Having enjoyed a previous cruise on Queen Elizabeth back in August, I got the cruise bug and decided to book a solo cruise short break for November. I booked Balcony BC 8114. I used the CPS parking option at Southampton and waited about 15 minutes in my car to be called forward as we had all seemingly arrived at once. This parking service was straightforward and convenient, if you don’t mind driving to and from Southampton. I was able to spend time waiting in the queue, looking in awe at the presence of Queen Victoria and uploading some photos to social media.
In the terminal, I received my blue lettered card and sat with the hordes of other passengers waiting patiently for our letter to be called out to indicate our boarding time had come. I looked in envy at the Grills and Diamond and Platinum signs which indicated these passengers were fortunate enough not to have to wait to embark. It was evident there were a number of corporate groups joining this cruise as passengers. I was aboard not too long later and following a quick check of my stateroom, which was clean (no dirty balcony glass as I had read in some reviews), I headed to the Golden Lion pub to try the famous fish and chips with a pint of Stella. The fish was nicely battered and fried, the chips okay and the mushy peas looked a little sorry for themselves and possibly had sat under a hot lamp. It came with a piece of lemon and pickled onion which was a nice touch. A bread roll and butter would have been even nicer as well (not sure whether I could have asked for this?). Surprisingly, there was only one dessert option which was raisin pudding with custard which I found okay. I would not rule out dining in the Golden Lion again, but wouldn’t rate it as highly as dining in other pubs or certainly the plush Britannia restaurant. Service was polite and quick and the pub started filling up very quickly with other passengers. I managed to get a selfie with a Bell Boy which I was pleased about as I didn’t see them when embarking.
There were amazing views of Southampton as we sailed away and I was able to watch the Pilot disembark from my balcony which I got on video. I found my balcony was conveniently close to the stairwell for the Lido and Britannia Restaurant, but a long walk to the Commodore Club or to be outside on the forward deck. Dinner was nice, I shared a table with ten others at the late sitting, although service was very slow for our table throughout the three nights. We watched each evening as other diners on smaller tables would be seated after us and be served their starter before we had even been asked whether we wished to order! This meant that each night we were 15 minutes late for the theatre performance meaning on one night for I had to stand at the back of the theatre due to lack of space. Unlike on the QE in August, we were not offered Petis Fours with our coffee and neither were any by the exit.
The stateroom was clean and had everything I required. Conveniently close to the stairwell for the Lido and Britannia Restaurant, but a long walk to the Commodore Club or to be outside on the forward deck.
Coach into Bruges. Subsequently found out Cunard lay on a complimentary shuttle bus so you can get to Bruges under your own steam using the shuttle bus and a return on the train for six euros (Nov 2015).