Queen Elizabeth (II) - Atlantic Coast Adventure
After missing out on doing Mary for my 50th birthday in 2019 due to ongoing health issues, I was glad to be able to book her for my 52nd, albeit only the 5 night Dutch Markets cruise, which was booked that same year.  However, due to Covid still messing things up, it was cancelled on the 2nd September 2021.  Rather annoyingly, they added the 25% Future Cruise Credit to the £90 deposit instead of full fare so I only had an extra £22.50 to transfer to another cruise.  It had taken nearly 3 weeks to find that out due to lack of communication.  So, on the 29th September, I took the plunge and booked the 10 night departing on my birthday, having to pay an extra £255 for a guaranteed obstructed oceanview.  After numerous complaints, the while thing was sorted thanks to the social media team via their Facebook page and the cruise cost just an extra 25p per person.  I was notified of an upgrade on the 7th December so went from 4067 to 1036.

Time to return for my second cruise on Betty in two months.  I worked out a few coincidences between me and my dad.  My first was a three night on QE2 when we couldn't get off in Guernsey.  His first was a three night on Betty where we couldn't get off in Guernsey.  I only did QE2 out of Cunard ships at the start and by the time she left in 2008, I had sailed 17 nights in 25 months.  He has so far only sailed on Betty due to cancellations and will have completed 18 nights in 17 months.  Also, my October cruise had been exactly 15 years to the day since my first on QE2.

I had booked Andy's Private Hire to take us to Mayflower Terminal.  I used to use him a lot for Heathrow trips but not since 20213 so glad he was still in business.  I had also booked assistance for my dad since he cannot cope with walking and masks due to his COPD.  First off, we went across the road to the Carnival tent for the LFT then to the assistance area to wait.  Annoyingly he wasn't on the list but the bloke checking off the names said it was usual so he just wrote it on as he had others.  This time the results took 40 minutes to come through, which was extremely worrying but they were at the same time for a change!  We'd had the other checks done while we waited and as soon as our negatives appeared, the boarding passes were stamped with priority and off we went through security and onto the ship.  The assistance bloke deposited my dad outside our cabin.  As it was my birthday, I found a card left for me, which I hadn't expected being turnaround day.  After we had our cards scanned at the muster station, it was lunch in the Golden Lion as neither of us fancied queuing in the buffet.  The Christmas Singers were doing Christmas carols in the Queens Room at 2.30pm so I went along to see some of that while my dad stayed where he was and finished his drink.  Afterwards, we went in what I nicknamed the Lizzie Lift to get up to Deck 11.  I called it that due to the picture of the QE2 right next to the only lift going that far up.  At the end of our corridor, near the theatre, were two labs for the Covid tests.  There was a form to fill in if you were going ashore in Lisbon.  It was the only port requiring a Passenger Locator Form as well as a negative LFT.  I had an excursion booked but my dad said he would be staying onboard so it was just me going to have the test.  I decided to do the form later.

Aurora would be sailing at 4pm for Hamburg, though not for refit since she would be in with us again when we returned on the 23rd.  I grabbed my coat and went up top first via the Lizzie Lift for some photos of Mary as well and found the rain had finally stopped.  Back down for the Promenade Deck, since there was seating I could rest, especially if the pain became too bad.  The choir had moved to the Grand Lobby.  Back in afterwards to wait for our 6pm departure.  Mary was supposed to sail then but was pushed back.  Back in the Lizzie Lift to wait on one of the seats in the games area and Captain Inger Klein Thorhauge decided to move off five minutes early.  We blasted to Mary but she was annoyingly silent back so we tried again with the same result.  My Facebook friend, Pat Messer, was on Mary saying she was waving at us while my friend Maureen was having dinner so missed us.

Back to the cabin to get ready for dinner, which was still open seating.  When we had arrived in the cabin, I found the dining card was in the name of the previous occupants, which was amusing.  We were put on table 506, Deck 3 of the Britannia Restaurant.  Our main waiter was the same one we'd had on Deck 2 three times in October and remembered us!  Because our dietary requirements hadn't been catered for that time, I brought it up with the Maitre D', who told us to go from 7.15pm and he would get us on the same table every night.  Our Sommelier was from New Zealand.  Afterwards I popped outside then it was back to the cabin and an early night.  Although we may not live too far from the port, embarkation day, especially with the added Covid stresses, made it exhausting!

The 14th was the Bay of Biscay, which was annoyingly calm!  We ordered room service breakfast and at 9am there was a man overboard crew exercise.  After breakfast it was back to sleep.  If I was travelling solo, I would just get up in time for lunch!  By the time we did, it was a little more bouncy out there but not anywhere near as much as it ought to be for mid-December.  We went to the Golden Lion where I left my dad to order the drinks while I headed up in the Lizzie Lift to get the noon whistle.  This is my favourite part of a Cunard voyage when they give all those whistles a full blasting.  The majority of lines just do a bing-bong then update.  Some Captains, like Inger Klein Thorhauge, also give information about that day in Cunard's past.  We listened to Cula, a Folk duo then returned to the cabin.  I had arranged to meet Pat Dibb from my Saga Cruises group and her hubby in the Commodore Club at 2.30pm and we were still there a couple of hours later!

After leaving my dad in the cabin, I put my coat on and went for some fresh air then shopping.  I hadn't seen the 2020 Percy bears in October so picked one up plus a few other things.  No sooner had I posted a photo of Percy on Facebook, I received three messages asking me to pick one up for them.  !Relaxed watching telly before getting ready for the Black & White night.  We decided to have our photo taken in the Grand Lobby as we made our way to the Britannia.  Unlike October, they did actually dish out the free glass of fizz.  My dad doesn't drink due to medication and I rarely do due to my own health issues but since it was my birthday cruise I decided to enjoy myself a bit and had both of ours!  Back to the cabin afterwards where we saw a letter about the hot and cold water being turned off between 9am and 2pm the following day.  It appeared to be only certain cabins affected.  Then I did my after dinner trip up the Lizzie Lift to Deck 11 before going to bed.

Our first port was La Coruña on the 15th December.  After another room service breakfast, I first went to report the aircon, which has been blowing out cold air all night then we went up in the Lizzie Lift so the steward could do the cabin.  One of my favourite areas on Betty is the games deck, purely for those fabulous benches.  It's nice just sitting up there enjoying the peace and quiet, even when croquet, bowls or tennis is being played.  Vicky may not have one but she could do with seats on her equivalent observation deck.  The only drawback is the Princess-esqe roof with the gaps so rain or snow gets through, as I've found in the past.  It was 9am and the sun was coming up on what was going to be a lovely day.  We went down to Cafe Carinthia to kill some time since our water was off.  Because I had tours booked in Gibraltar and Lisbon, I was taking it easy to prevent too much pain so not planning to leave the ship or in Cadiz.  We noticed en route from the Lizzie Lift that they were preparing for the Gingerbread Village display by the Queens Room.  As it neared noon, we headed down the corridor towards the Golden Lion and saw they had made a lot of progress with the Village.  After lunch, I popped back out to see them adding the finishing touches.  It looked and smelled amazing!  Everyone who went by took photos, including crew.  They are all immensely talented. Then it was back to the cabin for an afternoon nap after reporting the aircon issue a second time.

My dad decided to stay in the cabin for sailaway in case maintenance deigned to turn up so I headed up to the Lido deck, where I sat and waited until we were off.  It was such a glorious evening, I stayed out as long as I could, making my way slowly forward towards the Lizzie Lift, sitting at every opportunity to rest.  Before dinner, I popped out to get the sunset.


© Patricia Dempsey 13th-23rd December 2021
Not to be reproduced without permission