QM2 The View From Onboard

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This is being written in the Library, forward on Deck 8. We sail at 5:30 and I had some time to kill and figured I'd send out a few impressions. The QM2, to begin with and to state the obvious is amazingly large. If one stands at the forward end of one of the corridors and looks aft, the perspective actually fades. Despite the passenger load there is no sense of crowding, except in the gift shop where there was a minor mob earlier trying to be the first to grab postcards, poster etc. The bookshop is well stocked with liner books and vintage memorabilia for sale. The interiors are nicer than they appeared in the brochures, and there are a lot of little 'surprises' to be found as one walks about. The only disappointment so far is that, due to security and the location of the pier, the only view I have had of the exterior has been from my hotel balcony. They were predicting squalls and 90MPH winds today, but the storm lifted this morning and right now I am admiring a lovely sunset through the windows. The library is comparable to a bookstore on shore. We have a window table on the upper level of the dining room, which I have not yet seen. Will be back alter with a more coherent descrition of the sailing and of the liner herself

Nicolas Roughol


Enjoy! I seriously envy you...
Just watched you go (late!) on TV, Jim. We were told the delay was due to the 'unusual amount of luggage' being taken aboard. Not all your ballgowns and tiaras, Jim? Have a lovely trip, you lucky man. Remind me to take up landscape gardening for a living in my next reincarnation...
Shes underway.....
Godspeed to those on board, have fun, and take lots of pictures...

Jim, how about a day by day diary of the voyage?

Jim, the QM2 seems very topheavy...How does she handle?
is there much of a 'roll'?

Im reminded of the 4 funnled French vessel the "France" of 1912, which was said to roll even in calm waters...

also, like titanic, does QM2 have a squash court?
An eqivilant of "Scotland Road"?

FIRST EVENING AT SEA: As we would have said in the 1980s, "way bizarre." A mix of the sublime, and the ridiculous. Yes, Dame Shirley Bassey is aboard, and performing tomorrow night. The
"rumor mill" also says Nicole Kidman and Rod Stewart are aboard 'though not together. The ship is beautiful, but there are many rough edges to be worked out- but so far we are in good humor and optimistic that there will be smooth sailing, so to speak, for the next 13 days.

Departure was to come immediately after the boat drill at 5:30 PM, and we were invited via loudspeaker to 'join the celebration on deck.' So we all did and waited. And waited. And waited. There was an announcment made that deaprture was to be held off for a half hour, but it was an hour beyond that point before we sailed. It got progressively chillier, and then it was announced that first seating dinner was to begin which caused a great deal of discontent amongst those who then had to choose between the fireworks display and eating. To make a long story short, the fireworks display WAS spectacular and the QM2 added to the festivities by bursting an overhead water pipe on the sports deck- captured on video by Mike, with my laughing as soundtrack.

DINNER: A surprisingly unadventurous menu greeted us- I ended up ordering spaghetti and shrimp- and the service was SLOW and spotty. We were alotted one dinner roll each, and the water glasses were only sporadically refilled. However the food quality was superb. What made the dinner special was that we were at a window table that was grossly overbooked. MIke and myself and this other couple were there first and so kept the seats. These two NASTY couples tried to get our table claiming it was theirs, and that started this odd chain of events in which first our waiter needed to see our booking card, and then later some maitre d' had to see it, and still later a staff member we did not recognise ALSO had to see the d*mned thing and, since ther numbers matched we could not be evicted. The upshot? The two couples were seated next to us and spent dinner glaring at us pirates who stole their window seat and complaining aloud about how much they should get 'for free' because of their inconvenience.

But, I've dwelled too much on the bizarre aspects. The ship is beautiful, has LOTS of liner themed art aboard including several Lusitania themed works, and should be running smoothly after everyone gets settled in.

TARN: About the topheavy thing. Yesterday it was reported that we would be sailing into a 90MPH gale upon departure. The weather moderated, however and is nowhere NEAR the hurricane the news was salivating for. There is some roll and pitch, but no more than aboard any other liner I've travelled on. However, the wiondow on my priovate terrace DOES give a neat "shrieking wind" sound effect which makes the slight blow outside sound like a movie-cliche storm.

Nice big gymnasium.

Going back to the dining room for a bit- photos do not do it justice. It is skillfully designed on 4 different levels so that although cavernous it seems quite intimate- the upper level is on three tiers, none of which are visible from the other two (at least from where we sit) and so one feels like one is in a small comfortable restaurant but at the same time is aware that one is in a room 30 feet high by 130 feet wide.

