Author: Jimbo

We love cruising and specifically we love cruising with Cunard. These blogs are intended for my own consumption, but they can also act as a repository of useful cruising knowledge for people wanting to cruise with Cunard.

October 22nd – Passing Potugal

Jane had a particularly bad night last night. Being a lady of a certain age, she’s been experiencing”power surges” which has been disrupting her sleep quite badly. This coupled with the lively seas means she’s very tired this morning. I was late getting up, my knackered Achilles, means no running and there’s no fencing today so I didn’t stir until after 9am. After a shower, I headed up to the Lido for breakfast, with orders of bring me something nice, and a cup of tea following me out of the door. I had a freshly made ham and mushroom omelette before making Jane a bacon bagel, with tea. Her breakfast looked a lot nicer than mine had been, and going by munching noises as she devoured it, it was.

The lecture trail started with John Sherlock’s architecture lectures, this time entitled “Byzantine Skill, Romanesque Energy and Gothic Glory”. This covered the medieval period. I am now an expert at spotting the difference between Roman and Gothic arches, you never know when it will come in handy.

I didn’t hang around for Margaret Gilmore’s lecture on the Litvanyenko murder by the Russian secret service as I’d seen this on the QM2 last December. I went and collected Jane to see if we could spend some of our remaining OBC and put down a future cruise deposit for next year’s cruise.

The lunchtime lecture is David Mallinder’s reprise on Sammy Davis Jr. This is the lecture from the Singers of the Great American Songbook series I was most looking forward to and it was excellent. After the lecture, lunch beckoned, pea soup and minute steak, lovely. After lunch we went back up to get the last of the sun on deck 9, where I left Jane in the capable hands of Giana and I headed back down to the Royal Court theatre where Star Trek: Beyond was showing. The projector is on it’s last legs, with a yellow bleed across large parts of the screen. Apparently this will be fixed on return to Southampton, it didn’t spoil the film, but it wasn’t good.

It’s now Commodore o’clock, so I’m going to have a pint of Pedigree and Jane wants a classic bloody Mary, she’s all Martini’d out.

October 21st – Departing Cadiz

It’s Commodore o’clock, Red Apple Fizz for me and Jane’s new favourite, Breakfast Martini. The Captain, Aseem Hashmi, came over the tannoy to tell us everyone was on-board and that things were going to get a bit lumpy heading home with 2 1/2 meter seas. He also informed us that today is Trafalgar Day and we were about to pass the site of his historic victory over the French.

We had one more drink, Jane having a Watermelon Martini, before heading down to the room to get ready for dinner. We’d arranged to meet up with Pat and Giana for a little light pre-dinner quizzing in the Golden Lion pub. It was a bit busier today, so we struggled to find a table for four, opting for a table for two and snaffling some stools for it from around the room. Well, we only went and won the quiz again, getting 9 from 12 and going all-in on the wipeout question. We won it on the tiebreak question, when was the bicycle invented?

Heady on the success we made our way to dinner, where I had chicken liver parfait followed by a prawn pasta and crêpes Suzette all washed down with a very palatable Riesling. The wines on the Commodore’s package have been very good, there was only one I didn’t like, which was, surprisingly the Malbec. I’m normally a big fan of Malbec but just didn’t get on with this one. Jane had the same as me for dinner, except she had chicken soup to start.

After that it was time to go to bed, to try and get some sleep, the captain had said there were some lively seas ahead and Jane isn’t very good when it’s a bit lumpy out there.

October 21st – Cadiz

A text message from Vodafone ES woke me at around 4am telling me their prices for calls, we must have transited the Straits of Gibraltar because the ship was moving around quite a bit. No alarm clock this morning, I’m crocked with my Achilles tendon giving me gyp so we had a lie in not making breakfast until 08.45.

