2018

15th November – Final Sea Day

Our last day at sea turned up a bit grey and miserable, but it was warm enough and the sea was flat as a pancake. It was the calmest Biscay crossing that we’ve probably ever had, a markedly different experience from the sail out from Southampton.

There were three of the Cunard Insights lectures this morning, Stuart St Paul was up first explaining the technicalities of location shooting. He was followed by Col Tim Collins who carried on from the previous day. Disappointingly we never did find out why he was accused of war crimes. The final and best lecture was Paul Fellows talk on the search for planets in other Solar Systems.

The lectures took us up to lunch and after that, it was time to start the dreaded packing. The second evenings show had been cancelled because of the lumpy seas crossing the Bay of Biscay and this was rescheduled for 15:00, so Jane popped off down to watch that while I completed my packing. After the obligatory trip to the Lido to top up my cake levels, we went down to the Arcade to see if we could spend some of our remaining “on board spend”

We had decided to give Commodore O’Clock a miss and go up there for pre-dinner drinks instead. The Commodore Club is a very elegant venue, the saxophonist added to the ambiance brilliantly. Then it was on to our last dinner, sautéed chicken livers followed by squab pigeon breast and molten chocolate cake.

14th November – At Sea

It was a glorious morning, we woke to clear skies and a calm sea. As it was a sea day I had three lectures to attend in the morning, so it was a bit of a rush to get ready and off to breakfast before my 10am start. The first lecture was the astronomer Paul Fellows. His talks have got better and more interesting with every day. Today’s lecture was about volcanic activity within the Solar system. He was followed by a new speaker Colonel Tim Collins, a motivational speaker recounting his experience with the Royal Irish Regiment and SAS. He was followed by Stuart St Paul who talked about his experiences making the movie Bula Quo.

The Cunard Insight lectures took us up to lunch, which we had in the Britannia restaurant. We both had a Seafood Linguini, Cunard really do pasta very well.

It was still glorious outside, but I couldn’t persuade Jane to sit outside, so we ended up in the Chart Room for a posh coffee were we sat and read by one of the big picture windows.

It was our last Formal night of the cruise, this was also the Captain’s cocktail party for Platinum and Diamond WC members, so we headed down for the 7:45 start and joined the queue to shake the captain’s hand as there wasn’t a queue not to. We had bought a twelve bottle wine package prior to starting the cruise, and with this being an eleven night trip we had a spare bottle, if there is such a thing, so we got a bottle of fizz and five glasses for the ladies at and toasted the cruise on our dinner table. The meal was excellent yet again and I had Cullen Skink followed by roast pork and the a banana cake dessert.

13th November – Lisbon

It is our final port day today, the beautiful city of Lisbon. It was another clear sunny day, a little bit of a fresh breeze, but very nice out in the sun. We had booked a shore excursion for today, Urban Adventurers walking tour of Lisbon.

After breakfast we headed down to the shuttle bus as the start of the tour was at Restauradores Square, which was, handily, the drop off spot for the shuttle. We were there early, so we bought, wrote and posted some postcards. At 10:30 we met up with our guide and the ten other members of our group. The tour lasted until 14:30 and included, a coffee, pastel de natas, port, cheese and quince marmalade, a beer, and then a lunch of shrimp, cod fritter, prawn empanadas and vino verde, along with a whole bunch of stuff to look at. All in all it was excellent value and really enjoyable.

After the tour it was time to return to our stateroom for a minutes rest, which turned into an hour’s snorefest. Suitably refreshed in time for Commodore O’Clock and a pint of London Pride and a QE II cocktail for Jane.

12th November – Gibraltar

It’s a grey old day in Gibraltar the peak is obscured by a swathe of cloud. We were missing a couple of diners last night, so there were only eight of us. The food was excellent yet again, sweet corn chowder and sirloin steak for me, spring rolls and roast guinea fowl for Jane.

After breakfast it was time to go bargain hunting ashore. Gibraltar’s Main Street is a bit of a walk from the ship, but it was pleasant enough, dodging the slower walkers and we were in amongst all the duty free shops in about fifteen minutes. The weathers brightened up as we walked, so much so, I removed my fleece as I was overheating. From then on it was all perfume, booze, perfume and booze. The booze was really cheap, but the perfume prices seemed a little high. The difference in price between 50ml and 100ml bottles seemed minimal and I wonder if they were inflating the 50ml price to make the bigger bottle more attractive.