There is little apparent plastic or synthetic work visible and, therefore, even the more modernistic areas avoid the cheap look of most other cruise liners.

I will attach photos when I return home in March.

Anyone who likes send me your mailing address via my email (see profile) and I will try to get a postacrd off the ship to you. One final note of the bizarre- they did not bring any stamps aboard which makes mailing said postcards a task at this point
Hi Jim
sorry to hear about those obnoxious passengers at dinner....
Despite thier crudeness, ENJOY!!!
Take time to explore every nook and cranny...
Here is a very odd question..
Accounts of Titanic survivors often made mention of how Titanic has a 'new smell' to her..
Can the same be said for the QM2?
Also, in your opinion, what stands as the most beautiful room on the ship?
The least attratctive?
Is there any kind of 'grand staircase'?

Thanks in advance..
You lucky devil!!!

Tarn Stephanos
Dearest Jim,

I am another ET'er who is also very excited 4 U, as well as a bit green with envy.

Thank You so very much for the updates... I soo look forward to them.

God Speed & Many Blessings,

Hi Jim.

I will be enjoying your stories, and am now really looking forward to April's trip.

RE: Stamps: I'll make sure to bring plenty of postcard stamps. I also have plenty of stamps, to address letters, as well.

I will check with Jason, as to posting our daily activities.

Anyway, Jim, have a great time, and I look forward to seeing you in April.
This morning is grey, rainy, and the sea is choppy- hence a lot of indoor activity and much hovering around the computers.

The general consensus among the passengers with whom we have spoken is that yesterday was not all that it might have been, but that today should be viewed as a fresh start- with which I agree. What seems to have irritated peole the most is A) there is nothing aboard marked 'maiden voyage' (including last nights menus) other than a couple of postcards, a certificate ($10) and a t-shirt ($47) B) The champagne at sailing time was NOT free, and C) the portions were small at dinner. The upshot is- so far QM2 is favored in terms of design but QE2 for presentation- but of course, since one has been in service since 1969 and the other since yesterday morning that is to be expected.

One of the real treats onboard is that there are dozens or original loiner paintings by every reputable marine artist- so one is forever turning a corner and discovering something new and worthy of being photographed. We found an entire secondary staircase on each landing of which was hung two Steven Card paintings. The Lusitania one was the highlight for me, but unfortunately a crewman came before I could crowbar it down and take it. Just kidding about that. So far. Every elevator on board has its own separate liner print- and the hallways are hung with liner posters and museum-like liner displays.

The nicest room on board is probably the Britannia Dining Room. There are VERY few rooms to which the term 'breathtaking' can really be applied, but Britannia is.

SMELL: Okay, Tarn- QM2 smells really good. Partially because it is new, and partially because the majority of the cabins have terraces and so there is fresh air circulating. The usual modern cruise ship smell of Febreez and slight mildew is not present and not missed. One can actually smell sea air. HOWEVER, and this is a big however, our terrace became a reservoir last night during the storm so any idea of napping under the stars is on hold for a moment.

Thre is a grand staircase in the dining room and one in the foyer which, BTW in my not so humble opinion is the only design 'misfire' on the ship- it is more ca 1988 mall than it is ocean liner. The one in the dining room makes for a great entrance and exit (which, of course, is the point) and a nice spot in which to be photographed.

Doing a Lawrence Beesley- the passengers are a diverse lot. Literally mink on one side and stained polyester on the other. Nearly everyone is a previous Cunard traveller- hence the b*tching about the minor service and food glitches- and mostly over 50. The majority seem to be English. The couple we sat with last night at dinner had great sarcastic wit, which made the whole "Excuse me- could you PROVE that you belong at this table" interlude with the crew and obnoxious passengers tolerable. This morning we breakfasted with a charming pair of retirement age women from London. No sign yet of Shirley Bassey, or the alleged Rod Stewart and Nicole Kidman passengers.

The ship is rolling a bit more this morning than yesterday, but nothing major, and since nearly everyone aboard has sailed before there does not seem to be a seasickness problem. Last year we took a not-to-be-forgotten stormy voyage to Bermuda at which, Ten Little Indians style, the other six people at our dining room table were overcome by ma-de-mer and had to suddenly 'retire,' so I am painfully aware of how joyless a seasick cruise can be. So far no casualties.

More later
Seems a little silly for them to get worked up over a window table in the dining room....the water is after all everywhere LOL.

As big as she is it could take weeks to really learn the ropes of the QM2.

