My Aunty and I even attracted comments from envious passers-by when taking photos in front of the liner with our luggage. Several people commented that we were very lucky to be sailing aboard the ship that is part of a fleet synonymous with tradition and elegance.
We knew we were!
Station Pier in Port Melbourne had not improved since my last sailing out of the terminal in December unfortunately and check-in was a tad painful as always with confusion as to where our luggage should be directed.
Suitcases finally delegated to port staff, the time had come to board for three-nights of luxury, decadence and, hopefully, calm seas!
Our balcony stateroom welcomed us with open arms. Neutral furnishings made way for the two bottles of champagne (nothing less than Veuve Clicquot for Cunard) and fruit basket awaiting us.
Now, an eternal drama for me is whether I will unpack or live out of my suitcase for such a short period of time. Inevitably on a cruise though, the decision is made for me with limited space to store your luggage within suitably easy reach.
Whilst the situation was no different aboard Queen Elizabeth, what truly made my decision easier was that a majority of my outfits were gowns.
Yes, I had adhered to all suggestions to dress elegantly and had packed three gowns ready to take advantage of the rare opportunity to really embrace formal cruising. This was such a dreamy concept for this true ‘girly girl’!
Luggage unpacked, it was time to explore the liner and familiarise ourselves with our home for the next four days.
First stop…the ‘Lido Buffet’ for a spot of lunch!
With two sides to the buffet, there was enough choice to keep even the fussiest of eaters satisfied.
From Asian-style stir-fry to the Italian pasta and pizza station where traditional fare is cooked fresh while you wait, Helen and I had to be wary that dinner wasn’t that far away and there was always dessert to consider!
For someone who doesn’t normally have that much of a sweet tooth, cruise ship desserts always capture me. My demon? The soft serve ice cream machine…
Now I would never think that a liner like the Queen Elizabeth would feature the machine that I had oft wished I could package up and take home, but I was very thankful it did!
Having recently purchased my first digital SLR camera, I was eager to explore the liner that is famed for its art deco influences and I quickly discovered was that she was a photographer’s dream.
Even amateur photographers can delight in her lighting, artwork, classic lines and random pops of colour that seemingly burst from an overall muted palette.
Working from deck to deck, Helen and I spent the entire afternoon “oohing” and “aahing” at the detail everywhere we cast our eyes.
Latticework abounded and artwork aplenty was showcased on a ship that has a very ‘Titanic-esque’ style about it…minus the tragedy of course!
Gathering at the ‘Royal Theatre’, I sensed a change in the air amongst my fellow passengers though.
Pre-Concordia there were always under-breath mutterings by passengers oft complaining about taking the short amount of time out of their cruise for something often described as a waste of time.
These mutterings seem no longer now. People listened quietly, obeyed and then, in a first for me, we walked in formation with life jackets donned to our actual muster station in the ‘Britannia Restaurant’.
With very little time before sail away and the ‘elegant casual’ attire (read cocktail dresses or trousers for the ladies and lounge suits with no tie for men) deadline of 6pm, we rushed back to our stateroom to prepare for cocktails in the ‘Garden Lounge’.
Karen Millen satin number and heels at the ready, I was surprised to see a bevy of people still in swimsuits by the pool. Perhaps I had taken this dress code a little too seriously?
I was under the impression that there would be officers standing guard to send me back to my stateroom to change if I wasn’t ‘elegantly’ dressed or perhaps a little less dramatic, bar stewards who refused to serve me a cocktail until I changed my attire!
Clearly I was wrong…thankfully!
Freshly muddled cosmopolitan in hand as the sun streamed in through the glass roof of the ‘Garden Lounge’ we awaited sail away…one of my favourite aspects of cruising.
That moment when you first discover you’re actually moving is always priceless in my book!
Cameras at the ready we headed off to experience one of the most divine sunsets I’ve seen in Australia.
Lobster was my chosen main and I enjoyed our waiter preparing it for me. There is nothing worse than cracking your own lobster shell after all…I think I could get used to that level of service in my everyday life!
Stomach satisfied, I headed to the ‘Royal Court Theatre’ where I enjoyed the musings of variety entertainer David Copperfield…no not that one!
Laughter abounded even when some of his jokes were a tad more crass than I would have expected for the demographic and I was very surprised to find that some audience members headed to ‘The Yacht Club’ to hit the dance floor as part of the ‘G.A.Y. Disco Night’ with DJ Mark following the performance.
Expecting an empty nightclub, what greeted me instead was a dance floor filled with streamers, balloons and the sound of Kylie Minogue pumping through the speakers!
A Philadelphia couple gushed at how impressed they were with the entertainment director , Amanda, fulfilling their request to have a gay theme night at the nightclub given that they really didn’t feel comfortable dancing openly together in other venues.
Wish granted and they stayed until close along with a group of fellow passengers, crew and entertainers who all carved up the dance floor to the sounds of some of the most popular gay anthems from decades gone by.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect…we were sailing into Sydney during Mardi Gras week after all!