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.
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.