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HeinBloed Blog from QUEEN VICTORIA heading to the Northern Lights October 2022


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Finally - the blog about the QUEEN VICTORIA trip to the Northern Lights has started.

 

The Northern Lights are on my bucket list, and I've shortened them. I no longer feel like doing two long-haul flights in a short space.

 

Since REGAL PRINCESS in spring and the Covid-19 infection afterward, I'm happy if I can doze during the day without the stress of going out.

 

The situation at the German airports and the departure on a Tuesday ensure that we use the time wisely to experience something on the go that we could not see from a port on an excursion.

On the way to Southampton by car, we first go to a UNESCO World Heritage Site: Champagne - although I don't drink any alcohol and live in a wine-growing region myself.

 

I discover a new form of travel: bed and breakfast with other gay hosts who also cook for you. Better than sitting in a restaurant in the evening, especially when the hosts are in the hospitality industry:

With Fred and Hervé in their La Crapounette at the gates of the cultural capital of Champagne: Épernay.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/tagday-0a-auf-dem-weg-zuron-way-to.html

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I wasn't expecting such a great breakfast the following day at Fred and Hervé's.

 

Well strengthened, our plan was: Reims Cathedral, other champagne houses, Étratat in Normandy on the English Channel, and on to our destination on the border with Brittany.

 

Nothing came of it: the refinery workers went on strike, and there was a shortage of diesel. Instead, we hoped at the only gas station in Reims that the diesel would still be enough before we made it to the pump.

 

So we had to choose the straight path: no "blue lobster" in Étratat - recently a classmate of mine was there, and I decided: I want to see and eat that too! No - we had to shave every mile if I was going to let tomorrow's and ferry tickets expire.

 

In the evening, we arrive in Le Mont-St-Michel. Also, UNESCO World Heritage and also on my bucket list. So far.

 

Unfortunately, there were no gay hosts here who would cook for you in the evening. But the view of Mont-St-Michel from the room makes up for it.

 

Since we couldn't foresee when we would arrive, we didn't reserve a table anywhere. Only a few restaurants are open, and they all turn us away.

 

Luckily we didn't have to starve, but we still had to drive a bit: La Paranthèse de la Baie.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/tagday-0b-auf-dem-weg-zuron-way-to.html

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The day doesn't start so well: not because of the fog, but because of the "rationed" breakfast. Rationed diesel is enough! Precisely the opposite of Fred and Hervé!

 

We want to be early because you don't get off Mont-St-Michel at the parking lot and get there five minutes later.

 

But since nothing keeps us in the hotel, we drive past the German military cemetery. When will humanity learn that wars only mean suffering?

 

09:00 hrs at the car park and 10:30 hrs at the start of the free English-speaking tour with Anne. And that without an escalator!!! Never again, Mont-St-Michel. As lovely as that is: I didn't want to book a high-altitude training camp, but a visit to a monastery.

 

Then the rain comes an excellent opportunity to eat mussels in Le Mouton blanc on Mont-St-Michel: at noon, it can even pay without taking out a new loan on our house.

 

You then continue by ferry via Cherbourg to Poole, approximately 1 hour from Southampton. Here we stay in the Prince Consort because the QUEEN VICTORIA docks at the Ocean Terminal, and I need a place to take photos that she can also safely pass. We usually stay in Hythe, but unfortunately, all rooms were fully booked.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/tagday-0c-auf-dem-weg-zuron-way-to.html

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She's coming: QUEEN VICTORIA: For the 4th time after 2008, 2016, and 2018. And this time, even 12 nights of good food, sophisticated entertainment, great crew, and hopefully the Northern Lights and beautiful landscapes.

 

A lovely English breakfast awaits us at the Prince Consort.

 

Valet parking with Parking4Cruises works very well: especially since we don't arrive at the same terminal again. The embarkation works perfectly.

 

We are at home: thanks to Sojan and Jugal, whom we meet again right after our first lesson on board. In the evening, there is another reunion: with Maître D' Grzegorz, whom we already know from previous trips. And a pair of eagle eyes watching everything I know but can't place yet.

 

The nice thing about Facebook is that we can follow the lives of great crew members that we fondly remember with one eye. Even if they are no longer with Cunard, I ask Petra, whom we know from our trip on the QUEEN MARY 2 2014: now that she is no longer with Cunard, who can I "annoy" on board: Dragana.

 

It's great that we're back on board: QUEEN VICTORIA's return to service has been delayed several times because the aim was to restore the expected level of service on the other two ships. I was so happy when I saw the first pictures of Sojan on Facebook from his shore leave: I knew: QUEEN VICTORIA was sailing, and if he is allowed to go ashore, then we can too!

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/tagday-1-auf-deron-queen-victoria-in.html

 

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The day begins with my favorite breakfast: Congee - specially prepared for me. We also witness an excellent breakfast team: Warren, Ruffel, and Abner.

 

Crystal makes sure I'm happy in the evenings, too: Clamato is taken straight to the bar, which supplies the Britannia Restaurant.