Eventually it was time to return, I was fancying fish and chips in the Golden Lion as we hadn’t been in there yet. It was a good choice especially washed down with a pint of “Old Thumper”

It was the third formal night of the cruise and we had a full house at dinner. The meal was excellent as always, Thai fish cakes followed by saddle of venison and a marzipan panna cotta.

11th November – Cartagena

Another glorious morning here in the Med. We’ve arrived in Cartagena and it looks like it’s going to be a good one. Breakfast was much more successful today, I had Eggs Benedict and Jane had a Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagel, very nice.

After breakfast we disembarked to walk around the city. Yesterday’s Arctic wind had been replaced by a nice gentle breeze which made for a very pleasant walk. Postcards were bought along with stamps, we found a nice little cafe to write them and banish my churros cravings.

After that he headed back in the general direction of the ship, finding a tat market which covered several streets. It had a bit of a medieval theme going on, not sure what it was about. This wasted a bit more time before climbing up to the castle and admiring the views.

Once back onboard it was time for sunbathing. There were plenty of free sun beds on the Lido deck. Lunch today was pizza, a much better choice than yesterday’s burger, freshly made and piping hot, with a salad and cold beer I was happy.

Commodore O’Clock came around with a pint of beer for me and a Ginger Cosmo for Jane. We have an informal evening tonight and the Gibraltar tomorrow.

10th November – Malaga

It’s a lovely start to the day. We arrived in Malaga to clear skies and bright sunshine. We had decided at dinner last night to have an early start, and pop into Malaga for a quick look around before returning to the Victoria for a bit more sunbathing. I turned out to be quite breezy in town, so felt chilly out of the sun which confirmed our decision to get back on board. I didn’t even have a look for churros, a breakfast mixup meant I had ended up with an extra breakfast and quadruple black pudding. All I had asked for was a Signature breakfast with easy over eggs and extra black pudding, this morphed into just fried eggs (not easy over) and black pudding. When I pointed out the mistakes to the serving staff and asked for a sausage and a bit of bacon they returned with a whole new Signature breakfast, and then another arrived. I don’t like wasting food but even I can’t eat three breakfasts.

We took the shuttle bus out of the port and into Malaga intending to have a look around before heading back to the ship for some serious sunbathing. It was lovely and sunny, truly warm in the sun, but there was a cold wind blowing around which meant out of the sun it was pretty chilly. So after a quick walk around the shops, only buying postcards we walked back to the Victoria, happy to get back on board. Sitting on the balcony was lovely and warm out of the wind and in the sun.

For lunch we went to the Lido Grill for a burger, this was the first meal I didn’t enjoy as there was a strange taste to the burger, tasted a bit like offal. We should have had a pizza as they looked really nice when we walked past the pizza station.

We spent a bit more time chatting and reading before heading back to the cabin to watch a film. After that it was Commodore O’Clock so we headed up to deck 10 for a London Pride and a Margarita.

Dinner was excellent again, Crispy Pork Cheeks and Short Rib of Beef while Jane had Chicken Consommé and Lamb Chops

9th November – Cadiz

This is the third time we’ve visited Cadiz over the years on Cunard. It’s a beautiful city and as flat as a pancake, so really easy to get around on foot.

We awoke to a bright blue sky with the sun just rising over the rooftops. After a leisurely breakfast we disembarked and went for a walk around the city, our intention was to have a coffee and churros but the coffeehouse we stopped in had never heard of churros, ah well we just had to make do with a coffee.

Further walking lead us to the Market which has lots of colourful stalls selling local produce and seafood, as well as many small eateries and delicatessen. It was a little early as many were still preparing for the lunch trade so we didn’t wait but carried on strolling along the streets looking for somewhere suitable.

Eventually we ended up in a bar for a beer, and he had some nice looking tapas on display so we plumped for sea bass in lemon and garlic, marinated anchovies and potato salad, all of which were very nice. Once we’d finished it was time to head back via the post office to get some stamps and post postcards.

