DAY 8

July 13th, 2018

The Journey Home

I have slept exceptionally well every other night on this crossing, but tonight I awoke at 2:00 AM, and just couldn’t fall back asleep.

I decided to go out on deck and watch our progress to Southampton. It was a very dark, but still night, there were very few stars, and no moon out, but I could see the twinkling lights of land in the distance.

I walked around the Promenade Deck, and lingered in my favorite spot near to the spare propellers. I watched our wake from deck 8, and then sat in a deck chair (not that comfortable without a cushion) observing our slow progress through the calm waters towards the Solent. I was expecting it to be windy and chilly, but it was perfect, and by the time I returned to my cabin at dawn’s early light, I was ready to go back to bed and have a couple of hours of good sound sleep.

Before I disembarked I took one long last look around the ship, and went out on deck to say good morning to Southampton and to wave at Queen Elizabeth.

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Disembarkation from the Fjording voyage went extremely smoothly. This was not so today. I had booked the coach to Heathrow, and the instructions were that we should wait in the Royal Court Theater at 8:30 until we were called off of the ship.

Well I would estimate that about 85% of the passengers, and their extremely bulky hand luggage, were waiting in the theater. They were all of us waiting for the coaches to the airports and railway stations, but there were also all of the passengers going off on tours, as well as the passengers who were transferring to Queen Elizabeth.

There was no room to wait in the theater, so I stood with the hordes and their luggage milling around in the corridor, trying to interpret the muffled announcements, and hoping that this would all come to an end soon.

Finally someone yelled Red 2 – yay, that was my group, and we surged towards the gangway. Apparently there had been an issue with the gangway earlier this morning, and so no one had been able to disembark for some time. Yes, it was chaos there too.

I bade a sad farewell to the beautiful ship, and walked towards the luggage area in Ocean Terminal. Alas, our luggage was still on the ship, so there was more milling around, but at least we didn’t have to go through immigration.

Then the luggage arrived, and at 9:30 I boarded my coach to Heathrow and said goodbye to Ocean Terminal.

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I was going to Terminal 2, but the coach was stopping at Terminals 4 and 3 first.

There was quite a bit of traffic on the road, but we still made it to Terminal 4 by 11:00. The driver announced that we were there, but no one got up to leave the bus. He announced this again – this time gesticulating wildly with his fingers to emphasize that we were at TERMINAL FOUR!!!!! No movement in the coach. We had now waited for 20 minutes, and some passengers were beginning to mumble their annoyance. Then, quite calmly, 4 women stood up and slowly sauntered off the coach. At 11:40 we were able to get going again, with the coach driver muttering that some people just shouldn’t be allowed to travel. He said they knew that they had to get off the coach at Terminal 4, but did not realize that when he said we had arrived at Terminal 4, that meant they needed to get off the coach and collect their luggage and go inside the terminal in order to go on their plane. I can’t imagine what, if anything was going on in their minds.

There was a lot of construction going on so it took another half an hour to get to Terminal 3, and then, shortly afterward we were at Terminal 2.

Traveling alone, and having a flight after 2:00 PM I think it made sense to take the coach, but as Smiths For Airports costs less than 2 coach tickets, I think I will certainly use them in future to get from the port to the airport if I am not traveling solo.

I had just enough time to do some souvenir and chocolate shopping before heading to the gate. There were no Peppermint Aeros in the whole airport. This had not been an issue in Terminal 3 or 5 recently. I do hope it is not going to be a trend. So I had to board the plane in an almost chocolate free state. I do have some Cadbury Flakes, but they are disappearing quickly.

I was flying on United, and despite the fact that it was a full flight; boarding went very quickly and smoothly. It was a very old plane, with a severe deficiency of overhead bin space, but a very obliging flight attendant found room for my little red suitcase (the big red suitcase was safely in the hold by then I assumed), and I settled in to my middle seat for the long flight to Chicago.

I have been on several long haul flights recently, but I must say this was the best despite the very cramped seating conditions and old plane. There were no power outlets or on demand video programs, but the flight attendants were all wonderful. They kept us supplied with wine and Nibnibs, pesto mini breadsticks from Yorkshire according to the packet.

When the afternoon snack of a turkey and cheese sandwich arrived we noticed that it was warm. The flight attendant admitted that they actually taste awful, but if you warm them up they are not so bad. She was right. It was indeed not that tasty, but it was totally edible. Especially if your body is used to being fed every hour or so. I was missing my afternoon tea already.

