We embarked at 12.15 and progressed quickly until the usual holdup for the security checks, then aboard avoiding the lurking photographers.
Two page boys bedecked in red as page boys should be welcomed us as we stepped aboard: new to me, though boys would be a bit of an exaggeration. The two shortest staff members draw the short straw possibly? *Whatever, a nice touch, and we saw them again looking after the guests in the theatre boxes in the evening.
This was a Getaway deal with an upgrade to balcony on deck 4 just about as far forward as it could be, but we found it fine, if a little bit noisy on port days being so near to the anchor! Also a long *walk to the the restaurant.
So to boat drill. Is the theatre the safest place to seat passengers in an emergency? *Me, I would be happier right by the boat rather than sitting in the theatre *with hundreds of panicky passengers.
The theatre though is a gem, and probably the finest we have seen. The artists were as usual, a mixed bag. It cannot be easy to book top acts *for cruise ships. Two of the performers we had seen before a few years back, *a comedian and a magician. Both told exactly the same jokes and showed *exactly the same tricks in exactly the same order as before. *I suppose it's easier for them that way.
We share a table with a couple in the Lido restaurant. They tell us they are on their first cruise and have loved the whole trip so much that they have just booked another sailing in a years time, at the Cruise Sales office. They have obviously opted for a Vantage deal, though they have never heard of Vantage, but were attracted by the OBC and free parking. And as the rep told them that if the cruise they had booked was reduced in price they would get a reduction they were happy with the deal. *We wished them well, but it is sad that Cunard agents are still not pointing out the Getaway opt out.
We lose room key cards regularly on cruises (and no not because we want a trophy to take home) It was reassuring that all three in front in the queue at the Purser desk were also requesting replacements.
Cunard captains have never been as visible as those on other lines. Hamish Read walked the ship most days when he was captain of Oriana, and you would often see him on the dockside on port days. It is certainly our fault that we passed on the receptions where we could possibly have had sight of Captain *Inger Klein Thorhauge (Olsen as was) So we went finally to the Captan and senior officers reception in the a Queens Room. We collected our drinks, *found a seat and spent the next half hour staring at the forest of standees in the *middle of the room. At a nearby table a gentleman *had bypassed the drink trays and had a chunky glass with what looked like Scotch and a mixer. The waiter appeared with another very generous double as we sat down and that was decanted into the first glass. Almost immediately he called for another one which was dispatched as well. We had not caught sight of the Captain so decided to have a walk round to see if we could spot her. Maybe she was there and we had missed her, but could it be that these parties are not really to her likening, and I can't say I would blame her. As we leave a waiter passes with another glass of Scotch.
A hot sea day, walking through the Lido pool area heading for breakfast. Serried lines of loungers, each festooned with beach towels and topped of with the library book. Brits, have nothing to learn from "Johny Foreigner" these days about staking claim to pool territory.
It's always good to land up at a pleasant dining table. We were all British, three couples and similar in ages. All very different in life rolls and location though. And, as happens when you are lucky, we gelled from the start. Scattered around the dining room couples were sitting at the tables for two staring at each other. None of them seemed to be having the fun we were!
So what about the food then. Pretty good if you avoided the steak. This I think has to be top quality to be good, and good steak is probably out of reach of Cunard's budget in the MD. Soups always good, pasta excellent and puddings also. In the Lido restaurant the food was always high standard. Service in the MD was efficient if a little rushed at first sitting. Generally there was an impression of fewer staff around than our last voyage.*
When did it become custom to kiss the waiters at the end of dinner on the last evening. Thankfully not by the men, but such familiarity would have been frowned on not many years ago. The Dowager Countess of Grantham would definitely not approve, but then she would never have been on QV in the Med.
Has something changed with the dress code while I was not concentrating. There was formal of course, but then just casual,. Cocktail dresses and accessories for ladies who as always interpreted this in whatever way they pleased, *and jacket with tie always optional for men. Is a subtle change coming *in to soften us up for the "fly cruises" in the Med next year. Jacket not required and topless round the swimming pool?
So an enjoyable voyage all round. We will be back.