Queen Victoria 2011
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Cunard's Queen Victoria arriving in Copenhagen in 2008.
Itinerary Show Map
Friday 26th April-Southampton, UK
Saturday-at sea
Sunday-Hamburg, Germany
Monday-at sea
Tuesday-Le Havre, France
Wednesday 1st May-Southampton, UK

See my Full Ship Report at Queen Victoria Ship Gallery >>

With a host of short "introductory" cruises to choose from this year at bargain prices, this was not only a rare chance for Andrew & myself to sample a Princess Suite and the Princess Grill Restaurant for the first time but also an opportunity for Lesley & Peter to sample their first Cunard cruise!

The photos of Queen Victoria & all the ports visited on this cruise can be found on my account at Captain Martini >>

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Friday 26th April
Embarkation in Southampton
One of the advantages of cruising from Southampton is not having to get up while it's still dark to go to the airport, so even after departure at a "respectable" hour, and with the benefit of "Priority Boarding", by 12.30pm we were already enjoying the complimentary sparkling wine in our suites.

Our Princess Suite
While not as large as the suites on some other ships, Princess Suites retain a traditional cabin layout but are longer and more spacious than a standard cabin. With a walk-in closet, there's ample hanging-space and a good set of deep shelves and proper drawers you can actually put things in!

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Welcome Back! Princess Suite #6102
Slightly larger than a standard cabin
Walk-in Closet A full-size bath

The bathroom is larger too, with a full-size bath/shower and plenty of shelves. However, some of this extra cabin space is at the expense of the balcony, which is quite small and has barely enough room for its 2 loungers and a tiny table. Also, the cabin TVs are not up to much, with poor reception and no on-line services; you do get 2 of them but I would rather have had one good one instead!

The Princess Grill
The big difference between Cunard and other cruise lines is that your cabin-grade dictates which restaurant you are assigned to. Passengers in Princess Suites have the Princess Grill and as we had only 5 nights aboard and it was still lunch time, we were all keen to investigate what it had to offer!

Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size Situated on Deck-11 (starboard) with a fabulous sea-view, the restaurant comfortably seats 132. Your table & waiters remain fixed for the voyage and in our case, principal waiter Azam maintained an informal professionalism that was impeccable.

For all meals, you can dine at whatever time suits you; just as long as the restaurant is open, so by 1pm we were already enjoying our first lunch aboard! Our First Lunch Menu >>

Lunch was extremely good and we were all impressed. Indeed, the restaurant's selection of menus, its excellent food and exclusive quiet ambience would, over the next few days, prove so fine that at times it evoked memories of heady days long-ago, aboard Vistafjord and Sagafjord in the 1980's.
More Menus:- Lunch Menu >>; Dinner Menu >>; A la Carte Dinner Menu >> See also my full Collection of Queen Victoria Menus >>

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The Princess Grill & various views of the Courtyard Private Access! The Grills Lounge
& Sun-Terrace

Shared between the Queens & Princess Grills is the Courtyard, an exclusive al-fresco dining area. Along with the private Grills Terrace & Sun-deck, this would have been very pleasant, had the weather been a little warmer! But there is always the private Grills Lounge, for Afternoon Tea!

Luggage delivered promptly and unpacked, we sailed at 4.30pm after the compulsory Boat Drill.

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German Navy Supply Ship
Frankfurt am Main
Fred Olsen's
Black Watch
(1972/96: 28,613grt)
At the Ocean Terminal
Queen Mary 2
(2004: 148,528grt)
The brand new
(April 2013: 71,304grt)

In 2011, my favourite lounge aboard Queen Victoria was the Commodore Club on deck 10 forward. With its sweeping views, comfy arm-chairs and pre-dinner hors d'oevres, here we assembled for evening drinks and I was pleased that Grey Goose Pear Vodka was still on the bar-menu!

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Marine Art & Models in the Commodore Club Commodore Club
The Welcome Dinner Menu
in the Princess Grill

After that it was back to the Princess Grill for a suptuous dinner; I had Sautéed Sweetbreads (with poached egg!) and Prosciutto-wrapped Scallops but still managed to try the Amaretto Creme Brulée!

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Saturday 27th April
A Day at Sea - Crossing the North Sea
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With an hour lost in the night by the clocks going forward, I was still up at 7.30am determined to have a swim but don't be fooled by the sunshine; it may have been 26 degrees IN the water but the air temperature was a chilly 13 degrees, so the dash for shelter and to dry-off afterwards was brisk, to say the least!
(left) The Chevron P9 Horizon Oil Platform

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The Lido Pool & Aft Sun-Deck
26 degrees IN the water but only 13 degrees out of it!
The Grills Terrace
looking forward
From Sports Deck
looking aft

After an indulgent breakfast of Eggs Benedict, we enjoyed the morning talk on smuggling, given by ex-Customs official, Malcolm Nelson who proved an engaging and quite humorous speaker.