On returning to the ship, Jane headed out onto the balcony to get the last of the sun there, once it had moved from there we headed up to the Lido deck where the sun beds were out in force. It wasn’t for me so headed to the Winter Garden to read.

It was then Commodore O’Clock so time for a pint on London Pride, while Jane had a Sydney Apple.

8th November – Cadiz Bound

I’m getting very good at lying in in the morning and very poor at going to the gym, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it, it’s far too bumpy to use the one available treadmill.

We had a bit of a rush to get to breakfast, even through it finished at 9:30, as I wanted to get to Paul Fellows lecture on meteors and comets. I enjoyed this one better than his introduction to the Solar System on the first sea day. Jane joined me for Stuart St Paul’s second presentation which was more of the same. This I didn’t enjoy as much as Tuesday’s, but Jane liked it.

After the lectures we went out on the promenade deck, bloody hell that was a mistake. It was blowing a gale, and this was whipping up the spray right in our faces. We came out midships and walked towards the bow intending to get back inside at the doors near the theatre, but they had deck closed signs, so we had to turn around and battle our way back midships to gain respite. The Winter Garden looked best, so we went and sat there in the sun to read, chill and people watch.

Lunch was very nice, we ate in the Britannia restaurant at a table for two. I had calves liver which was cooked perfectly and Jane had lasagne. We finished off the bottle of Malbec I’d half drunk on the Formal night when Jane had been laid up.

After lunch we had the sun on our balcony so we sat there as it was nice and warm, sheltered from the breeze. The balconies fore and aft on deck four of the Elizabeth and Victoria are really good, large and ours was glass fronted. They are much bigger than the standard balcony cabin balconies. All too soon it was Commodore O’clock, so we headed up to deck 10 for a pint of London Pride which was now back on and a Daiquiri for Jane, she wasn’t too keen as she really fancied a long drink and this came in a Martini glass.

It was our second Formal night, the Masquerade Ball. As well as this it was the World Club cocktail party down in the Queens room. We gave that a miss as it’s usually rammed with everyone there to see the Captain. We had a full compliment for dinner tonight, the choices for which were causing me real problems. Belly pork for starter was easy, but for main there was Grouse, Fillet steak, Langoustine risotto, Pork fillet and Scallops all on the menu, I finally chose the risotto but ideally I’d have had all five. Jane had the one thing I didn’t fancy, Salmon en Croute.

We finally made a show, a Jersey Boys tribute act that we’d previously seen in the Memorial Hall in New Milton. Jane enjoyed it, the rest of the audience in the theatre absolutely loved it, dancing in the aisles. I thought he sounded like Pinky and Perky.

7th November – Dinner

We had decided to give Commodore O’clock a miss for the evening, but watch a film instead, so I watched Ant Man and the Wasp while Jane slept through it.

We did end up in the Commodore Club through for a pre-dinner drink, I was looking forward to a pint of London Pride, but that was off, so I had make to do with a bottle of Doom Bar instead which was no real hardship. Jane fancied a long drink so opted for a Dark and Stormy. Both the wind and swell had picked up during the evening, so we were all a bit wobbly walking back to the Britannia.

At dinner we were back down to a table for eight, one couple were eating in the Bamboo themed restaurant in the Lido. Dinner for me was Caesar salad followed by Suckling Pig, Jane had the same main course but started with prawn and avocado and had Bakewell Tart for dessert. I had White Chocolate and Ginger cheesecake.

7th November – A Coruña

It was a bumpy old night crossing the Bay of Biscay, I woke at 4am getting rattled from side to side and struggled to get back to sleep. I did though and was woken to the sound of rattling cups with Jane making a coffee, nice. After a breakfast of kippers and poached eggs it was time for a stroll around the town. We needed 3 things, tissues, water and tapas. The weather was a bit mixed, it was cloudy, sunny, with alternating drizzle and an almighty cloudburst. So we sheltered from the worst of it in a coffeeshop before getting the water and tissues in a local supermercardo. That done it was time for tapas and we headed back towards some tapas restaurants we had seen earlier back towards where the ship was parked.

We chose Mesón El Serrano, which turned out to be very tasty. 20€ for 3 beers and 4 tapas. After that, it was back to the ship to sit in the sun and read.