Atlantis Alumni

Friday, December 22, 2017

Our Voyage Has Ended

At 5:15 AM Friday morning the Queen Mary 2 passed under the Verrazano Narrows bridge signaling her return to the States and the end of our second Transatlantic crossing on board this fine vessel. The voyage this time was much smoother than in 2013, when we experienced rough seas. Yesterday Jim joiined our group for a tour of the state of the art ship's bridge, featuring an impressive array of modern navigational instrumentation. We'll dock in Brooklyn this morning and then return to Philadelphia by train. It has been a most enjoyable winter time vacation.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Dixieland Band Concert On Board The QM2

On Wednesday on board the beautiful Queen Mary 2 we attended another interesting lecture focusing on the design and construction of this truly unique ship. The lecture was given by the man who headed the design team. He is justly proud of the ship, and he explained that designing a true ocean liner was a childhood dream of his. He emphasized the important design features that put the QM2 apart from all of the modern cruise ships now in service. Just before lunch we enjoyed hearing a dixieland jazz performance featuring the very talented musicians who make up the ship's orchestra. Dinner was a special event held in one of the ship's specialty restaurants. Members of our Pied Piper group enjoyed an Asian-themed meal at "Bamboo," on the last formal attire evening of the crossing. Today, Thursday will be our final day at sea as we are scheduled to dock in Brooklyn early Friday morning.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Another Typical Activity-Filled Day At Sea On The QM2

Tuesday morning the seas were moderate and the outside decks were open. However, the winds were strong, too strong for our usual two-mile walk around deck 7. Jim headed for the health club and Dan went to the library. After his workout Jim enjoyed an hour of backgammon in the game room. Then it was time to head to the grand staircase to view the Christmas market set up by the ship. Dan joined Jim and we both witnessed the tolling of the ship's bell at noon (8 bells.) This was followed by the singing of Christmas carols, a tradition aboard the QM2 at the holidays. A little later we enjoyed a concert by Benjamin Makisi, a tenor who hails from New Zealand. Mr. Makisi's program included both popular tunes and classical music or operatic selections. The concert was followed by afternoon tea, another Cunard tradition. We joined some of our new friends in the Queens ballroom for this most enjoyable event. The entertainment at tea was a string quartet. After a break from activities and a short rest we dressed for dinner. Before dinner, however, we attended a special Captain's cocktail party which was by invitation only, for Cunard World Club members who have sailed with the company before. We greeted the Captain and joined our friends Robyn, Philip and Cliff for complimentary cocktails before going to the Britannia restaurant to join the rest of our group for dinner. After dinner it was show time in the Royal Court Theater. The performer was David Copperfield, formerly known as a magician/illusionist but who now is a comedian/vocalist. After such a full day it was easy to fall asleep once we got back to our cabin.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Busy Day At Sea

One of the fun aspects of a Transatlantic crossing with Cunard is that there is always something to do. Monday we were busy all day long without even a break for our customary midday nap. The seas are nowhere near as rough this trip as they were in December of 2013 when we did our last crossing. As a result, the promenade deck has remained open for walking and jogging, and the pools and hot tubs are in use. We started the day Monday with our usual sit down breakfast in the Britannia Restaurant at 8 AM. After breakfast we enjoyed a 2 mile walk outside on the deck. Dan then went to the library to read. He is reading a novel by Jojo Moyes, an English writer recommended by our friend Carole P. of Long Island. Jim attended a fascinating lecture given by an experienced airline pilot. The subject was the disappearance without a trace of the Malaysian aircraft a few years ago during a flight from Australia to China. Our pilot covered the plausible and implausible explanations for the disappearance of the aircraft. His conclusion, shared by other experts, is that the Captain of the airliner purposely crashed the plane because he was angry with Malaysian authorities. It seems that the Captain was good friends with a Malaysian official who was persecuted for being gay! These lectures by a wide range of experts are highlights of a Cunard Transatlantic crossing. For lunch we dined with our group at a specialty restaurant, The Verandah. After our leisurely lunch we attended another highly interesting lecture focusing on another of Cunard's glorious ships, The Queen Elizabeth 2. This ship, now sold and waiting to be turned into a hotel in Dubai, was what kept Cunard afloat during difficult financial times over several decades. Following this lecture and a short break we attended a show and lecture in the ship's planetarium, unique to the Cunard QM2. Finally, after the planetarium show it was time for a rest before dressing for dinner with our group. The dinner capped a full day of enjoyable activities. Photos: Unlike Titanic, there are ample lifeboats aboard the QM2. Each of these large, white canisters contains an inflatable lifeboat. The large, metal shapes installed on a forward deck are not sculptures, they are actually spare propellers. The entrance to the planetarium. The gallery of the stars and other notable individuals who have sailed with Cunard. Desserts at the luncheon in the Verandah specialty restaurant. An unusual display by Godiva Chocolates: A model of the Orient Express locomotive and passenger car made out of chocolate!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Monday December 18, 2017 On Board The QM 2

