The Queen Elizabeth provided the perfect base for our cruise around the Adriatic and Aegean Sea. We flew from Leeds Bradford in the UK via Amsterdam to Rome as part of a Cunard organised Fly Cruise package. We were met at the airport with a relatively easy transfer to the port where 5 or 6 cruise ships awaited their new passengers. Check in was very quick and efficient. Our Cabin (P2 class on an upgrade from Britannia Class) was well appointed in mid ships and had the luxury of a bath and a larger seating area. We ate in the Princess Grill and had access to the Grills area. I would certainly not refuse an upgrade if ever offered one again.
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and were not disappointed. We sailed passed Stromboli and through the Messina straights arriving in Corfu the next day. It was a Sunday but most shops were open. We were surprised to find that cricket is played on Sundays on the large green square. We visited the old fort. Our table mates were German and Australian and fascinated by Prince Philip's ancestry as he was born on Corfu. Our next port of call was Koter in Montenegro. We were late in arriving due to a massive storm during the night that prevented the ship entering fford like channel. The journey through the fford (actually a Ria) was quite magical and the nearest thing to a Norwegian fford in the Med. Koter is a lovely old walled town with a lot of history. It was a tender port. The sailaway was also excellent as the ship, in the very capable hands of Captain Inger Thorhauge manoeuvred through a very narrow straight back into the Adriatic. Next stop Dubrovnik where we were the only ship in port. We walked around the steep walls (cost 10 euros). Great roof top and sea views. The fresh red roof tiles gives an Inkling about how much damage the city sustained during the Serbo Croat war.
We finished the first leg of our journey with a two day stay in Venice. This is also where our table mates left us. Cunard runs this cruise in 7 day segments with passengers getting on and off at the main cruise terminals at Rome, Venice and Athens so not repeating its ports of call apart from those 3 ports for 28 days. Most passengers seemed to be on for either 7 or 14 days though some on for 21.
Venice was as to be expected. The sail in and sailaway are amazing. We took the hidden Venice walking tour and really enjoyed finding out more about Venice away from the crowds at the Rialto bridge and St Mark's Square. Cunard offered a launch service from the ship to near St Marks for 35 euros each for the 2 days. It is worth checking out the People Carrier and vaporetto water buses as an alternative.
Our first port of call on the second leg of our cruise was Korcula in Crotia. We took the Highlights of Peljesac tour. The journey to Ston gave amazing and vertiginous views across the sea and Dalmation peninsular. We only had a short stop (almost a comfort break) in Ston before we set of for our return journey by the same route. We stopped in the village of Kuna where we visited the church, a donkey farm and were given a tradition snack of cold meats and cheese with wine (not a wine tasting). The trip was disappointing in that we only spent a very short time in Ston - it deserved more time. The village of Kuna was much nearer the ship and could have been a seperate trip. The coach trip is the only time I felt sick in the 14 day holiday!!
Korcula is lovely and we wished we had not bothered with the trip.
Our next port of call was Crete. We regularly holiday in Crete but have never visited the Museum in Heraklion that contains the artefacts from Knossos. What a wonderful experience and an easy walk from the ship. Other shipmates took the hop on hop off bus just outside the cruise terminal and said it was really good value.
Rhodes followed and we visited the old town which is easily accessible from the ship. Lovely place and one to spend more time in in the future.
Ephesus from Kusadasi, we took the Ephesus and Terrace Houses trip and was glad we did. Excellent guide. The Terrace Houses are amazing. Ephesus is busy so it is worth getting there early. We were the only cruise ship in in the morning but the day before there had been 3. Unless you are particularly interested in Turkish carpets suggest you avoid the optional visit. It's interesting but there is a danger you will leave with a rug!!
Disembarked at Athens. As on fly cruise we did not leave ship until 2 pm though had to clear cabin by 8.30. We could have gone on tour or of ship but just chilled out till we left.
Regarding the ship. We enjoyed the cruise so much we have booked for next year to do the trip from Istanbul to Rome tho next time in Queen Vic. All the staff we met were pleasant and very hard working. The cruise director excellent, the shows very good and the food in the Grills very good and in the Verandah restaurant fantastic.
Next time we will cancel automatic gratuities and go back to the system of tipping personally.
My personal tip is to take your own travel kettle and tea and coffee for an early morning brew. It is something that P and O get so right and Cunard should emulate. Room service coffee and tea do not match a fresh brew.