Southampton! Actually, there is quite a bit to say, and most of it is good.
The boarding process at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal seemed to go
smoothly, despite the large number of passengers involved. Our luggage all
arrived safely to stateroom 8059. The ship got underway on time and sailed
out, passing the Statue of Liberty, under the Verazzano Narrows Bridge, and
out to sea. Soon, the skies were overcast and the ship entered a fog bank.
We had gray skies and little visibility all the way across the Atlantic. The
fog signal sounded frequently, although I noticed that the ship maintained
course and about twenty-four knots speed no matter what. Also, no fog
lookout was in evidence to me in the eyes of the ship.
Scenes aboard RMS Queen Mary 2 leaving New York and at sea.
Bruce and Penny on one of the black tie nights.
We dined in the Brittania Restaurant at Table 90 along with Michael,
who was traveling alone including driving both ways across the United
States; the Coghlins from Wales who were quite friendly if rather reticent; Patrick and
Donna, she being an American and he one of those proud Imperial Tories
who acts like he resents the power and importance of the United States; and
Ron and Val, a delightful couple from Northumberland. The food was good.
There were three black tie/suit night, one jacket and tie night, and at the very
beginning and the very end, a jacket sans necktie night.
Dr. Peter Carrick-Adams gave an insightful series of lectures of
World War Two in the West. Having toured the Normandy battlefields
ourselves enhanced the value of the lecture and of the presentation images.
I toured the bridge viewing area and attended the lecture by two deck
officers about the ship. They have two licensed deck officers on bridge
watch at any given time, and carry a staff captain besides the master himself.
The staff captain is somewhat analogous to a U.S. Navy ship’s executive
officer. The bridge is very modern, with two comfortable-looking “captain’s
chairs” for the watch officers. There is an autopilot and engine control
console amidships, and an array of five large computer screens. The surface
radar picture appears on two of them, ship’s system status appears on two
more, and in the middle is a navigation plot that integrates Global
Positioning System output with scanned images from nautical charts.
During the lecture, a young deck officer insisted that each of them maintains
full proficiency in traditional piloting and watchstanding methods such as
those on which I was “raised,” but I wonder about that…Oh yes, one more
thing: the off watch deck officers comprise the underway firefighting team.
I am glad that we came on this crossing. It is a throwback to the pre-
1940 years and quite an experience. But the Oceania Line experience that
we had on our Panama Canal cruise was preferable, I think. Queen Mary 2
is a bit stodgy and impersonal. Unless someone wanted the historic ocean
liner experience of bygone days, I would recommend crossing by a different
means were one available. Such as by airplane, for example. The bottom
line is that six days at sea is a lot of time to give up that could otherwise be
spent enjoying one’s destinations. Unless, of course, one is going around the
world without any airplanes!
One the afternoon of July 13th, we finally opened the bottle of Wattle
Creek bubbly that had been meant for the first day on the Amtrak train.
Arrival in Southampton.