Monday, 22 of July of 2024

QE2 Final Crossing, Oct. 2008


OCTOBER 16 – 22, 2008

CABIN 5182

I flew to LaGuardia Airport and was transported royally in a Lincoln chauffeured limousine!  The driver was a man from St. Petersburg, Russia.  My boarding group was 57!  Jan Christiansen, the Chief Purser recognized me so we greeted each other as we walked up the gangway.

I left my stuff in cabin 5182 – the last cabin forward on a long L-shaped alleyway off the Port alleyway.  That was nearly three o’clock so I walked back up to Boat Deck to find a chair in the unusually warm, humid weather.  “Carnival Miracle” was docked south of us.  I called family and wandered fore and aft till I had to collect my life preserver for the Muster in Queen’s Room port side.  (Station M).  I sat with two single people from Maryland, Peter and Laura, so we had the usual ship talk.  Along the way I met the man who sat ahead of me in the balcony for all the lectures in January.  We greeted each other as fellow “shippies.”  Later I learned his name is Gary.

Shortly after five o’clock, while exchanging whistle salutes with “Carnival Miracle” we backed out to the strong outgoing current of the Hudson, and took a very long time sailing sideways while the stern tugs labored mightily to turn QE2 down stream.  We proceeded exceedingly slowly toward “Queen Mary 2” which for a while faced bow upstream.  I think she too had to battle the line squall from north as we were maneuvering.  The whistles of both ships had a great time blowing in threes back and forth long and loud.  I hope my video footage can approximate the atmosphere,  “Rule Britannia,” “Land of Hope and Glory” and other appropriate songs.

From the mast flew not only the Union Jack and the US Flags, but also the long red pennant flapped straight out in the breeze and tacked fore and aft.  This is purportedly 39 feet long to represent her almost 40 years of service.

While trying to film the rendezvous of the two ships, I had to stand on a little table to be above the crowd.  Also, when I foolishly abandoned my spot by the starboard railing up forward I walked clear around the deck and up, running into the bulk of observers on the portside.  These people were facing the city skyline.  The forward observation deck was solid with people.  That was when I gave up and walked through A stairway by Queens Grill to regain my original position.  Thus the table “lookout. The best sequences took place from that vantage point.  Also I spotted Stephanie and Edith during my misguided quest, as well as Brian Hoey at E stairway later and I greeted him.

When I thought the whistle exchanges including other boat salutes were over, I headed or dinner at table 257 with a lovely couple from Manchester, Graham and Mary.  They too love QE2 and flew over just today.  People I recognized by name were Ravi (we had an upside-down hug!) plus many familiar faces.  We were given a souvenir final crossing menu!  The tooting was not over, however, so we could hear several muffled toots through the restaurant walls.  We think it was the parting salutes to and from the Pilots.

I had pumpkin soup, steak followed by butterscotch sundae.  As I wandered aft I chatted with the photographer and “Shippie” friend, then went on deck through the Yacht Club to see QM2 and the distant Verrazano Bridge all lit up.  At the table we three had watched us pass under it.

I then decided to head downward to unpack and settle in to my very nice double cabin with fold-down bunk and portholes.  It is more noisy back here, but fortunately the horrible vibration of cabin 5145 is missing.  Clocks ahead one hour.

As I settle into bed after my refreshing shower, the moon is lighting up the waters ahead as we “try” to catch up with the elusive patch of light ahead!  The bow is dimly lit.  Rushing water is gently soothing my senses.  Gentle creeks are coming from behind the tall mirror.  My head travels forward!  Clouds cleared so the bright moon is with us.

The Lido was all prepared with tablecloths and flowers but completely empty. There was no food offered, presumably because of serving people all during embarkation.  No one was dancing in Queens Room either, but the live band played on!

Friday, 17 October

I awoke near seven thirty new time.  Overcast clouds delayed Dawn, whereas I can see some wave action, all is smooth sailing.

When I emerged a little past nine o’clock I gradually worked my way upwards on successive stairways, F to Purser’s Office and forward by B stairway to visit my favorite oil painting, and in the back (forward) entrance to the Mauretania Dining room via A stairs. Paula, a waitress and I spoke, and when I told her of the upside down hug with Ravi, she wants a re-staging!  I did have fruit and toast at Ravi’s table with a British couple, and then headed for the Theatre Balcony for Stephen Payne’s talk on designing and building of the “Queen Mary 2”.  On the way on starboard, I was startled when I saw QM2 out there.  I had completely forgotten she was with us.  Not caring to hear Brian Hoey’s talk I used the time to take photos of various venues and exhibits plus individual portraits etc., till I came across Stephanie and Edith in the Casino.  We had a gold old gab session!  I excused myself to get my jacket and returned to Boat Deck forward for the noon whistle and report, both of which I recorded with QM2 being the focal point.  I couldn’t hear her whistle though.

With a continuation of wandering up to observation deck (very windy) I worked my way to 5182 for more batteries and lunch preparation.  Occasionally a wave will wash up to my five deck porthole.

I again sat in Ravi’s section of the dining room but he was busy at other tables.  However, I had two delightful British tablemates from Nova Scotia.  The man has been a deck officer on Queen Elizabeth and various other ships, cargo and passenger ships alike.  He told of high-ranking deck hands who were given their pink slips at the time of the big change over to third world workers.  Even Taiwanese crews were eliminated in favor of Indians!   When done I took more photos, browsed in the shops then watched the “Chronicles of Narnia” part 2.

Boat Deck looked as though there must have been rain as I walked aft and down for tea in the Lido.  I found my shippie friend, Gary and shared happy ship discussions as we gazed at the “Queen Mary 2” through the Lido windows.  On my way through Queen’s Room I ran into Bill from the April crossing with Liner Looneys.  Capt. McNaught was on hand so I waylaid him to ask about the hurricane coming north.  He said it would be blown out and have no effect.  He first greeted me with a semi-hug and a kiss!  The whole crossing will be smooth he says.

I dressed formal and headed upward for dinner.  On the way through from Crystal Bar I spotted Bill Greenwood, so went to catch up on his 17 days so far.  A young man named Simon joined Mary, Graham and me.  He is originally from Liverpool so we had great conversation on the shipping from there as well as the tumultuous reception of QE2 on her visits.  Simon is a journalist.

Lacking interest in the ABBA show, I gradually wandered aft to Lido and found Papa, who recognized me.  We discussed his future plans – nothing for sure, but I think he wants to hang on.  He has worked in the Lido for twenty years!  Back in the cabin I set clocks ahead an hour and decided to stay in.  “Two Week’s Notice” was on the television.

Saturday, 18 October.

The day appears to be another cloudy one, but the good thing about it is that QM2 is now slightly aft on Port side, and I will be able to video her through my porthole.  QE2 is going at 24.9 knots and goes up and down as the rather significant swells, from the north approach, form occasional frothy peaks and are repelled by our hull.  Actually, unless you gaze at the ocean, you don’t feel the rise and fall in the peaks and troughs!

I did my usual gradual stair climb upward, but turned the wrong way to G stairway past the Lido.  Consequently I walked forward to the puzzle table and photographed the large gold-framed painting of QE2, which replaces the Mauretania painting, which I hear is the only artwork not remaining with the ship!

I sat by a Port window in Ravi’s section with a nice young British woman and not even knowing our names, we managed to pour out our experiences on the ship as well as personal life events.  All the while, “Queen Mary 2” slowly crept along side to remain with us on Port all day.

I attended Brian Hoey’s talk on Diana, and had a nice talk with Gary before and after.  He showed me his Cunard Log Book, which has beautiful color photos throughout.  I slipped down to the Library to purchase my own updated copy from Carmella.  Back in the Theatre by eleven, I heard Jennie Bond’s talk on her career and “escapades.”

Making sure to be on hand for the noon whistle and report, I recorded QM2 and Captain’s greeting.  Bill (Linerslist person) came by for a brief chat as we prepared for the whistle.  After the report and my written statistics, a man holding his GPS talked with me about our journals.   After perusing my new Log book, the updated version with all rendezvous, I was present for, I decided to buy one for the Halpins and the Lees as future hostess gifts.

When back in my cabin I did more videoing out my porthole and of the cabin.  Just this minute a wave washed over my porthole!  I saw the movie,  “Sex and the City” then found Stephanie and Edith at the tail end of the Vienese tea in Queen’s Room with Celestial Strings (3 women from Hungary).  Edith and Steph will join me for lunch at one tomorrow and bring Anna Tannenbaum with them.

QM2 is very slowly overtaking us.  After dinner the QM2 dropped back off our stern two miles away.  I had lamb and indulged in Key Lime pie in the Lido, which seems under utilized compared to World Cruise.

At ten o’clock I met Stephen Berry and James in the Chart Room for drinks and ship talk.  Stephen is a shipping journalist and knows many of the Liner people, but when I named all the ships I had been on starting with “Seminole,” he filled in many details along the way, naming “Iroquois” and “Evangeline” as sister ships.  His friend James was born in India and thus did lots of sailings on P&O ships.  They both live in Wellington, New Zealand and they too were on the September 2001 “Norway” final Crossing.  I was very surprised they knew my “blogs” on the Horn trip and assured me all my postings are read with interest.

With clocks advanced another hour, I am turning in at the new midnight.

Sunday, 19 October

Water is washing over my porthole with regularity this morning, and when I awoke around seven thirty QM2 was slowly coming up parallel in preparation for the crossover, which occurred at 8:15.  I managed to catch some pretty good video during the process and the active waves hitting the hull of QE2 caused great pyramids of wave peaks.  At 8:25 QM2 is gone from my side for the day.

I sat with Bill Greenwood in the Lido while we finished breakfast (a muffin and milk), then attended Stephen Payne’s lecture on QE2 1967 to now.  Gary and I sat in the same row!  After that I went with Stephen Berry to the Chart Room, where we shared a pot of tea and experiences including the fact that Beverly Hull was his neighbor for years and he was instrumental in interesting her in QE2.  We shared shipwreck facts “Portland” and “Wahine” plus “Pamir” and “Passat.”  He boarded “Pamir” when it was confiscated and docked from 1939 through the war.  Stephen Payne joined us, adding to the ship topics. I told him of my idea for the drawers on QV, but he says they won’t listen!

Anna Tannenbum, Stephanie, Edith, James, Stephen Berry, Gary,  and Dave joined me for lunch in the Mauretania at a table for eight. We all adjourned to see the SS US “Lady in Waiting” film.  I then went through British immigration, logged onto email, and ran into Steph and Edith in Golden Lion.  Anna joined us and eventually I headed down to dress for the Mauretania cocktail party.

Ernie Raab left a message from his cabin 1046, but I failed to call him back.  He had tried my cabin number assigned before they upgraded me to 5182.  I went in toward the end of the Cocktail party, shook hands with Captain Ian McNaught and posed for the inevitable photo.  Saw Michelle Gordon and Warren Smith who, by the way has a goatee and mustache. I left soon for dinner of pea soup, roughie, mange-tous and special request of Yorkshire pudding; ice cream and butterscotch sauce, topped up with strawberries and ice cream in the Lido.

All during this time we would see the ship rolling quite a bit – perhaps 30˚.  We three, Mary, Graham and Simon plus myself, had fun speculating about the flamboyant gent by the window.  I was back in my cabin by eight thirty.  Clocks ahead another hour.

By the way I missed the noon whistle but heard the Captain’s announcement that a clock and some safety signs have been stolen and he asked that we exercise “restraint.”  Please stop and return these items.  We had great wave action all day.  “Sic Transit Mundi”  25 knots into moon’s path, rough, average heavy north northwest swells.

Monday, 20 October.

It was a fairly active night with increased rough swells continuing to slam QE2’s port side, and at one time after a significant roll to Starboard, I got up to stow the flowers in the bathroom and the water tray on the deck.  This morning,  as QM2 gradually gained on us to Port she would occasionally disappear behind those large swells slapping our side and piling up in frothy peaks.  There is lots of blue sky above, but still significant broken clouds.  I spotted a vertical shaft of rainbow off to the north.  Water also covers my porthole from time to time.

Again I simply had a muffin and milk at the Lido then braved the outside in the brisk wind, which is stirring up the waves at a steady pace, rendering larger swells and increasing white caps!  Actually, by noon as Anna Tannenbaum and I sat on Boat Deck all bundled up, the Officer of the watch said the wind is Force 7 from northwest at 30 knots.  We had already noticed spume streaks as well.

Earlier I met up with Anna as I left Yacht Club, where I had been reading on port side, and we looked at the special Tandem-Last chance merchandise.  She admitted she had bought $700 worth!  We then went on deck to admire QM2 in bright sun and a couple kindly took photos of us with QM2 in the background.  Anna just finished her Masters Degree in Science.  Eventually we headed for the Chart Room to find friends – James, Jennifer, Stephen Payne and Stephen Berry.  Anna changed her top and joined me for lunch in the Mauretania having failed to get me into the Caronia.  2 crèmes caramels.

Back at Anna’s posh 3052 cabin with a bathtub, I left my jackets on our way to attend Thomas’ flamboyant lecture on Cunard.  I left part way through in favor of my own cabin.

Noon Report:  NW Force 7 wind at 30 knots, 35 knots on deck.  Rough, heavy northwest swells 49˚N by 080˚ West.

At teatime I searched for anyone to share a table with, and came across Sheshank, who will stay for another ship after Dubai.  He served me tea and cakes.  On my way back through the Lido, I saw Anita our 257 table waiter, then realized Graham and Mary were with her.  Around the pillar was Gary who went out with me for more QM2 viewing.  We parted when I headed back to my cabin.  I bought the rendezvous photos.

By 9 o’clock, I was ready to settle in the cabin.  Clocks ahead an hour for the last time.  QM2 is way way back!  I swear, each time the waves cover my porthole I think of my mother’s Bendix  front load clothes washer in the 40s.

Tuesday, 21 October.

I was unable to sleep most of the night, but that had its advantages since the moon at last quarter rose directly ahead of the ship, and at various times it caused a shiny  reflection to bounce off the smooth surface, first a bright line on port, then gradually across to where I last saw it over the starboard white anchor chain.  By that time it was near four o’clock.  Most of that time the waves washed against the hull and up over my porthole, causing occasional heaving and rolling.  Again I put the flower vase and water tray on the deck.

Now at nine o’clock the sun has risen on British time and although there are plenty of swells, they have abated significantly.  I found Carole Lunde and daughter in the Lido, chatted briefly and headed for Stephen Payne’s last talk regarding the past “Great Cunarders.”

The sun is very wrong for viewing QM2.  My next activity was the Diamond and Platinum party in Queen’s Room.  Yoyo told me Wendell Bishop passed on, but Winkie is doing well.

The Captain talked at noon, stating that at 4:30 the two ships will come very close for last exchanges of whistle salutes, so I gave up any thought of performing in the Talent Show.  The Captain then appeared at the cocktail party for the presentations to the highest number of days sailed.  Bill Greenwood was on hand to photograph the Mother and Daughter, his friends, Peggy and Pam Zinkle.  I then slipped out having chatted briefly with Bea Muller who will go to the QV then QM2.  Her stuff is already aboard QM2 and she said she is living out of a rucksack.  I wonder!  I again saw Carole Lunde.

As I passed by the Chart Room, Stephen Berry and James Heslop and I moved inside to chat and along came Stephen Payne as well.  I gave them (Gary too) copies of my QE2 tribute song.  S. Payne expressed positive remarks upon reading it.

Mauretania aft portside was my lunch venue and people joined me from Melbourne, and England.

Having heard of the impending close meeting of the two ships at 4:30 I “regrouped” at the cabin and headed for Boat Deck by 3:15.  On the way by the Purser’s Office I caught Stephanie and Edith to clue them in about not participating in the Talent Show to save them the bother!   Once on deck, it was apparent that all sunny-side chairs were gone, but I found a table way forward, which I claimed and sat on it in my vantage point over an hour.  It was worth it, since the whole exercise of drawing close and the fabulous whistle salutes plus a well-organized cheer from the QM2 passengers is now on my tape 2.

On my way downward I stopped in to hear the Talent Show participants – all pretty good – especially the guitar and violin Country Western singers. In Queens Room I had a brief chat with Bill (whiskers – LL.)   Purser’s Office is very busy!

My tablemates, Graham, Mary and Simon and I shared our last dinner together, and we took photos of Raven, Anita and Wilson, plus I gave each $10.   Later I saw Anna T. in the DVD line – also Carol L.  I sat for an hour in upper level of the Grand Lounge, to await “Apassionata.”  They have pared the production down significantly to fit the smaller stage.

On my way down to the cabin for the last time, I said goodbye to the Board Room, wandered on Boat Deck nostalgically, went down A stairwell to 2 Deck, photographed the display of the Queen’s visit, and said goodbye to “The Lee Shore” oil painting at B stairway and proceeded aft on 3 Deck to F – paid homage to 5181, 5145 then went on home to 5182.  For someone who never really liked Five Deck, I have had countless good experiences down there.  On my bed was the expected commemorative little Wedgwood dish of the Final Eastbound crossing.  Nothing to do but shower, put out the suitcase and retire listening to the water on the hull, now much tamed.

Wednesday, 22 October. Southampton, England.

This is it!  Again, I didn’t get much sleep!  From five o’clock on I was conscious of our approach from the Isle of Wight up to Calshot and so on.  A large Red Funnel Ferry passed us, then a tug took up the stern position as we continued up toward the bright lights of the dock areas.  At about six thirty I vacated cabin 5182 with all my gear and took the A lift to Boat Deck to test the cool, crisp air, then at seven o’clock I was the first to my table.  Soon the others arrived and I got them to sign my book while we ate.  I made a sandwich of ham and cheese for lunch.

Another check on the Deck and I walked down to Two Deck eventually reaching Queen’s Room overlooking a rather pristine bunkering boat.  Two “Financial Times” paper were distributed to each table.  Eventually David (Anna’s friend and table mate) came along and Anna came soon thereafter.  We sat together from around eight o’clock till Anna had to leave around 9:30 and David and I left at the last call for 5 Deck independents.  I found my suitcase easily and joined the very long queue to get taxis, about an hour’s shuffle to the head of the queue.

I went to the Holiday Inn, which was the Trusthouse Forte hotel, made my bookings and went on by the same taxi to the railroad station.  So – farewell dear Queen Elizabeth 2 – a bit of a tear on the way down the escalator, but I got over it!

QE2 Crossing – April, 2008


April 12 – 17, 2008  Cabin 4017

Saturday, 12 April: New York City: 40˚45′ N x 073˚59.9′ W

When I awoke at six thirty we were headed west for entry into the harbor, going 9.7 knots in clear weather.  All of a sudden I heard the foghorn.  We were proceeding forward, and we were in very thick fog; so thick the bow section was nearly obscured from the Bridge!

As yesterday, a notice stated that the satellite difficulties again prevented the acquisition of the daily newspapers.  Also, I didn’t receive my daily schedule.  There is an oval trail on the chart indicating we must have had to mark time for a while.  The fog persisted and was so dense we cold not see the Verrazano Bridge at all!  The rest of the entry was through various thicknesses of fog, revealing fleeting glimpses of the Statue of Liberty.

When we were ready to enter the berth, two tugs on starboard stern started puffing smoke furiously as they pushed in concert with the forward starboard tug – all endeavoring to turn QE2 bow first to starboard and across to berth 91/92.  Great effort was made to keep her from scraping the adjacent pier’s northwest corner.  I think at closest, the side was clear by five feet. (Eric called this fulcrum effect as a “knuckle.”)  At last, they used the starboard bow thruster to effect the clearance.

While the docking was completed, I wandered about trying to find people to say goodbye to: Perle Coles, Shirley Warren, Elaine, Carole.  This reminds me, I met Bill Wibel’s brother, Charlie from New Hampshire), and finally Marguerite on the luggage area.  This brings me to the custom’s process, which went very smoothly.  I claimed my suitcase, went through Customs without the officer even glancing at my declaration, then a DHL agent spotted my big tag and took the case.  In the span of about twenty minutes, I was off and back on the ship.  Whew!

I shared lunchtime with Eric and Margaret Lee, during which time I spotted Ted Scull, who came over to chat.  Suellyn is now headmistress of Trinity School.  He is on board for a meeting and party at Yacht Club with several SSHA members.

I went to Boat Deck for about 1 1/2 hours to read facing “Norwegian Gem” which had followed us into port.  I was chased off the Deck on Portside when bunkering commenced – more time on Starboard.  When I went to the Pavilion for a snack, I spotted Kim and Ron Warwick and shook hands with him and hugged and kissed Kim.  They were busy so I backed off for a future date.

I watched “Elizabeth” in the cabin, then went on deck portside to await our departure, and Jannie eventually came to join me.  We had a long wait because the Bunkering was slow and the ship didn’t leave till 7:44.

Bill Miller did his enthusiastic narration from the Bridge while we backed out of the slip to head down river.  The beautifully restored fireboat “John J. Harvey” displayed its multiple water canons to our Port as Bill pointed out each significant landmark.  Jannie and I switched to Starboard for the upcoming Statue of Liberty, then went inside to the Lido for dinner.  I met a young man named Rich on his first time aboard QE2 and very enthusiastic.  After passing under the Verrazano Bridge, we parted for our respective cabins.  Clocks ahead one hour.

I was able to log onto my email.  Paula is set to meet me on Friday!  QE2 whistle is low E flat.

Sunday, 13 April:

I am now on my specially added Trans-Atlantic crossing with the special nautical “aficionados” of ships.  I awoke shortly before seven o’clock new time.  The ship is facing into the risen sun, and the partly cloudy skies don’t indicate the “frisky” weather Captain Perkins mentioned yesterday.  There is a little motion but I can’t detect easterly swell.

I left my cabin for a bit of a wander before the nine o’clock lecture, but after a coffee in the Board Room, I discovered I was an hour early – the Brian Hoey talk being actually scheduled for eleven.  After all, it is Sunday, and the service takes precedence.  I consequently had time to test the weather on deck and found it to be quite nippy.  I then sought out friends in the Lido and sat with Archie and Marge (UK) while we spotted isolated fishing boats.  I next sat with Rosemary and Doug Jackson, sharing mutual indecision about future cruises.  Meanwhile, we entered a fog bank and now (at eleven) we are still hearing the fog horn and again the bow visibility is slightly limited (the actual bow that is.).

Brian Hoey’s talk on Buckingham Palace was interesting and the questions were pretty pointed- esp. about Camilla.  He even called her “the wicked witch.”

I migrated to the Yacht Club before the appointed time for the SSHA/WOLS get-together so I could chat with Bill Miller and anyone else around.  A young, talented guy showed us some of his stunning ship models.  We moved over to the starboard side where chairs were lined on both sides.  I took a seat with Ann and Gail to my left, Rob (a “Norway” fan) and soon Kim came to sit on the floor to see Emily’s wedding photos.  She stayed quite a time talking with us.  She wants to see my videos of Magellan Strait etc.

The schedule has been somewhat amended and augmented so subsequent days will unfold beautifully!  A little past one o’clock I took my leave, pausing to learn Rob’s name and to meet Ann and Robert who were standing by the piano.  They were talking of the “Norway.”   I went on to meet Jannie and Audrey for lunch in the Pavilion.  Then I paused to chat with the Lees and Lilian till time to head for Grand Lounge, where I came in on the tail end of the talk on Amber and the Amber room in St. Petersberg.  Jannie joined me for the Cunard Singers and Dancers performance of Elton John songs.  Very well received!  Tea in the Lido after reviewing the cakes at the Vienese tea in Queens Room.  We have been in fog most of the day, and now at 4:40 we can still hear the foghorn.

Noon Report:  Off south Grand Banks and tomorrow we will pass the “Titanic” grave and lay a wreath because April 14, 1912 is the date we will be there!  40˚37.3’ N x 066˚33.5’ W:  Rumbline course 85˚ and going 28 knots on deck.  Wind: N at F4, 13 K, 28 knots over decks.  Slight seas; short, low southwesterly swell.

At 4:45 we are slightly rocking.  In the cabin I am watching the second part of Elizabeth with Cate Blanchette.   I have a table change to number 259 in Omar’s section, and I have two tablemates, sir names Skokes and Long, both members of the Ocean Liner group on board. We got acquainted by sharing our experiences with ships, and it sounds as though I have had much more experience, so I will have to tone down my enthusiasm.  When we were finished, I sat at 293 to chat, then when I spotted Ken and Jill I sat with them to tell of the Ben Pester book.  The young man I met last night, Rich, is at their table.

Eventually I made my way to Grand Lounge to sit with Jannie who was right behind Janet and Roger so we enjoyed four-way chatting. They have two cabins now!  Too much water after their flooding, for overnight.   The Mersey Beatles performed, but the first numbers were painfully loud so I left.   Clocks forward an hour.

It may have been foggy all day with foghorn going, but tonight I can see the bow lit by moonlight.

Occasionally, as QE2 calmly forges forth and the water sounds as we cut through the waves, I can feel her shimmy, causing slight sideways tossing, then white foam waxes and wanes!   Ken and Jill had asked me if I felt or heard a bump on the port side aft last night.  Guess I’m too far forward.  They and I wonder if we hit a whale or something hard.  Hmmm!

Monday, 14 April:  “Titanic” Anniversary:

Today is rainy and cold.  I sat with Rosemary and Doug Jackson in the Lido discussing ships as usual.  They too are undecided for future voyages.

I then hastened to a filling Theatre to hear Ron Warwick’s talk on his trip down to see the “Titanic” then remained with Jannie for Bill Miller’s “Floating Palaces,” talk – always full of enthusiasm.

Noon Report:  At five o’clock we will be over the “Titanic” position.  41˚31.5’ N x 053˚ 0.53’ W,  south of the Grand Banks.  Course: Rhumb line 85˚ true at 27.1 knots. : Speed: 26.5K, overall, 26.7 K.  Temp: 11˚C – 52˚ F:  Wind: N at Force 3 = 7 knots or 18 knots over the decks.  Slight seas, average, moderate southwest swell.

After lunch with the Socketts and Jannie, I puttered in the cabin (the internet is again out) till time to go through UK immigration.  Thomas was holding forth dramatically in the Midships rotunda, so we had to wait till his big group moved on.  About then I saw Tom Cassidy briefly, then Kim, with whom I tried to follow to the queue.  We lost each other when we split into two branches in the press at D.  Finally, I reached the one woman doing the process and upon telling her I would be four days in Britain, she stamped me in.

I wandered till teatime avoiding the crowds in Queen’s Room.  Jannie found me way aft in the Lido during our tea and cakes.  When we parted I chatted to Anne Boulton, eventually Tony by the Library, then when Commodore Warwick came by, I showed the T-shirts of Crawford discussing the event in 1992, and our future plans.  He wants to go to Dubai with QE2 but is only wait listed.  I continued to wander till five o’clock when we were exactly over the area of the sunken “Titanic” and I went to witness the one -minute of silence and the ceremony with certain top officers in full dress, a recorded bugle sound and the tossing of the wreath.  Mind you, half way up the port steps by the Lido, so only could see heads mostly.  It was raining.

On my way back to my cabin, I stopped in Queens Room to chat with Olive and her sister.  We related different ship experiences.  She was on board last year but I guess we missed doing the same talent shows.

When I arrived at my new table, 259, my two mates were already on their first course.  We had more pleasant ship talk, then I stopped by 293 for a nice visit with all, plus an intimate conversation with Rosina Down.

Kenny Martyn the jazz clarinetist performed again and both Jannie and I dozed a bit.  The Lido visit was brief because we wanted to turn in for the day.  Clocks ahead one hour.  I gave Jannie the red jewelry case and she was genuinely thrilled!

Tuesday, 15 April:

Try as I would, I was unable to return to sleep after six o’clock new time, but at least I could feel the gentle swaying, rushing water with its periodic buildups from disturbed to broad foaming and back again.  Creaks come and go inside and pulsing waxes and wanes outside, all of which I will miss.  This gives me a precious feeling of intimacy with my dear QE2, and I hope to remember it often!

After emerging after nine o’clock, I checked my email and went to the Lido where I sat with Anne and Tony.  It appeared that we had a following wind with pretty sizeable swells and white caps.  The two lectures in the Theatre were Bill Miller’s “Lives of the Liners” and Brian Hoey’s talk on “Diana.”  I took the noon report as I sat on a comfortable Port Boat deck.

Noon Report:  42˚57.5’N x 039˚ 16,6’ W.  Rhumb line 081˚ at 26.3 knots – 26.6 knots average.  Temp: 14˚C = 57˚ F.  Wind: west at Force 7 = 30 knots, 5 knots on deck (white caps) moderate seas, and short, moderate westerly swell.  – slight pitch.

I found Jannie in warm sunshine under boat 13, so I joined her till lunch.  Olive and her sister came along for a brief chat admiring the beautiful day.  We talked a bit about singing.  She thinks some of the performers don’t have good habits!

Jannie and I sat on Port by a window and while there I became conscious of a low pulsating vibration, perceptible only in my ears.  Jannie also “felt” it when we listened.  I think it might be the gyroscope in conjunction with the stabilizers.  Will pursue this idea.

Back in my cabin I prepared for the rendezvous of our SSHA and WOCLS vigil at three o’clock to gather for tea at four all together.  From three to five our large group assembled in the Queen’s Room forming several round table groups under the decorations for the Grand Ascot Ball.  Kim was careful to arrange it so we could circulate or sit in one place.  I chose to move from group to group trying to get everyone to autograph my book as a way for me to get to know at least a few of the people.  I accumulated 6 pages worth. John Crozier made himself known and gave me a letter he ran off from Steve Swanson who is on board.  He will organize a party for the several Linerslisters present.  I also went to each group to take photos.  One guy had a T-shirt with “Queen Elizabeth 2 on the Rocks” so I showed him my two shots of Crawford’s shirts.  He took pictures of them and he posed with his shirt for me.  Frederick, my tablemate appears to have stayed only a short while.  Chris Skokes and he were warned I wouldn’t be at dinner tonight.

After Kim showed up with a nice QE2 pin, we ladies got excited by the prospect of getting one, and the gal next to me ran up to get some and gave me one – a gift!  I think her name is Anna Tannenbaum.  After tea I realized Richard Faber was here and recognized him in my photos.  When things broke up, I headed aft for time on deck, but upon seeing the Boultons, Rosina and Eddy, I paused with them in the Lido.  They wanted to know what Brian Hoey had to say.  I soon moved on and outside, finally settling under boat 7 out of the following wind and afternoon sun.  The broken clouds obscured the sun anyway!

While reviewing the recent happenings, Rob came to sit briefly while loading his new Sony DVD recorder.  Really nice!  We will meet for lunch at one o’clock tomorrow in the Mauretania Restaurant, since he too prefers the quiet as opposed to the Lido.

I dressed for dinner in time to reach the Lido for seven o’clock but found the line was already open.  Jannie joined me with her Indian food, and when finished we parted so I could move over to Rob’s table to discuss ships with him and another gent.  Actually it turned out Rob was virtually not included because of the other guy’s dominance.  On my way down below, I stopped a while to chat with Frederick, who was waiting for the Ascot Dance to begin.  I found it didn’t start till ten, so I left after a prudent time.  Clocks ahead another hour.

QE2 has listed to Starboard fairly regularly – is she tender?  Moon bright on bow and foam on the water.

Wednesday, 16 April:

I only got up after nine o’clock because I was dead tired, even then, but I had to be on hand for the ten o’clock lecture by Brian Hoey on the “Britannia.”  I made it!  Next, I sat with the Lees for Bill Miller’s talk on ships flying the Red Ensign – a vast historical subject.  Afterward, Margaret indicated she wants a DVD of the videos I’ll be converting.

On deck at noon it is still pleasant with the following wind of 30 knots.  The seas are moderate with white caps and occasional spume lines and swells are moderate, average westerly, five knots on deck.  Noon Report:  44˚34.4’ N x 024˚ 38.2’ W. Rhumb line 081˚ soon to switch more northerly for the English Channel entrance.  Speed: 27.5 knots of average 26.8 knots.  Temp: 13˚ C – 55˚ F

I learned during Bill Miller’s lecture that on April 22,  all three Cunard ships will be in Southampton and as we pass by and down the Solent, we will pay homage to QE2 – the last time they will all be together.  I guess QE2 refit will take place at dockside.

I met with Rob O’Brien, John Crozier, Chris Skokes and two others for lunch in the Mauretania.  Since Rob wanted to hear about my “Norway” experiences, I told them all about my 1993 special tour.

Somewhere along the line, I did a preliminary packing experiment and found things will be tight.  I went upward and came across Jannie going to the Pavilion for ice cream, then I went to Yacht Club to meet the other experts for the QE2 quiz.  My team consisted of Gale Bellafiore, Ann and Don Eberle and eventually, Tim Dacen.  We won one out of three quizzes.  Steve Swanson conducted the quiz and Tom Cassidy tallied.

