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View Full Version : Signing Off from the Queen Mary 2



Brian Probetts (Site Admin)
12th October 2015, 12:20 PM
Article submitted by John Strange


Thu Oct 8th At sea: Fifth & final talk today, lunch in Todd English Restaurant (green tomatoes & chilled asparagus as a starter, then grilled salmon on a bed of cooked greens serenaded by tiny diced potatoes & finally crunchy blueberry cobbler for dessert) & then a 75-min acupuncture treatment at Canyon Ranch & administered by a superb, ever-so-calming Indian doctor-specialist.

Tales from the past: A senior officer tells me today of an occasion when the legendary QE2 was berthing at New York. Strong autumn wind began to push the great Cunarder toward the Asuka, a Japanese cruise ship which was already docked. The Queen moved slowly toward the Asuka and then closer. Crewmen on that ship were seen to be scrambling about, even bringing deck chair cushions to stern as if to ease a possible bump. It never quite happened, quite fortunately. Afterward, Captain Ian McNaught traveled across the Manhattan terminal to offer his apologies to his Japanese counterpart. Evidently, the Japanese master was more than gracious: "No problem we would have been more than honored to have been 'kissed' by a British queen!"

Fri Oct 9th Boston: Always a great city to visit. Otherwise, a day out a friend comes to fetch us & then a visit to nearby Gloucester & Rockport. High charm, wonderful views & scenery seashore, some grand houses & a fish lunch on the waterfront (including the biggest, tallest, creamiest piece of Key Lime pie for dessert).

Patriotic voyaging: A kindly gentleman from Birmingham in England told me he has been on 25 cruises and all of them on British ships. He takes a folded list from his wallet. The list began with the educational ships the Nevasa, Uganda & Devonia. Then there were P&O sailings: Oriana, Canberra, Arcadia, Himalaya & Chusan. Also, cruises on the Southern Cross & Northern Star and a roundtrip to South Africa down on the Pendennis Castle and home on the Windsor Castle. This is his 6th trip on Cunard, beginning with the QE2 and then the Cunard Princess.

"I went to Europe for the very first time in July 1960," said a lady from Brooklyn. She'd been to my talks and it all reminded her of bygone travels. "I had just graduated from college and my parents gave the trip to me as a guest. I sailed over aboard the Cristoforo Colombo and returned, in August, on the Leonardo da Vinci. My parents were very generous I went in cabin class. The food & service were wonderful, just like the very best hotel. But some of the waiters & stewards were so charming, so helpful and, most of all, so handsome. I fell in love at least three or four times on those Italian liners!"

Sat Oct 10th Newport (Rhode Island): Blessed weather we are at anchor, sitting on sun sparkling waters, rich blue skies above & strings of small sail boats carrying young sailors off on training trips.

Bits 'n pieces: It is the world's most valuable biscuit. A part of a survival kit stored in a lifeboat of the ill-fated Titanic, the biscuit survived and was saved as a souvenir. It is now going to the auction block, in Wiltshire in England, and is expected to fetch between $12,000 and $20,000 later this month. ... Myself, I've found London to be among the most expensive cities. A cupboard has just been advertised as a living space a mattress & a box for keepsakes and all under a staircase. Monthly rent $750 plus utilities! ... Miguel, a longtime bartender onboard & just named "Crewmember of the Month," tells us that a couple on a recent 7-night Atlantic crossing bought $10,000 in fine wines or approximately $1,500 a night. ... News this week is not good for the United States, now laid-up for nearly 46 years. She might finally go to the shipbreakers.

Long-ago Cunard: Drinks before dinner with a delightful couple, Richard & Joan West from Cornwall. They bring along memorabilia from a crossing 104 years ago on another Cunarder, the Franconia. (There were, by the way, three Cunard liners named Franconia one of 1911, one of 1923 and another from 1962.) They show me an aged, slightly yellowed newspaper clipping from the Worcester Daily Telegram and dated June 21st 1911. It reads of one of those golden threads linked to Atlantic liners and to Cunard:

WILL WED AT CONVENTION GEORGE CROOK WAITS ARRIVAL OF MISS LILLIAN F MAGGS FROM ENGLAND

A romance begun in England will culminate in marriage today at the Seventh Day Adventist convention in Boston. When George Crook, 66 Francis Street, Worcester, and Miss Lillian Florence Maggs of Bristol, England will be reunited after eighteen months separation as the Franconia of the Cunard Line steams into Boston harbor [from Liverpool].

Mr Crook will meet his fiancee at the wharf and will take her to the Adventist convention where Rev Lee Wheeler will tie the knot.

Mr Crook left his home in Bristol, England, eighteen months ago, promising his sweetheart that he would send for her as soon as work was assured him in the new land. Coming to Worcester, he found employment at the Bradley Car Works, Glendale and has worked industriously since. He now has sent for Miss Maggs, whose occupation in England is given as a teacher, and she is aboard the Franconia, due in Boston this morning.

After the marriage and a short wedding trip, Mr & Mrs Crook will make their home at 66 Francis Street, Worcester.

Footnotes: Lillian Crook was Richard West's grandmother. George Crook later joined the famed Fuller Brush Company in Boston. He prospered, returned to England after World War I and living in Bristol began making brushes under the stairwell of his house. He later formed the hugely successful Kleeneze Brush Company, which was soon employing thousands during the dark days of the 1930s Depression. The Company was a household name throughout Britain until it was bought out in the 1980s and later vanished.

Last supper:
Salmon cakes followed by grilled salmon for dinner, a round of goodbyes and then an early night. Later, the sparkling lights of the Long Island shore and then the sheer radiance of middle-of-the-night New York City plant a glow through our cabin window.

Sun Oct 11th Brooklyn/Secaucus: Under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge just before 6. Off & ashore in Brooklyn with total ease & home by 10:00am. A great voyage ended! Farewell Queen Mary 2!

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Last week, while aboardthe great and grand QueenMary 2,we were invited to join Captain Chris Wells for dinner. It is all quite deluxe -- slowly paced, place cards,wines, interesting guests and a special creation for dessert.

And then there's theformal portrait:

Seated are Alice, fromRochester and with 2,700 nights on Cunard liners; CaptainWells; and the effusive Helen, from Dublin but now living inManchester.

Back row: Rudi, a former vice president with Siemens in Munich; myself; Uta, Rudi's charming wife; my dear friend &travel mate Mark Fish; Gwen from Dublin; Alex fromAberdeen in Scotland; and the stunning Victoria, from Hamburgand the Captain's secretary.