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Sunday, 15 January 2012

QUEEN ELIZABETH 5th January 2012 Part 2


Friday 6th January 2012
Part 2
Oops, I think I slept through my alarm clock telling me to get up, because we had arrived in Le Havre and I needed breakfast to start the day. This was in the Lido Restaurant, which I found a much more attractive area than that on QUEEN MARY 2. The seating was comfortable, and the various areas had sufficient soft furnishings to make it a very welcoming place to be. I saw that Sunrise was only at 8.57 a.m. so maybe my body clock was on GMT…

Outside it was extremely cold but sunny, so the free shuttle bus took passengers into the town, whilst others had taken excursions from the ship. The port and surrounding town buildings look very grey and I was amused to read that, after the war, the Le Havre rebuilding work was done by Auguste Perret, and he made much use of his favourite material, the sturdy (but not too scenic) reinforced concrete.

After a brisk walk around town (the Maritime Museum was closed) we returned to the ship

The Welcome Aboard mat

in time for a Golden Lion pub lunch. The fish and chips were lovely, and the day’s Special Dessert just had to be ordered – Volcano Pudding – chocolate and chocolate sauce, looking just like a little volcano indeed.

Volcano Pudding

Some time later it was time for Afternoon Tea, if only to be seated in the Queen’s Room being served Earl Grey tea.

Queens Room

Queens Room light

I was told that the table for two I was sitting at was the favourite of a particular member of the Ocean Liner Society, so that was fun to think about. The pianist entertained us, the light came through the stained glass windows high up on one side of the room, the glorious glass light fittings on the ceiling sparkled and looked wonderful, and everyone seemed happy to be on the ship in these lovely surroundings. I feel really comfortable on board and like the ship very much.

4 gantries being taken round to the container port

There was time for a rest and to prepare for pre-dinner drinks in the Carinthia Bar – it’s the night for a ‘posh frock’, or Elegant Casual as the Daily Programme told me – and watching us sail away from Le Havre.

Dinner was at another new table with my travelling companion and other congenial passengers, so nearly two hours passed easily with good food and conversation, before going to the Queen’s Room for a while to enjoy live music and dancing. Then it was time for the Royal Court Theatre, where tonight’s entertainment was a very skilled musician who amazed and amused us with ‘Music and Mayhem’.

Ships seen: Norman Voyager, Ottawa Express, CMA CGM Turquoise, Caroline in Le Havre town basin, Armorique far away on the horizon, Normandie far away on the horizon, VB Optiville, Leopard, VB Suprenzo 10, VB Yport 12, VB Barfleur 18, Le Havre Pilot boat 2, VB La Reve, Torm Saone, VB Sainte Adresse, and Zhen Hua 20 carrying 4 big blue container gantries on deck and accompanied by 5 tugs and which is registered in St. Vincent, Grenadines

Saturday 7th January 2012
We have a day at sea – what a treat. There was Restaurant breakfast to enjoy with the sunshine pouring through the windows, and most of us ignoring the big seas outside. Rough weather had been forecast and the ship was moving slightly, but our next appointment was in the Theatre for a lecture by Mr Peter Rushton, about Tall Ships – a Sail through the Century. When Peter was being introduced on stage by the Cruise Director, she mentioned that he had been at sea with Union-Castle Line. At this moment there was a small shout of ‘hooray’ from someone in the audience, which caused amusement all round including to those on stage. Yes, in my position as goodwill ambassador for Union-Castle, mine was the lone cheering voice.

After the talk I went to say hello to Peter, who remembered me through our various Union-Castle connections over the years.

Lunch was to be another treat – in The Verandah, the speciality Restaurant midships on Deck 2. This was fine dining in beautiful surroundings and with attentive service from staff who obviously enjoyed their work.

Our next appointment that had to be kept was a visit to the Bridge, thanks to the kindness and invitation of Captain Wells. He said he had been very pleased with the gift of a copy of my book (‘Union-Castle Line Purserette’) as it brought back many happy memories for him and his family, who had travelled on some of their liners.

Captain Wells on the Bridge

Flags on the Bridge

Living on the edge?

The Deck Officers on here obviously take their responsibilities very seriously, as we could see from the number of people on watch on the Bridge, and I find that very reassuring. We marvelled at all the equipment on the Bridge, including the device that enabled those of us at home to locate a particular ship in the waters of the world, find out its details and destination, often within moments of asking (http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/). I think this web site is such a wonderful free service to those of us interested in ships and ports.

