I thought I would share with others my first-hand experience of being a newbie voyager. Firstly, you will note that I use the word “voyager” in lieu of cruiser the reason being is the trans-atlantic crossing is a voyage and not a ... Read More
I thought I would share with others my first-hand experience of being a newbie voyager. Firstly, you will note that I use the word “voyager” in lieu of cruiser the reason being is the trans-atlantic crossing is a voyage and not a cruise! That’s that out of the way. I joined the ship in Southampton as that was the point of departure and anywhere else and I would have missed the ship. I decided to stop in Southampton the night prior to boarding and get a taxi to the dock. I boarded the ship at around 14:30 against my allotted time of 16:00 due to giddiness on my behalf. My first sighting of the ship lived up to my expectations namely that the structure is mightily impressive. Embarkation was a doddle although the reception area which did resemble a “Mobility” convention, the only issue I encountered was that they (the service staff) wanted to see my ESTA in hard copy, nowhere that I could see on my very limited joining pack stated that it was a requirement. Needless to say a few well placed, “I never knew” with a couple of, “I’ve been to the US 3 times in the last three years”…..etc and I was called forward to board which is accomplished via a slopping air bridge, or ship bridge I suppose. Once on board you suddenly appear in the middle of the ship. Now I’m not one to question my ability to find things but I did stand there for a few minutes getting my bearings it is quite disorienting at first. A few minutes later I found my cabin via a lift, the one and only time I took one on the voyage I may add. The cabin 4163 was about the size of a decent size semis front room and was very well appointed and clean, my cabin helper called Dante (I was going to ask him to turn the heat down but I thought better of it) was very proficient never intrusive but very efficient the cabin was nothing but spotless (after he had been in) all through the voyage. I had a metal balcony which again was well appointed with recliner type patio chairs and a small table with access being through a heavy double glazed French style door. I remained in my cabin as we departed Southampton upon a sea that was flatter than a 25 year old foam backed carpet. My first meal and my first introduction to my fellow “voyagers” was at 20:30 my allotted time in the Britannia Grill after forgetting what my cabin number was I was the last to join the table for my “Big Brother” moment, after introducing myself to my fellow guests I was served with remarkable efficiency my evening meal.
The food. All I can say about the evening and breakfast meals is that they were excellent both in quality and delivery, if I had to categorise them I would say that they were like a meal at a very posh wedding. Each night and each breakfast there was a choice for all pallets and I took the wine package as well enjoying a nice red each night (yes there was sometimes some left) After the meal, but not on the first night we would go to the night club or attend the (who the hell would know that, quiz) The night club was a bit 2004 Reading night club and resident band was, well I’ve seen better.
The shows, I did attend a show not my thing really and it was introduced by the compare, a lady in a Hunger Games kind of way, very insincere…… I really was expecting her to say “welcome to the Sixth Hunger games” but again that’s personal choice and in way detract from my enjoyment. The lectures. I attended the Max Hastings lectures on Churchill and the Falklands war but declined the Start of the First world war lecture. We were also treated to lectures on Concord from an X BA Concord Pilot who went on to blame the French for the aircrafts demise and that the French crash report was “Not wholly inclusive”. I did want to ask him about the British report into the Heathrow 777 crash but I didn’t want to get my collar felt….wink. So the ship is big I counted 213 breathless steps from Deck two to Deck Thirteen the top, it is amazing however that you can go several minutes without seeing another soul truly amazing. So I soon got into my routine breakfast alone served by waiters in white Tuxedos no lunch at all much too full then the highlight of the night the meal with the lovely people on my / our table this time served by waiters with black Tuxedos till going to either a themed ball or off to the Reading Disco. I did see a whale a humpback I believe magnificent creature and clearly visible to me from my cabin, unfortunately not many others spotted what was a fleeting sighting. One of the highlights was the Captains speech, a small slight man but when he spoke he sounded eight feet tall and twenty stone, a typical English officer type and one would you would have nothing but confidence should things go “wrong”.
In summary, the ship is spotless the food excellent beer was about six pounds a pint (important point) the cabin was well appointed and the last thing is that I never felt the ship move in anyway throughout the voyage you could balance, and I did, a ten pence piece on the table during dinner. So go on book it you’ll not regret it even if it’s the only sailing you ever do. Yes it’s not without its faults but nothing on this planet, not even my review writing, is perfect. Read Less