 

An attempt to meet the others from cruisecritic.com or Facebook fails because the presentation on the second port is taking place simultaneously: I don't stand a chance against Tromsø, and so I only meet Brigitte, with whom I talk.

 

Adorable: classic on board: Carlos Bonell. Exactly the music I already have on my iPhone.

 

Mihaela and Bernice take care of my onboard credit and internet problems.

 

Our cabin is kept clean by Michael.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/seetagday-at-sea-2-auf-deron-queen.html

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Another sea day. I identified the eagle eyes: QUEEN MARY 2 2014: Domenic - he already had everything under control with his eagle eyes.

 

But the other colleagues also take good care of us in the team around Grzegorz, Domenic, Warren are still Michael, Christopher, and Izat.

 

Always lovely: to be served by Sojan - I'm probably the only non-suite customer who gets butler service: it's so much fun to be his guest.

 

Rowen and John Roland mainly serve us at lunchtime, and in the evenings, we are guests of Joseph, Robert, and Marcelo.

 

I love sea days. They're pretty relaxing.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/seetagday-at-sea-3-auf-deron-queen.html

 

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Finally, back in Norway: we were last here ten years ago with the NORWEGIAN SUN and MIDNATSOL.

 

It's a "shame": we drive through a fjord in the dark, and when we cast off, it gets dark shortly after. However, it is referred to as a scenic cruise.

 

Supposedly even more beautiful than the Swiss panorama railways: the Raumen Railway.

 

We are back at noon, and the weather is nice: so we climb the local mountain again - we have to take advantage of the weather. Do we have to tighten our belts somewhere else? We are now definitely co-owners of the cable car companies.

 

Coffee and cake at 708 m above sea level are even more excellent than tea time at 0 m above sea level on board.

 

We look forward to Arnold and Rufolo every morning, who ensure that our caffeine level is correct.

In the evening, I'm happy: Melissa already knows my cabin number and name, although I've only ordered a drink from her so far. I express my suspicion that I might have a mug shot of me hanging in I-95. But I like being treated like that.

 

Finally, we have a selfie with a Norwegian troll.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/tagday-4-auf-deron-queen-victoria-in.html

 

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And another day at sea: now the third. Unfortunately, there is no trip as a submarine, like back in 2008 on the tandem transatlantic crossing with QUEEN ELIZABETH 2.

 

It's back to Carlos for classic class. So I enjoy the trip. That is precisely my music. Finally, a show in the evening that you could sing along to: I didn't get to know Amy and Scott personally until later, but they're already noticeable as soloists. Later, I also exchange ideas on Facebook with Robin, who also performs in the show. When it comes to entertainment, Ashley has a lucky hand.

 

Another waiter in the Chart Room who serves us nicely: Jonathan.

 

Let us heading to Tromsø, Norway.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/seetagday-at-sea-5-auf-deron-queen.html

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We reach the northernmost port of this trip: Tromsø (sunset 16:58 hrs).

 

We start the day leisurely as we have a night trip to hunt the Northern Lights, so we don't stress.

There was a lot to be settled and put in order: not by Cunard but by me. Callum and Faith did everything they could to untie the Gordian knot and provide clarification.

 

So that's all I have to fix.

 

We visit the cable car to the local mountain Fjellheisen and the Arctic Cathedral before hunting for the Northern Lights with Karina from Scan Adventures in the evening.

 

So: we're lucky: a "maniac", a real "hunter" who makes sure that I can cross the northern lights off my "bucket list".

 

A unique sight. Not a second time if it doesn't get warmer.

 

Unfortunately, we only stay here for a short time but leave the port at around 2:00 hrs.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/tagday-6-auf-deron-queen-victoria-in.html

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A 22-hour sea day instead of being able to explore a little more of Tromsø, and unfortunately, we sailed far from Lofoten so that we couldn't see any of them.

 

I take a step forward to fix something. This ends nicely in a picture with Captain Evans Hoyt, Callum, and Nemad.

 

In the evening, it's off to The Verandah Steakhouse: with F&B Manager Dinesh.

 

We also get to know Robert and Martin from Australia, with whom we usually meet for a drink in the evening.

 

Later I see the Nordic Brothers show - also something special.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/seetagday-at-sea-7-auf-deron-queen.html

 

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We reach Narvik, Norway. I know Narvik - because my geography teacher 40 years ago described it so well in his words that I knew immediately what it looked like here.

 

He's the one who got me so excited about the iron ore railway with his stories that I'm going to take her to Abisko National Park in Sweden today.

 

We experience snow in Norway and sunshine in Sweden. A pleasant journey awaits us. Catherine and Gary are also traveling with us. We met Karina again, but she preferred to take others - to Abisko in the evening.

 

In the evening, we enjoy a unique offer at the Lido Alternative Dining: the Nordlys menu. Together with new acquaintances on board: Elvira and Jürgen, who we know from the German-speaking lunch menu, and Carolyn and Bernhard, who we sat next to in the restaurant and with whom we exchanged ideas. Perfect food and first-class service thanks to senior waiters Deseree, Michael, Rodrigo, Sharon, and Rochelleitte.

