Cruise M624P in the English Channel on the Queen Mary 2

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
01/11/2016 Southampton - On board just after noon!
02/11/2016 Le Havre Picturesque
Pretty fishing village!
04/11/2016 Zeebrugge Scenic Villages &
Loppem Castle &
Damme Village
05/11/2016 Southampton - Home by 9:20!

Tuesday the 1st of November, 2016
Southampton, England

I left home at 10:40 in a Streamline taxi to catch the 11 o'clock train to Soton. In the terminal building I said hello to Entertainments / Cruise Director Jo(anna) Haley from Nottingham, who I had worked with on here last year and on FOCL's Titanic memorial cruise on Balmoral. Embarkation was streamlined again and I was on board at 12:15. Three ladies accosted me in the lift when they saw my dance host badge! During an early lunch of roast beef, Rita an oriental lady, who had sailed with me on FOCL, recognised me. I then met my cabin mate Martyn from Nottingham and slept for two hours. After the safety drill we met Tommi the social host for our briefing. Here I saw Haydn Evans from Pembrokeshire, who I had last sailed with on Balmoral's Baltic cruise L1412 over two years ago!

At 6 o'clock we dined in the newly refurbished King's Court buffet. I had the spicy bean soup, caesar salad, minute (sic) steak and curly chips followed by a small chocolate mousse with Martyn. I held back from the chocolate fountain! I then watched the late sailaway down the Solent in the dark from the forward observation platform. At 7:45 I went to the recorded music session but there were no single women present. At 8:45 I watched the excellent five Tenors of Rock showtime. This included one song from Les Mis and then songs by the Beatles, Rolling Stones etc. At 9:45 we began dancing in the expansive Queen's (Ball)room. There were plenty of good dancers including Rita, Jill, Jan, Maureen and others. We went to bed at midnight.

Queen Mary 2

  Queen Mary 2  

Queen Mary 2

Wednesday the 2nd of November, 2016
La Havre, France

My alarm went off at 6 a.m. which was now 7 a.m. Central European Time (CET). I breakfasted on the full English with Martyn before walking into town. I went in the free Natural History museum, two shopping centres and both the newish St. Michael's church and the old Notre Dame cathedral.

Back at the ship, I backupped the morning's pictures, before lunching on southern fried chicken. At 1:15 p.m. I escorted my third choice Picturesque Honfleur tour. We crossed over the river Seine on the Tancarville suspension bridge on the way out and then back over the Normandy cable stayed bridge on the way back. Our guide led us around the little fishing harbour before depositing us outside the famous wooden church of St. Catherine. When a funeral finished, our party could go in or disperse for their free time. I climbed the hill to two viewpoints, one upstream and one down, together with a pretty chapel in the woods. Back in the town, I finally went in St. Cath's church and the tourist information office.

Back at the ship at 6 o'clock, I quickly changed from my stripey French tee shirt into my evening wear and went to see the Maitre d'Hotel in the Britannia resturant. He placed me on a table with Zofia and her husband from Tucson Arizona, a Yorkshire couple from Doncaster and another English couple. I had the prime rib of beef.

Back in the cabin, I slept for 90 minutes, before updating this blog. At 10 p.m. we had the Big Band Ball with the combination of the two orchestras - the only big band afloat! The first set lasted 65 minutes and I managed to dance with a different lady for each dance. During the intermission the professional dance couple showcased the Viennese waltz. The second set went on to 12:15 a.m., when I had a slice of pizza in the midnight buffet.

Queen Mary 2

  Queen Mary 2  

Queen Mary 2

Thursday the 3rd of November, 2016
At Sea

I slept for 8 hours before breakfasting on one egg Benedict, a croissant with Parma ham & cheese and a banana & blackberry fruit smoothie! I was surprised to see islands on the horizon so, back in the cabin, I switched on the moving map. During the night we had headed out into the Western Approaches past Alderney, not east up the Channel! At dawn we had done a 180 degree turn to start our transit of the English Channel proper. Despite seeing the Cap de la Hague off Cherbourg, I was unable to get a mobile phone connection. I updated this blog, before attending the Singles coffee morning at 10:30. I chatted with Maureen who had been on the Balmoral inaugural cruise (BL002), Heather from Christchurch and her friend from Poole, a lady from Cranfield and others. I couldn't get a concensus on what to wear for the tea dance.

