Saturday, 25 of March of 2023

Singapore – Southampton -1999-Part 1



MARCH 17 – APRIL 14, 1999

CABIN 4119 – 2007

Wednesday, 15 March – Singapore Embarkation.

March 15- 17 was spent on plane fights, and is a saga in itself!  I had gone early to Boston to spend the night at the Airport hotel to be on hand since a big snowstorm was threatening.  I checked in early on the 15th only to find my flight had been cancelled.  Fortunately, the attendant was able to book me quickly on another plane that would take me to Detroit, where I would find another plane to Norita, Japan.  That dovetailed in good order, then when waiting in Norita for my next flight, the one originally scheduled for that segment, I was able to board that, and arrive in Singapore after midnight.  I was met at the airport and the driver took me directly to the ship!  I was not expected, because I should have been taken to a hotel.  However, they found me cabin 4121, next to my assigned cabin 4119, and I gratefully tumbled into bed after that long ordeal!

I met Margaret Yehuda and the Lees and had lunch with them.  I took the shuttle to town to buy bras, which I had neglected to pack, and when returning to the ship I came across Paul Danby, and Gregory at the gangway to welcome those embarking.  I did the boat drill, saw Jean Burns and settled in for a nap.

I went to table 268 in the Mauretania Restaurant and met two men, one from Spain and the other from France, named Sebastian.   Saw the movie “Some Mother’s Son” and went to bed.  The ship left at ten o’clock but I wasn’t on hand!

Thursday, 18 March – Malacca, Malaysia.

It was very smooth sailing all night, mainly because we were in the Straits of Malacca.  I was awake very early so I puttered, read and tidied the cabin.  We were anchored way off Malacca by dawn; the water was very shallow and when we tendered to shore and up the river with dhows all along the shore, the ship looked small in the distance.

My tour took me to the town of Malacca where we went through a typical private home, and wandered in the middle of the town.  After lunch with Jean I watched “Amistad.” We raised the anchor and were under way before five o’clock.  There were lots of ships in the Strait.  Briefly I walked Boat Deck portside and checked out the shops (garish stuff) before heading for my cabin to wash and curl my hair.

Jean joined me for dinner at table 268 and another Jean (Lewis from the Wirrall) sat in the unused seat of the other Jean.  This lady turned out to be a delight.  She and I lingered long after Jean B. left.  I watched the end of the movie “Rush Hour,” and then strolled Boat Deck in the still humid and warm air, then headed to the cabin and bed.  Clocks back one hour.

Friday, 19 March – Bay of Bengal.

I awoke around four in the morning still mixed up in time.  The ship was still in the Straits of Malacca with Sumatra to Port most of the morning.  Overcast skies and heavy tropical rains predominated.  I had breakfast with Jean and a lady from Sydney named Joan.  While by the Starboard windows we saw a school of young dolphins romping and lots of shipping including a large oilrig in tow with three tall Erectorset-like towers.

I attended two lectures in the Theatre, scanned the shops then asked for a cabin change at the Purser’s office.  I met the Lees and Jean for lunch and jubilantly reported my new cabin to be 2007 – a single, outside way up forward.  I am sitting on my bed in 2007 right now and luxuriating in a porthole!  Yippee!  This porthole is so far forward it is on an angle commensurate with the bow tumblehome, and the movement through the water is quiet and free from engine noise or vibration.  Not that I noticed it amidships but it is quiet now.  Since it has been raining off and on, I remained in my new cabin savoring its newness.  Toward five o’clock I noticed two funnel clouds and although neither reached the water I could see much turbulence on the surface of the water. 

The welcome cocktail party took place at seven o’clock but I napped till seven twenty.  I then went to shake hands with Captain Hasell (pronounced Hazel).  Elaine looked exquisite in her new thinner form and beaded top.  I also met Cecil, now a widower, from Australia.  We hugged and spilled my orange juice! Woops!  Jean and I proceeded on up to dinner where the men were about to finish, and we joined Olive and Jean Lewis.  Lovely prawns, asparagus soup, lobster tail and vanilla soufflé! Yum!  I watched part of “the Avengers” – nothing like the series.  To bed I went shortly after having snoozed a bit in the movie!  I do love my new cabin!  Clocks back 30 minutes tonight.

 Saturday, 20 March – Bay of Bengal.

