2017

December 20th – Lisbon

Sailing up the Tagus in to Lisbon is always a beautiful sight, and so it was this morning, sailing up into a sunrise. 

I had given up on our ebike tour of Lisbon, we were on the waitlist, and hadn’t received tickets before we went to bed. I was just getting ready to go to the gym when the phone rang, it was the tour desk asking if we still wanted to go and if we did, then we needed to be by the coaches at 08:20. Not a problem for me, but Jane was rushing around like a mad thing to get ready. We did make it with time to spare.

There were seven of us on the tour, along with our guides Xavier and Hugo. The ebikes were Btwin ELOPS 500s, the first time I’d ridden one, and after some quick instruction on the bike’s operation we were off into Lisbon. Lisbon is built on hills so the extra assistance offered by the ebikes electric drive was welcomed as we headed up into Alfama, through the centre and out to Belem. It was a beautiful sunny morning, but a little fresh, it was a bit cold when out of the sun, so I was glad to stretch my legs on the cycle path to Belem and warm up a little. 25km later and we were back at the ship having had a really enjoyable tour.

We went back aboard for a cup of tea and then headed back into Lisbon for lunch. Jane had her heart set on a cataplana, a Portuguese seafood stew. So we climbed up into Alfama and found a restaurant that looked nice. It turned out to be a good choice, the cataplana was full of lobster, prawns, razor clams, oysters….. and was delicious.

We then walked through to the shopping district to buy some tat, post postcards and find the Cunard shuttle back to the ship. Once onboard it was time for a rest before dinner.

December 19th – Leaving the Canaries

We had another day at sea today, heading for our final port of call Lisbon. The day didn’t start particularly well, I somehow missed my alarm at 06:45 and missed getting up for the gym. I was so late I nearly missed getting to breakfast before fencing classes at 08:45. The fencing is getting more intense now and we had some actual bouts, fighting with each other, putting into practice the moves we bad learned so far.

Once that was over I headed back to the cabin for a shower and onto the first lecture of the day. Jeff Tall’s talk on the role of the submarine during the cold war. This was followed by Captain Haseem’s Bridge Lecture. We’ve seen this on a previous QE cruise and we enjoyed it just as much this time. The sun was out so once the lectures were over we headed out onto the promenade deck to relax and read, before lunch in the Britannia.

After lunch Jane headed up top for more sun while I got stuck into the laundry. The machines were busy, but I managed to get on a whites wash. The washing machines take about 40 minutes for a standard wash, and when I popped back in after 30 minutes there was another machine free so I also got the coloureds done as well. I put the whites on to dry and went back to my book. When I returned to se to my second load, I found someone had decided that they needed my drier more than me, taking out my still wet clothes and replacing them with theirs. I put mine back and restarted the drier and waited in the laundry to see who came for their washing unfortunately no-one turned up and I wasted 40 minutes.

Commodore o’clock came and we headed upstairs for my usual Doombar, and Jane had a Cosmopolitan. Canapes were on show again tonight, so we indulged and then had a second round of drinks. At the stroke of six one of the waiters came over and reminded us of the dress code, which is a first for us, but it was a formal night. We weren’t ejected and because we’d only just received our second round of drinks, we didn’t rush leaving by twenty past. By which time there were exactly zero other people in the bar.

It was the Captain’s cocktail party before dinner in the Queen’s room, so we called in on the way to dinner and partook of a couple of glasses of fizz. It was Surf and Turf on the menu and much to Jane’s delight, escargot. I had snails followed by pheasant, both very nice. After dinner we went to bed, we had a possible early start in Lisbon with an e-bike tour.

December 18th – Gran Canaria

The trip from Tenerife to Gran Canaria iIs a short one, we ended up bobbing off the port of Las Palma’s quite early and proceeded to Bob around for several hours just outside until our scheduled arrival at 8am. My legs were aching badly from yesterday’s run, and I could hardly drag myself out of bed for breakfast. There was a bit of a drama in the Britannia where the staff were mopping up a flood, it seems someone had left a tap running in one of the rooms above. I managed to do so though, and it wasn’t long before we were heading off the ship and into Las Palma’s on the hunt for some postcards. One of the guests at breakfast had told us that there was an exhibition of sand sculpture on the beach, so we decided to stroll along the promenade in search of those as well, needless to say we didn’t find either. Well, we found the postcards, but only after walking round in a massive circle back to where we’d started.

