Queen Elizabeth (II) - Amsterdam
After the forced pause in cruising due to Covid from March 2020, Cunard resumed on the 13th August 2021 with UK Seacations, only for residents.  Due to cancelling all Vicky's cruises until May 2022, they transferred some to Betty and decided to resume international cruising from the 13th October.  That's the one I booked on the 11th August, as they had an offer of an oceanview or balcony for the price of an inside.  By then, only aft cabins were left so I chose 5182 and hoped it wouldn't be yet another cancellation.  Assuming we sailed, it would be a celebration cruise as, not only would it be my 80th (19th with Cunard) but 15 years to the day since I boarded her predecessor, QE2, for my very first cruise.  Usually it was just printing ticket and luggage labels (if they hadn't been sent with the shore excursions brochure.  This time you also had to check in online, upload a photo, add your credit card and print a boarding pass which has a QR code.

Restrictions were still in force, including the lateral flow test before checking in.  Our time was 1.45pm but we went earlier.  Typically on this day, the NHS England app crashed around noon and was off more than four hours.  Luckily they did accept the proof on your immunisations list, which was a relief.  Then we went into departures to wait for the dreaded text, answering health questions once upstairs before being told to take a seat.  Mine came through as negative after 17 minutes but my dad's caused worry until his appeared 6 minutes later.  We then headed forward, allowed to use the priority desk since I'm Diamond.  Cruise cards were now waiting for you in the letterbox outside your cabin so it was just showing passport and boarding pass.  Mine was stamped "Priority" but my dad's wasn't.  Then it was queuing for security screening and onto the ship.  

Due to the time we got to the cabin, we missed lunch and afternoon tea while everywhere else was crowded, so it was a good job I'd bought nibbles.  I was a little surprised the bottle of Pol Acker wasn't the large one World Club guests usually receive.  Neither of us drink it anyway so it stayed in the fridge.  Our steward Abraham introduced himself and got my dad a sharps box, even though he hadn't requested one as he only used his diabetic pen once a week so intended to take the needle home.  We went to the Lido deck for a drink and the weather was glorious most of the time.  It did begin to cloud over then we went back in.  Although we had been given an 8.30pm time for dinner in the Britannia, you had to book as second sitting had become open seating.  I chose the same time for the rest of the cruise.

I went on deck in my new coat for sailaway while my dad stayed in the cabin.  I stayed out until we passed Calshot as it would be the final time I'd sail out of Southampton and see the old Fawley power station tower, which would be demolished on the 31st October.  Then I went back to the cabin and the pilot boat passed us to go starboard.  We relaxed in the cabin until it was time to go for dinner.  They seem to have ditched Informal, replacing it with Smart Casual, which was so much better to go with formal.  The last thing you want to do is dress up on the first night when you may have had a long journey, or last when the luggage has to go out.  I hope they keep it.  The way it works is you queue outside before giving your cabin number to a Maitre D' then are led to a table.  We were on 424, which was a bit of a trek with my issues and my dad's mobility.  Despite being asked about dietary requirements when I booked the table, we weren't given an advanced menu.  Also, unlike Princess, the menus had a plastic cover so weren't thrown away.  The robes and slippers were waiting for us when we went back to the cabin but it was an early night after putting out the room service breakfast card.

The next day was our first at sea.  As we had ordered room service for 8am, we got up early.  It came before the hour and, unlike Princess, the waiter carried it into the cabin for you.  A lazy morning in the cabin.  Our friend Maureen Hunt was onboard and I'd arranged to meet her in Cafe Carinthia before going to the Golden Lion for lunch.  In the pub, the menus were to be discarded after single use.  I went up to get the noon whistle then rejoined them.  A lazy afternoon in the cabin.

It was the first of two formal nights, this one with the black and white theme.  There was less of a queue and more empty tables so we didn't have to wait long.  The Maitre D' gave us table 307 after mentioning the struggle the previous night, around the corner near the doors.  Sadly service was pretty lax and we got our petit fours ages after the next table.  Back to the cabin for a while.  We made our way to deck 3 to grab seats for a Ballroom and Latin dance performance from Alex and Liuba, dance instructors from the Ukraine.  They were absolutely brilliant.  Back to the cabin and bed.


© Patricia Dempsey 13th-18th October 2021
Not to be reproduced without permission