Sunday, 26 of March of 2023

QE2 World Cruise – Part 1 NY-LA, 2003


CABIN 5181

JANUARY 5 – APRIL 23, 2003

Sunday, January 5, 2003

I flew to Newark, NJ on Continental #847, and as we were circling for the landing I spotted Queen Elizabeth 2 at her Pier 88.  When the few of us – six, were rounded up and loaded into a van, we set out across to Manhattan.  A very nice young man from Maine and I had a conversation about ships and boats.

After climbing out of the van and mounting the still escalator, I left my tote with this man so I could pop down again to take my photo of her bow.  Paul Danby greeted me and we hugged.

We eventually embarked around one o’clock.  Processing included a photo and security card issued on the spot, and credit card information.  Then we waited till one thirty or so, when groups were allowed to go aboard.  So far the Passports have not been collected.

I went down to my cabin 5181 at F Stairway and was somewhat dismayed at how small it is, even though it is a twin cabin for one – this trip.  A single sized dresser with four drawers is barely large enough for me, and both closets are jammed – 2 big suitcases in the inner one and clothes in the other.  The door to this cabin is directly opposite the F stairway entrance and when you enter through the door, the beds are to the left heading fore and aft, with the dresser in between.  The television is mounted above the foot of the far bed, which will serve beautifully as my extra shelf!  The bathroom is located along the wall adjacent to the far bed, and is entered just as a little hallway leads to a “rear” door to the alleyway for other cabins.  A closet is located between the bathroom entrance and this alleyway door, and a low round table fills in the space along there.   The wardrobe door stands opposite the bed layout.

I found two welcome letters, one from John Duffy and one from the Cruise Staff.  Elaine McKay is still here but Colin Parker, who got married, is gone.  In his place is Trevor Stephenson.   My first suitcase arrived long before the second one, so that made it easier to stow my gear.  The suitcase had been opened and sealed again with a plastic cinch lock, and I needed to find a steward to cut it open.  He appeared with a large knife from the pantry, and slit it open.  He had carried the knife hidden under his arm for some reason!

I went up to the Yacht Club for the World Cruise returnee cocktail party and chatted with Eric and Margaret Lee, who have been on board since December 15,  having been on the last Trans-Atlantic and the Christmas Cruise along with their other British cohorts.  Margaret reported that the Bothwicks did indeed make contact with them.  After a brief chat with slimmed-down Elaine, I prepared for lifeboat drill at three thirty.  Station L in Queens Room.

At departure after four o’clock, I went to Boat Deck to watch in the cold, raw weather.  Two large tugs, “Barney” and “Jean” pushed hard together on her starboard stern to counteract the swift outgoing current.  I noticed we were remaining at right angles to the current a long time, meanwhile drifting sideways at the end of several piers.

During my wanderings, I found two large ship containers on aft Helideck and the whole area cordoned off.  I went in by the shops and noticed that the whole area is all torn up with major renovations going on.  The stores won’t be open till after Fort Lauderdale.  I am wondering if the containers are “tips” for the work, or merchandise.  I later learned all the merchandise was contained therein.

We will not go to Cartagena because of the political unrest, and the substitute will be Curaçao, a very welcome substitution, although I was there years ago on a previous QE2 cruise. 

At dinner (table 281) in the Mauritania restaurant is one of the dancing hosts – Tim Carlin from Chicago.  He is quite young by comparison, a West Point graduate and a Lt. Colonel in the reserves.  Also he was in catering!    Next to me was Mary from Toronto and across, a gentleman who used to be an entertainer – Frank – on Broadway.  Two places were empty.  Eric and Margaret stopped by.  I chatted with them in the Grand Lounge before the show and my movie “About a Boy.”

Terry Waite from Flamborough is also on the whole World Cruise sharing a cabin with his “platonic” lady friend.  We had a brief chat by the photo shop.  After the movie I had a Horlicks and headed for the cabin.  The Theatre balcony seats have been nicely reupholstered in a brown plushy material – nice.  I am ever so glad they didn’t mess with the Theatre during the last refit, as was rumored!  I arranged more of my stuff, then read my letter from the Select Traveler guide, which was waiting under my door along with the Monday program.  I settled down to a smooth sway and good sleep. 

