Where am I ?, Well mid Atlantic actually, and travelling over a relatively smooth, rough ocean. The decks are closed again as they always seem to be on transatlantic crossings during the winter months and everyone appears to be inside sitting or eating mainly in the same place as I would like to be. It seems to me that as many cheap seats as possible have been shoehorned into this ship and it really shows as there are rarely any empty spaces in the popular venues due mainly to the fact that no deck seating is available in the periods of high wind and heavy seas, Perhaps you need a bigger ship guys!!
The "Ships Time" is a very important factor during transatlantic crossings and it can be seen that the time changes on a regular basis either forward or backwards dependent on direction of travel. There are a few clocks to be seen, a couple on Deck 7, the promenade deck, three times around to a mile, but none anywhere really noticeable, some in the bars, restaurants or lounges, which seems strange, and most that are visible tell different times. In our Princess Suite there is no clock other than on The Voyage Information Chanel on the TV, which will reset itself after a while when you turn it on in the morning, it's certainly not high tech in any reach of one’s imagination and because it's confusing you may miss your dinner appointment or the quiz in the pub, perhaps even your lecture in advanced Astrophysics, yes you can get almost anything you want whenever you want as long as you keep up with what the time is.
The more you pay for your accommodation the better the areas in which to eat and drink and Grill passengers have a Grill Lounge and terrace for their enjoyment. The cheap seats get the Britannia Restaurant and anyone can use Kings Court anytime they like to evade the dinner jacket requirement of some days at sea. Casual nights are a little more relaxed and gosh shock horror, you are not forced to wear a tie, what is the world coming too?
Food is generally good although I will criticise Kings Court because when it's busy it is difficult to get a table, find the food you fancy and get it back to your seat before it's stone cold, I have found nothing in this area actually hot, neither plates nor food, the best bet is the cold cuts, cheese, sushi etc. and whilst they don't offer sandwiches as such you can with lateral thinking construct your own.
There are massive amounts of ways to "enjoy" one’s time whilst on board, from a very well laid out gymnasium with many many machines, to lectures, classes and even a very regular 3 times a day Trivia Quiz in The Golden Lion pub, although it would be good if the "quizperson" had had the same level of training as the helmsman. Just a bit of fun can get screwed if the person creating the fun doesn't know the machine nor software. We through trial and error eventually have decided that our best bet food wise is to eat at our prescribed table in The Princess Grill at all occasions where the food is dependable and both hot and tasty, the service is also excellent, well mostly.
We had an interesting stop in New York and after arriving at The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal we had a coach trip to Manhattan. Unfortunately, the delay in US customs shed left the trip starting later than we had expected and whilst interesting enough was in some ways disappointing. We did though have the opportunity to sample two bars in Manhattan, Sean's Bar and Kitchen and The Croton Reservoir, both very good and a shame more UK bars aren't like them.
We were awoken on Friday morning at a few minutes before six by a ships announcement of the captain asking for a passenger from Deck 4 to contact the reception desk. After another request, a few minutes later we noticed that the ship was changing course and before long we were retracing our track and a search was beginning for the lost passenger. It transpired that the crew were tasked with searching the ship for the elderly British lady but were unsuccessful. The ship was later assisted in its search by a US Coastguards cutter and air support in the form of fixed wing search planes and helicopters. By mid-afternoon the search continued and may possibly have continued in the morning but as dusk approached the captain announced that the ship had conducted a search pattern in agreement with the US Coastguards and that all their combined efforts had been fruitless and that the search was being called off due to the lack of light. We do not know if any further search would be carried out but the coastguards but QM2's part in it was over and at full speed the ship regained its previous course and the captain advised us that we would arrive in St Phillipsburg on St Maarten in The Netherlands Antilles at the scheduled time. Those able to access the internet saw that both UK and US news services including the BBC were aware and reporting the incident but no further mention has been made by the Captain or printed in the daily hand sheet that passengers receive. It may be that there will be questions asked when we make landfall on Boxing Day.
It is Christmas Day on board the QM2 and only another few hours of those tedious repeated cash cow songs remain to be heard, yippee I hope! The Chief Executive of our stateroom has advised me that we are shortly to arrive in the "tropics" and I have already seen some "flying fish" which generally herald that the waters are much warmer. These same creatures will feature on many menus on land in the next several days but in the wild they are most intriguing.
We arrived at Phillipsburg, St Maarten, Netherlands Antilles an island of two parts the larger French, the other, where we were, Dutch. We walked about and had a beer and some lunch, quite a lot of exercise, most needed and then returned to our ship after about five hours. We were due to sail at 17:30 hrs but the ships tannoy announced a call for two passengers to report in, some men by the last remaining gangplank were scratching their heads and using radios, what's afoot here one thought. Well it appears a foreign gentleman had decided to leave the ship and had not told anybody, quite naughty, as it caused concern with the islands immigration service who were not impressed, just what our captain needed after "The Incident" It is also one’s impression that since " The Incident" that service in some areas is now not as good as before, it's slight but tangible, maybe when the crew rotas resolve themselves they will be more attentive. One instance of this is the ships information page says that some decks are closed forward due to high winds, even when moored in port, in the sunshine,how's that work?
