I am sailing…

Sydney to Southampton 2015

Sydney to Southampton 2015

So it is now just a little over a week into my trip on the Queen Victoria from Sydney to Southampton, a journey of 51 days across the Pacific and through the Panama Canal.

Queen Victoria in Sydney

Queen Victoria in Sydney

I know there are quicker ways of going to the UK. Many of my compatriots went to England by sea in the sixties on working holidays. They were often journeys of about 5 weeks, stopping at Colombo and Aden and going through the Suez Canal. Some of them met their partners either going or returning by ship.

I didn’t do this. I got married and went to playgroup. Then by the time I first went overseas in 1981 it was by plane. Now not so many ships make this voyage but Cunard does and Sydney is considered to be half a world cruise.

Some vital statistics.

About 1800 passengers, of whom 700 plus are from USA, 400 or so from UK, about 200 from Australia and the rest from very many other countries. Not so many from Europe.

Many Americans are doing a 41 day cruise from Los Angeles back to Los Angeles so there will be a big change of passengers in LA on 6 April.


  • It is like Noah’s Ark most passengers come in pairs.
  • The average age estimated by my dinner companion is 73.
  • Many I have spoken to are serial cruisers, some serial world cruisers.
  • Very few people come to the late sitting, 8.30 dinner in the Britannia Restaurant. There is a waiting list for the early dining time of 6 pm (too early for me). Many seem to prefer the casual restaurant where you do not need to dress up and you queue for your food as in a shopping mall.
    I ate dinner there once when I wanted to see the fireworks at 9 pm in Sydney Harbour as the Queen Mary left. I can eat in a shopping mall any time so it is not for me.
  • There seems to be fierce competition from some of the 18 or so single ladies at the dancing for the attention of the 7 dance hosts. The politics of this are beyond me but it seems to have operated from Los Angeles. The same front row chairs are occupied by the same ladies each evening.
  • There are more single travellers than these most of whom are women but they aren’t into dancing.

What I like

  • It is great that the ship does the moving and not me every few days as I mostly do when travelling.
  • People are mostly very friendly.
  • The crew are all very helpful and friendly.
  • There are lots of spaces where you can sit and read, watch the sea etc. without feeling you are part of 1800 others.
  • Good people watching
  • The interesting range of good speakers on a wide variety of subjects.
  • The range of activities available.
  • The art deco decor.
  • The availability of the wonderful seamstress who solved my near wardrobe disaster by mending the tear in the ‘black pants’, the ones which go with everything.

What I don’t like

  • The casino being so in your face that it is necessary to walk through it.
  • The fact that you are required to pay extra for so many things, ie bottled water to take on a tour, shuttle bus to city centre in some ports, talk on using your IPad. I do not recall these extra charges when I went on the QE II from Sydney to Darwin in 2003 but then Cunard has been bought by Carnival Australia since then.
  • There has been a certain dumbing down in the food, ie cost cutting.
  • Coffee is absolutely appalling even coffee they charge an extra $US 3.50 for. An opportunity for an enterprising person I am sure.


Filed under Queen Victoria

20 responses to “I am sailing…

  1. Victoria

    there is simply NO excuse for bad coffee in this day and age: I heard Americans are total ignoramus’s when it comes to coffee. Oh THE HUMANITY!! but you get that with travelling, good coffee is virtually unavailable except in very carefully selected locations. Meaning one can plan their trip around the need to drink good coffee. Laos for example. Due to French colonisation they have good coffee!
    Impressed that they had a seamstress. Useful for when people bust their pants eating too much at the buffet. LOL!!!!!


  2. Susan

    Great description of shipboard life, Pat!


  3. Omg you are brave. Glad you have found places to read and people watch and that there is a good library. And that the passengers are friendly, despite the pairs. Not to mention the seamstress. Looking forward to more news.


  4. LaVagabonde

    Sounds like you’re travelling in style. Your observations are particularly entertaining – I guess there’s no age limit for female rivalry. Looking forward to reading more about this trip!


  5. Emma Parker

    Great post mum and enjoyed reading the comments too, can’t wait for the next one.


  6. zinniablue

    Sounds like a fun trip. Looking forward to more updates from port – where the internet is free! It would be VERY annoying having to pay all those extra ‘costs’ – They really have the market cornered when you are in the middle of the ocean. But I suppose if you look at it another way – you could simply take notes, read a book and sit back and enjoy yourself – the lack of free internet can be one less distraction to worry about out there on the high seas.


    • You are so right Katie. There is a very large library, though I miss not having instant access to Google to check ip on bits of trivia, like trying to get my head around the International Dateline and why we did not seem to cross it going from Beijing to Istanbul overland. I could try the library.


  7. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip. Your broad description of the passengers made me laugh. How much time on land do you get when the ship pulls into a port?


  8. Fascinating hearing about your trip, thank you for sharing this with us!
    My daughter met her Canadian husband when both working on a similar Carnival line, I think! Have a wonderful journey and hope you meet some interesting people!! 🙂


  9. Janet

    Thanku Pat, I can feel the ship moving as I read your news, so good to see the sea rolling past.


  10. My Godmother travelled by ocean liner many times, but you observations seem more amusing than those of that I can remember her telling us.
    Glad you are having a good time, I have never felt inclined – I have gotten sick on the Manly Ferry in the past!


  11. Val

    Have you seen any whales yet? I have three Swiss campers staying tonight and all they want to see is a koala and a wombat (that isn’t dead). they have as much chance of seeing these as a whale in Katoomba!


    • I haven’t seen any whales alive but heard an interesting, confronting talk by a scientist and activist on orca and why they should not be kept in places like Sea World.


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