Monday, January 6, 2003

I got up near seven o’clock; then set out to check the weather, which is partly cloudy and already cool and balmy.  Being way too early for the Lido opening I did my deck walk from 5 Deck around and on up round each deck till I arrived at Mauritania dining room via A stairway.  I chatted briefly with the Lees at their table right by the starboard forward windows; then moseyed back to the Lido.  Sat with a German man, using my language skills, then Terry Waite joined us.  We reminisced about the ’93 trip with Christine who turned out to be Terry’s second wife.  The courtship began on that round South America cruise.

At present I am sitting on the aft part of Boat Deck overlooking the stern and wake while walkers constantly pass by.  Earlier I had a short chat with Tim.  Ten o’clock – Computer lecture on composing letters in Word – copy – paste and sending E-mail.

Found Eric and Margaret in Queens Room and started my knitting project.  At noon the Captain, Paul Wright gave our position etc. and informed us that Capt. Ron Warwick will take over in Los Angeles.  A lady stopped by to chat about the knitting book, and Doris McKeller also sat with us.  She remembered the Cinderella doll from the Christmas Cruise several years back!

Lunch with Terry and Christine (his “roommate) after attending a lecture on corals.  Spent the afternoon wandering, knitting in my cabin, and reading “The QE2 is Missing.”  Patricia Neal is on board and I met her on One Deck.   Later after tea with a lady from St. Louis and talking with two men from Canada then with Mae and Doris,  Doris said Pat Neal is next to her cabin.

Dinner time was better.  A gentleman originally from England and now Colorado, named Stanley joined us and the conversation elevated a bit to literature discussions among other topics.  He is a descendant of Charles Dickens!

Attended the “Salute to Hollywood” show, then a flute and piano concert in the Theatre.  While finishing up my evening and heading toward the Lido for my Horlicks, I stopped at G Stairway by Yacht Club to chat with the Paraguayan man, Abel.  Finished by watching the movie “Affair of the Necklace”.  To bed by one o’clock.

At boat drill yesterday, I noticed black granules along the bottom starboard window frames, then in the Queen’s Room forward center, there were similar granules along a line under the drop ceiling.  Hmmmmmm!

Tuesday, 7 January – Fort Lauderdale

Ships in Port :  “Seven Seas Mariner,”  Lyre Logo.  2.  “Volendam”.  HAL

Shuttle bus to Broward Mall.  Back by noon.  Key lime pie and lemon meringue pie – soup in between!  Chat with Eric and Margaret.  They told of why I noticed the ship looked strange on starboard when I saw her in St. Thomas last year.  A tug rebounded very hard on the hull amidships, causing a dent.  Authorities had to inspect the damage to assess if she was still sea worthy.

Saw most of the movie “In Bad Company”, but left early to return to the cabin a while.  Near five o’clock I went to Boat Deck to see us leave.  A tug on starboard stern was attached and revved slowly in reverse to counter the stern quarter wind as we slowly backed away and out of the berth.  While I watched on Port side, an orange Coast Guard speed pontoon boat acted as our protector as well as a white police boat.  Sure enough, as we proceeded out the channel, people rang sirens, blew horns, waved, and displayed Cunard flags and Brit flags.  QE2 also responded with her 3 toots and eventually two single boops.  Capt. Ron Warwick is now in charge.  YEA!

It looks like the shops are ready to open tonight.  The two containers were gone by the time I emerged at eight this morning and the crane was still in place.  We gained another man at dinner, so the table is complete with Tim, host:  Art, entertainer; Stanley, writer – Brit cum American; Mary and Irvin, Jr. High school teacher retired.   The show was an Irish comedian, Billy Boyle.   Horlicks before retiring.  I sat with Eric and Margaret.

Wednesday, 8 January

Clocks were set ahead an hour this morning.  I awoke at the new 7:45 in time to dress and  catch the 8 o’clock movie, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”.  Knitted also.

After ten or so I emerged via the Lido and managed to find oatmeal before everything was swept away at closing time.  I then found Eric and Margaret in Queen’s Room.  Was introduced to Peter Garland, a long time traveler from England.  I knitted continuously, then eventually went to check out the newly restocked shops.  Harrod’s is resurrected and most of them have stuff similar to before.

At present, I am in the Board Room where upon entering, Peter Garland accused me of following him.  With a bit of banter, we established that I was stalking!  Knitted some more here, and struck up a conversation with a Mac computer author who is working on a novel.  We discussed my copy of the “QE2 is Missing” and I will lend it to him when I finish reading it again.

