Having sailed from Southampton many times we were a bit surprised to find a tail back with CPS parking at the Ocean terminal.The weather caused a certain amount of anxiety amongst those travelling from a far and to make sure they never missed their time or indeed the ship they left in plenty of time, only to find the roads clear and turning up hours before embarkation time.
But once inside and having taken up the donated F card we found time quickly went by and I suppose 30 minutes later we were on the shipKnowing with Cunard that our cases will be safely placed in our cabins we headed for the Lido buffet and with our couple of cruise chums started the cruise from there.
We have always found that the lido gives a varied and tasty selection with the addition of an ice cream cone be a child again, if one desires any time of the day.
As this was a short 5 nighter we chose an inside having had a balcony last year for the longer trip to the Canaries which we have booked again for next year
so 6027 was our home for the next few days and night's.
Now here is a gripe as we found the room rather stuffy the air-conditioning not refreshing the air and sometimes even with the control right down we found it a tad too hot in fact my wife said that this was probably causing her a few bad nights sleep.
Thinking this must be just us being in and inside ,we were surprised when standing at the excursion desk talking to a lady who was supposedly enjoying a balcony cabin, that she remarked first that it was too hot and she had opened the balcony door sometimes ?
never have we or she experienced that before.
I thought I would check with the Head Poncho in the Britannia restaurant and make sure we were seated with our cruise chums only to find after the usual long wait to see him that we had been put on separate tables?.The request having somehow been lost whilst booking back in August.
But he did a grand job and we found ourselves by the rear window on a table of 4 so great job by the Maitre D.
The food we experienced we all agreed, looked better than it tasted some dinners better than others some warmer than other's, but never really as at home = Hot!.
I had a nice steak the first night and this was the only night offered and I did remark that we all thought there used to be a every day option running along side the actual day menu so if you were not particularly struck by the evenings menu you could switch to the back up plan.,that had gone and in fact when before I had asked for a steak when none was on the menu, the answer was always yes - this time our waiter looked confused and said he would have to ask his senior and he would get back to me.
He came back and said "the Senior waiter would be over to see me soon", but the time all others had ordered their food, he had never appeared and I had to choose one of the other options on the days menu.
Not really a 5 star approach one would think.
The shows on the other hand in the main theatre were all excellent ,the singers and dancer's -Bernie Flint -and the 4 Guys playing 60's numbers all were worth the watch.
Ports of Call
Cruising is a a learning curve this being our 19th cruise the 2nd on Victoria and the 5th with Cunard, having done all 3 ships ,we fell foul for the first time of booking in advance excursions and travel with the companies direct instead of booking through Cunard.
The weather played it's tricks and prevented the Captain from keeping to his original Itinerary so instead of Bruges from Zeebrugge the first port of call we landed up in Rotterdam at 7pm overnighting and not on the schedule at all ,high winds and rough sea's was the reason.
Both of which, no one on board experienced, even after a warning from the bridge that the night would be a bit rough - nothing moved - so still -and this was discussed by everyone we met, as to why this warning and change of plans when all seemed very quiet.
The dreaded sea lock probably.
So the Train tickets went out of the window as they were dated for the 13th and with the dismissal of Amsterdam completely, a boat trip on the canals and Heineken brewery visit went the same way.
So not so cost effective after all.
Rotterdam was a bonus in a way, as neither myself and my wife or my Nephew and his wife had visited this part of South Holland.
The ship berthed right in the centre of town next to the famous Swan bridge which cost 165,000,000 Euros to build back in 1989 and arriving at 7pm in the dark it was lit up and very pleasing to the eye, being directly in front of us poor people, sipping our G&T's in the Commodore lounge.
In Rotterdam we did our own thing as per usual, visiting the Cube houses ,which has one house thats open at a small entrance fee to visitors @ 3 euro's each and seeing as to purchase one, would cost 250,000 Euro's ,we thought was quite cheap lol.Well worth a visit just for the experience of being disorientated for a short while as out through the window is the Pencil building another exercise in architecture.The market was next and again most unusual experience where we purchased various gifts to take back and finishing off in a nice bar to taste the Coffee and the local ale.
We decided in Zeebrrugge to walk to Dorp station 23 minutes away, that's after getting the shortest bus ride in the word ,taking us from the ship to the port gates about 100 yards as we were not allowed to walk ,
Why Dorp? because the Blankenberg station would be full as there was 2 ships in Port and obviously Bruges the target for all transfers were to Blankenberg for the train to Brugge.
This station was a small affair with just a a few people milling about cooking and serving but with a 15 minute wait we treated ourselves to cups of coffee which were some of the best coffee we had on the trip and the cheapest .The train cost 6 Euro's the return price and the train pulled in dead on at 10.05 am and 15 minutes later we were at Brugge station.
The return trip due to inclement weather we returned to Blankenberg to pick up the shuttle which was waiting and took us back to the ship.
Its just a lovely affair that you have with a Cruise ship like the Victoria its a sanctuary from the world, a place of indulgence, warmth and pleasure ,its your home for a few days its your ship !!
its just a shame you have to give it back.
Cherbourg was next and we actually got to use one of our pre booked tickets for the Maritime Museum
which couldn't be closer if they tried -with a dedicated entrance for the ships the door being called "cruise Ship Passengers" we were inside the warm in minutes.
"Le Redoutable" submarine was definitely the high light and worth the fare on its own--Huge monster of a vessel and an education in warfare.
This is from another review and I couldn't agree more
"On the other hand the The 'March into the Deep' was truly apalling. Tacky, poor taste, and a complete waste of our time. Once you enter into this area you cannot leave until you have completed ' the training'"
I would like to add unless you were brain dead, or 4 years old, we found It was pathetic and embarrassingly bad .If you still intend to do it make faces at every opportunity as you are videoed and this cause some light relief at the end as we all looked bored stiff and pulling faces.
Once in town we visited the market and found a nice small French restaurant for some Moules Marinière
and a 1 Tasty Steak a large beer some wine for 4 people cost with tip 80 euro's = cheap.and
Considering 1 bottle of Australian Black shiraz was $46 on board with a street price of around £10 its ouch again ,so we opted for the drinks package for 6 bottles costing $296 ?( I think thats right) which gave a 10% discount on a rip off price tag.
So thats the lasting feeling you have with this trip yes the 5 star tag is in the fabulous bed and decor
The whole ship is beautifully done having had that recent refurb. The library is worth a visit unlike the one on the P &O Azura which was dreadful - the bars are great - the G&T bar great, just leave your idea of fair pricing at home , hey ho your on holiday ,
Eat less when you get home and shop in the Super market for wine etc.
we are here and now, its like life
its a fab ship
Make the most of it whilst you can.
Lovely cabin the bed's great the pillows magic but a tad stuffy at night air conditioning not the best
Brugge on our own
As explained in my cruise review