The one thing I was disappointed with on the QE2 was the not so grand staircase. The food was amazing. The Liddo restaurant or equivalent buffet should take care of the too small portions!

I did a short cruise from San Diego to Ensenada Mexico years ago that was downright violent. The ship pitched so badly the plates slid off the tables, and I suspect the food didn't stay down too well either for most people. It was scary at times, but fun in retrospect after we made it to solid ground. The storm cleared up by departure time. Many people understandably took a bus chartered by the cruise line back. My dad and I took the cruise back.

Enjoy! I'm a little green, not with mal-de-mur but envy!
SECOND DAY: Smoother, in some ways, than the first.

DAME SHIRLEY BASSEY, along with 35% (according to the crew) of the passengers was down with Bay of Biscay mal de mer, and so her show was put off 'til tomorrow night. Substituting were a Ukrainian act, Viva Classica- a violin/viola/piano trio who more than made up for the unforseen cancellation. Viva Classica performed classical and near classical pieces, plus some Scott Joplin, Gershwin and Jerome Kern, and in addition to being good were also quite charming, and I look forward to their scheduled shows in the planetarium over the course of the crossing.

THE WEATHER: Well.....I was in the 65% who weren't felled so it was quite adventurous. Standing at the furthest point forward, looking aft, and watching 1000 feet of ship rise up over one as the bow dips is an experience not to be missed. Likewise, sitting in a window 30 feet above the surface (in the lower level of the dining room) and watching waves breaking against it was remarkable. We got that on video. For part of the afternoon there was a cargo ship about a mile or so to port, and watching her plowing through the same swells we were certainly made on appreciative of the relative stability of QM2.

MY MISTAKE: I opened the bottle of champagne which came along with the cabin this morning, and when we returned to the room after the pitching became intense it, along with the drinking glasses was on the floor with the glass in pieces and the room reeked like skid row. The glass is gone, but I'm afraid so too is the pleasant "brand new" scent- replaced by Sunday Morning Frat House.

SHIP OF 1000 STAIRCASES. The QM2 has more major, minor, decorative, outright strange stairways than any ship I have ever seen. Earlier today we had walked up a secondary stair, somewhere aft and somewhere in the middle decks, and were delighted to discover that each landing bore two Steven Card liner paintings. I went to get my camera and then, stupid TV show style, could not find the stairway again. I'll spare the details, but our respective cases of Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder kicked in, and we spent much of the afternoon searching for that secondary stair. Began forward on the lowest deck, walked aft searching each transverse corridor and lobby working our way upward. Just as an FYI we finally found it off of an elevator lobby adjacent to Stairwell C, between decks 7 and 9.

DINING ROOM. The buffet this afternoon was, to be blunt, vile but the dining room this evening was greatly improved. And, yes, the Manson-esque whiny mopes at the next table punished us by being moved somewhere else. They were replaced by four men travelling as a party who did not say much beyond "hello" but it was still an improvement. The dinner rolls became MORE scarce tonight. Here's the deal: instead of putting the bread in a basket on the table, the waiter or waitress offers you your choice of one, then the basket vanishes never to return. However, since I had a hard roll, which I broke pre-buttering, I was able to run my butter patty through the crumbs and it was almost as if I had a whole second helping. But then, when one is talking of delicacies like bread one must not be too greedy.

Enough whining about that. The menu was quite pleasant, 'though still fairly standard banquet fare:
Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce
Streamed Lobster casserole, lobster sauce and braised vegetables
Roast Chicken, chipolata stuffing
Beef tenderloin steak, creamed parsnips and ricotta
Roast veal rack, potato galette
Stuffed eggplant with olive vinaigrette

I had the lobster. Nice but, as I said, not spectacular. Mike's chicken was dry and came on the bone with no carving knife and no stuffing.

Rumor has it that the weather is moderating as I type this, and that tomorrow will be smooth sailing.

Eric Kunau

So far, would you say that the voyage has been better than, worse than, or close to what you were expecting?
Hi Jim,
what are your fellow shipmates like?
Ocean liner buffs? Retired couples? The rich and famous? Many families?
Based on your earlier poste, it sounds like the vast majority of passengers are British..
BTW, are you allowed to keep your dinner menu?

Be sure to take souveniers, and I just dont mean the towels!


tarn Stephanos
Great reports Jim. Glad you're having a good time - except for that mock-frat house "upheaval." Looking forward to your next installment, your pictures and a personal account of your high seas adventure when you get to Texas.
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