I wandered to the deck via the Lido and outside Shirley Fitzgibbon called me over to chat.  She wants me to do “Queen Victoria” next year, but I don’t want to.  Anyway, I lingered a bit on Boat Deck, browsed the shops very briefly and went down via stairway A.  The replacement clock has been delivered.

We had the usual Beef Wellington and Baked Alaska parade.  Fred wanted Chris and me to pose with him on the way out and to the SSHA Cocktail Party.  We received our Bill Miller QE2 Pictorial book, which he autographed.  I also had a good talk with Scott about the “Marco Polo” as he played the piano quite deftly.  Kim held forth beautifully as usual.  I left to see the crew show.  Various members sang and played guitars and bases.  The best was Kenny, a 14 year crew member.  The Cruise Staff did their hilarious skit of what they would rather be.  Warren always gets the worst of the deal!

Jannie and I joined Archie for a good night drink.  He has been escorting the Captain’s Mum.  We all parted near ten o’clock.

A last present was on my bed.  A Wedgewood commemoration dish 2008 World Cruise, and a large luggage tag.  Clocks ahead another and last hour!

The bright, clear moon is high at eleven o’clock in the sky and we are constantly crossing her path on the active sea.  The motion has calmed a bit, and the bow, illuminated by moonlight appears to be quite steady.  However with the following sea, we occasionally do list a bit, slowly regaining level.  Margaret Lee said she felt lots of motion on 5 Deck last night.

Thursday, 17 April:

My first order of the day was the two lectures n the Theatre, Bill Miller’s on the “Last Atlantic Liners” and Brian Hoey’s report on the Queen’s daily routine.

Noon Report: from a brisk and pleasant Boat Deck.  48˚16.4’ N x 10˚38.8’ W. Bay of Biscay into the English Channel.  Rhumb line 061˚ at 28 knots, 27.5 average.  Temp: 10˚ C – 50˚ F.  Wind southwest at Force 6 = 28knots.  Moderate seas, average, moderate southwest swells.  Still whitecaps, but supposedly calmer.  However, when I came “home” at five o’clock a wave splashed over my porthole!  Cloudy.

I reported to Thomas for sign up, intending to tell him and Martin I had a conflict.  However, he convinced me to perform, so if last, I could do Warwick’s talk as well, which I did.  A nice young German sang “Wohin” by Schumann, which I missed, but all said he was great.

Jannie and I joined Chris Skokes, Bill, John Cozier and Anna Tannenbaum for a lively lunch and ship talk.  Jannie got great information from several of them about a Discovery ship she went on for Alaska.  I had rehearsed “United States to Great Britain” with Martin, thus making me late.  Commodore’s talk on QE2 changes was most interesting, and I took notes furiously.  I left for the show and was on hand in time.  The song was well received and I gave Olive my copy of the music.  She and I hugged in mutual appreciation.

I joined Jannie for tea as usual in the aft lido spot across from Olive and friends.  I had to relate the Fort Lauderdale incident again – re: QM2.  The Stephen Card print is stashed in my suitcase, safe and sound for now.

The swells enlarged late afternoon as we found ourselves facing both wind and swell direction – Bay of Biscay influence?!  The last dinner with Fred and Chris, included conversation over Fred’s shoulder to Lilian Halsey, then with the Lees.  I shared my change notes with Eric meanwhile.  On my way out, I stopped by 293 for one last session.  Thomas told me at noon that Mary Mastony bought that little Oscar, had it engraved to her and asked him to present it to her!!!!!

I had to buy a QE2 duffle, then sat with Jannie, and John Crozier for a short time, for the second Mersey Beatles concert, and I managed to remain with little ear discomfort!  That was followed by one last Lido visit with Archie Cooper.  Fond goodbyes – then back to my cabin to pack my new duffle.  I showered and crawled into bed for the last time aboard my wonderful “Queen Elizabeth 2.”

Nice water sounds thrill my ears, but seas are leveling off as we enter the outer borders of the English Channel.  Wonderful moonlight is shining in and illuminating the spray along side as we plow steadily on.

Friday, 18 April: Southampton, England: 50˚49.3’N x 001˚28’W.

Again I had a hard time getting to sleep and I saw two o’clock at least.  The water was still doing the push up squish routine, but now at 6:20 we are going up the Solent on the way to our “home berth.”  As I watch our arrival at the QE2 Ocean Terminal, it appears we will be tying up on Starboard instead of the 180˚ turn.  The lines are poised on Starboard bow.

Chris Skokes, Fred and I had our last breakfast (poached eggs).  All three of us are Republicans!  Hugs to Omar, Eric and Margaret, Lilian, then Ravii,  Joan and John Waterfield and others.  Presently, I am in Queens Room with Jannie till disembarkation.

Olive and her sister, Ann came by to say goodbye.

Would you believe, it is noon and I am still sitting in Queens Room with John Crozier.  Jannie left us at eleven thirty hoping to meet her taxi.  The luggage off-loading delay and a strong wind, which has rendered the gangway precarious, are the excuses repeated with each announcement.  During this time, I have been able to say goodbye to a lot more of my friends with hugs and kisses.  Twelve thirty update:  They have had to disconnect the D – 2 Deck gangway because of the weather and now we have Five Deck B Stairway and another is being set up at G stairway.  I left the ship after one o’clock and eventually linked up with Paula Bell.  We loaded my stuff in car V57, and we were off to Hever Castle.  Pub dinner in the Hever Hotel £79 single.

Farewell good and faithful “Queen Elizabeth 2.”  See you in October for the final Crossing with Q2.

2008 Farewell World Cruise – Part 6

Los Angeles to New York

Sunday, 30 March: Los Angeles, San Pedro: 33˚44.8′ N x 228˚ 16.5′ W

I couldn’t sleep till about three in the morning, but when I awoke at seven, we were docked at piers 91 and 92 as usual for San Pedro.   I emerged near nine o’clock to link with Lees for their phone call.  We had to go aft by the sports deck to get away from the roar of action dockside.

My family arrived about ten o’clock and they took me to the “Queen Mary” for the buffet brunch in the First Class dining room.  Emily and Dave met us and we all stuffed to the hilt!  After a search for a Staples with the aid of Christopher’s GPS, Emily and David brought me back to the QE2.

I had a nap, then went to tea.  I joined Anne, Tony, Ken and Jill to compare our visits to the “Queen Mary, “where they looked for me and family in the First Class dining room, but apparently we had already gone.

When approaching the time for us to depart, and the safety drill for the newcomers was over, the Captain announced we will be able to sound our whistle after all, and the fun began!  The “Vision of the Seas” backed away from Pier 93 and just under the Harbor Bridge, having sounded its whistle (not a bad sound) and using its azipods unassisted.  It passed by us and between the Evergreen containership on the side of the channel opposite us.  We then sounded our deep toned whistle three times with 2 added boops, and were pulled sideways from the Pier s 91-92, set for the long backing maneuver tethered to a tug which helped keep us in the middle of the channel as we “receded” backward past the shore developments – around the corner turn, by Ports o’ Call and on out as a Container ship also moved out ahead of us from the south channel.  Hundreds of people stationed themselves to see us off, wave, cheer and we also could hear a band playing although I couldn’t locate it.  Along the way boats were moored, two beautiful clipper bow Brigantines, a schooner and a ketch (I think).

As we cleared the docks, etc. we turned on both bow and stern to head out forward to and through the jetty ends on the pretty lighthouse.  As I gazed off toward Long Beach, I could just see the huge, new Carnival Lines terminal, and just to the left the three “Queen Mary” funnels were visible briefly before various cargo cranes obscured them.

It seems as though each time I am in San Pedro there is an exciting entrance or exit!  1. Turn around in the confined space, 2. “Queen Mary 2” backing in on her own. 3.  Turning around in fog with twenty feet to spare and now, 4. QE2 backing out with tugs to aid her.  GREAT STUFF!

Our whistle sounded at least three sets of three and boops, and maybe more.  Since I was aft most of the time I may have missed one.

Jannie and I had dinner together in the Lido, then parted.  I to my cabin, and she went to check out the show.  481 people disembarked today, and over 500 embarked.

Monday, 31 March:

My first order of the day was to visit the Baggage Master to work out the process for sending one suitcase home from New York.  We think it can be done by going through the customs with declaration as though I am disembarking, then returning to the ship as an in transit passenger.

After a brief chat with Eric and Margaret about our departure last night, I joined Jannie for the Astronomy lecture followed by noon report on a chilly Boat Deck.  Following sea and swell.  Captain Perkins said 60 passengers embarked without luggage because of the BA Terminal 4 baggage train no-function!

27˚18’N x 115˚ 11.5’ W.  Rhumb line 144˚ True. 25.1 Knots (23.6 average)  Temp: 21.5C = 70˚ F (feels much cooler).  Wind: Northwest Force 5 = 21 K.  18K over decks.  Slight seas, short northwest swells.

For a while I sat with the Boultons,  and Ken and Jill in the Board Room talking about what to see in Acapulco, then we went on deck to look for wildlife.  Jill got her telescope, but I had to leave for lunch with Jannie at one o’clock.  We ate at a table for two on Portside of Mauretania.  Movie:  “It Happened One Night.”  Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.

Tea with Jannie.  Talk with John Waterfield about the last Talent Show.  Dinner with my mates minus Audrey.

Jannie saved me a seat as usual while I talked with Margaret and Marie about a special navigation book on the Malacca Strait.  They will let me consider it.  Archie Cooper is back on the ship and will be on to Southampton.  He got the booking at the last minute and we sat with him in the Lido for the goodnight tea and Horlicks.  Clocks ahead one hour.

Tuesday, 1 April:

The webcam is showing crystal clear puffy clouds and great plunges into massive swells and spray flying over the bow with sheets of water dripping down the bridge windscreen.  Alas! It is only April Fools!  Actually we are majestically proceeding on our southwesterly course along Mexico’s shoreline (of course not visible).  126˚ heading.

My first chore was to deliver my two “Boys” to the Cruise staff office with their directions for the auction.  I then settled into a deck chair under boat ten or so for a couple of hours in still mild but brisk air.  At eleven I sat with Anne and Tony for the Acapulco lecture.

Noon Report:  20˚23.8’ N  107˚ 16.8’ W:  Course: 125˚ True.  25.2K.  Temp: 27˚C – 80˚ F.  Wind: North northwest at Force 3 = 7 knots.  18 knots on deck.  Slight seas, short low northwest swell.

I checked on the very specialized book on navigation around the Malacca Strait area, noting details of piracy dangers and recommendations of caution,  then flipped through the current charts, weather charts and wind charts.  I noted this (2006) book has come from the Bridge, so I think they are unloading items they won’t ever need again.  The CD is gone, but I expect someone up there wants it.

Lunch with Jannie – short stay on deck reading Bill Bryson, then I watched the special Australian movie “December Boys” with Daniel Radcliffe.  It was moving at the end when the four orphans, Mops, Spits, etc. realize they are family and remained so all their lives.  I met up again with Jannie at tea and returned on deck for an hour or so till I became too cool.  Trying to stuff the large knitted dog and running out of the stuff caused me to quit the project altogether.  By the way, Warren and Simon did their show dressed with Antarctic outfits – a part of the tricky day!

Wednesday, 2 April: Acapulco: 16˚50.7N x 099˚53.3′ W.

The sound of the anchor woke me near seven o’clock but fortunately I was able to go back to sleep till the phone rang at 8:45.  Don’t know who was calling.

Jannie and I met at the Lido, because her tour was cancelled so we ate in the Pavilion and eventually took the tender to the terminal where I browsed and she phoned home.  I returned to the ship, way ahead of her and kept cool in my cabin, dozing off till time to meet her at one o’clock.  We had a large square table for two by a starboard window looking toward shore.  I saw the “Nannie Diaries” and again met Jannie at teatime, where we were joined by Jill Halpin who had managed, with Ken, Tony and Anne to get a boat to a bird sanctuary island.  We discussed birds in general and eventually, Jill and I exchanged addresses.  She also tried to fix Jannie’s phone, but we don’t know if it works.  Later Tony joined us with a report of his and Ken’s adventure in old Acapulco, guided by a “guide” who wanted a tip!

As we neared time for departure, I had to search many places (had to weave around restricted deck areas, while tenders were being shipped for a deck chair, which I found on Port behind the long banner “Keep 50 meters away.”  I read my book until I was able to undo the clove hitches holding the banner – to help speed the take down process.  The whistle sounded the three plus two boops, and we turned out the bay.  I watched us sail past the hills, hotels, big inlet, mountain, peninsula and, in the distance, the long low peninsula with hotels that reflected the setting sun.

O my way down to dress for dinner, I had occasion to stick my head into cabin 4012.  I found a very tiny one with two bunks and around the door corner.  I saw the old style bathroom with old sink, old shower with gray and aluminum framing, and no door, plus the old beat up linoleum floor curled up at the edges!  It must be for a crew duo because I can’t imagine selling that to a passenger!

I joined Jannie at the Lido for Mexican dinner (not much could pass for ethnic), then we went to hear the show.  It was a substitute couple, Mickey Finn and wife Kathy Reilly Finn on piano and banjo respectively.  Both were old show biz pros from Las Vegas, network TV and so on.  Very virtuoso and flamboyant.  We parted and I went forward on balmy Boat Deck to hear the passing water, see stars and sit a while.  Back to my cabin by nine forty-five.

Thursday, 3 April:

At last I awoke at a reasonable time, showered and emerged in time to share breakfast with Anne and Tony, then I timed my arrival at the Theatre for Peter Crimes’ talk on the Panama Canal and the Astronomy lecture.  We got out a little early, so I went on deck in anticipation of the whistle and noon report.  However, excitement preceded this when a sudden strong wind from the north swooped down on us.  I enjoyed watching the smooth sea start to ripple, then small waves developed and little ripples of foam, then I noticed the long bubble streaks.  When the whistle did sound it sounded louder I thought.  The Captain mentioned the wind as something like Ghouwontapeck off the land and it is expected to continue, till when the land begins to cool down.

Noon report:  13˚ 09.2’N  93˚ 25.5’ W.  Temp: 30.8˚ C – 87.2˚ F.  Wind:  North, Force 5 = 24k or 35-40 knots over decks.  Seas are slight, and short, low northerly swells.

I remained on deck reading and enjoying the windy air till time to join Jannie for lunch in Mauretania.  I had a Cobb salad, but was not thrilled.  Email check produced Beth Schmidt’s reply to my question April 22.  US Air 2126 – from LaGuardia, at twelve noon.  Boston 1:10 p.m. Pier 92  I still need to know my QM2 cabin assignment.

At two I saw “Jaws” for the first time, and that was followed by more than an hour of Questions and Answers with Richard Dreyfus.  When I left before the session was over.  I decided to walk the deck.  The wind has abated and the air is very comfortable.  On my way I talked briefly with Jannie but continued on and headed down to my cabin.  I found a thank you note for my help at the Fayre. Also invitations to Ensemble cocktail party and party at Queen’s Room. By Captain Perkins, John Duffy and Chief Engieer Paul Yeoman, tomorrow.  Dinner with only Audrey; We both wished we had gone to the Lido!

I chatted briefly with the Lees about 4012 – then crossed over to the other side, pausing briefly to joke with Archie.  Jannie, Audrey and I sat together to see the Ventriloquist.  Ok I guess.  After tea in the Lido with Jannie, I returned home via Boat Deck.  Some of us up there did a bit of star- gazing.  After my usual water gazing up forward I headed downward.

Clocks ahead one hour.  We are now on Eastern Standard Time, but they are daylight savings so I have one more hour to go.

Friday, 4 April:

I awoke close to nine o’clock, and I gauged my preparations to emerge in time for the ten o’clock lecture by Carol Thatcher.  On the way out I asked Andre about 4012 and he confirmed it is a crew cabin.  Jannie was already in the Theatre as were the Lees with whom I had a chat.  Jannie left after Carol’s talk, but I remained for the intensely serious and passionate talk by Richard Dreyfus on what we must teach our generations about the American heritage and purpose to highlight what we stood for and stand for and hope to keep it alive.

Noon Report:  08˚35.6’N x 084˚ 54.4’ W off Costa Rica:  Rhumb line 119˚ at 25.7 knots and average of 24.9 knots.  Temp: 30.5˚ C – 87˚ F.  Wind: calm.  26 knots over the decks.

I walked up to observation deck to see the placid water and feel the welcome wind caused by our forward motion.  Boobies were reported but I saw none.  I returned briefly to my cabin to “regroup” (a term Jannie has laughingly adopted), until time to meet her at one o’clock for lunch.  We went to sit with Janet and Roger, and my pasta order was twice inadequately laced with vegetables and later, chicken.  My consolation was a gooey chocolate cupcake with ice cream!

We parted and I went immediately to the Grand Lounge to preview and photograph the marine items for auction.  The rest is captured in the actual auction figures I recorded as it went along.  My dolls only netted $130, a disappointing figure for all that work, but never again will I do that work anyway!

I met Jannie for coffee and tea.  While waiting for her, I saw dolphin rushing away from the ship, while birds were flapping and gliding along with us.  We both went on deck to enjoy the warm air.  I found a chair up forward on Port and read till five o’clock when all of a sudden I realized I should be at the Ensemble cocktail party in Yacht Club.  I sat with Valerie Bennetts, Marguerite and other regulars while Glen welcomed us and invited Peter Crimes to give us a brief biography of himself. He met Ingrid while lecturing on a P&O ship.

I returned to the cabin at six o’clock and remained till 7:30 when the triple hosted gala cocktail party by Captain Perkins, John Duffy and Chief Engineer Paul Yeoman would begin.  I took pictures of the special cake and posters, then ate my favorite shrimps while sitting with a group of Americans and Brits.  Soon after the Captain spoke I ducked out for the Lido where I had strawberries and ice cream with Jannie.  We moved on to the Grand Lounge to hear Isobel Cooper, known as Izzy sing her operatic arias and show tunes very well.

I went on my own to Boat Deck to revel in the evening tropical air, cooled mainly by our forward motion and stars both north and south.  Lido stop. Chat with Joan and John Waterfield before retreating to my cabin.  Shower, washing and bed in preparation for the last Panama Canal transit. 7˚ 2.8N at eleven thirty as we turn north to Gulf of Panama.

Saturday, 5 April: Panama Canal Transit: 8˚ 59.3′ N.

As I write this at 6:40 we are being guided and moved slowly into the right hand side of the Mira Flores locks on the Pacific side of the canal to start our day-long transit.  I am staying in my cabin to observe from my porthole.  We have already passed under the Bridge of the Americas at Balboa.  As we imperceptibly creep along the center guiding “jetty” the men in the rowboat head under our bow to catch the lead lines for delivery to the lock sides.  Swing bridge open on both sides. I wonder how often it closes with so much shipping traffic going by!

The following is my study of the approach and workings as observed from my porthole.  7:25 water flowing out in front of our bow at the bottom lock gate independent of the left Mira Flores lock.  7:35 – gates opening.  Four Deck well below top of the lock.  I can’t see the top of the chamber!  It appears that the bow well is level with the chamber sides.  As we proceeded into the lock I could see the immense lock gate of iron and rivets way up and way down to the water level.  The walls are of textured concrete marked in huge block sections (chunks of rock embedded).  Built in rod ladders.  The mules (the diesel engines) keep the ship precisely placed amid the lock fore and aft, the  cables being at right angles to the ship.  We moved forward within the lock.  The mules stopped and we continued slowly forward.  How” Our own engines I guess.

There are red and blue tell-tale scrapes along the way!  We stopped with the bow very close to the lock gate.  The water started to raise the ship and the darkness of down there gradually lightened on the rise and soon the morning sun peered through my porthole.  The workers walked across the lock gate to and from work at eight o’clock, presumably the shift change.  There was a pause in the rise, then it started again till full.  8:23.  The gates opened to the second lock and we entered.  There are two lock gate stations on this one.  We had a relatively swift entry, and on the way in I noted a third lock gate more or less in the middle of the length (wide open of course).  8:50 we exited this pair and headed for Pedro Miguel lock a little ahead.  At this time I left my cabin for outside observations.  The port side (shaded) of the Boat Deck was solid with people in their chairs eating heaped up breakfast hoards!  I observed with the crowd up forward so headed inside aft to catch a bite in the Lido.  Sat with Marguerite and later Anne and Tony.  My wanderings began then as I stayed in the cool inner areas.

As we progressed and were through Pedro Miguel lock, I found the Lees in Crystal Bar Port side and lingered to observe the Centennial Bridge (cantilevered) then the Gaillard cut where lots of shoring up and terracing is continually under way.  Eventually, I caught up with Jannie (writing post cards to mail) then we had lunch together in the Mauretania while gazing at the many island tufts and jungle around Gatun Lake.  We had already noted we were late off schedule.  I went down to “regroup” and while there at two o’clock the Captain came on the Tannoy to confirm what I observed ahead.  A ship traffic jam!!!  Four ships are ahead of us.  We are having to stand still as well as avoid oncoming ships picking their way through the jam.  I can count ten ships to our starboard and ahead, and meanwhile the Captain and Pilot must be having a very challenging time to use side thrusters and twin screws to keep us in position.

At this point I went on deck to observe for over an hour and having passed the Gatun earth dam, at three thirty we are only poised at the top of the top Gatun Lock, waiting for the top two gates to open after filling to our level.  It is very hot on the sunny side but pleasant on the shady starboard side where all the seats are filled – naturally.  I decided to return below to do the same as my morning project.

At four o’clock – Cabin dark at bottom of the lock and moving to middle lock, through the two open lock gates.  The second one appears not to be wet and has a dry red tint.  Daylight returned as the curved side leveled to the second lock chamber.  As we await lowering of the water in the middle chamber, the Captain has come on the Tannoy again to announce that since we are two hours late, we will have to skip Christobal, which distresses me not one bit!  We will press on to Cartagena, Colombia.  The ship ahead is taking a long time to exit the last lock.  Don’t know why.  4”25, It is finally out and the gates closed.

Where my porthole is, is where one of the two sets of lock gates resides, so I could study the riveted panels that make up the massive gate, and the very tall hinges are also impressive.  This lock doesn’t seem very deep, but since the sun has been covered in clouds it would be dark anyway.  4:35 – The gates to the last lock opened (only one set).  I guess the first open set is for smaller ships!  Frigate birds.  5:50 – I spotted water rushing through the sluice gates in huge quantities for our final lowering of QE2’s career.

Throughout the day, the whistle has occasionally done the familiar salute to various passing ships or workers canalside!   5:20 – One whistle blast!  The exit to the Caribbean Sea is quite like a canal in itself as it is lined with earth and trees.

I napped during a TV documentary on the history of the canal excavation, then started the packing and listing process – toward delivering one case to be sent home from New York. I then met Jannie for dinner at the Lido, after which we migrated to the Grand Lounge.  We sat there until we realized the combined orchestra and dance band wouldn’t start till nine thirty.  With a quiet whoop and laughter, we parted.  I walked the deck back to A and thence to the cabin.  On my bed was the last World Cruise gift, a framed painting of QE2.  The rest of my evening was spent listening to David McCullough narrate the development and completion of the Panama Canal.  Now to sleep after a most interesting day.

Sunday, 6 April: Cartagena, Colombia: 10˚24.1′ N x 075˚ 31.9′ W.

As we came into our berth, I could see ahead a familiar funnel configuration and stated it as a Celebrity Cruise ship.  I was right! I remained on board all morning, having breakfast in the Lido with Shirley Fitzgibbon and leaning on the rail with Jannie briefly.  The rest was spent keeping cool, reading, observing various phases of the abandon ship process from muster to abandon ship, which included lowering the lifeboats, opening the access doors on Upper Deck, lowering further etc.  I found Tony and Anne in Queens Room where we chatted till noon.  I told them of my Loch Ness week sailing.

Lunch in the Pavilion with Jannie, then at two o’clock I set out on my tour of Cartagena, which included the sights: 1.  San Filipe Fortress with its steep and wide ramps, little sentry turrets on several levels, listening chambers, dark tunnels and rough steps down.

2. La Popa Monastery up a steep hill with stations of the cross, favilas along the way and switchbacks.  We saw a large golden altar, cloisters and 360˚ views. 3.  Plaza de las Bovedas, better known as stables – rampart walls looking seaward, and now shopping stalls selling Inca designed materials and jewelry. 4. Church of San Pedro Claver (1521) dedicated in memory of him, because he administered to the slaves.  Lots of sculptures outside.  We watched a procession being filmed for a movie.  We walked along the old streets with balconied buildings – wood and yellow stucco with orangey details for contrast.  Horses and carts, women in costume – colorful with fruit bowl on their heads.

5.  The last stop was at a more up-market shopping plaza, and of course the ever-present vendors pestering for a sale.

We went back to the ship by six fifteen.  The “Constellation” the Celebrity ship had already departed.  I had dinner with Rosina and Eddy – jacket potatoes.  Jannie came to sit with me while we waited nearly an hour for the show by Izzy and the ventriloquist.  I asked Martin Stringer to accompany me at the next Talent Show and he agreed.  After the show I went on deck and stayed with the Halpins and Boultons by the railing to see us slowly leave Cartagena Harbor.  To the cabin by ten o’clock, shower and settle in!

Monday, 7 April:

There has been a bit of motion as we plow through, up and over fairly sizeable broadside swells from the East.  It is partly cloudy with bright sun.  335˚ course at 21.1 knots.

After nine o’clock I had a brief breakfast with Anne and Tony, then attended the Jamaica lecture, then the history of our Moon flights.  On deck at noon I saw the slightly white capped seas and heard the wonderful noon whistle bests.  Report:  14˚27.2 N x 077˚ 41.9’ W.  Rhumb line 335˚ at 177 knots, 20.2 knots average.  Temp: 29˚ C = 84˚ F;  Wind: East northeast Force 4 = 14 knots, 21 knots on deck.  Slight seas; short, moderate easterly swells.

I remained on deck reading till time to meet Jannie.  Marjorie from Brownsville Texas came to eat with us on portside of the Mauretania.  I went directly to the cabin, watched Close Encounters and napped till five o’clock when I went to the Baggage Master to finalize the DHL arrangements.  I missed the La Bohème broadcast in the Theatre.

I had to dress formal for the cocktail party in Yacht Club, but it was all worth it when I was able to sit with Rosemary and Doug Jackson who introduced me to a Royal Navy man, Malcomb and his wife Susan.  We had great conversations about our ships, and especially about the “Queen Victoria.”  Malcomb had only criticism, but did allow the design for all the public rooms on one deck was good and there are ways to bypass them if need be.  The Jacksons will be on the voyage to Dubai.  Doug also said three, four and five decks will be gutted to bring rooms up to standard for a convention type hotel and eventually the funnel will be rebuilt for an accommodation of some sort.  This means QE2 won’t be going anywhere, also most of the staff will remain till December.

I managed to break away by 7:45 to join Jannie in the Lido and we then went to hear Diane Cousins from Wales.  She was a very good comedienne and mercifully sang only a few songs in her horsey low, raspy nasal voice.  She gave both the audience and orchestra members a hard time all in jest!  We all liked her.  I then went to see Disney’s “Enchanted” since I slept well in the afternoon.  Fun!  Animated as well as actual.  An Ensemble gift – a leather tray.

Tuesday, 8 April, Montego Bay, Jamaica: 18˚28.6’N.

The anchor dropped near seven o’clock, but although awake I dozed off again till seven thirty.  I reported to Yacht Club at 8:30 and shortly thereafter our Ensemble group took a tender at 5 Deck D stairway.  Soon we were loaded onto our two small buses and were away for the sights of the island:  1834 water wheel, pottery studio; lunch and entertainment at the “Day – O Plantation.  The last sight was Cinnamon Hill Plantation house built by Edward Bartlett and later owned by Johnny Cash.  We had a long traffic-filled return drive to the tenders in Montego Bay.  As we left, the Royal Caribbean ship, “Liberty of the Seas” came to dock.  Meanwhile, QE2 needed a tug tethered to the stern to keep her from pointing into the wind and having her stern too close to shore.

Jannie and I endured the whiz-bang piano by Ryan Ahern, a Las Vegas “World Champion Pianist” to quote the daily program. “Too many notes” for sure!  Chamomile tea, a quick check on the Atlas for Jamaican geography, and we parted for the night.  It looks as though we will be passing between Cuba and Haiti tonight.  Waters are very smooth.

Clocks ahead one hour.  Marguerite, Archie, Marilyn Peters, Billy and Valerie Noonan.  See my notes for more detail.

Wednesday, 9 April:

I ate breakfast in Omar’s section with Rosina and Eddy, making brief contact to make up for not being at 293 for a long time.  I also chatted briefly with Eric and Margaret who have been out of my visiting range a long time!  I then went right to Boat Deck to sit under boat 12 all morning reading in the mild sunny air.

Noon Report:  21˚29.3’ x 075˚53.8’ W in the Bahama channel.  Rhumb line 295˚, 22.7 knots, 23.8 knots average.  Temp: 27˚C = 82˚ F.  Wine: East at Force 2 = 5 knots , and 20 knots on deck.  Smooth seas, negligible swells.

I reported to Grand Lounge at 12:15 to rehearse with Martin.  However, we had to wait till nearly 12:50 before we could get the studio.  “Where E;er you walk” went well.  I caught up with Jannie a little late in Victoria’s section – finally!  I then took my traveler’s checks to cash, and returned to the cabin to watch Richard Dreyfus giving his talk on civility, and how we should teach what our values are to the young folks.

The Talent Show – the last one for the World Cruise, saw Thomas present Mary Mastony with a miniature Oscar for her 22 years of singing and being the QE2 Diva since 1985.  She actually did a fair job of singing “La Vie en Rose”. People gave her a standing ovation.  Carole Lunde had a good humorous act, and Olive did a great Kern song.  A few people came up to me expressing appreciation for my selection of “Where E’er You Walk.”

Eventually I found Jannie portside on Boat Deck and we remained till six forty-five watching a cargo ship paralleling us a bit ahead.  We could see the wake trailing a long way to the stern.  All the while we could see a lighthouse or two, mountains and distant land mass stretching along the southwestern horizon which turned out to be Cuba.  Jannie and I met up for a Lido dinner, watched the very funny John Martin from Liverpool, and ended it all with tea and cocoa back in the Lido.  Tony and Anne joined us too.

As I walked forward on Boat Deck portside, the lovely crescent moon (waxing) was to Port high up in the dark, clear sky on its way toward the western horizon.  I think the land we saw was a long island off of Cuba.  87 people are leaving tomorrow.

Thursday, 10 April:  Fort Lauderdale, 26˚ 5.2’N x 080˚ 7.0’ W.

I was awakened about six fifteen with the tug engines sounding and bright lights from the bow.  I spent a good part of the morning reading my book in the shade of the ship on starboard facing inland.  I called family members as well.  My project for fun was to find all the shipyards I could from the 2008 Almanac and so far I count 70 so.  Wow!

Toward eleven I went ashore to go through immigration, which for us citizens was a casual look at my photo in the Passport.  We had to wait a while till we could return on board, which for me was toward noon.  I ate lunch on my own in the Lido, then returned to Boat Deck till two or three o’clock.

I went below for a nap till four thirty, then it was sailing time to await departure.  I stood in sun watching the tugs spray their cannon water, and doing wheelies, even the small fire rescue sprayed and spun!  When all was ready and the tugs started pulling us away and backwards for the pivot to Port, I went to the Port side and started the video rolling for the motorboat flotilla horns and whistles. QE2 whistles and the moderate gatherings of people in their yards and vacant lots on toward the apartments and condos.  One man shouted on his bull horn, “Such a magnificent ship.”  When we were clear of the entrance I noticed three Pilot boats along side as well as one last tug and small Coast Guard boat all of which continued with us till the Pilot left us and pealed off back to port.  I phoned Emily!  The ship lost electric power, as the officer called it “a brownout.”  The big fans by G stairwell outside went quiet and came on shortly thereafter.  However, as I neared my cabin, Christine said the toilets aren’t working properly.

Ships of consequence seen today are:  “Enchantment of the Seas” (Royal Caribbean) and “Regal Empress” of the Imperial Majesty Cruise Line.

I took a much- needed shower and headed to the Lido to meet with Jannie who has had her hair cut and dyed.  It looked very nice!  We went a little late to the Kenny James show – a very energetic singing program with his renditions of Motown songs and famous black musicians.  He had the audience clapping and singing on cue, basically captivating everyone.  Jannie was most enthusiastic and bought his CD

We did the usual Lido visit,  then went on deck to view the crescent moon darting in and out of clouds.  After a brief look at the fifty per cent off stuff in the shops, we parted and I returned on deck to soak in the cooling breezes and admire the moon some more.  Jannie called me to tell me the Warwicks are already on board and she talked with him in the lift.  We are traveling northward at 29.5 knots.  Eat you heart out “Queen Victoria!”