Once breakfast was over Jane popped along to the launderette to do a white wash while most people were off on their tours. Once that was done we went off the ship to have a stroll through Cadiz. We ended up at the market, where we had a snack and drink, before heading back for our Flamenco and Tapas tour at 13.20. We spent about 20 minutes getting all the old ones on the coach and set off to the Flamenco bar, we headed out of the dock gates, turned right and travelled about 100 yards down to a roundabout, came around that and back to stop opposite the dock gates where we all got off and walked 100 meters to El Cava! All in all we spent about 40 minutes to go what would have taken 10 minutes to walk directly.

The Flamenco dancing was very intense, lots of stamping and smoldering stares. It was very enjoyable, my hands were sore with the clapping.

A second part of the tour was a panoramic scenic tour of Cadiz, but we’d already done something similar so didn’t bother with that, instead we headed back to the ship for afternoon tea.

October 20th – Quiz Champions & Dinner

We had arranged to meet up with Pat and Giana for the quiz again tonight in the Golden Lion pub. We had got ready very early, so ended up having a look at the sale items racked up outside the ladies boutique on deck 3. Jane saw a pair of trousers she liked, but at 195 USD they were a bit tasty for me. She the saw another set that she liked, and this time they were more to my liking at 42 USD, so she went to try them on. The boutique doesn’t have a changing room, so she headed back to the stateroom to try them on, leaving me in the shop as collateral. Well they fitted and she liked them so bought them, feeling very pleased with herself when she got 50% off, a bargain at 21 USD.

I was sent to the pub to grab a table for the quiz while, she took her purchase back to the room. So suitably lubricated with a pint of Pedigree, and joined by Pat and Giana, we proceeded to go on and win the quiz with 9 questions of twelve correct, and doubling up by getting the wipeout question right.

With our quiz cards stamped we headed to dinner, stopping by the Queen’s Room where Gretchen and Thirsa, and Jeff and Hazel were on the dancefloor, dancing to a cha cha. We watched them dance then walked together to our table where Peter and Linda were waiting. I had crab tian, followed by saddle of venison and then a delicious treacle sponge. Thirsa has spring rolls, which she didn’t like. She asked Germane, our waiter, if he would change it for the crab, he did this with no fuss at all, which shows that there is no reason to suffer a dish you don’t like, they always willing to change it for you. BTW everyone else who had had the spring rolls loved them.

The show tonight was comedian Roy Walker, not my cup of tea, so it was off to bed to get ready for Cadiz.

October 20 – En Route to Cadiz.

I woke a little before my alarm this morning so was ready for it when it went off at 06.50. Jane was telling me to get back in bed while I was getting ready for the gym, but as this might be the last chance I get for a run I was determined to go. Once we past Gibraltar tonight we’ll be in the Atlantic, and if we have “Sea State lumpy” running on the treadmill might become problematic. As it turned out I needn’t have worried about running on the next few days. I was just jogging through 4.5km when I started to feel my Achilles tighten. I decided to complete my 5k, but as just as I got there it went on me and I had to hit the stop button. It loosened up again after I’d cooled down a little, but it’s not good.

We lazed in the stateroom for a while before going for a late breakfast in the MDR. There was no fencing class today as there was a tat bazaar going on the the Queen’s Room, so we had a quick look in there before heading on to the Royal Court Theatre for the first of today’s lectures. The Captain, Assume Hashim, was giving a lecture on the ship operations entitled Virtual Bridge Tour. Informative, interesting and very enjoyable. The Captain is obviously a people person, both witty and self deprecating, you can see why he has made it to the highest echelons of Cunard.

I had about 30 minutes up on deck 9 with Jane before it was time for my second lecture of the day. John Sherlock was back again with the second of his architecture lectures, this time covering the Roman period. Very good again, I learned a lot and I will certainly be going to his next one’s assuming they don’t clash with fencing.

I dined alone today, Jane was going to get a jacket potato in the Lido for lunch, so intending to be good I headed to the MDR only to be tripped up by a very nice burger and then the best trifle I have had in a long time.

