First "European based" cruise.
Embarkation at Southampton was fantastic, we were on board 15 minutes after checking in and our luggage arrived at the cabin just a few minutes after we did.
Quite a spectacular sail away from Southampton with the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria sailing at the same time.
This was our first trip on the QM2 since the mini refit at the end of last year. The only noticeable change is to the Pub, which, in our opinion has been ruined. Why the need for the "booths" by the windows and the most uncomfortable bar stools I have ever sat on have been placed around the bar.
The first Port of call was Hamburg and what an interesting City that is.
We picked up some 1600 German passengers there to make them the largest national contingent on board.
The sail away from Hamburg was quite spectacular. The Queen Elizabeth, also in Hamburg, came down river from her berth and the two ships were positioned stern to stern with a small boat located between the two ships with a music group on board playing some "appropriate" music! It really was strange to hear "Rule Britannia" being sung in English by a German group in a German port! There was a very spectacular firework display and a reported quarter of a million people lining the port area and the banks of the Elbe river to bid "Bon Voyage" to the two Queens.
Unfortunately the "summer" weather in Northern Europe played its part during the cruise with dull and drizzly conditions for all but one of the ports of call. However each port had something interesting to offer. There was no "Midnight Sun" to see as the clouds never cleared, but once we were above the Arctic Circle it was 24 hour daylight!
The service in the Britannia restaurant was excellent, with a wide choice on the menu and attentive but not intrusive waiters. OK the buffet in Kings Court on deck 7 did get a little crowded and chaotic during breakfast.
Our cabin (inside) was located close to stairway D. Quite comfortable, although just a little cramped. But we don't spend that much time in the cabin. The cabin Steward, Eduardo, was fantastic. Nothing was ever too much trouble for him.
The shows in the Theatre were very good with nearly all the individual acts having an "international" flavour. The Royal Court singers and dancers were excellent and special mention must be made about Nadia from Norway, one of the female singers, She is surely destined for much greater things and even had a solo spot in one of the evening shows.
On the return to Hamburg we had had a recommendation to visit an attraction called "Miniature Wonderworld" Its a model railway of epic proportions and is just jaw dropping at its size and attention to detail. If the model railway wasn't enough there is a complete model Airport with everything correct in every detail including aircraft taking off and landing ! Just take a look on You tube!!
Disembarkation at Southampton was flawless. We were in our taxi and on our way home within 20 minutes of stepping off the ship!
We booked for the Christmas/New year cruise on the QM2 from New York on the ship.