Friday, 11 April:

I awoke around three o’clock and found the TV off, which indicated the electrics were still being repaired.  It went off and on for a while, leaving the hotel alleys dark as well.  When seven forty-five came along and I awoke again to bright sunshine pouring into my cabin, I arose.  I met Jannie at the Pavilion, got a muffin and milk, then we were both off for Carol Thatcher’s talk.

I went on deck under boat 12 for the next hour, having first selected the Stark book about “Pamir” and the Horn.  After the noon whistle, the Captain greeted us on the Tannoy, telling us what the problem with the electrics was.  They had to replace a large circuit breaker, which has solved the defect.  We were delayed while the fault was being researched and repaired, so we have been racing along at thirty knots.

Noon Report:  32˚43.4’ N x 076˚23.9’ W:  Rhumb line course: 026˚ at 30 knots, average 23.9 knots.  Temp: 23˚ = 74˚ F:  Wind from the South at Force 3 = 7 knots = 21 knots on deck.  Slight seas; short, low easterly swell.

On learning all this, I went to Andrew Green’s lecture on “Impact of Cosmic Collisions.’”  Jannie and I sought out Roger and Janet at their table for lunch.  Rather than return to the deck I spent three hours watching “La Bohème” in HD-TV a three hour commitment.

I bought Harrod’s teas and QE2 goodies for gifts.  The Internet has been completely down all day and no promises of repairs soon.  The fault was with the power on the Starboard shaft.  Because of our delay we will be an hour late , so we will enter the harbor in daylight and should be docked by eight thirty.  We will also depart an hour late at six o’clock.

Dinner in the Mauretania with all but Rosina and Eddy, whose surname is Hutchinson by the way.  I sought out the Lees and they have already seen and greeted the Warwicks, and I will ask if they can attend the special lectures.  Eric and I talked about the circuit breaker and what the starboard shaft has to do with it.  Jannie finally arrived on the left audience spot where we enjoyed the Cunard Singers and Dancers production.  We did our usual Lido visit followed by a moment on Lido deck to see the first quarter waxing moon.  A ship to starboard might be “Norwegian Dawn.”  When back in my cabin I dragged my suitcase out for off-loading, and now hope for the best.  No newspaper or internet action all day.  700 people will disembark tomorrow.

World Ocean Cruise Liner Society, Steamship  Historical Society of America.  Now the fun begins.

2008 Farewell World Cruise – Part 5

Hong Kong to Hawaii

Friday, 14 March: Hong Kong: 22˚ 3’ N x 114˚ 7.6 E

I awoke near six thirty to a misty early morning.  Around 7:30 I saw the first island appearing through the fog.  I went to the Lido to stake my claim by a starboard window till Jannie appeared.  We could see a fire tug forward as the ship slowed to a crawl.  I think the props must have been put in reverse to slow us quickly – thus shaking the stern at a great rate.  Each pointed mountain island appeared to starboard with its high-rise buildings more and more bunched together.  The occasional crane barge, towed by a tug was passed by us and eventually the orange pilot boat came along side to embark the Pilot, who then guided us into the huge cargo docks – past a new bridge in the early stages of construction, then to the port into a narrow, dock-lined channel and finally tied up by 9:40.  What a contrast to the fabulous view of the Hong Kong passenger terminal and the brazen insult of packing QE2 into the midst of rust, grime and clutter of the cargo area.  The sky is overcast, but the sun occasionally breaks through, burning off the mist.

I gave Andre the Sheseido white bag, which he wordlessly and graciously accepted.  He has a girl friend on board to whom he will give it.

Jannie and I took a Shuttle Bus to the Ocean Terminal where resided “Star Aquarius” and “Crystal Serenity.”  (I have since learned that the Crystal Cruise Line is a Japanese owned company and they try to keep that fact very low key.)  We two did all of our shopping at the Chinese Arts and Crafts store.  We had been given promotional literature in a nice bright red tote bag with the words: “Hong Kong: Live it, Love it:” I checked out Dianne Frieze,  but found nothing to take my fancy and wandered a bit upstairs in the Star Computer Centre – and found a small Mac store on its own!  We both agreed we had enough so we simply returned “home” on the bus, ate lunch at 1:30 in the Mauretania and parted.  The atmosphere is still misty but pleasantly warm outside.

A whole new crew shift has come aboard and will have induction in the Theatre.  I slept a couple of hours, then started a new knitting project, rather than sit on deck watching cargo being shifted everywhere,  I skipped dinner in the Maury so I could eat with the usual friends in the Lido.

Jannie and I sat together at the flute concert by Claire Langdon, a vivacious and very accomplished musician.  I heard I missed a local show, alas!  Jannie and I then shared a pot of Cammomile tea while watching our departure.  Tugs pulled us backward and away from the dock and assisted our stern pivot to starboard for a forward exit toward the channel.  The stern tug stayed tethered longer than I thought necessary, but finally dropped back while we proceeded under the partial span of the new suspension bridge.  When Jannie and I parted, I came across the Socketts and Joan and John, so chatted briefly: then on to the Lees by the Library.  Eric says we will crawl to Shanghai to make it last two days.  I then went on to the cabin by eleven as we slowly accelerated.

Saturday, 15 March:

I had breakfast with Carole Lunde, then changed to the Boultons’ table.  Sat with the Lees knitting during the quiz then went to Peter Crimes’ lecture on Shanghai.

It is cold and damp outside with occasional whitecaps.  The whole ship inside is noticeably cooler.  We have been notified that Puerto Moin, Cost Rica is cancelled and Cartagena, Colombia will be substituted.  I am happy for the change.

At noon we have a head wind, which is hampering our progress.  Only 3 engines are on line going 16.6 knots.  23˚05.9’ N x 117˚34.3 E.  Course: 056˚True @16.5 knots.  Temp: 18˚ C or 65˚ F.  North northeast wind F5 = 18 knots, thus 35 knots over the decks.  Moderate seas, moderate northeast swell.

Jannie and I had lunch with Janet and Roger, and they found lots of familiar spots in common back home.  Then the Socketts collected their computer and I stayed all afternoon in my cabin knitting till time to attend the Ensemble cocktail party.  I met two ladies from Bar Harbor who love Cape Cod too.

During dinner with my tablemates, Audrey received a Birthday cake with waiters’ chant of good wishes.  Chocolate fudge! Yum!  For a while afterward, Audrey and I sat in the Grand Lounge chatting with others till the show, when I headed down to the cabin.  On the way I saw Valerie Hujlich and we plan lunch in the Golden Lion Pub at one o’clock tomorrow.  I see by the channel 4 charts that we are passing Taiwan in the Strait of Taiwan, (Better known to me as Formosa Strait), and we are still leisurely going at 18.7 knots, slow as Eric predicted.

Sunday, 16 March:

Palm Sunday.  This morning finds us steaming along at a mere 16 knots in very calm seas and very little motion.  It is overcast and cool to say the least.  I awoke after six o’clock and knitted to the end of my soft green yarn so have to put away that scarf project for now.

This has really been a sort of nothing day for me, because there were no lectures per se, but I had breakfast with Carole after nine o’clock and generally wandered till I found the Lees, who pointed me to Yacht Club in search of Jannie.  I joined her little quiz group and when that was over we attended Yoyo’s and Anna’s lecture on Cunard cruises and World Club privileges.  That took us to the noon report, which I heard in the Grand Lounge, because it was too wet and cold outside.  28˚14.3’ N x 122˚ 15.1’ E, which put us 18 miles off China.  Rhumb line 030˚ True, 16.2 knots average 17.1 knots with only 230 nautical miles to go:  haze 13˚C – 55˚ F.  Northeast wind at Force 2 = 5K.  20 K on deck.  Slight seas, northeast low swell.

Valerie Hujlich and I were going to eat at the Golden Lion Pub, but when we got there it was full and jazz was about to start.  Fortunately, Jannie and Valerie agreed we would go to Mauretania, which we did on Port side.  We parted afterward.  I chatted briefly again with the Lees, who told me we will have to submit to fingerprinting and a photo when we enter Japan.  I saw the movie“ Stardust,” a fantasy.

After formal dinner, with new waiter Ravi from Mauritius, and without Victoria, who has been sent to the far Port aft section.  I sat with Jannie for the recital by Annette Wardell.  She was very good but was fighting some vocal problems.  We had chamomile tea by a Lido window, which topped off our evening, and I was back in the cabin by 10:15 to prepare for the long tour tomorrow to Suzchou.

Monday, 17 March:  Shanghai: 31˚20.5’N x 121˚ 38.8 E.

I awoke at six o’clock to a black TV screen and cloudy daylight outside.  We were slowly (10k – 7.9K) proceeding up the river delta.  All I could see were ships anchored or moving along.  A very large tug came along side at 6:40,  and accompanied  us a long way, turned us around and with two other tugs, pushed us sideways to the dock.  Submerged containers were absent this time.

I had a muffin, milk and cranberry juice on my own, then reported to the Theatre for my tour to Suzchou.  We drove a long way – over 2 hours through city, small farms, apartment and home buildings, rubble and so on.  We visited the Embroidery shop and museum, and took a canal trip, followed by lunch and “Humble Administrator’s Garden.”   We were back at the ship by six o’clock, and whereas we left the ship on Four Deck Starboard between B and C, we returned to 2 Deck amidships.  I’m tired!

I ate alone at the Lido by the dock waiting for our departure.  However, it wasn’t until 8:30 that two tugs pulled us away, while a third waited off our bow till we were clear of the cargo ship ahead of us, then he moved to our starboard and pushed more on us to clear that ship.  By 8:45 we were slowly on our way back out Changjiang Kou (river.)  We have a long slow passage, because of the shallowness and many ships of all sizes coming and going.  This is all the Yangtze River Delta. The Hoang Fu River – constant shipping up and down.

I decided to remain in my cabin after a tiring day, but an enjoyable one.  Clocks ahead one hour.

Tuesday, 18 March:

As of nine o’clock new time we are still heading due East and sailing along at 29 knots to clear the continent and approach Japanese islands of Kyusku and transit the Osumi  Kaiky Channel – that is, between Tanega Shima 8 nautical miles to starboard and Kyoshu to Port 9 nautical miles.  We will continue northeast.

I joined Marguerite for a late breakfast, then moved over briefly to chat with Jean Lewis.  I had earlier decided to do the Japanese immigration procedure, which requires fingerprinting, and face photograph.  I also had to fill out a customs declaration, as well as a health report, which must be handed in when I disembark tomorrow.  I also cashed a $50 traveler’s check and exchanged it for 4,ooo Yen and US money back.

At eleven and twelve fifteen I attended Peter Crimes’ lecture and slides on Japan, then Marc Stanton’s on “The Emperor’s New Clothes” – about Mao and modern China.  Jannie and I were together and went from the Theatre to Mauretania for lunch at Portside windows.  We could faintly hear the foghorn.

Noon Report:  31˚01.8’N  127˚ 39.6’ E.  Rhumb Line 091˚, 29K – 27.5 Knots average.  Temp: 18˚ C and 64˚ F.  Wind from the East at Force 4 – 16 K – 45K on deck.  Moderate seas and short, low easterly swell.

I spent the afternoon in my cabin knitting.  Rain has predominated all day long.  Before dinner I checked my email for anything from Ben, and fortunately the satellite had kicked in after not operating this afternoon and Ben says he will be here by 3:00 P.M.

I was late to dinner because of the email stop, but I managed to catch up and was served my turkey with everyone else.  Afterward I sat with the Noonans, Shirley and Marguerite for another dessert and catch up session.  I had wanted to find Jannie but couldn’t, so I sat on the side for the show.  Fiesta dancing and singing.

I was back in the cabin by 9:30.  We are racing along at 32.7 knots.  WOW!!  I’m not kidding! I saw it with my own eyes on the channel 4 chart.  And within Japanese waters,  heading northeast 53˚.  In fact we have been pushing it all day.  I would like to hear McNaught’s comments! Gee we miss him! They must have been playing because 15 minutes later we were only going 30.1 knots, not bad either.

Wednesday, 19 March: Osaka, Japan. 34˚39.4′ N x 135˚ 25.8 E

At 6:30 I was awakened by the distant sound of our whistle blasting three times plus a short toot or two.  The familiar bridge and Ferris Wheel appeared ahead and I could see a few people watching in the early dawn from a quayside.  We were pulled and pushed sideways toward our berth to starboard and exactly where my porthole is I can see the entrance gate and traffic by the shopping center.

After a walk around Boat Deck, looking down at everyone taking photos with tripods, little and big cameras, and videoing the environs, I ate breakfast at table 103.  When I went to the Lido, I found Valerie Hujlich and chatted, speculating if there might be a welcome ceremony – we decided there was to be none.  I passed through to Queens Room and sat with the  Lees, while watching the authorities taking people’s temperatures.  May joined us a while.  There are various crew exercises going on, one of which is new to me.  Eric explained the Tank manning one,  that of cleaning fumes and sludge from the fuel tanks.  Also a must of Port Manning people was called for Grand Lounge, so I went to investigate and found it to be a roll call and dismissal.

I wandered a lot trying to find someone to chat with, eventually settling with Olive from Ireland, 2 Anns and a Carl, with whom I shared my “Norway” experiences in September 2001.  Lunch beckoned, so I went to the Lido.  Near two o’clock I left the ship to look in the shopping center and wait for Yoshimi and Ben, who appeared near to 3:30.  We first went around in the big wheel, while I took video of QE2 as we ascended.  We talked all the time catching up on all our activities, then when we were back down, we went to the shopping center for a snack.  They ordered crepe cone sweets – all very rich and yummy, and mine had whipped cream, cake cubes, strawberries and sweet beans, which seemed to me like currents.  Ben then bought us individual bottles of hot tea!

We chatted at the table, took photos to send home and eventually had to head back to the ship.  Hugs all around and fond goodbyes till May 10, their wedding date in LA.  I was back aboard by 5:30.

By the way, I slipped through the temperature taking routine, because I was supposed to have gone to Queen’s Room as one not leaving till the afternoon.

At 6:30 I heard the beating of those huge drums coming from a balcony of the Shopping Center, and then I realized we were already backing along the quay to do our pivotal turn around in the wider part.  I took the lift to Boat Deck and then only did I see the hundreds of people with umbrellas standing in the rain, taking photos and still shouting to friends.  The Big wheel was lighting up in neon reds, pinks, greens and blues alternately in expanding shapes.  The whistle blew one last time its 3 series plus a couple of toots.  Once turned around to Port, we were off for our six-day trans-Pacific run to Honolulu!  Rain and dark clouds had ruled the day alas!  Tug on bow pulling: and on stern pushing for the pivot by the stern.  Once under way, I remained in my cabin without dinner and knitted on the baby cap.

Clocks ahead one hour.

HIKAURA MARU is the ship anchored in Yokohama harbor.  The only remaining ship of the Japanese cruising ships in the 1940s.

Thursday, 20 March:

During the night I awoke to pretty active movement of the ship.  In fact, there was enough light to show us pitching so much huge waves were being forced up and over our bow, and the spray flew up and past my porthole.  I remained awake feeling the pitching and listening to the rushing waters and creaks inside my cabin.

At nine o’clock (I awoke late) we are going into the sun’s path still pitching, but to a lesser degree.  It has been several days since we could see sun!  I booked my Cartagena tour then chatted with the Lees till time for the Crimes lecture on Hawaii.  Jannie was there so we sat together in row 3 of the Balcony ( of course).

The noon report was more interesting than most because Capt. Perkins gave us a good description of last night’s storm, which he said was on no reports.  He called the seas “bumpy” and reported the winds were Force 11 or 12 – 80 miles per hour, and with our forward motion it was 100 mph.

32˚38.5N x 140˚ 13.8’ E:  Rhumb line 102˚ at 25.4 knots; average 23.5K:  Temp: 66˚ F.  Winds South southwest at Force 4 = 13 knots. 25 knots over the deck.  Moderate seas and short moderate southeast swell.

Jannie and I joined Janet and Roger for lunch by bright sunshine, then we parted.  I spent most of the afternoon in my cabin knitting and watching television, nothing special except “Billy Elliot.”

Tea with Jannie in the Lido followed by some pleasant time on the Lido aft deck watching our wake and the sloshing water as the pool was being filled with salt water. Dinner was supposed to be at six, but I was later.  No matter!  Rosina and I shared tales of our early ship travels, I in steerage in the 50s and she on the “Canberra” in similar circumstances.

Jannie and I sat in our seats an hour before the Doug Cameron violin show, and we reminisced about past cruises, and friends mostly Norma!  Back at the cabin after 9:30 for more knitting and television watching.  There is still a bit of welcome motion and water swishing plus occasional creaks within the cabin walls.  This afternoon, occasional waves blacked out my porthole!

Clocks ahead another hour!  Guess what!  As I settled in to sleep at 12:30 (new time). I saw moonlight in my porthole high in the sky.  I placed my small mirror in the porthole sill, and adjusted it so I could see the moon by reflection, and saw that it was indeed full!

Friday, 21 March:

First day of Spring.  Last night was full moon, and I managed to see it by reflection on my little mirror, because the angle on the porthole prevented my head from getting the right angle for viewing.  This was around one in the morning.

I awoke well after eight o’clock and managed to emerge around nine o’clock to check my email on my way up to Boat Deck, where I settled in sunshine.  The sun was out brightly but the air was a bit cool.  However, I managed to be almost comfortable till ten thirty when I admitted defeat and retreated to the Board Room for coffee, a tiny muffin and a short read before the lecture on the origin of the Pacific Ocean, and general geography of the tectonic plates.  Jannie did the last with me.  The speaker, Brian Ford has a marvelous humor streak.  We parted till lunch at one.  Meanwhile I returned on deck, sought a sunny spot on Port and again was almost cold.

Non Report:  30˚ 38.9’   x 151˚ 18.7’ E:  Rhumb line 102˚ – 25.3k; 24.7 k average.  Temp: 18˚C – 66˚ F.  Wind: Force 4 South at 4-8 knots. 26 Knots on deck.  Slight seas and southeast swell.

I had lunch with a Florida and New York couple.  Ravi gave me two crèmes caramel.  Yum!  I then saw the movie “Breach” again, about Hansen the US traitor.  Back in the cabin I finished sewing up the baby hat, but it is too small, alas.  Dinner in the Lido with Marguerite and Welsh Shirley.

The full moon rose in all its splendor right over the bow, making a bright path for us to cross.  I popped out to see it forward before retreating to warmth and the Lido.  I sat with Jannie for the show.  Frank Freeman (born and brought up in Kansa)s, sang in a superb and flawless tenor voice, almost silky timbre – from Bacharach to Broadway.  He is by far the best singer of the World Cruise so far!  One could learn a lot from his execution and control!  Again, I popped out to see and appreciate the full moon.  Knitting till late.

Clocks forward another hour.

Saturday, 22 March:  International Dateline:

Talk of a line voyage, we continue on course 102˚ on our diagonal Rhumb Line from Osaka to Honolulu in the virtually empty Pacific region.  The seas have flattened but it appears we are easing over very low swell.  I awoke after eight o’clock new time, showered, washed a T-Shirt, read the news and now the Lesson.

I attended two lectures “Forgotten Amateurs who created the modern world” and “Art Deco” influences.

Noon Report:  Sunny, 28˚37’N x 162˚ 15.8’ E ; 102˚ Rhumb Line. 25.2 knots.  Temp: 21˚ C = 69˚ F.  Southeast wind at Force 3 -= 27 Knots on deck.  Slight seas; Average low southeast swell.

I spent a little more time on deck then lunched with Jannie and the Socketts.  Once back on deck, I read my Bryson book in sunshine till time for the movie: “Hairspray” then decided to have tea as a tide-me –over till the cocktail party at 7:30.  Lo and behold, Jannie was just settling at a table for two aft, so I joined her.  More time on deck in pleasant late afternoon sunshine on starboard, gave me much pleasure reading and water watching.  I went to the Cruise Director’s cocktail party in the Queens Room, which was all decorated in Japanese style for the Cherry Blossom Ball.  Sat with Jannie.

Dinner in the Lido and back to the cabin.  Moonlight is dimly showing through clouds. I stayed up late watching the French dubbed “Pride and Prejudice” with Kira Knightly.  Just about finished the second green and yellow stocking cap.

On my way back to the cabin after dinner, I stopped in Queens Room for a brief chat with Valerie Hujlich and Elaine.  They were sitting by the dance floor during a lull.  By the way, Lilian Kent is engaged they say, and someone said she has a big rock on her finger.  Good for her.  She has looked a long time for this.

At midnight we are only at 167˚ Longitude, so we have a long way to go for the 180˚ needed to change from East Longitude to West.

Saturday, 22 March – second time ’round!!!!

Somewhere along the way we have crossed the International Dateline.  NOT!  Not until early tomorrow morning!

I spent most of the morning (after awakening late) on Boat Deck under boat 12 in shade while the sun climbed almost right over the bow stern line!  At eleven I attended the lecture on why we now believe Marco Polo never went to China!  I took the noon report on deck.

26˚30’N x 173˚ 15’ E.  Rhumb Line 102˚ True.  25.1 knot speed, 25.1 average:  24˚C = 75˚ F.  We have 1617 nautical miles to go to Honolulu.  East wind at force 3 – 7 knots, 32 knots on deck.  Slight seas an short, low easterly swell.

I met Jannie for lunch by a window in the aft part of the restaurant, then we parted.  I returned to the deck briefly till two thirty when I saw the movie:  “Because I said So.”

Tea was under way so I set up in the Lido where Aussie Elaine joined me.  When Jannie came I moved to her table and we went outside to sit in the sun.  When I spotted Frank Freeman sitting by the kiddie pool, I went to chat with him a long time.  He is 51 and plans to move to Cape Town area from Holland.  He has had mostly a European Broadway type career.  He was educated all over the US.  We compared notes on singing and shared CS soloing experiences and healings.

I had dinner with my mates, then sat ages with Jannie waiting for the Elton John dance and song tribute- all well done.  Walking forward along Boat Deck there was visible only a bright moon streak ahead to starboard, the result of a mostly cloudy sky.  Now that I am back in the cabin, I can see that lit up area is still to starboard but not enough to light up our bow.  It is my hope to be awake around three o’clock to see Longitude change from East to West.  Moonlight is peeking through my porthole (one o’clock)  Clocks ahead one hour.

By the way, Jannie and I spotted a gull of some sort way out here in the no-where of the Pacific.  Perhaps he knows of land of which we are unaware!

Sunday, 23 March: Easter

In the not so wee small hours of the morning, 3:42 to be exact, we finally reached 180˚ or the actual dateline.  However, even though I remained awake to observe the moment, the rotating charts deprived me of the moment so all I could note was 179˚ 50’ something East, then the next GPS chart showed 179˚ 59’ West and then I could go to sleep!  Grrr!  It wasn’t till nearly five o’clock that I finally dropped off.  I awoke at ten thirty still feeling weary.  After showering I felt I could face the day as we gently plowed onward in calm waters some thirty nautical miles or so north of Midway Island – a significant WWII island and now a wildlife refuge.

I went directly on Deck and settled on Port side into a deck chair for the rest of the morning in shaded sunshine and miled comfortable air.  I continued to read my Bill Bryson tome through the noon whistle and report:  24˚24.8’ N x 175˚55.4’ West.  Course: 102˚T speed 27.2 Knots and average 26 knots.  Temp: 24˚C = 72.5 F.  Slight seas and short, low, easterly swell.

When we were warned of a potential rain shower, I retreated to the Board Room where I chatted with Carole Lunde till lunchtime.  As usual, Jannie and I met and took a table for 4 in Omar’s section, and were later joined by a couple from Greece and UK.  Omar was missing, but Paula aptly filled in.  I saw the movie, “Invasion” then returned to my cabin to find an Easter Bunny in chocolate plus a bowl of jellybeans and chocolate foil eggs.  The sun is peeking through my porthole as we smoothly proceed.  The television is showing “Midway.”  I ate in the Lido with Bill Noonan, and eventually Marguerite (she is a Mrs.) came over from the ladies’ foursome when the others left for the show.  Marguerite came to my cabin to collect the Coolie hat I promised her and I reciprocated to her cabin (a tiny single) to see her lovely silk crane purchase and two beautiful lacquer screens of mother of pearl and painted figures on the reverse side.  Clocks ahead another hour.

Monday, 24 March:

I awoke near seven o’clock new time, wishing to continue sleep, but it didn’t happen.  The sun rose directly ahead of us in a hazy brilliant sky.  We have crossed the Tropic of Cancer and are presently at 22˚ North.  I found Jannie in the Pavilion just as both of us prepared for breakfast.  I spoke briefly with Doug Cameron about his work with students in master class type musical sessions.  I eventually settled on very windy Boat Deck to read till it became uncomfortable, so I went to Grande Lounge amid all the ship-wide ships safety sessions.  I sat with the Lees and we were joined by Joan and John Waterfield (4009) till we had to move over to Grand Lounge for the Country Fayre planning session.  I volunteered to sit at the Egg guessing stall.

While waiting for the 12:30 talk on Children Migrants to Australia from UK, I sat on the top steps to the Balcony with Tony Boulton.  He too wondered why we didn’t hear the noon report, and wonders never cease – then the Officer of the Watch came on the Tannoy with apologies and the following:  22˚17.9’ N x 165˚ 8.9’W: 200 miles off Niihau – Rhumb Line 102˚ 25.2 K wind:  South Force 3 – 7 knots – 26 knots on deck.  Temp: 22.5˚  72.5 F:  Slight seas, short, low easterly swell.

The talk “Chip Off of What Block?” was moving and a revelation to me regarding how after WWII up to 6,000 children were shipped to Australia (orphans supposedly).  Jannie and I had lunch at a portside window rather late, I had chili con carne.

After waiting a long time in line for Brian to replace two watch batteries, he told me the batteries were okay.  However, the Citizen is worth repairing, the Bijoux Ternier – not worth it.  I took the sailor dolls back for now.  Delivered my blue dog to Marie’s table.

The rest of the afternoon I spent in my cabin knitting, watching television and napping till dinner time in Mauretania.

I saved Jannie a seat in the Grand Lounge anticipating Frank Freeeman’s half hour with the comedian John Evans.  The latter, a Brit, was quite humorous, but alas, Frank wasn’t well so didn’t sing.  We left during the orchestra fill in music to have ice cream and chamomile tea.  When we parted I talked briefly with the Boultons, Ken and Jill Halpin and was introduced to Sharon and another friend.

My route home via Boat Deck was moist.  All the railings on port have been varnished.  I looked over to the passing waters and upon turning to go in, a security man popped out the door and said “good evening”.  I always think I’m being spied upon when this happens.

As I settle in for sleep at eleven o’clock, the moon has risen in the East and our bearing at 94˚ allows for me to see the moon path to right of the television screen!

Tuesday, 15 March, Honolulu, Hawaii:  21˚18.1’N x 157˚ 57.9’W

At six o’clock I arose to report for Passport inspection.  The queue was wrapped around from the Library entrance to Queens Room clear back to the port side of the Lido and beyond by the time the officials came aboard.  As we stood, moving slowly by the Library, the “Diamond Princess” eased past us and settled at the Aloha Tower berth.  Grrr!  Now I understand why we are shunted off to Pier 2 as last year.  My idea is that Princess, which administers Cunard, took care of itself first.  Again Grrr!   When the inspection was completed (my passport that is) I returned to my cabin and finding my telephone works in the cabin, I phoned both boys.  At present the Five Deck gangway at B-C is being erected.

When ready to head out I walked past the Maritime Museum and “The Falls of Clyde” to the Aloha Tower area, looked around, made phone calls and waited for the Hilo Hattie’s bus.  Once at Hilo Hattie’s I only bought some nuts for Chris and headed to Ala Moana center to browse.  Then when back at the ship I had lunch in the Lido and napped.

Cunard 2008 World Cruise Dinner

At 5:40 I met Marguerite and Rosemary as we went for our bus.  We had a brief historical tour before arriving at the Convention Center for cocktails on the roof and the banquet inside the very large hall decorated with at least 50 tables with tall water vases and white orchids.  Two screens were used to display the promo video of “Queen Victoria.”  Carol Marlow addressed us with the usual history and hype, assuring us that the QV will be fitted with drawers.  She obviously has heard the complaints.  Captain Perkins was merely the host.  Entertainment had hula and Tamera dancers, uli players – the Hawaiian Royal Court and Honor Guard, all of whom acted their parts as the Hawaiian history was narrated.

I sat at table 25 with Jeff Morgan as host.  He is chief provisions officer.  Perle Coles, Rosemary Buchart, Valerie Bennets and others whose names I did not get.  The menu consisted of a great pineapple, tomato (red and yellow) feta cheese, escarole salad, with pineapple dressing, sherbet, steak and lobster plus vegetables and rice, then chocolate cheesecake.  A champagne toast to the usual heads of governments and QE2 and all who have sailed in her, was presented by the Captain.  Dancing to a live band and various singers, was pretty much through the evening.  I left in the first bus at ten o’clock.  There was another gift waiting for us – a world clock!  Nice!

Wednesday, 26 March, Lahaina: 20˚51.7’N x 156˚41.3’W

The anchor dropping awoke me shortly after seven o’clock.  The day is sunny and warm.  I had breakfast in the Lido with Shirley Fitzgibbon, who asked me about Christian Science.  She seemed very interested.  On my way outside I paused briefly with Carole Lunde who was talking with Laurie Humphreys, the speaker about his transporting to Australia as a child.  I met him and joined the discussion.

As I walked along the deck and chatted with Rosina and Eddy, the Captain told us about two whales off the starboard bow, so we too spotted what appeared to be a female humpback and calf.

I went ashore around 10:30 and walked around till tired.  When returning I had to show picture ID, my bag was inspected and the electronic paddles were used on me!  Back at the ship I watched “Anatomy of a Murder” with Jimmy Stewart.   My lunch was Caesar salad by a port window in Mauretania on my own, then I spent most of the afternoon on deck reading and phoning different family etc.  At some point I moved further aft and found Rosemary and Doug Jackson, so I sat with them talking about all different subjects re: ships, especially their QV impressions and little space on QM2.

When I left them I found Jannie and stayed with her through up-anchor, turn around and our passage between Molokai and Maui on our way clear of islands for our course setting eastward at 28 knots.  Along the way, we could see random whales spouting and humping.  For dinner, Jannie and I sat with Anne and Tony, then, when Jannie left for the show, Audrey came to chat.  I then returned to my cabin.

We are now clear of the islands and settled on our course bound for San Pedro.  27.4 knots at compass 69˚.    Clocks ahead one hour.

Thursday, 27 March:

It has been mostly cloudy through the morning but seas have remained slight so QE2 is going on steadily and majestically as she is wont!  I found Jannie just starting her breakfast in the Pavilion after nine o’clock, so I joined her while we leisurely observed a lady doing her laps in the pool.  The waters were swaying forward and aft, showing we were pitching slightly.  I attended the two morning lectures, 1. Broadcast news techniques and bias. And 2. Los Angeles lecture by Peter Crimes.

Noon Report:  23˚ 50’N x 148˚ 9’ W:  Course: 70˚. 28.1 knots, 23.5 C – 74.3 F.  Wind: East Force 4 – 15 knots. 42 knots on deck.  Slight seas, short, low easterly swell.

Jannie and I ate lunch by a port window in the Mauretania: no thrill for either of us.  I checked my email.

The movie was: “Brave One” starring Jodie Foster.  When I couldn’t find Jannie at tea, I found a somewhat sheltered spot on starboard Boat Deck forward, but soon packed it in for my warm cabin till dinner minus Rosina and Eddy.  The show afterward featured Caroline Dennis, a “dynamic piano entertainer.”  Hard to take but when it was over, Jannie and I had warm drinks in the Lido with Anne and Tony.  Tony told a funny joke about a Mercedes and its taxi driver.  The Round emblem was his sight and he aimed at for a cyclist and veered away at the last minute.  However, the cyclist fell off his bike, and when the driver wondered how he could have hit him, the passenger said he got him with the back door!!!  Ha HA!  Clocks ahead another hour.

Friday, 28 March, Country Fayre Day.

I arose reluctantly after nine o’clock, and just managed to report for duty to decorate my stall, which is the Tour of the Hotel Stores.  By eleven I felt I could duck out for the Brian Ford lecture on the Rain Forest, so I went and sat with Jannie who flagged me down.

