Saturday, 25 of March of 2023

Singapore-Southampton -1999- Part 2

QE2 Singapore – Southampton, 1999 

Cabin 2007 – Part 2

Monday, 29 March – Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.

I had breakfast alone.  Boat Deck time ensued.  I got credits straightened out at the Shore Excursion desk and returned to Boat Deck till the lecture on Islam was scheduled.  I returned to the cabin a while then bought a globe necklace and earrings.  After lunch at the Mauretania restaurant where I ate fish and chips, I attended the Andrew Neil lecture on “the press and the Monarchy.”  I bought his book, which he autographed.  I then read it on Boat Deck till teatime when I joined the Lees.  While in the Lido, we shifted course about five degrees westward as we passed a cape south of Muscat.

After dinner Jean and I eagerly awaited Mark Russell’s performance, which more than met our expectations.  A song about Dubai, scathing satire about the President and many hearty laughs were forthcoming.  We continue smoothly toward the Gulf of Aden.

Tuesday, 30 March – Indian Ocean to Gulf of Aden.

This has been a somewhat different day for me.  Several charity raising events took place such as the “swimathon” with June Applebee, Julia Johnson and Warren Smith doing laps for sponsorship, and the tug of war on Helideck both of which I didn’t see.  I did, however, attend the lecture on Israel, Jordan and Syria then joined everyone on Boat Deck to watch us call in at Raysut, Oman to transfer a crew patient to a tug for transfer to a hospital.  They cordoned off Starboard Boat 13 as a precaution, but the tug took the transfer from forward 5 Deck.  I then dashed to Grand Lounge to hear the interview with Andrew Neill who candidly answered many of our questions.  Eric and Margaret were there so I joined them.  They want to know about the Ocean Liner Gazette, so I’ll send them information.  We three ate lunch together then I joined Martha and Jean Burns for their dessert.  Martha and I went to the movie “Man in the Iron Mask.”  Jean Lewis and I had tea with a Scottish Lady from South Africa, Elizabeth.  I turned down an invitation to the Captain’s Dinner this morning!  Anathema!?

I has been sunny, warm and calm all day.  Oh yes, we could see a coastal range and a large cliff point where we pulled toward shore.  It was misty and hot. 

I spent some cabin time around five o’clock and saw a movie about Oscar Wilde.  At dinnertime I had a special salmon dinner with the two Jeans.  Olive was at the Captain’s dinner.  The men left early.

I wandered to Queens Room to see the Arabian Dance decorations then sat a while on Sun Deck.  It is Full moon.  I caught the movie “Starlite” at ten thirty and afterward, I talked with Donna Hartstone from Wayland.  She remembered me.  Bed after midnight.

Wednesday, 31 March – Red Sea.

During breakfast I had a chat with Olive by the back windows of the Lido.  There is a breeze with whitecaps.  I attended talks on the Crusades and Islam, then Egypt.

At some point this morning we passed by Barim through the Straits of Bab al Mandeb into the Red Sea, leaving the wind behind and whitecaps, which made for calm on Boat Deck and humid warmth.  Margaret Y. and I had lunch together and were joined by someone named Alda and Jean Burns.  When done I joined Jean Lewis as well.

I went to the movie “Good Will Hunting” and later skipped tea in favor of a visit to the shops to exchange the Indian box I bought previously for one with a rounded top and brass ship on it.  I finished Chimneys on Boat Deck and watched passing freighters on the misty horizon.  I met a cabin neighbor, Celia, a Brit on my way back to my cabin.  We inspected each other’s singles.  Mine is bigger and hers has only one closet but a double dresser.  A great video on “the Last Sailors” about Indian and Egyptian barges in Sri Lank and China was on television.

My credit report leaves only $20 waiting for the tour refund for Accra.  While on Boat Deck at noon we passed seven isolated “pointy” islands on the horizon, also tankers.  We are barreling along swiftly at 29 knots!

Dinner was with us four gals, the two Jeans, myself and I suspect Olive.  I left the show in favor of more time to spend on Boat Deck admiring the full moon; then I simply headed for bed.

 Thursday, 1 April – Red Sea.