I was missing my ship. As I flew back home over the vast Atlantic Ocean that I had only recently crossed on Queen Mary 2 I couldn’t help thinking about the saying in regard to transatlantic crossings on ocean liners; “it isn’t the only way to cross, but it is the only way to cross”.

After an extremely long day I eventually arrived home. It had been a wonderful crossing, and I can’t wait to be back on the ocean again. But alas it’s back to work for the next few months!

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DAY 7

July 12th, 2018

At Sea

Last Sea Day ☹

Yet another smooth night, and calm, sunny day. So much for hurricanes and rough crossings. This one has been exceptionally smooth. Unless you look out of a window, or go out on deck, it is hard to believe that we are actually on a ship in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is so calm out there. I had really hoped for some wave action, but it simply does not look like I am going to be lucky enough on this crossing.

It also doesn’t seem like I am going to see a whale or dolphin. Someone was on his balcony and heard a noise, and there was a breaching whale! That would be simply fantastic to see, but I think we are out of good whale watching waters now. Gordon saw some dolphins, but all I have seen is a lonely seagull.

The passenger mood in quite somber on the ship today. There must be a lot of England football supporters on board. However, the Croatian staff members are very happy, so I am glad for them.

The first talk today was by Richard Stirling on Princess Margaret. I presented a bouquet of flowers to her many years ago, and I remember thinking that she was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. The years weren’t good to her, but that’s what I see when I think of her. A beautiful smiling real life princess whoose eyes lit up at the sight of the flowers.

Next I went to listen to the Entertainment Director, Amanda Reid, interview Nigel Lawson, and then he answered audience questions. Most of the questions yet again focused on Brexit and British leadership. I’m still not sure I understand what is going on, even though he has talked at length about it. There were also questions and comments about President Trump, and some one inaccurately describing what the US Senate does (in comparison to the House of Lords), so the Americans were clearly in the audience too.

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After our last choir practice I went to listen to Rob Bayly talk about Radio Caroline and the 1960’s Pop Pirates. As an avid listener to pirate radio in my teens, it was good to think about my days at boarding school listening to Radio North Sea International on my little transistor radio under the blankets so our matron wouldn’t know about it. I wonder if they still make those little transistor radios.

I noticed that there was a Queen Elizabeth get together on the schedule. I thought this might be a get together of passengers who had been on the 3 Cunard Queen Elizabeth ships, but it was actually a talk for passengers who will be transferring to Queen Elizabeth tomorrow. I often see questions on internet forums about how on earth you do transfer from one ship to another, so it was great that they were taking the time to explain the process to the passengers involved. I do wish that Brian was joining me in Southampton tomorrow, and we would then transfer to Queen Elizabeth. I don’t know where she is going, but that doesn’t matter, it would be great to go on another voyage right now.

But I’m not going on another voyage just yet, so I had to go and pack. We will soon no longer be in the North Atlantic Ocean. We will be in the Celtic Sea off the coast of Ireland. The end is near………….

The choir performance was held this afternoon on deck 2 of the Grand Lobby. Previously the singers had been standing on the staircase, but due to the health and safety concern that someone may lurch on the stairs and cause everyone to all fall down, the choir is now positioned safe and sound on the lower deck, with the audience standing unsafely on the stairs.

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One of the photographers came by and took a group photo of the choir. Is it free? A token of appreciation for all of the hard work we have put into rehearsing? Payment for entertaining the guests? No, it costs $24.95. I don’t think I will get a copy then.

Mary Ann and Gordon were there to watch the performance, and I really appreciated that. I have been very lucky to be seated with interesting people on many trips, but my tablemates on this crossing are exceptionally wonderful. I was getting quite teary-eyed thinking that tonight is probably the last time I will see them, and how much I will miss their company.

However, the show must go on. Try as I may, I failed to channel my inner Ethel Merman, but I did belt out “There’s No Business Like Show Business” with all the verve and energy I could muster. Wow, the acoustics are great in the Grand Lobby, I think we sounded amazing. And yay! The audience is clapping!

Next we changed the tempo a bit, and did “Over The Rainbow”. We were not asked to channel Judy Garland, or that interesting Hawaiian singer, but just to be ourselves. As I was singing it, I realized that maybe I was over the rainbow. All of the dreams I had dreamed had come true. What a wonderful feeling ☺

Well maybe not all of my dreams. I used to play my Sound Of Music LP over and over on my little battery record player, singing away to the songs, wishing I could sound like Julie Andrews. I don’t. But when we sang our next song, Do Re Mi, it was clear that I still don’t sound like Julie Andrews, and despite my efforts to channel her, I sound just like me, a little flat and off key. Still, it was a fun song to sing, and again, the audience seemed to love it.