Noon Report:  27˚ 11.3 ‘ N x 137˚ 59.7 W:  Rhumb line 070˚ at 29.2 knots, 27.9 knots average.  Temp: 19˚ C – 66.2˚ F.  32 knots over the decks.  Slight seas, short, low, easterly swell.

Lunch with Jannie and Valerie Hujlich.  I served on the booth to take bids for the tour to the ships stores.  It turned out that the 2 top bidders got to go with Warren Smith who also intimated he would show them more!

Baked Alaska night.  Show time – Steve Stevens, trumpet, uke and singing with jokes.  Good.  Horlicks with Jannie before returning to the cabin by ten thirty.  Clocks one hour ahead again.

It has been very smooth sailing and when I was on deck before noon, quite cool.  I had no time for a return.  We are informed there would be no whistle blowing in San Pedro!  Grrr!  Noise abatement move.

Saturday, 29 March:

I had a late start this morning, but that doesn’t matter since nothing took my fancy till eleven o’clock.  Seas are so calm we are moving almost imperceptibly.  At noon after the Brian J. Ford lecture about dumbing down education, the Captain announced we were going 30 knots during the night with all 9 engines going.  We currently are on only 8 engines.  Noon report:  30˚56.1’ N x 126˚03.1’ W:  28.2 knots:  15˚C – 59.2’F.  Wind: Northwest at Force 3 – 7 knots and 28 knots over the decks.  Slight seas, short, low, northeasterly swell.

Jannie and I joined the Socketts for lunch, then I prepared for the talent show at three o’clock.  Earlier I had warmed up by singing off the taffrail.  I did my usual “Mother Hubbard” routine, which was well received again.  A girl came up to me expressing her understanding of the local choral societies or church choirs!   I then had tea with Jannie, Shirley and eventually Rosemary, but I wanted to change my clothes so left them.

At dinner Tony told me Rosina’s sir name is Down.  We all had a good time talking about Mary and Bridge. (the game).    The performer was a Paraguayan harpist named Francisco Iglesias, and he played very energetically, especially the special Paraguayan pieces, and we all responded enthusiastically.  By nine thirty I was back in the cabin ready for a night without hours ahead!

2008 Farewell World Cruise – Part 4

Thursday, 6 March:

We are traveling on course 270˚ presently passing a group of islands (122 small ones) called the Houtman Abrolhos, and coral reefs thirty miles away to the East.  The town on Australia’s west coast here is Geraldton.  Little motion.

Having decided to skip breakfast, I first tried to go on line, but nothing happened on the one unoccupied computer so I left and headed aft, stopping to chat with Marilyn Peters, then Glen along the way.  When I finally made contact with Margaret and Eric in Grand Lounge, I showed her the sailor doll and vest back, on which she will embroider the word “farewell” using yellow thread.  She also suggested I make a “curl-down jumper collar to match the black shirt.  Yes!

I signed up for duty at the Country Fayre and requested my nautical dolls be included in the nautical auction.  I wandered briefly by the boring shops and observed the water and flying fish from the deck till time for Peter Crimes’ lecture on Singapore.  Anne and Tony joined me, telling of their visit to the Maritime Museum.  I should have gone.

I had lunch with Janet and Roger, to show them the video of yesterday’s departure, but for some reason, the picture had grey lines horizontally across the screen, much to my dismay.  However, after sending emails on my way down to the cabin, I tried using the head cleaner – presto – the playback is clear again.  Whew!

I spent an hour or more on deck reading in the warm humid air – the likes of which, I haven’t felt since Tonga.  Around 4:30 I walked down and through Queen’s Room while everyone was enjoying afternoon tea and the piano music of Campbell Simpson.  I simply continued on by the chart area and down to my cabin.  I did quite a bit of detail work on sailor number one.  At Margaret’s suggestion I made a curl-over turtle neck to look more like a jumper as she calls it.  She will embroider “farewell” in yellow on the two backs of the vests.

At dinner John told us of an incident way aft as we were leaving Fremantle yesterday.  A fire tug was playing its hoses and mistakenly let one shaft of water pour over the stern of QE2, wetting observers and knocking an elderly lady over flat on her back.  A security man got to her first and helped her up.  An officer also took over, and fortunately she was all right.  I sent another email about the bus schedule in May, then spent the rest of the evening working on the dolls and watching television lectures.

Friday, 7 March:

QE2 is now veering away from Australia on a 336˚ course.  Due East of us is Broome way, way off our stern quarter.  The navigation information has us cruising across the Wharton Basin where depths can reach almost 6,000 meters.  Shortly we’ll be in the southeast trade winds.  Seas are calm and smooth as usual.  I got 50% back on my Albany tour.  The morning sun is beaming through my porthole.

I emerged after nine and went to locate the Lees to no avail.  However, on the way at One Deck D Stairway, Doug and Rosemary Jackson stopped me and right there we had a happy reunion.  (We had shared a table on the QE2 2004 Tandem crossing.)  We will get together later.

I attended the lecture on microwaves and refrigerators, wondering why I bothered, but I was happy to hear the Starkey talk on the Dutch explorations and especially the part about Krakatoa near Java and Sumatra.  We will be going between the two islands through the Sunder Strait.  Hope to see the young Anak Krakatoa.

Noon Report:  16˚58’ S x 109˚15.1’ E:  Rhumb line 337˚,  Speed: 25.5 K  Temp: 28˚C – 82˚ F.   Wind: SW at F3 or 20 k, 18 K over decks.  Slight seas, short, low south, southwest swell.

At lunch with the Socketts I shared my video of Fremantle departure.  On the way down to 4 Deck I recorded all on A stairwell down.  Movie:  “License to Wed” with Robin Williams.  I then searched for the Jacksons in vain, but spent a pleasant time with the Boultons sharing flying fish “fleets” and Eric Lomax’s  “The Railway Man,” which I know they will appreciate.  I did another round of Lido and Queens Room before heading down.  TV movie,  Amazing Grace,” about Wilberforce’s efforts to end the slave trade.

Dinner with my mates.  We took photos of John and he of us, because he will leave us in Singapore.  I had lobster tail.  After a brief visit with the usual Lee entourage I chatted with the Noonans, Shirley W. and Marguerite.  When they left for the show, I went down to the cabin.  At 10:30 I joined the stargazers on Yacht Club deck.  The Southern Cross was looking quite dim, but I could make it out lying pretty much on its side; more so than I remembered it.

Saturday, 8 March:

Early this morning we passed 30 nautical miles East of Christmas Island, which is part of Australia located 2600 kilometers from Perth and near Java.  By evening we will pass between Sumatra and Java by way of Selat Sunda, which is the space between the two.  I am looking forward to seeing land 4 nautical miles away as we pass.  At present, 9:10 a.m. we are at 08˚ S going 24.3 knots on course 338˚.  The chart shows the Christmas Island to our stern and Sumatra’s south shoreline to our north.

Most of my morning was spent in the Theatre from ten o’clock while I attended the lecture on Aboriginal Dream stories, off at 11-12, then 12:15 back for the lecture on the 1627 “Mutiny, Mayhem and Murder” on and about the Dutch East India ship, “Batavia.”  I then found Anne and Tony in the Lido for lunch.

I chatted with John Hardie at D stairway in front of the huge model of the “Mauretania.”  He said that the slim ships of that era were thought to be the best shape for speed, but when model tests were introduced, it was found even with 4 props – excess coal and fuel was wasted overcoming the drag!

I ordered the DVD of the Australia segment of the journey, then saw most of “Harry Potter” but left it at 4:20 to observe our passage through the Sunda Strait.  John Hardie was on the observation deck looking forward and to each side, and we eventually stayed to Port while the ship entered and passed 14 miles away from volcanoes, including Krakatoa and Anak Krakatoa, which is growing rapidly.  I took lots of photos hoping to get a few good ones in the humid distance.

Oh yes, on the way to my cabin I found Martin Stringer who is willing to play for me tomorrow, and he followed me so I could give him the music to “Old Mother Hubbard.”

At nine o’clock we are finished with our transit through the Sunda Strait and in the distance can be seen several lights on various small islands.  At dinner with Rosina, Eddy and John for the baked Alaska parade, I had Beef Wellington.  John told me about his numerous travels from New Zealand where he was born, Australia, England and several returns.  As usual, I went to the Lido to chat with Marguerite and Shirley (Brit).  Tonight will see the Lido decorated and flagged for the Gala Midnight Buffet.  I’ll not be there.

We now are clear of the little islands and have temporarily headed east.  I noticed the Security people have set up the big round disks amid ships on Boat Deck.  I said I assume they also have firearms and he simply smiled!  I remember a quiet smile off affirmation!

Java Sea:  During the night it was obvious we are in shipping lanes, because I could see bright lights seemingly bearing down on us.  Each time the light would veer to starboard to pass us to port.  I suspect QE2 also had a bright light pointing forward.  The chart shows countless small dots around lesser islands here in Malaysia and Java Sea and consequently we have been navigating to the east of the clusters.

Sunday, 9 March:  Last QE2 Equatorial Crossing ever

This morning we are traveling almost due North as we wend between Borneo and countless islands.  We are at 02˚53.7’ S and will very likely cross the Equator some time today.  The sun is shining brightly through my porthole and we are going 22.9 knots.

I spent most of the morning under boat 12 avoiding the occasional drops of rain, reading the paperback book I bought in Fremantle, “The Well” by Elizabeth Jolley.  After the noon report and farewell words of Captain McNaught, who will leave us tomorrow, stating that David Perkins will take over, I walked aft to observe, but mostly “hear” the speeches by Captain, Engineer and John Duffy, preliminary to the crossing the line ceremony.  The last one ever for “Queen Elizabeth 2.”

I then registered and rehearsed “Old Mother Hubbard” with Martin.  Not being able to find John Hardie in the mobbed Lido, I went to Mauretania to sit with the Socketts, who were almost done.  They left me with a John somebody from the Chilterns.  I had salad and pasta.

I again sat on deck to read my GPS, then again searched for John Hardie in the Lido to no avail.  I did sit with Doug and Rosemary and shared the “Queen Victoria” review with them.  We are in agreement in our unfavorable opinions on QV.

Martin accompanied me masterfully as I sang the “Old Mother Hubbard” to a very receptive audience.  We actually had three pretty good voices, Marie’s signing and a Japanese magician lady and – a totally hopeless magician who got lots of laughs (Aussie).  Of course, Mary did her thing first!

Now, back in my cabin we are at 00˚ 48.1 South, and on the count down to the Equator.  I won’t leave till I see the change over to North Latitude.  Took a picture as best I could, but the delay in the channel 4 slide switch, caused me to miss the actual zeros, but I got one shot 00˚ .1’ S and 00˚ .1 N.

We are on a Rhumb Line course of 286˚ and traveling at 22.5 knots. 24.3 average.  Wind: northwest at Force 4 or 15 knots, 35 knots over the decks.  Slight seas, negligible swell.  At 8:10 (seven ten Singapore time) we crossed the Equator.  I had to go to dinner for John’s last night.  Rosina congratulated me on my “song” as did John.  Anne and Tony missed it so I gave them a taste of the performance!

I now consider the two QE2 farewell dolls complete and I took pictures of them.  My salty twins!   [Clocks back one hour.]

Monday, 10 March:  Singapore: 01˚ 16.3 North.

I awoke very early, and not being able to get back to sleep, I watched the lights ahead of us as we approached the cargo area.  At 5:30 the Pilot boat, with searchlight came to our port side, presumable to embark the Pilot.  Having fallen back to sleep, I was awakened by the telephone just as we were being pushed parallel to the quay.  I emerged to search for John again in the Lido, but instead I sat with the Jacksons and met their friend Joan.  Breakfast in the Mauretania sounded better to me, so I went there.

By 9:30 I was ready to head into town via Shuttle Bus, so went through passport inspection at the gangway and spent the journey with a young Singapore “guide” in the back seat.  Once at the Hyatt Hotel, I alighted and went directly to Tangs department store for my Sheseido purchase, and browsing in the vast handbag department.  I did all three upper floors, then wandered in the adjacent Mall.   On the way back I discovered the basement floor of Tang’s where were mostly household goods, oriental specialties, Maytags of diminutive size and special foods.  Eventually I returned to the ship, through the stacked containers, arriving as the embarking passengers were clogging the gangway.

I had lunch with Chiltern John – had two crème caramels and went to the cabin for the afternoon knitting, napping and watching Maggie Smith in “Keeping Mum.”  A huge fuel ship named “Armada” has been tied to us outside my porthole.  It was quite long with grey-green boot top and black topsides.

Boat drill for the newcomers took place at 5:15 and the alarm sounded in the cabin, but I knitted on, finishing the new doll body.

We have a new lady from England, Lancashire, and her name is Audrey.  She will be on till Southampton.  I tried collecting my DVD but they had sold it, so I have to return tomorrow for it.  I also failed to collect my music.

Several people have expressed appreciation for my song on Sunday.  The Priest especially was enthusiastic and said he would have voted for me!  Also, after the movie late, a Brit lady mentioned actually knowing of the song!  I watched “Ratatouille,” which is quite clever and funny.

Captain David Perkins is now in charge.  We left the dock during dinner, and we could hear the faint whistle sound.  Our passage from the harbor took us past numerous oil islands.  I chatted with my usual friends and stayed for the American comic.  He was okay but had too many off color jokes (but I chuckled anyway!)

Tuesday, 11 March:

When looking for a place in the busy Lido after nine o’clock, the Boultons signaled me to join them aft on portside.  We talked about Parson Woodforde and their local parish where they ring the bells and I told them of my bike trip to Bristol from Norwich in 1985.  I then went on deck armed with cushion and towel to sit under boat 14 for the rest of the morning.  A little sun caught me, but fortunately clouds covered it most of the time.  We are traveling only about 18 knots as we pass cargo ships to Port.  At noon we were going: 05˚12.9’ N by 106˚48.8 E, going 19.3 knots, and average of 21 knots:  Course: Rhumb line 043˚  with a Northeast wind at 12 knots.  Temp: 79˚ Fahrenheit.  Slight seas, short low north northeast swell.

I then attended the Crimes lecture on Vung Tau; sat with Shirley and Anne, then went with Tony and Anne for lunch on Port in the Mauretania and more fun conversation.

I then picked up my DVD and two great photos taken from the air, of the two ships in Sydney Harbour.

On my way to the RADA performance of “Private Lives,” with a side trip to the Pavilion for ice cream, I cut through the Lido and came across Valerie Hüjlich and almost immediately, lo and behold I met Jannie Haynes at G stairway.  What a great reunion!  Jannie and I sat together at the play, then had tea in Lido talking a blue streak to catch up on everything.  We reminisced on past cruises and plans for more after QE2.  She gave me a lovely Welsh bookmark.

After dinner Jannie and I sat together at the show, while enjoying the songs of Paul Emmanuel from Nottingham.  The different perspective of seeing Martin on keyboard and the trombone, saxophone and trumpet was refreshing.  I went to the cabin by 9:30.  Clocks back one hour.  The last time says Warren Smith.

Wednesday, 12 March: Vung Tau, Vietnam: 10˚23.4’N x 107˚25’E

The anchor went down at 6:35 after a long, stately sail along Vung Tau coastline, past the coastal hills to calmer waters of an inlet.  I would call it the backside of a hilly peninsula!

Having decided to skip breakfast, I duly appeared for my tour at 7:15.  I missed the call of bus 15 in cream; I went down with the crowd, took the tender for the two mile trip around a mountain to a Vung Tau landing area amongst huge oil rig type barges.  When on land I and the few remaining people who also missed their number cream calling (Thomas was saying cream but it came out “green.” We agreed).  Anyway, we ix climbed aboard a Mercedes van and headed toward the Mekong Delta amid thousands of motor bikers of all ages and family arrangements – a four hour trip through cities, suburbs, rice patties, salt pans, across water plant laden rivers, in and out of weaving cars, truck, buses and those fascinating and ubiquitous motor bikes with all sorts of burdens, large and small.  Finally we arrived at the riverboats by 12:30.  We boarded our river cruise and across to Unicorn Island, which is a mangrove island with countless people living among the trees, gardens, fisheries and quite nice “farm” houses amongst paths, irrigation canals and tidal waters.  We had lunch of various ethnic egg rolls, fish, rice paper rollups etc.  Afterward, we walked around to various buildings and shelters till we were ushered, four at a time, – individually to sit quietly in a 15- foot wooden canoe of a sort, and we were paddled quietly along a little canal in mangroves.  When done, we re-boarded the little “sampan” to cross the river to our vans.  We then drove another four hours, eventually in rush hour among the heavily concentrated motorbikers!  Dart, scoot, stop, weave – all over again.  Families up to four were tucked on those things!

We returned to the landing stage near seven o’clock, an hour late.  However, most of the bus tours arrived at the same time so the lines were long to get on the tenders.  Once aboard, I freshened up at the cabin and ate dinner in the Lido with the Boultons.  I went to the cabin right after and with the anchor up by 9:15, we proceeded to turn and head back to the South China Sea.  The Vietnamese call it the East Sea.  Clocks ahead one hour.

Thursday, 13 March:

As Sam Pepys said often in his diary, “I awoke betimes” to the new time of seven o’clock, which now is only 11 hours ahead of my Cape Cod time!

I took my 2 sailor dolls to the Board Room for display, and Lisa made a nice sign explaining their purpose.  I then attended my two lectures,  history of China,” then the Crimes slide show of Hong Kong.  Those being over, I joined Tony and Anne for coffee at noon in the Board Room, then I went below to freshen up and head upward for lunch.  Janet and Roger joined me and they told me they had purchased a Compaq computer and wanted me to see if it works, which I did.  They left it with me and I must admit I couldn’t make much headway.

I saw the movie about the search for Daniel Pearl, a real tragedy!  I then tried to locate Jannie to no avail so eventually sat with Audrey and a dance host for tea in the Queen’s Room.  This gent is active with a steamship restorer in Southampton, so I told him about the Trans-Atlantic with the SSHA and said I would introduce him to the sponsors, namely Tom Cassidy.  A nice, Brit couple joined us as well.  I left them for my cabin and to tackle the computer again, with frustrating results.

I have been invited to the Captain’s party in his quarters this evening and have received a red carnation to wear.  Captain Perkins announced to all on the Tannoy that because we were so late leaving Vung Tau, we have been speeding at 29.1 knots all day, but will be late arriving around ten o’clock.  Consequently he has arranged for us to remain till ten o’clock with the shuttle to end at 8:30.

Noon report:  13˚31.2’ N x 111˚ 12 E:  Course: 033˚ @ 29.5 knots.  Temp: 27˚ C and 80.5˚ F.  Wind: NNE Force 3 – 10 knots; 30 k over decks.  Slight seas, north northeast light swells.   At 10:45 we have gone to 18˚10.3 N at 28.5 knots.

I attended the Captain’s cocktail party in his quarters.  Three of us ladies talked together mostly and Captain Perkins came to mix with us.  I got cramps in my toes, hid behind a sofa with shoes off, then asked Michelle to convey my apologies as I slipped out – shoes off way back to the Lido.  I ate fruit and a lemon meringue pie while chatting with Marguerite, Bill Noonan and Valerie, then set out again to find Jannie again to no avail.  However, Margaret Lee told me Jannie had been searching for me.  I chatted with the Boultons and their nautical friends about boats and square- riggers, the Horn etc.  Finally I was able to contact Jannie by phone and we will meet at nine o’clock tomorrow on Boat Deck aft.   To bed around eleven.  Somewhere along here we passed through the Formosa Strait.

2008 Farewell World Cruise – Part 3

Part 3 – Auckland to Fremantle

Thursday, 21 February, Auckland, New Zealand  36˚50’ S.  x  174˚45.9’ E

I was on deck in time to see the final docking process in the early morning light of seven o’clock.  There was a small group of Maoris chanting and then poi ball dancing.
My tour was a delightful walk around the historical parts of Parnell, a surprisingly well- preserved near “suburb” of Auckland.  The highlight including a HUGE Pehukawa tree, the rose garden, Nancy Steen Garden of all plants and bushes brought from England, Oak trees, Judge’s Bay, Hobson Bay, St. Stephen’s Chapel (1857) made of Kauri wood – designed and built by Benjamin Strange, – Ewelme Cottage (where we heard about boys (his sons) who lived here while attending the nearby school.  We had tea and coffee at the Kiner House (Headmaster) of Parnell Grammar School.  We finished up at the magnificent St. Mary’s wooden cathedral, which was moved from across the street; also the new cathedral, which reminds me of Coventry Cathedral.

After walking down the famous Parnell Street, we were delivered back to the ship.  I ate lunch with Frank and Marie, then set out again to wander.  I checked the souvenir shop on Queen’s road, then spent two to three hours hanging out at the Maritime Museum and harbour.  Most intriguing was a 100 foot or more mega sailing yacht, which lingered in the near harbor testing various things such as the bow thrusters, and the main sail, which appeared to be jammed and wouldn’t unroll from the boom.  Eventually they managed to get it up.  Mind you, this shakedown took a very long time.  I quipped to some bystanders that if a boat could be a “poseur” this was a “hell of a poseur!”  Got laughs!

Around four o’clock I headed for “home.”  We had to show our ID card as well as passports!  I see I missed a Maori show at four.

All but the Boultons were at dinner.  I sat with the Lees during the acrobat show and whiz-bang violinist, then changed into warm clothes for the departure.  I stood on Port side to film the crowds on shore and to get the whistle sequences on sound!  WOW!  The whistle blew three very long sequences as we were pulled backwards and away from the dock.  A more woeful sound I have not heard and emotion welled up in me each time the long, pulsating sounds issued forth.  When we were turned 90˚ we started forward and a tug did very vigorous “wheelies” for us – and we were on our way.  I watched forward as we carefully snaked between the green lights on port and red on starboard, doing a significant turn to port and drew an “S” shape past Rangytoto volcano and mountain on starboard and left the lights of Auckland astern.  For a long time the Pilot boat tried to keep pace with us, bouncing mercilessly as we faced into the growing waves and raised sidewise wake against the boat.  Finally the boat peeled away, but I didn’t actually see the transfer of the pilot.  I returned to the cabin after eleven.  What a fantastic day!  Clocks back one hour.

Full moon lit up the ship’s way brilliantly (when the clouds didn’t interfere.)  I put the water tray on the deck after being awakened around two o’clock by a bang sound and jolt.

Friday, 22 February: Tasman Sea

There is definitely action going on out there!  We are heading 304˚ – which is northwest and being buffeted by large swells from the northeast, thus causing lots of spray and water to pass by my porthole.  Occasionally a large swell will smash into our starboard bow and sends spray (thick) across the bow and obscures vision on the bridge cam.  QE2 then transmits the shock along the hull.  I spied a dauntless bird, which flew across our bow and tried to keep ahead of us.

At 7:55 Captain McNaught came on the Tannoy with his warnings about the storm and rough weather we are experiencing.  He described the rough seas and heavy swells as we are about to alter course due West.  We will have these conditions most of the day and Boat Deck is closed to access!  Maintain the rule of “one hand for yourselves and one for the ship.”  Course: 269˚  33˚53.0’S by 172˚33.7’ E:   24.2 Knots     “Be thankful you are on a proper ship,” says he!  Here Here!!!

When it was announced there was no waiting at Australia immigration, many of us emerged and nearly raced each other up the stairs to beat each other out!  I was through in ten minutes at most, so headed for breakfast, where I sat with Beth, who will disembark on 25th February.   I cashed $200 for Australian dollars from the machine (200 AD) I got 25 cents back and the commission cost $3.00.   Then I sent emails to the CSRRs in Sydney about wanting to attend church on Sunday.

Dr. Crimes’ lecture on Sydney and the next one of Clint Eastwood’s work ensued.

Noon Report:  Low pressure system will improve.  33˚52.8’ S by 170˚41.8’ E: Course: Rhumb Line 270˚, Speed: 24.5Knots, rain 70˚ F = 21˚ C; Northeast wind Force 7-8 or 35 Knots  40 knots over the deck.  Rough seas, moderate easterly swell.  It definitely has tamed a bit.

Elizabeth and I paired up for lunch, where we shared our yesterday’s experiences.  She has crewed on the “Spirit of New Zealand.”  I spent the afternoon in my cabin knitting and napping as the waves continued to buffet the ship.  Dinner all together, followed by   Baked Alaska parade.   Davidia – mezzo – variety of styles and accomplished.  Gift number two arrived; a round, red leather jewelry case, with Cunard on the flap and Farewell World Cruise logo on the felt case.

Saturday, 23 February: Tasman Sea

The storm is gone and sunshine flourished till about noon when moist clouds took over.  I had my English muffins, milk and juice with the Lees at 255, sharing steerage stories – with Biggins and my real “Columbia” experience.

The lecture on Errol Flynn was most informative, filling in life anecdotes I never knew.  I then hung around the Grand Lounge to sign up for the Talent Show.  The pianist can’t read the facsimile music for Semele, so we shifted to the Weil-Gershwin song “My Ship,” which I will have to read!

Noon Report:  33˚51.5’ S by 159˚22.9’E:  Rhumb line 270˚  Speed: 23.2 K average 23,8K:  Temp: 24˚ C – 78˚ F  Wind: Southeast at Force 6 = 25K or 40 on deck.  Low seas, low westerly swell.

Elizabeth Beard and I met for lunch at a table for two.  The natural topic was boats and singing.  She relayed observations of an “irate” Bea Muller complaining to a manager.  Betty came along to add her version and I’m glad I wasn’t near to hear the altercation.  We parted and at 2:30 many of us filled the Grand Lounge to hear Capt. McNaught’s very spell-binding interview and answers to people’s questions.  (see my notes).

At 4:50 the Talent Show took place headed by Thomas who announced the acts from Mary Mastony to a song and dance man with me in between somewhere.

I got a reply from the Darlinghurst CS church so will go there tomorrow.  During dinner with all present the seas picked up and it seems like we were slapped pretty hard on port side, thus making the ship shudder.  One time it was so abrupt that dishes and glasses fell off the station nearest us.  I walked down stairwell A holding on with both hands, and upon checking the bow picture it confirmed we are pitching a lot with bow waves splashing over the foc’sle well.  Also since we are headed due west, at 8:20 the sun is just dipping to and below the horizon directly ahead of us.

I returned to the Grand Lounge to see the voice Idol contest.  QE2 Idol – 4 finalists.  Piero and Charlie were best, but not outstanding.  We are supposed to vote, but I left too soon – to see “West Side Story,” I didn’t last.   Clocks back one hour.

Sunday, 24 February, Sydney, Australia: 33˚ 54.8’S x 151˚ 13.5′ E.

When I awoke at 6:20, we were already past the Heads and preparing for backing into the mooring point at Garden Island.  Several sizable yachts and sailboats had accompanied us to this point and were halting while we turned by Fort Denison.  I was on deck for the backing and able to get some good footage of the Bridge, Opera House and “Queen Victoria” before the latter receded behind the peninsulas.

There must have been a lot of salt spray flying in the last 24 hours because all the railings were laden with large salt crystals – everywhere!  As we approached, we could see four or five men clad in summer white Bermuda length uniforms and blue caps standing in a line at each bollard where ship lines would be thrown.  Navy discipline I expect!  The gangway will be on 4 Deck at G Stairway.  Tugs names:  Wombi, Wonna and Wolly!

I skipped breakfast so I could head out on the first shuttle bus, which took us to the back of the Sheraton on the Park at Castlereigh Street.  I alighted and headed three blocks by Hyde Park to Liverpool Street, whence I started hunting for 252 – the address of the Christian Science church.  I finally found it at the corner of Forbes Street – actually quite near to the ship at Garden Island, Wooloomaloo inlet.  After church the organist played the big Widor Toccata.  Wow!  A couple from the church drove me around a bit before depositing me at the gate.  I walked the wrong way, and had to return and start over.

The re-boarding process was somewhat snagged since we had to go through pretty stiff scrutiny.  My bag went through the detector and since it showed a spoon inside (I certainly didn’t think that would be of concern) and the attendant questioned me about it.  I said it was simply a spoon, and he let me go.

I had lunch in the Mauretania then set out again on the Shuttle bus, which deposited some people at the Circular Quay, so I too alighted and walked to the Opera House via the super-crowded ferry area, to take a photo of “Queen Victoria”– everyone else was doing the same also!  I then walked a long way back to the correct pickup place near Centrepoint.  I sat with Rowena on the way back by a little after three o’clock.  That was plenty of time spent for the day on land.

I had a nap, and when time to anticipate the big maneuver of the two ships, I headed for observation Deck (30 minutes ahead of time), and the place was packed.  When the Captain told us QV would be on our Port all the time, I quickly secured a spot near the stern on Boat Deck, where I was able to film the whole process for thirty minutes straight, including two tugs aft steadying and one tug forward pulling all the way to and around Fort Denison.  All the while “Queen Victoria” backed out of circular quay and worked forward on her own, escorted by a fire tug.  Many of the new passengers, presumably Aussies squealed and cheered loudly every time the whistles sounded.  My camera only registered QV’s whistle alas, because I was too far aft.  Grrr!  Anyway, when QV receded into the outer harbor, she was joined by the hundreds of boats, yachts, ferries etc., and we proceeded past the Opera House and were turned 90˚ and backed into the International Terminal quay.

I went in for dinner at seven o’clock and ate alone with Victoria and Alan in attendance.  They will go out for most of the night, because they aren’t due for work till breakfast.  Back on Boat Deck, I have the prospect of the Harbour Bridge lit up all night.  Special as always!

I re-emerged from my cabin for the local show by the four Kinsmen and synthesizer band.  They were a mixture of fine voices with fine music, and crazy skits such as a number with a Kookaburra, a Kangaroo, a Koala and Emu (reminiscent of Pantomine).  The real rouser was the finale when two guys did a fantastic rendition of Irish dancing à la Riverdance.  They brought down the house twice with this!  Also 3 tenors take-off.

I walked around Boat Deck noting the beautiful city lights on the buildings, Opera House, Ship Terminal, the subdued Rocks and of course, the bridge.  I wanted to linger there on QE2’s last ever night in Sydney Harbour.  A bit of a twinge there!

By the way, the QE2 is here exactly 30 years to the day after her first visit to Sydney, and the Captain said it was fitting that she should be here on her last visit.  In a way, today’s passing of the two ships represents another passing of the mantel from old to new as I witnessed in 2004 after the historic tandem Atlantic crossing at which time the Britannia cup was transferred to the Queen Mary 2 as the new Flag Ship.

I was told that the reason we couldn’t hear the Queen Mary 2 whistle in Sydney last year was because it wasn’t working!  News to me a year late!

Monday, 25 February: Sydney, Australia

After breakfast with Roger and Janet and goodbye to John and Betty, I left the ship for my shopping spree.  First I bought the 2 newspapers that had yesterday’s ship photos, then I headed for Centre Point to visit Jennie Keller at the Reading Room, and buy the stuffing and yarn at Lincraft.  Joan the doll knitter was there too.  I gradually worked my way to the Marriott hotel to wait for Violet Crafton and the Lees.  We had a lovely long talk, mostly about the “Queen Victoria” and Violet’s impressions, all of which convince us we don’t want to go on her!

Back at the ship I relaxed and then headed for my “spot” forward on Starboard.  Chatted with a gent, who knows ships, and we stayed together through the departure right to the last long toot!  We had four tugs to help us away from the quay and especially “Watigan” which pulled away, along with our forward motion while keeping tension and maneuvering itself sideways.  This happened a long way, then eventually it cast off but continued close to us right to our turn toward the Heads.

There weren’t many boats with us this time, but these persisted, tooted occasionally and QE2 issued numerous very long pulsating sets of three along the way.  I do hope I got good sounds on the video, but don’t hold much faith in depth, alas!  We proceeded out the Heads by 7:30 and darkness set in as my last minute of video time ran out.  Again, there were emotional moments for me, but precious memories remain!

Dinner in the Lido with Valeria Noonan, Marguerite and English Shirley!  I briefly listened to the singer and headed downward.  We are heading south in calm and gentle seas – along the high bluffs of seacoast.

Tuesday, 26 February:

QE2 is gently rising and pitching over the swells as we pass the southern point of Australia.  The land recedes westerly at this point.  I am conscious of gentle creaks near my part of the hull, but can’t exactly place the source.  As a matter of fact, occasionally the entire cabin creaks as we gently heave down into a swell and again as we are lift up – again smoothly and gently.

I joined Eric and Margaret for breakfast then bought the Cruise Ship Guide and QM2 commemorative magazine.  I spent time in Grand Lounge reading these books till time for the Crimes lecture on Hobart.  Anne and Tony were in my row, so afterward, we had tea and honey in the Board Room till the noon report.  It is really quite pleasant outside.

