Friday, August 6, 2010

At Sea 12: On Board Queen Mary 2

We have crossed the Atlantic on Cunard ships 25 times which qualifies us as frequent crossers and we are therefore invited to various private social gatherings, events, parties. The locations vary, depending on the number of guests invited.

In our earlier years these requests for our presence were a novelty and we attended many of the functions. During our voyages we have met and spoken to and shaken hands with many captains and officers. In recent years we choose not to attend but to enjoy our own private pursuits together. A few samples of the invitations we saved as souvenirs from this voyage follow.

Venue: G32

Venue: Queens Room

Venue:Todd English

Sunday, July 25, 2010

At Sea 11: On Board Queen Mary 2

On Board QM2 - April 20, 2010

We went to the breakfast at Lotus when it opened at 7:30 and sat at a table by a window. It was a clear sunny morning and the ocean looked beautiful. Such a lovely way to start the day. Then at 7:45 Jerry saw a seagull flying over the water and soon after a few more arrived. We knew land was not far away when we saw them.

After breakfast we went back to the stateroom. Today was our last day on board and so our packing had to be done. All passengers are told to place their luggage outside their doors after 6:00 this evening. I started packing at 8:30.

I finished all of our packing by 10:30 and we began our last day tasks. We went to the library to return our books. I took a final ride on the scenic elevator that stops at the library. (A video clip of the elevator is at the end of this posting.)

From there we went to the Commodore Club with thank you envelopes for Dani and Sorin and then to the Chart Room with thank you envelopes for Jason and Cranwell. While sitting at the bar, a couple sat down on the stools next to us. That is how we met the most annoying windbag (a PhD from the U of St Paul) and his quiet wife. When they finally left, the bartender rewarded us with a complimentary round of drinks for our patience and suffering.

We ate a satisfying meal at the La Piazza buffet and after that we returned to our stateroom. Jerry decided he would like a Guiness to drink so I went back out and to the Golden Lion Pub. I carried it carefully to the elevator and back to our room. It was as attractive as always and greatly enjoyed.

At 8:15 pm, as we watched from our balcony window, we saw a flashing light. It was from the Lizard lighthouse at St Keverne on the Lizard Peninsula, England’s most southerly point on the mainland. Exciting to see England that close.

Click here for Scenic Elevator video.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

At Sea 10: On Board Queen Mary 2

On Board QM2 - April 20, 2010

Breakfast in the Brittania at a table for two. It was hard to decide what to eat with so much to choose from. See the daily menu below.

Choice of Orange, Grapefruit, Cranberry, Apple, Prune, Pineapple, Tomato, V8
Half Sectioned Grapefruit
Fresh Melon Platter
Fresh Fruit Salad 65/0/2
Compote of Stewed Fruits
Choice of Plain or Mixed Fruit Yoghurts available as Regular, Low-Fat or Non-Fat

Choice of Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat,
Choice of Corn Flakes, All Bran, Raisin Bran, Special K, Rice Crispies, Total, Shredded Wheat, Swiss Muesli, Alpen, Weetabix

Freshly Baked Danish Pastries & Croissants Served at your Table
Toasted Bagels, White & Whole Wheat Toast, Rye Bread, Pumpernickel, White Rolls, Banana Bread
Fruit Crisp 160/3/3

Orange Marmalade, Strawberry, Blackberry, Apricot, Cherry, Honey, Peanut Butter


Fresh Pancakes Buttermilk or Blueberry
Served with Maple Syrup or Honey
Golden Waffles with Fresh Fruit
French Toast with Whipped Butter & Maple Syrup or Honey

Fried Eggs to order
Scrambled Eggs
Omelette with Ham, Cheese & Mushrooms
Egg White Omelette with Onions, Peppers, Tomato & Cheese 140/7/1
Eggs Benedict on English Muffin & Canadian Bacon with Hollandaise Sauce
Toasted Bagel with Smoked Salmon, Crème Cheese, Red Onion & Capers
Grilled Scottish Kippers with Sautéed Potatoes
Smoked Finnian Haddock with Melted Butter
(Please ask your server for low cholesterol egg alternatives)

English Bacon, American Bacon, Corned Beef Hash,
Link Sausages, Wiltshire Sausage, Mushrooms, Baked Beans, Grilled Tomato, Sautéed Potatoes, Hash Browns

Black Forest Ham, Smoked Turkey, Roast Beef, Italian Salami, Liver Pâté,
Cheese – Emmentaler, Camembert, Cottage, Cream, Blue
Indicates dishes created & recommended by Canyon Ranch SpaClub Nutrition Key : Calories / Fat Grams / Fiber Grams

Jerry had the hot Cream of Wheat cereal and I had the blueberry pancakes.