Next was “Do You Hear The Sound?” Nicole and Victor had told us to “punch it out”, and we did. I could almost see us climbing up the barricade. It is a great piece of music.

At university I had been in a musical called “La Revolution Francaise”, same theme, same writers. We, the peasants, had sung our hearts out from the rickety scaffolding (it was performed in the round with minimal props). I had long, straight, stringy, unkempt hair in those days. Just before the production I decided that I needed more sophistication in my life (I had met Brian), and went and had my long stringy locks cut short, replacing them with a wavy perm and highlights. Margarita, the director, was furious. I discovered, much to my disappointment, that she had cast me in the musical for my genuine peasant looks rather than my tuneful voice and acting skills. We solved the situation by me wearing a white bath cap, that looked acceptably peasant like, and the show went on until it was banned by the censorship bureau, but that’s another story.

Our final song was that great Neil Diamond hit, “Sweet Caroline”. Is it really about Caroline Kennedy as the tabloids say? Anyway, I love the song, and it made for the perfect finale, although I do wish the audience had been a bit more engaged with singing along and waving their arms. I always do that when I hear it. I’m never really sure whether the singers are happy with that show of exuberance or not.

Then suddenly the show was over. We thanked Nicole, Victor, and Drew (the pianist), and said our farewells to the rest of the choir. Out of nowhere the photographer arrived with the 8 X 10 glossy photos. I had been determined NOT to buy one, but then, overcome with nostalgia, all of a sudden I was the proud owner of the photo of the choir, and my on board account soared to new heights.

I had achieved one solitary stamp as a result of winning a quiz, and it was now redemption time. I headed down to the redemption center in the bowels of the ship to see what delights I could take home with me. There were people getting tote bags, binoculars, memory sticks and all manner of exciting prizes. However, with one stamp I was relegated to the options of either a black or red pencil, that didn’t even have an eraser at the end.

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I opted for the red one, and proudly retreated to the Golden Lion to hear the next installment of the history of the electric guitar – riff writers. Paul Garthwaite did a splendid job as usual, showing how there is a long history to the similarity of the riffs that we have enjoyed over the years. He is am amazing guitar player. It has been so wonderful to listen to him play rock music, and to Mark Ashford playing classical guitar. Basically the same instrument, but making such a different sound.

I met up with Deidre to have one last Milky Way martini before dinner. The Commodore Club was packed, and it was actually quite hard to find seats.

I had exchanged my bottle of red wine that I received from the Guest Relations department on embarkation for a bottle of Prosecco, which I shared with the table. We had yet another fun meal, and were again the last table to leave the restaurant. Jessie, Gordon, Suzanne and Mary Ann left to have an earlyish night and as I was involved in saying goodbye to our waiters, Rose and Rommel at the time, I never got to say a proper goodbye, or tell them what a pleasure it had been sharing this crossing with them.

Linda and I went to the Queens Room to participate in the party night with the band Topaz, and Deidre and Hugh joined us later. I tried so hard to get Hugh to dance, but even with the temptation of ABBA music, he remained steadfast in his refusal.

Then it was almost midnight, and time to say goodbye to everyone and get my beautiful red suitcase out into the corridor before the clock struck twelve.

DAY 6

July 11th, 2018

How Great it is to be at Sea

Well the much awaited invitation to dine with the captain on this, the last formal night of the crossing, has not arrived. Thus I have to accept that yet again, I have been left out. The captain did write a nice note in my logbook, but alas did not ask me to share dinner with him.

The Senior Officers’ Party was at 11:15 in the Queens Room. I do prefer to have it in the evening, but I suppose a party is a party, so off I went in my “smart attire” to meet and mingle. This party is not as crowded as the others, and there are no speeches, making it a much better event.

It finished at noon, and because of the time change, it was soon time for the 1:15 choir practice,

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which was followed by lunch at the Verandah with Deidre and Linda at 2:00. I was still full from breakfast, but managed to have the pate, coq au vin, and cheese selection. We were as chatty as ever, and at about 4:00 it was clear that the wait staff were anxious for us to leave so they could prepare the room for dinner.

I must say I do prefer the Verandah restaurant on Queen Elizabeth, and probably would not eat here unless I had a voucher. It does not appear to be that popular – it was the second from last day of the crossing and there was only one other couple there.

When I returned to my cabin I was suddenly overwhelmed by the desire to take a nap. So no talks for me today.

