Review: Queen Victoria
Cruise - Ocean Cruise
Queen Victoria Med Mosaic Cruise June 2011
118 people found this review helpful
Set off early on Sat 4th June and an easy drive down to the Elizabeth House Hotel and arrived in time for Lunch at The Cowherds, a few drinks and a lovely meal and we had a snooze in the afternoon and then a shower, changed and into town for a stroll around.
Back to the Cowherds for our evening meal which we had in the rear of the pub on a table for two, couldn`t be better, the food here is excellent and it had set us up nicely for the short Taxi ride to the Ocean Terminal after breakfast the following morning, breakfast at the Elizabeth is a big un so as we `sailed through the check in we didn`t want to much in the way of lunch onboard the Queen!
Put our hand luggage in the cabin and found another fantastic surprise from Peter & Di (Thailand Two and er Friend!), a fabulous flower arrangement on the table wishing us a great Cruise. It doesn`t get much better to have a gift like that from friends but along with it was another `Gift`. This time it was from our son who had bought us a meal at the Todd English restaurant for Fathers Day, very thoughtful and a tear or two as we opened the Champers to Celebrate our good fortune!
Well the sailaway was a bit of a damp squib and not even a band to see us off, a first for us, so we went inside and got our bearings on a ship we know well, evening meal was nothing special and we went to bed.
Monday, up at 5:00 am this morning on the deck of the Marie Celeste, not even the coffee had brewed, it`s cloudy and quite cool so no Sailors trousers this morning! Had lunch in the Golden Lion which is really good `Pub` food and the went to the Port lecture on Barcelona which was good and not the sell sell kind. Sat on deck in the afternoon and watched the Dolphins playing at the bow of the ship. Evening meal was without fault and met the Maitre D who is called Luca summat but we called him Luca Bratzi after the fella in Godfather, nice man but that’s his job I guess.
Tuesday, another sea day and weather this morning is still unsettled and overcast although not as cold as yesterday. Had a light breakfast in the Lido and the Cap`n had his usual full English! Picked up the daily news sheet and settled in the Lion to test our skills at the quiz, these people are seriously competitive so we do not stand much chance. We teamed up with Angus and Dot from Scotland and ended up having a right laugh, the team is now called `Playboy` as we would not listen to Angus who said it was Playboy who had the last interview with John Lennon!! and we lost a point but gained a team name for the rest of the Cruise. The weather improved later and we had a lovely afternoon reading and sleeping in sun, then we met a chap on the top deck and boy do some people tell you there life story in one flipping go, probably because you will avoid them like the plague if you come across them again!! It`s the first formal tonight and we meet in the Queens room, there is an elderly couple who have this off to a tee, they order a cocktail, two gin & tonics and two large glasses of red wine, no messing about with these two “I paid for me cruise and gunna get summat for it!“, and they say the older ones are slow eh? they leave us behind in the old tricks department! The evening meal was not memorable for formal night and our waiters are a little lapse in small things like adding croutons to a rapidly cooling soup and late with the pepper and replenishing the water, small stuff but not up to scratch. The wine waiter can certainly sell his produce, selling relatively cheap wine at extortinate prices and the diners are being co-erced out of there Dollars with ease, I wonder when the extra 8% spanish tax is added that there will be a cooling off period on drinks as we hit Spanish waters?
Wednesday nothing special to record other than I left my mobile on the prom deck and went to reception but it`s to no avail no one has handed it in yet.
Thursday and it`s Barcelona. Berthed at 8;30 am and the sky is cloudy, we watch the ship manovering into port and had to listen to the insufferance of a Welsh bigot of a man making sure the ship was berthed properly owing to the fact that our captain is a woman “We got a maid on the bridge“ he said, enough said was our reply! Shuttle into the trade centre and a very pleasant walk up to the Ramblas which was nothing like the memories I had from a previous visit some many years before. It was most enjoyable with the marvellous street statues ranging from dragons and petite crowned ladies, it was not as intimidating as everyone had me believe, you just had to be aware of your surroundings like in any large city. The market was fantastic with all the colourful fruits and veg some of which I had not seen and only heard of and the herbs and spice stalls mingled with the fish which a vast array I can only dream of at home. Really pleasant temperature and back to the ship for a spot of lunch and an hour or two of sunbathing. On leaving the harbour tonight we sailed past a Princess ship and exchange horns as the Americans are whooping and whisltling and on to Cannes tomorrow .
After leaving Barcelona we went for our evening meal which was awful! Coconut coated chicken gujeons and there was all of two of them and followed plaice Meinure which was swimming in butter followed by a banana Napoleon which was ok but I have had far better. We swore blind our last visit to the Queen was silver service and not `Plated up` meals but have been told differently, whilst I am sure you could have asked for more veg the variety was dire so far on this trip.
