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
our 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
the largest ship on the seas. It was the first ship built specifically
as a trans-Atlantic liner since the Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969. She was
designed to carry over 2500 passengers. Although the record for speed
in an Atlantic cross is still 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 completely eliminated jet lag, but some of our
fellow travelers thought it merely prolonged it. Different strokes,
I remember when my parents sailed to Europe on the
(now scrapped) we were able to visit their stateroom. I was
dismayed at how small it was. We did not have that problem on the QM2
with its separate sitting area and a private balcony! One can only imagine
what the 1st class cabins are like.
It seemed that just about everyone on board came out for the departure.
The largest nationality group on board was German since the ship was
continuing on to Hamburg after calling at Southampton. We were sitting
next to a German family who had just made a two week tour of New England.
They were astonished to meet an American who could speak (haltingly)
some German. They spoke excellent English, of course.
As we cruised out of New York Harbor, we saw this iconic sight: the
Statue of Liberty and the Staten Island Ferry. We would soon be out
of sight of land for the next many days.
A typical day started with breakfast at the Kings Court buffet. Although
we had a choice of four restaurants, this one suited us well. After
breakfast, we might walk around the Promenade Deck: three laps were
a little over a mile, but you had to dodge all the runners. We found
that walking counter-clockwise, unlike most others, gave us the opportunity
to get out of the way without being trampled.
Our Elderhostel group had its own lecture space for Christopher's
daily presentations. Our tour leader, Ronni Hall, shown here with her
back to the camera, always had some housekeeping items to present and
then she was charged with keeping party-crashers out. It seems that
word had gotten around about our little group and others wanted to participate.
Christopher was definitely the "brain" behind this program.
He developed it and got Elderhostel to sponsor it. We were the first
group to be privileged to participate, but the program ran for three
or four years. We seriously considered signing up a second time.
is impossible, especially after this lapse of time, 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
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 would be undertaking to understand: Christianity, Judaism, Islam,
Our afternoons were free and there were many amusements to be found
aboard a ship that had a movie theatre, lectures, a planetarium, casino
gambling, pubs, stage shows, dancing, card parties, Canyon Ranch Spa,
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.
Personally I've always been happy to lack a superbly discriminating
palate! Life is less expensive that way.
For quiet times there were always board games and jigsaw puzzles set
up. I am a sucker for puzzles so most afternoons would find me here
at least part of the time. Jim enjoyed the extensive library.
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!
Dinner was served in the Britannia Restaurant. There were numerous restaurants
on board, but this was the primary one for our group. We had a set of
assigned tables, but weren't required to sit at the same table each
night. That enabled us to move around and get to know more of our fellow
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. To return to the trip index page click
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