April Fool joke!  Southwest gale winds, big storm.  This Eric told me and chuckled April Fool!  I bit!!!  I had breakfast alone then Bert and Gloria van Campen joined me as they did at lunch as well. 

There really is a strong northwesterly wind and we are plunging right into it and the white- capped waves.  I attended two lectures in the morning and read my book on Boat Deck in between.  It is chilly out there!

The Country Fayre took place in the Grand Lounge.  I spent all of one dollar on a chance then gradually eased out and tried the movie, which was horrible.  I simply went to my cabin after that.  I had tried sitting on Sun Deck but it was windy there too, so much so that a chair or two were gradually being blown across at cross paths!  We continued northward and appear to be off Jeddah on the east side and Nubian Desert on the western side.  Yanbu is the nearest Port.  I have discovered the navigation channel, which shows where the ship is and the latitude and longitude, and the nearest port and ETAs. 

Clocks back one hour.  Entering the Gulf of Aqaba.

Friday, 2 April – Aqaba, Jordan.

When I awoke we were just beginning the docking process.  I observed periodically from my porthole, the process of turning around, then watched the gentle tug pull then push.  We are docked to Port.

Aqaba is on the large horseshoe harbor at the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba with the Sinai Peninsula to the west and the Arabian Peninsula to the east.  Fantastic!  I joined the Petra tour, which took us through vast desert and Bedouin territory.  Then when we arrived in the modern city of Petra, we walked one and a half miles down to the very narrow Siq and back about three miles through ancient carved sandstone tombs   We had lunch at a hotel restaurant and then headed back by the same route through mountain roads, by the Wadi Rum, down the winding desert roads, through the city of Aqaba back to the ship by five thirty.  Almost immediately preparations were made for our departure as the sun was setting.  I stood on Boat Deck overlooking the harbor and the city and the port tower doubles as minaret.  It boomed out the call to prayer in many musical phrases.  Below me I could see dockworkers and visitors heading for a prayer area, putting off their shoes and kneeling toward Mecca (an angle to the building).  The Pilot and three officers, including Captain Hasell were on the Port wing supervising our gentle receding from the quay.  Very slowly we headed forward and night came on all around the horseshoe of amber lights.  I sat on Starboard Boat Deck till we picked up speed then I went to the cabin to recuperate, shower and go early to bed without dinner.  I never missed it at all!

The ship continued on out of the Gulf of Aqaba and northward in the narrowing Red Sea to Port Suez.  In these narrow areas the going is super smooth.  It has been a beautiful and comfortable day in the 70s even in high sun.

Saturday, 3 April – Port Suez.

At five thirty I heard a long lumpy sound under my cabin, and when I looked out the porthole I saw the reason why.  We are anchored at Port Suez.  I found an email from John under the door.  Two anchor adjustments were noisily made and we are set for the day.

Before breakfast I sent three emails at the Computer center and it is very easy from there.  I walked aft on Boat Deck to see us anchored south of the canal entrance and the channel to the harbor.  Many ships are anchored all over the place.  After my meal with Bert and Gloria van Campen I then joined Jean.  I decided to take a tender ashore and was joined by Martha Gerringer who like me, decided to ride the bus only.  On the way in we saw umpteen thousand Muslim pilgrims trying to sort out their baggage upon their boat return from Mecca.  Miserable donkeys and dogs were all around as well.  We returned to the ship by twelve thirty and lunched with Jean and Jean.  Spent some time with the Lees in Queens Room then on Boat Deck watching ships emerge from the canal southbound. 

I went to the cabin till dinnertime and in the meantime I saw “Lawrence of Arabia” on television.  I went to dinner near eight o’clock and Jean Burns and the Spanish gentleman ere the only ones there.  When he left Jean Lewis came, and we three were on our own.  Then after nine o’clock Olive turned up very tired after her Cairo trip which she described as awful because of the Easter crowds.  We had fun repartees with Sebastian.  I returned to the cabin for the night around ten o’clock

Easter Sunday, 4 April – Transit the Suez Canal.