Another of my favourites aboard Queen Victoria is the Cafe Carinthia; ideal for a dignified but lighter lunch, with the added option of liqueur coffees!
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Show Picture Full Size Show a la carte Menu Show Chef's Specials Menu An Exceptional Dinner
For tonight's dinner in the Princess Grill, we were presented the a la carte Menu, available most evenings along with a Chef's Selection which changes daily, an interesting reversal of the arrangement used by Celebrity Cruises!

The Princess Grill, a la carte Menu & "Chef's Specials" (below) The Royal Court Theatre

Lesley & I chose the Crab & Crayfish Cocktail, the best I'd ever tasted, followed by the Dover Sole, which melted on the tongue! When Azam later served my Hot Cherry Soufflée, I was in heaven, back aboard Vistafjord in 1985! The evening show was entitled "Stroke of Genius" - not exactly but better than some. But after a meal like that, I could have enjoyed anything! Show Picture Full Size

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Sunday 28th April
Hamburg, Germany
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The only other time Andrew & I were here was in December 1999 to board Caronia, when it was cold and wet and we saw nothing of Hamburg. So the glorious sunshine on our arrival today made quite a different picture.

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Old & New
The Kohlbrand Bridge
Completed in 1974
Queen Victoria
at the new Altona Cruise Terminal (opened in 2011)

Our chosen tour today involved an initial 90-minute "orientation drive", through the red-light district of St Pauli and into the City-centre, with our guide pointing out the major landmarks. This proved an excellent introduction to Hamburg but the slight frustration was that we didn't stop anywhere. However, the main focus of our tour was to visit the Hanseatic town of Lüneburg, the particular significance of which will be all too apparent to those closer followers of this website!
Lüneburg see map >> See Map of Lüneburg
About 45km (28 miles) south-east of Hamburg, this delightful medieval town was founded on salt, the "white gold" of that time. The town became very wealthy and in the 15th/16th centuries, was a member of the Hanseatic League of trading cities throughout northern Europe and Scandanavia.

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The Rathaus
(Town Hall)
Quaint Medieval Architecture St Michaelis
Andrew, Lesley & Peter
Am Stintmarkt & the Ilmenau
The Old Crane
& Herring House

Show Picture Full Size Our uncharacteristically witty German guide led us on a 1-hour walking tour of the quaint streets filled with interesting detail, before giving us some free time to wander and have coffee etc.
(left & right) Some of Andrew's photos of the architecture
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No longer the centre of the salt trade, the town is now a haven for tourists and although our brief tour was necessarily superficial, hot-chocolate and apple-pie were very nice in the Spring sunshine.

Returning to the ship in the early afternoon and having so far seen Hamburg only from the bus, I decided to take advantage of the free shuttle into the City - but events took an interesting turn.....

Show Site Plan Full Size My Afternoon Adventure!
I wanted to get to the old St Pauli Landing-stage (see left) the city's bustling ferry-hub and from where there was a view of Independence of the Seas, in refit in the Blohm & Voss dry-dock across the river (see right). But getting there proved rather more difficult than I expected. Read on >>
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A Bolt from the Past
Late that evening, I bumped into Dennis, a previous neighbour and aquaintance I hadn't seen in more than 25 years. I didn't recognise him at first, until he began talking to me but it says something (though I'm not sure what!) that he had recognised me after all these years!

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Monday 29th April
Another Day at Sea
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The day began grey, wet and windy at 7.15am but the water temperature in the Pavilion Pool was 28 degrees, so I went in out of sheer obstinacy. The cold dash afterwards was the worst bit! (left) The Pavilion Pool (on a much better day!)

White Star Service or the Ghost of the Unsinkable Molly Brown?
After my swim in near-Arctic conditions, I was on the way back to the cabin and found someone else's door key-card in my robe. My own key-card and watch were there too, so I hadn't picked-up the wrong robe by mistake. I had no idea how it got there but I gave it to a passing steward, to return to its rightful owner.

But the name on the card was none other than "Mrs Margaret Brown" - the famous "Unsinkable Molly Brown" from the fateful maiden voyage of the White Star liner Titanic of 1912! Is that what Cunard mean by their "Renowned White Star Service"?

After another witty talk by ex-Customs man Malcolm Nelson in the morning, we had intended to try lunch in speciality restaurant, Todd English, but with such good food daily in the Princess Grill and with the weather improving to the point of sun-bathing under steamer-rugs, no-one was interested!

But the English never miss Afternoon Tea and while it is available for all in white-gloved style in the Queen's Room, they also serve it in the more exclusive Grills Lounge (see right >>). With a menu of speciality teas including Earl Grey (for me) and Gunpowder, Peppermint & Green Tea (for Andrew), accompanied by sandwiches, pastries and jam-scones, it was very popular! Show Picture Full Size

Show Picture Full Size That evening in the Commodore Club, we met Dennis and partner Roy again and I introduced them to the others for an hour of drinks and lively gossip. Tonight's after-dinner show was Dance Mania, a dozen or so "tableaux" in styles from International to Nostalgia. Colourful, energetic and different, Lesley & I quite liked it but it was perhaps too "balletic" for Andrew's taste.
(left) In the Commodore Club - Andrew, Roy, Me, Dennis & Lesley (photo by Peter)

Andrew came in from the Casino late, like the cat that swallowed the canary! He'd just won $626!

