No, not literally with the man himself, but aboard the ships that bear his name. On sea days aboard each of the four ships in the current fleet a special, extra charge afternoon tea is served at a cost of £7.95 per person.
You need to book in advance and, for the privilege, you get to be seated in the lofty, hushed expanse of the forward facing Observation Lounge, with fabulous views out over the horizon.
There’s the genteel sounds of a background piano player or string trio to accent this most delightful of old British traditions. Served late afternoon, it’s an elegant repast, and a truly delightful way to pass an hour or so on a sea day.
So, what exactly do you get for your money?
Firstly, there’s a choice of four different afternoon teas, and these are:
Afternoon Darjeeling leaf tea
Earl Grey leaf tea
Imperial Gunpowder leaf tea
China Rose Petal leaf tea
Of course, you can also have coffee instead if you wish. I went for the Imperial Gunpowder during my recent cruise aboard Boudicca. It comes in a white china tea pot, and is poured through a strainer as and when you indicate that you are ready. It really is lovely stuff, too.
Plates of finger sandwiches then appear magically, like Christmas decorations atop a snow white table setting. The choice of offerings is here:
Smoked salmon and cream cheese on whole wheat
Wafer thin cucumber on soft white
Plump shrimp with avocado on whole wheat
Egg mayonnaise on mustard cress on white
The comes my personal favourites; a triple tiered deck of gooey delights, guaranteed to make your taste buds go into overdrive. Sample items include:
Mini eclairs, fresh berry tarts, and the pastry of the day.
Warm, house baked scones with your choice of thick whipped cream, butter, preserves, and honey.
You can see from the list above that all of this is virtually a meal in itself. How to make it even better? Grab an (extra charge) glass of Lanson Black Label, a Kir Royale, a Pimms, or maybe Harvey’s Bristol Cream. I went for the Lanson, and the bubbles added just thr right amount of zest to a very civilised, indulgent hour.
Any way you slice it-pun wholly intentional-afternoon tea aboard Balmoral, Black Watch, Boudicca or Braemar is a truly indulgent experience, savoured in civilised, elegant surroundings at a leisurely pace, that really gives you the time to savour one of the finer experiences in life.
And, at the end of the day, you know that you’re worth it. Cheers!