Had lunch with Mary and a dance host named Bill from England.  He has a Dutch barge and lives on it, so we lingered to talk boats.  His story about his first 8-foot wide boat running aground and left high and dry, was very interesting.

Saw “Changing Lanes” then upon discovering it was warm on Boat Deck, I read in a deck chair over an hour.  While walking the deck  I thought I saw land to the west, but suspect it was an illusion.  However, I liked to realize we were passing between Cuba and Hispaniola!

Showered and dressed formal for dinner – my pink dress and rose fabric jacket with my new shiny gold pumps.  Tim Carlin, Lieutenant Colonel arrived in his full dress uniform, looking fabulous, and he attracted other retired military men.  Good conversation, with Mary being more subdued. 

Piano show by “Harry,” who did a magnificent job.  Before returning to my cabin, I strolled from amidships to aft decks in crescent moonlight and very humid breezes from forward motion.  We are truly in the tropics now and I am so glad I read comfortably on deck earlier.  It is very warm in my cabin right now.

Thursday, 9 January – Curaçao

Did my deck walking sequence on my way up to Mauritania for breakfast by the window next to the Lees.  On the way up I met “little” Ben on 3 Deck by F stairway.  Big Ben is opposite.

I bought some of my excursion tickets and chatted briefly with Paul Danby, who is now in the travel office where he wanted to be all along.  After a while in Board Room, reading, cooling off and talking with Yo Yo about the QE2 missing book, I attended the port lecture on Dutch Antilles islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.  Purchased two tote bags from Harrod’s then entertained Eric while Margaret was off helping a lady.

At noon our position was 60 miles away from Curaçao and we will be thirty minutes late because of headwinds.

Lunch at Lido.  The pie guy spotted me (Alex) and brought the lime pie from a lower shelf and sealed my decision to have dessert first – followed by mushroom soup and another lime pie slice!

I stood at Boat Deck port rail as we proceeded along the length of Curaçao, past the low shoreline, oil tanks, an inlet and on to the outer dock, bucking a very strong wind.  I watched two tugs push on our starboard aft beam to make us go sideways to the dock.  Stanley escorted me to town, bought me a hat and gave a dollar to the fruit vendor who proffered a sweet small banana.  When we had enough, we walked across the pontoon bridge and back to the ship by five o’clock.  We had taken the ferry across to town earlier because the pontoon bridge was open.

Oh yes!  At lunch Gregory (seven years ago in Caronia with Mrs. Levy) discovered me sitting by the window and we had a lovely catch up.  He says this is truly mostly a happy ship, contrary to reports on December Trans-Atlantic crossing. 

We were minus two at our table.  Irvin and Tim were away.  Stan and I left together but parted when we learned the show wasn’t till 9:45.  However, I slipped into the last exciting part of the movie, “Enough” and spent some time in the Board Room where I met three other World Cruisers, Bernice, Kathy and Ron.  I then went to Grand Lounge to await the Folklore show, which was guitar accompaniment and colorfully costumed dancers.  At ten o’clock I returned to the Theatre to see the beginning of “Enough.” When I had had enough tension, I left and discovered the crew was having a lively and noisy party on the bow with the powerful spotlights on.  I then checked the stern and a similarly noisy and musical party was roaring on Yacht Club deck.  As I descended to Lido deck, I saw preparations for a midnight buffet, so stuck around to indulge – cake and pie with Horlicks.

Sensing it must be time to depart Curaçao, I returned to the bow – lights off now – and waited a long time for the process to start.  A small tug maneuvered into position on the concrete piling to port – holding three bow lines – and remained nosed into the “piling” – held by the tug engine revolving steadily to keep it in position counteracting the moderate wind on its starboard beam.  I surmised the tug was waiting for orders to cast off the three lines on the bollards – and meanwhile two large tugs – Lima II and its sister – were to push on QE2’s starboard beam to make the dock lines slack.  It was just so!  My Maine friend was observing with me.  It was ever so long before headway was made after casting off, so I headed aft on Boat Deck (crew party still going in the dark, and aft party thinned out.)  I looked over the transom till a slight wake appeared, then called it a day!  The real speed gain took place after I reached my cabin. 