Tuesday 30th April
Le Havre, France
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At the mouth of the River Seine, this Atlantic port was virtually rebuilt after World War II and the locals are quite proud of their controversial concrete!
(right) "The Volcano" Cultural Centre by Oscar Niemeyer and St Joseph's Church by Auguste Perret.
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Lesley & Peter had intended taking a tour to the American Normandy Beaches but strangely, it was cancelled through lack of numbers. So the others relaxed locally, while I went off to discover Rouen.
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About 53 miles east of Le Havre on the River Seine, the journey by bus took over 1½ hours, giving us 2¼ hours to explore on our own, although that really wasn't enough time to do justice to it.

Show Picture Full Size The Cathedral of Notre-Dame is impressive, though it's rather a "hotch-potch" of towers and spires, due to the present building being constantly rebuilt or added-to for 600 years. It also suffered severe bomb damage in World War II, although this has today largely been restored. The West front and its towers are amazing and the steeple, destroyed by lightning in 1822, was rebuilt in cast-iron. At 151m (495ft), it's 91ft taller than the spire of Salisbury Cathedral, the tallest in Britain.
(left) The West Front, with St Romain's Tower (c15th), the Butter Tower (c16th) and main spire, 495ft high.

The vaults of the Gothic Nave and Choir are not exceptional at 28m(92ft) but the Lantern Tower at the crossing is 51m(167ft) high. King Richard the Lionheart, having returned from the 3rd Crusade, was also Duke of Normandy when he died in France in 1199 and as was customary, his body was divided-up for burial, his heart being embalmed and placed in a tomb beside the Sanctuary here.

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The Nave & Choir The Crossing
& Lantern Tower
The Sanctuary Town Clock
Rue du Gros Horloge
Joan of Arc's Tower

Above a gateway at the end of the street in front of the cathedral, is the Town Clock, a masterpiece of horological engineering dating from 1529.

Rouen & Joan of Arc
Referred to as the "Maid of Orléans" for her part in defeating the British during the Hundred Years' War at the Seige of Orléans in 1429, Joan of Arc was eventually burned at the stake for heresy (at the instigation of the British) in 1431 aged just 19 but all that remains of the original castle in which she was imprisoned is one tower, which today carries her name.

Facing the square where she was burned at the stake, the Church of Sainte-Jeanne d'Arc was bombed and destroyed in World War II and I would have visited the controversial modern church which now stands in its place but my allotted time of only 2¼ hours did not allow it; but neither did the condition of my aching feet, especially after all that walking in Hamburg the other day!

Show Picture Full Size The Abbey Church of Saint-Ouen
Located just a few hundred yards behind the back of the Cathedral, this once Benedictine Monastery has a less impressive history but a unity of style that I found in some respects more impressive than its neighbour.

Longer and taller than the Cathedral, its pure Gothic vaults rise 33m (108ft) and its celebrated Cavaillé-Coll Organ built in 1890 is one of the finest in France and one of the most recorded in the World. It was a shame I couldn't hear it today!

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The Pulpit The Nave & the
Cavaillé-Coll Organ
Abbot's Garden Vieux Rouen &
Place du Lt. Aubert

Exploring to the south of the Abbey Church of Saint-Ouen, I discovered some wonderfully atmospheric glimpses of its tower from the nearby streets of medieval half-timbered houses and shops, today a conservation area.

Also south and directly behind the Cathedral, is the Church of Saint-Maclou, another of Rouen's Gothic masterpieces but which was today closed and covered in scaffolding during major restoration works.
(right) The Church of Saint-Maclou, seen from Place du Lt. Aubert in the conservation area of Vieux Rouen
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Back at the ship in Le Havre by 2pm, I tried to do the packing but it seemed far too soon and I gave up. We went to Afternoon Tea in the Grills Lounge instead and did it later!

Show Picture Full Size Show a la carte Menu Show Chef's Specials Menu Last Night & Dinner in the Princess Grill
After drinks again with friends Dennis & Roy, dinner offered the familiar a la carte Menu but tonight's Chef's Selection had a tempting Prime Rib that proved delicious but enormous and I paid for it with a night of indigestion!

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Wednesday 1st May
Disembarkation - Southampton, UK
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With the clocks going back, we arrived at Southampton's Mayflower Terminal at dawn, as sister-ship Queen Elizabeth arrived at the Ocean Terminal, in the same Ocean Dock that saw the departure of Titanic in 1912.

After a leisurely breakfast in the Princess Grill, we made our sad goodbyes.
(left) Dawn view from Queen Victoria of Queen Elizabeth arriving at Southampton's Ocean Terminal

Normally, most "Mini-cruises" are so short that you don't get the chance to relax and enjoy the ship properly but at 5-nights, this trip was a perfect "sampler". Good weather always helps of course but the outstanding feature this time was our discovery of the Princess Grill, which offers a genial and non-pompous atmosphere together with the best food and service we have experienced in 20 years.

See Detailed Mileage Log for this cruise >>

Cruise Mileage: 1,229 nautical miles
Total Mileage to date: 174,132 n miles

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