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Sea Day, Posh Afternoon Tea, Burnie, Cars, Whisky, and more - Queen Elizabeth Cruise 2020

Out 'poshing' posh afternoon tea. Me, enjoying an after dinner tea. Photo: Enigma
Out 'poshing' posh afternoon tea.
Me, enjoying an after
dinner tea - full pinky!.
Photo: Enigma
Cruises are very much different experiences for different people. If you want a quiet relaxing time, you can pick and choose what activities you get involved with that match your tastes.

If this is your first post in my series, documenting my partner, Enigma, and I's week long cruise on the Queen Elizabeth that we took at the end of January, start of February 2020, just a month prior to the world going into lockdown thanks to Coronavirus, you may like to go back and read all the available posts in this series (in reverse order) click here.

As you read about our experience keep in mind my Partner and I tend to keep to ourselves. We're polite and talk to people who we happen to cross paths with, but we really like the quiet relaxing side of cruises.

If you're more adventurous, looking to meet new people and get involved in more physical activities like sports or dancing, maybe even have a holiday romance, all that is on offer too. You just won't read about those things here.

Day 6: Sea Day, Virtual Bridge Tour, Too Much Sun, and Posh Afternoon Tea.

Even with the lack of Internet service I still quite like sea days on a cruise. I imagine on longer cruises I might start to miss the Internet but for a day it's a nice break.

By this point starting our day with breakfast in the Britannia restaurant was pretty much routine. I recorded having their signature breakfast - which I can't remember what it consisted of exactly but I'm pretty sure it was the one that came with a sampling of black pudding (that I mentioned I tried on day 3).

Virtual Bridge Tour

Page from the 'Virtual Tour' brochure showing the joystick that steers the boat at sea.
Page from the 'Virtual Tour'
brochure showing the
joystick that steers
the boat at sea.
Anything with the word 'virtual' in front of it kind of makes me think of 'virtual reality'. I thought we might get some cool, 3D modelled recreation of the Queen Elizabeth's bridge as part of this presentation. This wasn't that.

If showing a few photos on screen as you talk about them is a 'virtual' tour then sure... it's virtually like a tour of the bridge without actually going to the bridge.

Despite not getting anything close to my expectations visually, Third Officer George (who I'm sure had a second name but it's not recorded in the ship's programme guide), did give a very informative talk, in the theatre, about the workings of the bridge.

I seem to recall Third Officer George explaining the various Officer rankings and making a note that his position on the ship was basically redundant, which is why he was in charge of giving this presentation.

Of particular interest, despite the ships size, it's mostly steered (when at sea) with a joystick not much bigger than those on your average gaming console.


Too Much Sun

I'm not really a lounge in the pool or lay in the sun kind of person but my partner is, especially if that pool is a spa. The Pavilion pool has two spas attached to the end that comfortably seat about four people in each. Enigma decided she'd spend the rest of the morning reading a book in one of them.

I retreated to a deckchair nearby in the shade, writing up my journal pages (for these blog posts).

Unfortunately by lunchtime, Enigma was working on a bit of a mild sunburn, after having taken her T-Shirt off (still wearing a swimsuit underneath - if you were wondering) but not applying any sunscreen to her arms.

Posh Afternoon Tea

Harpist, Magdalena Reising, shown here playing in the QE's main foyer. Photo: Enigma
Harpist, Magdalena Reising,
shown here playing in the
QE's main foyer.
Photo: Enigma
Of the two of us I'm the tea drinker. Enigma hasn't really found any kind of hot drink that she would commit to drinking daily. However she wanted to attend 'afternoon tea' held in the Queen's Room, which is a very traditional looking ballroom located on deck two.

On a ship largely filled with retirees you can imagine posh afternoon tea (at 3pm) is one of the hot tickets of the day... particularly on a sea day. 

We actually had to queue for a table, which ended up being in the far corner, right down the back where we could barely hear the Harpist, playing at the front of the room during tea. I can only assume she must have been terrible as our waiter, who guided us to our seats, said it was 'the best table'.

(Actually the Harpist was Magdalena Reising, who wasn't a terrible harp player at all. I heard her play previously at other times throughout our trip as many of the various musicians play sessions at different times and locations all around the ship).

Afternoon tea was indeed posh, with proper teacups and saucers, and the appropriate scones, cakes, and other typical accompaniments you'd expect. It was a fun hour and we sat next to an interesting couple but, to be honest, it was a little more relaxing and less formal to just grab your own cup of tea in the Lido Buffet and head out to the lounges by the pool.

Posh afternoon tea, complete with cake forks.
Posh afternoon tea, complete with cake forks.

Tenori.
Tenori.
After spending the rest of our day relaxing in our room we followed our usual dinner in the Britannia Restaurant with a theatre performance by Tenori, three tenors, David Kidd, Craig Atkinson, and Andrew Pryor. Their show consisted of classics songs from Opera, Music Theatre, and Jazz. I did enjoy the show but it's not really something I'd go out of my way to listen to.

Day 7: Burnie, Veteran Cars, Distillery, Bus Tour, Top Hat Theatre Show

Docking at Burnie would be our last full day on the cruise. Located in the North Western part of Tasmania, we would easily be back in Melbourne early the following morning for disembarkment. As such we spent some of the morning packing our cases so we wouldn't have to rush doing it later. Guests bags were to be collected from outside their cabin doors at 11pm that night.