On the pull out part of the dresser was a tray with a bottle of champagne and flute glass – “Compliments of World Club.”  Clocks back an hour tonight.

Friday, 10 January

It is a lovely warm clear, hazy day.  We are heading southwesterly north of the Venezuelan coast and yesterday’s lingering trade wind is following us, however, sufficient to occasionally waft on deck to cool.  Brief breakfast with Mary, then on the way out I sat with Irvin and we talked about education and memories of our own educational lessons.

On my way to the morning lecture in the Theatre on Acapulco, I briefly greeted Eric and Margaret.  Eric came up for the lecture on the “Lusitania” and we had a brief chat by balcony D stairway landing.   I popped into the Board Room to see if anything of interest was on, but only had a brief chat with Peter Garland who wants me to sign a petition for a curry dinner in the Lido at Acapulco.  Didn’t sign.

At noon I checked out Boat Deck and found a chaise under number 12 lifeboat, all padded and in good condition, so I read my book about an hour.  Lunch time now!   At Lido lunch I sat with Ken and Donna from Minnesota,  first tackling my key lime pie – and another after salad.

Knitted a bit while listening to the awful art auction in Queens Room – then went to see “The Four Feathers” Left to shower and do my hair – actually I napped a bit, waking to answer a phone call from Irene Walker the Select Traveler Host.  Meeting Saturday at 5:30.

Attended Captain Warwick’s cocktail party and stumped him about the novel “The QE2 is Missing.” He had never heard of the novel.  Talked with Margaret Cole who had been at my table two years ago with Norma, Jannie, a Japanese girl and a lady from Jersey.  I headed for dinner after the Captain’s speech.  Hilarity prevailed.  Tim conspired to change Mary’s touchy subject re: Jews returning to Germany to make money.  Attended the show with Tim, Margaret and Eric.  To the cabin by ten, after a brief check on the moon and water.  Beautiful night.

Saturday, 11 January – Panama Canal

I viewed most of the transit from inside, with occasional trips to Boat Deck where nearly everyone else was to view the raisings in the three Gatun Locks.  “Seven Seas Mariner” rose at the same time next to QE2.  We traveled along Gatun Lake to the single Pedro Miguel Lock right after the Golliard Cut, then after a very long wait – down the 2 Mira Flores Locks.  It took us all day!  It was quite warm but not unbearably humid.  The “Seven Seas” must have turned back, because we never saw her again.

Just as we left the canal and passed under the “Bridge of the Americas” at Balboa, I attended the Select Traveler cocktail party.  Back at the cabin (watertight doors still closed), I viewed the David McCullough film on the canal.  Speaking of the watertight doors, my cabin is right next to the F Stairway watertight door and I have become very accustomed to the pneumatic hiss and jolt every time the door is closed.  This usually happens very early in the morning as we are approaching a harbor or in the case of the Canal, all day as we passed through every lock and channel.  The sound acts as a very efficient alarm clock, and not only do I hear this door, but the one under me and the Spa on Six Deck, moves with a bell warning, and this is very clear from my vantage point day or night!!

This was the night in which the ship anchored till late, then spent the rest of the night cruising away from land, only to return to Fuerte Amador anchorage for the sightseeing day.  I suspect this cruising was for security reasons.

Sunday, 12 January – Fuerte Amador, Panama

After breakfast I found Abel finishing up his, and we agreed to go ashore together, which we did.  The island was purely a “jump off point” for taxis to Panama City and tourist shops.  I only bought a Panama key ring.  We parted; he to taxi into town and I to the ship in the next tender before noon.

Watched the end of “The Shipping News: then went to lunch.  Found Eric and Margaret who had finished eating, but I stayed to talk.  They are booked on QM2 maiden Trans-Atlantic and may stay there in Barbados.  Won’t be on World Cruise next year.  I also sat with Stan for a long time.

“Three Weddings and a Funeral” all afternoon in the Theatre, followed by tea in the Board Room with Terry  and a French lady (who was on the “France” early in her career).

Dinnertime consisted of the usual banter.  Then I joined the Lees for the show by a lusty singer from Wales – Diane Cousins.  She told how she had to climb up the side of the ship from the Pilot boat because the ship didn’t wait for her late arrival.  QE2 had to up anchor and cruise twenty miles off shore over night for safety reasons.  I was aware because the watertight door outside my cabin, hissed and scraped closed and open twice. 