Noon Report:  38˚47.5’ S by 149˚ 57.2 E.  Rhumb Line 195˚  Speed: 18.5K  Average 18.8 K.  Temp: 19˚ C 66˚ F.  Wind: SW F3 = 10 Knots – 30 knots over the deck.  Smooth seas, long moderate southwest swells.  The ship was gently pitching all day in these swells, adding to her proud majesty as I watched.

I had lunch with Janet and Roger, then checked my email.  Deck time was quite pleasant but cool.  However, I managed to read my new ship guide comfortably under boat 13 till time for the movie “On the Water Front.”  I read outside from 4:30 to about 5:30.

There are now only six at table 293, and the new person is John Hardie from Melbourne.  He looked familiar to me and it turns out he and I met in the Lido last year talking ships.  The show presented a flutist from Ireland.  Gary Arbuthnaught.  He also played penny whistle.  Back to the cabin to shower and wash my hair before retiring.

Wednesday, 27 February:  Hobart, Tasmania: 42˚ 53’S x 147˚26’E

As we were tying up to the container ship dock, I heard youthful voices by my porthole, and upon peering out I saw the Hobart Children’s Choir.  The gangway was set up at B stairway 4 Deck, so when I was ready to head out I just went around the corner from my cabin.  It being cool, I quickly returned for my jacket and sneakers, then took the shuttle bus to the information center.  Joan and I headed out to find the craft store (for my stuffing), and we eventually took a bus sightseeing together.  Our ID cards were inspected twice as we entered the Container ship port area.

Lunch at the Lido on my own:  Chatted with the Lees by the Library, then back to the cabin, where I remained till I heard bag pipes right outside my porthole.  I then went on deck and remained through the parting with whistle salutes and a small escort fleet of sailboats and a couple of excursion boats.  We sailed through another sailboat race!  After watching the beautiful scenery of hills on each side of the Derwent River and Bay, I left Anne and Tony for dinner with the tablemates; John as well.  The Boultons returned late, but were allowed to order anyway.  The show was a comedy routine and folk-rock singer, Syd Little from Blackpool.  Funny!   I returned to the cabin by 9:30.

Thursdy, 28 February:

After thinking we were sailing west of Tasmania all night, I have been set straight by the Channel 4 readings.  We have been traveling northeast all the time and are just now heading 302˚ (northwest) between Tasmania and various smaller islands into Bass Strait.  We are at 40˚ 50.9’ S, which reminds me we are just shy of the same latitude Cape Cod is North Latitude!  (15 knots).

By the way, yesterday our bus driver said that Hobart Harbor is the 2nd deepest harbor in the world, second only to Rio de Janeiro!  I had breakfast on my own by a window on starboard where I could observe the Furneaux Islands – King, Clark’s and Barien Islands – also Flinders Island.  As I headed aft on Quarter Deck, I sat with Glen Peters and we chatted about our favorite topic – ships.  He says he and Marilyn don’t know what they will do next year either.  He says, the “Queen Victoria” problem of space will be dealt with by modifying beds to have drawers under them.  Hmmm!  How many people will want to bend down each time they want stuff??!!  I told him what I know about the QM2 accident.  He said Warwick has been exonerated!

I dashed to hear the new speaker, Dr. Douglas Sturkey tell of the convicts’ contributions to the growth of Australia (see my notes.)  I sat with Anne and Tony through that and Peter Crimes’ talk on Melbourne.  We three will go into town together and join John and Betty Griffiths for their tour in the afternoon.

Lunch with Roger and Janet.  They were on the “Sun Vista” which burned and sank off the Maylasian coast in Malacca Strait, then we went to the internet to see photos and the accounts.

Movie:  Beowulf.  Back at the cabin I tried designing the “Adieu” for the doll vest, but it wouldn’t work.  Formal dinner with all tablemates.  Soufflé again – heart design done by Victoria.

Friday, 29 February:  Leap Day!  Melbourne, Australia: 37˚ 50.9S x 144˚ 55.8E:

I awoke shortly after six o’clock and QE2 had just been approached by a large tug (the engine noise alerted me).  We then were turned around 180˚ and backed to the long pier on our Portside.

Anne, Tony and I took the 109 Tram into Collins Street, where we alighted to walk through gardens to see the so-called James Cook house re-assembled here from Yorkshire.  We then had fun walking along city streets and tram riding to the old Melbourne Gaol, whence we turned about to stroll along observing old architecture next to modern non-descript buildings.  We found a wonderful Pen City stationery store where I was able to purchase 4 more Parker refills!  Also, I saw countless leather-bound journals and diaries for high prices.  I resisted but it was a challenge!  The register book now has my name and comment, “I could spend all day in here, happily.”  Tony treated us to coffee and a tasty chocolate and nut bar with cherries.  Yum!  We took the 209 back to the ship by 12:30.

I had lunch with Jenny at 205, and she said Bea had another big row with dining staff.

At two o’clock Anne, Tony and I met Betty and John Griffiths who spent all afternoon and evening showing us city sighs, beaches, and their daughter Helen Griffiths who is a music teacher, active mother of two, a musician son who plays saxophone very well, and a daughter who is determined to be an Olympic swimmer.  Helen served us tea and lemon teacake in the back patio, and we two sang Cole Porter songs with the others as audience.  We then were taken back to and through the Port of Williamstown to see QE2 and the city skyline, then we met their other daughter, Pauline, and 4 offspring and multi birds, a lizard and lovely black, friendly Cocker.  We three guests treated Betty and John to Chinese food before returning to the ship just after ten o’clock.  We are due to depart at 11:30 but I will not be on hand.  ——-As we await the departure at 11:50 the starboard large tug is tethered to us, and I can see ahead numerous channel marker lights – green on Port and Red on starboard, blinking in two more or less alternating circuits – a very long distance!

I am reminded that as we drove along the shore near the port, we could see numerous colorful para-sails pulling or driving along surfers at a great rate.  The south wind has been brisk and chilling quite a contrast to what the heat could be at this time of year.  I am grateful we were far from sweltering as last year.

At 12:20 AM we were pulled away from the pier and the three long whistle blasts sounded plus an answer from a tug was heard all through my hull and porthole.  QE2 answered that with the short “boop” and we were on our way headed right down the middle of the straight channel across Phillip Bay.  I really mean straight.  The tug dropped back ten minutes later, shining its bright light into my cabin.  The channel is so straight for so long a distance, those lights come together like railroad tracks in perspective.

Saturday, 1 March:

I arose somewhat reluctantly after seven o’clock, showered and puttered till after nine, when I returned my Passport to G stairway collection point, mailed a letter to Wendy and then spent time with Shirley Warren and Valerie discussing itineraries and ships in the Fred Olsen Cruise catalog Marguerite lent me.

Armed with a bran muffin, I went to the balcony to hear lectures on the Christmas Star, then Crimes’ Adelaide talk.  Anne and Tony were there too.

Noon Report:  38˚41.4’ S by 141˚ 24.2’ E;  Rhumb line 300˚; 21.5 K ; Temp. 16˚c oe 61˚ F.  Southeast wind F4 – 15 knots o- 25 on deck.  Low seas; short, low southeast swell.

Again I joined the Socketts for lunch for more ship talk.  I had two crème caramels. Yum!  Today being St. David’s day, Victoria was all agog and trying to secure a Welsh flag and by dinner time, she had the big one from the Bridge collection, and one from Caronia dining room, which was hung over her station.  The big one covered the long mural!  At dessert time Victoria cut a leek-shape into the soufflé at my request, and three more were cut adeptly.

The afternoon movie was “Dan in Real Life”  – Hohum.  Then in the cabin I knitted while watching “Ned Kelly,” The joker duetists, Katzenjammer, played their virtuoso and occasionally humorous piano duets.  Clocks back a half hour.

Sunday, 2 March:  Adelaide.

I awoke before seven and we were just entering the outer end of the very long jetty, which leads to the long quay “strip” of harbor.  The familiar long avenue of Norfolk pines was silhouetted against the early dawn glow to the East.  “Tarpan” the large tug was majestically keeping pace next to us for a long way right out my porthole.  I could stare at details on the stern deck including the large winch.  By that time we were slowing for the 180˚ turn and the tug pulled away with a line attached.  Actually, 2 tugs pulled our bow and I imagine the same was happening way aft.  Now that we have turned I can see the contour of jetty and dock we passed, and we are proceeding “back” (our forward) to the “terminal” area.  As we passed the jetty at dawn we cold see photo flashes going off, so several people got up early to see us.  A stately group of 8 sailboats in a tidy row and 5 motorboats have assembled to our starboard as we are being gently pushed sideways to our quay facing the outward curve of the long jetty.

When I went topside there was a trio – guitar, accordion and tub strummer, singing Aussie songs, plus blue-shirted “guides” waving flags and swaying to the music.  I walked back and down to the Lido for breakfast.  Warm and sunny forecast.

When the shuttle buses started to go at nine o’clock, I boarded number 2 for the 45-minute trip along the wide Port Avenue lined with those majestic, tall Norfolk Pines.  At one time there was an idea to dig a canal along this expanse so large ships could proceed closer to Adelaide itself, but around that time in the 19th century, trains were replacing canals elsewhere so the tracks won out.  However, they were built elsewhere, leaving the avenue with the wide green landscape we see today.

At old Port Adelaide, a drawbridge takes the road over the river and one can see old boats moored and the delightful red lighthouse of 1869 – and we continued into the city where we got out by Government House.  I walked down to the Torrens River and took a river trip on “Popeye” to the weir, back past the main bridge, to the Zoo and back to the Festival area.  Back up the road I went and across to Rundle Mall, where I strolled up and back, avoiding the crowds and buskers.  By 12:30 I was ready to return “home” and had lunch in Omar’s section.  Jennie stopped to chat and now 2:30 I am settled on Boat Deck facing the land.  Norfolk Pines, low hill ridges in the distance and parkland leading up to the terminal area.  Mount Lofty is also visible.

When time to depart, we were pulled away from the pier and proceeded by the open field and long jetty, where crowds were gathered to wave goodbye and cheer us on, while the whistle hooted its 3 long blasts twice as we joined the sail and motorboat flotilla accompanying us.  I eventually walked aft to see the receding view.  When I spotted Marguerite on Quarter Deck aft, we compared our day’s activities, and when I was ready to leave her, a helicopter flew low around the ship, and we waved vigorously.

Had dinner with all the tablemates of 293, then I headed for the cabin.  Clocks back one half hour.   John’s sir name is Hardie.

The train station end of the line is just opposite where the ship was moored.  To get to it you go outside the single entrance to the dock and cut across the busy road.

Monday, 3 March:

Across the Great Australian Bight – in the Southern Ocean!  We are pitching a little bit over low swells.  I have another invitation to a free wine tasting in the Caronia Restaurant this afternoon, but of course, I will not attend.  The free internet package is the only perk I use in the Diamond category so far.

I had breakfast with Rosina and Eddy.  I expressed my admiration for her fabulous designs and quilts.  Afterward I bought five more video cassettes, then shared Rosina’s album with Margaret Lee.  Then, with a quick look at the boring stuff for sale, I went to Peter Crimes’ lecture on Fremantle and Perth.

Noon Report:  35˚19.1’ by 128˚23’ E;  Rhumb line 272˚: Wind: 27.5 K ; average 27.5 K from the Southeast at Force  – 15 K and 25K on deck.  Light seas, low southwest swell.

Lunch of Caesar salad was happily spent with Janet and Roger, and I headed for boat 12 for a couple of hours reading in moderate warmth and cloudy bright till the 2:30 lecture on Greenhouse Effect – slowly and boringly presented!

I dressed for dinner early for the Ensemble cocktail party, where I sat with Rosemary, Valerie Bennetts and Perle Coles, then went directly to early dinner at six o’clock.  As usual I was alone till after 6:15 when the others arrived, not realizing it was early for the cocktail party with the Captain for those top categories who embarked at Sydney.  After lobster bisque, lamb and crêpes suzettes and the gift of Cunard chocolates from John Hardie plus five chocolate chip cookies, I headed to the cabin to work on the dolls.  It is down to the detail work and I spent several hours on them.  Clocks back one hour.  QE2 is charging along at 26.3 knots and noticeably pitching, but gently.

Tuesday, 4 March: Albany: 35˚2.2’S x 117˚53.8E

At seven o’clock we slowly entered between an island to Port and the mainland with a harbor light to Starboard.  Two tugs awaited us, one spraying its water greeting, “Elgin” by name.  Way ahead it appears we have a small Pilot boat leading the way.  People are lining the rising road in droves and cameras are flashing everywhere!  QE2 is sounding her whistle. I hastened to Boat Deck in time to see the final stages of docking.  One lone piper was playing Scottish songs, and he was later superseded by a school pipe and drum corps.

I took the city tour with historical stops each of which afforded great panoramic views, and we stopped at the ANZAC memorial, then Princess Royal Fort, built in WWI to be prepared for invasion, which never came.  Back in town we saw Dog Rock, Town Hall and main streets, then we quickly entered the oldest cottage in Albany – Taylor Cottage,  brig Amity and Marine Museum.  We returned to the ship and I was the only one to take the afternoon tour.  People joined “my bus” and we set out to see the spectacular rock formations and rolling scrub bush, which reminded me of Truro.  The huge granite rocks were well weather-beaten, affording great climbing and a fabulous deep gap with raging swells crashing into the gap.  Next was a view from above, of a natural granite bridge.  When we walked back to the parking lot a woman had fallen and we had to wait close to an hour for an ambulance etc. causing us to have to return to the ship without seeing the Whaling venue.

I had lunch at 3:00 p.m. with Bill Greenwood.  I shared my new book on Emigrant Ships with him, enjoying the conversation.  I watched the last people to come aboard, including the couple who had the hospital (detour.); the gang way pulled inside the hull, then the Captain announced our immanent departure and soon thereafter we were pulled away from the quay, to the accompaniment of the marvelous three-whistle blasts.  As we proceeded outward, we could see hundreds of people and cars lined up on the highway, along the shore, standing on large stone outcrops, on a point with a ruined stone house and of course, people in boats who waved and cheered as we again tooted thrice.  I went to Starboard to see the islands and peninsula, then went inside.  The win was stronger on Starboard.

At dinner John reported some inside information, namely the decks from 2 up will be the 5-star accommodations and 3,4,5 and 6 will be for workers who had come to build or decorate new buildings.  He got this last night at his cocktail party, and a detailed account of the Kenya crisis, since his source is a person from Kenya who has been intimately acquainted with Captains through the years.  Also, in 1986, when the new diesel-electric system was put in, and the engines didn’t need maintenance, they could have run all 9 of them at once and propelled the ship fast enough to regain the famed “Blue Riband: but when the then Captain proposed it, he got a quick no and comment that he was already using more fuel than he was supposed to.  This was when Trafalgar House was in control.

At present we are moving right along at 28.1 knots due West in order to clear the southwest corner of Australia, Cape Leeuwin.  Most of my evening was spent working on doll number one and watching “To Catch a Thief.”  We passed into the Indian Ocean over night.  Torndirrup National Park.

Wenesday, 5 March: Fremantle: 32˚ 2.95’S x 115˚ 44.5′ E

At seven o’clock we are still charging along at 27.3 knots and dawn is on its way.  We have made a swift and smooth passage around what can be a rough path of current and wind swirls, but not today.  At seven thirty Captain McNaught came on the Tannoy to announce we will be arriving late enough that the Harbor Master has allowed a freighter to enter ahead of us.  He will negotiate later to see if we can depart an hour later this afternoon.  He then quipped that given the same distance, “Queen Victoria” would have arrived around teatime!  (ha ha).  Tours will begin one hour later.  Our Pilot, however, has boarded at 7:30 and the freighter has crossed our bow.  Also a helicopter is circling us!

I went on deck and found a spot forward so I could see our majestic entrance into the glaring forward harbor scene, past the Maritime Museum, which sports an old submarine.  QE2 sounded her three whistle blasts twice in response to the hundreds of spectators waiting on both breakwaters and along the quays.  While she was being turned 180˚ I walked aft to see how close the stern came to the freighters across the channel; then had a quick breakfast while chatting with the Lees in Mauretania.

My tour took me to the streets of Fremantle, across the Swan River, through several suburbs to King’s Park and to the docks for the river cruise.  We stopped right across from the lovely, modern carillon, which chimed at eleven o’clock, while we were boarding the river boat,   We traveled along the banks and the middle of the wide part, then went into various little bays and into the narrow river, past Yacht Clubs, marinas, and fabulous, expensive homes. Before I realized it, we were going under the bridge we crossed on the bus, and were thrilled to pass right by QE2 on the way to the riverboat dock.  We were picked up by our bus and had an hour more of detailed sightseeing, residential areas,  and beaches until we were deposited back at the ship by two o’clock.

I plugged in my camera and went to the Lido for lunch with Carol.  I then set out again to spend my last $30 in town and managed to get a Platypus and a paperback Australian novel.  Back I went on the Shuttle by four o’clock for a rest before the big send off and goodbye at seven.

After showering, I chose a strategic spot on Boat Deck to look over the town in western sunlight and observe the returning daytrippers.  The last ones came aboard late so we were at least ten minutes late casting off.  The people piled up on the pedestrian bridge had long since assembled, and the band toward aft had started playing at five o’clock, not having been told we would leave an hour late.  Nevertheless, they played on to the end.

Finally came the Captain with his usual parting speech, the lines were cast off, we were pulled away from the quay and the whistle sounded long and loud.  As we proceeded forward out of the harbor with our tug and flotilla, more and more crowds of people were revealed lining every walkway, quayside, Maritime Museum lookout (a band was also playing as we passed),  and finally all along the long jetty, people cheered, waved, and honked their horns right up to the tip with a charming lighthouse.  (I imagine the opposite breakwater had the same sized crowd as the morning had been).  Long before we left the breakwater we could see a fire tug escorting us with the hoses pouring forth and also ahead waited the sailboats, motor launch,  jet-ski and various boats of the flotilla, which joined us at our speed.  Several times, of course, we sounded the traditional three long, woeful whistle strains until at last the sun set in our path, and the boats one by one turned back to their moorings.  Everyone agrees this was the best send-off yet.

When I saw John Hardie who was taking photos of the sunset, he said: “For me, it is all down hill from here.”  I agreed with downcast feelings.

Dinner at the Lido was the logical segue, where I sat with Valerie Noonan, Shirley Warren and eventually, Valerie Bennett, who still calls me Marsha (we laugh each time I correct her).  Marguerite and English Shirley came by as well, but ate at a separate table.  On my way out, I sat temporarily with Janet, Roger, Joan and husband, while we shared our day’s activities.

I went directly to my cabin via the Queen’s Room, where I chatted briefly with Christine and Les, my neighbors.  The video footage I took captures the spirit of the departure with yells, whistles, chants, hands waving, musical strains, and especially the sound of multiple wakes of the boats, whistle sequences are as always, a bit shallow, but oh so better than nothing!

So ends our (the ship and my) last sojourn in Australia, the absolutely last big crowd send-off of the 2008 World Cruise.  Obviously, the October runs will be well treated by the Brits, but each farewell is very emotional.  Oh yes, a plane flew a banner, “Fremantle Ports Farewells the QE2.”  It flew around for well over an hour.  A gentleman at the railings ventured to calculate the mounting expense of the hour delay on all parties, participating; time, fuel etc.  It mounts up.

We are now bound northward for three days, past and between numerous islands north and northwest to Singapore.

2008 World Cruise – Part 2

Tuesday, 29 January: Montevideo, Uruguay: 34˚ 54.25′ S x 056˚ 12.7 W.

As I write this at 8 a.m. we are doing a 180˚ turn around within the 1000 by 1000’ confined space of the harbor in Montevideo.  For several hours the ship worked her way up the narrow dredged channel of the River Plate, and when ready to do the 90˚ square turn to starboard, two tugs pushed on the bow and the counter thrust had to be made on starboard stern to pivot us on the mid-ships.  There was a while there when vast amounts of mud were stirred up as the tugs labored to turn us.  I think we were scraping the bottom.  The buses (no where near as many as in 2006 with QM2) are already waiting for us, and no doubt they (the drivers) are presently enjoying the spectacle of the 180˚ turning within the small space.

I got several photos this time of the old steam tug mounted on the outer breakwater.  This is the harbor where whistle sounds are not permitted.

My tour today took me to Punta del Este past various landmarks in town such as Holy Trinity Church, which is small Greek influence building with column on the front façade, Palermo, the Afro-Uruguayan section, many public beaches where people were exercising, walking themselves or their dogs, along beautifully laid-out patterned pedestrian sidewalks.  We passed Belmount House once a large private home and now a sizable hotel.

The first stop was at a very curiously designed private home and museum called Casapueblo, built in a rambling manner by the artist, Carlos Paeg Pilaro.  He used iron, wood, sticks, cement and other materials with inset tiles, wall decorations of his blue and white design, weird pointed towers and so forth – all on a cliff overlooking the wide mouth of the River Plata at Maldonado.  On the other side of this little peninsula, we cold see Maldonado Bay with two cruise ships and a three-masted squarerigger of small size.  A lot of the houses in the private districts they showed us had shiny tile roofs and the usual red tiles.

The next stop was at Museum Ralli, set in a lovely large park area, landscaped with trees, flowering bushes, wide lawns and birds.  We saw an ovenbird as well as a crane-like bird.  Uruguay means river of birds.  Plata means silver.  Here is a list of other sights:

Undulating bridge, Eva Peron house – chimneys in each room area; tall lighthouse no longer in use; Big Marina; Teitore restaurant by the ocean.  We were back at the ship by six o’clock, where I had dinner on my own at table 293 – fish and ice cream.

I wandered on deck taking video scenes and eventually settled into a chair forward in the balcony of Grand Lounge to wait the hour and half for the local tango show.  It was superb and I finished up cassette number 1 with the singing and dancing.  The place was packed to the rafters.  I walked the deck to see Montevideo by night; then returned to 4017 for the night.

Wednesday, 30 January: Montevideo

An exterior water sound of intermittent pulsing caused me to look out my porthole.  A Pulmantur ship was sidling to the dock perpendicular to ours.  While depositing my Argentina landing forms at the Purser’s Office, I ran into Tony and Ann, so we headed for breakfast together.  I told them of the crew places I’ve been on the ship over the years.  I then checked the weather and walked to D stairway entrance, stepping over the 2 “Out of Bounds” signs with permission of a deck hand!

Upon landing on the dock I took a shuttle to the Montevideo Leather Factory outlet at the lovely Independence Square next to the distinctive tower building.  Back at the ship I went immediately to Casa Marion on their shuttle, and came away with a nice red leather bag for $20 off the price because of a spot. ($100).  The spot came off nicely when I used soap and water.

I slept a while, awakening close to one o’clock in time to have lunch at the Lido with Archie and eventually Shirley Warren and then Billy.  When we were ready to leave Montevideo, we let go the lines and blew the whistle three times (contrary to the rules of the harbor??), the tugs on starboard bow and stern pulled the ship exactly sideways till it was clear of the ship “Sky Wonder” from Pullmantur cruises, and then with another series of three whistles, we proceeded past the very long breakwater, did the 90˚ port turn with the aid of tugs, and we were on our way, waving to the enthusiastic well-wishers on the end, by the beacon.  There was a brisk wind and the temperature indescribably cool and warm, finally drove me aft for an ice cream cone and to the cabin.

I slept again while watching a television documentary of interviews with actual officer participants in the Falklands War 1982.  Awoke for dinner with Rosina, Eddie and Jean.  Alan our waiter is a singer and is working on “Luck Be a Lady Tonight.”

After a brief check in with the Lees, Marie and Lillian, I headed for the cabin, not wanting to hear another comedian.  We have left the shallow waters of the River Plata and are now heading almost due south toward the Falklands. 163˚ at 26.6 knots.  I knitted a significant amount till bed around eleven o’clock.  All is smooth going.

Thursday, 31 January:

Flat seas seem to be the order of the day as we head southward to the Falkland Islands.  The sun is making definite shadows on the bow.  As the day progressed, however, the wind has increased to15 mph and little whitecaps are gleaming as they dot the slight seas.

I spent three hours in the Theatre attending the Crimes lecture on Punta Arenas, the Strait of Magellan up to Valparaiso and the Atacama Desert – with lovely slides of mountains and fjords.  Next came Hillary Kay’s talk on the Antiques Road Show.  Then, after the noon report, an enchanting hour lecture on wintering in Antarctica by the ship’s Doctor Petra Schmidt.

I had lunch by the windows in Victoria and Greg’s station on portside.  Fish and chips, tea and strudel.  After attending to the email, I went on deck, armed with my QM2 fleece and black windbreaker for over 2 hours reading.  At four thirty I had a cup of tea in the Board Room, and while there, Perle came in so I gave her the QV review to read.  I returned to the cabin to knit, rest and watch the Antarctic lecture on television.  Dinner at the Lido with Marguerite, Shirley and later, Valerie.

The harpist was very “whizbang” but somehow her harp sounded tinny!

Clocks back one hour.

Friday, 1 February: Port Stanley, Falklands – NOT!

When I awoke around six o’clock new time we were still steaming along at 186˚ and a long and noticeable swell was hitting us broadside, so occasionally spray swept by my porthole.  However, when we turned more westerly and came into the shadow of the land, that swell stopped.  At 6:50 we have turned Eastward away from the island 90˚, which tells me we are aborting this stop, alas!

Yup!  The Captain informed us at 7:05 that upon having discussed the situation of an oncoming storm with force 7 or 8 winds, it would be too dangerous for the tenders.  Therefore, with regret we will not be calling at the Falklands today.  However, the Air Force did send out a helicopter, which hovered in various spots and circled the ship.  Margaret Lee told me they saw it hover over the bow and a man was lowered to the bow deck; he waved and was again lifted to the helicopter.  That explains why we in the stern heard the hovering sounds forward for so long.  Meanwhile, there were a few Albatrosses gliding in the winds.

The two Air Force jets made several passes to our Port, then as a parting gesture, they swooped forward either side of the ship and swept upward and were gone.  Alas, I missed that because my camera was off.  At least I saw it!

Next was a consolation breakfast.  I encountered the complainer and wouldn’t put up with his negatives, so I moved to the inner table with Americans who knew all about “him.”  It is quite raw outside now, but bright.  Regroup time.!!

I went to see the Lees in their accustomed spot and showed Margaret my Xerox charts.  Capt. McNaught came walking by and I humbly spoke up and suggested Ushuaia.  He came back to talk to us and I mentioned how we circumnavigated the Horn on the Mary – jokingly mentioning our trip in the Beagle Channel to Ushuaia.  He indicated they are trying to work out something.  I then went on deck to read facing aft by the sports deck in sunshine.  The wind has definitely picked up as well as the waves and whitecaps and spray.  As I write this at 12:30 water is occasionally spraying to the bridge and also past my porthole.

Noon report:  They have several requests to the Chilean and Argentine authorities for alternate routes, and await permission.  52˚57.2S by 58˚45.1 W.  Course: 215˚ True; speed: 20K in temp 50˚F.  Wind –Gale Force 8 – SW or 40 knots.  60 Knots over the decks.  Rough seas, moderate southwesterly swell.  We have two albatrosses soaring with us.

I called Anita to see if she wanted to go to lunch, which we did.  We met on Upper Deck A stairway and sat at the Lees’ table, where we could watch the vigorous waves, swells, spray, spindrift and spume.  Several birds – presumably albatross or petrels were keeping pace with us, dipping, gliding and presumably fishing.  We parted afterward and I put on several layers of clothing for my “dry run” at deck watch for tomorrow.  I sat behind a ladder stack at boat 17 and stayed there watching the sun glistening and sparking as the waves crested, deepened, curled back on themselves, undulated, darkened under passing clouds, rose and fell endlessly.  I was perfectly warm, even though buffeted by the 50 mile per hour headwind.  QE2 pitches quite subtly, so it took me a while to perceive this visually as well as feel it.

At 2:30 I did go to the movie, “Evening” with Meryl Streep and Vanessa Redgrave.

I see water spots on the bridge windows.  4:30.  I think we will be rounding Staaten Island on the outside.  Our course, 236˚ shows it at Latitude 53˚52.1 South by 60˚43.8’ West.  19.5 knots speed.

I had dinner alone at my table.  Chatted with the Lees and Sotiles, then went to the Lido.  I sat briefly with Valerie Noonan and Shirley, then moved over to be with Ann and Tony.  We talked till ten o’clock about ships, the Horn area, bell ringing, Bristol et al.

On the way along Queen’s Room and Library, I noticed a group looking at the chart case.  They have put up a real chart showing our route to Port William, back out to the Horn, around it, and back through Le Maire Strait to the East entrance of the Magellan Strait.  Different and unexpected, but I like it!   To bed after 10:30.  Still light to the West.

Saturday, 2 February: CAPE HORN DAY!

I arose around five o’clock as the dawn was well on its way; dressed in long Johns and several layers on top, took hat and mittens and rode up A lift to Boat Deck, where I found my spot on starboard under #17.  It was bitterly cold and windy for sure!  Oh yes!  I had already ascertained by the information on channel 4 that we had not gone into the Beagle Channel as planned, but had just headed west through the passage between Isla Hueva and Isla Lennox.  We headed east shortly after and faced the rising sun.  Eventually we turned south until approximately the same latitude as Cape Horn, then headed pretty much due West.  I followed this on my GPS.

At intervals I had to go inside to warm up, and found Ann and Tony Boulton.  We enjoyed hot cups of coffee in the Lido, then we parted for our individual pursuits of the day – focused on the Horn event.  From 5 a.m. to nearly eleven I remained in or near my newly re-selected chair aft on Port Boat Deck, because Tony had alerted me to the fact we would be circling the island counter clockwise, meaning the view would be on Port.  This indeed was the case, so from shortly before eleven I was busy alternating cameras to cover everything as we circumnavigated. I watched each feature from the Armada Station on a promontory to the East and a little northeast of the high slanting face on the south, then as we slowly passed along the lower sweep of the north side, we could see the memorial to the lost sailors (a huge square set like a diamond with the stencil effect of a huge albatross).  Most of the island is relatively low and absolutely treeless with only meadow-like grasses.  As we emerged on the west side, I could see a large expanse of a curved inlet and beach.  However, I also could notice various protruding rocks, which would cause great damage to any ship trying to take refuge in there.  Now we were on the southwest view of the high, rugged rock cliffs.  Looking straight on to the cliffs I could see some greenery among the crevices.  No matter how you look at it, this island is extremely formidable and in no way inviting! At one point toward the end, I shared my maps of the islands with some neighboring Brits.  When we reached Latitude 56˚59.5’ S and 067˚16’ W, the whistle was sounded to mark the moment.  Alas my camera mike didn’t get it very well.  Shortly after 12:30 I packed it all in and hastened to join the Lees for lunch in the Lido.  I had eaten breakfast at 9 with Frank and Marie on one of my warming up sessions.  Marie asked me about C.S. and prayer.

Being somewhat tired I’ll now nap as we proceed toward the Strait of Le Maire.  After this, I looked out my porthole to see that at 4:40 while we were in the Strait of Le Maire.  It appears long, hilly and very clear in the sunshiny distance.  I decided to skip dinner altogether and stayed in my cabin, knitting and simply taking it easy.  It is still light after 10 p.m.

Sunday, 3 February: Punta Arenas, Chile. 53˚11.5S x 070˚52’W

Before I forget, the reason we didn’t go into the Beagle Channel yesterday was that there was too strong a wind there (presumably a strong west wind,) which would be a strong push on the QE2 broadside while stopped at Puerto Williams, thus rendering her maneuverability quite dodgy.  Therefore the authorities gave permission to circle the Cape Horn island by word, and sent an email confirming this and rendering the formalities complete.  We certainly had a strong West wind all morning.

Now, at six a.m. we have long since entered the eastern end of the Strait of Magellan and are heading southwest toward Punta Arenas, having passed the second Augustina and Isla Isabel.  Somewhere along here I could see the orangey glow of what I think was either gas or oil burn-off.

At 7:40 we dropped anchor in 2 stages (port anchor) and up went the black anchor ball.  A strong West wind is flapping the company flag vigorously, and presumably the ship will eventually head into the wind and I’ll be able to see the town from my porthole.

Well!  So much for Punta Arenas!  The winds that are already causing the flag to flap out straight, are due to increase from the present 30 miles per hour to 60 by this afternoon, are causing the Harbor Master to forbid tenders to operate.  It was interesting to hear Captain McNaught say it was out of his hands this time, but that he concurred with the rule that they forbid tenders to operate in winds 25 K or over.  I was about to go on deck to test the temperature (which is quite mild), when the announcement came on the Tannoy.  Little general white caps are forming and ripples are becoming waves steadily, so presently we can see corroboration of the forecast.  At least the sun is shining nicely for now.

