View Full Version : Scribblings from the Queen Mary 2 from John Strange

Brian Probetts (Site Admin)
3rd October 2015, 10:52 AM

Thu Sep 24th Hoboken: It could not have been a more beautiful day the bluest skies, puff clouds, flawless visibility. What was once the hustle & bustle of the Bethlehem Steel shipyards at the foot of 14th Street and where the likes of the Independence, Statendam, Santa Rosa and Olympia once sat fixed poses while resting in dry docks, the waterfront is now cleared, rebuilt & totally appealing & desirable. Having a long, leisurely lunch (at the very stylish MacLoon's Restaurant), cool autumn breezes made us feel, well, that we are at sea, enjoying the promenade deck. Only those cushioned chairs and the tea trolley were missing. Across the Hudson, the Manhattan skyline could not have been more arresting, more fascinating, totally irresistible. Yes, the great kingdom! New towers soaring in every direction or so it seemed. Tugs, barges, ferries and the odd pleasure boats sailed past. It was great dance, all done in sequences. Looking north, the Eurodam and P&O's Aurora were at berth. It could not have been nicer, better, more delicious to the eye and the soul. And nearby, in one of the restored shipyard propeller shops, the Hoboken Museum is having record-breaking attendance with an exhibit for the centennial of the City's most famous citizen: Frank Sinatra.

Fri Sep 25th New York City: I feared driving into the City the Pope is visiting and streets everywhere are closed & so traffic would be jammed. Security was beyond tight. Instead, the City was all but tranquil it might have been a holiday. Happily, everything flowed easily.

A reunion luncheon with dear friends & then off to the World Ship Society over on East 35th Street for my early evening talk on Cunard 175th anniversary.

Thu Oct 1st Halifax (Nova Scotia): Back again my 4th visit here this year. But always a pleasure & a treat!

Boarded the great Queen Mary 2 early on Sunday afternoon, quickly settled-in and then sailed off promptly at 5 under cloudy, almost moody skies. Might be the smoothest, quickest check-in at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. By my count, this is my 155th voyage on Cunard and my 35th year of lecturing on Cunard ships. Yes, I've been on Cunard more years than some of the staff have lived. But lucky me all those trips, all those ports of call, all those ships, all those lectures & all those fellow passengers.

Added occasion: This trip we are unveiling my 91st book Post War on the Liners, published by Fonthill Media in the UK and a book signing on Monday morning in the ship's library. And contracts arrived (on Tue) for more Fonthill books, now a total of 6 in the works and about 12 altogether combined with other publishers.

Ship full to the last bunk 2,621 passengers in all 300 Germans, 1,000 Brits and many doing full four weeks: Southampton-NY-this 14-night cruise to Canada & New England, then back to NY & Southampton. And 200 Germans, who joined in Hamburg just 2 days before the ship left England. 1st sitting in the main dining room even feels crowded. But onward we go and all good for Cunard.

Did the Morning Show but taped the night before (and managed, when quietly getting up & disappearing off camera, to trip over a wire & discount the entire sound system of course, an apology and it is when one sheepishly tip toes out the side door!).

"Those red socks I knew it was you!" Lots of familiar faces including, as always, often diverse links to hometown Hoboken (the Romano & Lisa families, Stevens Institute, the Clam Broth House, Maxwell House, Demarest High, etc).

Tuesday at sea (1st lecture, selling books & a long nap) and then charming Bar Harbor on Wednesday and St John, New Brunswick on Wednesday. The ship itself is the big gold coin, however very comfy, well served & fed and certainly well entertained. My cabin becomes my office & each day there's time for writing (yep, another new book!).

But some sad news: From Goa in India, Mario was always a totally charming, thoroughly kind & helpful asst restaurant manager here on the QM2. He was often manager of the Todd English Grill. Discovered this trip, however, that he went on leave last month and then died of a sudden heart attack. He was 45. I will miss his always smiling face.

Fred lives in far-off Sydney, Australia. "This ship, the Queen Mary 2, is like a great, big floating hotel. It has everything just wonderful! Restaurants, shops, a big library and even a planetarium," he commented. "It is only my 2nd trip by ocean liner. In 1960, my parents, my brothers & sisters and I emigrated from London to Sydney on a very old ship, the Orontes [1929-62 and belonging to P&O-Orient Lines]. What a difference in those 55 years! The cabin on the Orontes had 8 bunks and it was down the corridors to the toilet as well as the shower. It was cramped and, at times, very, very hot. There was no air-conditioning on that ship. It was full of, about 1,500 in total, ten-pound migrants going off to a new life in far-away Australia. It was quite a journey. It was, for us, like going to the Moon. We picked up more migrants on the way, mostly Italians at Naples. It took five weeks to sail and sometimes in the worst weather including sizzling heat to go from London to Sydney. At home, I still have the log given to passengers. We stopped at Gibraltar, Marseilles, Naples, passed through the Suez Canal, then to Aden, Colombo and Fremantle. Yes, quite a difference from the old Orontes to the famous Queen Mary 2."