After the show I took a brief look at the decorations for the Pirate’s ball then drank a Horlicks, and on out to watch the water go by from Boat Deck and greet the moon at a little more than first quarter.  I wish there were less glaring lights out there.  Saw the beginning of three weddings again, then descended to my cabin by eleven.

Monday, 13 January

Was up by seven o’clock and emerged around 8 for a look at a beautiful, sunny warm day.  I spent a long time talking with Art about his life- starting at 13 as an actor and singer in musicals and plays.  He was in the cast of “The Producers” for several years.  We were still talking by the starboard Lido window at ten when the weekly safety drill started.  Soon after, we parted and I found a deck chair amidships on starboard Boat Deck and read my QE2 novel until nearly two o’clock!  Saw a large school of dolphins that jumped, breached and romped as we went by.

At noon we were fifty miles west of Costa Rica.  When I did go to lunch I was too late for my lime pie, so had bread pudding with custard sauce.  I ate alone, so finished quickly and went to the Theatre to see “Hud” with Paul Newman and Patricia Neal (who is on board).  I managed to write more postcards before the lights dimmed.  No wonder I didn’t want to see it when it came out.  I then dashed to Lido to have a quick tea and more reading on Boat Deck, starboard.  With the sun lower and a little more wind it was pleasantly cool.  Finished :The QE2 is Missing” by Harry Harrison.

I had decided not to eat in Mauritania because I wanted to see “Gosford Park at 6:30, so I dressed formal anyway and again headed upward for that purpose.  Had dinner in the Lido afterward by myself.  Walked all around the public rooms, checking on the show which appeared to be rock and roll type bands, and singing, so I passed onward to Boat Deck for a time in the moonlight and Orion.  I lay on a deck chair on sun deck, then headed downward around ten o’clock.    Smooth sailing.  Clocks back an hour tonight.

Tuesday, 14 January

I woke up at 5:45 – equal to yesterday’s pre-hour change – and tried to get news of Louis Vuitton races, but nothing!  Last I knew “Alinghi” won the first and “Oracle” the second because “Alinghi” did not finish.”  I emerged toward 8 by the new time and did my deck walk circulars on the way upward.  Found Jefferson, my former singing steward on 2 Deck Port between B & C stairways.  We chatted re: his music, the “choir” and especially I asked him if he thought crew was happy.  He thinks so.

I continued on up to Mauritania, greeted Eric and Margaret, then ate breakfast at a table near the window in my section.  Kenneth and Nelson served here as well.  I next went up A to Boat Deck and found a chaise under boat 3.  Stayed there two hours reading.  During the course of the two hours, the relatively quiet seas picked up as the wind increased and air cooled, so by eleven o’clock white caps and larger waves changed the outlook to clear- hazy blue and active white and spray crests.  When I went in I bought tote bags, mugs, magnets, biscuits etc. for Chris and all – then sought out Eric and Margaret in Queens Room, where I joined them for a knitting session.  Told Eric about the family book manufacturing business because he asked me what my father did.

At noon we were 107 miles west of the Guatemalan coast and have 400 or so miles to go to Acapulco.  Lunched with Donna and Ken, pigging out on lime pie, rice pudding and asparagus and macaroni – cones for dessert – and at 2 PM I sat facing aft outside Lido facing the fantail deck.  QE2 has a port list so it seems the northwest wind is affecting her.  A gent just lost his new visor hat overboard – First it rose in an updraft, then the ship continued while it hesitated and drifted off.  The man waved good-bye to it and laughingly said “There are more where that came from.”

A little after two o’clock I headed for the Grand Lounge to read and wait for Patricia Neal’s talk at three, and I am glad I did so early because the place filled up early.  Her talk was very spellbinding and inspiring, covering her life, career and trials. 

The ship is rolling (five o’clock) and continues to remain slightly listing to port.  The waves are large and spray is flying as we plow onward in our northwest course.  Somewhere along the way today I lost my new hat, alas!