Later we attended the Captain’s Cocktail Party in the Queen’s Room, Cunard style, with passengers standing and moving around on the dance floor and being able to chat so easily to each other. Captain Wells gave a humorous speech and I discovered I was one of 1965 British passengers on board, and that lots of us were disembarking in Hamburg and lots of German passengers were embarking in our place. It seems that many on board had already been on the ship for a month, including over Christmas, and some of those were continuing on the QUEEN ELIZABETH for her complete World Cruise. That’s something to wonder at, in these financially straitened times. Captain Wells also mentioned that the Hamburg Pilot had come on board at Le Havre because of the anticipated rough weather conditions during the night ahead, so that he could get us into port in Hamburg on time.

Gala Dinner followed, with all of us in our ‘posh frocks’ or dinner jackets, and I was quite amazed at the amount of ‘bling’ and bare flesh on display, but it was lovely to see and it made for a fun evening. The scheduled Theatre show had been postponed because of the rough sea conditions so we were entertained by a Beatles look-alike group instead. The Yacht Club was the final venue for the evening with disco music and dancing.

Ships seen: only some in the distance and not identifiable

Sunday 8th January 2012
We’ve arrived in Hamburg, and it’s cold, wet and dark, according to The View from the Bridge, but here I am again, Following in Father’s Footsteps.

Through a window, for Reuben

We are berthed at the new Altona Cruise Terminal which is probably a mile further down river than the Cap San Diego; the ferry pontoon is just alongside the terminal (but outside the ubiquitous ISPS fencing) so I shall be able to disembark QUEEN ELIZABETH and get straight on to another vessel!

After breakfast I said goodbye and thanked my cabin steward, and set off with pull-along suitcase and wearing lots of warm clothing down the gangway and into the terminal. There is a roof terrace on the top of it and already people were up there and walking around with cameras, taking pictures of the ship.

Another good viewing area, beside the Cruise Terminal

On the ferry landing stage I bought a day’s travel ticket for trains or ferries, including my trip to Hamburg Airport later in the day, and waited for the first ferry. It was called Reeperbahn – probably the nearest I shall get to that red-light district in my life – and took us further up the River Elbe.

Reeperbahn

Queen Elizabeth

We disembarked at the Fish Market stop,

I liked the weather-vane on top of the Fish Market building

a fun ship

Boudicca's boat No. 7

Rijnborg in dry dock

and took another ferry, just because we could, to our destination at Hafencity: Miniatur Wunderland. My travelling companion had told me about this amazing place but words just don’t do it justice. It is an old warehouse containing miniatures of several countries, their landscape and people, and if you like all forms of transport and working equipment, then you will be in heaven. It was wonderful. The leaflet gave some details and that it is at www.miniatur-wunderland.com.

We particularly enjoyed seeing BLACK PRINCE in dry dock, with a tiny man doing some welding, and thought of a particular maritime author and his love of Fred. Olsen ships; I just loved seeing the newest display, on the 4th floor, of Knuffingen Airport, which included aircraft landing and taking off! When the Space Shuttle landed, I could hardly believe my eyes, it was so beautifully done. I was brought up in a village called Harmondsworth, in Middlesex, which was (and still is) one of the Heathrow villages, so aircraft played a big part in my life for many years.

A few ferries later, it was time for a late lunch and another treat – the Hard Rock Café, Hamburg. Have to confess it’s my first visit to one, so I had to buy the T-shirt, which will be worn. The food was fresh and cooked to order, and the music was very enjoyable. Goodness, apparently I’m now a Rock Chick.



After all that excitement there was time for another ferry trip to the next stop down river to see the little vessel that was now a café, and then it was time to return to the Cruise Terminal for coffee and fond farewells, before taking another ferry to sail past QUEEN ELIZABETH for photos and waving.

I enjoyed this river view

I could walk to the nearby train station to journey to Hamburg Airport and my flight home.

Ships seen: Reeperbahn, Altenwerder (Lion King), Harburg, Tollerort (Tarzan), Oortkaten, Ovelgonne (all river ferries), Samso, Queen Elizabeth, Cap San Diego, Rijnborg (the 2007-built Wagenborg Shipping vessel in dry dock), Boudicca’s tender no. 7 on a quayside and I wonder why, on the south side of the River Elbe, Louisiana Star, Cosco Beijing, Cosco America, Rio de Janeiro, Stettin, and I shall include the Black Prince in dry dock in Miniatur Wunderland for fun

Queen Elizabeth alongside in Hamburg

My cruise on QUEEN ELIZABETH had been for just three nights, but I enjoyed the ship and the trip very much; she has a design style I can recognise and Cunard have their own particular way of doing things, which I find very comfortable.

In this Diamond Jubilee Year for our Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I feel very fortunate to have sailed on the lovely ship bearing the name QUEEN ELIZABETH.

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