Archive for September, 2011

We woke up early this morning, at 4am, ouch! But there was a greater purpose to this madness, we were about to sail into New York, a sight that shouldn’t be missed. Except that when we arrived at our look out point, we were greeted with a fairly dense fog. New York, where the hell are you?!? It wasn’t until we got really close to the Verrazano Narrow’s Bridge that we actually saw it, sailing under it, always looks like the ship is about to lose the top of the funnel. In fact, it’s a bit of an optical illusion, and there’s actually about 4 metres spare (if the tide is right). When building the Queen Mary 2, they actually made sure that she would fit under the bridge. Then about 30 minute later, we’d sail passed the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline should look absolutely wonderful. Well, we nearly missed Lady Liberty, she was hiding, with her head in the clouds. The New York skyline remained even more illusive. Oh well, better luck next time, not that this wasn’t another wonderful experience.

Unfortunately, arriving in New York meant disembarking this beauty. As I mentioned earlier, I could easily get used to living on this ship. But the rest of our adventure awaits. We are now on our way to Las Vegas, flying at an altitude of I don’t know how many thousand feet. I think I could do with a nap now. Tomorrow we pick the RV and head to Zion National Park.

Sunset on our last evening

Under the Verrrazano Narrows Bridge

Lady Liberty with her head in the clouds

Hello New York!

5.30am Tuesday morning, alarm goes off, please can I snooze a little longer? But no, excitement kicks in and an hour later we’ve loaded up the car and we are on our way to Southampton. An uneventful 4 and half hours later we arrive in Southampton and check in at the Ocean Terminal. We won’t have many occasions to actually see the ship, so make the most out seeing her before we board.

I must say, just like last year, the boarding process with Cunard is so smooth and well organised, much better than any other cruise line we’ve ever sailed with before. While we are waiting in the lounge before boarding, we have a good look around and a song pops into our heads “You make me feel so young”… Yes, we still bring down the average age of the passenger manifest quite considerably. 1pm, and we get to board this beauty, it feels like coming home. It all still feels so familiar from our last trip, even down to the fact that we once again, despite our complaint last time, received the daily program in French. For some reason, Cunard thinks Belgian means French. Me thinks a letter explaining the population of Belgium is in order. You’d think that if up to that point all communication has been in English, booked with an American agency, home address being in England, you might get all the information in English, but no. The French theme continued to the dinner table where we found out we were placed at a table with 2 French speaking Belgians and 2 Parisians. Our French isn’t quite good enough to carry a decent conversation and neither is their English or Dutch. Not quite happy with this. So after dinner we request a change of tables. Here endeth our complaints.

The Maitre d’ gives us a table change, says it’s a really nice table and that John Duffy, the hotel manager will be our host the next evening. So now we’re reduced to eating with the staff ;-)

The next evening, the first of 4 formal evenings, we arrive at our new table to be greeted by the lovely Sonja from Austria who is the assistant to the hotel manager, all the places have place names, this is becoming a very formal affair. Our new table mates are all English speaking a very lovely bunch, perfect table mates really. Dining with the hotel manager, who has worked with Cunard for over 30 years, is proving to be very interesting. And a nice little extra perk, which Niels enjoyed very much, the wine is free-flowing. We’ve struck lucky with our new table. Especially when the next evening, again a formal evening, we find our table is being hosted by the Chief Purser and Guest Relations Manager. Again, an absolutely wonderful evening, and the wine, it just kept on coming. Turns out, our table is hosted by senior staff every formal night. How lovely! The Food and Beverage manager joined us yesterday which had all the waiting staff on their tippy toes. Tonight, we’ll be joined by the ship’s Chief Medical Officer.

The first day on board was rather choppy, up and down, up and down, we were trying to avoid a storm to the north west, but were still suffering slightly. Luckily, this is the Queen Mary 2 and if this had been a regular cruise ship rather than on ocean liner, things would have been far more wobbly! Most nights we get an extra hour, slowly adjusting to the time difference, so we won’t have any jetlag arriving in New York on Tuesday (one of the many advantages of taking this method of crossing the Atlantic). But even with the extra hour, we still managed to be way too late for breakfast on the first day! Ouch! Since then, we’ve managed to catch up on the sleep we’ve been missing out on lately.

Everything on board is just so wonderful, from the white gloved service afternoon tea in the ballroom, to a total relaxing time in the spa, and time has passed way too quickly. Hard to believe that we will be in New York in 2 days time already, I could easily spend 5 more weeks on this ship and not feel a need to set foot on land.

9 hours until we set off to Southampton.

And we’re still madly packing and planning and searching for missing items (like a 28mm lens).  Although I’ve been planning this trip for about 18 months now, it turns out, I am so not ready. Well, that is to say, we are kind of ready with the planning but decided to “wing it” for certain parts of the trip. This means that for certain nights we won’t know where we’ll be parking the RV. This is making me a bit nervous though, I’m a mad planner and not knowing what we’ll be doing every minute of every day is giving me the heebie jeebies (and I just remember I still need to book our car for the final part of our trip, jikes!).

Any bets on how much sleep we’re gonna get tonight?

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