When I awoke it was time to watch the World Cup football match. Not only was this being broadcast in the Golden Lion, it was also being shown in Illuminations and on channel 41 in the cabins. I chose the latter. The only football matches I have watched are our sons’ youth soccer games, where neither of our boys were star players, and I would forget it was my turn to bring the juice boxes and Rice Crispy treats.

The match started off well, and when I turned on the TV England was winning. I was very excited because I was sure that if England won there would be some kind of shipboard celebration. Possibly even involving flags and traditional English music. It was not to be, and the more I watched, the more it seemed that Croatia was going to win. I took my time getting ready for the Roaring Twenties night, but suddenly at what I thought was 7:45 I realized that it was in fact 8:45. I had forgotten to change my watch at the midday time change. No time to fuss with my hair or my boa, I was going to be late for our 8:30 dinner.

You can always tell it is the Roaring Twenties night as there are the little tell tail signs of black feathers all over the ship. They do not seem to have made a non-shedding feather boa yet.

I had become annoyed with my original boa as it shed everywhere, it was scratchy, and it made me sneeze. I have forsaken it for a synthetic boa that I purchased earlier this year on Amazon. No it doesn’t look as good as a real one, but it is much easier to manage.

I wrapped it around myself and ran down the stairs to the dining room, you just can’t keep your tablemates waiting, especially as they are such great people.

During dinner there was the inevitable napkin waving and parade of chefs, and baked Alaska on the menu for desert. Some traditions just keep on going.

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We all went to the Roaring Twenties ball, but somehow it just wasn’t that good, so after some dancing, we headed up to the Commodore Club and sat chatting until midnight.

Transatlantic crossings are such a civilized mode of transport. Anyone who is worried about getting bored really should have no fear. The days go by so quickly, and they are packed with loads of things to do. Moreover, the people you meet tend to be very interesting; it is all such a huge pleasure. Seven days is just way too short!

DAY 5

July 10th, 2018

Yes, Still all at Sea

We still have blue skies, and blue ocean, with a few white horses, but no motion on the ship.

To start the morning, John MacLean talked about aliens – “Hello? Is there Anybody Out There?” It turns out that there probably isn’t anybody out there after all.

I missed the right honorable the Lord Lawson’s talk on “Brexit – What’s it all about”. This was probably the lecture I most needed to attend as I really have very little understanding about Brexit. Hugh has been trying to explain the current situation to me, and I have been watching the latest on the politics of Brexit on Sky News. It’s all still very confusing and I did need to go to the talk, but it coincided with the cha cha dance lessons alas. Then as it turned out I became distracted by food, and never got to the dance class either, and then all of a sudden it was the noon announcement.

At his noon announcement Captain Chris Wells let us know that Hurricane Chris (no relation) was forming to the east of us, but it was no match for us as we could easily outrun it. It was so calm and sunny; it was hard to believe that there was a hurricane just behind us. Then I realized I needed to go down to G32 for choir practice.

This business of losing an hour a day at noon is so much better than losing an hour at night, but it certainly cuts into the time to get everything done everything during the day.

Choir practice is going well. I think we sound great, and that the audience will enjoy our little concert. Everyone seems very invested, but no one more so than the sopranos. I notice this with every choir I am in. It’s not that the altos are disinterested or anything, I just think we are a quieter bunch in general. I don’t know if anyone has ever done a study of this. It would be interesting to some.

After choir it was time for Mark Ashford’s guitar concert in the Royal Court Theater. He played some lovely Spanish music, and it was a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon. I sat near the back, as I was concerned that I may be lulled to sleep. I must admit that I did nap a bit, but it was so soothing it’s not surprising.

They were showing a world cup soccer match at the Golden Lion, but the sun was out, and it was definitely time to catch some rays. Another great thing about westbound crossings is that the aft of the ship faces west, so it is bathed in sunshine in the afternoons. I headed to deck 8, and half the ship was also there – I eventually found a lounger, but it wasn’t easy. I lay in the sun reading and popping in and out of the pool and hot tub. A great way to spend the rest of the afternoon on a crossing.

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Finally at about 6:30 I decided that I should get ready for dinner. When I got to my cabin I realized that my key was inside, and my cabin steward Gerry was nowhere in sight. I was sopping wet and not dressed to go down to the purser’s office, especially as everyone else was already in their evening finery. Finally another cabin steward came by, but not unexpectedly as he didn’t recognize me (I don’t think anyone would have recognized me at that stage, I was looking my wettest and coldest best) he said he couldn’t let me into my cabin, and he didn’t know where Gerry was.

