Queen Elizabeth Fanzine and Hamburg Cruise

My wife and I have just completed a very satisfying short cruise on board Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth from Southampton to Hamburg and return.

This was very much a last minute decision with the intention of  killing  two birds with one stone. Firstly a number of members of the “We Are Cunard’ Facebook Fanzine were planning a get together and secondly, we were very keen to visit the delightful German couple with whom we made friends on our Europa 2 cruise last September.

I have previously reviewed Queen Elizabeth in some detail at…

https://solentrichardscruiseblog.com/2013/08/02/queen-elizabeth-a-day-visit/

…though there have been some changes following a recent refit.

Check-in was both smooth, efficient and well organised and Cunard were still operating the priority check-in system for their Grills and World Club members…

Southampton’s Ocean terminal has also been upgraded with the security screening facility enhanced. We were soon on board and, as is usual with Cunard, the staterooms were ready for immediate occupation. Luggage was also delivered promptly.

 

In order to dine with the Fanzine group we had booked a Britannia BC Grade balcony stateroom, 8001…

*****

*****

One of the improvements of the recent refit was the fitting of  wall mounted flat-screen televisions and exceptionally good they are too.

Other areas that received attention during the refit included a revamp of the Images photographic studio.

 

It’s now high tech and gone are the wall to wall photo racks. Passengers now log into the screens and a very easy menu helps one navigate through the cruise collection by date or venue or event. A good facility that should placate those who constantly bickered about the waste of photographic paper but who still won’t buy the photographs: they haven’t come down in price.

Next in the improvements is the perm-awning on the Lido Pool Deck…

The prime purpose of this is believed to be to facilitate a warmer climate  ‘al fresco’ dining area as an extension to the Lido’s evening ‘alternative dining‘ facility. There is currently a $15.00 cover charge levied for this facility.

A number of single staterooms were also fitted during the refit. These are adjacent to the casino and it was noticeable that the size of the casino had been reduced and it now encroaches marginally onto the ground floor area of the shopping arcade adjacent the Golden Lion…

Dining.

There were eleven in our Fanzine group and we had, by prior arrangement, organised a large table for second sitting in the Britannia Restaurant. This worked well and we were delighted with our waitress and waiter, Wong and Hershey…

…who pulled the stops out and gave us impeccable service including an additional ‘silver served’ tray of selected vegetables each evening. Thank you both, you were great.

Each dinner was superb and there were some excellent choices on the menu. My favourites though were the Pan Fried Rack of Pork…

and the Seared Red Snapper with Avocado salsa…

With the exception of three meals my wife and I took all other meals in the Britannia Restaurant. Open seating breakfasts and lunches were convivial affairs and the service always impeccable.

We took one lunch in the Golden Lion Pub and for one other lunch the Fanzine team booked into The Veranda – Queen Elizabeth’s French speciality restaurant…

The Veranda has an ‘a la carte’ lunch menu, items charged individually as opposed to a fixed price cover charge for the meal.

This really is ‘fine dining’ and for a most reasonable charge. Here’s what I chose…

Scallop Mousse with Langoustine…

Filet de Turbot Poêlé…

…and Classic French Profiterole with Poached Pear…

On two occasions we used the Lido Buffet –  lunch on arrival day when the Golden lion was not serving Pub Grub and a breakfast when we had over slept after a very late night in the Yacht Club – Queen Elizabeth’s late night disco.

Neither my wife nor I are great fans of buffets, however we actually found the experience reasonably good and it bore little resemblance to some reports we have read in other reviews and forums. One of the joys was that on  Queen Elizabeth breakfast teas and coffees are now served by staff at your table.  Veritable mountains of fresh fruit were on offer and not just the standard variety and, just for me, or so it seemed, a juice bar that actually had tomato juice and Worcester Sauce…

 

Entertainment

Entertainment was very good. Apart from the usual high Cunard standard of general music and dancing  there were some great shows. The first evening we watched a superb Beatles Tribute Band named ‘The Beatles Experience’. They did a second show on the last night which though not up to the standard of the first night was still very good. The Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers performed a production show entitled ‘Palladium Nights’. We had not seen this production and enjoyed it immensely, especially the James Bond musical themes that drew the show to an end.

Interesting to note at this juncture that the singers and dancers were also all British: well, not an Eastern European name amongst them, all sixteen of them…

As always the daytime activities were many and well coordinated. I managed to attend one very good talk by Michael Barratt, the BBC journalist famous for his ‘Nationwide’ series of programmes.