At six o’clock we started.  I stayed on deck from five forty through the next twelve hours watching the various landmarks passing and making notes.  I sat on forward portside of Boat Deck all morning with Eric and Margaret till eleven, then with various friends, Jean, Martha and others at different times we spelled each other while others went for hamburgers and onion rings up there, accepting tea and frozen yogurt when offered.  At each checkpoint I noted the time and name.  When we reached Port Said, QE2 backed into her “dolphin” spot to await the travelers arriving from Cairo. 

An old wreck languishes at our stern.  As we were eating dinner the ship left the harbor and set out across the Mediterranean Sea.

I attended the  Mark Russell show, which was very funny!  I caught the last part of the movie, “Sliding Doors” with a British cast.  It was okay, but not captivating. 

Clocks to be advanced one hour tomorrow morning.  An Easter basket appeared in my cabin.  Aprikosen, Pastete, jelly beans, a real egg and a tiny chocolate egg.  

My last Suez transit was in 1992. 

Monday, 5 April – Haifa, Israel.

We were just approaching Haifa as I awoke near seven o’clock new time.  Side thrusters were put into play to turn us around for docking on Starboard side by 7:30.  Mount Carmel with its hillside buildings looms above us.  I had breakfast with Gloria and Bert, then the two Jeans briefly.

My tour for today was cancelled so I will simply take the shuttle to Mount Carmel.  I spent an hour at the top with no positive impression or action.  My neighbor’s name is Celia and she is in cabin 2003.

I remained on board the rest of the day and read my book on Boat Deck till chilly from the wind off the stern.  The movie was “First Wives Club.”  Tea in the Lido with Cecil, then back to the cabin again.  Dinner at eight saw Jean Lewis returning late from her tour.  Israeli Dance group and a good folk singer.

Tuesday, 6 April – Haifa.

I was on my excursion all day and went to Nazareth, Tiberias, Capernium and the Sea of Galilee and the River Jordan.  We were back by six thirty.  It was cloudy and sunny alternately all day.  Dinner in the Lido with Jean Burns.  I saw “Good Will Hunting” again, and heard the jazz band concert.  After a Horlicks and chatting with Cecil, Noel and friends I returned to my cabin for the night by eleven thirty.

Wednesday, 7 April – Mediterranean Sea.

I met Eric in the Computer room at seven thirty or so and he reported it to be cold outside.  We have had a headwind all day and the time I spent on Boat Deck forward was brisk to say the least.  I attended two lectures then read my book sheltered somewhat way forward on Boat Deck.  I found Jean Lewis outside Yacht Club sunning so we went to lunch together and were joined by the aft window corner by Martha Gerringer.  Richard and Valerie joined us. I found Jean Burns just forward of the Starboard Lido so we chatted a bit.  She listened to the jazz band in the Golden Lion Pub and confirmed they are the group she remembered from previous trips.    I missed the lecture I wanted, but joined the Lees for tea in the Lido with Les and Joyce.  I answered questions re: computers then headed for Quarter Deck aft for a while, trying to be out of the wind and in the sun.  I returned to the cabin and at six thirty I looked out the porthole to see Crete.  Bingo!  There it was in the distant haze sporting what looks like snow on a high mountain.  The rest tapers both sides lengthwise.  Kalilhimenes is the nearest port.  The sunset is dead ahead at 6:10.

The Lees phoned the taxi man in England from my cabin and all is prepared for an additional suitcase when I go with them to Colchester upon disembarking in Southampton.  We have passed Crete and are now heading for Italy.

The show was funny with a bumbling magician and comedienne wife assistant.  Calm night and moderate seas.

Thursday, 8 April – Med. Sea and Ionian Sea.

I received an email from Ann and Jan early.  I slept again till 8:30.  We are approaching the Straits of Messina.  Actually I spent the whole morning on Boat Deck, boat six reading in semi-sunshine and strong wind, eventually heading downward for more shelter on One Deck Lido till lunch on my own.  By that time the weather had closed in, dashing my hopes of photos at the straits.  I sat briefly with Margaret Y.  The pilot came on the Tannoy at two ten. 

