July 10, 2013
Posted in: Insights Speakers
With guest lecturer and Maritime Historian Chris Frame
I’ve just disembarked from Cunard’s beautiful Queen Victoria. I was aboard the ship as a guest speaker during her Fjords and Waterfalls voyage.
If ever you get the chance to see the Norwegian Fjords, Queen Victoria is the way to do it! The 90’000 ton vessel gracefully makes her way into some of the most beautiful places on the planet.
This voyage included stops at Stavanger, Olden, the magnificent Geiranger Fjord and Bergen before returning round trip to Southampton.
Embarkation day is always exciting and this was no exception. The ship was berthed at the new Ocean Terminal which is very smart and efficient.
We were on board by 12:30 and were happy to be back in familiar surroundings. The ship’s magnificent. Her interior is a classic tribute to Cunard’s Victorian heritage and the crew are extremely pleasant. Very friendly, professional and proud to be serving on this fine Cunarder.
There were many familiar faces including Ed Moffat as entertainment director who is excellent with guests and makes the entertainment really fun!
Departure from Southampton saw us make the long and somewhat complicated passage to open sea, which was a lot of fun to watch from the deck enjoying a pint of Boddingtons from the nearby Winter Garden.
During the first day at sea I had my first lecture in the Royal Court Theatre talking about the famous Cunard Queens. Their wartime service was unparalleled. In fact, Winston Churchill himself credited them with assisting in shortening the war by at least a year.
The Queens went on to become the most loved ships then in service. They were powerful liners with a loyal following during the late ’40′s and 50′s.
But it wasn’t always that way. In fact in 1929 when the stock market crashed things weren’t looking too good for Cunard. Queen Mary (then known as “534″) was incomplete on the Clyde and rival Germany had introduced two express liners, Bremen and Europa. These two magnificent ships were ultra modern. Their boilers were built within airlocks, which was unique at the time, making them highly efficient. Furthermore they were fast. Their modified Parson’s turbines let them achieve 27-knot speeds and capture the Blue Riband!
WWII saw to the demise of these ships as well as others such as the magnificent Normandie, and the Italian Rex.
Guests sailing aboard the Cunard Queens enjoy the history of the liners and the lecture was well attended.
That evening talk turned to the voyage ahead and the upcoming stops. The fjords are a superb sight and transiting them by ship really is the best way to experience them. It was a formal night as well as the Captain’s cocktail party where guests were able to meet the first female Captain in Cunard’s long and illustrious history. The receptions was fantastic and we were introduced to the senior officers.
In Stavanger I joined the shore tour speed cat ride into the fjords. There we saw magnificent waterfalls and unique rock formations which you seldom witness anywhere else.
The ship was ready to make way on time and we slipped our moorings and made a bearing for Olden.
Olden was the gateway for another exciting day of exploration. A small port, it’s nestled among huge mountains and beautiful scenery. A cruise on the lake followed by views of glaciers and waterfalls was complimented by morning tea of waffles and coffee – much needed on a day where the maximum temperature was under 10 degrees! And this is summer!
These were amazing sights but the jewel in this voyage was Geiranger Fjord! The most beautiful fjord in the world.
Here Queen Victoria anchored and after a short tender ride we were ashore.
I took a helicopter ride over the fjord and it was absolutely amazing to see the ship among the magnificent scenery.
As we flew past the ship’s guests and crew waved at us! It was a fantastic experience and one I’ll never forget.
Sailing from the fjord the tour manager offered a commentary on the open decks pointing out sights such as the seven sisters waterfall and the suitor waterfall. Legend has it, so we are told, that the suitor has forever been rejected by the seven sisters on his proposals and declaration of love.
Keeping fit while on a cruise might seem tough. But Queen Victoria has a large, modern gym. It has all sorts of equipment including exercise bikes, cross trainers, treadmills, weights and an aerobics area. But the biggest benefit here is the views. Large forward facing windows makes for a pleasant workout!
At 12:00 on Saturday, the mood on board became excited as the Winter Garden and Golden Lion Pub became crowded with rugby fans to watch the Lions / Wallabies match. As one of the few Aussies aboard I felt a bit outnumbered, and things got tense for a while when the score was 16/21 – but it was not to be and fortunately the British guests were very gracious in their very convincing win.
That night we had fantastic entertainment. In fact the evening entertainment was superb at this voyage – we had first class comedy, excellent singers, violinists, and the Cunard singers and dancers were great – a new cast with a new routine that wowed guests.
At dinner that evening we sad the sad farewells to our wonderful dinner companions, enjoyed drinks in the bar with friends we had met (from around the world including as far as California!) and took a final stroll on the deck.
The voyage came to an end all too fast. Queen Victoria is a magnificent ship and is doing a fine job at continuing the Cunard tradition.
I’m looking forward to my return aboard her, hopefully in the near future.