Queen Elizabeth Cruise Review by DJWCruiseJunkie: Med Gems Aug 11 - some pleasant surprises, some not so nice
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Med Gems Aug 11 - some pleasant surprises, some not so nice
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
As we live in Southampton, getting to the port is very quick and easy. And as Mother in Law is Platinum Cunard member, we were all whisked to the front of embarkation line with her - very pleasant surprise! We arrived just after 11 and were on board around 12.00 - it was lovely to be able to explore the ship when it was so quiet. Also had lunch in the Lido buffet - very nice food, much better layout than the QM2 buffet, and much better standard of food - something that was continued throughout all food venues on board.
The ship was full to capacity, and it showed on sea days, particularly as the weather was not so great for the first and last couple of days, making it a bit of a bun fight for a seat.
The entertainment was a real mixture, with 1 night being the resident Queens Room lounge singer as the headline act,and another night the Theatre Orchestra headlined with Dixie Jazz themed night. It did seem like Cunard were penny pinching - I expected more headline More acts. Having said that, the Dixieland Jazz night was great, and the flautist and west end singer were exceptional. Unfortunately, they also had a dated British comedian, David Copperfield, who seemed to think it was ok to make fun of gay people and told some rather off colour jokes. A lot of people found him very funny, I didn't.
This weird mix of culture and low brow entertainment seemed very odd. It's almost like someone has told Cunard to go for more 'mass appeal' with some light entertainment. Problem is, they've crossed the line into tasteless and sometimes offensive entertainment. One afternoon was an on deck game 'I'm a Crew Member, Get Me Out of Here' where crew members had to complete a range of tasks to stay in the competition. Many of the tasks were funny and silly, like finding a pair of false teeth, or rescuing an inflatable croc from the pool. Some were in poor taste, like clenching a coin between the buttocks, waddling across the deck and 'pooping' it into a glass. Contestants were blindfolded for the elimination, females having buckets of ice poured down the inside of their t-shirt, and males having the same down the open front of their shorts - all this while the entertainment director clapped and cheered. And the production show 'A Slice of Saturday Night' has been mentioned in other reviews, I will just add that I don't expect to see a cast member pretending to have someone fondle him on stage, and simulate an orgasm - on ANY cruise ship - I want to be entertained and not offended.
If you are on late seating dinner, eating at 8.30, with a show at 10.30, finishing at 11.15-11.30, that doesn't leave a lot to entertain you after dinner. Many of the 'alternative' activities, like quizzes and karaoke, started whilst we were still at dinner, which meant we missed most of them - pushing these back by 15-20 mins would take the emphasis off all being geared to early diners.
The ship is beautiful , I preferred the layout to that of the Queen Mary, The staff were unfailingly polite and helpful, and the food was excellent. As on our previous Cunard cruise, most entertainment ended at midnight, leaving us with not a lot to do but find a bar, but we were expecting that this time, so it wasn't such a surprise.
Overall, I enjoyed the QE more than the QM2, particularly as the food and service was so much better, but Cunard seem to be going in the wrong direction in terms of entertainment.
One final word about our Cabin 4115 - I don't know what exactly was the source of the noise, but every night it sounded like there was a huge bathtub of water sloshing around above our heads. This was so loud that it kept us awake, and made for a very tiring voyage, as we didn't get much sleep. The cabin is also opposite a crew cupboard/closet and so is very noisy early and late - don't book this cabin if you are a light sleeper! Less
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Cabin review: BC4115 Balcony
Very noisy, water tank above or to side which kept us awake most nights. Across from crew cupboard so very noisy all round. Shower tiny, but main cabin okRead All Balcony (BC) Reviews >>
Port and Shore Excursions
All the stalls on the lower half of Las Ramblas were aimed squarely at tourists, caricature artists, cheap souvenirs and cafes.
The cable car above the docks looked interesting but we were too chicken to try it out!
The coach trip up to Volterra was about 1 hour, and a bit hairy as the roads are steep and narrow. However, the views across the Tuscan countryside as you climb are great. Volterra itself is a small town with tons of history and great architecture and ruins. Shops - lots of small artisans shops, alabaster studios and pavement cafes - really pretty and would love to have had more time there. Also, could see for miles across the hills and valleys
We had lunch at a Tuscan farm house, which was nice, but could have done with less time there and more at Volterra or SG.
Next stop was San Gimignano - another beautiful hill town. Both VOlterra and San Gimignano are pedestrianised. SG is more commercial than Volterra with far more shops, street entertainers and restaurants. Also some great architecture, and lots of lovely little side alleys to explore. WE found a great deli that let you taste everything before you bought it - bought 10 year old Balsamic Vinegar that wsa like syrup - fab!
We were there in early August, and it was scorching. Plan lots of stops for cold drinks and a sit down. Just wandering in the heat was exhausting, but both towns were so beautiful we would like to go back and spend more than a day there
The facilities at the top are basic, but the views are spectacular. The apes pose for photos, but I wouldn;t want to get too close. Many of them have open sores and they are unpredictable. You can see mainland Spain and Morocco from the top of the rock, and if you are energetic (and brave!) can walk 3km of nature trails.
As we were only docked in Gibraltar for a few hours, we made our way back down to the town, and found a quiet courtyard to cool down and have a drink. The town has some interesting historical sites, including the Waterloo cemetery, and the Convent which became Govt house.
Lots of duty free shopping, some cheaper than ship but not all, so check your prices
We chose to head straight up to the Old Town at the top of the cliff. We walked around the headland for 5 mins, through a short tunnel to the main car park and took the lift up to the top of the cliff. This was around 11am and the lifts were empty - when we came down early afternoon you couldn't move for the heaving mass of people crowding the lifts!
We watched the cahnging of the guard at 11.55 - happens every day - was fun, but hard to see over the heads of the crowds. Spent a fun few hours exploring the town and the streets, the cathedral and palace, but ran out of time so didn't go to the Aquarium.
This time we chose to explore further afield and visited an Olive farm. Great food, not enough info about the production - would ike to have seen the presses etc.
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