I did return to the deck and settled between boats 11 and 13 – ensconced for the day.  Some entertainers were disembarked and embarked by the harbor -master’s boat, as well as the passengers who missed us at Montevideo.   At 10:10 the anchor being up and stowed, the whistle blew 3 blasts and a tug prepared to counteract the strong wind.  Surprisingly the tug pushed on our starboard stern thus aiding our turn to starboard.  I’m sure this is because we were anchored too close to land to be able to head south along the near shore safely.  We will be doing a 360˚ starboard turn to get to the center of the Strait.  I can now see the southern expanse and two shores clear down to Point Froward – the parallel route of which I was going to do on land to Port Famine and Fort Bulnes.  Oh well, we’ll be doing the entire Strait of Magellan in daylight – a big plus as far as I am concerned.  Here comes the exposure to the strong wind, so I’ll quit for now!

I stayed on deck in the wind from weighing of the anchor to 1:30 trying to keep track of our progress past Mount Tarn, Mt. Victoria at Point Froward and onward in very strong wind head on, and being buffeted at every turn.  One cushion was blown overboard, and I saved three others by returning them to the storage shelves.  Yes, I was virtually the only person on deck all during this time! I believe I saw a williwaw and tried to film it, and also eagerly watched the windy water patterns.  At one point along the early way, I saw two canoe-like boats heading easterly, presumably depending on the strong 40-60 knot west wind to propel them.  It must have felt very cold to them!

At lunch (1:30) I sat by the window in Omar’s corner, watching the mountains, by this time quite tall, passing by.  After checking on my cabin I returned on deck aft to sit facing the stern till teatime, chatting with David from Michigan and an English couple, who were eager to read my chart.  We enjoyed humor and speculation as to where we really were.  By teatime, the ship was definitely in the English Passage and we eventually passed through the narrowest part of the Strait.  I shared happy tea chat with Anne and Tony, and have told Tony he can have the Warwick QE2 book I am supposed to receive as a participant in the SSHA special crossing events in April.

I had a chat with Rosina and Eddy plus Jean in the Queen’s Room on my way to the cabin at 5 o’clock.   The Strait has broadened, as we are now definitely parallel to Isla Desolacion, so visibility of the mountains is becoming more distant on either side.

The first half of the transit was in sunshine, but the last several miles have been foggy and wet, so when I went inside at teatime, I was very ready to give up my vigil.

Dinner with all tablemates.  Chatted briefly with the Lees – also with Bill Greenwood and Shirley plus Valerie Noonan.  The air is cold, but clearing as we come to the last of the islands on the Pacific side.  Cabin by 8:45.  9 o’clock – first Pacific swell.  What a perfect day!!!!

Monday, 4 February:

The seas calmed down overnight to the very gentle pitching as we proceeded northward along the west coast of Chile.  I arose late and only had time to wander through the shops purporting to have a sale of buy one get one free.  However, $50 for 2 QE2 beach towels seems a bit much – so I went away lightly scorning the tactics!

After briefly checking the air, which is cool in the wind, I went to the Theatre to hear Peter Crime’s lecture on Glaciers, Glaciations and Global Warming.   The power went off half way through so the lecture ended.  The 220 power came on first but the 110 which powered the mike and carousel projector didn’t.  Anita and I left and I went on starboard for warming sun in the wind.  The Officer of the Watch alerted us to the presence of whales spouting, but I failed to spot any.

Anita and I had lunch together by a window at 205.  She left early for the marine chart auction and when I was finished I checked my email.  One long one from Cherie.  I replied with news of my last three days.

More deck time, while I finished Burning Cold – about the 1980 burning and rescue of the Prinzendam passengers.   Chocolate ice cream and cabin time.  Napped.  Formal dinner. Baked Alaska parade.  Beef Wellington.  Show: tribute to modern pop.  Diva – Alfreda:  Cocoa with Boultons.  Will skip the gala Buffet.

Smooth sailing – Manifest list.

Tuesday, 5 February:

Fog Horn!  I can hear it very faintly.  I haven’t really done much today, but the list includes a frantic hunt for my special 1998 World Cruise Parker pen, to no avail.  I read more in the Voyage of the Beagle as we proceeded northward along the Chilean coastline – too far out to sea to see anything.

After the noon report on deck, I went inside to sign up for the talent show and chose “Climb Every Mountain” the line of least resistance.  My attitude is negative!

Latitude:  38˚17.2’ S by 074˚29.7’ W.  Course 015˚ True at 21 knots.  Fog-overcast; Temperature 17˚ C 64˚ F.   Wind: South at Force 3 – 10 k – 15K on deck.  Slight seas and short low southerly swell.

I sat with Roger and Janet Sockett in Victoria’s and Greg’s section by a window.  We talked about Hereford and the Three Choirs Festival among other musical topics.  I wrestled with myself whether or not to carry through and sing, but when the actual performances unfolded, it was clear I should improve the quality of singing especially the one Elvis rock and roller, who brought down the house and I felt apprehensive, but I sang with confidence and drama at the end.  Several people complimented me as I passed by later.

David showed me a new glossy book on QE2 so I went to the Library for my copy and also bought the new Queen Victoria book as well.  I hunted for Anita to no avail, so sat on port in sun and warmth to leaf through the QV book.   Anita and I did meet up at my cabin just before my dinner, and she returned my Horn book.

We ate at 293 for the last time with Jean Ollerenshaw from Dorchester, and several of us took pictures of each other with Victoria’s help and “expertise.”  Goodbyes were said; then I let Anne and Tony use up my time on the internet package.

I wandered back to the Lido and joined Marie and Frank, while they ate.  I also had a flan with them while we shared family experiences with grand children.  Marie was married before and her four children were by the first husband.  On our way we greeted Capt. McNaught at his dinner table.  I backed up and thanked him heartily for the wonderful Horn circumnavigation.  He agreed it was great and I described my first freezing circling in heavy clouds and cold 70 mph wind. I also told him of the rumor of a possible trip around Pitcairn Island, and he grinned and let it remain a rumor.  When I told him Peter Crimes had mentioned it, he said he ought to have a word with him – all in fun – I hope!

On my way to the cabin I stopped by the Library to chat with Bill Greenwood about ships – naturally.  He says the ship at anchor in Yokohama is the Hikawa Maru, the only WWII ship remaining, which wasn’t sunk during the war.   Settling in now for the night.

Wednesday, 6 February: Valparaiso, Chile – 33˚ 1.9’S x 07˚ 37.6′ W

I watched our very slow approach and equally slow and deliberate entrance between the outer jetties and Armada ships on the TV.  When I looked out the porthole, I managed to see the large tug backing away from our bow.  The harbor itself is at the “crook” end of a small cape, or Bay peninsula – or notch in the coastline.  The first indication of this was when I noticed we were headed south as we approached.

This being the end of the first major section of the cruise, 200 or so people are disembarking and nearly the same amount will embark.  My first “free” Internet package ends and I will have to log on again with a new package of 8 hours.

The bunkering barge looks like an ocean-going ship with a pointed bow.  I watched it come along side and was intrigued when a pilot boat took on two bow lines from the “ship” and backed away with the big eye-spliced ends attached.  I surmise they were going to deliver them to our bow docking deck – or to the dock itself.  Will check on this. We are docked facing northeast, and when the sun pours from between clouds it is bright through my porthole.

When I left at near nine o’clock I first walked up A to give the tips of $20 each to Victoria, Greg and Alan, then headed aft to meet Anita.  She was late arriving in Yacht Club, but I sat with Connie McMullen until her number was called.  Meanwhile Anita came and I took her Library book to return for her.  Eventually all were disembarked, and I went to the Lido, found Barbara Huff, then sat with Shirley, Dave from Calgary and later, Archie.  I was congratulated about my singing and I sang the “Mother Hubbard” for them in fragments.

On my way outside I chatted with Albert from Germany, then found my deck chair, filmed the shore scene including the two funiculars and read my Darwin – the passages dealing with Valparaiso, Chiloe Island and the earthquake.  Always most interesting when on the spot!  On the way down, I talked briefly with David Hamilton, sharing the earthquake information.

It is now almost noon, and I have returned to my cabin to prepare for lunch and my tour of Valparaiso at two o’clock.  I just checked on the two hawsers from the bunkering freighter, and they are definitely attached to our bow docking deck and the lines go closely by my porthole! I had lunch with Jenny at the Lees’ table, then I took the shuttle bus (which goes a long way along and through the cargo port to the terminal) and transferred to the smaller tour bus for my sightseeing at the Armada buildings. Sights: Pratt Monument, 2 funiculars, views over the city including the harbor, a cemetery or two, with mausoleums; walks along small streets, and Neruda’s home and museum, ending up with refreshments and a special pastie turnover by an intriguing house with Victorian Mansard decorated walls, checker patterns, bas- relief and so on.

Back at the ship I relaxed with “Message in a Bottle” until 7:30 dinner at the Lido, and hurriedly to see “Round the World in 80 Days” in the Theatre.  Better than I remembered it!  At around 7:45 the ship was backed out of the enclosed part of the harbor and we are now headed for Easter Island.  I didn’t witness this because I was bound for the Theatre.

Thursday, 7 February:

We are westbound straight for Easter Island.  We have very smooth sailing with the occasional list to port mostly, but more or less side to side.  After showering and washing, I went to Grand Lounge to read my Darwin book and the Lees came along to join me.  We exchanged our on shore activities and listened to the daily quiz.  At eleven I bought a cross stitch QE2 then joined the crowd attending the Peter Grimes’ lecture on Easter Island and Pitcairn Island and Bounty – true history.

Noon Report:  31˚50.7’ S x 079˚ W.  100 nm north of Robinson Crusoe Island or Juan Fernando Island.  Rhumb line 280k True.  25.7 knots Temp. 69˚F  Wind: Force 4 or 15 k – 30 k on deck.  Slight seas, low to moderate southerly swell.

I checked the Purser’s Office lost and found for my pen.  Alas, nothing!  I again joined Roger and Janet Sockett for lunch at their table, and they very nicely said I sang well at the talent show.

At 2:30 I saw the Charles Laughton’s Captain Bligh portrayal of “Mutiny on the Bounty” with Clark Gable.  It was entirely centered on flogging, which is entirely distorting the facts, which Peter Crimes stated.  Valerie Noonan says Peter and his wife walked out of the movie in disgust.

We now have seven at our table with the addition of John and Betty Griffiths from Melbourne.  They promise to be interesting people.  I had pea soup, romaine salad, roast beef and soufflé.  Later, when I joined the Lees, Frank, Marie and Lillian, they were talking about insects, the big kind, so I joined in with my Arizona tales.  Also my neighbors at 4019 were with us waiting for the show to begin.  She is Joan and presently I don’t remember his name.  The singer was a very competent tenor from England, Martyn Dominique.  After the show, I went to the Lido and had strawberries while talking with Marguerite and English Shirley (from Cardiff.)  Clocks back one hour.

Friday, 8 February:

My first decision of the day was made as I greeted Jenny briefly at the Golden Lion pub.  I humorously said I could go either way to give in to my vow to skip breakfast!  She described her meal and I headed forward at nine, found the Lees at the 4 table, so I naturally joined them.  I used my grapefruit spoon for the first time, and then had 2 poached eggs on toast, milk and tea.  So much for decisions made!

I attended the air traffic controller’s lecture as well as the Peter Quartermaine one supposedly on Easter Island, but it dealt more with the artist Hodges who was on Cook’s 2nd voyage.  My pen ran out so I borrowed Anne’s, then bought a new blue QE2 pen at the Library.

Noon Report:  30˚4’ S by 091˚03.2’ W: Rhumb line 280˚, 24.3 knot; 940 nm to go to Easter Island.  Temp. 23.5C or 74˚ F.  Wind: South @ Force 4 –14k  or 25k over decks.  Slight sea, average, moderate southwesterly swell.

I sat under boat 19 on Boat Deck in too much sun till 12:30.   Had lunch again with the Socketts.  On deck the warm clear atmosphere beckoned me to find a chair that stays upright in shade under boat 13 for a good reading session, but after an hour or so, the movie,  ”Nanny Diaries” won the struggle!

By the way, the Captain confirmed that we will indeed be stopping by Pitcairn Island, some inhabitants will embark ad will sell trinkets while we circumnavigate the island – twice.  Yippee!

Had dinner with all the tablemates.  I spent a while on deck listening to the water sounds and watching the distant cloud formations in balmy, light wind effect over the deck.  About then the sun set directly in our path, but since I was sitting facing north, I didn’t see it as such!  Before going below I had ice cream and cookies in the Lido.

I checked my email, but first had to “buy” the 8 -hour package.  However, after writing an account of the last few days, the box came up saying I had used 5 hours of the 8 hours, and only had 2 some hours left.  Grrr!  I went to the Purser’s office but I have to take it up with the person in charge of the Computer Room.  Grrr!   Back to the cabin before ten o’clock.

Saturday, 9 February:

It was still fairly dark when I awoke after seven o’clock, showing the reason we will have an hour back tonight.  I checked our position near Easter Island and found we are directly below Arizona, but an hour ahead of Cape Cod.  Weird!  Anyway, I trudged to the Computer room with my written complaint about the package, and the attendant is ill!  It will have to wait.  I had a brief juice breakfast with Rosemary and a Brit named Molly, then chose a deck chair under boat 11 to read till the lecture on building cruise ships by Quartermaine.

Noon report:  28˚26’S by 101˚49.5 W.  Speed: 27.5 mph (or 24K, average 24.6K’

Temp. 25˚ C or 78˚ F.  Wind: East F4 – 15K on deck 25k; slight seas, short, low southwest swell.  The Captain said the weather will be perfect tomorrow, but the swell remains to be seen, if we can go ashore.  A pilot will be on each tender to guide the boats safely to the pier, which can accommodate only one boat at a time.  Be patient!  This is how to pronounce my steward’s name:  Andriys.

I had lunch alone at a port table for 4.  Saw a flying fish doing a phenomenally long flight away from the ship.   I knitted in the cabin all afternoon till dinner with all my mates.

My neighbors at 4019 are Christine and Les, and I chatted with them as well as the usual friends in our corner of the Grand Lounge.  The singer, Lorraine Brown, a Brit was very silvery, flashy and sang recent pop songs very well – with style!

I lingered a while on deck in the late evening light before sunset as QE2 gently proceeded westward across the sun’s angle path.  The observation deck is open.

Clocks back another hour, which puts us on Eastern Standard time (way west of that geographical time line.  The Captain says we will have a good day tomorrow, sun and low swell!

Sunday, 10 February: Easter Island

Rapa Nui, Isla de Pascua:  27˚8.5S x 108˚26.5W

The anchor went down close to seven o’clock in semi-darkness.  The time is way off in comparison to what I am used to.  Strange!  The sun rose over the island after 0800.

Based on observations from Boat Deck it looks to be a painfully slow process of getting ashore.  Only the smaller tenders are being used and only one at a time can enter the small channel (over the barrier reef) and unload at a time.  It appears as though a full tender has to pause way out and proceed only when the previous tender comes out.  As for views of the island itself, it is directly in the sun’s light path so morning photography from the ship is difficult.  One can see the occasional single Moai, and to the left and on a rise due east can be seen the 5 or 7 Moais facing us.

It took a long time to go ashore, since we had to take a numbered ticket (16 for me) and I had to wait till nearly noon to leave the ship.  Once ashore I walked around the harbour, watching the locals swimming in the harbour water, displaying their crafts for sale, riding their horses for hire, trying to interest people in sightseeing by bicycle or car.  – Ahu Riata was the Moai greeting us at the harbour.  Finally, my tour “Ancient Civilizations” began with a caravan of 5 vans riding up hill to the volcano, Rano Kau where we saw the crater lake, dotted with little islands and brilliant turquoise blue “puddles” of fresh water; the deep crater side and great view all over the island.  We learned about the Birdman Culture, wherein they had an annual swimming race to secure the first egg on Moto Nui, or Moto Iti, or Moto Caocao.  The story has been handed down by oral tradition.  Priests dwelt at the Orongo round village, which overlooks the three islands.  Vinapu: platforms with toppled Maoi.  Ahu Akini: 7 Moai lined up and restored.  On the way back we caught a glimpse of several Moai with topknots.

It didn’t take very long to board the tender and return to the ship, via the same narrow channel, past 3 pointed rock hazards and back on board by six o’clock.  I was so filthy with fine sand and dust from the dirt roads that I had to shower before dinner.  We left the anchorage during dinner, leaving Easter Island to port.  I returned to my cabin quite exhausted. Clocks back an hour.

Monday, 11 February:

I awoke very early and felt a little more ship motion, meaning the swells must be fairly large.  I wrote two post cards to the family, and went back to sleep till after nine, when I headed first for the Computer for help logging on for the new package.  Since there were so many people there and waiting I didn’t stay to really log on.  Instead I took my post cards to the Purser’s Office, which was jumping for business.  I then had breakfast of fruits, toast, juice and tea in the Lido.  During my wanderings, I sat with Archie, puzzling over the daily quiz.  Saw Anne and Tony on Boat Deck inner promenade and discussed our tour.  They liked it.  At the Crimes’ lecture (full Theatre), I lent them the Easter Island map.

Noon Report:  The Captain says we will be at Pitcairn tomorrow by ten o’clock when the islanders will come aboard from Bounty Bay.  We will circle twice at approximately .8 miles away.  Talk in Theatre and selling in Grand Lounge.

26˚13.9S by 118˚28.9’W :  Course 277˚True;  Speed: 28K  25K over decks.

Temp. 26˚C – 79˚F.  Wind E at F4 – 15K.  Set clocks two hours back tonight to coincide with Pitcairn Island time.

Again, I had lunch with the Socketts, then found myself a deck chair to read most of the afternoon my new selection, The Plimsoll Sensation. At four o’clock the deck stewards brought tea and sandwiches and cakes, which tempted me.  I indulged, then left because the sun finally caught up with me.

On the way downstairs I logged on for my email, but while composing, the Internet satellite went down.  I had to quit alas, so went on down to 4017.   I knitted a long time after deciding I would eat at the Lido.  Presidents’ Day Celebration.  I sat with Bill Noonan who told me of his visit to Pitcairn several years ago.  It is a British possession but New Zealand is the administrator.  We then moved over to join Bill Greenwood and Marguerite, and the usual topic of ships booked, cruises and single fares, versus double for one person.

On my way back down, I passed through the Grand Lounge where a woman pianist was playing.  I then spent time on Boat Deck as the darkness was closing to the west, and the crescent moon was about 45˚ from setting. (Waxing).  Clocks to be set back 2 hours tonight.

Tuesday, 12 February:  Pitcairn Island: 25˚3’S x 130˚8’W

Two times around the island, counter clockwise.  I was right!

The whole morning dealt exclusively on our approach to Pitcairn Island, the arrival of the longboat full of 29 people laden with their crafts, stamps, and books.  They set up all over the Grand Lounge and the passengers flocked all over.  I heard the Captain say the QE2 has never visited this island and I did a silent cheer for him!

After one complete turn around Pitcairn I went inside to have my passport stamped for $5.00 to the islanders.  I went below to rest until lunchtime, when I ascertained we must be on the third round.  While eating, the longboat left and the whistle blew three times.  We’re now on our way again.

I napped a long time while the great-great-great grandson gave a talk with slides on Pitcairn – on TV.   I then attended the Ensemble cocktail party in Yacht Club, then fell asleep back in the cabin.  Andree gave me 3 chocolates and I’m now in for the night.

Clocks back one hour again.   The invitation to the World Cruise Dinner came.  It will be on Tuesday, 25 March at the Honolulu Convention Center.  My neighbors in 4019 are Christine and Les from England.

Wednesday, 13 February:

I grabbed the opportunity of using a relatively free computer room to log on.  Cherie asked many questions about Easter Island and Pitcairn, so I waxed eloquent with my “vast” knowledge.  HA HA!   Then, when I went to breakfast I sat with a nice lady from New Zealand, who is a sailor and has crewed for some of the New Zealand greats like Russell Coutts.  We shared experiences, humble though mine may be.  The rest of the morning I was under Boat 14 on port reading the Plimsoll Sensation. and escaping the showers.  Also while there I saved two papers from blowing out of the scuppers.  I moved fast while the German lady looked at them in dismay!  She thanked me profusely!

Tony and Anne came by to inquire where I’ve been, so I told them of my retreat from causing consternation while coughing and sneezing.  Will see them at dinner.  Had a brief conversation with Rosina on the way down to my cabin. She is forward Port on One Deck, and later I learned she and Eddy are in 1012, the cabin Aunt Audrey and I had in 1987 on our first Trans Atlantic Crossing.

Noon Report:  20˚41’ S by 140˚52.9’ W;  Course 291˚;  Speed: 27.5K; Temp 83˚F; Wind: NE at Force 3 – 10 Knots, 25K over the decks.  Slight seas, short, low northeasterly swell.

Elizabeth, my new friend from New Zealand joined me for lunch and we headed for the Soketts’ table.  We all had a lively time being catty about some passengers!
The Cat Lady” – failed plastic surgery.  Mary Mastony and then Christopher Biggins – a Pantomime personality.  We got a little raucous.  Victoria joined us with her two cents

When I checked in with the Lees, and I reported our conversation, Margaret brightened up when I mentioned Christopher Biggins.  Even Eric perked up.  They had been trying to think of his name.  I then attended the movie “In the Valley of Elah”  – ugh.

I have placed a standing order for chicken Caesar salad till further notice.  I joined hundreds of Platinum and Diamond people for the gala cocktail party – slipping in the back way.  Chatted briefly with Anne and Tony, then joined the Lees and Lillian for the rest of the time, but left before the Captain spoke, so I could watch the lecture on Gardiner’s QE2 ship designs – and eventually the Crimes lecture on Volcanoes etc.  (The latter was replaced by the cooking session.  Clocks back another hour.

Thursday, 14 February:  Papeete, Tahiti:  17˚32.25’S by 149˚34.2W:

The MAXIM GORKIY entered the harbor before us, our bow at a fair distance.  It has taken me a while to realize subtle changes have taken place in regard to smoke free areas.  Now, completely smoke free areas include the Lido, Crystal Bar and the Pavilion.  Also from 7 – 9 p.m. the Princess Grill Lounge is smoke free for all QE2 passengers.

I awoke very early again and as we approached the harbor, I went to Boat Deck and Observation Deck to see the Pilot boat deliver the Pilot and to watch our very slow progress to and through the narrow channel between the red marker to port and the green one to starboard (just the opposite from USA).  To Port the swells were dashing against the sea wall and to Starboard the same swells were breaking over the barrier reef.  An outrigger canoe “raced” us as we entered.  A tug was awaiting our arrival and that is when I left for breakfast on my own at table 255 and next to John and Betty.

At 8:30 I reported to Yacht Club and 30 minutes later we the Ensemble World Explorers boarded two buses, one a regular touring bus and the second, a regular local transport bus for our full day tour, consisting of the following sites:  Tahiti Museum – Cook Anchor., Fern Grotto, Gauguin Restaurant, Gauguin Museum, Botanical Gardens, and Marai.  We returned to the ship by five o’clock.  By the way, as we stood at the bow waiting for the buses, I noticed what appears to be a dent way up top of the curved and flared bow.  It has been repaired but bumpy rust is trying to press through. I wonder when that happened in the course of her nearly 40 years.

I have ascertained for sure the hatch rattle is a little aft of my cabin and on Six Deck, because the trash was being off loaded while I waited in line to re-enter the ship.

After briefly resting, I went to dinner, resigned to the fact I should be there because of the Caesar salad order.  Victoria wasn’t there and things were uncoordinated in this regard, so the entrée salad came late.  I cancelled any further salads.  Each woman was presented with a rose, and our table was the only one on starboard side to have a lovely three-dimensional heart with cupids on either side.  The only other one we could see was diagonally across from us on the port side.  We took photos of each other with the heart and roses.

As I headed aft to see the Lees, I spotted two significant photos of the New York 3 ship rendezvous and bought them on the spot.  Next I photographed the Valentine decorations in Queen’s Room.   During dinner, QE2 sounded her whistle, backed away from the pier and turned around in the harbor to head out the channel in the darkness of seven o’clock.  Victoria cut her foot on the coral while swimming at Moorea.

Friday, 15 February:

The sea has been nearly placid all day as we’ve been majestically sailing on our course 259˚ True toward Tonga.    I skipped breakfast so had to fill in some time before the ten o’clock lecture on Bette Davis’ life and career, so I did email check in the Business Center and changed a $20 bill for as many ones.  I then stopped briefly in Grand Lounge to read the British and Australian newspapers, then went to the Theatre.

Christopher Biggins later talked about his life and career.  He was raised and educated in Salisbury and given elocution lessons.  Anne and Tony sat with me.  I then found a deck chair (or two different ones) to await the noon report and read till lunch.

The Captain was clear about our approach to the International Dateline tomorrow, and Sunday will be tomorrow.  Noon report:  19˚09.9’S by 156˚56.7 W; Course: 259˚True: Speed: 25.3Knots; Wind Force 2 from Northeast at 5 knots.  Seas smooth, northeast low swell.  Tonga GMT plus 13.

I was joined by three Aussies from the Brisbane area and we had lively discussions re: politics, especially and Scotland, which is where the gentleman is originally from.   For a short time before the 2:30 movie I had a rice pudding in the Lido, chatting with Shirley Warren.  BEN HUR was very long, but I am glad I saw it after more than 50 years.  I ate dinner on my own in the Lido and then sat on the side of Grand Lounge to hear the “Rat Pack” singer, Gary Williams from Grimsby.  He was quite good, but I tired of always hearing song excerpts.   I left early to walk the deck and lingered a while to watch the moon behind cloud fragments.  Back in the cabin I watched Christopher Biggins’ talk again.  On Channel 6 we were told to set our clocks ahead 24 hours!  HA HA!

Sunday, 17 February:

I have officially crossed the International Dateline, where it has been drawn to accommodate the various island countries in their groups.  Actually we are only at 165˚ 35.1 West by 20˚26’ South.  15˚ ahead of the fact.

Inspired by the thought of blueberry pancakes, I went to Omar’s section and sat at my 255 table with Roger and Janet Sockett.  Then the rest of the morning saw me reading.  I sat under boat 12.  Noon Report:  20˚45’S by 167˚51.8 W.  Course: 262˚ @ 25K; Temp. 28˚C or 82˚ F.  Wind: ESE F3 at 10K or 25K o deck.  Slight seas, short, low easterly swell.  The Officer of the Watch always ends his report “Aboard the marvelous QE2.”

The lecture on Gene Kelly was great with clips of his dancing with the various partners and his humble and humorous acceptance speech.  I had lunch with the Socketts at their table.  Greek salad and pasta (most hot spices!)

I sent Wendy Crapo an email.  I hadn’t really planned to spend the whole afternoon in my cabin, but I fell asleep with the TV on and awoke around 3:30 – and remained knitting and watching a movie still time to dress formal for dinner.  All seven of us were present at the table.

I chatted briefly with the Lees, telling them of the oil painting on Deck 2 B stairway.  Marie and Frank went to see it, agreeing it is mysterious.  (Every time I reach the top of B stairway on Two Deck, I have to pause to contemplate this obscure oil painting, which I have dubbed “The Lee Shore,” because two schooners are definitely washed ashore, and people are coming along the beach either to help or to scavenge.  I question if perhaps “Mooncussers” have signaled the ships to an erroneous light beam, thus duping the captains into running aground.  I’ll never know, alas.  There is no signature visible.)  After the show by the multiple instrument player, I communed with the moon, then watched “The Bourne Ultimatum” till eleven o’clock.  Clocks back another hour!

Before I go to sleep I must comment on the near silence I am experiencing at the moment.  The sea is so calm; nearly flat in fact, that I notice almost no motion.  The usual creaks are very sporadic and subtle.  The quiet passing of water sounds heard through the hull and porthole are like a gentle brooklet.  The moon’s light is brightening not only the foredeck and details, but also the water as well as distant clouds on the horizon (this seen on the TV screen.)   What a wonderful lullaby!  The moon itself is shining into my porthole!   Rapture!

Monday, 18 February: Nuku’alofa, Tonga. 21˚9’S by 175˚ 10.7W

I grabbed All-Bran and milk for breakfast before reporting to the Theatre for my tour.  The tender ride was smooth and quick to the staging area and we were herded to our open-air school bus for the trip to “King’s Palace” (under extensive reconstruction), royal tombs, various churches, King’s Summer residence, blowhole, bat roosting and Cultural center, where we saw dancing, singing and craft demonstrations, plus cooking techniques.  We were back at the ship by 1:30 and I had a quick lunch of tuna, tomato and asparagus, then pasta with tomato sauce and smoked salmon.

I returned to the cabin to rest and putter, and slept and knitted till dinner, which was shared with all but the Boultons.   Julia Daniels, the soprano from Sydney, was very good and animated, if not a bit showy in gestures.   On deck I lingered by the railings listening to the soft water sounds as we ploughed gently through the moonlit placidness, while QE2 pitched very slightly.  I then went to the movie, “Into the Wild,” based on a novel by Jon Krackauer.  Apparently Christopher McCandless was a real person, which made the story all the more poignant as it unfolded.  I got to bed after midnight.  An invitation from David Hamilton for cocktails tomorrow night awaited me.

Tuesday, 19 February:

Having passed 23˚ S, (Capricorn) @ 24˚), we are heading into more comfortable climes on our course toward New Zealand.  I have again taken up Darwin to review his experiences there.

Only yesterday did I discover or better said, “realize” my ship/s ID card is valid through to Southampton!  Great!  We have to collect our Passports to keep from now on.

I arrived at breakfast near nine o’clock, in time to join the Socketts and Elizabeth from New Zealand as they finished their repast.  We compared our Tonga experiences, and when we discussed Auckland newspaper coverage, I gave them my card, which prompted Elizabeth to ask me about voice and the care of it.   She is proud of Kiri Te Kanawa.  When we parted, I headed to Peter Crime’s lecture on New Zealand followed by Chris Biggins’ lecture on his jungle TV series.

Noon Report:  25˚23.3’S by 178˚23.7’ W:  Course: 209˚ True. Speed: 19K; Wind: ESE Force 6 = 25 K or 40 K over the decks.  Temp: 26˚C, 80˚F. Moderate to rough seas, short low southeast swell.  I would say more.

The Black Watch was right with us way off to Port.  Now:  Back in the cabin, I can see and hear the spray slapping the porthole as the waves rise with the pitching and plowing along.  The wind must be blowing the spray right back to the hull.  The Captain said we have to go through this low to reach the high we will have when we arrive in Auckland.

I had lunch with Betty and John, during which we discussed their offspring (5), involvement with music.  I noticed the seas calming down as we ate.  Before the movie “Double Indemnity” with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyk, I collected my Passport and checked on my status for the April 12-18 voyage, and we are all squared away clear through to Southampton.

Now, at 4:30 the sun is shining brightly into my cabin and the seas are definitely calmer.  I knitted for several hours till 7:30 when I decided I won’t want to dress formal for David Hamilton’s party at Yacht Club, so I remained where I was, watching BBC plus Australian broadcasts – finally an alternative to the wretched Fox channel we had to endure for the last few weeks – since Chile and the Horn.  I can even see a soap opera, “Home and Away.”

At four in the morning, the nearly full moon was shining in my cabin and the light shaft reached into the bathroom!  It appeared we were constantly crossing its watery path.

Wednesday, 20 February:

Latitude 30˚ 46.7 S.  It should be substantially cooler this morning as we continue to head southwest toward (209˚) New Zealand.  It is sunny though and the seas are only slight.

I joined Beth at breakfast in Omar’s section, then checked the weather on deck.  Although cooler it was still comfortable, so I settled under boat 12 for over an hour to read my book, but all was not comfort since drops occasionally dropped on my book and my head.  The water was that lovely nautical blue with white caps, and interestingly, the wind appeared to come from behind as we headed southwest.

Christopher Biggins gave his third lecture about the “King of the Jungle,” which was revolting as well as spell binding.  Lots of laughs!

Noon Report:  32˚02’ S x 177˚ E.  Note: we have crossed the real Dateline: the precise time we crossed was 9:25 last night.  Longitude 180˚ and 28˚1 S:  Course: 209˚ True.  Speed: 18.5 K:  Temp. 20˚C and 93˚ F. Wind: SE Force 5 – 20K and 30K over decks.  Moderate seas, and short, low southeast swell.

Ate lunch with Bill Greenwood at the Lido.  Both of us don’t know what we’ll do when QE2 is gone.   I returned to a deck chair on portside with my ice cream cup – to read.  However, the wind was a bit cool, so I returned to my cabin, escaping from the sounds of the musical hype and upcoming Tug of War.  The rest of the afternoon I sewed up the two doll torsos while watching Rebecca.