I spent time in light rain on Sun Deck observing our approach to the Straits of Messina – and noting this is the place where the myth about Cylla and Charybdis took place.  I had to go inside as we passed through with a lighthouse to starboard.  The tall pylons no longer carry the electric cables, since they put the cables under the waterway.  Fog, mist and rain closed in so I wasn’t unhappy to stay inside to attend the Vickers talk on her book, “The Way of Gentleness.”

At four thirty we came close to Stromboli, leaving it to starboard.  There is a settlement close to the shore at the bottom of the volcano and the top is in the wet clouds, alas!  A lava flow is also visible.  I probably wasted three photos out my porthole.

We are now in the Tyrrhenian Sea and at Livorno we will be in the Ligurian Sea!  Lisbon has been cancelled because of a strike.  El Encanto, Spain as an alternate.  Alacante – nine to six o’clock so – Livorno, Barcelona and Alicante in three day succession. Whew!

Dinner then concert:  “The City Waits” an early English music group. 

Friday, 9 April – Livorno, Italy.

We appear to be stuck in the turning around process as we are pushed to port docking.  I don’t know if I was right, as Eric didn’t think so.  Anyway I took the tour to Pisa and was back for lunch with the Lees and Jean.  I saw the film then joined the Lees for tea.  Tommy Thomas sent me a letter.  I watched us pull away from the dock with the help of two tugs, then slowly proceed by most of the harbor past little light houses and the large one to Port.  We turned westward out to sea.  Some Mistral winds are due tonight and Captain Hassel warned us to secure our cabins.  Lisbon is back on and Alicante is out.

I went in the back way to the World Club Cocktail Party.  Awards were given out.  Fred Palmer and wife got 500 -day pin.  Marie somebody got recognition for a thousand days on Cunard.  The movie was “Wag the Dog” I got to bed at midnight.  The winds and waves never affected good old QE2.  I think I saw Elbe in the distance as we left Livorno.

Saturday, 10 April – Barcelona, Spain.

We docked at eight thirty on starboard side, thus no turn around.  After breakfast with Jean Lewis I looked toward the city from Boat Deck then settled in shade outside Yacht Club to read, but upon becoming chilly I went up to Starboard Boat Deck in sun, then portside, and when settled there I saw lovely sailboats motoring by on their way to open water.  One great gaff-rigged yawl!

At noon I had lunch (soup and ice cream) at the Pavilion and joined my tour through the city sights.  These included the fantastic unfinished Cathedral, several buildings by the architect who designed this church, and other landmarks recorded in my excursion notebook.  It was a lovely sunny day, which greatly enhanced the brilliance of this beautiful city.  I thought of Victoria de Los Angeles when we saw the Olympic Games venue.

I sat with the Lees for the Crew Show.  They had singers and dancers plus a pianist and guitarist.  Jeffrey Canono, my steward did a beautiful vocal job.  During the show the ship left port.  I think they turned us around after pulling us stern-wise out to a wider area.  Eric agrees with me.  Eric won’t tell me what the “ball” on the lead line is called!  Turks head is the nearest he will say.  I watched the late movie “Ever After,” about Cinderella. (Jeff is my 2007 steward and we sing to each other.)

Saturday, 11 April – Mediterranean Sea through Gibraltar to the Atlantic.

This has been the most special day with fine sunny weather and only forward motion wind so it was very pleasant for sitting on deck most of the day.  I started on starboard Boat Deck then moved to the Yacht Club deck to face north in view of the passing Spanish shores and mountains.  Here is a list of features, which appeared out of the haze at an average distance of about nine nautical miles.  Snow, windmills in series, mountains of varying heights and slopes (which had coastal towns.) 

I caught a bit of the Grandmother meeting in the Yacht Club then returned outside.  Had cake and ice cream in the Lido then took a hamburger and onion rings from the Pavilion back on deck.  The ship veered to avoid a very small fishing boat and buoys.  I left to see The Postman at two o’clock, but left by four to sit on Boat Deck by boat 9 till five or so when I went to the cabin to wash and set my hair.