Sunday was a relatively quiet, restful day on board the Queen Mary 2 as she makes her say across the North Atlantic. After breakfast in the lovely Britannia Restaurant, we walked for a couple of miles around the outdoor promenade deck. Then Dan headed for the library whilst Jim paid a visit to the well-appointed fitness center. We spent a quiet afternoon reading and napping prior to dressing for dinner on our second formal attire evening. At 8:30 pm we dined with our group and enjoyed the camaraderie of our fellow shipmates. The weather was perfect on Sunday, however, the seas started to churn during the night, and this Monday morning the ship is pitching and rolling somewhat, with huge waves occasionally crashing into the hull with a thud that can be felt everywhere on board. This is when the QM2 struts her stuff, having been designed for exactly this sort of rough service on the North Atlantic. In the photos below, the large trophy cups were awarded to Cunard to commemorate first crossings and other significant events in the history of the company. The large silver cup was awarded to Samuel Cunard in 1840 marking the first-ever passenger ship North Atlantic crossing.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday At Sea On The Queen Mary 2

Saturday was our first full day at sea on this Atlantic Ocean crossing from Southampton, England to Brooklyn, USA. It was a nice, sunny day, so after breakfast we took a two mile walk on the outside promenade deck. Then we attended an interesting lecture given by a nautical engineer, one of the designers of the ship we're on, the Queen Mary 2. However, his lecture, entitled "Titanic Revisited," focused on his research and that of others relative to the famous ship sinking. He concluded that the sinking was inevitable under the circumstances, and he explained in detail the fatal facts that contributed to the disaster. He is a good speaker and we're looking forward to two additional presentations that he is scheduled to do. At lunch we met an interesting couple from Wisconsin who shared our dismay over the current occupant of the White House. In the afternoon we attended a piano recital given by an accomplished classical pianist. The rest of the afternoon was free for napping or a visit to the beautiful, large ship's library here on board the QM2. Dinner with our group was very festive as it was on the first of three formal attire nights scheduled for the week.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Having Boarded The Queen Mary 2

Friday we left the interesting Marble Arch neighborhood in London checking out of our quaint B & B, The Sumner hotel. The hotel was adequate but in need of some work. The building consists of two structures combined that probably date from the mid to late 19th century. The interiors have been modernized and the hotel is clean, however there were a few problems such as a non-functioning lift on our side of the hotel. Staff provided assistance with our heavy bags. Our room was small and comfortable with a sleek, modern bathroom, however it did not have separate heating and we had to rely on a space heater provided by the management. The best feature of the hotel is the daily full English breakfast buffet included in the room rate. We liked the neighborhood, which is convenient to shopping and a short ride by tube to the many attractions in central London. However, we would not recommend the hotel since there are so many other options available. Our coach ride to Southampton where we were to board the Queen Mary 2 took longer this time due to heavy weekday traffic in London. We left London at around noon but we did not arrive at the ship until around three in the afternoon, with a comfort stop enroute being necessary. Then there was another hour or more delay in boarding the ship due to the check-in process. Eventually we made it on board and settled in to our lovely cabin port side amidships. After the obligatory emergency drill we rested up a bit, then joined our cruise party of about a dozen for cocktails followed by a delicious dinner in the beautiful Britannia dining room. Today, Saturday, we have plans to attend several lectures and we won't miss afternoon tea, a daily highlight on board this amazing ship. The ship is gently rocking now but perhaps it may still be possible to walk around the outside promenade deck, we shall have to see. Rougher seas may lie ahead, time will tell.