MV ZENITH The View From Onboard In The Wake of the Furness Liners


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Jim Kalafus

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Thanks, Mike! Yes, the two Furness three-stackers were magnificent. They allowed passengers to enjoy an all-First Class atmosphere(although a small number could be carried in a second class for a while) at extremely comptetitive rates. In fact, the two Furness ships had certain refinements one could not find aboard the Normandie or Queen Mary- the principal one being that every cabin had a bathroom. The concept of First Class accomodation at mid range prices was a great one, and so I was pleased when the two Celebrity Bermuda liners followed that model.
 

Jim Kalafus

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SAILING DAY AND BEFORE: So far, the first day at sea has been extremely pleasant and mercifully uneventful.

Last night, Mike and I hooked up with my old friend and coworker JR at the Palace in NYC. Spent hours swapping horror stories about the nightmarish job we once held down...serial killers, spouse abusers, crackheads, in store deaths, and that just describes some of our former coworkers- the customers were even scarier. During the course of rambing, extremely vulgar and somehow life affirming talk, I consumed WAY too much caffeine and found myself bouncing off the walls until sunrise. Subsequently, I boarded the ship feeling washed out and achy- generally not an auspicious way to begin a trip.

Our cabin, 6003, is at the very front of the ship and, 'though smaller than a 'standard' standard, is better laid out and offers more usable floor space than most because the beds are placed in a "L" shape leaving all the unused floor area right in the middle of the room. Due to its location, one feels every move of the ship and I am glad, VERY glad, that I do not get mal-de-mer because, for a sufferer, 6003 would frankly be a torture chamber.

Spent the 'settling in' hours exploring the ship, which is similar in layout to the Horizon only with more wood and fewer white-enamel- and- chromium decorated rooms than aboard the older sister. Both ships date to ca 1991-'92 and are far more restrained in terms of decor than most of what has come later. Many cruise guides describe the less-than-glitzy interiors as 'yacht like' and I mostly agree with that assessment. THere are no breathtakingly beautiful rooms aboard, but then there are no horrors either, and the over all effect is pleasing.

There is a lovely moon out tonight, and I got a bunch of 'long exposure' digital shots which despite the motion of the ship came out well.

Dinner? Well, our table companions were very nice, the food choices appealing (I had an awesome mushroom pastry appetiser followed by veal) but we almost missed the whole thing. At 8:10 I dug a divot out of my ear shaving and at 8:45 we were still wadding my ear with cotton trying to staunch the small but agressive wound which refused to heal over. It was funny in a strange way, for we were fairly certain that dinner would have to be served in cabin by room service. Guess you had to be there.

A nice birthday cake showed up in my cabin while we were at dinner (I turn 38 shortly) and I'm heading down now to begin consuming it.

Everyone is a bit antsy about the rough seas we are shortly to hit. Should make for a good tale.
 

Jim Kalafus

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SECOND DAY: Was the first full day at sea. Not too much to say, for it rained for the better part of the daylight hours and 'though the cloud formations were, at times, spectacular the day can best be described as dreary. After a Mexican themed buffet lunch I ended up dozing off in the cabin and not waking up until it was time to dress for dinner.

Things only came alive after dark. Tonight was the first formal evening and, as it turns out, we get along very well with the other two people at our table in the dining room and so the three hours flew by faster than the rest of the day had. There was a personal favorite of mine served- Vegetable Terrine- and a very well executed Beef with mushrooms and sharp sauce. The dining room is all on one level, principally decorated in shades of soft brown and bronze, with glass dividers used to partition the 95 foot wide, equally long, room into smaller segements without making it seem claustrophobic or chopped up.

After dinner we went to the Cafe Milano, which is a circular room with wood-stained rattan chairs and vaguely 1930s looking circular tables. The entertainment there took requests and so we commandeered the bandstand so to speak and, reflecting one of our shared obsessions, had the band perform a program of tunes which would have been played aboard an Italia ship ca 1966- "Arrivaderci Roma" "Cuando Cuando Cuando" "Theme From a Man and a Woman" etc....briefly recreating the ambience of the Michelangelo in an elegant little room where dinner jacketed waiters served canapes and desserts from silver trays. I WILL say that the other passengers present seemed to like the choice of tunes and it was a fun to reenact Italia memories.

Tomorrow we arrive in hamilton before noon and, hopefully, the squalls will have abated.
 

Peter Kelly

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Ahoy there, Jim my boy!!!

Found you at last. I hope all goes well for you and Mike on this adventure. Now that I have found your platform I will drop in regularly to see how you are progressing.

I like the photo of yourself in the Stetson.

Take care my friend, and keep well back from the rail in rough weather!!!