It was beginning to look like I was going to have to drip my way through the ship when the cabin steward took pity on me and let me in to my cabin. I am not going swimming without my key card again.

I decided that I needed an early night after dinner so I met up with friends in the Commodore Club for a quick drink rather than going to the show.

However, as often happens, it was not an early night, and at 1:30 AM we were still riding the scenic lifts and wandering around the now deserted outside decks. I love the ship at all times, but most of all I love it in the early hours of the morning when there are few people around, and the deserted decks look wonderful under the star lit night. The only noise you hear is the ship plowing through the waves. You can stand at the front of the ship near to the spare propellers and stare out into the vast endless black ocean. It is so magical.

The magical feeling was dissipated when I returned to my cabin. There sitting innocently on the bed were my disembarkation luggage tags. How can we be talking disembarkation when I feel like I have only just got on the ship?

DAY 4

July 9th, 2018

Very Definitely Still at Sea

The Day I Touched the Moon

The first thing I did this morning was visit the Voyage Sales office and get the price for the July 2019 QM2 Iceland Crossing. You can do this as a round trip from New York, which would be wonderful, but there is also just the Southampton to New York voyage. The itinerary is New York, Southampton, Liverpool, Reykjavik (overnight), Corner Brook, Halifax and New York. Very tempting. I got the pricing from Jordan, and sat in the Commodore Club thinking how great this would be.

There are a few Mennonite couples on board and they were in the adjacent Boardroom having a meeting and singing hymns. It seemed quite incongruous but actually was quite pleasant. Not something you experience every day in the Commodore Club.

I decided to venture out on deck again. It was sunny, but still quite cool. Not warm enough for me to sit our there. I stopped by the kennels and said hi to the dogs.

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The cat is apparently an inside cat. All the animals will have their portraits taken with the captain tomorrow. I bet they can’t wait. I found out that it costs $800 to $1000 for the trip. Not cheap, and you have to reserve a kennel at least a year in advance, but clearly worth it for their owners.

Although the Boardwalk Café wasn’t open, they did have a bar going out on deck.

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I went to watch the bell being rung at noon, and then on to choir practice. Then it was time for more education.

In keeping with the negative theme of education on this crossing, General Nick Halley’s talk today was on “The life and Death Struggle for World Order”. Oh dear ☹.

I thought that John MacLean’s talk on “Near Earth Objects – OMG we’re all going to die” would also be depressing, but it turns out that the odds of being annihilated by a comet are small, and if a comet hadn’t wiped out the dinosaurs we would not be here at all. The lack of dinosaurs enabled mammals to thrive, and here we are today enjoying Queen Mary 2. I suppose if the next comet does wipe us out the cockroaches will inherit the earth. Maybe I should show them more respect.

John talked about asteroids, comets, and meteorites. It was fascinating, and he was very knowledgeable. The meteorite that hit a rural area in Russia did cause some damage, but it would have been significantly worse had it hit London. Although we have a fairly good system for monitoring near earth objects, it does not provide full coverage of our little planet. So the possibility of a direct hit does remain………..

After the talk he showed us his small piece of the asteroid Vesta (one of the largest asteroids out there), which was lovely, and would have made a fantastic counter top if it had been the right size. However, with its current size it would also make some rather splendid earrings or pendant on a silver chain.

He also had a piece of the Russian meteorite that we were passing around. The young lady next to me dropped it on the floor, so there were a few anxious moments as her brother and I crawled around on the dark colored carpet trying to locate it.

I thought I would try the Carinthia Lounge for tea today. There were no sandwiches, but the cakes and pastries were great.

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It will not replace the Queens Room as my favorite place for tea, but it certainly is a good option for a quick bite. While I was having my tea, a troupe of young pirates marched through, led by the Kids Zone staff. They seemed to be having a great time.

For his presentation on the history of the electric guitar, today Paul Garthwaite discussed one of my favorite groups, Dire Straits.

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His discussions are in the Golden Lion pub, so there will not be a guitar presentation tomorrow – there will be a football match instead. There is much excitement throughout the ship about the World Cup. Go England!

Tonight was the second of three formal nights on this crossing. I wore my black dress and sparkly top, which continues to shed sparkles wherever I go. I do wish it would stop.

I had asked the astronomy lecturer, John MacLean, to join Deidre and myself for a pre dinner drink in the Commodore Club. He is really fascinating, and it was great to learn all about his life. I had made sure that the barman could find some chocolate syrup for me. I mean how could you meet with a world famous astronomer and not have a Milky Way martini? The barman came through and sure enough I finally had one. It was worth the wait. It is soooooo much better than their substitute, the chocolate affair martini. Now I know he can make them, there will be no stopping me.