At 12:15 we had the cha cha dance class where I danced with Mildred. Vladimir & Nadia taught the basic, New Yorks and the underarm turn. They spent a lot of time on styling, includings arms and hands! I began lunch with the pea soup in the King's Court buffet, followed by the smoked salmon salad and trifle in the all new Carinthia lounge snack bar. I then had a siesta for an hour and a half, followed by a tea dance at 3:30. One host wore his jacket, two wore waistcoats, two (including me) wore a tie and short sleeved short and one had no tie at all! I then had my one and only swim/jacuzzi of the voyage.

At 6:15 the Maitre d' placed me on a table with Irish Finola and her friend Mary from Northants together with a nurse and her 80 year old mother who was celebrating her birthday. I had the mushroom soup, salad with red wine dressing, tenderloin beef and the birthday cake. I made the mistake of ordering the so-called decaf coffee, which kept me awake until 1 a.m.! I wasn't able to slip away from the birthday celebrations in the Britannia restaurant until 8:10, when I arrived for the second half of Tommi's sequence dance set. At 8:45 I watched the American musicals production showtime with Dennis and John. At 9:45 we had the Masquerade ball, which they had not warned us about, so I had left my masks at home. Vladimir & Nadia did their rumba show dance in the interval. The ball ended at 12:15 when I had two rolls in the midnight buffet and utilised the French mobile network off of Calais.

Queen Mary 2

  Queen Mary 2  

Queen Mary 2

Friday the 4th of November, 2016
Zeebrugge, Belgium

I awoke at 7:30 and had the full English breakfast with Martyn. At 9:30 I escorted my second choice Scenic Villages & Chocolates tour for the second time. We began at Loppem Castle designed by Pugin's son in a gothic revival style. We then visited a chocolate emporium on the edge of Brugge. I pigged out on the free chocolates, but shelled out 2.20 euros on Jupiler beer. The final stop was at the pretty village of Damme.

Back at the ship at 2 p.m., I lunched on corn chowder soup and a minute steak with bacon (the lamb chops having run out). I then caught the 2:40 complimetary shuttle bus into the seaside resort of Blankenberg. I visited the tourist information office, before heading for the promenade. The penultimate shuttle bus at 3:40 was full.

Back at the ship I slept for an hour, before packing. I dined on roast lamb at the same table as the previous night, but the other occupants didn't turn up until 6:45! So I was already through the first two courses, but foolishly opted not to order my dessert early. At 7:45 I said my goodbyes and went to the sequence dance session. Here I danced with Jill, the young disabled girl and others. At 8:45 I went to the farewell variety show by the production company, the comedian and the Tenors of Rock. At 9:45 we had the Caribbean band in the Queen's room and Tommi forbade ballroom and latin american dancing, so we just jigged around. In the intermission Vladimir & Nadia danced the cha cha. I went to bed at midnight.

Queen Mary 2

  Queen Mary 2  

Queen Mary 2

Saturday the 5th of November, 2016

I awoke at 7:45 which was now just 6:45. After a fruit smoothie and the cool full English, I finished packing. I carried my own bags off the ship and jumped into a taxi. I just managed to catch the BoMo train with the help of the guard and got home at 9:20 after another enjoyable cruise!

My colleague wrote: "Thank you for also being a good cabin mate. I hope to have the pleasure of your company in the future."

Good points were:

  1. Lovely double height Queen's Room dedicated ballroom.
  2. No silly rules to obey (e.g. access to pools and jacuzzis).
  3. Not needed at the recorded music dance sessions!
  4. Two excellent orchestras (ballroom and theatre).
  5. Quiet and smooth outboard propulsion pods.
  6. Lovely treble height Royal Court Theatre.
  7. Free (small) launderette on every deck.
  8. New Carinthia Lounge with snack bar.
  9. Forward facing outdoor viewing areas.
  10. Lovely treble height Grand Lobby.
  11. UK travel expenses reimbursed.
  12. Efficient cabin steward (Elmer).
  13. Revamped King's Court buffet.
  14. Not required at deck parties!
  15. All round promenade deck.
  16. Not needed at sailaways!
  17. Pre-lunch dance classes.
  18. One free shuttle bus.
  19. Flexible dress code.
  20. Good cabaret acts.

Score Card:

4 Evening dance sessions enjoyed
3 Dining tables hosted
2 Tours escorted
2 Sequence dance sessions enjoyed
1 Latin American dance class attended
1 Coffee morning attended
1 Tea dance enjoyed

For the record ...

Current Statistics:

956 Ports called at
570 Tours escorted
107 Cruises 
_19 Ships
__6 Co.