I emerged for breakfast a little after eight o’clock.  As I passed by the computer room I greeted Eric who was playing solitaire,  awaiting Margaret’s surfacing.  I had most of my breakfast alone then wandered a bit, eventually settling on a chair on Boat Deck to read my book and watch the various tankers and freighters we passed, all going our same direction.  Sunny and comfortably breezy from the south -southwest. 

I eventually went inside and located the Lees who were in their accustomed place by the windows on Starboard side of Queens Room..  Joyce and Les, their friends were discussing the merits of computers, so I joined in.

At twelve thirty I went with Eric and Margaret to lunch at the Lido where Jean Burns eventually joined us.  Valerie came to sit with us toward the end.  I headed again for Boat Deck and sat with Eric and Margaret again.  I later bought stuff at the shops.  Oh yes, I sent three emails before lunch.

I took tea with the other Martha (Gerringer) in the Queen’s Room.  At around five o’clock the ship passed within sight of the southern shore of Sri Lanka.  I could barely make out individual buildings.  When fully past the island we will turn north toward Cochin.

I attended John Duffy’s cocktail party in the Yacht Club.  Jean and I sat with a New Zealand couple.  Dinner ensued and I returned to my cabin.  Clocks back one hour.  Some time during the day I met a newly married couple, Blanche and Peter, who were both widowed previously.

Sunday, 21 March – Cochin, India.

Again I was up around four o’clock to stay.  I read for a while.  As we entered Cochin Harbor I was on deck to view, and saw that the tide was swiftly going out and taking green grasses with it in the rips.  There were weirs placed all across a wide expanse between islands, and along the shore were many Chinese pole nets that fan out at high tide.  They were poised in the up position.  Several little double-ended rowing, and fishing boats were floating out of the current, but one was going swiftly with the outgoing tide.  They look like small gondolas!

Many small clusters of people watched our progress and we were finally pushed sideways to the quay by two large tugs and one small one.  Waiting to greet us was a single elephant dressed in gold on his face and sporting two even long tusks.  I ducked into Mauretania for breakfast after seven thirty.

I took the morning tour of old Cochin, but decided to pass up the backwater tour in the afternoon.  We saw an old Jewish Synagogue, and walked through the primitive streets.  Also, I was intrigued to see a small Catholic church in which was a large and ornate sarcophagus, which previously held Vasco da Gama, who died here, but later his body was taken back to Lisbon for entombment in a similar and larger sarcophagus in the Cathedral.  Interestingly, I have also seen this in Lisbon!

Jean and I chose to see the “Gandhi” movie; then I left to join the Lees for tea.  Eric, Margaret and I then went on deck to watch a large tanker being pushed to the quay across the channel.  It took a long time so I found a deck chair on Boat Deck and watched numerous small excursion boats parade back and forth, till finally the tugs came to help QE2 away from the quay and pivot around to port for departure.  Three blasts of the whistle twice, and an answer from “Arkona” (a white American ship) then reply and “Boop.”  I headed back to the cabin, and heard three more blasts from there, as she proceeded between fishing “gondolas.”  After dinner I wandered a bit then returned to my cabin by ten.

Monday, 22 March.

I awoke around seven o’clock and went to breakfast an hour later.  I sat with Barbara, Margaret Y., Jean and Martha.  Later Barbara’ mother Jessie joined us.  I then headed directly for Starboard Boat Deck and read my book all the rest of the morning till after the noon whistle test.  I then did my deck walking starting at Five Deck and working up to two on rounds, then I prepared for lunch.  At some point I got stamps from the Purser’s Office and mailed my post cards.

I sat with Barbara and Jessie then switched to Jean and Valerie for dessert.   I am presently sitting on starboard Boat Deck under boat 13, feeling the lovely forward motion breeze and comfortable 80˚ temperature.  This is perfect – with Margaret Lee.  Eric is in the sun somewhere else.  A passenger came by and made a fuss over spotting two passengers. ????  Apparently there are only five or six hundred passengers on board and the dining rooms and Lido attest to this fact.

Martha Gerringer came by to chat and I gave her my card.  Teatime brought the Lees and me together again, and then I returned to Boat Deck till nearly six o’clock.  I bought a red T-shirt.  Awaiting me under the door was an email from Cherie.

In my conversation with Martha G., she corrected me.  The Arabian Sea is the West coast of India, so it looks like the Indian Ocean is south of the subcontinent.  A little grackle-like bird , scrawny and smaller, has been hitch-hiking all day. 

