My partner and I had cruised with Cunard once before in the Med. This was a very short cruise for us (2 nights - Adelaide to Melbourne) but the purpose was to give our elderly parents (76, 77, 87 and 89) a taste of the Cunard experience. We were a party of 6.
Embarkation in Adelaide was the worst I had experienced in 6 cruises on different lines. As we had booked late , we had 2 A1 Club Balcony and 1 x BE Balcony cabin booked but were all told to arrive at the port at the same time of 12pm. It would seem all 750 embarking passengers were given the same time. Nobody was allowed to board prior to about 12.30 and by this stage the small waiting area at the port was packed and full of angry, impatient cruisers. Not a good start for my claustrophobic 89 y.o. mother.
Once on board at 1pm that was soon forgotten and we enjoyed a lovely lunch in the Lido buffet. As the continuing passengers who had embarked in Southampton, Cape Town or Perth were out exploring Adelaide, the Lido did not suffer from the usual embarkation day buffet scramble that can be so unedifying.
We had been wait-listed to try and upgrade our BE balcony cabin to a Club Balcony like our parents had secured, but it didn't come through. So first task was to try and organise the dining arrangements. They wouldn't let us 2 BE passengers join the other 4 A1 passengers in the Club Dining Room so we all ended up dining at the late sitting in Britannia. We were given a fantastic table for 6 by the window in the upper level overlooking the stern and the wake of the ship which was fabulous.
Dinner in Britannia was very good although the first night the sommelier left me holding the wine menu for the entire first course and only took our wine order after we had finished the appetizer.
I went to the 'Hollywood nights' floor show in the Royal Court Theatre which was terrific by cruise ship standards.
The first night out of Adelaide the ship encountered heavy seas which the Captain informed us had not been forecast. Squalls of up to 70 knots had the ship rolling considerably and I was worried for my parents in what was their first night ever at sea. It was by far the roughest night I had experienced in my short cruising history over the last 5 years.
We changed course the next morning to go around the weather and things were pretty smooth for the rest of the trip.
I was pleased to see that the Australians were all well presented and complying with the dress code - even the hop on hop off crowd like us. We had 'smart attire' nights both nights on board but my partner and I decided to go black tie regardless as quite a few others on board did. So it gave the night the suitable sense of occasion I had hoped for my parents benefit. I saw no jacket less men in the Dining Room or bars after 7pm, but I wasn't particularly looking.
Disembarkation in Melbourne was a breeze. I'm really not sure why Adelaide was such a schemozzle.
Great cabin, but you certain feel the motion in rough sees all the way back here!