Day 1 – boarding Cunard’s Queen Victoria

Finally, the day has arrived, it’s time to board Cunard’s Queen Victoria for our cruise to the Baltic.

Our E-Ticket boarding time was 12.30, so a relaxed start to the day focussed on finishing packing and tidying the flat. The opportunity to dress up means that we have, of course, over packed, again. However, thanks to Cunard’s brilliant use of space there is plenty of room for everything and we take the view that this is one of the pleasures of a round trip from Southampton – as long everything fits in the car!

Coco happily trotted into her home away from home (homefromhomedogboarding.com), and we headed off down the M3 to Southampton. Thankfully we didn’t experience any traffic delays and we arrived at the Ocean Terminal just after midday. The Cruise Parking team were very efficient checking in our car, and we handed the keys over to them as our luggage was whisked away. I don’t know if we had beaten the rush but it all felt very calm and un-busy as we entered the terminal building.

Before we knew it we were at the check in desk for the formalities before collecting our ship identity cards/cabin cards. The lines for check-in and security were short and we sped through.

From leaving the car to being in our suite couldn’t have taken more than 30 minutes – great job Cunard & port of Southampton. We hadn’t been in our suite for long before our butler came to introduce himself. NAME is delightful and friendly without being intrusive. He comes across as being genuinely happy to help with any questions or special requests we might have.

Our luggage was delivered quite quickly, so we truly had arrived.

Those first few hours back on a Queen are lovely. It’s like being back in the home you wished you lived in all the time!

We did a quick tour of the ship then headed to the Queens Grill for lunch. Our table (for 2) is towards the aft end of the restaurant, just one table away from the floor to ceiling windows, so a great view.

The first lunch onboard is one of our favourites as it’s the first of many to come. J had Brocolli and Stilton soup, followed by poached eggs Mornay, while M had a tuna & celery tartlet with a minute steak and fries…..washed down with ice tea for J and a lager for M. Normally M only drinks lager with lunch when we are cruising, however with the World Cup on, this may change!

After lunch J unpacked our things, finding a home for everything.

After the safety briefing we returned to our suite and opened the complimentary bottle of Laurent Perrier champagne. We sat on the balcony basking in the sunshine. At 4.30pm the Queen Victoria gently slipped away from the berth, and we headed down Southampton water past Fawley oil refinery and into the Solent. Being on the starboard side our balcony kept the sun as we watched the view pass by. It was so warm it was reminiscent of the Caribbean sail-aways we’ve had on the QM2.

We passed Calshot spit, where a month ago we stopped on our short tour of the New Forest .

Then it was out past the Isle of Wight and into the English Channel.

We had a leisurely early evening in our suite before heading up to the Queens Grill for our dinner. I know it’s their job, but I’m always impressed how quickly the Maitre’D remember our names and welcome us personally. A small indication of how good the table staff are going to be is how quickly they pick up on the fact that J likes a straw to drink her water….having asked for one at lunch, one was waiting on the table this evening. Full marks!

J had beef Consomme followed by smoked salmon & grapefruit, with a Caesar side salad. M had a Cornish Crab and prawn salad, followed by a New York strip steak. M rounded it off with a poached pear dessert as the sun set out of the window at the end of a wonderful boarding day. Tomorrow a sea day enroute to Hamburg.

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