 

"Hollywood Rocks" is in the theater - a fantastic production show to my liking. I can finally sing along!

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/tagday-8-auf-deron-queen-victoria-in.html

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Another 22-hour sea day follows. He's a little restless. So time to rest. We've headed South again.

 

I meet the person responsible for my well-being here at Lido Alternative Dining: Sous Chef Navin.

 

But a rest day is also perfect. Just eat, drink and rest.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/seetagday-at-sea-9-auf-deron-queen.html

 

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D-Day: The crew may take off their masks: finally, I see their laughter:

 

Arnold, Rufolo, Chrystal, Izat, Ruffel, Abner, Marcelo, Captain Evans, Shirlene, Nemad, Callum, Ravi, Jonathan, Grzegorz, John Roland, Faith, Melissa, Sojan.

 

At the theater, I experienced the short version of Top Hat with Greg and Lucy, whom I know from various forums and from driving with Karina: I enjoyed this musical — primarily starring Scott!

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/seetagday-at-sea-10-auf-deron-queen.html

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Stavanger, Norway - the last port before disembarking back to Southampton.

 

We've been here before with WESTERDAM 2010: But back then we didn't have a chance to see the old town.

 

Today we take another chance to see a fjord: off to the Lysefjord. We also meet Catherine and Bernhard again.

 

Missed on D-Day: Dragana.

 

And again as a guest of Deseree and her team. Together with a new friend: Nemad.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/tagday-11-auf-deron-queen-victoria-in.html

 

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The last day or day at sea: We still have to introduce Richard and Regine.

 

I also get to know the people responsible for what I must have gained weight again: Navin and his team, who cook so deliciously at Lido Alternative Dining.

 

Not only does Princess sing, but also here: Scott and Amy, who sing in the shows, lead the choir of the guests. Later that evening, they rejoin Robin with the singers and dancers at Sting. Later the Nordic Brothers follow again. Once again, we experience Carlos with his guitar.

 

A beautiful journey is coming to an end.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/seetagday-at-sea-12-auf-deron-queen.html

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Back in Southampton, England: a real ship encounter: MSC VIRTUOSA.

 

We quickly drive back via Dover, England, and Calais, France, to Belgium. In Dover, we still see AIDAmar, and our tour guide Ulla from London, England, informed us that she had sought protection in Dover.

Our stage ends in Bruges instead of at the gates of Bruges: Jan and Bart would have cooked for us again in their B&B het boerderietje, but due to Bruno's Covid-19 infection, Jan and Bart are not the last chapter of our QUEEN VICTORIA 2022 journey, but the first chapter of our CARNIVAL PRIDE 2023 journey. We are responsible for our fellow humans, even if there are no longer any rules in Belgium.

 

This is how I get to a beautiful evening in illuminated Bruges.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/tagday-13-auf-deron-queen-victoria-in.html

 

 

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Back in Southampton, England: a real ship encounter: MSC VIRTUOSA.

 

We quickly drive back via Dover, England, and Calais, France, to Belgium. In Dover, we still see AIDAmar, and our tour guide Ulla from London, England, informed us that she had sought protection in Dover.

Our stage ends in Bruges instead of at the gates of Bruges: Jan and Bart would have cooked for us again in their B&B het boerderietje, but due to Bruno's Covid-19 infection, Jan and Bart are not the last chapter of our QUEEN VICTORIA 2022 journey, but the first chapter of our CARNIVAL PRIDE 2023 journey. We are responsible for our fellow humans, even if there are no longer any rules in Belgium.

 

This is how I get to a beautiful evening in illuminated Bruges.

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/tagday-13-auf-deron-queen-victoria-in.html

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Then it's on to home.

 

I smuggled something out of England: it's no longer an internal market: Big Tom - tastes delicious.

And the biggest surprise: I weigh less at home than before the trip. Hardly any journey can end better.

On New Year's Eve, we go on MSC POESIA.

 

We made the next deposit for Cunard. We now need the right journey for it. We met a lot of great people - on board and ashore. We were lucky with the weather, and we had a great trip. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this!

 

https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2022/10/tagday-14-nach-derafter-queen-victoria.html

 

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  • 7 months later...

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https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2023/05/tagday-1-shipspotting-weekend-in.html

 

If the chance arises, we are always happy to see crew members and ships again.

 

So there was another ship spotting weekend in Gdynia, Poland, to see QUEEN VICTORIA again.

 

It was a great trip last year, and we are back with Cunard for October: QUEEN ELIZABETH, which is cheaper than EXPLORER OF THE SEAS.

 

Here we know what we're getting and always need some help with Royal Caribbean.

 

But first to Gdynia...

 

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https://heinbloed-cunard.blogspot.com/2023/05/tagday-2-shipspotting-weekend-in.html

 

Unfortunately, returning to Germany, I have a less pleasant experience.

 

Has the world changed so that travel is also associated with unpleasant encounters?

 

I love the cruise because you feel less that the world has become so threatening. Somehow there is still a beautiful ideal world that I appreciate very much.

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