At Sea, en route to Southampton

Woke up this morning feeling a bit sad, because today is our last day on the Queen Victoria and we’ll be back in Southampton tomorrow morning. I could easily have done another week of cruising on this beautiful ship.  🙂

A quick look out of our window showed that the rain had finally stopped, although the sky was still an ominous grey colour.

Looking at the daily programme, we saw that there was a packed itinerary of activities today, and we decided to start with another lecture from maritime historian Chris Frame in the Royal Court Theatre at 10 o’clock. Once again, his slide-show and presentation described the great Cunard ships of the past and present, and his talk was very interesting.

Then we remained in our seats for another fabulous and riveting talk by former BBC reporter Martin Bell. What a fastastic orator that man is; he has the sort of resonating, plummy English voice that just grabs your attention, and his speech is so eloquent and interesting to listen to. His presentation was once again accompanied by various BBC news clips from the archives (Mr. Bell was active on the BBC from 1962 to 1997) and it was a fascinating talk. Great stuff.

We then had a coffee break before another presentation by Margaret Ryan, the lady who used to work for Cunard (trying saying that fast).  😉

This time her talk focused on the Queen Elizabeth 2, as well as the current three Queens. It was so nostalgic seeing the photos of the QE2, which is probably the world’s most famous ocean liner (next to the Titanic). We are privileged enough to have done a couple of transatlantic voyages on the QE2, in 1997 and 2000. We were also on the Maiden Voyages of all three current Queens.  🙂

Thus the morning was taken care of, and it was after 1.00pm when we left the Royal Court Theatre and went up to the Lido buffet, first of all sticking our head out of the door to see what the weather was like – yes, it was still too cold for going out on deck.

After lunch, we reluctantly returned to cabin 4119 to make a start with our packing. We filled one of the suitcases with the stuff we wouldn’t need again this cruise, only leaving out a change of clothing for tonight as well as our toiletries and other essentials. We then went up to the Commodore Club for a quick drink as Trevor wanted to be back in our cabin to watch the live football (!!) as Sunderland were playing Everton at Goodison Park, as we very badly needed this win. On the way back we stopped off at the duty-free shop and bought a bottle of vintage Prosecco to drink on the long coach ride back tomorrow.

I, on the other hand, decided to go along to the Queen’s Room where a charity auction was going to be held in aid of the Prince’s Trust. The items up for auction were the ship’s navigational chart for this voyage, which had all our ports of call on, as well as the position of the Lusitania wreck. The chart was signed by the Commodore and his senior officers and is a unique and authentic record of this special voyage. There were also a couple of donated limited-edition prints of the Lusitania; one of them contained signatures from some of the survivors.

I was very interested to see what the navigational chart would sell for, as on our last cruise we won the chart in a raffle, and I know from previous cruises that these often sell for a fair bit of cash.

Commodore Rynd welcomed everyone to the Queen’s Room and reiterated that all money raised would go to a good cause. He then called the assistant cruise director Alex to start the auction, and called for an opening bid of $100.

Wow! The auction was very lively as the bids came in thick and fast, increasing by fifty dollars at a time. Often, as the auctioneer was about to do his “going…going…gone” routine a higher bid would come in at the last minute, and we wondered where it was going to stop.

To cut a long story short, the navigational chart went for a hefty $2,350. The Lusitania print signed by the survivors went for $2,000 and the other limited edition print for $1,100 – a fantastic amount raised for charity. Each time the bidding closed, the Commodore went over to the successful bidder and shook his or her hand; the items were then put into tubes for their new owners to take them home.

When I returned to the cabin, I discovered that Sunderland had won 2-0, three very much needed points that have taken us out of the relegation area.

By now it was after 3.00pm, so we pottered around for a bit, then I went to the Golden Lion and got a glass of rosé wine to drink in the cabin as I got showered and ready for tonight. I finished off the kumihimo bracelets I’d been making and went along to give one of them to Marian, our very efficient and friendly cabin stewardess. Another two I set aside to bring to the dining room to give to Rose and Janet on table #429.

Dinner was delicious as usual, and we spoke with our table-mates about the next cruises we had booked.  We finished off the meal with a glass of amaretto each, and I took the opportunity to give the bracelets to the ladies as a little memento of table #429.  Then we said our goodbyes and left to go to the Royal Court Theatre for the show.

Tonight it was a production by the Royal Cunard Singers & Dancers called “A Stroke of Genius”.  It was described as “a fresh and eclectic show which pairs world famous works of art with popular music”.  It was very original and colourful and made a change from the usual boring West End musical excerpts that have been done to death.  One thing is for sure – we have never seen a duff show this cruise.   🙂

Afterwards we made our way to the Golden Lion pub to take part in the trivia quiz, and we were joined by the same couple who had done the quiz with us before (we still didn’t know their names!).  Nope, we didn’t win – in fact this is one of the very few cruises where we haven’t won at least one quiz.   😦

We then had to return to cabin 4119 to finish our packing and place our suitcases outside our door by 11.00pm for collection.  We therefore had to change into the clothes we’d be travelling home in, and I hoped there wouldn’t be any complaints from the staff about being “inappropriately dressed” in jeans and trainers – really, they couldn’t exactly complain when they were the ones insisting our cases had to be out so early!

Once the cases were packed, labelled and left outside our stateroom door, we decided to finish off the evening by going up to the Commodore Club for a final couple of drinks.  I enjoyed a Manhattan then had a final glass of wine before returning to our cabin, just after midnight, for our last evening on board Queen Victoria.

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