I dub this day “the all day Spain panorama.”  The crowning glory was when we approached and passed through the Straits of Gibraltar, we had already passed the Rock of Gibraltar well to the north of us.  I could see Africa and Europe at the same time with mountains of Morocco to port and the Rock of Gibraltar to starboard.  I scrutinized the latter at length, as it seemed to change shape in progressing views.  The west side is very sheer with two distinct peaks and buildings plus antennae, then as we passed by, the Eastern slopes were revealed with green trees up them and the Naval Base and community near the water’s edge..  I saw a mosque, red and white lighthouse, walls or ramparts, homes, barracks and lots of ships all around.  The haze was pretty thick, producing a line way up the mountain. 

I skipped the World Club cocktail party.  However, the Jeans told me this was the fancy one with food and ice sculptures.  Tonight we also had Baked Alaska parade and national flags were draped all over the dining room.  Show and bed.  Clocks back one hour.  We are now on British Summer time, and in the Atlantic Ocean.

Monday, 12 April – Lisbon, Portugal.

I was up in time to see us creeping up the Tagus River and watch the bridge approach on television.  Breakfast in Mauritania.

I took the tour to the Arrabida Mountain range and Setubal plus the Christo Rei statue.

Once back on board I had lunch around two o’clock briefly with Jean Lewis and Elizabeth.  I spent a long time on Boat Deck with the Lees in sunshine aft.  Eric told me about his merchant marine career, which started at sixteen years of age.  We were barred from Starboard Boat Deck because of bunkering, but I eventually sought shade under a lifeboat by E stairway entrance and plunked down within the off limits signs!

I had tea with Cecil and then went to the cabin near five o’clock to rest till we departed.  I bought another book, and my balance presently stands at $9.16 credit.

We were late leaving by about half an hour, because of a technical problem with an aft winch.  Meanwhile, the three tugs sat at the ready with the midi-ships one gently nudging QE2 after the dock lines were cast off.  The wind was from the aft quarter tending to blow her off, hence the center tug nudges.  When we did start moving, the forward tug was working hard with taught cable.  The center tug was the fulcrum, for the pivoting.  When we went under the “15 April Bridge” the mast certainly did look like it would touch!

A (QE2) sign is painted on the dockside.  After I returned to the cabin I heard the whistle go three times.  Probably my last time.  We were off by seven o’clock.    A noisy sail away dance and party went on all the time as we departed.  Dinner at eight.  Thomas was complimentary to me, I think!

Paulo is now on leave and there is a new replacement.  I listened briefly to the jazz band at the Golden Lion Pub then I attended the show with Jean.  To the cabin at eleven.  A little motion of the ship.

 Tuesday, 13 April – Bay of Biscay!

Well, for me this was a day to forget!  I was seasick all day.  Jeffrey closed the porthole and we tossed too much!  Being way up forward was definitely a factor in the increased motion.  Actually I had awakened abruptly with the frantic urge to heave, but although feeling horrible I didn’t toss anything.  I certainly missed the Talent Show rehearsal and sign-up, as well as the show itself. And I only just managed to work my way to the Mid-ships Lounge to collect my passport and be stamped into England.  Frankly, I don’t even know if there was a talent show!  The two Jeans phoned me.  Jean Lewis cabin is 4197.

Wednesday, 14 April – Southampton, England.

I was up at five thirty back to the picture of good health!  I turned on the television to see us still proceeding to the harbor, but smoothly, thank heavens!  We were docked by eight o’clock, having already turned around.  I said my goodbyes to Thomas- who likes me, and  Jean Burns at the Chartroom.  Breakfast with Olive.

I hugged Sebastian Tournié my waiter, goodbye, returned to breakfast with Jean Lewis then found Margaret and Eric at their private table by the window on Starboard.  I said my goodbyes to Jeffrey Canono who thanked me for the tip.  Hugs etc.  Then I went to Queens Room to await the order to disembark – with the Lees.

My cabin charges worked out to only 84 cents, which I paid instead of having them send that through to VISA.  I was twenty cents short and the lovely girl there paid that for me. Wasn’t that sweet of her!

We disembarked by ten o’clock and I joined Eric and Margaret in their taxi bound for Colchester, two or more hours away.

I am always so reluctant to leave my dear old QE2, but the main comfort is that there will always be a next time till the inevitable retirement creeps up with its air of finality.