Arrived by 9:00am and tendered ashore by 9:45am and found Cannes to be a fabulous place with fabulous prices to match! With the marina full of yachts each one bigger and better than the one before, it certainly is a rich playground. The shops we can all dream about if we won the lottery. The harbour walk and promanade are very good but for the spectacular views you must visit the Castle, quite a walk up through the old town but the panarama is well worth it. The Old quarter for me was the more interesting than sitting in cafes watching the rich and famous flouncing around. Spent a good 4 hours exploring this beautiful town and maybe on our next trip we will venture to Monte Carlo in Monaco. Back onboard and it`s binoculars to hand and spent a pleasant afternoon boat watching, following the yachts in and out of the bay. I find all things nautical fantastic and as I sit here writing these jottings I am watching the crew practising a man overboard drill and they really seem to be getting into the swing of things as every time they throw the life belt you can hear them shouting there positions and steering the craft, very re- assuring indeed. An afternoon drink in the sun chatting with Dot and Angus our Playboy quiz members and all is well. I am determined to stay awake for tonight's show but not promising.
All roads lead to Rome and all that but we stayed closer to home today and spend a very pleasant few hours strolling around this almost forgotten place, as everyone and his dog has gone on to Rome we are left with what we think, when the promanade is finshed will be a super place to visit. The Saturday market is in full swing with the usual tat and the lucky lucky men but the central area has some very nice shops and a gorgeous prom, there is a collective effort to change the town from being a train connection to Rome and into a seaside town with its own attractions. We sat in a lovely little open air bar on the sea front and had a Corona each with lime, not quite Mexico but close your eyes and you can be anywhere you want really. It wasn`t the same as watching the pelicans diving for fish as the local drunk fell off a rock and cracked her head on the floor with the manager of the bar telling us she was `Loco`! The weather here has been scorching so it`s back onboard for some sunbathing and a siesta before the evening meal. The food I have to say is particulary uninspiring, tonight I have Gravalax with beetroot and some sour cream, rib eye steak with chips, tomatos and mushrooms followed by a meringue basket. I could order that in my local pub, it`s not like last time, the food isn`t bad it`s just bland and nothing adventerous. The ship itself is just the same as last time though and we still like the Cunard brand, just wish maybe a change of chef or is it the cut backs, I don`t know.
Sailed in and berthed at 8 : 00am and this one we are thrilled about … The Royal Palace of Caserta. We set off at the alloted time and are handed our Radio reciever thingys for the guide of the the palace. Sure enough the `old dears` started complaining that could not hear anything, same old, same old I guess (come in number 9 your time is up … one. two!) his lordship pipes up "I`ve got Radio One on mine" and has everone around us laughing! As we arrive the palace is stunning and the day bodes well with the weather gorgeous and the guide very good indeed. The palace itself is fascinating although perhaps another couple of hours should be added on to the tour as there was only just enough time to take photos of the gardens and fountains. The view from the other end of the palace is magnificent and similar to Versailles on which it is based on. The shuttle bus from the palace to the end was very poor considering the volume of people visiting which resulted in one tour being late back, oh and by the way they let four women in the loos to only one man! …. at last discrimination working at it`s best for a change. The visit is just as good as we thought it would be and we would definatley recommend it to one and all, the Italians seem to want to save it for themselves for very good reason. Back onboard we have the Disney Magic along side and we watch all the little Minnies and Mickeys preparing to go and see Pompei, how fabulous learning first hand the history of such a place. I`ve got the binoculars out again as there is a US aircraft Carrier in the bay packed to the gunnels with all kinds of weaponary, on stand by for something or other. Tonight the meal had better be much improved from the Steak and chips as we are dining in Todd English , a Fathers Day gift from our son to his dad. The meal was fantastic, lobster Bisque followed by diver scallops with artichoke & anchovy essences whilst PP had Todds signature dish `Love Letters` a truffle infused pasta starter with truffle jus and then a huge fillet with oxtail rague and pommes fondant, for pudding I had a blueberry cobbler and cream and his lordship had the chocolate fallen cake with chocolate oozing from the centre all washed down with a gorgeous red from California … we will be back!
We spent a few dollars in the casino after that and went to sleep of the lovely meal, missed the show yet again! I will make it to one I promise!
