This is the story and highlights of week eleven of my around-the-world trip as travelled from Yokohama to Okinawa in Japan on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. I travelled around the world in a 12-week trip that started in Southampton UK and ended in Hong Kong. Most of it on segments of Cunard World cruise, first on Queen Victoria and then Queen Elizabeth. This 12-part series covers the journey, experiences and tips – one for each week of the journey. This post covers week twelve (our last week), you can read the previous week eleven here.
Around-the-World Week 12 (Taiwan – Hong Kong – Home)
Day 77 (27 March) At sea en route to Keelung, Taiwan
Today at sea was Easter Sunday, and the ship ran a series of themed events across the day. These ranged from the religious (a service held in the Queens Room which was well attended) to an Easter Ball that evening (where egg-shaped posters were hung around the ballroom). Other activities included a special cocktail (a sort of egg nog thing), an Egg Drop Competition where guests who had previously signed up dropped eggs in devices they had created from the upper level of the Pavilion Pool to the deck to see which did not break and an ice-carving demonstration out by the Lido Pool where a large Easter Bunny was created.
A nice touch was the large chocolate Easter Bunny that was left for every guest in their cabin during the morning from the Captain and crew.
Throughout the trip when ever there has been a significant date or event the ship has embraced them with a mixture of commercial opportunities and celebration in good spirit and with enthusiasm.
Day 78 (28 March) Keelung, Taiwan
Our last port of call on this leg was in the northern port city of Taiwan, Keelung. It was a large container port, and we travelled for some distance after entering the port before docking. There was no real cruise terminal, and it was more of a large open space. Although this was a maiden call, unlike the Japanese ports, there were no bands and crowds of locals excited to greet us.
Immigration officials had travelled on the ship and we were given stamped photocopies of our passport that we had to take out with us ashore. However, these were not checked at any stage, and I assume they were more important if we had been stopped or had to provide identity (which we did need when signing up for the free city-wide Taipei Wi-Fi).
We took the “Taipei On Your Own” transfer into the city. The city is just 18 miles from Keelung and it took an hour (including a drive past the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial and Presidential Building) to the drop-off point outside Taipei 101. We headed up the building to the 89th floor-viewing platform (buying a Priority Pass to skip the lines to make the most of our five hours in the city). When it opened it was the world’s tallest building until Burj Kalifa in Dubai surpassed it. From there we used the inexpensive, and easy to use, Metro and explored the huge and impressive Chiang Kai Shek Memorial and museums underneath before heading to the Longshun Temple. After that we returned to Taipei 101 to explore the area and meet our transfer back to the ship.
Day 79 (29 March) At sea en route to Hong Kong
This last day on the ship was taken up with packing and preparing to end the sea-based part of our around-the-world trip.
Day 80 (30 March) Hong Kong Disembarking
Our plan to book the private transfer proved to be a good one. Although we were due to get off the ship by 8am, there was some delay with clearance by local authorities. Based on local media this was due to the outbreak of Norovirus that meant more discussion took place, We were handed a printed leaflet as we left giving instructions on who to contact and what to do if we had or experienced symptoms whilst in the city.
We found our way through the complicated Ocean Terminal, which had more staff and better guidance on how to get through it and find our cases than on check in. our transport arrived and we swept off to our hotel.
One thing I have learnt from doing this extended cruise is that I want to do a world voyage again (and again). It was a magnificent experience and adventure and we met so many interesting people – both passengers and crew. I can see why people keep returning to do them.
During this segment of the world voyage:
Lido Alternatives were:
- Aztec – “Authentic regional Mexican cruise exploring the variety of spices and ingredients native to the country”.
- Indian – “traditional and authentic Indian cuisine”.
- Prime – “exciting and contemporary variations of American favourites and prime steak”.
- Asado – “South American cuisine using the traditional style of cooking meats on a grill”.
On this leg, the following was the entertainment:
- The Hebei Acrobatic and Magic Show, a traditional Chinese folkloric show that despite its name had no magic but did include a dragon lion dance, puppet, dancing and very clever dance with face mask changing.
- Pingxin Xu, a Dulcimer (a kind of xylophone).
- The Piano Brothers, duo players who also are clearly recording artist performers having worked on a reworking of Elvis Presley songs with the London Philharmonic Orchestra that was in the charts at the time of sailing. They played a great mix of modern, show and classical.
- Philippa Healey, a West End singer who we had seen before on QM2 who starred in Les Miserables.
- Benjamin Makisi, tenor from New Zealand.
- Kenny Martyn a multi-instrumentalist (clarinet, saxophone, ukulele, banjo and singing.
- Hanamas Violin and Shamisen Duo, a female duo from Japan playing western and Japanese music on the violin and the traditional Japanese Tsugaru-shamisen.
- The Spinettes, a trio of ladies signing (surprise, surprise) songs from the 50s and 60s.
- String Idols, violin duo playing music from Russia, Ireland, America, Eastern Europe and the U.K and covering musicals, film, opera and disco.
- MacDonald Brothers, a Scottish duo that played multiple instruments and sang. I was familiar with them as they had been on the 2006 series of X-Factor.
- Ilia and Olesja, billed as charming vertical cloth choreography with a touch of Arabian music”.
Cunard Singers and Dancers Shows:
- “Sing” featuring 19 musicians and the four singers performing mixture of songs from musicals, pop and classics.
- “Palladium Nights” billed as “homage to the iconic and much-loved British TV show, Sunday Night at the Palladium, showcasing songs from the stars of the ’60s and ’70s”.
- “Vanity Fair” billed as “popular music, dance and culture of a bygone era, with a touch of the Avant Garde”.
- “Hollywood Nights” billed as “the World Premier of the brand new Cunard production extravaganza. Experience the roller coaster ride through the history of the silver screen”.
Cunard Insight Lectures:
- Felicity Aston spoke on “Alone in Antarctica”, “Crossing Greenland”, “Commonwealth Women’s South Pole Expedition”, “Alone in Antarctica”, “Living in Antarctica”, “Pole of Cold – A Journey to Chase Winter”.
- Josh Levine spoke on “The Treat of Invasion and the Battle of Britain”, “The Blitz”, “Bombing – Right or Wrong”, “The First Fighter Heroes”.
- Andrew Wyatt on “The Red Arrows”, “Plane Speaking”, “Enola Gay”, “The Long Haul Pioneers of Imperial Airways”, “Beyond the Blue Horizon” (behind the scenes of a flying a modern jetliner for British Airways) and “Concorde – The Icon”.
- Dr Rebecca Knuth on “Japan and World Heritage”, “Queen Victoria’s Life and Loves”, “Taiwan’s National Palace Museum” and “The World of Agatha Christie”.
Celebrity Insight Lecturer:
- Terry Waite on “Hostage Taking Today”, “Survival in Solitude” (about his five years in solitary confinement as a hostage) and “Survival Continued and After Release”
Balls and Parties:
- Black and White Ball.
- Roaring Twenties Ball.
- St Patrick’s Day Party.
- Madame Butterfly Ball.
- Starlight Ball.
- Masquerade Ball.
- Easter Ball
Day 85 (45 April) Home to London
After a few days in Hong Kong and Macau with friends we finally flew home to Heathrow.
The Full Journey
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