After eating breakfast we had a task. It was to exchange American dollars for British Pounds. For many years this was done personally at the Purser's Desk but in recent years it has become automated. We went to the currency converter machine on Deck 2. At the present rate of exchange we received £290 for our $500.

Every day at noon the Captain makes an announcement to all on board. He usually tells of the ship’s location, speed, nautical miles traveled thus far, weather conditions and often mentions something of interest such as sea life observed. Today he spoke about the volcanic ash problem. He said there was still no definite word on what was happening regarding air travel but Cunard was doing all it could do. We are traveling by car from Southampton to London so the closure of the British and European airports is not a concern to us.

Jerry kept me company as I ate a lunch from the Carvery of cottage pie and scalloped potatoes. We sat at a table by a window looking out at Deck 7 and the ocean. We sat in the Winter Garden area for a change. The Winter Garden is a large, relaxing room –a wall of a waterfall on one side. Comfortable cushioned chairs, potted plants, a quiet bar on one side. On this crossing, half of the room was reserved as a special area for World Cruise guests only.

From there we went to the Commodore Club. Alicia, one of the usual staff, told us about being asked by a woman guest for "fresh milk". The woman insisted it could not be bottled or from a container. We asked Alicia how she had handled the request. She responded to the woman that there was not a cow on board.

Around six o'clock the Captain made another announcement concerning the airport closings due to the volcanic ash problem. He said that those passengers who have Cunard air travel plans but whose flights have been canceled may be bussed to Paris or Madrid from the ship. He also told us that 240 crew members who were to get off of QM2 at Southampton have had their leaves cancelled as their replacements are not able to get to the ship.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

At Sea 9: On Board Queen Mary 2

On Board QM2 – April 19, 2010

This was the fifth day of our seven days at sea. We went to breakfast in the Britannia Restaurant at eight o’clock. We sat at a table for two and enjoyed being served. Jerry had blueberry pancakes and I had finnan haddock. The difference between the Britannia and the various breakfast buffet venues in the Kings Court is that all of the buffets are self-serve.

We then went to the library to use the computers. We used the computers every day to read the newspapers. The news was mostly concerned with the problems being created by the volcanic ash blowing from Iceland across England and the Continent. This was to become a major story as airports were shut down and travelers stranded.

We enjoyed some Stellas in the Chart Room later in the afternoon. Stella Artois is a Belgian beer dating back to 1366 and is called by the shortened name of Stella. It was the best lager served on the ship.

About 6 o'clock we went to the buffet dinner at Lotus. Lotus had the usual diverse menu with a good variety of food to choose from. We both particularly liked the spicy soup.

At a table near us was a woman from the Southampton area who had been on Queen Mary 2 since the start of the World Cruise. She had been on this ship before and compared her earlier pleasant experience with that of the present World Cruise voyage. Her complaints were many: the food was not as good, there were long queues to stand in, there had been poor management of shore excursions and maintenance problems had not been resolved. Thankfully, our crossing did not have the same problems.

I did not walk on deck today due to the strong wind. I stepped outside once and felt the force of the wind pushing and lifting me. When I attempted to open the door to get back inside, the wind was holding it closed. Another passenger had to help me open the door and I was very grateful for his assistance.

Click here to see what the bow of a Cunard ship encounters on a transatlantic crossing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

At Sea 8: On Board Queen Mary 2

On Board QM2 – April 18, 2010

We went to the Kings Court breakfast buffet at seven o’clock. We were surprised to see so few people there but we had some idea why. Some passengers could be tired because the ship’s clocks had been set ahead during the night on Sunday and also last night. That meant a loss of two hours of sleep time since leaving New York. Some passengers could be uncomfortable with the rolling motion of the ship throughout the night and into this morning. Rolling means the ship moves up and down from side to side. That movement can cause difficulty walking and a loss of appetite.