Postcards written and posted we’d decided to head back onboard to indulge in a little light sun bathing. The clouds had now parted and it was glorious and warm.
We lay in the sun on Lido deck before I was sent to the grill for cheeseburger and chips. The Lido grill serves up a fine cheeseburger. By this time I’d had enough sun an headed down to deck 3 for a more comfortable steamer chair in the shade where I could read my book without squinting, arranging to meet Jane back at the room at 4pm.

Jane has managed to wipe her card again, so we had to pop down to the pursers desk to get that sorted and then on to the Lido for a well deserved cup of tea. I made the mistake of picking up a pot of clotted cream to go with my scone, a pot does two scones, so not wanting to waste half the cream I felt obliged to have another scone. After that we waddled up to the Spa to check out the prices for a massage for Jane, and onto the Commodore Club for our pre dinner drinks, a dark and stormy for Jane and a Doombar for me.

It’s the officers carol singing tonight, so we need to get ready early for that, I have been told I am NOT to sing under any circumstances, don’t know why!

We had a full table again for dinner tonight, with an excellent price of pork for my main. Jane went off to see the Cunard singers and dancers performing Hollywood Nights while I trundled off to bed.

December 17th – Tenerife

I was feeling a little better this morning, so when my alarm went off at 06:45, I was up and dressed in my gym kit and headed off up to deck 9 for a run on the treadmill. I’ve been cycling a lot in the last 6 months, commuting 10 miles daily into London, but it doesn’t help with the running. My fitness is good, my running muscles aren’t. A slow 5km later and after a shower and EastEnders it was time for a fry up for breakfast. I do like the new Cunard Signature breakfast, I know I can order the items individually, but its just less hassle to ask for it and there’s less chance of a mix up.

When we woke, the sun was on the balcony, but on looking outside the sky was a bit of a mixed bag, clouds with a few patches of blue peeking through.  After breakfast we strolled along the promenade deck, then sat in the sun on the steamer chairs and read, a very pleasant way to spend the morning as we hadn’t any excursions planned for today.

Lunch was in the Britannia, an excellent seafood linguini and warm treacle tart, it made me very happy. After lunch we went up to the Lido pool on deck 9, hoping for a little sunshine,  there wasn’t a lot, so it was back down to the steamers on deck 3 to read.

We went to to Commodore Club at 5pm where Jane had a glass of Chardonnay and I had a Doombar.

We were only 5 for dinner, there was no sign of the youngsters, Jason and Leslie. Nor were June, Ken and Katey in evidence, we can only assume that because Tenerife was a late departure, 11pm, they had decided to stay ashore. They missed a good dinner, chicken liver starter and roast turkey for me, Jane had steak Diane. The show was early again tonight, 7pm for the second sitting. So we had an early night all ready for Gran Canaria tomorrow.

December 16th – Santa Cruz de La Palmas

We didn’t have a good night, although Jane is over the worst of the flu she contracted pre-cruise, she now has a persistent cough and was up all night with it, as was I. We’ll have a look in town for a pharmacy and see if they have some cough medicine.

We’ve arrived at La Palma this morning and it’s looking very nice out there, this was the view from our balcony at 08:00

Breakfast in the Britannia was another fry up, which I’m probably not allowed having skipped the gym again this morning. After breakfast it was time to head out into Santa Cruz, the very pretty town that we docked in. We had not planned any organized trips for La Palma so we took a stroll down the front in the sun to St Catherine’s castle before heading up to the maritime museum. 

There we found a pharmacy for some cough medicine, and headed back towards the centre on one of the shopping streets. About half way down there was a mariachi type band setting up in the lee of the cathedral. I sat on the church steps in the sun to listen to them for a while. 

When we had our fill of them we carried on our walk and came across three tenors who were singing to advertise their lunchtiemes concert. We did one more circuit of the shopping streets before heading back down to the front for a much deserved beer. Then we walked back to the ship for a pub lunch. The fish and chips were good, complimented by a nice bottle of hobgoblin. We headed down to the pursers desk to post some postcards, and get an account balance for the trip so far. We’ve managed to spend about half of our OBC so far, so we are doing quite well, Jane wants a massage in the spa at some time, so we will probably spend a little of our own money, but I don’t expect it to be much.

The sun was on our balcony for the afternoon so we got a couple of towels from the sun deck and sat out catching some rays listening to the football on Radio 5. When Commodore O’Clock came around we decided to give it a miss, choosing instead to have a tea in the Lido. 