Off on a trip today `Leisurely Palermo` and on first sight it looks a very nice port, quite busy with lots of container and freight ships around the port area. This is a popular tour as we have three coaches. We again have a very good guide `Maximillion` but just call me Max! Traffic around the city is a nightmare and we are snarled up in traffic for some time as there was a strike on. We saw a beautiful cathedral and the famous steps outside the Opera House from the Godfather III movie. Once outside the city we had a panoramic drive up to Mount Pelagrino and the sanctuary of St Rosalie the patron Saint of Palermo who is always depicted with a rose above her head and lillies in her hand `Rosalie` = Rose and Lillies, hey you learn summat every day. A short stop here for photos and a look around the little tourist stalls at the base of the shrine and then down the other side to a seaside town where all the Palermonians go, it`s very much upmarket here and a typical apartment could be rented out at 1000 euros a week. One restaurant has only 16 tables and would set you back 250 euros each for dinner !! and it has a waiting list!! We stopped at a pretty waterfront hotel and had comp refreshments, coffee and pastries, I would have liked to have stayed longer to have a look around Mondello as it was a lovely place but we ran short on time and headed back to the ship.
The meal tonight was so memorable that I have forgotten what I had, anyway at least tonight I made a show and very glad that I did. Alan Stewart the comedian, he was so very funny and as it was the first time I have seen him it was a great delight, apparantly he has been doing the circuit for years, I would see him again anyway.
Tuesday: Sea Day
Watch out the Germans have landed, putting there towels out at 6:00am!! people are so selifish I felt like taking the lot and chucking them in the Pool!! Spent an interesting morning in the Golden Lion quiz where you have to be a mastermind winner to get any where near, team Playboy get 12 out of 20 … our best score so far! We spent an hour on deck with a drink and met a couple who told us lots of tips on the Carribean, we are thinking of going early next year so their info was valuable to us (as is on here of course!). PP went off to the theatre to watch the Kings Speech and I found a spare bed to lay on but the sun was too hot for me and whilst in the shade reading I notice the very many burning bodies around me, going to be a few yelps in the shower tonight me thinks!
It’s a morning visit to Valencia so we decide to take the HOHO City Bus tour ourselves. The shuttle service take us to town and we passed some fantastic modern buildings and beautiful gardens at the sides of the river, with flowers in abundance it hardly seems like a city at all. We pass a lovely bridge with flower baskets all along its length, aptly named `Bridge of Flowers`.
The bus tour takes approx one and a half hours and we sat up top as it was hot and sunny. A very pleasant way of seeing the major sites and Valencia is a more modern city being quite outspread so maybe you do not see as much of the `old archaeological sites` as other places, but well worth the wander around. There is a bit of a bustle for the shuttle back to the ship as we had to be aboard for 1:30pm and there was quite a queue. On the way back we drove along part of the Valencia Formula 1 circuit which is due to take place shortly and as like Monaco the streets are used. With Valencia oranges and a fridge magnet for mum we are back onboard and set sail for our final destination … Gibraltar.
Up early this morning and everywhere is covered in thick fog, it’s damp and all you can hear is the Queens horn sounding and others with theirs saying the same “don’t come anywhere near me please!“. The port authorities have closed the port to other vessels but are allowing out ship in so we will be docking at around 9:30am. A little while later it’s quite eerie out on deck looking out and just catching glimpses of other vessels coming out of the gloomy fog, a bit frightening actually.
Once the ship had berthed we can disembark, with the sun starting to break through the skies are clearing and it is going to be a hot one. We are only here for the morning so we are not going to see the monkeys … we are going into town and having a wander. Took the taxi with a return ticket for 3 pounds and we are dropped off at the bottom of the square. Not having been before we were amazed by all the shops with duty free prices although some items were not much cheaper than home! The obvious cheap buys are drinks & cigarettes, we watched lots of people stocking up, even though the allowance is only 200 cigs and 1 litre of spirits, maybe they know more than we do! The jewellery shops and camera / video shops are also in abundance, however these apart we really did enjoy the stroll through the town, even a gang of German bikers didn’t put us off! We sat in the square and had a drink watching the world go by and I notice that even though it’s still under British rule the prominent language is Spanish, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Gibraltar but I think the stop has more to do with duty free than the Barbary Apes! Back onboard for the sail home.
Docked home at 7:00am this morning and due to disembark at 9:00am but not quite running to time so it was 9:30am before we left. As we picked up the bags and went to customs & xxcise I’m sure a lot of people had a very bad experience, every one of the customs desks was occupied and a lot of people were having to explain about huge quantities of cigs and booze found in their luggage and maybe the man I spoke to on the ship about the amount of whiskey & cigs he brings back to last him until the next one, will be ruing the idea that he should buy so many next time as it get flagged up now on your passport. Arriving back at the Elizabeth House Hotel we noticed we were a case short and the Cap`n had to hot foot it back to the port and back through security and back through customs and back to the hotel before we could head back home!!
Onward and upward to the next one and who knows where that will take us, we have enjoyed our cruise but there was a significant drop in the standard of the food, but apart from that the Cunard Line is for us and long may it continue.
118 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.