We find ourselves today Tuesday 27th December berthed next to TUI Discovery, from the Thompson's stable, a somewhat smaller ship than us in Roadtown, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. One must applaud Cunard in their wisdom of bringing us to an island that in many ways is so British, I suppose BVI gives the game away a bit, but unlike the U.K., here most things seemed to be shut unless you wanted anything from Diamonds International. The whole point of BVI is sorting your dosh away to escape tax etc., it also seemed that the bars and restaurants that were open actively were not interested in cruise ships and would given half a chance rip you off. Back on board QM2 we were serenaded by a quite good jazz ensemble courtesy of the Thomson crowd next door, Jolly warm here, what old chap!! And the fellow doing the quiz next door could be heard clearly, my wife got 17 out of 20 correct, almost a record, and on a different ship even. We will now await our own QM2 quiz with Pete and the three other P's and take interest in who fails to show for departure. Tomorrow is Dominica, I wonder??
Well after the disappointment of Tortola which was always our fault for trying to do the single handed crack and not going on an organised tour I stood on deck and watched the cast-off performance, and yes again the ships tannoy asked for various passengers to make themselves known, including funnily enough the "Russian Gentleman" who had absconded without paying his bar tab the previous evening. What is going on!!! One might ask. Anyways at the point that the last ramp had been dragged back into the ship some frantic waving by a shore based security lady meant that an obviously not Russian rotund chap made it back on board much to the delight of TUI Discovery passengers, much cheering as the poor guy strode up the gangplank, probably for a right royal reaming by "El Capitano" or one of his his sidekicks. As we left Tortola in the growing dusk many light executive jets headed into the islands airport, tail to tail, busier than Heathrow it seemed, maybe they were all arriving for the banks to reopen the following morning or are fetching up to transfer to Sir Richard Branson's island hideaway, just a stone’s throw away.
Our waiter at dinner told us that Roseau might prove to be less interesting than Tortola, it would have to try hard, but the ships nightly gumph does tell us that there are many restaurants and the better ones take credit cards. When push comes to shove, we may get a cab to a seaside bar restaurant, chill, and attempt to be back on board before too late. I found myself chuckling at the thought of Frank Durabont and his initial thoughts on The Walking Dead, a satellite and internet streamed tv show, and where they happened, a crowded shopping mall would be too chaotic as would be Black Friday as the doors opened at Macy's, but as we were leaving the ship at Tortola I found myself auditioning for the show, a little more makeup and we were a go, but I suppose that even our shambling mass wasn't as awful as what Rick has to put up with on a weekly basis, close run thing though!! There is a lot going on in Roseau, in Dominica accompanied by much rain, but then again it wouldn't it be as green without it.
We arrive at Basseterre in St Kitts and Nevis at approx. 16:30 hrs on Thursday 29th December 2016 and not long afterwards are joined at the pier by Celebrity Summit another Carnival Cruise company ship, like us. Carnival own most of the ships that you are likely to see at any one destination, Royal Caribbean own most of the others and those are sometimes the larger vessels carrying the most passengers. It appears that a new ship is being built that will launch soon with a compliment of over 6000 passengers plus crew, phew that's gonna be a big boat!! Anyways this Celebrity ship is a lot quieter than the last one we rocked up against a few years back whilst on The Queen Victoria funnily at the same island which was populated by head banging ganja fuelled Mexicans who had every available watt of music power blasting us from their decks. These guys don't look or sound as if they've had a spliff yet today but it's still early, we will wait and see shall we. Next, it's off to the Circus. After many more fantastic shopping opportunities it's back to the ship, sorry I should say Liner as it is said Queen Mary is an ocean liner and not a cruise ship, the majesty of it all!!
Back in the USA and yet another zone for cell users at St Thomas, US Virgin Islands and a bus trip to see some sights and guess what, some shopping ops! We go to Mountain Top for a view, and a Banana daiquiri should you feel so inclined at 09:00 hrs, I surprised myself by declining, It’s a little early even for me. Then on to The Great House, which appears to be a restaurant and is not open during day time, but there are the Botanical Gardens, so live and dream. The bus driver seemed to have a penchant for stopping for even the vaguest view with associated shopping opportunities so it appears that we missed going to "DownTown" cos we was late bro', so we never knew wot was missed. Back on board for the daily sandwich, have a snooze, do five laps of deck 7, get another beer, make the pub quiz at 16:00, job done, Caribbean done, stand and watch for latecomers, same old, same old. The food in the Grill restaurant is good but unexciting, certainly not "historic" as dear Mr Winner used to say and one supposes, it will soon become terminally boring. The bigger problem is that there are very few other venues. The Kings Court is ok for breakfast, that is if you can find a table away from the shambling masses, but lunch is always teeming as is dinner on days at sea. There are frankly far too many people on this boat guv!
My memory of Queen Victoria food experiences was that a smaller crowd fitted well into an albeit better designed layout, for instance the QV Lido was far more open planned and views were not blocked by deck furniture nor self-loading freight, that's you and me by the way. I have absolutely no knowledge how one’s on board experience is if you are accommodated in an inside cabin on the lower decks, that whilst affordable, leave one with little opportunities on sea days when the decks are closed due to a hoolie blowing, other than eating and drinking coffee all day.