Some of our morning was also spent choosing which portrait photos we wanted to purchase from about 20 that had been taken. We got two copies each of four prints and, because we spent over US$90.00, we got an extra image free (we chose our boarding photo because you have to have your cheesy boarding photo). All up we spent US$191.00 on photos before taxes and special offers.

This may actually be one of the first jigsaws Enigma helped complete. Photo: Enigma
This may actually be one of the
first jigsaws Enigma helped complete.
Photo: Enigma
Burnie's dock is a commercial port so you weren't allowed to leave the ship without getting straight on a shuttle bus that would take you out of the port (apparently it's too dangerous to walk a few hundred metres to the exit along a designated path).

The Bus Tour

We had a bus tour booked for 12.10pm so we waited around doing jigsaws while we watched the crew go through an hour long safety drill. Nothing was open on the ship during the drill so if you were onboard, sitting around was pretty much all there was to do.

Table Cape Lookout. This photo is more interesting than the actual view.
Table Cape Lookout. This photo is
more interesting than the actual view.
As we were boarding the bus for our tour the weather was not looking great. The rain bucketed down, pretty much soaking everyone by the time they reached the bus (even with the shelter of some shipping containers in between).

Fortunately by the time we arrived at our first stop, Table Cape, a lookout point near the newly restored historical lighthouse, the rain had stopped and held off for the rest of the tour.

There is a 30 minute walking trail at Table Cape but, as with most bus tours, this stop was a flying visit for the view and photo opportunity. If I'm honest the view wasn't that spectacular, relying on a  sign to tell you what you can see on the horizon on a clear day (which this wasn't).

If it wasn't for this sign you wouldn't know what the bumps on the horizon were.
If it wasn't for this sign you wouldn't know what the bumps on the horizon were.

Car Museum

From the lookout we headed off to experience the Wonders of Wynyard Information Centre and Car Museum.

1928 Model A Ford at the Car Museum.
1928 Model A Ford at the Car Museum.
I would like to give props to the tour guide who showed the group around the car museum. The display was amazing and he really knew his history on all the vehicles. For some of the group I imagine it was a fascinating look back in time. The cars and bikes were all very photogenic too.

Despite that, the guide probably went a little longer than even the front of house staff would've liked, as our group was keeping another tour group waiting toward the end. I suspect a few of our group would have rather had a bit more time to browse the souvenir shop before we headed off to our next stop.

Hellyer's Road Distillery

'A Man & His Dog' by artists Ruth Rees and Pam Thorne.
'A Man & His Dog'
by artists Ruth Rees
and Pam Thorne.
Hellyer's Road is a Single Malt Whisky and Vodka Distillery where you can sample their various 'flavored' whiskies. I do recall they did have some really interesting flavours but this far out from the trip I really can't remember what I tried. 

If you're into whisky this is probably a must visit place. If you're not on a bus tour you could probably try their restaurant for lunch too.

I actually do like whisky but only in the same way I like wine. I know a good one when I taste it but I'm not on any kind of quest to try every type to see which is best. So I found this stop to be about as interesting as the wine cellars I could visit in the Barossa, right on my doorstep, but don't.

I was more interested in the life size Handmade Paper sculpture they had in the restaurant of 'A Man & His Dog' by artists Ruth Rees and Pam Thorne, inspired by the distillery's logo. (There was another of these sculptures of a different local identity at the Information Centre that was quite interesting too).

Back to the Ship

The tour ended with another quick stop at a lookout where we could see the Queen Elizabeth docked at Burnie. I don't think I even got off the bus here as the view wasn't really going to get any better being outside the bus. As you can see in the image below the sky was looking pretty ominous again by this point.

Lookout overlooking the Port at Burnie.
Lookout overlooking the Port at Burnie.

The bus tour had been pretty rushed going from location to location without really any time to stop for lunch. As soon as we were back on the boat we headed up to the Lido restaurant for snacks and followed that with a last daylight walk around deck 3 - which is the only deck where you can walk around the entire perimeter of the boat outdoors but still be undercover.

Being the last day of the cruise the Royal Arcade (official name of the ship's shopping area) shops had a $10.00 table sale event. Which was actually a good time to buy some flashy looking but not too expensive gifts for anyone who is expecting you to 'bring them back a souvenir'. I ended up getting a watch, cufflinks, and a photo frame clock. Enigma bought a shawl and something else that memory escapes me (but we probably got it free as there was a special of buy four items and get the fifth free).

Top Hat Theatre Show

Top Hat The Musical Poster
Top Hat, The Musical, Poster
The theatre show for second sitting dinner guests was, for the first time, set for before dinner at 6:30pm. Not entirely sure why but I assume it was so those who still needed to pack their cases would have time before having to place them outside their door at 11pm.

The performance was called 'Top Hat' and is a musical comedy that has won 3 Laurence Olivier awards, featuring music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, and is based on the 1935 motion picture of the same name.

The plot centers around dancer, Jerry Travers who dances his way across 1930's Europe on a legendary voyage to win the heart of society girl, Dale Tremont.

It was one of the better performances of the trip, having an actual story and characters, but I did find it a little confusing. There was some kind of 'B-story' going on, with a couple of extras, that seemed to mirror the main plot but I couldn't quite follow it.

We finished the evening with dinner at the Britannia Restaurant, and then we picked up the photos we had ordered on the way back to our room.

---o ---O--- o---

The next post should be the last as we arrive back in Melbourne, see a few more sights, and then head back home Adelaide.

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