Monday, April 20, 2009

Transferring from the QV to the QM2

Monday, April 20, 2009 – Southampton and transfer from Queen Victoria ship to the Queen Mary 2!!
With an early arrival through the English Channel, we were docked and cleared by 8:00AM in the largest cruise liner port in Europe. People began to disembark and suddenly life changes; time schedules take over and life goes back to “normal”.

We were busy cleaning up the last minute items and wandered around saying goodbye to many people. How sad. The many friends we’ve made among the passengers and crew…how nice to create these friendships and we will try to maintain them. I was very sad.

We decided to get off the ship earlier than required and kept seeing people to say goodbye to as we passed each other. Airport shuttles, tour shuttles to Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral to see the Magna Carta and to Windsor Castle were for the others…We had our bus transfer from the QV to the QM2, as they are affectionately called. We had a quick tour through town, the site of the Roman port of Clausentum in the middle Stone Ages. Some of the oldest buildings date back from the 11th century and the Old Town and Walls are great places to wander. The Maritime Museum was once a 14th century wool warehouse. The Museum of Archaeology is in God’s House Tower, a 13 the century gatehouse which was once part of the city’s walled defenses. The RMS Titanic set sail on her ill-fated maiden voyage from here in April 1912; with a crew of 898 only 210 survived and most of the crew were from Southampton. The author Jane Austen lived her also and visited Netley Abbey, a former home to Cistercian monks, which can still be visited today. There is a lot more to do here than I thought!! An hour does not do it justice! The Hilton offers a package with free transfers to and from the ships.

I have to tell you the news of the luggage! Can you believe this? For the 240 passengers transferring from the QV to the QM2, we had 720 pieces of luggage. One family of four had 80 PIECES OF LUGGAGE!!! We heard they are the Tag Hauer watch people but who knows…Compare those numbers to the crew luggage: 135 crew had 150 pieces of luggage.

Those of us (approx. 240, of which 28 are in my group) transferring from the Queen Victoria were allowed onboard first! We were greeted by staff in red uniforms and white gloves. And the entrance grand lobby is grand; three stories high and more modern than the QV. It is a much longer ship and the corridors seem to go on f o r e v e r when you look down the hallway. Our room, 10049, 10th deck, in the Princess Grill section, was ready. But I was not!! What a room. I expected nice but it is the best! We have probably 2.5 times more space than we did in the last stateroom. We have a balcony 2+ times larger than the other one and this one has two lounge chairs plus a table and room for more chairs!! And there is one door but, in total, four glass panels from the stateroom to the balcony!! So when you open the curtains, the view is fantastic. Imagine doing a world cruise from the stateroom…

We have a drinks bar with glass doors with two shelves of glasses. And a walk-in closet with drawers. And a huge bathroom with a tub! And a large area around the sink. And drawers in the bedroom area and a sofa which would seat 3+ very comfortably plus a large arm chair. And the telephone has speakerphone! AND a fruit bowl (to be replenished daily) and gifts of: two bottles of bubbly and two bottles of wine and fresh strawberries! What a dream.

Then the luggage arrived and the room suddenly appeared quite differently. A hurricane had suddenly whirled through 10049. Honestly, the less you have, the better off you are. (At the moment, anyway…)

We ran down to the Kings Court on Deck 7 for a buffet quick lunch. They have different food stations set up – carvery, lotus (Asian) and Italian and the areas are divided into smaller dining sections. We ate quickly and went out to find Avis car rental to check on our NY rental car. It took us about 30 minutes just to walk out of the port!! We walked to the old section of town and then stopped a cab to get a price and found out the librarian from the QV was in the front seat and she was going to the QM2 so we hopped in. What a small world it continues to be.

Back onboard, we sailed at 4:30. We whistled and the QV whistled and it sounds so wonderful. I will miss that so much. The daily noon whistle and sailing past the towns and watching people watch us as we watch them. And the small boats which pass us or sail alongside us and wave. It is such fun. Why we all find it so fascinating, I don’t know, but we do. I love it!

Even using the maps in the stateroom, we are getting lost. I found the computer labroom and they helped me set up the laptop to send and receive. We went to the Golden Lion Pub to meet some friends and talked. Then we had our Princess Grill dinner. We are at a table for six and you can dine whenever you want during the hours of 6:30-9:00 PM. We were there right at 6:30 so we could go to the show but since you don’t have to wait for anyone, we were finished in 45 minutes!! Love it. We have a table very close to the bow of the ship with a great view -- you see the open deck where there will be people lounging during the day (not sure about that one!) but it is a great sunset view also. Dinner was nice – salad, crab cake and scallops and the spa selection for dessert.

The show was a great song and dance by the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers and an introduction to the facilities onboard by the Entertainment Director. There are 2489 passengers onboard and eight dogs. This is the only vessel which can transport dogs across the Atlantic! It is a Royal Mail Ship, therefore RMS Queen Mary 2, is the official name of the ship. We will sail 3200 nautical miles to NY. There are four pods for speed and it will take us five days. There are 130 staff in the entertainment department and we start off tomorrow with the Black and White Ball. There are 1100 seats in the Royal Court Theatre and there is a jazz club. The Canyon Ranch Spa has a staff of 50. The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts is onboard also and will perform two shows; there are nine gentlemen hosts onboard to dance with the single women.

On this voyage, the lecturers are:
Scientist Dr. Lewis Dartnell
Writer, Actor and Filmmaker Robert Neal Marshall
Writer and Critic Ian Haydn Smith
Author Kathryn Harrison

We are sailing now. I do feel a definite shudder in the room and we are on Deck 10. We’ll see how that goes.

Only five days left…so very hard to believe.