On Monday we had gone to the Tour Office to arrange our transport from Southampton to London. Today we received a call from the Tour Office that Cunard no longer has a contract with Jeeves. The Tour Office person had neglected to tell us that when we booked. For the past eleven years we used the “Jeeves of Hampshire Travel Service” recommended by Cunard. We were always very satisfied with the service. Chris, the owner, of Jeeves always personally greeted us. He then introduced us to the chauffeur he had waiting quayside to load our luggage and drive us to our destination. We will both miss his warm welcome to England. We understand that things change but we also know the change is not always for the best. We decided to accept the car service they now provide.

Later in the day, we met Nick Bates (the captain for this voyage), in an elevator. He is in his fifties, balding and about my height. He was very friendly. I called him “Sir” when I spoke to him and he thanked me for being so polite. I then jokingly asked if I could steer the ship. He said “yes” and then proceeded to tell me how to do it. I listened and watched carefully. He pointed to a horizontal metal bar that was on the elevator wall just beneath the floor number buttons. He said that whenever I wanted to steer the ship that I should twist the bar in the direction I wanted the ship to turn!

At 11:30 we went to a lecture “My Fair Lady – a musical adaptation from Greek myth to Hollywood legend” by actor/writer/producer Robert Neal Marshall. We had comfortable seats near the stage in Illuminations, one of the two theatres on board. When Illuminations is not being used as a theatre it is converts to a sea-going planetarium. We looked forward to the lecture. We had seen the play on Broadway starring Julie Andrews about fifty years ago. The presentation was disappointing. Mr. Marshall had interesting information but he spoke much too quickly and rarely paused while speaking.

Throughout the day the ship continued rolling and sometimes began pitching. Rolling is a side to side movement but pitching is an up and down movement bow to stern. I put my motion sickness relief bands on my wrists this morning. No official studies prove or disprove their use but they seem to help me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

At Sea 7: On Board Queen Mary 2

On Board QM2 – April 17, 2010

The ship was rolling during the night and moving side to side. I remembered what a young ship's waiter had told us years ago - that it was better to lie flat and move with the ship than to lie on your side and have the ship move you back and forth. Good advice. I did and it helped.

I had two breakfasts, took a walk on deck (another sunny 50’s day) and then had a hamburger in the Chef's Galley. Jerry and I had a quiet peaceful afternoon visiting the Commodore Club, walking around the ship, using the computers in the Library. Click here to see a view from the scenic elevator at the Library.

We met a couple from Wales while sitting at the bar in the Commodore Club. She was English and her husband was Welsh. She told of going to Wales to meet her in-laws for the first time. Her father–in-law asked her if she spoke Welsh. She told him no, that she did not speak Welsh, but -- that she could understand it.
The man looked at her and said – “I have a dog that can do that!”

To the Carvery Buffet at 5:30 and sat at a table by the windows. We were off the Grand Banks today and as usual there was fog and mist on the horizon.The cold Labrador Current mixes with the warm waters of the Gulf Stream here and often causes fog in the area. It is also known for its proximity to where Titanic went down 98 years ago. Tonight around 9 we passed about 95 miles north of the site.

Note: The view from one of the tables in the Carvery. The entire deck (on one side of the ship) can be seen from the windows.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

At Sea 6: On Board Queen Mary 2

On Board Queen Mary 2 - April 16, 2010

We went to breakfast in the Britannia Restaurant and were seated at a table for eight next to a window. Met nice people – an English couple returning home after visiting their son at State College, Pennsylvania, an elderly Englishman from South Africa going to England for his granddaughter’s wedding, an Australian man, a little woman from Cape Town, a woman from Julliard School of Music in Manhattan who was traveling with one of the entertainment groups for this crossing – the Julliard Jazz Group.

We went to the Passport Inspection, then to the Library to sign up for 8 hours each of computer use and to borrow books. After I ate lunch I walked around the deck three times (three laps equals 1.1 mile). It was a lovely sunny day with the temperature in the fifties.

We met a little woman in an elevator today and she mentioned ships she had been on in the past. Referring to the Andrea Doria and its sinking, she told us that her husband always said that Italians shouldn’t be allowed to build ships!