Only John and Betty Griffiths were with me at dinner, and again I returned to my cabin to continue my knitting and watching the Australian channel till time for bed.  The program on the Great Barrier Reef was most interesting, colorful, intriguing and scary, because all sorts of man-caused problems are threatening most aspects of the Reef.

2008 QE2 Farewell World Cruise




2008 —– Cabin 4017

13 January, 2008 : New York

Ann and Bruce delivered me to the 7:40 bus and I was off for my favorite ship, Queen Elizabeth 2.  As the plane circled over the Hudson River and Pier 88-92, I was able to see QE2 at her berth and south of that at 88, was a big cruise ship that I must have mistaken for the Norwegian Dawn – but upon further conversation with people who had come in this morning, it must have been the “Queen Victoria “– 964 feet long and multi decks high!..

There was a delay in our transfer from La Guardia and we witnessed a strange procession of vertical poles being carried by one person, with multiple guy “wires” keeping each one steady.  Each had a shield atop with Arabic imprints, similar to the huge shields I saw in Santa Sophia in Istanbul.  Next came a casket decorated with a maroon velvet cloth bestuded with regularly placed gold stud-like discs.  Following that, carried by pall- bearers, came a very informal crowd of slow followers of all ages.  I think it might have been a Muslim funeral.

Anyway, we eventually did reach the pier and began a rather long wait in folding chairs while a computer was fixed.  Meanwhile, I enjoyed enthusiastic banter with fellow passengers.  Terry Waite happened along and we hugged.  He will be on the “Queen Victoria” World Cruise as will a number of other friends like Jean Burns and eventually Violet Crafton.

When finally on board at Midships Lounge, I headed forward to 4 Deck and found cabin 4017.  To my delight it is not only an outside cabin with a porthole, but it is also a double.  My suitcases had long since been delivered, so I set about unpacking.  I love the full width shelf under the porthole and the television is mounted at the foot of the outer bed, with the little round table under the shelf.  Waiting for me was the regular bottle of wine, which I gave back to my steward, Andrew, and two letters of greeting from David Hamilton and the generic Cruise Staff.  Also there is a notice of an on board credit.

At five o’clock or so I attended the safety Muster in Mauretania Restaurant.  Having spotted Bill Greenwood, I greeted him.  Richard will be coming in Singapore.  At last I was able to go to Boat Deck for my first view of “Queen Victoria.”  She has very high decks, short bow area, but actually looks quite acceptable.  However, she will never be anything but a cruise ship.  The stories of her pitching at a mighty rate are eagerly described and recorded by those on the Tandem Crossing!  She slaps the water and pushes aside great splashes as her bow disappears from view.  The pictures on sale are quite spectacular and of course, I bought a couple!

There is a story related on Linerslist that Captain Ian McNaught told a BBC interviewer that QE2 going backwards could keep up with QV!

Dinner was announced for 5:45 so on my way forward I made my family phone calls and joined my tablemates at table 293– all Brits!  I’ll get the names later and I think we will be a congenial group.  They had done the tandem crossing westbound and spent the day touring or shopping in New York.

Finally, at seven o’clock “Queen Victoria” backed out and we followed ever so slowly down the Hudson River to rendezvous with Queen Mary 2 near the Statue of Liberty – with fireworks.  It started to rain rather vigorously, but the occasion wasn’t diminished by it as far as I was concerned.  It was mighty raw feeling though.   I had a nice reunion with Stephanie on Helideck, and later came across Marguerite and Perle Coles.  No doubt I’ll see more friends.  Eric and Margaret stayed in Grand Lounge for the festivities so I caught up with them before the show.  I’ll hear more details of the rough crossing I hope.  At nine o’clock, I returned to 4017 to settle in for my last World Cruise on dear “Queen Elizabeth 2, ” porthole and all!

Monday, 14 January:

I awoke before six o’clock, but didn’t linger long in bed.  The white glow of “Queen Victoria” was visible still on the television and it was till dark.  I finished organizing my stuff, dressed and prepared my tour requests for the whole cruise.  At seven o’clock QE2 slowly gained on QV and by 7:30 we were parallel.  I filmed our neighbor out my porthole in a relatively calm sea and heavy cloud cover.  Breakfast time soon came and beckoned so I emerged to do my walk around the various decks upward- cheating a lot so I could reach the Mauretania Restaurant without too much huff and puff.  I found Jenny at her usual spot by the mural, so I joined her.  Had a huge bowl of porridge!  I greeted Mary Mastony and the Lees, then went to Boat Deck where the weather was quite cold – to photograph the “Queen Victoria.”  I then bought two QE2 large tote bags, a windbreaker with 2008 logo and a 40th anniversary bag.  My on board credit is $500 – 20% of which is now used.

I did a lot of wandering to observe and greet friends, Archie, Valerie Bennetts (at singles party), and eventually I went to my cabin.  Alas, I missed the noonday whistles.  Our position is N36˚ 10.2’ a d74˚34.8 W, which puts us at 85 nautical miles northeast of Cape Hatteras.  Steering a Rhumb line course 199˚ at 18 knots.  QV is now one half a mile away, in a Force 4 wind (20k) and slight seas with low swell.

With the sun out clearly, I again filmed QV and during lunch with Stephanie and Edith at their table in Caronia, I could see QV parallel with us slightly forward with drift variations.  We enjoyed ship talk and life’s anecdotes. I caught up with Marguerite in the Lido.  Before heading downward, I compared ships’ wakes, had a frozen custard cup and then settled in my port-holed haven!

I napped and puttered till dinner – formal.  We had a pleasant dinner with Rosina and Eddy, plus the other couple, Ann and Tony and their friend Jean.  I shared the show with the Lees.  Dave Evans was the comedian and multi-instrument player sax, clarinet, trumpet and piano.  Quite good all around.  It is too cold out to do my Boat Deck walk home so I took off my shoes, gazed at QV in nighttime splendor and retired.  A list of freebee trips from Ensemble is offered and I intend to avail myself of those.

Tuesday, 15 January:

Because the “Queen Victoria” can’t keep up with us when we are going our usual speed, it takes two days instead of one to go from New York to Fort Lauderdale.  Last night, when ready for sleep I looked out my porthole to see QV a mile or more away in beautifully patterned lights marking her length in horizontal parallels.  The waxing moon was just receding behind a cloud to the West.  When I awoke twice, there she was (QV) faithfully proceeding with us still.  As I write this at 7:15 it is partly cloudy and there she is a little ahead of us.  At 7:30 she disappeared way forward just appearing on the television screen – as we did the cross-over.

I headed for the Lido via the Purser’s Office to mail my five postcards.  Upon finding Connie McMullen, I took my Bran Flake to her table and had a lively chat with and her British tablemate.  We parted, and I found the time was right for the morning lecture by Glenmore Tregear-Harvey on his intelligence friend Litveneko – the Russian spy who was murdered recently.  I then saw the Lees in Grand Lounge by a window and Doris McKeller was there too.  She will switch to the QV in Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of her World Cruise.  I entertained Eric by reading the account of the “Explorer” sinking in the Antarctic.  I bought a QE2 pin and earrings in the shops.

The noonday whistle duel between the two ships was a special highlight.  Both ships tooted several times to each other with QV playing all her different notes à la “First Encounters of the Third Kind”.  The sun only started to shine on our side for viewing QV lit up, and occasionally the sun glared off the forward windscreens.  30˚ 10.7’N x 78˚ 28.3’ W.  Rhumb line 195˚ Wind: F4 – 15 k.  Northwest low swell, and seas low.

The next lecture was by Sabin Robbins on Sea Mysteries including Atlantis, “Mary Celeste,” Bermuda Triangle (even Slocum vanished there and the Green Flash.

Anita (cabin 3068) joined me for lunch at Mauretania on port side, so we could gaze at QV in sunshine.  Our conversation was entirely on boats, ships, tugboats, yachts and more.  She has her Masters ticket and has crewed and captained tugboats, delivered boats for owners etc.  She told me of navigating in fog into New York, through the canal and being terrified; ending in confidence she can do anything.  No doubt we’ll talk again, since she’ll be on till Valparaiso.

The afternoon movie was “Stardust.” I spent more time on deck watching QV and taking more photos from observation deck.  When I returned to the cabin, an Ensemble black shoulder bag was on my bed.  It is identical to the first one given two years ago.  “Pride and Prejudice” is on TV.

I enjoyed my third night of fish, ice cream and butterscotch sauce plus a small salad at dinner with my mates at 293.  Afterward, I told Eric about my lunch with Anita and I will introduce them later.

I was back in the cabin by eight thirty, having walked forward on Boat Deck for a last look and goodnight to Queen Victoria” by our side.  We will precede her around five in the morning and we will dock bow to bow in “the basin,” as Capt. McNaught calls it.

Wednesday, 16 January – Fort Lauderdale:

I went on deck after six o’clock to watch the docking at pier 21 for us, then Queen Victoria” backed herself into the berth at pier 18 directly across from us and parallel.  So much for the “bow to bow” as McNaught had said yesterday.  Behind us two, the “Crown Princess” turned and sidled across from us to our stern, then soon after, the “Silver Shadow” backed herself along the other side of our dock.  After two walks around the deck, I returned to my cabin and found Andy had already made up my bed and bath.

When the announcement for all to disembark came, I went to Queen’s Room to say goodbye to Edith and Stephanie.  We had some time to chat; then I went with them to Midships where we parted with all good wishes.  I then had breakfast on my own by a window facing the QV.  A lady from Bradford-on-Avon was at the next table so we talked about the Kennet and Avon canal.  I then moved over to 255 to join the Lees.  Laundry day for them!

Deck time came next and I settled under a boat in a single chair slot to observe, film and scrutinize the features of “Queen Victoria” till nearly noon.  I walked the deck a couple of times, but out of bounds sections hindered my progress.  Bounds came down at noon, when I had lunch in Caronia Restaurant facing QV with Mary Mastony, a Brit man and another Mary (from New Jersey).  With the deck beckoning me as always, I spent more time there reading and watching two tugs, which eventually sprayed their red and blue water spouts.

I napped at three, then got up to see us off, but QV left at five o’clock and we lingered till all the provisions were craned aboard or placed on board by forklifts.  Meanwhile all the other cruise ships, a container ship and a yacht transport ship all left us.

Finally, after I had given up the vigil and joined my tablemates, we left at 8 o’clock.  I dressed up then and observed the back out, and joined the Lees, greeted Maria and Frank Sotile and stayed for the comedian David Walsh, the very very funny Irishman.  I tried the movie “Pursuit of Happiness: but left to go to bed.

QE2 is back in her stride at a more reasonable speed on her own, throwing water aside in calm seas!  A torch plant has been placed in my porthole sill.

Thursday, 17 January:

My cabin being way up forward,  I can hear the water in regular pulses as it is split by the bow and pushed aside in white foam, even in calm waters.  We are definitely barreling along much faster than when we were with QV.  I awoke at seven twenty thinking it was an hour later, but after my shower and laundry chores, I was pleased to see I hadn’t been late.  I headed aft to the Lido via my new stairway scheme – B stairway to 2 Deck aft to C, and on aft to Lido where I found Valerie and Bill Noonan.  We hugged all around and I offered my torch plant to her!  I also met Shirley Warren (cabin 4087).

Peter Crimes’ lecture on Barbados was a good review for me.  I then found the Lees and Lillian to show them the doll hats with “2008 W.C. QE2” knitted into the fabric. Yoyo and Anna the Cunard booking ladies explained the new World Club perks to us in the Grand Lounge.  These are:

  1. After first voyage – Silver
  2. Gold – 20 days
  3. Platinum – 7 voyages or 70 days
  4. Diamond – 15 voyages or 150 days.

I get 20 % off laundry and cleaning, and 10% off luggage with White Star – DHL.  Email package – Diamond, you buy 8 hours and are reimbursed in full after every segment.

As noon approached I went on deck to await the whistle and hear the noon report.  23˚49.3’ N and 73˚30’ W.  200nm northeast of Turks and Cacos Islands. Rhumb line 127˚ at 27 knots;  average speed 26.4K.   Temp. 25kC or 78k F.  Wind ESE Force 4 – 20 knots.  Slight seas, short southeast low swells.

I sat by a window on portside of the Mauretania Restaurant and eventually Beth from upstate New York joined me.  I had Greek salad and tomato soup.  I then spent the afternoon in my cabin watching the lecture on whales, BBC and knitting – an effort to start on the QE2 sailor dolls.

Tonight was our first formal night and joined my tablemates, Rosina, Jean, Ann and Tony – don’t yet know my other neighbor yet (Eddy).  After dinner I chatted briefly with Bill Greenwood who told me he will be on the last 6 QE2 voyages and on to Dubai.  Wow!

I ended up in the Lido sitting with Judy and Robert from Melbourne and Valerie Noonan till nearly ten o’clock.  Valerie took food to Bill then relieved me of the torch plant!  Clocks ahead one hour.

Friday, 18 January:

While I was dressing I saw us passing a Carnival ship going the other way.  I joined Frank and Marie for breakfast in the Lido having procured my blueberry bran muffin and raspberry jelly – then fruit bits later from the line.  Yum!

Both morning lectures caught my attention,  “Pirates” by Sabin Robbins, and the “Falklands War” talk by Glenmore, blow by blow including the intelligence cooperation of many nations.  I walked a couple of times around Boat Deck in very strong headwind, then had lunch in Omar’s section with 3 Aussie ladies.

Noon report:  16˚53,8’ N and 66˚06’W.  Rhumb line 125˚:  Temp. 27kC 81˚F.  Wind: ExS 22 knots, 45 knots open decks: slight seas and low southeast swell.

After checking at the Purser’s Office to see if indeed they have my Passport, which was confirmed, I watched the movie, “The Astronaut Farmer.”  I returned to the cabin via Lido and Boat Deck to watch “Miss Potter” on television, then at 7:30, having knitted the second leg of my doll, I went to the Lido and shared my meal and good conversation on ships with the Noonans and Marguerite McClean.  I caught the last bits of Adrian Walsh’s final comedy act – again very funny.  The way back “home” was via a very wet Boat Deck, and brisk winds greeted me as I stepped outside.  There was a red sign by the revolving door stating the deck was closed due to high winds but it really wasn’t any worse than earlier today.

On my bed was laid a nice poster outlining the 2008 World Cruise map and a nice small tie tack pin commemorating the “Farewell World Cruise, 2008.”  Now I’ll settle at ten o’clock for news and bed.  I hadn’t experienced any rain this morning, but a heavy downpour was reported while we were in the morning lectures.

Saturday, 19 January, Barbados:

I awoke early and could see the lights of Barbados on the horizon; fell asleep again and by six or so I guess we entered the harbor by backing to the outermost end of the very long pier.  We were first of about six ships due in, so by the time I got up at seven, the last of the series was just coming around our bow.  I have no tour scheduled so will enjoy leisure on the ship without the crowds.

I skipped breakfast altogether in favor of a leisurely morning shower and eventually a long wrestle with the Cunard computer system.  I chose the Business Centre and needed help too much, so I’ll take the lecture at the computer classroom at A stairwell so I can take notes.  The new system requires that I use – and I actually got my emails and answered a couple, plus emails to Chris and Geoff re: the change.

I tried Boat Deck a very short time, but abandoned that for a walk along the long quay with the Royal Clipper, a five-masted square rigger, then Empress of the Seas, Sea Princess, Explorer of the Seas and tucked away from the rest, a HAL ship, Veendam. On the second try, I managed to film and photograph the whole harbor.

I spotted Greg Dorothy who is now elevated to some sort of officer status.  We couldn’t linger, so we’ll catch up later.  Jennie came to join me by a window in the Maury, where we could look at the ships.  As always, we talked exclusively of our experiences on ships.

I spent a long time on the starboard Boat Deck near A door, which slammed loudly each time it closed unaided.  At three or so I walked the deck aft on the port side, which was sunny and a lot hotter.  The ice cream was my goal, and I enjoyed a chocolate cone – Yum.  More reading, then I went at 4:30 to see the local Folkloric show consisting of vigorous dancing, (emphasis on large derrieres), a drum number, more African type dancing, a very tall stilt walker and a very vigorous clown-type acrobat in a colorful braided tassle outfit.  The Emcee kept saying “I used to do that” but he was well past that age!  Good humor.

I was on hand at 5:30 when we were supposed to leave.  The Veendam had already departed unnoticed, then the  Explorer of the Seas backed slowly the entire way out of the harbor on its own.  Next a small container ship came slowly in “watched” by a tug, turned around and docked where the Explorer had been.  By this time it was after six o’clock, so I dashed down to dress for dinner, spent more time on deck for the departure of Empress of the Seas, but I gave up in favor of my dinner and missed all the remaining departures.  Fortunately, I could faintly hear our deep whistle, and we were off.  We tablemates shared our day’s adventures.

The show was a Glenn Miller tribute by the QE2 orchestra followed by a young “self-styled” hippie from Baltimore doing juggling, ladder balancing while juggling and uni-cycling, in spite of the slight ship motion.  The moon is about 2 days from full so I gazed at it as I walked forward on deck prior to heading down for the night at 9:20.  H. Stern stuff awaited me.

Sunday, 20 January:

For the first time this trip I tuned into the QE2 early show, and found they were broadcasting from the Sea Princess with QE2 full length in the background, docked in Barbados.  Martyn Moss is the Cruise Director there, and he also said Dr. Carroll is there.  Our Cruise Director is Warren Smith from South Africa.

I again skipped breakfast in favor of emerging at leisure, and when I did go topside I chatted briefly with the Lees before trying to select a shirt or jersey in the shops; coming away with the blue and white striped QE2 jersey.  Since 11:15 was rolling around I attended the Interdenominational Service in the Theatre with the Master,  Ian McNaught presiding.  We sang 4 hymns.  That was followed by Peter Crimes’ lecture on Brazil, and this was so popular the downstairs was full and the balcony filled after I shouted there was room.  Those in place upstairs joshingly boo-ed me en mass!  Woops!

Anita sat in front of me, so we went to lunch in the Maury together, then I introduced her to Eric and Margaret.  Then ensued lively marine experiences including the freighter towing freighter from Yemen to Britain and comparing of ticket and license examinations.  Anita and I excused ourselves in favor of dessert at the Lido.  “Breach” was the movie, about the Robert Hanssen spy traitor case in the late 2001.  Gripping to say the least!

The weather has been hot and humid as well as cloudy and rain-threatening.  The noon report was all I remained on deck for after church.  9˚19’N by 054˚26.5’ W which puts us 600 nautical miles north of the Amazon Basin in Surinam.  Rhumb line course 124˚ and speed 22.5 knots; average 23K  Temp. 27˚C; 81˚ F.  Wind: northeast at Force 5 or 18knots, 40k over the decks.  Slight to moderate seas and low average swell.

I remained in the cabin watching television and knitting on the first nautical doll till time to attend the cocktail reception line and cut out to enter the back way.  I sat with Archie Cooper and new acquaintances Laura and her husband.  Captain Ian said a few words and introduced the two ladies who “drive “ him,  Michelle the Cruise Hostess and his very tall secretary.  Only Ann and Tony were at the dinner table with me.  I asked the name of Rosina’s Husband – Eddy.  It turns out Rosina and Eddy are not married!  I had turkey with cranberry sauce and sweet potato, then peach flambé for dessert.

The entertainment offered was a mighty soprano – Dorothy Bishop from Yale, who sang both opera and show songs.  She certainly was able to put both types over very well.

As I walked forward on Boat Deck, a very wet one, I admired the nearly full moon shining through patchy clouds.  There is a gentle rocking motion.  I have to fill out an entrance card for Brazil at Bahia.

Monday, 21 January:

It looks as though we have another overcast day, but bright.  Latitude is 04˚ and I think tonight will be the crossing time.  We are about to cross off the delta of the Amazon River, albeit 240 miles away to starboard.  I learned a very interesting fact about compass “variation.”  Each ship is tested initially to ascertain the precise “deviation” because the metal hull acts differently.  When the variation and deviation are worked out, that figure is how the ship will act for its entire working life and remains constant whenever factored into any compass reading.

Most of my morning was spent in the Theatre attending the lecture on Rio with slides of most of what I have seen. Then followed the lecture by Martin and Tanis Jordan, regarding their explorations in Venezuela.  My notebook has the exciting details.

I had lunch by a window with 2 Japanese ladies and a Sri Lankan woman.  My afternoon sojourn on deck under boat 10 and later number 14 was interrupted by a very wet rain squall!  The rapid cooling made me cold so instead of attending the H. Stern talk in the Theatre, I retreated to the cabin to change clothes.  An invitation to a World Cruise Platinum and Diamond wine tasting awaited me.  I’ll not attend tomorrow.  I watched the movie “Hairspray” in the Theatre.

At seven thirty I went to the Lido and ate with Valerie and Bill plus Bill Greenwood next door.  Since tonight is full moon I spent some time horizontal on Funnel Deck staring at the “man” whose countenance seemed to change to a frown, then to a scowl!  When clouds covered it I thought it prudent to head forward to A.  However, when raindrops started falling, I ducked in at D, stopped for a number in the show – sax and clarinet, then went on downward.

I had planned to watch the Equator crossing on my GPS but at 11:50 that prospect seemed dim,  because of the late time I predicted.  I simply watched a movie and turned in.    Oh yes!  I had to fill out several landing cards before getting one “perfect” Ugh!

Tuesday, 22 January:

I am glad I didn’t keep an Equator vigil per se, because although I checked channel 4 frequently, the actual time of crossing was about 4:40 and I could see signs of dawn.  At least I saw the 00˚ reading but many minutes of arc were still to go.

Although QE2 proceeds very smoothly, the sea has enough ripples that I wouldn’t call this “doldrums.”  It is cloudy bright, but I’m not ruling out rain.

Skipping breakfast is catching on, and I don’t miss it.  I took my time preparing to leave the cabin and when I did, I went on deck for a round or two of walking before settling into a deck chair on port near D door.  After a while, the Officer of the Watch warned us of an oncoming rain squall, so this time I heeded it and went to the Board Room nearby to wait it out.  Bill Noonan was there reading papers, so I sat with him.  Rowena brought me a coffee and pastries, plus a cup of tea, and I too read newspapers till time for the eleven o’clock lecture on “Surinam and Brazil” Tanis and Martin Jordan related their near fatal experience in rapids and their Discovery channel program about this!

I returned to my place on Boat Deck for the noon whistle and report:  01˚ 30.3’ S by 039˚ 30.9’ W which put us 2900 nautical mile west of Africa.  Rhumb line course 126˚ still, 23.5 Knots speed;  Temp. 28.5˚C and 83˚ Fahrenheit.  Wind ENE Force 3 – 12 knots, 30 knots over the deck.  Slight seas, low easterly swell and very pleasant.

Neptune is presiding by the aft pool.  Capt. Ian is passing judgment.   I later heard the rhymes were clever with references to Victoria.  I read about Fitzroy and Darwin while waiting for lunchtime.  I ran into Ann and Tony along the deck and remarked how comfortable it is in the doldrums – not usual to say the least.  I ate lunch in Omar’s section at 259 and was joined later by Valerie Woods and her 2 friends (Brenda and Molly).

O my way down to “regroup” in the cabin, I found a free computer on 2 Deck and successfully logged on.  When done I had communicated with family and Brewster friends.  It is easier with practice.  1.  Activate the computer, 2. Swipe card. 3.

User name, “Marthie,” and password, “Saltie.”  4. Compass – receive and send. 5. log off and wait to make sure you are off.

I saw the movie, “Because I said So” with Diane Keaton instead of attending the wine tasting session – one of the Diamond W.C. club freebees.  Afterward, I spent a few minutes at the railing as we proceeded along in calm waters at dusk.  Soon we’ll be rounding the “Horn” of South America to head nearly southward past Recifé on down to Bahia in two days.

Dinner of minestrone and salmon was followed by a brief chat with the Lees, Lillian and the Sotiles.  I then found Marguerite in the Lido so, of course, we had long discussions about our bookings and experiences.  Back at the cabin I set my clock and watches ahead another hour as we prepare to round the northeast corner of the South American continent by tomorrow morning.

Moonlight is still illumining the foredeck, clearly seen on the bridge cam.  I found my new World Club Diamond pin plus an invitation to the cocktail party tomorrow evening.  Sure enough there is what must be a Zirconia inset.

Wednesday, 23 January:

Earlier this morning the ship rounded the corner of South America and is now heading 176˚ – nearly due South as we pass by Recifé.  Latitude 7˚ 3.2 S.  The sea also has flattened and definitely looks like the doldrums.  With the clocks now another hour ahead I am late rising.

My first objective was to check out the Logo shop for T-shirts, but nothing different was offered and nothing was discounted.  I then went to Boat Deck to read and enjoy the Booby birds flying – mostly gliding by the ship.  I had to get my camera, but for the most part, I remained on deck in warm sunny weather all morning till the noon whistle and report, at which time I went inside to the Theatre for Tanis and Martin Jordan’s talk on going “To the Heart of Manu.”

I had a nice large mixed green salad by a window with 3 Brits, who talked about the South American explorations of the Beagle,  and Darwin.  The movie, “Hoax” about Clifford Irving, and biography of Howard Hughes was in the Theatre this afternoon.

I spent some time on Boat Deck before tea in the Lido with the Lees.  Beside us came Barbara Huff so I moved over to chat with her.  She elaborated on the “Assessment Party” incident on Funnel Deck.  The fire on the BBQ was quickly put out but the team came anyway, milled around and a 3 Striper and engineer came as well, made out reports and then Ian McNaught showed up.   “Stand down!”  On my way out of the Lido, I stopped by the H. Stern table with the upshot that I’ll be given a car and driver at my disposal while the work is done on my jewelry.  WOW!

Only Ann and Tony were at dinner with me, then we all went to the Gold, Platinum and Diamond World Club party.  I sat with Marilyn and Glenn Peters, who showed me their yearly trips listed on a nice QE2 card since 1969.  Various people were recognized for top days and trips.  Bea Muller naturally, 2 others and Lillian Kenney who has been on all 26 World cruises!  After the presentations and the Captain’s banter with Yoyo – “Direct flight to Singapore tomorrow,” I left for the concert of Kenny Martyn and Dorothy Bishop (the powerful lyric soprano).  After a brief sojourn on deck gazing at the moon, I joined Archie, Valerie, Shirley and Marguerite in the Lido.  Caught Dorothy Bishop as I left and we chatted about our singing and singers.  Back at the cabin the first “gift” was on the bed, a black and red tote bag with a big WC logo on it.  Shower and bed by eleven.

Thursday, 24 January; Bahia de Salvador, Brazil

I awoke before six to see the rising sun shining through my porthole, the first indication we were heading north and into the bay.  I could see the city outline as we headed further into the bay – reminding me of the Montevideo skyline somewhat.  The pilot boat whizzed by, around the stern and appeared in the bridge cam at 6:45.  As we docked I could clearly see the two different layers to the town.  After a quick breakfast in the Mauretania of melon, English muffin and milk, I reported to the very long line for tickets and eventually was shunted into the Crystal Bar to wait for immigration clearance and the tours ahead of us (#12) to clear out.  My tour took us around the lower city, past the lighthouse and on up to the older city for the walking part through the streets and into the Basilica, St. Francis of Assisi – cloisters, drum instructions, brief stop at H. Stern for water and rest stop, down past the pillory square and Black church built by and for the blacks.  We were back at the ship after two o’clock.  1572 – San Francisco Cathedral – cloister of blue and white tiles, Pelourinho District – Pillory Black church- built for themselves.  Lacerda elevator `1873:  Faral de Barra – lighthouse and Fort; 16th Century San Antonio fortress;  Palace of Governors and lookout – Basilica- Renaissance and Baroque gold leaf on wood – Hindu influence – 1672; – 2 rear balconies, built by Jesuits.  Dutch influence paintings with ceiling perspective; Display of a lake with African gods in a fountain.  Voodoo!

Back at the ship I simply had a banana in the cabin and took a long nap – missing the Ensemble cocktail party – Oops!  Anyway, toward time to leave I simply went to dinner, missing the sail away.  I checked the Lido and found Marguerite and Valerie.  When briefly on aft deck, Rosemary (Canada) called my name and we had a nice reunion – filling her in on Virginia Dolan’s travels.  I invited her to join me on the H. Stern outing.  She is in cabin 4123.

I watched a bit of the Cunard dance show and returned to my cabin as we headed south.

Clocks ahead another hour.  We are racing along at 28.2 knots!!!

Friday, 25 January:

We continue on our speedy pace of 27.4 knots on 203˚ heading.  The day is bright and sunny, but when I awoke early we were experiencing a passing rain cloud with a lovely rainbow to starboard.  Having realized I missed the Ensemble cocktail party I phoned Glen Peters just now to apologize.

I have added my wall hangings in her by mounting the Magellan chart opposite the closets and the color photo of Cape Horn by the TV!  I had breakfast at table 201 (melon, juice, milk and English muffins) and had a chat with Allen our waiter from Durban about Durban.  The Lees were at 203.  I then did my email check – Geoff and family will go to Spain in March.

At ten and eleven I attended the Crimes lecture on Montevideo and Buenos Aires, then the Jordans’ talk on Brazil – Manaus and the Wai Wai people.  By the time I emerged to Boat Deck at 11:45, after a rain session I found a dry cushion under a boat for reading and the noon report: 19˚ 46’ South  by 37˚ 41.6 West.  Rhum line 201˚ at 27K – average 27.9 k.  Wind WNW Force 3 – 12 knots, over deck, 25k.  Slight seas and low southwest swell.

I found the English man with whom I shard the Fitzroy biography 2 days ago and sat with him for lunch.  Our conversation switched eventually to cameras and photography, and a lady joined us toward the end.  We were by a window.  Back in the cabin, I regrouped to attend eventually the movie “Underdog.”  The rest of the afternoon I stayed in my cabin and took the opportunity to video my décor and out the porthole as we continue to speed ahead at 27 knots in low seas.

This being Burns day, we entered a Scottish decorated Mauretania Restaurant, with an entrée of Haggis on the menu.  Jean ordered it and it came the size of an ice cream scoop,, which caused a discussion with waiters and a Manager.  I kept quiet.

While sitting with the Lees I told them about my steward, Andre who always stands my soap on end each day, and when I put it in my cabinet, lo and behold he gave me another in a new box!  Margaret laughed heartily and my 4019 neighbors were behind me chuckling, because they too have vertical soap!  Thus ensued their story of toilet troubles, necessitating a major plumbing repair today.  Also, Margaret said Captain Ian’s announcement last night about revving up to 29 knots – with an aside “eat your heart out, Victoria.:” I laughed heartily at that and quoted his comment to the BBC:  “QE2 can keep up going backwards.”  More laughter!  Duo Yolba played most of their 40 instruments to enthusiastic applause, and when it was over, I walked home on deck, noticing many oil rigs with their red flames.

Saturday, 26 January:  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I arose at five o’clock to see us enter the harbor.  I could see both Corcovado and the huge statue all lit up in the clear morning pre-dawn air, as well as the lights and Sugar Loaf with its single light atop the dark protrusion.  I stood forward watching us proceed between the red on starboard and green on port, as well as past a long dark spot in the water, which I couldn’t really decide whether it was a bar or not.  Anyway, I stood there long enough to see the Pilot boat speed toward us on Port, drop the Pilot and speed back “home.”  Seeing the long bridge in the distance, I decided to head back down to watch the slow entry and eventual turn around 90˚ to sidle up to the same dock by the “Aloha: (my name for it) tower.  I dozed a bit too, waking at 7:40 when a wrong number rang on my phone.  I then called  Rosemary.

I had a quick cornflakes and milk with the Duo Yolba guys, then had to excuse myself hastily to meet with Rosemary to catch an H. Stern bus.  It was good to look out and see many familiar sights on the way.  I had my earrings adjusted, the rubilite ring mended and – – – I bought a blue topaz ring!  On the way back to the ship we saw a lot more of the city streets and buildings plus Corcovado and the Cathedral – wigwam style.  We were allowed a brief viewing inside the cathedral before being delivered back to the terminal.

Lunch at Lee’s table with Rosemary and then we parted.  I went aft to see the “Rotterdam” moored behind us – got an ice cream cone – then re-organized myself for the afternoon.  Andre has left me a very nice box for the Cunard chocolates.

Occasionally raindrops and dozing drove me off Boat Deck, so I had a nice long nap till 5 o’clock when I went to collect my new ring at the dockside H. Stern store.  Only Ann and Tony were with me at our table, and we had a great time, sharing our on shore doings, desserts, soufflé (with so much chocolate sauce the soufflé rose in the dish.  We then discussed the wonderful Brit-coms we in America enjoy.  They came to my cabin to borrow the jeweler’s screwdriver, and enjoyed my wall hangings, Rio is at: Latitude 22˚ 53.7’ South and Longitude, 43˚ 11’ West.

