A fun and sociable lifestyle awaits at Churchill Retirement Living’s Mount’s Bay Lodge in Penzance. Owners Anne, Angie and Maureen recently enjoyed a cruise to Hamburg on board the Queen Mary 2, accompanied by travel counsellor Vanessa de Vere. Here’s Vanessa’s account of the trip…
On a sunny late September morning, a group of rather excited ladies from Mount’s Bay Lodge in Penzance gathered to join their private taxi service to Southampton. We had some singing in the back along the way. With the anticipation for the adventure that laid ahead a rendition of “A Life on the Ocean Waves” was more than justified when Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 came into sight as we approached her berth in Southampton.
For all of us it would be our first visit to Hamburg, Germany, but first we had the pleasure of two evenings and one magnificent day at sea to explore the world’s only true ocean liner.
After settling into our staterooms and completing the safety drill at our muster stations we reached for a glass of something to toast our departure.
We chose early dining in the magnificent Britannia hall where we were joined by other dining companions. Resplendent after a wonderful first meal, we teamed up for the quiz in the Golden Lion pub before taking our places in the Royal Court Theatre for the show, always a special event. We were to be spoilt with a range of diverse entertainment over the four night voyage, from an evening with the Beatles to a full West End style production every night, there was much foot tapping, clapping and singing by all. Our next stop would of course be the Commodore’s Club for a nightcap.
A Classic Cunard Breakfast set the tone for the next day, and as the sun came out we promenaded the deck, sampled coffee and chocolates, enjoyed guest speakers, explored the ship, tried our luck in the casino, made full use of a steamer chair to take in the sea views and visited the Planetarium. We were never short of something to do – or eat – before preparing for our black tie gala evening.
On arrival in Hamburg we were met by our driver for our 4-hour private tour of Hamburg. We were all taken aback by the beauty of Hamburg, the endless tree lined avenues, breath-taking architecture, Lake Aster and the beautiful town hall. Our walk around the ElbePhilharmonie with its far reaching views was one of our highlights and we all agree we’d like to go to a concert there. Our stop in a Coffee Warehouse in the Speicherstadt in the Hafen quarter led to further excitement with the largest portion of cake any of us had ever seen being served — of course we all had to dive in to assist! A cheeky glance at the red-light district, the Reeperbahn followed, before discovering where the Beatles began their musical ascent, topped off by a visit to St Michaels Church before our lunchtime stop at a Brauhaus (microbrewery) on the canal side for a tasty Schnitzel lunch before making our way back to the QM2.
“All aboard” and night three beckoned with another splendid dining experience, then it was time to say auf wiedersehen to Hamburg. We did this in style as we gracefully slipped our moorings to the sound of three short blasts of the ship’s horn, and poised with a glass on the Terrace Deck with just a little bit of dancing to live music, we certainly let Hamburg know we appreciated her as we began our cruise back down the Elbe towards the North Sea.
Our final day at sea saw us engaged in many activities across the ship. It was a privilege to attend a lecture given by the naval architect responsible for conception and construction of the QM2, Dr Stephen Payne OBI RDI, and learn how a young boy’s dream can shape the destiny of a truly amazing ocean liner. A final gala dinner saw us all donning our finest apparel in a style known only to Cunard, transporting us back to the golden ages of the 1920’s and 1930’s; the QM2 exudes Art Deco glamour throughout. A final flutter in the casino, a spin of the wheel, a fine Broadway musical production and a sumptuous meal, and a final cocktail, led us all to agree it was the best way to spend five days. There was a tear as we disembarked and said Au Revoir in Southampton the following morning.
Vanessa de Vere is a Travel Counsellor based in West Cornwall.