Dinner was back up to it’s usual excellent standard tonight. I had soused mackerel for first starter followed by the duck terrine while the rest of the diners were having salad.I’m glad I did because this came with a very nice onion marmalade. This is significant because Jane is always disappointed by the chutney served with the cheese and biscuits, so she asked Adam, our waiter, to save some of this for her for later, she was really pleased with this. I had pork fillet for the main followed by lemon merengue pie, all very nice.

The show in the Royal Court Theatre was a 4 piece singing group, The Troubadours, Jane went along to this with Judith and Stanley while I snuck off to bed, I wanted an early night as I was determined to go the gym. I’ve been a bit out of control with my eating, I put the blame equally on my lack of self discipline and Cunard tempting me with a constant array of delicious food.

December 15th – In the port of Funchal

My alarm went off at 06:45 as usual, but I woke up with a very scratchy throat, I reckon I’m coming down with Jane’s cold, so I rolled over and went back to sleep. The Cunard beds are probably the comfiest I’ve slept in, so it wasn’t hard to go back to sleep. I’ll go to the gym tomorrow 😀. I opened the curtains to see sun on the balcony, which was nice after the 3 gloomy days getting down here.

After a lazy breakfast in the Britannia we headed out to the Pursers desk where we’d arranged to meet Judith and Stanley for a stroll around Funchal. The Xmas decorations on deck one are lovely.

We got the shuttle to the centre of Funchal, and from there walked through the Christmas market and on to the cable car. 32 euros later and we were sailing upwards towards Monte. Jane wasn’t happy, she doesn’t like heights, or the possibility of falling to her death from them. The ride though was uneventful, we arrived safely and took a stroll to the toboggan start point. I nearly persuaded Jane to go back down in one of those, but she decided that the cable car was slightly less terrifying. So with a coffee inside us we headed back down. Apparently it less scary going down, so all turned out well.

We walked back through the shops to the the shuttle, a mistake, we should have gone along the front as all the shiny stuff proved too much of a distraction for Judith. The Madeirans ?? not sure if thats right, certainly know his to decorate their town, they do like a nativity scene

We headed back for lunch in the Lido grill, my lack of will power resulted in a double cheese burger accident, they are very nice! After that Jane and Judith went and grabbed a sun lounger by the pool on deck 9 and I headed back to the room to read. The balcony was bathed in sunshine, so I took my book out there and coupled with Bluetooth earphones and Spotify I lazed in the sun for an hour or so before it was Commodore O’Clock. Jane had a breakfast Martini and I was thirsty so went for the mocktail, Red Apple Fizz.

I had my first “OK” meal at dinner tonight. I chose the chicken curry as a main, there was nothing wrong with it, it was OK, but since every meal I have had so far has been very good, I was a bit disappointed. I should have had the pasta! Even worse we had crumblegate, Stanley ordered the strawberry and apple crumble for dessert, which came out cold. So, he enquired whether it should be hour or cold, and it wasn’t back to the kitchen to be heated up. When it came back he still wasn’t happy, as the texture was all wrong, so he gave up on it. Well, it went all the way up to the Maître D, who was going to take it further.

I sat through my first full show, “La Danza” some faux ballet themed dancing, not my cup of tea but Jane liked it. Tomorrow is Santa Cruz de LA Palma, with a nice day forecast to be in the mid 20s 

December 13th – Dinner

After our drinks in the Commodore Club we headed back to the room to get changed for dinner. Tonight is our first formal night of the cruise, so I was decked out in my DJ and Jane was looking lovely in a long black and white gown. I ended up dithering between wearing my white or black jacket, ending up on wearing the black. It was captains drinks in the Queen’s room before dinner, and while we usually don’t bother, we popped in for a glass of fizz chatting with Ken, June and Katy from our table.

Dinner was very nice, I had two starters, yum! Bryan pointed out that with a table of 10 there tends to be a long gap between the starter and main as people have the salad course, plus there’s always seems to be two starters that I fancy. Tonight it was crab and prawn omelette and asparagus hollandaise, both very nice. Main was Turkey dinner, my favourite, and pudding was another lovely rich chocolate dessert.

We went to the theatre for the first time, Palladium Nights, it was all going well until about 15 minutes in when there was lots of drama, one of the floor lifts has fallen and there was a huge hole in the stage. The lights went up and the dancers and singers were ushered off stage by blokes in headsets. I used this as an excuse to disappear off to bed leaving Jane to see the show through to the end.

