We set off a day before and travelled by train to London. So much more civilised than travelling by plane these days. Coffee as we set off, followed by a hot meal and a free drinks trolley once an hour.
On the morning of 24 May, we were collected by Smithsforairports in a "limo" (Merc C class) and driven to Soton. A pleasant journey which took about one hour forty-five.
Our timing was perfect, arriving at 11.50 am so by the time we had checked in, boarding had started. By 12.05 pm we were on board and as we had a Q4, were met and escorted to our room (9067). We knew what to expect and were not disappointed. Strangely, it still has a CRT TV. I'm sure that in a Q5 last year we had a flat screen, but I lost no sleep on that one.
As I'm sure everyone knows, a Penthouse is 3 modules, whereas a Q5/6 is 2 modules whilst a Britannia is one module, so no space problems. It also has a very large bathroom with big walk in shower (5 shower heads) and a Jacuzzi bath. In case you get caught short, there is a guest toilet.
Our butler was Noly and he proved to be very efficient and always cheery. We had tea & coffee delivered every morning at 7.30 am and you could set your watch by him.
The QG was up to the usual high standard under the watchful eye of Osman. We had two waiters, John and Milan, plus their assistant. An extremely efficient bunch They were ably assisted by the head waiter, and Slevin the sommelier.
Apart from the usual small requests, Osman actively encouraged us to order off menu and we did, three times. Peking duck is a great favourite of ours and requires 3 days notice, but worth waiting for, although we did get a fright when we saw the size of the duck. Rather large. I'm convinced it had 4 legs. We almost managed it. Another night we had chicken curry, one medium and my hot one. They got it spot on. On our last night we had beef Wellington, but I think they must have thought we had a table for 10 and not 2. Very enjoyable, but too much.
One night we decided to skip dinner and just have something plain. We opted for soup and sandwiches (club) and called room service. A few minutes later, Noly turned arrived and set the table and presented 2 large steaming hot bowls of soup and our sandwiches. Just before 9 pm, the phone rang. It was Osman. He asked if we were OK as he hadn’t seen us all day, and when I assured him that we were, he asked could he send something up to us. I explained that we were detoxing and thanked him for his concern.
Hamburg was our first and last port of call. The sailaway at 10.30 pm was marvelous with half of Hamburg lining the quayside. Whilst the party on board was in full swing, fireworks erupted for an hour as we slowly made our way along the Elbe. A tremendous sight and the best send off I've ever seen.
Stavanger was next and remained as quiet as ever. Quite a pretty wee town but with a lot of heavy industry around it. The sailaway could not have been more different from Hamburg. Two people and a dog came to watch us depart.
We next sailed into Oslo on a wet and overcast morning. We waited for the weather to improve before going out for a walk around. The Cruise Director announced that due to the weather conditions, he advised everyone to take a light jacket. Her indoors wasn't listening properly, so all around Oslo she carried a big orange life jacket (I made the last bit up). Another great sailaway, this time the spectators got into double figures. I guess the Norwegians have seen their fill of boats.
Elsinore (for Copenhagen) was next. This was our only tender journey and the weather was perfect. I hadn’t realised just how close the railway station was to the pier and had booked the coach for “Copenhagen on your own” so we only paid about 5 times the proper price. Our big thing in the town centre was Tivoli Gardens, but I’m not sure they shouldn’t rename it Tivoli Restaurants as there was more eateries than flowers. Still, we had a pleasant few hours and a few fairground type rides.
Many of the locals turned out in the afternoon including a girl’s marching band. Then it was on to the tender for our return.
At some point onboard we managed the Planetarium which was surprisingly good and I would recommend it to anyone who has not been.
We also met up with Stephen and Dianne, who are friends of a friend and joined Stephen one lunchtime in the Todd English. We had a nice bottle of Chateauneuf and Stephen had also brought along a bottle of his own Veuve for desert. We gave the sommelier the option; corkage or a tip? He wisely chose the tip. The meal itself was fine, but very rich. Was it better than QG? Hard to say as we had been spoilt. Still a good time was had.
Finally we headed back to Hamburg where the weather had greatly improved. Interestingly, they were flying the Union Flag over the entrance to the town hall. I don’t know why.
Another marvelous send off, only this time at 5.30 pm, but still they turned out in their thousands. There was to be a big sailaway party, but they made the mistake of putting on the Queen’s Room Orchestra before the band (who were very good). The orchestra played jazz type music and not the usual stuff that gets people dancing. It meant that by the time the band took over, most people had left, and instead of playing for 2 hours, they packed up after 45 mins as there were only about a dozen of us hardy souls left.
We sailed very slowly back to Soton, so slow in fact we docked nearly 2 hours late and the first pax to disembark had to wait until well after 9 am.
Verdict: great ship (my 2nd QM2 trip), fantastic staff, fabulous restaurant, great fun.
We’ll be back!
Regards to all