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John had brought along his piece of the moon to show us. I remember seeing a moon rock many years ago at the Smithsonian when we were in Washington on vacation with my grandparents. It was hidden in a display case, closely protected by a security guard. I was in total awe at seeing it. My grandmother was absolutely delighted, and grabbed the security guard telling him that there was a piece of the moon in the display case, and that astronauts had gone all the way to the moon and back to get that little piece of rock. He dryly replied, “Yes I know ma’am”.

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Well there I was sitting sipping a Milky Way martini in the QM2 Commodore Club with a small piece of the moon in my hand. I was bursting with excitement. The only thing that could possibly have made it better would be to have had Brian there with me. It was just amazing ☺

After drinks we went to the World Club cocktail party. It was absolutely packed – it seems like more than half the passengers on board were eligible to attend the party, and they were all there. Deidre was recognized as one of the passengers who had sailed the most days with Cunard. Well, 14 world cruises certainly would help to get you there.

Captain Wells talked about the yet to be built new Cunard ship, and joked about the potential names. There was much audience participation, and Queen Anne seemed to be the most popular choice, Queen Camilla the least. Later when I was talking to Hugh about the ship, he recommended Princess Anne. I like that. As a child I was obsessed with her when we lived in London. Mum and I would ride a double decker bus around Buckingham Palace gardens in case I could catch a glimpse of her playing with her dolls. I never did.

Dinner was as lively as ever, good food, excellent service, and stimulating conversation. What more could you want.

Tonight we managed to get Hugh and Gordon to join us in the Queens Room after dinner, so we were all there except for Jessie who had decided to watch the show. We had a splendid evening dancing the night away with the gentlemen hosts, and Gordon, who is a superb dancer as it turns out. Alas, we could not persuade Hugh to dance, but he seemed to be quite happy sitting there drinking his tea.

Next thing I knew it was midnight, and time to return to my cabin. I was looking forward to climbing into that comfy bed again. My only complaint about this crossing is that the ocean has been way too calm, and apart from a short period when there was quite a heavy swell, you honestly would not know you were on a ship. I do like to be rocked to sleep, but it looks like that may not happen at all on this voyage alas.

DAY 3

July 8th, 2018

Still at Sea

I had another amazingly good night’s sleep. My cabin continues to be very quiet, and the lack of a window really isn’t a problem at all. The only issues are that there is no cell phone reception, or internet service.

I solved the problem with the latter by returning to the Commodore Club after breakfast. There is good internet reception there, and a constant supply of cold Coca Cola and crisps.

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It was a beautiful sunny day, hardly a cloud in the sky or wave in the ocean. It looked like we were in the South Pacific rather than the North Atlantic.

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I ventured out on deck. We were not in the South Pacific. It was not hot and humid, but rather chilly and unpleasant. However, there were a few hardy souls there reading, and playing deck games. I checked on the kennels but there weren’t any dogs out sunning themselves alas.

I filmed the noon whistle and listened to the captain’s noon announcement.

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We will be passing over the site where the Titanic sank later tonight. I checked, there was not an iceberg in sight at the moment. Come to think of it, in all of the crossings I have done I have never even seen so much as a glimpse of an iceberg. Even when that huge chink of Greenland broke away we didn’t see one. This is all good, although I do like to think that we would be able to avoid an iceberg should one jump into our path.

Because of the time change just after the Captain’s noon announcement instead of being 12:07 PM, it became 1:07 PM, and time for choir practice.

At choir practice we added another song to our repertoire – Sweet Caroline. I love the song, and hope that the audience will participate and wave, and sing along at the appropriate times.

Today was full of educational programs again. Rob Bayly spoke about his participation in the balloon race across the Atlantic. It took him less time than it will take us, but we could do the trip in 5 days I am sure if we really pushed our engines. Anyway, he mentioned the surprise he had from the sonic boom when Concorde flew by. That certainly dated when he did the race. It also got me thinking how sorry I was not to have ever flown on Concorde, although friends who did were not that impressed by it. I would still have liked to see that for myself.

The next speaker was General Nick Hailey talking about “Understanding Radical Islam – why they will fight us for the next 500 years”, not a very uplifting topic.

Now I have been channeling Julie Andrews, and fulfilling my Sound of Music fantasies as I sang Do Re Mi, so it was very appropriate that the final talk of the day was by Richard Stirling on “Julie Andrews: The Last of the Really Great Dames”. Excellent.

