The expert's experience: Sam's Cunard adventure
Sam, who is one of our Travel Experts based in Sunderland, was recently invited on a Cunard cruise ship alongside Chloe, to experience first-hand what the Cruise Liner has to offer.
We decided to stay in Southampton overnight the night before, so we were ready to embark the next day without complications. Our allocated embarkation time was 3pm, and when we arrived by taxi our luggage was taken aboard ship; we then proceeded to the check-in, which was so smooth and easy.
Our ship was the Queen Victoria, and we were welcomed onboard by super friendly staff who pointed us in the right direction for our cabin. We were so excited to see it, as we were lucky enough to have been allocated a balcony cabin. After settling in to our spacious and luxurious cabin we made our way to the ‘Sail Away’ party, which is also where we met our Cunard hosts and the other travel agents on the trip.
On the evening we dined at the Britannia restaurant, which is a fine-dining restaurant and included in the price of the trip. The food was amazing; fresh, tasty and certainly what constitutes as ‘Fine Dining’.
After dinner we visited the theatre to enjoy the comedian that was onboard. Mick Miller, who has had a long and successful career stretching over 40 years, first came to prominence on the iconic ITV show ‘The Comedians’ along with great British TV favourites Roy Walker and Stan Boardman. He was truly hilarious!
The day started off delightfully. We woke up to breakfast having been delivered to our cabin (which we pre-ordered the evening before), on offer was a delicious selection of fruit, cereal, pastries, as well as a Full English. We opted for the Full English, as we fancied something hearty, which was delicious and a great way to start the day. Room service is a complimentary service on Cunard, which is another reason why Cunard is so special. We then made our way to a training session, where we learnt all what Cunard has to offer. It was very informative and also a lot of fun; we took part in a "photo scavenger hunt" where we had to take photos around the ship – and our team won!
In the afternoon, we had some free time to spend. We decided to head the Golden Lion pub for a leisurely lunch, where we enjoyed some traditional pub grub. This was followed by a tour of the "Grill" part of the ship; where we were shown all the benefits a customer receives when staying in a Grill suite. Here, your on-board experience is elevated to new heights. Each day you can savour thoughtful extras, from personalised gifts and fresh fruit to priority embarkation and an attentive butler. The luxury extras and comfort found in the Queens Grill and Princess Grill Suites are perfectly complemented by exclusive access to their namesake restaurant. You experience culinary wonders and a unique level of service in the Queens and Princess Grill restaurants. Of course, if you are a Grill guest, you are still free to dine elsewhere on-board should you wish – there are just more options available.
After the tour we decided to take part in the bingo and quiz at the Golden Lion pub which was a fab activity if you wanted to pass some time. You could win up to $500!
Tonight was the Black & White gala evening, and this is the night where you can get really glammed up (think, ballgowns and black tie). Cunard is very well known for their ‘cruise attire’, but we found that the dress code was a lot more relaxed than we thought. Both myself and Chloe decided to go for a cocktail dress rather than an actual ballgown but we both still felt like we fitted in with the super glam night. Again, we ate in the Britannia restaurant and the menu was completely different from the night before, it was even more amazing! After dinner we made the most of the night and decided to enjoy a couple of bottles of wine in the Yacht Club, which is Cunards take on a nightclub! There was Karaoke until 11.30 and the atmosphere was amazing, guests were full of spirit whilst they sang along in support of those brave enough to get up and belt out a tune or two. Afterwards, the karaoke club changed to a disco, where danced the night away until our feet couldn't take it anymore.
The next morning, we headed to the spa – the perfect cure for our sore feet and even sorer heads. It was brilliant, just what we needed. We only paid $35 each to enjoy a spa pass, which gave us a few hours in the hydrotherapy pool, saunas, steam rooms and hot beds. We spent around 2.5 hour here and just totally chilled out.
Afterwards, we decided to go into Rotterdam to explore the city, and we found a lovely area down near the canals which seemed to be a favourite Sunday afternoon spot for locals, as it was jam packed. We enjoyed a beer in the sun before we headed to the famous food market, inside here there was a huge number of eateries, from Greek cuisine to fish and chips to fromageries and delicatessens.
We then headed back to the ship so we could enjoy Cunard's famous afternoon tea. We got there for the opening of the service, where all the staff came into the middle of the ball room to start serving. It's a magical experience and very much reminded me of the ‘Be our Guest’ scene from Beauty and the Beast. The tea literally ever ended and I didn’t once have an empty cup. Sandwiches and cakes were perfect and the scones were to die for. We didn't fill our tummies too much as we were dining in the A la carte Asian restaurant in the evening.
The food at the Asian restaurant was one of the best meals I have had, every single bite was a sensation of taste. Incredible, and only around a $25-30pp supplement!
The next day, we arrived into Bruges. This is where had our excursion aptly named ‘Chocolate, glorious, chocolate’, and it certainly lived up to that moniker! The excursion started with a mini tour of Bruges, followed by some free time where we enjoyed Belgian waffles with Belgian chocolate, finished off with a Belgian beer. We then met our group to make our way to a chocolate factory, where we made our own Belgian chocolates to take home.
It was our last night tonight, and we were lucky enough to be eating in the A la carte steak restaurant which is around $40-45pp supplement. This was hands down the best meal I have ever had. I had the lobster for starter, and for main, you could choose from a range of steaks, sides and sauces, followed by a beautiful dessert menu. You even had a menu for the knives! It was an amazing experience, and certainly a restaurant I would encourage all guests to try when onboard a Cunard ship.
We celebrated our last night by going to the Yacht Club, and to say our goodbyes to the great people we met throughout the trip. I have come away having a completely different perception of Cunard. Before the trip, I really had no idea just how brilliant of an experience a Cunard holiday could be. I was truly blown away. We honestly had such an amazing time and we would 100% recommend Cunard to all of our customers.