Aboard Cunard's Queen Victoria to cruise around the British Isles
Continuing on from my visit to London 2010: For Restaurants, Theatre and Shows, the adventure at sea begins.
Courtesy of Cunard, the map shows the clockwise route for the cruise round the British Isles from Southampton, with 10 nights at sea. First we cross the English Channel to visit Cherbourg, then travel through the Celtic and Irish Seas, stopping at Cobh, Dublin, Liverpool and Belfast; then on to to Glasgow. With a full day at sea we sail through the North Sea round the Northern tip of Britain to Edinburgh, followed by another full day at sea before reaching Southampton again.
Coming from London, I had booked a transfer to Southampton with Cunard. Re-routing to avoid congestion from an accident, and an additional delay at a rest-stop, significantly increased the stated journey time.
The bus from Victoria Coach Station pulled into the Ocean Cruise Terminal at Southampton two hours late around 3:30. With only 45 minutes left for check-in, most passengers were already on board. It took only a few minutes for me to have my ticket and passport checked, register a credit card for on-board purchases, and get my key card for the cabin.
Cabin 5140 was located roughly mid-ship on deck 5. I opened the door to find a state of minor confusion.
I was expecting to share the cabin with Magdalena, one of the the dance professionals in our group, but a last minute booking by Karen, my new room-mate, had moved Magdalena to another cabin. However the reservation system had not caught up with this, nor had the porters or the cabin steward.
So Karen had a key to another cabin (and that was Karen's key number 1). Magda, who had been on board for ages and was virtually unpacked, had a key to our cabin but not to her new cabin, and the luggage was... well... no one knew exactly what was going where.
I was the one constant in this equation. I was booked into this cabin, had the right key, and I thought hopefully that my luggage might end up in the right place. My optimism proved valid. With the late check-in my case arrived at my door very promptly.
The obligatory ship's safety drill was scheduled within the hour, so Magdalena packed her stuff back into her suitcase to move to her new location, and I began to get my dance dresses and dance shoes stowed away, while Karen took off to see if she could get a key to our cabin.
Wendy had advised us that the group would be meeting for cocktails at 5:30 in the Hemisphere Lounge on Deck 10. To get there you have to take the correct set of stairs of elevators, or else walk the length of the ship outside on deck 9.
As you can see from the diagram above this ship has three sets of stairwell/elevator banks - A, B and C. For some reason, it took me ages to figure out which was where, and which set to take to get to where I needed to go. Until, several days into the cruise, while heading off in a hurry - in totally the wrong direction- an inadvertent encounter with a cabin steward enlightened me. And as you will learn later, enlightened others in our party as well.
As I was wandering around trying to find out where to go, I saw Nancy, who I first met on the West Coast Dance Cruise and we both tried to figure out how to get to Hemispheres. Fortunately Wendy appeared, and directed us to the party which had been moved across the way to the Commodore Club.