I had decided to skip dinner in favor of the World Club cocktail party at 7:15, but decided at the last minute to go up anyway.  It was a good decision because Mary wasn’t there.  Irvin sat next to me, and Tim came later and filled Mary’s chair, giving an opportunity to chat with Stan and Art more easily.  Art by the way was in 42nd Street at Dennis Playhouse when Mark and I went 4 years ago.  He also was in shows in the 50’s on the Cape circuit.  The ship’s pitching and rocking slowly subsided while we were at dinner, but Tim still felt woozy.  He had crackers, which helped.  Ginger pieces “grew:”

Attended the show with 3 men!!! then went to see “Fountainhead” in the Theatre – Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper.  She was in the audience.   Received my Club “tie tack” in silver – A rampant lion – of course.  Bed at midnight.

Wednesday, 15 January – Acapulco

Was up early enough to see us enter the beautiful round harbor of Acapulco (on TV).  Saw the elevated lighthouse beacon.  I emerged at back of the Lido, ate a muffin and milk, then reported at Yacht Club by 8 o’clock.  Our Select Traveler group had to wait till 9:30 to head down G Stairway to 5 Deck where the tender awaited us.  The morning was warm and humid as we pulled across the bay – looking back lovingly to our beautiful ship.  She has rust spots at anchor hole and looks in need of paint touch ups where rather large other color scrapes are on port amidships.  The tender unloaded us at the large ship terminal, then we climbed into several vans 6 by 6.  We were taken first to La Quebrada for the divers, then around the bay to a hotel lookout and visit to Chef Suzanna’s fabulous villa overlooking the magnificent scenery over the bay, and a special punch drink.  Then to a chapel atop a high private mountain with a very tall cross.  We went on over the pass to another bay lookout and had a fabulous lunch at a beach club.  (Lox and seafood salad plus zucchini hollowed salad, then lobster tail, egg and caviar, garnish – then pineapple boat with sherbets, strawberries, kiwi fruit and garnish.)  Yum.  We returned to town to a jewelry market and then to the ship.  Patricia Neal took my arm for support getting off the tender. Back at teatime.  Found the Lees sitting outside the Lido in the shade.

After I showered and dressed for dinner, I went to sundeck to watch us depart from Acapulco Bay.  The very red, large and round sun was just setting between cloud and horizon as we passed La Rouqueta Island.  My lingering vision is of the sun within a triangle of lifeboat bow and davit!  The little blinking lighthouse to starboard marked surface rocks.

I wandered a bit, dropping into the Board Room to deliver “QE2 is Missing” to my “Mac” friend, Peter Phillips.  And he seemed very pleased.  The shops were open.  Eventually 6:30 came and I watched “Iris” in the Theatre – followed by dinner in the Lido with Abel. 

There is a new regime!!!! We have to let the servers put everything we want on our plates!! This leads to much greater quantities slopped onto the plates, and for me, a lot of “that’s too much” at every plop.

The show about musicals was the best song and dance show I can remember.  Sat with Eric and Margaret.  To the cabin and bed early – by the new time 9 o’clock.  Clocks back one hour.

Thursday, 16 January

Awoke very early on the new time and puttered till 8 or so.  On the television was a video about cargo ships.   Ate breakfast in Mauretania near Eric and Margaret.  Then found myself a deck chair on starboard – one which remained more upright for once!  I stayed there reading the “QE2 Murder She Wrote” and occasionally glancing at the sun-drenched easy waves.  I headed for Captain Warwick’s talk at ten and took copious notes.  I then met with 8 yacht enthusiasts, only three of which had sailboats.  The strawberry blonde, Diana Spaziani lives on her 45-foot sloop near Boston and sails it single-handed.  We all traded yarns for an hour.  I then bought several books at the library and carried them immediately to the cabin.  Once there I arranged them and more stuff for off loading in LA.

Lunch was happily spent with Eric and Margaret in their accustomed spot, then read my book near Queens Room while the wretched art auction took place. The 2:30 movie kept us all laughing as Patricia Neal played a crazy old lady who committed suicide in “Cookie’s Fortune.)  One of the recent best!!  Tea in the Board Room with Terry Waite, my Mac friend etc.

Art was missing from dinner.  Stanley reported he called in ill.  Anyway we remaining mates took pictures of each other and enjoyed our salmon, salads, and – —-Baked Alaska!  The parade and marching music went off only after the CD was restarted correctly.

I returned briefly to the cabin and met Lisa, who was going to replace my orchid stem.  Back up to the Theatre and found the movie wasn’t “Cookie’s Fortune” so left in favor of Diane Cousins’ show in the Grand Lounge, funny and loud as ever – very appealing.