Peter
 
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Waiting anxiously for the Tuesday installment and hope you are not recreating the Poseidon Adventure in the advent of the new hurricane brewing. Loved the Cafe Milano vignette, retro is the only way to go afloat! Have you met any characters yet- and what are the ladies wearing this season?
 

Jim Kalafus

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Thanks, Peter and Shelley: Felt as if I was playing to an empty house and so stopped posting or looking in after Tuesday figuring the .50 per minute could be better spent elsewhere, and missed your postings. Sorry. As it turned out, the weather was calm throughout. Continued playing 'stump the band' over several nights in whichever lounge we could. Only song which was a 'no go' was "Merry Widow Waltz."
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Monday Night At Sea

Spent a memorable afternoon exploring the ruins of the former Club Med Hotel in St George's. It lacked the sad grandeur of an abandoned Victorian seaside resort hotel, having been built in the 1970s Ultraluxe style, but it was nevertheless interesting.

Peter, glad you liked the photo. When you come out to Turkey I'll set you up with a Resistol similar to the one I'm wearing
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Jim Kalafus

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The Dreaded Titanic Staircase Photo Backdrop On Formal Night Cliche. Mike had commented that the only way he'd like to be photographed with that annoying prop would be sprawled out at the foot of it with his legs in the air clutching a bottle. We joked about doing it for a few days and then finally did...and, may I be struck by lightning if this is a lie, a woman asked Mike while he was picking the photo up "did you really fall like that?" Unfortunately, she was not joking....
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>>As it turned out, the weather was calm throughout.<<

Glad to hear that. Those hurricanes that have been tracking across the Atlantic have been stirring up all kinds of trouble. I like that Monday Night At Sea photo. It brings back some of my fonder memories.
 

Jim Kalafus

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LUXURY LINER ROW- 9/11/04 One unexpected treat on the voyage was arriving home on a day where 5 of 6 berths were occupied by passenger ships, as in old times. Another surprise was seeing one of the ca 1955-'60 Cunard vessels, now named the Topaz, moored across the slip from us.
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Jim Kalafus

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Topaz, for the most part, was a pleasantly nostalgic sight, even with her funnels and flanks painted with "Peace Boat," making her seem like the low-rent cousin of the "Love Boat" visible behind her. One could see some nice, probably original, wooden door frames on the bridge and boat deck, and Mike commented that it was good to see a liner with an actual stern again. Somewhat puzzling however, and visible in the upper shot, was that her 'skin' appears to be sinking in around her ribs on her lower quarter, as would happen to an old horse. I've never seen that on a liner before.....
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What a fabulous view of liner row. Our old ET friend Cliff Barry was just here visiting from London- he was purser on the Topaz some years ago. Love that running rust! And you guys are having WAY too much fun on staircases. Am waiting for Diningroom Tales and shipmate critques. Is there shuffleboard and horse racing or is that wishful thinking? How about the ship 's run pool? Any celebrities onboard? Am glad you aren't Gone With the Wind down there in hurricane alley.
 

Noel F. Jones

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"Another surprise was seeing one of the ca 1955-'60 Cunard vessels, now named the Topaz, moored across the slip from us.

She was the Canadian Pacific "Empress of Britain", latterly "Olympic" via "Fiestamarina", "Carnivale" and "Queen Anna Maria".

I was briefly re-aquainted with her in Dover before her recent departure transatlantic.

I also noticed the plating set in between the frames. I assume this is primarily attributable to the accumulation of multiple minor impacts with knuckles, pilings, berth fenders, tenders etc. over the years; rather than panting due to exposure to wave/wake action. It is not uncommon even in comparatively new vessels but is disconcertingly well advanced here.

Perhaps some ships surveyors might care to comment.

Noel
 

Jim Kalafus

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Hello, Shelley: Here is the Cafe Milano, scene of some of our most striking social successes. A bit retro, I'll admit - sitting in stained wicker chairs listening to 'Cuando Cuando Cuando' and drinking Harvey's Bristol Cream is about as un-2004 as one can get.

Quite the opposite of our QM2 experience with staff was the Cafe Milano the first night at sea. There were several stewards circling with a variety of hot and cold edibles, plus a dessert steward, and we were the only two in the room. So no sooner would the hot food steward leave the table than the canape steward would appear followed by the dessert tray, again and again and again. There are only so many canapes one can wash down with Harvey's Bristol Cream, but until other passengers came into the room the crew attention, and the supply of what Celebrity refers to as 'Gourmet Bites' was endless.

You'll be happy to know that shuffleboard is still played, 'though the betting pool and horse races have (mercifully, in the latter case) gone the way of gender segregated lounges and dramatic recitations for the sake of Seamens Charities by Mrs. Patrick Campbell.
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Jim Kalafus

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Peter: The actors are myself, Luke Hollingsworth, Chris Allen and Mike Poirier. But not in that order.
 
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