I decided to try dinner at the Lido, so I dressed “informally” and sat at a table set for two.  Waiters kept trying to take away the second setting, and Maria says they are trained to do so.  I prevailed in saving it and was joined by a man from Orlando named Charlie.  Afterwards I saw end of the movie then tried out the show, “Black Tie.”  The performers were two Russian-Greek-Australian basses, a cello, piano guitar and drums.  They were very good.  Jean Lewis sat with me and we enjoyed a Horlicks afterward in the Lido.  I got to bed near midnight.

Tuesday, 23 March – Bombay.

We docked at the Ballard Dock around four o’clock.  There is not much to say since we were in port all day.  I took a taxi with Margaret Y. and Judy to the Taj Hotel, walked around the Gateway to India and a shopping street in back of the hotel; then returned by noon.  I ate lunch alone in the Lido; then went to Boat Deck to read and watch the boats and ships plying back and forth.  There was a five-man rowing training boat, a dredger, a clipper bow steam yacht, various freighters and tankers, a sailing dhow and various tugs and boats anchored.

In the afternoon I watched the movie, “Holy Man.”  Jean Burns joined Martha and me in Queens Room for tea; then I returned to Boat Deck to finish my book and again enjoy the harbor.

After dinner I delivered my immigration card for India to the Purser’s Office then watched the special show of native dancers.  They were extremely energetic with lots of jumping, bouncing, stamping (bare feet), and the costumes were very colorful. It has been a lovely sunny and comfortable day!

Wednesday, 24 March – Bombay – Mumbai.

There was a beautiful sunrise over the Bay with haze.  I went on the Elephanta Island trip, which commenced at the Gateway to India, where several excursion boats awaited all of us.  We motored across the bay past a re-fueling island, and landed at the stage where we all disembarked.  I walked up the sloping and very wide steps lined with countless vendors begging one to buy their wares.  Some people paid to be lifted onto sultan seats and carried up the long stairway by four men.  At the top were the caves and ritual areas complete with phallic sculptures and symbols all around. 

Once back at the ship I had a late lunch with Jean.  We tried the movie for a short time, but left for Boat Deck where I sat with Eric and Margaret in the shade on Starboard, reading and watching freighters come and go, the rowers with their five oars, and later a small navy training sailing yawl.  I took tea in the Lido then went to the cabin.

At five thirty or so I returned to Boat Deck and watched the tugs very slowly pull QE2 away from the quay as the wind was picking up on port beam.  It took a long time to get her far enough out so the tugs could pivot her around 180˚ and head slowly out the harbor.  The whistle blasted three times and we were off.  I sat near the Observation Deck stairs and was joined by Martha G.  She left before the sun set, but I lingered longer till the following wind picked up.  Then I went down to the cabin, showered and went to a late dinner.  I watched a bit of the movie “The Imposters,” then went to bed about eleven.  We are now heading northwestward across the Arabian Sea.

Thursday, 25 March – Arabian Sea.

What a lovely sunny, clear day greeted us.  After breakfast Jean and I attended the two lectures on Arabia and Dubai, between which we strolled through the shops.  I was on Boat Deck reading my book when the noon whistle blew.  The forward wind was augmented by the northwest wind and the cooler air made it borderline comfortable.  After lunch, I returned to Boat Deck and actually became cool enough to need my sweatshirt, so after getting it, I went to the film “Simon Birch.”

I had tea with Jean and later Margaret Y.  The wind is creating little white caps but QE2 goes on majestically, unaffected as usual.  By the way, it is obvious everywhere that there are few passengers on board.  The waiters in the Lido hover over us to provide our every need and it is almost annoying.  In the dining room, there are still many empty tables and our assistant manager makes his rounds several times an evening like a mother hen!

I bought Indian boxes with Jean.  I gave her a key ring and a tea towel; pay back for the lovely piano scarf she had given me previously. 

It is hot today, so I changed to cooler clothes then headed upward to attend the Scott lecture.  Back to the shops then on to Boat Deck for a while.  We are now sailing in the Gulf of Oman!

I had lunch on portside in the Lido with Jean, and Eric and Margaret came by.  I tried the movie but didn’t like it, so I found the Lees on Boat Deck and chatted while admiring the waterscape.  We found we are going quite slowly on placid sea.  It is misty or more correctly, hazy because of the sand particles from the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula.

I enjoyed the lecture about Rupert Murdoch by Andrew Neil and was spellbound to say the least!  I joined the Lees for tea then headed for the cabin.  I am presently sitting on the sill below my porthole where I can look out on the very flat sea surface.  The sun is in haze on our portside.  North is Iran over the horizon and we are nearing the narrow Strait of Hormuz through which we will pass around midnight.  Incredible to think I am at this part of the world!  The Persian Gulf is often called the Arabian Gulf!