Paul Garthwaite has been doing a series of presentations on the history of the electric guitar. Yesterday it was on Jimi Hendrix, and today on Santana. I love the fact that there is such varied entertainment on board.

Somehow I also managed to fit in afternoon tea with harpist Marta Kaszap, a quiz in the Chart Room, where I was lucky to join a very knowledgeable pair and we won, and also a nap before meeting Deidre for a pre dinner drink in the Commodore Club.

Unlike some of us who consume their Pol Acker while unpacking, members of my dinner table had not even opened theirs, so they brought them to dinner and we drank them celebrating each other’s company. I am so lucky that I am on such a great table. We are all so different, but share the same warped sense of humor, and dinner really is a pleasure each night.

After dinner Deidre and I returned to the Commodore Club and I attempted to order a Milky Way martini. This could not be done due to the lack of chocolate syrup, but I have been assured that there must be some somewhere on the ship, and to return tomorrow to see if some has been found. The place was crowded and we ended up sitting at the bar, which was actually quite good fun, and suddenly it was midnight and time for bed.

DAY 2

July 7th

At Sea

The thing about blogging about a crossing is that except the first and last days, every day is a sea day. This could get boring!

I was worried about the position of my cabin as it is between a crew area and the lifts. I though it would be noisy. Maybe it will be, but I slept like a log and never heard anything.

I also thought it would be claustrophobic not having a window, but so far I’m not missing the window at all.

Today’s Programme showed a very busy schedule – there are several parts of the day when I would like to be in 2, if not 3 places at the same time. It’s actually quite frustrating.

I started off going to the spa lecture on “Ayurveda, What’s your Dosha?” Apparently I would find out what Dosha I am, and how to balance it. I have no idea of what a Dosha is, but, who knows, mine may be out of whack and in need of realignment. Enquiring minds need to know. Well I think the speaker’s Dosha may also be off kilter as he never showed, nor did anyone else. It later occurred to me that I might very well have been in the wrong place. Could happen.

To avoid having to go through immigration in Southampton, there is a British Immigration officer on board, so we can do our clearance on the ship. Still concerned about my Dosha I thought I could balance myself and do the immigration thing.

I showed the officer my passport and explained to him that I would be leaving the UK on the same day that I arrived in Southampton. He couldn’t understand why someone would just take a ship from the US to the UK, only to return to the US the same day as you get to the UK. He clearly had never done a crossing before, so I tried to explain the whole QM2 crossing thing to him, and get him all educated.

Some people just don’t want education is all that I could say about how that conversation went.

Still feeling unbalanced I went to the Cunard Insights lecture. John MacLean talked on “A Space Journey – Exploring the Solar System”. He was very funny and it was an excellent talk. He also seems to feel that Pluto should not have been demoted to a dwarf planet. Apparently there were no planet experts on the committee that decided it. Yet again an example of people relying on isolated facts rather than seeing the whole picture. I liked his outlook on the universe, and was feeling much more balanced after his talk, and the concern about my Dosha was diminishing. Who would have known that while many planets are named after mythological characters, the word earth is derived from an Anglo Saxon word?

The next talk was on climate change, by the apparently well-known celebrity, the Right Honorable The Lord Lawson, otherwise known as Nigel, Lord Lawson of Blaby and “as taking a leading part in the successful campaign for Britain to leave the EU”. I am sure it was a wonderful and very important presentation, but my book and the Commodore Club were calling, and I abandoned the concept of education for the morning.

At his noon announcement Captain Wells let us know that we were sailing through George’s Bank – named after the saint rather than the monarch. We are on the Great Circle Track, and to the north of us is the gulf of Maine. This is a semi-enclosed sea, with a very productive eco system. The Bay of Fundy is part of it, with its highest tidal variations on the planet. We tried to see it once on QM2, but the winds were to high for us to get into the port. He then announced the results of the World Cup soccer quarterfinal game – England won. Yay!

I had lunch in the Carinthia Lounge again. This is becoming a new favorite place. The once creepy and empty feeling space really is so much improved. I found it hard to find a seat for my lunch, and ended up sitting with a very interesting lady who is an author.

Then it was time to head to G32 for the Guest Choir rehearsal. Nicole and Victor, two of the singers, are the coaches, and were fun to work with. The first song we rehearsed was “There’s no business like show business” and they encouraged us to channel our inner Ethel Merman, which might have been a challenge for some of the men there. The other song was “Do re mi”. I found it very easy to channel my inner Julie Andrews. I had always wanted to be her when I grew up, although alas there really were no similarities between the two of us. Anyway, I sang my heart out, trying desperately hard to sound just like her, to the distress of those around me. OK, so I won’t try that again.

