After our visit to the synagogue, we were on our own for lunch. Jim and I grabbed some carry-out at a nearby deli and had an urban picnic on someone's stoop while watching the crowds go by. After lunch we gathered again for the bus to our dock in the Brooklyn Naval Yard. The large cruise liners no longer depart from the west side docks.
While we were loading the ship we got to see the shore workers busily loading luggage (yellow fork lifts) and washing windows (blue snorkels). The ship is "turned around" in one day – arriving in the morning and leaving in the afternoon.
At the time it was launched in 2004, the QM2 was the largest ship on the seas. She was the first ship purpose built as a trans-Atlantic liner since the Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969 and was designed to carry over 2500 passengers. Although the record for speed in an Atlantic crossing is held by the SS United States, now retired, the QM2 is the fastest liner at present.
The crossing takes six days. Every day we set our clocks ahead by one hour. We felt this eliminated jet lag, but some of our fellow travelers thought it prolonged it. Different strokes, I guess.
It is impossible to summarize the specifics of Christopher's lectures. He started with a definition of religion: how faith gives value and meaning. He made the point that our experience tempers our perception of the transcendent by using the poem Heaven by Rupert Brooke, which is heaven as it might be seen by ... fish.
This point was essential to our understanding of the religions that we undertook to understand: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism.
Jim and I signed up for a wine tasting that featured plenty of canapes and these wines. As is often the case in such endeavors, the most expensive wine (at $300/bottle) was by no means the favorite.
I've always been happy to lack a superbly discriminating palate! Life is less expensive that way.
As can be seen in this picture, we encountered some pretty significant seas (at least for this land-lubber) and gale force winds. The QM2 never quivered. Since this time we've taken a number of voyages on smaller ships. The larger ones, when well-designed, have a definite advantage in this regard. There was no bucky-boat here!
On the QM2 most nights are formal and passengers are expected to dress for dinner in the major restaurants. Jim brought his tux and I brought an assortment of fancy duds.
Many evenings had special events as well, such as the meet-the-captain night and our own special Elderhostel cocktail party.
All things come to an end, however, and we arrived at Southampton. Our trip had come to a new phase.