The third lecture was Dave Mallinder’s reprise of Dean Martin’s life. An extensive lecture covering his early life in Ohio, the Jerry Lewis and Rat Pack years, and through to his death on Christmas day 1995.

Jane had stayed on deck 9 making the most of the last of the sunshine with Giana. Jane came back to the room, and we decided to go out and have a fancy coffee in the Cafe Carinthia with Pat and Giana which passed a little time, the American I had today was much nicer than yesterday’s latte. On the way back we spotted another of our dinner companions, Thirsa, in the Queen’s Room where she was watching Gretchen, another of our dinner companions, take part in the tap dancing classes, Gretchen was pretty good, soft shoeing to a track from Chicago. After that it was time for a rest back in the room. No Commodore Club for us tonight.

October 19th -At Sea

We didn’t hang around in the Commodore Club for too long, leaving well before the 6pm dress code cut-off. It’s the Captain’s cocktail party for the CWC members as well as being the Masquerade Ball, so tonight was a formal night. I was in the white tux, as I’d popped a button on my black tux jacket, and not having packed a sewing kit, wasn’t in a position to repair it.

We headed down to the Queen’s room for cocktails, when we saw Giana and Pat in the Golden Lion, so we made a detour to say hello and ended up chatting with them, and then joined their team for the 8 o’clock quiz. We’re not right bright, only getting 9 out of 12 questions correct and then getting the wipeout question wrong. The format of the quiz is you can bet, points scored in the first part of the quiz on a final wipeout question, which we got wrong anyway. It wouldn’t have mattered if we’d got it right as the winning score was 2000, and the most we’d have got would have been 1800.

Dinner was excellent again, with a Serrano ham starter and Fillet steak Rossini for a main, Jane had rack of lamb, so was in seventh heaven. Hazel and Jeff taken advantage of Captain’s cocktails, Hazel had had “3 or 4” glasses of bubbly and was very lively, they are a fun couple and a delight to have as dinner companions. Petit fours were passed around, and the surplus left on the table yet again, which meant I couldn’t keep my hands off them.

The entertainment in the Royal Court theatre were and acrobatic act, this wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I did enjoy it.

October 19th

Today is a sea day, and as such has been designated as a learning day. It started off well, as I leapt out of bed at 06.50 with my alarm clock blaring out. I got dressed and headed of to the gym for my run. I then went back to the room as I’d forgotten my Polar Heart Rate Monitor. Eventually I got back to the gym and set off jogging on the treadmill. 5 kms later, I was on my cool down and I noticed that my performance index on the machine was 46. Now I have no idea what the number means, but on the first day, my run had a PI of 41. So the first thing I learned today is I’m 5 whatevers better at running than I was before the cruise. I may be fatter, but I’m fitter.

After a mad dash of shower and breakfast in the Lido, it was time for fencing. We’d been bumped again to the 08.45 slot because of a lecture on LS Lowrey in the Queen’s room at 11am. As is usual for the early session, there were only two of us, Eve was the other swords person. It’s good when there’s only two though, we got a lot more time free fighting, which was fast and frenetic.

I got back to the stateroom for my second shower and change of clothes of the day and it was only 09.40. Jane was just back from doing some ironing, and was now heading off upstairs to do some sun worshipping while I headed off to the first of three lectures.

The first was a lecture on architecture, given by John Sherlock, entitled Greek orders and illusions. It was very interesting and I am now much better informed on the difference between Doric, Ionic and Corinthian architecture styles.

The second, was Margaret Gilmore’s second lecture on terrorism, entitled Terrorist Hunters. I saw this lecture on the QM2 last December, it has been updated covering more recent events, but it was pretty much the same.

The third was a lecture on Nat King Cole by Dave Mackinder. This is the first in a series entitled Singers of the Great American Songbook. Again I really enjoyed this lecture, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s lecture on Dean Martin.