My commanding officer has now informed me that we have now sailed north out of The Tropics and one hopes that our freshly cleaned warmer clothing shall be returned in time for the expected rapid drop in temperature as we travel north to New York. Several things concern me as we travel northwards, one being what I call The Ashcan where smokers consume roll ups, cigars and whatever at tables with steward service at the rear of the ship on Deck 7. Deck 7 is the food and booze deck, it also is the only deck upon which an uninterrupted circumnavigation can be made and in doing this, and not forgetting that three times round is a mile, one has to pass through The Ashcan. It stinks, it is disgusting and whatever consumed the architects of the RM2 makeover to put all the fagash mob smack in the path of the healthy exercise folk. Heads should roll, it's an abortion I can tell you, So There!!!! All things can of course be turned on their heads and being perverse we binned the prescribed route for New Year and the "Formal" requirement and went to the bar and Kings Court for our evening meal where we met several interesting people both crew members and a band playing gigs on board and really had a good time but still retired early as is our way.
We watched some of the ships tv feeds in our stateroom and failed to see any major worldwide chaos despite the obvious interest of international news media for the obverse side of the coin. Come on guys don't forget the old axiom, Never mind the facts get the story!! I am almost certain that our dawn may bring a world that is not majorly changed and that our ongoing passage to New York will be as expected, I'm not holding my breath. Interestingly as one watched the year shift via a variety of media channels I was almost consumed with the desire to scream about the massive waste as country, yes country after country burnt millions of pounds of their children's money on fireworks. Come on guys stop telling the kids to unplug their phone charge at night and turn of lights not needed and conserve what we have and not waste. And then wham bam thank you mam, we plug in 8000 lights, cut down numerous trees, and set fire to millions in the streets, perhaps children have a right to be confused. I am!!
See you next year??
Everyone is saying Happy New Year to me this morning, why, I say happy Sunday in return as it is less full of danger, why build up all yours and others hopes with a statement that will surely not reach fruition. So, Bah Humbug! I've still got loads left from job lot I bought for Christmas.
We were aware of a plague of coughing aboard, mainly apparently featuring on Deck 4 (cheap seats) mostly, but this added cruising attraction now seems to have reached Deck 10. As long as it's not called Nora we should survive. The Chief Exec or XO in naval terms in this region has been spluttering and coughing and has been taking LemSips to ease her symptoms, I had some Beechams with me but nowhere near enough and whilst one of the "boutiques" on Deck 3 has a small range of self-administered medications it can't suffice for 2500 souls. It's easier to buy a Rolex or Cartier than a cold remedy. Perhaps the Medical Centre on Deck 1 in the bowels of the ship has more as we may choose to stay on board in New York as the weather is forecast cold and wet, very wet so the weather map says. I did indeed go to the lower innards and found that Boots Pharmacy does not exist in this region either and with half the ship coughing and wheezing a veritable orchestra of respiratory discharges there may be a bit of rapid shelf filling going on. I wonder how many people are turned back from immigration tomorrow morning for being "infected", they do have cameras that register body temperature!!!
We arrive in New York for the second and the first time this year feeling like death warmed up. We had decided to bin the Manhattan bus trip, it wasn't the trip that we thought it was, the one we had chosen was cancelled, so perhaps someone decided to upgrade us, we couldn't cancel under 48 hrs prior, so chose to kiss goodbye to a bunch of dollars and stay in bed. US immigration had other ideas and demanded even those transit passengers not wanting to leave the ship must, and go through immigration and then sit in an aircraft hangar sized building for a couple of hours, after which they chose to release a virtual stampede back on board. How they can get something so screwed up without giving anyone any information is beyond me. It maybe that The Manhattan Cruise Terminal used by most the major players does this better, but I shall never return any time soon, make that never, to test the waters. Sucks!!! What better way to treat a bunch of ill people, the number coughing and wheezing could not be counted, almost half and there has not been any mention of this virulent viral infection in any way from anyone, yeah Sucks BigTime!!!
So, we have both been feeling ill and without energy, off our food and probably dehydrated, totally crook, voyage ruined, at least the last ten days of at least and one doesn't suspect a stampede of offers of compensation. End of!!, possibly. Wait and see. Luxury is a relative term as one man’s luxury is another's slum hovel but in this respect my own viewpoint is that there is little luxury here for me in such an overcrowded ship. Woody Guthrie sang about Alice's Restaurant where you could get anything you wanted but I suspect there can never be a song about Kings Court or Disease Central as I know view it in my mind where you will not want most of what is on offer food or otherwise. A big shame considering The Queen Victoria Lido restaurant is so much nicer in some many ways on so many levels. We shall be home in approx. 50 hrs when and where I shall review this monologue and publish it for all to see, too late for those already on the world cruise or joining in Southampton.
So! My end view is Big Ship, Far too many passengers and a lack of communication which is surprising considering how much was spent in recent months “remastering” QM2. And a general feeling that this really isn’t the “tightest run” of ships. Sad Read Less