Back to the cabin via Lido and discovered a grand buffet will be at 11:30 so I planned to return at least to look.  I heard that 5 cabins on 5 Deck starboard had plumbing leaks and the people had to be moved to other cabins.

At midnight I showered and washed my hair in preparation for the talent show tomorrow.  QE2 sailed calmly through the night.  The cooler weather is welcome.

Friday, 17 January

Not wanting to spoil my new hairdo, I didn’t step outside in the 68º temperature all day until the Talent Show was over at 4:30.  Up to that time my breakfast in the Lido, knitting session with the Lees, rehearsal at eleven took up the morning.  I met the participants and Cruise Staff member (Scottish) at the Casino Bar where we signed up.  Then we followed the pianist, (Philip Carr) through the little pantry to a practice room behind the stage.  I didn’t know about this one before.  In turn we ran through our music and left.

Had lunch with Stanley and his friends, Carmen and ? then sat a while knitting on the Starboard last chair with Eric and Margaret who were joined by Marilyn (wife of Peter, the Second Officer) and Marie who later “signed” a song in the show.  I wore my purple flouncy skirt and fuchsia shirt with gold belt and after a lengthy wait for my turn in the show, singing “Lorelei.”  Found Art and Stanley sitting several rows back, but went to sit on Art’s lap.  He joined in like a trooper.  Mary, the so-called “QE2 Diva) dressed in her 50s formal concert outfit, did her arias way off key as usual then posed while people took photos of her!  I made a point of thanking the band members.

May and Doris were enjoying teatime in the Queens Room so I joined them while knitting and chatting with them; then I sat a short while with Stan and friends.

Did a brief Boat Deck walk in the chilly winds; then descended to prepare for dinner at 6:15.   Art was there and was the subject of farewell toasts with champagne.  Again we created much hilarity.  Art praised my performance, as did Stan.  Eric and Margaret later said the same when we gathered for the show.  Tim joined us too.  Down for cabin time of television and knitting.  Clocks back an hour.

Around noon I had checked into the Board Room and sat with Peter G., who engaged in opinionated conversation regarding QM2 and Cunard – cum Carnival in general.  He too is wary of the new ship and upset about no single cabins.  He is also of the opinion (tongue in cheek) that she will sink because of the hype.

Saturday, 18 January –  San Pedro, California

We docked at 6:00 AM new time.  I watched the process on television, channel 3.  Had breakfast with all but Stanley.  Early fog low down, but clear in the restaurant.  I waited a long time with Eric and Margaret in Lido to call their friend.  Got their party on my own and also reached Chris.  The family met me at 11:30 and we went right to Ports o’Call for lunch harborside where we could see QE2 and “Star Princess” (P&O) and passing tankers and freighters.  We shopped a bit then headed for Queen Mary where the boys toured the Russian Sub “Scorpion,” and we all took the Ghost tour and wandered all over the ship.  Dined in the Promenade restaurant then returned to QE2 around 7:30.   While on QM the fog closed in and we could hear harbor noises, but saw nothing.  In fact, the back of the ship was obscured from where we stood on deck.  One time, when Chris and I were on one side of the ship, he phoned Cherie who was somewhere inside, and we eventually were able to meet up – in the fog.

I saw a bit of “Notting Hill,” but left in favor of watching the ship leave and WOW am I glad I did!!!!!  First the 2 tugs (Crowley & ?) bow and stern pulled her away from the dock (Piers 91 & 92), then proceeded to turn her around right there, bow tug pulling enough on starboard to keep the bow (which was somewhat headed into the 90º dock) from hitting the dock corner as it (the bow) pivoted.  Meanwhile, the aft tug was pulling on the starboard stern in the slow wide sweep.  I swear there was only about a 20-foot clearance on either end, which figures if the channel width was 1000 – 963′ plus 20′ plus 20′ – just a little over 1000.  I walked briskly from end to end, first observing the bow, then the stern as the turn finished. — All this while the ship’s fog horn sounded every minute or so.  Never the 3 blasts of the whistle.  At the bend, the stern tug tightened the cable, then went slack.  Never have I seen such a tight turn around in such a tight place.     Then, as we headed out the channel, we passed a ghostly ship and small boat, which had had to wait while we did this maneuver.  It loomed out of the fog at dead slow, while we passed it in the opposite direction.         To bed at midnight.