After landing in Hamburg, we took a taxi directly to Hamburg’s modern cruise terminal, although, beware of confused taxi drivers, it seems that the terminal used by some lines, including Aida, is quite a way from the one Cunard use.
In many ways, Cunard aced the embarkation process. At the terminal, it took minutes to check in and be issued with a Cruise Card. On board, there was a split of Champagne waiting in the room - the perfect refresher before a muster drill which was well organised and fast. Then, there was an excellent sail-away party, featuring complimentary currywurst and Champagne (for a fee).
Nothing is perfect though, and there was some unease about the fact that Cunard kept our passports at check-in - as a group who travel constantly for work, this did not sit well. It would have been better if Cunard’s terminal representatives could have explained why this was happening and how we would retrieve the passports, but none of that was forthcoming.