We arrived in Southampton after an early morning flight during which the pilot knocked a wheel off!! We got to the dockside in good time and were there by 10:30am. Upon arrival we were approached by a member of Cunard staff and informed that check in would open in about half an hour, which it did. After a smooth check in, we proceeded to the waiting area to look out at the ship. I had forgotten just how big she was! She really is enormous. We were amongst the first to board and had been on the ship about 10 seconds when we heard a voice say "James?" It was the DJ whom we had made friends with first time. We were remembered by all the crew from our first cruise on her, even down to our preference for sesame seed bread rolls! Our bags were in our cabin when we got there along with a complimentary bottle of champagne, which we took up to the sailaway with us.
Once the emergency boat drill was done we were ready to go! On time and with no problems we slipped our moorings and headed out into the solent and the sun! We decided to get room service on the first night as we had been allocated early seating, we booked very late and this was the only option left available. I am glad to say that room service was very quick and the food not bad at all. We headed up to the bars, we went to the Commodore Club for the first time and James decided to have a cigar in the Churchill Lounge. What an experience, lovely leather chairs, an amazing humidor with every cigar known to man, expertly cut and lit and drinks brought to the table. I thoroughly recommend the appletinis. We sat with some new friends listening to the fog horn whilst we were cozy and snug in our lounge, seemingly in suspended animation! Fantastic. And then down to the casino and G32 to dance the night away.
We then had a day at sea and took the opportunity to get reacquainted with the ship and our favorite spots. Deck seven, with a good book from the superb onboard library, the largest afloat, is a particular favorite. We ate in the Britannia that night. We had a lovely table for two and the service and food were both excellent, I am happy to report. Again, we stayed up all night dancing in G32.
We chose to do an organized tour only in Rome and our own thing in the other stops. Our first stop was in Vigo, Spain. When we arrived, it looked like a dreary, industrial town, but we thought we'd go and take a look. Well we were pleasantly surprised. What a fantastic place to wander around and explore! We ate at a cafe on the dock with a great view of the channel and the ship. It was very good value for money, we had expected it to be overpriced.
Back on board and ready for sailaway. Out to the back and the band, Xtasea, started playing as we pushed away from the dock. We had a flotilla of boats to lead us out, a TV helicopter flying with us and thousands lining the shore to wave goodbye to the new Queen of the Seas. We then ate in the Lotus, which has a tasting menu, lots of dishes to try, eleven in total. The food was of a very high standard and the waitstaff were superb. My husband is allergic to shell fish and they replaced these dishes with no problems.
Another couple of days at sea saw us heading to Livorno, via a technical stop in Cueta. This stop was to replace Gibraltar. We asked about and were told that the stop in Gibraltar was cancelled due to the dock not having been dredged. We ate in the Britannia again and again I can report no problems.
We received our gold worldclub member pins this time and were invited to a cocktail party. I am very pleased to report that this is at 11am and includes lots of free alcohol, I chose to take it easy and only had a couple of glasses of champagne.
We arrived into a cloudy and overcast Livorno, port for Pisa and Florence. We disembarked just as the storm arrived, thunder, lightning and torrential rain! We took the free shuttle into the town centre and jumped on a bus to the train station. We made our own way to Pisa, cheap and very easy to do! We were back on board by 3:30pm and I was off to the Spa. I had chosen to have a Cocoon treatment. I have never been so relaxed in my life, well worth $109.00, which included an exfoliating mitt and extra moisturizer to take home. The spa staff are helpful, courteous, discreet and very thorough.
We left Livorno to the sound of a traditional band on the dock side and thousands of well-wishers lining the shore.
Rome, Italy. I am very glad we chose to do the ship organized excursion here as Civatevecchia is so far from Rome itself. The tour disembarkation was very smooth, we had heard of problems in Livorno, but we had no problems at all. The coach was modern, clean and comfortable. The guide, Serena, spoke excellent English and was very knowledgeable. We picked up another guide at the Vatican, Barbara, again she spoke excellent English and was again very knowledgeable. We also visited the Coliseum and then had free time. My only complaint is that we didn't have long enough in Rome, 9 hours, so we will be going back. We then had another day at sea to Athens.
We also ate in the Carvery and La Piazza on this trip. The food in the Carvery is traditional British roasts. It was good quality and plentiful, this is not suitable for vegetarians at all. I wouldn't recommend La Piazza to anyone, we didn't enjoy it much at all. I ate the swordfish and I would say it was average and my husband did not enjoy the lamb at all, the tiramisu was very good though. The service was fairly good here, but not the greatest.
We spent a day docked in Athens, before disembarking and flying home, we chose to remain on board and soak up the sun. People were disembarking from 3am due to strange flight times. It was very smoothly done, considering the security surrounding the ship. Speaking of security, we had two submarines, two warships, were blocked in by floating barrage balloons and lots of gunships whilst in Athens. Also the FBI, MI5 and MI6 sweeping the ship due to the high profile she has and the people due to stay on her in Athens.
For our last two nights it was back to the Britannia,we had managed to sort a late seating, thanks to Rey, an assistant maitre'd, who was one of the serving team from our last cruise. We had to send a dish back this time, a medium rare steak that was too rare for us. It was replaced in under thirty seconds. We really had no service issues at dinner throughout the whole trip. The bar staff in the golden lion, especially, were excellent. We love G32 and spent many a happy hour there.
We had a really great time and are already looking forward to our next trip. Long may she rule the seas.
Food, very good in the Britannia, Golden lion, Carvery and Lotus.
Service, excellent throughout.
Entertainment, we only went to one show, but it was very good and the day time entertainment was superb.
Cabins, Very good size, always kept clean and our stewardess was just great. Always saying hello when we passed in the hall and very quick with anything we wanted.
Tours, the one tour we took was good quality, but we could have done with longer in the Vatican. The tour office however are still rude and surly when questioned about the cost of the airport transfer in Athens.
Staff, friendly and great fun to be with, keep us coming back, again and again!
Room service fast, on time and good as you can expect from any room service.
Dress, the dress codes are enforced in the Britannia and grills. Formal is formal, evening gowns and tuxedos.
To put her size into perspective, the Westerdam sailed past and we all said, "gosh, this is a big ship!" We utterly love her and are planning our next trip. We just can't stay away.