All this education was making me hungry and I’d arranged to meet Jane back at the stateroom, before heading to the MDR for lunch where I had salad and a sandwich, roast beef. Jane had left her book etc up with Giana, so I headed up to deck 9 with her to get a little sun. Jane has a massage booked at 15.15, so after a while chatting with Pat and reading Jane disappeared off to that and I snuck off for a snack while she wasn’t looking.

I actually fancied a nice coffee and after a pretty horrendous experience of the muck dished out by the machine in the Lido at breakfast, I opted for a latte in the Café Corinthia. It was better than the Lido, but I still wasn’t enamoured with it, I prefer the coffee served up in the MDR.
Jane came back from her massage “in agony”, the girl had given her a right pummeling. I don’t expect it will stop her going back for another though. After all that excitement it was Commodore o’clock, so we headed up to deck 10 where Jane asked for a Watermelon Martini, which she failed to get, it wasn’t our usual steward so he may not have asked the correct question from the barman. In the end she opted for the Breakfast Martini, always a good choice, and I had a Red Apple Fizz.

October 18th – Leaving Sicily

We had a really, really lazy evening. Jane was exhausted and full after the Taormina visit, so we’d decided to give the Commodore Club a miss tonight and watch a film instead. We watched Florence Foster Jenkins, very enjoyable, before getting ready for dinner.

Dinner was, as usual, excellent with a chicken boudin starter and a chicken curry main. Dessert was a hazelnut parfait, heavier than I thought it should but very tasty. The petit fours were a mixture of lemon marshmallow and praline cakes. Germane our waiter left a plate full of them on the table after dinner was finished and I ate the lot. I don’t seem to have an off switch for that kind of thing.

Carrying on the lazybones theme, we didn’t go to the show, but straight to bed instead.

October 18th – Messina

I had another lazy day today knowing I was going to be doing a lot of walking on our shore excursion. We were doubly lazy, not getting up until 08.30 and drifting down to breakfast in the MDR. Jane was feeling particularly antisocial so we ended up on a table for two and unusually, it was fairly isolated, so there was no-one near for me to chat to. I had figs and prunes followed by kippers and poached eggs. 

We then made our way down to the dock side were our coach was waiting to transfer us to Taormina. This is a very pretty town, with a very scary approach along hairpin bends and vertical drops. Jane was not happy, especially after yesterday’s interesting drive through the Albanian mountains. After getting dropped off we were given 3 hours to see the sights. Well, we had a plan, postcards, coffee to write them,  pizza and any sightseeing we could fit in.

The postcards and coffee were accomplished toute suite, so we took a stroll along to the Greek Amphitheatre for a bit of culture. There are a lot of steep drops all around the theater which gave Jane jelly legs on more than one occasion.

From there we walked back through Taormina, to get some stamps from the Post Office, and then the main event. Pizza time, Jane has been desperate for an authentic Italian Pizza for ages, and I know Sicily isn’t really the home of Pizza, but notwithstanding a trip to Naples this was going to have to do.

It was very nice indeed, made so much better by having it served with ice cold beer on a very warm day.

It was then time to head back to the Queen Elizabeth and afternoon tea !

October 17th – Departing for Sicily

After the Commodore Club and a second Martini, breakfast variety, this time. We headed back to the room for a little rest, and then it as time for dinner. It was informal again, we don’t have a formal night until the Captain’s cocktail evening on the 19th. While we were getting ready, we took advantage of the 6pm lull and stuck on some laundry. The launderette is usually very quiet at that time.

Dinner was very good, I had chicken and leek terrine followed by partridge, and since it was roast beef night I got a couple of Yorkshire’s thrown in for good measure. Jane had a mushroom and tarragon tart followed by the beef.

It was a gala night in the theater with Lorraine Brown and the Troubadours doing a variety act,  Jane and Giana toddled off to that while I was boring and went to bed.