After dinner and a fairly good show by Richard Yanni, Jean Lewis and I went to Boat Deck where we parted.  I discovered the Observation Deck was open so I went up to scan the horizon for lights.  The moon and stars were out and I could make out very distant lights of two ships and a double flashing beacon.  The lookout on the Bridge wing said hello.  I also saw the phosphorescence a little and noted dark bands either side of the ship, which must be the counter waves or rips?  No land lights yet, but shortly we should be passing through the Straits of Hormuz.  Clocks back one hour and to bed late.

Saturday, 27 March – Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

I was on deck forward in time to watch our approach to the harbor.  Two green tugs were heading our way with water canons spraying.  On the horizon spread the long expanse of high-rise buildings and beyond what looked like the other side of a narrow peninsula.  Two large planes flew overhead on their airport approach.  One building stands alone to the far right, looking like a sail.  This is the Burg al Arab Hotel.

The tugs were tethered to us and swayed to the necessary sides to guide and protect us from the outer curved jetty.  While up forward I chatted with a lovely English couple about my piloting speculations.  When the final course of action re: guiding us to the dock on starboard was determined, I went to sit in the first starboard Boat Deck chair.  While there the whistle blasted twice.  Fred was just coming out and asked us ladies if we did that!  I apologized.  Ha Ha.  Having successfully seen us safely docked I went back in to breakfast with Jean.  Two camels are waiting to greet us – at a distance.

I took the Dubai Sights tour of the Fort, a Palace, water taxi and so on, ending up at a Souk shopping area.  After lunch back on board I napped and prepared for the World Cruise Society diner at the Dubai Golf and Yacht Club.  What a fantastic place this is by the “creek” across from a carnival.  We had cocktails and quartet entertainment on the upper terrace, then we went down stone steps for dinner in a large “star-lit” tent.  The dinner favors consisted of a lovely wooden curved box with Myrrh inside, and a scroll with the menu on it.  Cecil Bowles and Noel Mullheney as well as YoYo were at my table.  YoYo was the hostess.  We were entertained with fireworks, and a Belly Dancer.  We heard an encouraging speech by the Cunard CEO.  Captain Hasell is happy too with future outlook.  A New Queen Mary (2) will be built and is due in 2002 to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II’s golden anniversary.  They are planning to have 2 Queens meeting and crossing together.  [ Note: As I type this in 2009, I can add that not only did the Queen Mary 2 come into being, in 2004, I have been on her six times, and indeed I was on board QE2 for the first Tandem crossing in 2004, and subsequent rendezvous of two and later three Cunard ships and final tandem crossing in October, 2008.]

The features of the evening included scenarios with Bedouin tents with woven sheep wool cushions, a hookah, camel (for sitting and photography), Arab girls painting henna on peoples hands, head bands, “stars” turned blue, then white.  Centerpieces on the tables were tripod golf clubs and flowers on top.  Boats in the Creek were plying back and forth all lit up, and to top all this off there were fireworks across the water.

Sunday, 28 March – Dubai.

We had a comfortable morning breeze on Boat Deck (shady side) overlooking the harbor scene.  Three ships were at anchor on the horizon, ships were docked opposite and aft across the harbor.  We had a clear view over the Persian Gulf!  Artificial harbor jetties line the channel.  I had breakfast with Olive, and returned to Boat Deck to observe some more.  I saw a Stena Tanker, empty, even propeller is partly above the water.  Half the rudder also shows, and “HMS Beatle” is docked behind us.

When I headed down to find Jean Burns, I encountered both Jeans and we went into Dubai on the Shuttle Bus.  We got off at the shopping center where we walked the mall among all sorts of Muslims, Indians, Caucasians and so forth.  We went back to the ship for lunch, and I spent a few hours on Port Boat Deck with Eric and Margaret looking seaward and talking.  I had tea with them plus Les and Joyce and Maureen.

I went to my cabin and fell asleep.  When I awoke I went topside again and shared the BBQ on Sun Deck with Jean Burns.  We then sat a long time on Boat Deck watching the city light.  Eventually the ship was prepared for sailing, but there was a long delay.  I remained on deck till the four tugs did their pushing and pulling to turn us around to port and head us out the crooked channel.  It was fun watching her move the way I figured she would, so by midnight or a little after, I went down to bed.  Clocks back an hour again.  Goodbye Dubai.