it was then since we'd missed lunch especially for that.  Afterwards, I decided to unwrap the book and look at it more closely.  Such a lovely volume and, although I already had the normal reissue, I was glad to add this one to my collection.  

Dinner at 8.30pm and there was only us and the couple from Coventry at the table.  We were pleased the sisters seem to have their dining arrangements sorted and I'm guessing the P&O only couple didn't bother after their poor services complaints the previous night.  We decided to go to see the show in the theatre, which was The Rewind Project, a group of musicians from other bands who had worked with many famous singers and groups, which was started by Gordy Marshall from The Moody Blues.  It was excellent.  They were selling CDs for $20 outside the Golden Lion afterwards.  The queue was horrendous so you'd buy then join the queue for signing, with them passing it along with a quick photo if you were inclined.  Then back to the cabin.


© Patricia Dempsey 8th-11th August 2019
Not to be reproduced without permission