It is 12:35 AM and we have just left Sugarloaf behind us.  We had a local show with tambourines, drums, vocals, dancers, tumblers, samba gals in scanty – elaborate costumes as well as flouncy, beaded, colorful skirts etc.  I left a little before it was over to walk the sopping Boat Deck, admiring the Rio waterfront and city lights.  I went to the Lido and chatted with Ann and Tony till they left at eleven.  I then briefly joined Valerie, Tara and others to drink a Horlicks.  Sensing that the ship was leaving, I went topside to watch us pivot on bow, then stern to head out the magnificent and certainly romantic harbor.  When I found Perle Coles, we stood together on starboard railing chatting about everything regarding QE2, QV experiences and future trips and feelings.  A lady joined in with similar sentiments.  When Sugarloaf was abreast, we three parted with our memories full of the whole scene as we mentally said Adieu to Rio – on QE2.

Sunday, 27 January:

I arose late, skipped breakfast and just made it to the last lecture by Tanis and Martin Jordan on turtles in Surinam.  Having decided I would rather sit on deck in the warm sunshine than attend the Interdenominational service by the Captain.  I found a nice chair under boat 13 and read my Darwin- Beagle book, while overlooking the beautiful blue and moderate seas.  Noon report:  26˚ 40.3’ S by 45˚ 32’ W off Santa Catalina Island, a former restocking island for ships.  Direction 211 ˚ Speed 23K, average 22.3K.  Wind SE 4k – 15 mph.  25k over the deck.

Jean my tablemate, came to ask me abut the tipping procedure, so I explained the $11 charge each day as like wages. $1000 per month – tip personally if you want.  We decided we would meet for lunch at 12:30 and we sat with my usual Englishman to share good conversation.  I had the Greek Salad and tapioca.

On the way back to the cabin I decided to check my email so got my list, sent my instructions to Wendy and answered Blanche and Roxana.  The movie was “Chicago.”  Shortly after it began Capt McNaught came on the Tannoy to say we are stopped because of some mechanical failure.  We were then going 4K but when I emerged at 4:20 we were stopped,  although I observed some sort of water disturbance directly below mid-ships like a thruster, but I don’t think it is mounted that far back.  On the horizon was a freighter.

The weather was cool, and pleasant with small white caps and we were gently, almost imperceptibly pitching.  At 4:35 I noticed we were slowly moving forward and ten minutes later, after I had walked aft for an ice cream, the Captain came on again to say we were slowly picking up speed, but are now operating on manual because the fault was found to be in the automatic system.  Anyway, I went to the taffrail to see our wake, and at that time it definitely appeared we were only using the starboard prop shaft.

After returning to my deck chair and reading a bit more, I noticed the freighter still keeping pace with us, and perhaps gaining on us.  Hmmm!  At 6 o’clock we are going 19K.  Dinner was with Rosina and Eddy only.  Later I chatted with Eric speculating about the ship problem, Captain assignments in future etc.  The show featured a “whiz-bang” pianist and flippant humorist.

Back to the cabin via Boat Deck.  There is a little more motion tonight, but not too bad.  Had to fill out the Uruguayan affidavit of accompanying luggage!

Monday, 28 January:

When upon awaking, I ascertained it was heavily cloudy outside.  I showered and read my Bible Lesson at leisure, only emerging near ten o’clock.  I sought out the Lees after spending time in Queens Room with Archie Cooper, Tom, Stew and Wendy (both new acquaintances).  We discussed the various questions on the quiz, and meanwhile Valerie Bennett came by – then Jean (my table mate) came as well.  The Lees were listening to the quiz at the Grand Lounge, then we headed for the Theatre for Peter Crimes’ talk on the Falklands – Tony and Ann sat with me and returned my screwdriver.

Noon Report:  33˚ 21.8’ S by 53˚ W.  Rhumb line 211˚  21.5K average 19.15 K speed.  Wind ENE F 6 – 25k and 35K on deck.  Moderate seas, short northeast swell.

I went in search of a lunch partner at Mauretania and found Anita by a window.  We had pleasant conversation about our ships and cruises, and I offered the Dallas Murray book to her, which she accepted with alacrity.  I showed her my cabin decorations and gave her several map printouts of the Horn area.  On the way to the Lido for dessert we stopped by her single cabin 3068.  (I had this very cabin in 1994 Mombasa to Southampton). I had tapioca pudding and she had meatloaf to augment her scant meal at the Maury.  We parted then to go on Deck (for me) for a couple of hours.  I sat just forward of 13 in a single chair nook till 4 when I returned to the cabin.  The clouds have been rather dark all day, but I still felt the glare.

We were all at dinner.  I had leek soup and a huge chicken plate plus my usual ice cream and chocolate sauce.  I wandered to Lido and on deck aft before settling with the Lees and Marie for the singer Mark O’Malley, a Scot, who sang very good tenor range songs including Jean Valjean’s prayer from Les Miserables.

I hunted for someone to chat with at the Lido but came away, passing the Captain and other officers.  Archie hailed me as I passed through the Queen’s Room on my way to the Library, where Bill Greenwood recommended “Burning Cold” to me – about the “Prinzendam” fire. I found the Lees by the Library at the same time, so I chatted with them before returning to the cabin.  I’d like to stay up for the midnight buffet special, which I did.  Desserts and cheese and crackers.  Yum!

Photos from 2008 World Cruise

This is the last time she was docked at this Hong Kong Terminal.

This is the last time she was docked at this Hong Kong Terminal.

In 2007 we docked at the terminal, but in 2008 we were shunted off to the Cargo area with only containers towering above us.  Grrr!
Note anchor ball and company flag.

QE2 Prepares to anchor. Note anchor ball and company flag.

2007 World Cruise – Part 6

Queen Elizabeth 2 World Cruise 2007

Durban, South Africa – New York

Friday, 6 April – Durban, South Africa – 29˚ 52.2 S x 31˚ 2 E

We entered Durban Harbor at seven o’clock, turned the corner starboard and halted quite a while as if suspended, but upon reaching topside, it was clearly because we docked at a corner and the next ship forward was at 90˚ to us.  We are at the Passenger ship terminal in the middle section!  A mock Zulu tribal greeting and “war” was taking place with multiple deep drums, spears etc., and agile tumblers.

I sat in the Lido next to Terry Waite’s group; planning their land excursion.  Being Good Friday, I had a “hot cross bun.”  While in the terminal shops, I bought two decorated ostrich eggs, then took the shuttle bus to Ushaka Marine Park, which is a new theme park with shops.  I looked and was back on board by eleven o’clock.  I had lunch on board with the Garringers in their Caronia Restaurant spot by the windows starboard side.  Then I spent the afternoon in my cabin – and even napped a bit.

When departure time came around six o’clock, I went forward to watch us cast off.  There was a small delay to transfer someone to an ambulance, but we did proceed with two tugs pulling us away and back to the dock end, where the bow glided past the corner and into the large “indent” against a strong wind from astern.  The stern was heftily pulled around till we were a little more than 180˚.  We gingerly went around the shallow part of the harbor and turned out the jetty channel where crowds hooted and wished us bon voyage. Of course, we returned the salutes with our wonderful full-toned whistle.  I had hoped to see the pilot lifted from the bow by helicopter, but lightning must have deterred that stunt.  Rain came and we all went in as QE2 turned south for her 30 knot run  (speed that is, not distance!) to Cape Town, ETA midnight tomorrow for bunkering.

I ate in the Lido with Rick, Geri and Marguerite, then joined Paula for dessert clear across to a portside window.  We then attended the hour and a half crew show.  For the most part the acts were well done – singers, dancers, and jokes by Carmela as host.  Two Nepal Security gals danced and the “Male Attraction” also danced.  The very best was the Filipino tenor with falsetto well under control.  I was back in the cabin by ten o’clock.

We are speeding along at over thirty knots, and the fairly calm seas make it easier!

“Sea Diamond” sank after going on rocks in the Aegean Sea.  This is a Greek ship.  All were evacuated safely because they were close to shore.

The Durban harbor control tower is referred to as the “Monk’s Cowl” because that is what it looks like!

 Saturday, 7 April – 31 Knots speed overnight!

I had an itinerate breakfast, flitting to Bill and Richard’s table, then with Golda.  I chatted with the Lees, spent time on deck roaming and watching the agitated seas of waves, swells and whitecaps stirred by a fairly strong wind from astern at 29 knots, thus reducing the rate over the decks considerably.  At eleven-fifteen I attended the last lecture on South Africa, interrupted by the noon report.  People snickered and laughed as Daniel registered impatience from the stage!

I decided not to sing in the Talent Show when I saw so many repeat singers of mediocrity from past performances.  I frankly walked away!  I later heard that Mary M. defied Gun when she tried to limit her aria to one song.  So glad I wasn’t there.  On Sunday, I sang “Lorelei” for my table mates!

I had lunch in the Maury by a starboard window with an Aussie couple, Beryl and Lyn, and Paula joined us later.  The ocean is beautiful blue with those great waves and swells.  Noon fix: 34˚35.5 S x 23˚ 55’E  at 29.5 knots speed with moderate seas and rough swells.

Paula and I met up again at teatime.  We photographed the beautiful ocean scenes outside, and when dinner came I joined my two mates and I ate without Janet’s company.  I went from there to the fun show by String Fever.  They are the ones who ham it up on their five-string viols, always ending with all four of them playing the cello!

We crossed the Agulhas Bank this evening and are headed northerly to reach Cape Town by midnight so we can bunker at the special refueling dock before moving on to our regular space by daylight.  Cape Agulhas is the southernmost point on Africa, not Cape of Good Hope!  We are now back in the Atlantic Ocean!

Easter Sunday, 8 April – Cape Town, South Africa – 33˚ 54.6′ S x 018˚ 26.2 E.

We moved to our dock as I emerged to view the glorious Cape Town scene with magnificent Table Mountain gleaming in the cloudless morning sun, with the city skyscrapers etched clearly on the “backdrop.”  I shared a happy Easter breakfast with Grania and Peter, then spent most of the morning enjoying the deck scene and reading Burning Cold about the “Prinzendam” fire in October of 1980 and the spectacular rescue effort.  Bill had recommended this to me and I am glad he did!

After lunch in the Caronia, I headed for the Victoria and Alfred shopping area – walking, observing and buying a souvenir or two.  There were musical groups, harbor trips and restaurants all around, and being Sunday, the place was crowded with happy South Africans and tourists enjoying the perfect day.

I was back by three o’clock and spent time in my cabin till our last dinner with Golda and Diana.  I visited various friends till Showtime at 9:45.  This was the special local production of African performers dancing and pounding out their distinctive rhythms of their music.

 Monday, 9 April – Cape Town.

I joined Janet, Geri and Sylvia for a delightful red bus tour of Cape Town – for two hours.  I took 12 pages of notes in my new South Africa notebook, and when it was over, I walked around the Victoria and Alfred area again before returning to the ship for lunch after one o’clock.

I then spent the afternoon in my cabin, napping and knitting.  At six o’clock Captain Perkins came on the Tannoy to say we are fogbound so will delay until it clears up.  Can’t even see the narrow exit!  One and a half hours later, after I dined alone, looking outward, the fog lifted.  I sat on deck with Bill and Richard and we watched the tugs come and pull us away from the dock and backward gradually so we could turn 90˚ to the East and slowly forward through the red light on starboard and green on port – a very narrow span.  I was back in the cabin by eight o’clock, ready for the night.

 Tuesday, 10 April.

A beautiful, calm and cool day greeted me as I checked the weather on deck.  I ate breakfast with Bill and Richard, then chose another book to read and sat on deck to read till the eleven o’clock lecture on the life of Nelson Mandela.  Lunch followed closely after that and I joined Paula by the starboard windows in the Maury.  We saw ducks, dolphins and much interest on such as the occasional “cats paws” slightly ripple the water. Movie:  “March of the Penguins” was the movie offering, and lots of us enjoyed this re-showing! 

Janet and I have no new tablemates yet, but that doesn’t bother us.  We headed for String Fever again.  Neil Broadbent.  Clocks back one hour.

 Wednesday, 11 April – Walvis Bay, Namibia – 22˚ 57′ S x 14˚ 29.9′ E

We are docked way away from the entrance to the cargo area with railroad trains moving all around to the large depot.  We had to walk a long way to the gate, where the natives had their usual trinkets of wood necklaces etc. all similarly displayed on the dusty ground.  I bought a hippo, rhino, yak and malachite frog’ all for $25.  It was an equally long walk back, but the sunny air is very pleasant.  I had decided not to take any of the excursions since all that was offered, I had previously done anyway, so I simply remained on the ship looking over the land which is simply the container port in our foreground and the town stretching inland looking very parched and desert-like, which the whole country really is.

I had lunch in the Lido, and soon after, we pulled away directly to the ocean channel.  We could see a low, long sand spit to Port, and also the desert shore clear up to Swakupmund.  The Charity Fayre meeting took place during this departure, so I dashed to the Grand Lounge to join the group then went to the movie “Marie Antoinette”.  I then spent time in my cabin till time for dinner in the Lido with Paula.  We talked in there till ten o’clock.

On my bed was another World Cruise gift, consisting of another commemorative document case and two luggage tags of similar design.  World Cruise stuff is now going for half price in the shops. 

Thursday, 12 April.

I managed to attend the lecture on the history of Terrorism by Mr. Trenier-Harvey, before reporting for the stall set-up session for the World Cruise Charity Fayre day.   I took bids for the 4 dolls with insulting results.  Forget it and never again!  Most people don’t appreciate the work that goes into the details of them.  After lunch with Paula, I reported for my three-hour stint at the fair.

Noon Report:  We are off Angola t 15˚ 30.45′ S  and are traveling at 28.5 knots on a course of 317˚ Rhumb Line with a 22 knot following wing.  Average seas and southeast swell.

I joined Valerie and three of her friends, 2 from Alabama and June, and followed that with a few minutes of listening to the “whizbang” guitarist at the show.  After that, a lot of us headed up to Funnel deck to join the stargazers.  The lights were turned off so we could better see Orion with Rigel and Betelgeuse and Sirius, and follow on down southerly to Castor and Pollux, the Gemeni twins, and then to the Southern Cross!  All these stars in the constellations named help point to the wonderful slightly askew cross, and this will probably be our last chance to see it, because we will soon be crossing to the Northern Hemisphere.

 Friday, 13 April.

This has been a fine, pleasant and very comfortable day on deck.  We crossed the Prime Meridian at 07˚12.5’S and 000˚ before noon at which time  000˚ 42’W was reported.  I ate with Betty, Beverly and Martha (all from the Aegean I world cruise my friend Phyllis Reynolds took in 1997), then went to the fine lecture on Solzhenitzyn by David Aikman.  This makes me want to buy his book on “Six Souls.”  After that, I sat on deck under number 12 lifeboat reading and observing the white-capped slight seas and almost imperceptible swell.  At noon we were going at 28.5 knots.

Before lunch I stopped to chat with George and Ann about Greenwich and the Meridian House, Harrison’s chronometer and alas, some of my compatriots who knew nothing of the ball clock functions.  Paula joined me as usual, and we observed flying fish.  The afternoon saw me attending two more lectures dealing with spies in the sky, and the movie “On a Clear Day”

Dinner with Janet at our table, just the two of us, followed by the Showtime  feature, “Duo Yolba”  delightful display of great folk-type playing on multiple instruments not familiar to most of us.

Saturday, 14 April.

We crossed the Equator at 8:54 a.m. local time, GMT 0754 at Longitude 007˚ 24.7’W traveling at compass bearing 316˚.  Alas, the actual crossing was not on the channel 4 screen till,3′ North, so I missed the immediate switch!

I had breakfast with the two performers of Duo Yolba, the multi-musicians from last night.  The older is married to a Swede and lives there and the younger one is from Cozumel. Both are Mexican.   Janet joined us and gave them the name of the Edinburgh Festival organizers. 

Mr. Aikman’s lecture today was on the Falklands War.  Lunch with Paula as usual, then a talk on the Canary Islands.  It is very hot and humid out so I stayed inside.  However, I did manage a short time under boat 8 before noon.  After the Canaries talk I spent the rest of the afternoon with the television in my cabin.

Janet and I again had our formal dinner together at our “exclusive” table, then when back at the cabin I received a beautiful silk Cunard 25th World Cruise scarf and an invitation to the World Cruise cocktail party for tomorrow.  The scarf will forever be a treasure for me.

Noon Report:  01˚3.6’N x 008˚ 25.7 W, and they said we crossed at 0855 at a speed of 28.3 knots.  Rhumb Line 317˚ True.  Following low swell.  Wind: South at Force 3, and 24 knots on deck.

Sunday, 15 April.

I awoke later than usual and ate breakfast alone in the Lido.  I chased the Lees to their table in the Maury and gave Margaret the next knitted elephant for the embroidered eyes.  I then attended Glenmore’s lecture on the “Second Oldest Profession” (espionage) and read my book in the Grand Lounge till the noon report.  09˚ 5’N x 15˚56′ W. Course: 317˚ and will later to 352˚ off Senegal for a Rhumb Line to the Canaries.  Seas are slight and low swell – Boring as usual.  I chatted with Richard briefly and had lunch on my own by a window, hoping Paula would show up, but she didn’t.

The Nautical Auction took place in the Grand Lounge, and a lot of money was raised for the charity.  However, I didn’t remain long and went to hear a concert in the Theatre. 

Janet and I were at our table for dinner, then we both went to the World Cruise cocktail party, where I sat with Michel and Gisele.  Michel worked for a shipping line in Quebec in the 50s and knew of the Greek Line ships.  We went directly to the Grand Lounge for the pared-down version of the Apassionata production from the QM2.  With the cast usually done for 6 couples, they had to cut don to two or three couples for the dance numbers, but they did it superbly in the limited stage area.

The ship did turn to 350˚ around six o’clock, and I was on hand to see us do it.

Monday, 16 April.

After pancakes in the Maury, I checked the deck and found strong wind from forward and a brisk cool in the air, so the time being near ten, I attended the two lectures in the Theater; 1. Madiera and 2. Modern China.

Noon Report:  18˚ 57’N x 017˚ 59′ W 85 nautical miles off Mauritania; at 27.8 knots.  Course: 005˚.  Northwest wind 40-50 mph over decks.  Lunch was next and Valerie Bennett joined me by a window in the Lido.  I chatted with Margaret and Eric and told them about Michel (of the Canadian Pacific Line, and it turns out Eric worked there as well for a short time.)

I gave Karen of the Travel Office my plane information for more clarification and went to see “The Queen” again in the Theatre balcony.  Dinner and showtime with Joe Yolba and classical guitar.  Ali put two chocolates on my 2 knitted elephants!

Tuesday, 17 April – Las Palmas – 28˚ 8.4′ N x 15˚ 25.5′ W

Gisele and I had a nice breakfast,  and I then went to see about the QE2 Passenger Review and joined the “chorus” in rehearsal.  Lecture on the history of codes by Glenmore.  Before I knew it we were entering the lovely harbor at Las Palmas,  Gran Canarie Island.  We passed the black and white striped jetty lighthouse and glided to the long Terminal Pier below distant surrounding mountains clothed in “sandy” atmosphere and cool air.  The city was spread out right before us. 

After lunch in the Mauretania, I joined my bus tour to Columbus museum, Cathedral, Bandana Caldera and Botanical Gardens, as well as the Grotto of Artiles (caves.)  We were back by five-thirty and I had my dinner in the Mauretania.  We left on time at eight o’clock by backing along the dock and turning stern pivot 90˚ to head out.

By the way, Marguerite told me the QM2 will be heading East on the crossing, while we head West and now we wonder if they will cross each other.  Also, we remembered Ian McNaught will be in command by then.  Yippee!

Wednesday, 18 April, Madeira – 32˚38’N x 016˚ 54.4′ W.

Since I awoke late, I skipped breakfast in favor of a look on deck.  “Boudicca” of Fred Olsen line is also in port, as is the replica of the “Santa Maria.”  I caught a limited glance of that and it was gone when we returned from my tour.  We traveled up and down numerous mountains on very windy roads overlooking deep ravines and affording spectacular views.  Pico das Barceles, Miraduro, Eira de Serrado 1053 meters high, Monte and Toboggan rides down the slopes – a long way!

The tea stop afforded a marvelous ‘elevensies,” with chocolate cake, Madeira cake and Melba toast.  Absolutely yummy!

Back at the ship I spent the afteroon on deck facing toward the beautiful scene of Funchal in clouds of mist up the mountain.  For a while Richard Clay and I chatted and when he left, I took up my book.  The “Santa Maria” replica motored by so I was able to photograph it after all.

We pulled away a little after six, at which time Paula caught up with me and told me of her happy day with Patrick and Julie (her son and daughter-in-law).  They delivered her credit card, which was greatly missed since Cunard would not accept her debit card all during the world cruise time.  I congratulated her on being off the hook!  We spent a long time still on deck watching a lone, confused pigeon flying and landing as the island disappeared. 

After I ate dinner in the Lido (Paula abstained), and I had two crèmes caramels. Marguerite joined us a while facing aft by the sports deck. I returned to my cabin by eight-thirty.  Paula’s cabin 2003 is the smallest outside single I have seen.  It has a fold down bunk, and if used the cabin would be difficult to spread out.

Thursday, 19 April.

I shared a quick breakfast in the Lido with Bill, Richard and a friend.  Bill says “Boudicca” is the former “Royal Viking Sky.”  From there I went to the rehearsal for the QE2 Review we gals have planned.  I copied the melody for “Captain of the Pinafore” for the pianist, attended the cooking demonstration, then became embroiled in the talent show sign-up.  Result:  I pulled out with a bit of an attitude about Mary M. who protested at the thought of her being put out because of so many people who wanted to sign up.

Noon Report:  39˚30’N x 12˚ 48.4′ W: Speed: 28.7 knots from NE: Course: 023˚ Low swell and calm.

I had lunch with Shirley from Australia, Phoenix, New Jersey and elsewhere, and Paula.  We had lively conversations about accents, English language, politics and general fun. I gave my extra Madeira bag to Margaret Lee for £5.00 and my large fan to Paula who phoned to say she could send it to me.  Yes and thanks!

The Talent Show went on without me! My dinner was on my own in the Mauretania, but I didn’t mind since we had the whole Auld Lang Syne song and Baked Alaska with the Lee.  I chatted with the Bishops and Paula before the Show, which was the great arias and duets by the Opera Babes.  Paula and I went to see the Royal Ascot Ball preliminaries and followed that with a visit to the Gala Buffet.  All I had was a Horlicks and returned to my cabin.

Friday, 20 April.

During breakfast I had a short chat with Janet and Marguerite plus Kurt, then checked the air on deck, which is cool as we proceed easily through the low swell of the Bay of Biscay.  We gals rehearsed in the Grand Lounge for the QE2 review, which is really rough – so we will see how it goes this afternoon.  Paula and Australia Shirley lunched with me after I attended the lecture on salesmanship!  Then ensued our anticipated performance of the QE2 Review.  Miracle of miracles, we did well and it went over well!  Bill and Richard plus an Aussie friend of theirs let me join them for tea.

Noon Report:  47˚ 46′ N x 007˚ 6′ W.  We are off the French coastline now in the Bay of Biscay ready to join the English Channel by six o’clock tonight, and we will pick up the local Pilot to the Solent by 0315 tomorrow.  Captain Perkins is to leave and Ian Captain McNaught will return, much to our happy anticipation!  I had dinner alone at 255, and all of us in that lovely nook took photos of each other and said our goodbyes.  I then headed for the Lido to spend the evening with Paula as usual.

Saturday, 21 April – Southampton, England – Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday.  50˚53’N x 001˚23.8W

I surfaced long after we were tied up, already turned around the 180˚.  I ate on my own facing the port and noted the arrival of the “Millenium” of Celebrity Cruises, and eventually watched the brand new “Ocean Village 2” back into a slip astern of us.

I stayed with Paula until we both left the ship after ten o’clock, and I took the Shuttle bus to West Quay, adjacent to the Bar Gate and the precinct shops.  I first went to the Natwest hole in the wall for my £40, and bought stuff at W.H. Smith, Boots etc. as well as sight seeing at the “Titanic” memorial and Palmerston Park.

I returned to Queen Elizabeth 2 for lunch, but returned into town to call the families and returned by four o’clock.  I chatted with the Bishops, filmed our departure and ate with Janet and two new women, Lorraine and Daisy from Wales. At the table for two next to ours, we met Geoff and Richard who are newly embarked.  They are funny!

Sunday, 22 April – Back on the Atlantic Ocean bound for New York.

I returned to my cabin and read a while, falling asleep, so I didn’t go to the movie after all.  Clocks back one hour.  At least I managed to spot the Nab Tower, which I have hitherto called the Shot Tower erroneously.

I received an email from Cherie stating he will be in New York when I arrive.  While there are no rough seas, we experienced lots of fog so the foghorn sounded every two minutes through lunchtime, and occasional rain fell.

I had to work out the bus transport to JFK airport instead of LaGuardia, then I read the Richard Henry Dana book till noon.  Two Years Before the Mast.

At noon we were just south of Ireland traveling at 24.4 knots on a Rhumb line course of 247˚, in three miles visibility (hence the fog horn).  A weather low is ahead but we may go around it.  Slight seas and low swell prevail.

Peter Boyd-Smith of “Cobwebs” in Southampton is the maritime lecturer now, and the first one today was on the “Titanic.”  “Nomadic” was a tender at that era and now will be restored.  I saw most of “Casino Royale” again, and had dinner with Janet only, and we carried on banter with Geoff and Richard next door.  Before the Beatlemania performance I sat with Marie and Frank, then headed to the Lido to locate familiar faces, with only the Bishops, Marguerite and Jim, Michelle and two more dance hosts.  Back to the cabin to retire and put clocks back one hour.   Actually I had to pass by the Beatlemania concert and I held my fingers in my ears, it was so loud!

Monday, 23 April.

We had a little more motion over night, but the storm passed north of us.  I had breakfast with Sheila from Toronto, while we tried to do states that can be incorporated into sentences.  For a while I sat on deck bundled up against the cool winds, reading and enjoying the waves and swells, then warmed up at the two lectures by Brian Hoey on Queen Elizabeth II,  and Nigel West on Ian Fleming.  I then met Diane for lunch at the Mauretania.  She can’t invite me to eat with her in the Caronia restaurant so I kidded her about slumming it!

We continue westward at 25.2 knots with moderate seas, and west south-westerly swell at a Force 5 (strong) wind from west south-west, very strong on deck.

The afternoon lecture by Edward Peck dwelt on maps of different projections and fascinating statistics.  I tried the outside again briefly, but it is still quite cool and windy but clear.  I dined alone and visited the Lido as usual.  The Westenders performed their superb show tunes, while some motion continues to remind us we are happily at sea!  Clocks back one hour.

Tuesday, 24 April.

Last night as I was reading, I realized the moon has again waxed enough to light up the ocean directly along our westward path.  It looks as though it is a road with edges clearly marked.  Two spots on the bow are lit up by the moonbeams.  The swells continued to cause some pitching and consequently there are gentle groans of creaking walls in my cabin – which I love to hear!

I was wide awake around four o’clock so as light dawned, I could see the waves occasionally splashing over the bow, which always thrills me, especially because it has happened so rarely along our way.  Not since the night before Japan have we had this much motion!

Queen Mary 2 docks today in Southampton, and I think that if we hadn’t gone so far south to avoid the storm we might have passed each other yesterday.  Too bad!  All day we encountered moderate seas and swells from the west, so we had some fun pitching, making foam and a beautiful wake with occasional larger waves.

Breakfast was with Gisele, then I chose a book from the Library and had a chat with Sheila.  Three lectures included Nigel West on the special relationship between the United States and Britain regarding shared intelligence, then a great talk on the English language and its Quirks by Ambassador Edward Peck, plus Peter Boyd-Smith’s second talk on “Titanic.”  The Theatre door was damaged so I reported it before lunch in Maury with Shirley (Aussie) and four Brit ladies.

I spent a lot of time videoing the ocean and walking along the deck as well as a sojourn simply gazing at the seas from a deck chair.  Dinner was again alone, but Geoff and Richard being present, we had lively conversations from table to table. 

Some major repair is going on behind curtain walls on the E Stairwell landing between two and three decks. 

I am in the throes of trying to pack everything, a very tight fit.  I’ll leave something behind for sure.  Overnight was a gradual smoothing out process.

At noon we were half way across the ocean with strong winds from the West South West at Force 7, moderate seas and short, moderate, westerly swells.  Thus our glorious pitching!   Speed 23.2 knots on a course of 262.˚ The first quarter moon path shines brilliantly   Clocks back one hour.

Wednesday, 25 April.

Again I was awake very early, just as dawn was beginning.  I puttered at packing and reading till breakfast, which I took in the Maury with a nice Welshman from Barry.  He is involved with a choir so we had a delightful mutual-interest conversation.

The morning lectures were by Brian Hoey on Princess Diana, and Boyd-Smith on the “Four Queens” – ships that is!

Lunch quickly rolled around and I shared it with John Rollinson, the retired church organist, He is agreeable to accompanying me if there is another Talent Show.  The afternoon lecture was “Cultural Shock and Perception” by Ambassador Edward Peck.  At noon we were off the Grand Banks of Nova Scotia with rain, 304 nautical miles off Cape Race, traveling at 24.5 knots. In slight seas and southwest swells in south southwest wind at Force 5.

John and I did rehearse the “Dove Sono” by Mozart in the Yacht Club.  Dinner was with Faith and Wendell Bishop in the Lido and we chatted a long time.  Also Peter and Grania came along and we talked at length.  I was back in my cabin by ten thirty.

Thursday, 26 April.

Smooth is the theme of the day with fog and foghorn sounds as we sail off Nova Scotia.  I met John R. at the Crystal Bar for our rehearsal at 7:15 this morning, and we went through the aria twice, then, Lee my friend showed up for her session on her oboe with him and I listened.  She wanted to know if she was ready to perform and I frankly replied reluctantly in the negative, for which she thanked me!  We had breakfast together in the Maury with Virginia, Lee’s Mom, John and Dave.

The lectures were:  Peck’s “Postulates” and “Intelligence Agencies” by Nigel West, then we signed up for the Talent show.  There were only ten candidates this time, a more possible number.

I had my last lunch by a window overlooking the water and fog able to hear the foghorn.  A Brit couple joined me.  Marie says they will figure the requirements for World Club membership next year á la Carnival, whatever that means.  She is winding up her charity table today!

I went topside to hear the final concert by the Westenders,  and that was followed by the Talent Show in which there were only a few entrants including John Rollinson doing his own song and accompanying me in the “Dove Sono” which got a very good reception!

Janet and I ate together for the last time and we spent the whole time talking with Geoff Woods and Richard Goyette, and also exchanged addresses.  Richard had heard me sing, but Geoff slept through it so missed it.  I said my goodbyes to Omar, hugged Sylvia and took leave of Arjani and others.

When I checked the Lido I sat with Richard Clay and Bill Greenwood till time for the show.  Valerie was celebrating her birthday at a long table with balloons and cake.

The crazy acrobatic Moosenmen did the ladder balance walk, while the other one did a tightrope walk.  The other half of the show was a great vocal concert by Dorothy Bishop, a very accomplished operatic soprano with pop abilities too.  I caught the Bishops on their way to the Purser’s Office so I said goodbyes again.  I delivered my two fully loaded suitcases by 9:30.  Clocks back one last hour.

Friday, 27 April – New York Harbor.

I awoke early enough to see us approach Ambrose Tower and the Verrazano Bridge during a thunder and lightning storm.  I dozed in between but didn’t feel it necessary to go up to witness in the rain.  QE2 docked on starboard and our gangway was set up at G stairway Two Deck.  I ate my last breakfast with Gisele and Valerie Noonan came to update us on Billy’s condition.  I let her telephone her daughter from the Pavilion.

I took my stuff from the cabin by eight thirty and sat with John Rollinson till my ticket Red 2 was called.  I had said goodbye to the Garringers, Valerie and Molly, Gisele and several others, then joined the jam up at the gangway.  The rest of the process was smooth although I again had to drag all my bags to the bus.

The bus to JFK was very slow and took an hour and a half. 

Goodbye QE2 and friends.  This was a lovely and very smooth World Cruise, and I hope to return for the 08 Pacific Rim cruise.   The Westenders were on my bus as well as the Moosmen, and we talked together during the long ride.


I met up with Archie Cooer at the airport, as he checked in for his flight back to Australia.  He was a very congenial and interesting man and we ate many a meal together in the Lido as well as Mauretania.