December 14th – Our last sea day before Madeira.

It was the same routine today, up at 06:45, into the gym to cycle. I did a HIIT workout today to change it up again. A bit more intense today, 30 mins @ 198 watts average

After my shower we went to the Britannia for breakfast for the first time. I had a fry-up with Bury black pudding yum! Jane had a cheese omelette. Satisfied, I headed off to my fencing class, it’s hard work, especially when you are my size. It’s made even harder when you are partnered up with an enthusiastic Asian chap who hadn’t done it before, and didn’t actually understand what he was supposed to do. The 45 minutes flew by and it was time to head back to the room and meet up with Jane before the first of today’s insight lectures. Commander Jeff Tall carried on with his Naval lectures, this time The Royal Navy Submarine Service – “The Pirates”. I quite enjoyed it, but there was a lot of snoring all around us. A quick cup of tea followed before the second of today’s lectures, Kim Sherman’s lecture on the British raid on the Italian fleet in Taranto harbour in WWII.

 

After that it was time for lunch, a very nice beef and red wine tortellini, some laundry and a film, we watched Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Very enjoyable. That took us up to Commodore O’Clock where Jane had a Cool as a Cucumber and I had my usual Doombar.

We just about had enough time to squeeze in one more drink before the 6pm curfew took hold, Jane opting for a Cosmopolitan, me a Doombar. Some hot canapes arrived at the same time as the drinks, a very nice selection of chicken nuggets and meat samosas. We had finished up 18:15, so it was time to head back to start getting ready for dinner.

We were back to informal for dinner, Jane had opined the she fancied a nice bit of lamb, and lo and behold there it was on the menu. So Jane had the lamb and I had the beef bourguignon, lovely. The show was early tonight because they had a big band night in the Queens Room, so after dinner we went straight to bed, which was probably for the best as my throat is starting to play up.

December 13th – At sea, on our way to Madeira

It was still a bit bouncy aboard today, so I stuck to the static bike in the gym, rather than risk death on the treadmill. I’d decided to do a more structured workout, so did 30 minutes at an average of 177 watts, covering 14.75 km. I really need to get better, Sa Collebra, on our trip to Majorca in April is going to kill me at this rate. A shower later and a quick look at my watch, I realised it was 08:20 and I’d not had breakfast yet. With fencing classes at 08:45 I really needed to get a wriggle on.

Disco Dave was there with all the gear today, so we were going to be getting dressed up in protective gear, facemasks and a foil. Thing are getting more serious. It’s hard work with all the gear on and by the time we finished I was very hot. A quick change and a cup of tea and it was time for the first insight lecture of the day. Kim Sharman lecturing on flying in the RN during the cold war. An excellent lecture covering the sea operations of the Sea Vixen, and how he came to fly them.

The second insight lecture, was Ian Brown and the real Sweeny. His account of the notorious Flying Squad. Lots of tales about South London villains, Peckham, Dulwich, Catford……. Sounds like most of Jane’s family and friends

At lunch we meet up with Stanley and Judith from our table so we shared a table for 4 where I shared the knowledge regarding Future Cruise Deposits, it was some thing they hadn’t come across. Essentially you pay £50 as a deposit on a cruise and If you book it within 12 months you get double onboard spend, which could mean $600 per person. Jane’s feeling a bit better, we got the sommelier to bring last nights malbec to have with lunch, which has sorted out our half bottle dilemma.

After lunch we headed back to the stateroom to watch a film, Girls Trip, it was pretty good. That finished just in time for Commodore O’Clock. Jane’s cocktail of choice tonight is a fresh lime daiquiri, and mine is a Doombar.

December 11th – Departure Evening Day One

We managed one more drink in the Commodore Club before heading off to get ready for dinner. Jane had a Marguarita and I reverted to the Doombar, a much nicer pint.

We were upstairs in the Britannia, and having already recc’ed our table I was able to put our hostess right when she tried to put us on a table for eight. Surprisingly all ten of our dinner companions were there for the first night, we are usually missing a couple through tiredness.

Dinner was a very chatty affair, with all the introductions, it looks like it’s going to be a good table.

I started with pâté and Jane had potted prawns followed by Dover sole, and I had roast loin of pork. Pudding was a chocolate and walnut slice with cheese and biscuits for Jane. All of which was excellent as always.

After dinner we gave the show a miss and went to bed, full and exhausted.