Chewy anxiously awaiting disembarkation
We thought that disembarkation from the Queen Mary 2 would be as stressful and long as embarkation so we prepared all our bags well ahead of time, organized all the puppy stuff, and got to the areas needed as early as possible. In fact, disembarkation was a snap. Here’s what we did:
Night before, set luggage outside
The night before disembarkation day, we --- along with all of the passengers onboard the Queen Mary 2 --- left our luggage outside our stateroom with tags attached which listed the priority in which we would disembark. Because we had the dogs, we were given the highest priority to disembark (yay for dogs!). We kept a disembarkation bag with clothes for the morning, a water bowl for the dogs, and our electronic equipment.
7:00 a.m. breakfast
We woke up early and ate breakfast at the Kings’ Court
7:30 a.m. meet at kennels
At 7:30 a.m., we met everyone else up at the kennels. We took the dogs out, let them do their business, and waited until Rex was ready for us to disembark.
Note: Normally, DEFRA arrives at the QM2 early in the morning to go through all the dogs’ paperwork and scan their microchips but DEFRA is scaling back their operations over this coming year. DEFRA is now planning on only personally checking 30% of the dogs that enter England via the QM2, meaning that on the vast majority of the cruises, you won’t need to go through any inspection of the paperwork except for what the QM2 steward checked on embarkation day. Our cruise was the first ever that DEFRA did not personally visit. Normally, the DEFRA inspection takes about 30 minutes to an hour.
8:00 a.m. disembarkation
Disembarkation was a snap. (Customs/immigration is done during the week for all cruise passengers so we did not need to go through customs/immigration in Southampton.) As soon as we gathered, Rex led us down the elevators and through the halls to the exit area where we were among the first off the ship.
The dogs walking off the boarding area
In fact, I think Chewy was the actual first passenger off the ship!
Chewy and Abby helping track down our luggage
8:05 a.m. collect luggage
The dog owners’ luggage was in a separate area from all the other passengers so we picked up our luggage and walked out the door.
8:07 a.m. get taxi
We walked out the doors of the terminal and found a van taxi which had space for the dogs to lay on the floor and had the taxi driver take us to our rental car office where we picked up a car and headed out into Southampton.
8:20 a.m. finding a park for two very happy dogs to run and stretch their legs
Post-trip at the New Forest
Ormonde House Hotel
We stayed at the Ormonde House Hotel, a quaint bed and breakfast directly across the street from the amazing New Forest. The New Forest is a huge parkland that is, actually, not very new --- it was used by the old monarchs as hunting and game land and is now protected forestland.
After seven days in tight quarters on the ship, the dogs adored running through the beautiful woods, watching the wild horses roam about the grasslands, and sniffing the cemetery stones in the ancient church. We, likewise, appreciated the fast Internet, filling breakfast, large room and short walking distance to the small village to eat at the local restaurants. The hotel is about a thirty minute drive from Southampton so we found it convenient to run our errands and return home in the afternoon to spend time amidst the trees.