In the afternoon I went to hear General Nick Haley talk on his war stories. Not exactly my cup of tea, but the audience seemed to enjoy it, and again it was very educational. Maybe the reason I had so much trouble with it is that it was scheduled at the same time as afternoon tea, and I had had a huge inner struggle about whether I should gain knowledge or calories. I opted for knowledge. I am not sure I will make the same mistake again. I also missed out on afternoon trivia.

I had been having tremendous difficulty trying to add a page for this crossing to my blog. The internet speed has been awfully slow, and it kept on timing out before I could achieve my goal. I decided to pay a visit to Adam in the IT department to see if he could solve this problem. Despite a valiant effort he could not, and advised me to try again once we were back on dry land. I was feeling quite disappointed, but as I was about to leave, my friend Deidre from last year’s voyage on Queen Victoria arrived with her own computer issues. It was wonderful to see her, and we planned to meet up later.

I have noticed that there seem to be more children than usual on this voyage. They are well behaved for the most part, but some seem to be constantly yelling and running up and down the corridors, or riding up and down in the lifts. Mind you, I am guilty of riding up and down in the outside scenic lift, so I shouldn’t complain. There also seem to be more mobility scooters than usual – so with the scooters, children, and house keeping trolleys, navigating the corridors has become a major challenge. But I am up for the challenge.

Tonight was the first formal night – the theme was the Cunard Ball, so I wore my black dress, and red and gold stole, trying to be in keeping with the funnel and Cunard colors. Although there were certainly many people in very casual dress around the ship, I did not see them in the Commodore Club, dining room, or Queens Room.

Deidre and I met up for drinks in the Commodore Club. It was great to catch up with her news. It was also great that as well as the nuts and olives we were offered canapés. I was feeling quite hungry.

After drinks we went to the Queens Room for the Welcome on Board party. Again, instead of receiving an individual invitation, information about the party was in the Daily Programme.

We waited in line to shake hands with the Captain and chatted to him briefly – Deidre has known him for a long time, and I needed to alert him that I would be asking him to sign my logbook again. Cordelia, the social hostess, let us sit in the area reserved for passengers with mobility issues (which was actually almost empty surprisingly enough, so we weren’t taking chairs away from those who needed them), so at least we had seats from where we could watch the activities and drink sparkling wine.

Captain Wells gave an amusing speech as always, and updated us on the passenger nationalities. Although it feels like the ship is full of Americans, we are again in the minority. The Brits outnumber us by far again. Maybe we are just noisier. There are also 7 dogs and 1 cat on board for the crossing.

We walked into the dining room and I showed Deidre my table. It is situated on the lowest level of deck 3, about as far aft as you can go. From the table you can look down on the hosted table on deck 2. We decided to check out who was going to be sitting with the captain tonight; as yet again I had not been invited. We saw Cordelia remove one of the place settings. A golden opportunity if ever there was one. Deidre headed down stairs instantly and pointed out that it would not look right to have an empty place at the captain’s table, and offered to solve the problem by taking the empty spot. What a thoughtful person!

That’s her looking as elegant as ever in a floral white dress and pink gloves.

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Dinner was excellent – escargot, surf and turf, and chocolate soufflé. I do like formal night menus.

After dinner Mary Ann, Linda, and Suzanne from my table decided to go and watch the dancing at the ball. We could not persuade our gentleman table companions, Hugh and Gordon, to join us alas.

We found a great table for people watching, and were just settling in when we were all approached by the gentleman hosts, and whisked off to dance with them.

Now I can dance very adequately to ABBA music, but as much as I love dancing, I am hopeless at ballroom dancing. I spent the evening dancing with several of the hosts, all of whom tried very hard to teach me, but even the simplest of waltzes had me stumbling all over the place. Anyway I had the best time, and could have danced all night, but I fear the hosts had met their match with trying to dance with me. I’m not sure they will try again.

Deidre joined us after her fancy dinner, and danced the night away too. I really missed not having Brian there with me, and resolved that I will drag him to ballroom dancing lessons when I get home.

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Being the Cunard Ball, they had a Cunard quiz, and we won. The only question we got wrong was that Cunard ships are launched with wine rather than champagne. I need to research the history behind that. It just seems wrong. I am quite sure SOME Cunard ships have been launched with champagne. Anyway, our prize was a bottle of Pol Acker, so we grabbed some glasses and flattened it.

It had been another perfect day on board Queen Mary 2.