Thursday, 23 of November of 2017

QE2 Final Crossing, Oct. 2008

QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 FINAL TRANS-ATLANTIC CROSSING

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!