Aplogies if this is a bit long winded - I wrote it diary style while we were on the cruise!
Arrival: Arrived at the cruise terminal on time and check in was quick. Went aboard and to our cabin...the key card wouldn't open the door so a member of staff told us that we should go to the purser's office for a replacement. We did this, returned to our cabin and the
new one didn't work either! Returned to the purser where there was now a long queue, eventually received a third set of cards and these did open the door. The cabin was basic but pleasant enough with an enclosed balcony which is almost like another small room. Two comfy chairs and a very worn table. Noticed at bed time that the sheet was worn right through in two places with holes. Our luggage was delivered by our very pleasant cabin attendant. Decided to explore the ship which didn't really take all that long. Everywhere was neat and clean. Stopped at the buffet for a cup of tea then returned to our cabin to unpack.
Dinner: dressed for dinner and arrived at 8.30 pm sharp but they weren't ready so had to wait about 10 minutes before they let the growing queue enter. We had a table for 8 with 3 other couples all of whom had joined the cruise on the same day as us. The Wine waiter was
conspicuous by his absence and we had to ask for him after our first course had arrived. The waiters all seem rushed and were efficient but didn't introduce themselves and seemed to spend a lot of time leaning over us removing unused glasses and wiping crumbs which was a bit distracting. The food was a bit disappointing and bland. My husband's 'steak and chips' was tough and there were two, yes two, chips! There was a marked absence of vegetables with any of the dishes. Our dining companions were good company.
Show: the comedian and on board singers and dancers put on a good show that evening.
The bed was very comfy to sleep in with nice pillows.
Breakfast: we had ordered room service the night before and the breakfast was delivered on time and hot and we enjoyed it.
Guernsey: tendering was very well organised although once again we had trouble with our key cards as they weren't recognised on their system either leaving or returning to the ship which meant another visit to the purser on our return.
We were in Guernsey on a Sunday which unfortunately meant that most places were closed, but there was a very nice market along the high street selling food, crafts and bric-a-brac. St Peter Port is very pretty with masses of flower displays and bunting everywhere. We
walked up the hill to the museum and gardens from which there were good views over the town. Enjoyed coffees in a local coffee shop.
After returning to the ship we once again swapped our key cards and these seem to be working!
PM: Had a snack in the buffet( hubby had ribs which he said were delicious) and then returned to our cabin to read. Sat out on the balcony for a while but there was a lingering smell of sewage which wasn't pleasant so went to the Chart Room for a drink with our books. Drinks are priced around what you'd expect at a bar or restaurant. The ship seemed quiet and uncrowded which was relaxing.
Dinner: We decided to try the buffet for dinner and I was pleased to find a good selection of vegetables offered with the main courses. We didn't attend the show as we fancied an early night. Ordered tea from room service which arrived quickly.
The ship anchored overnight off of the coast of Guernsey. Had a good night's sleep.
Breakfast: We ordered tea from room service for early morning but were given coffee instead. Had breakfast in the buffet - just toast and pastries which were fine.
AM: Decided to visit the library and bookshop which was very nice, so spent an hour or so browsing magazines and books. They had a good selection which would be nice to have available on a longer trip. Time for a coffee, so visited Sir Samuels for 'proper' coffees. As it was a sea day it was pretty full although there were plenty of staff. After people around us who arrived after us started receiving their drinks we had to go and ask about ours and they hadn't even made them yet so we waited about half an hour for them to arrive.
Spent some time in the Winter Garden reading and then had a sandwich in the buffet for lunch.
PM: In the afternoon we watched a fun production, 'Arabian Nights' by RADA which was entertaining and enjoyable. We decided to try the afternoon tea which was very well attended so I suggest arriving a bit earlier than scheduled. We shared a table with two other unrelated guests who were chatty and good company. The little sandwiches, scones and cakes were delicious. After chatting about our experiences I was glad that it wasn't just us who felt the food in the dining room wasn't up to scratch as the others felt the same.
The ship sailed from Guernsey just after 5pm.
Dinner: it was formal night and it was lovely to see everyone dressed up, but again dinner in the dining room was disappointing.
Show: The Cunard dancers put on a fabulous exhibition of different styles of dancing....their stamina was amazing!
Breakfast: used room service agin for tea, toast and fruit.
AM: The ship was now sailing along the English coast so we saw Lands End at about 6.30am from the sea which was a different perspective on the coastline. Went to a very entertaining talk about how customs officers choose their 'targets' for drug smuggling by retired customs officer Malcolm Nelson, followed by coffee in Sir Samuels.
Lunch: salad and chicken kebabs in King's Court.
PM: the actor Robert Lindsay was on board on holiday with his family and he agreed to do a Q&A. We enjoyed hearing about his life and career and many amusing anecdotes. We went along to King's Court for a snack but found that it was afternoon tea time which was like a scrum with people piling their plates high with cakes, scones and sandwiches. Managed to get a few sandwiches and left. Then we went along to watch Iron Man in 3D in the Illuminations theatre.
Dinner: at last! A really good dinner in the dining room. I had a Thai fish cake to start followed by fillet steak which was nicely cooked and a slice of chocolate mousse cake.
Show: a comedian, John Martin, who was fairly entertaining but had to work quite hard for laughs.
Today we went to Bruges. Had a room service breakfast and then headed off on a tour. The coach took about half an hour to get to Bruges and then our guide took us on a walking tour which was interesting. Many lovely old buildings. We also had a canal boat ride and the boat driver was informative too. The tour was supposed to include free time which ended up being barely 45 minutes which is way too short a time to explore the shops, museums, galleries or even have a cup of coffee. With the town being so close to the port I really think that the whole afternoon should have been free. It did feel rushed and was quite pricey. The weather was grey and drizzly but not that wet.
After returning to the ship we had a bite to eat and just relaxed with our books.
Dinner : dinner was once again enjoyable and the food was good. There was no show this evening so after saying goodbye to our dining companions we headed back to our cabin.
Arrived back to a very sunny Southampton (the best weather so far!) Had breakfast in the buffet and disembarked around 9.30am.
The only real negatives were that the standard of food wasn't consistent and there was a smell of sewage sometimes in parts of the ship and the balcony which was unpleasant, as well as a smell of cigarette smoke in some of the landings.
Would we go again? Yes, as we are considering the Winter Getaway in December..