Dancing classes were also popular, both ballroom and Latin,  and, as I witnessed,  Line Dancing..

I mentioned earlier that this cruise was also a get together of the ‘We Are Cunard Fanzine’  members. This is the group enjoying our own sail away party in The Commodore Club

 

…and a stateroom birthday where the champagne flowed for one of our members…

Hamburg

As planned our friends picked us up from the Hamburg’s Altona  Cruise Terminal. Sadly the weather was not good with frequent showers though we were not going to allow that to spoil our day. Our hosts immediately swung into plan B and we set off for Hamburg’s Speicherstadt  (literally city of warehouses, and meaning the warehouse district). Indeed, it is the largest warehouse district in the world and dates  from 1883 to 1927…

 

*****

 

Modernised along similar lines as London’s Butler’s Wharf, the Speicherstadt  offers a similar experience to its London counterpart. Shops, cafes, museums, restaurants and desirable residential accommodation and numerous  tourist attractions.

We initially stopped at the Meßmer Momentum Tea Museum, which offers an insight into 5,000 years of tea history,  before a visit to the Miniature Wonderland, the largest model railway in the world covering some 24,000 square feet and spread over three floors…

*****

A review of the visit to the Miniature Wonderland can be found at…

http://www.silvertravelforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=4198

Having spent some two and a half hours at the Miniature Wonderland our hosts then took us west along the River Elbe to the former fishing and pilot village of Blankenese. Located right on the Elbe Blankenese  is a popular destination and residential area for wealthy citizens of Hamburg.

Picturesque lanes, winding steps and houses standing close together, it has a Mediterranean feel. Cafés and restaurants are plentiful and it was here we stopped for lunch, at the Zum Bäcker restaurant

 …and sampled the local seafood speciality dish, Hamburger Pannfisch…

 …while admiring the activity of the ships heading into, and out of,  the port of Hamburg.

As we sailed from Hamburg the Captain included in his announcement that the weather forecast for the next 48 hours was not good and that there was a likelihood that our arrival back in Southampton would be delayed.

At Hamburg a large number of German guests had embarked who were destined to continue, after the Southampton stop, on the world cruises of both Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary 2.

He promised that if our arrival into Southampton was delayed additional entertainment and on-board activities would be organised as well as special assistance for those who would need to alter their onward travel arrangements. Complimentary telephone lines were opened for those who needed them.

He was as good as his word. We were kept reliably informed of the situation and the sea and weather conditions reminded all passengers of exactly what the situation was. Having said that Queen Elizabeth proved equal to the often 70 mph winds and rode the swell well.

We eventually arrived at Southampton some eight and a half hours after schedule and, considering the priorities of various groups, disembarkation ran very efficiently.

Summary

 This was the second time we had sailed on Queen Elizabeth though the first time in the Britannia Restaurant. All be it that this was a short cruise we had an excellent time. Accommodation was as expected, clean, comfortable and well serviced.

The ambiance around the ship was just as we expect from Cunard, oozing quality everywhere and  particularly the floral arrangements…

We found all staff very good, polite and helpful. Food was also very good wherever we ate be it the Lido, Golden Lion, Britannia restaurant or The Veranda and the entertainment was more than sufficient to meet our requirements.

Despite being such a short cruise it was most pleasing to note that dress standards were in general well maintained and the one formal night was exceptionally supported. There was no shortage of passengers wanting to spend in the bars which were all kept very busy during ‘opening’ hours. Indeed, on two occasions the Yacht Club, seen here during a quieter daytime moment, was a full house with no seating available…

On the subject of formal wear, those readers who followed my adventures in Vietnam may be interested to see the ‘Formal’ Midnight Blue Tux that I had made during our stay in Hoi An. I gave it an airing on board…

We had a great cruise with some great company and the perfect venue for a short break.

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11 responses to “Queen Elizabeth Fanzine and Hamburg Cruise

  1. Thank yo so much for sharing your impression during this cruise.
    Many more happy cruises for you!
    Glad you paid a visit to the “Miniaturwunderland” in Hamburg – they expand it continuously. It’s amazing and always worth a visit!

  2. Reblogged this on robbar's cruises 2014 and commented:
    I do not normally post another cruise blog but this one from Richard is exceptionally good as it is on the QE and a short visit to Hamburg
    Of course it also shows pictures of a Cunard Facebook group I belong to which is a rare sight to see a lot of them on the same cruise😎😇😄
    Course living near a major seaport helps
    Enjoy

  3. Due to sail in QE later in the year occupying a BC grade cabin so your excellent blog has been a joy to read. Thank you.

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