Wednesday 6th July to Wednesday 13th July
One yellow cab, one grumpy driver and $9 later we arrive at the Queen Mary 2 for our 5pm departure. Check-in is remarkably quick and before we know it we are being stared at by the staff as we board. Most ‘clients’ are dressed for the holiday of a lifetime in their new dresses and formal suits. Us, well we look like a sack of sh@@. Well I do, the Duchess has at least made a bit of an attempt to look nice. Living out of one rucksack with 2 shirts each and sharing my underpants, well you can imagine what we look like. I did not have the pink shorts on though, well not the short ones.
We have our ‘state room’ as they like to call it, on the 11th floor (deck). Complete with our own balcony and sun chairs. There being 12 decks of berths this gives us a great view of New York. We have Sky News for the first time in 11 months. I see it has not got any better. Also BBC News, and the weather girl Louise Lear, so I am very happy. Aside from that is Cunard TV. Enough said about that.
There are about 4 restaurants to choose from. Self service to silver service. All free, apart from the alcohol. That is not too bad, everything is in US Dollars. A pint of beer is $5. (£3). The catch being that everything has a 15% ‘gratuity charge’ on top. You are given a ID card on board which works your door, and acts as a credit card. No money exchanges hands. The food is on ‘tap’ 24 hours a day, ranging from salad to steaks. I get into the habit of having a curry every evening around 1AM on my way home.
Dinner is a formal affair, where the portions are very small but very very nice. Nouveau cuisine. To be fair there is so much food elsewhere, it would be wasted. Again it gives people the opportunity to talk posh, comment on the marvellous bouquet a wine has, and compliment the ladies on their dress of the evening. Except on our table! We have a table of 6. There are only 4 of us, the other seats being spare ones. We are lucky enough to have an Indian couple (Curry not red!) from Kansas City, USA, who are non drinking, non English speaking, and non interesting. They do speak English, sort of, but I can’t understand a word. The man wags his head like a Churchill noddy dog when he talks and this is off putting.The cruise is not full, and there are lots of tables where there are 2s and 4s on large tables.
Within minutes of boarding I manage to somehow crack the camera against a wall and bend the retractable lens. Camera number 5 of the trip is then purchased on board.
A lot of people on the boat are ‘normal’ but there are few different people. Attached is a photo of 2 men I call the doughnut men. Each day they wear a different set of clothes, but are identical. They have strange hats, one day they were wearing silver spoons where Victorians had pocket watches, and rainbow coloured socks. They are American. It seems they live in New York and their occupation is that of ‘street statue’. Not sure where they got the money for this trip from.
On the second night there is a private Commodores’ (They don’t have a captain on this boat. Far too posh) cocktail party. We are invited. Oh, along with around 2,510 other people. We manage to find what we think is the party, and the Commodore. It turns out he was not the Commodore, it was not the party, and we paid for our own drinks.
There are a few people on here, living the dream. As we leave NY harbour and sail past the Statue of Liberty there are people buying glasses of Champagne at $20 a glass. They then get the hump because it comes out of a small individual size screw top bottle. Meanwhile, there is a ‘private deck’ for the super snobs who look at us as though we are some sort of freak show. I decide from this point that at the first sign of a snob I shall speak in ‘Del Boy’ Souff London mode. This works particularly well in the Commodore bar which is a form of stuffy Gentlemen’s club from Victorian days. You are not allowed to bring a lady in unless she is the age of your daughter, or Thai. There is the Churchill smoking room set to one side for cigar smoking. You must speak frightfully posh, and network with other business people. I wanted to practise my ‘talking burps’ in here but was told off by the Duchess.
During the 7 day crossing the clocks go forward 5 times by an hour a time to deal with the change of time zone from New York to London. Thereby arriving with no ‘jet lag.’
During the trip you are ‘invited’ to see the UK Immigration lady that travels on the boat, nice job. On our slot the queue is so long we are told to come back another day, and queue again. I go to the pursers office and explain, nicely, poshly, that I did not spend a bucket load of money on this trip to be made to queue and then be told that as they want to open the restaurant where HMI are seated that they will close early. It is not my fault there is only 1 HMI girl there. It is not my fault that they sat her in the restaurant. Would they like to send the HMI representative to my state room where I would love to see her? There is then lots of grovelling, bowing, bottom licking, etc from them, and we are allowed to resume queuing. Whilst in the queue there are lots of other people getting the similar hump to me, but being British accept the situation and come back another time.
There is a spa, several swimming pools, theatres, gym, around a total of 904 bars, a nightclub, and even a cinema showing 3D films. There are different events each day in different areas. One day there is table napkin folding, another time there are old people that sit around a piano and sing.
I weighed myself on day one and weigh 88.1 Kilos (Whatever that is). Not sure if that makes me a fat boy or not. The Love Dome refuses to go down. The gym instructor told me I am ideal weight, if I am 8ft 6 inches tall! I spend 30 minutes each day in the gym, not exercising but walking around eating free food.
There are lots of old people in their ‘raspberry’ chairs crashing into things. On the 12 deck there is a kennel for the ultra posh people that wish to bring Fido over the Atlantic.
In one bar there is a jazz group who are very good. In fact all the acts are very good. One night they have members of RADA reading poetry over the Jazz music. I am dragged along by her for a culture fix. It was actually very good. I went over afterwards to the RADA people(Well the girl with long dark hair, and even longer legs, I ignored the Harry Potter look alike) to say how great I thought it was. She appeared shocked, but relieved, when I told her I thought it was going to be a ‘load of old crap’ but was actually very good. She told me that it was nice to actually speak to a normal person on board, not the pretentious clientele. I think she fancied me. She is only human.
Talking of romance the Duchess and I have been keeping out eye on a budding romance. There is a chap sits up the bar. He is always immaculately suited, big gold watch, blonde, floppy hair, and drinks only ‘shorts.’ One night he offered up his bar stool to the Duchess, and spoke ‘terribly posh’. Well he has started to talk to a very nice looking lady who appears to be here with her mother. Night one, they sit at the bar, but she goes home on her own. Night two, he is touching her stool (Dirty fellow!) she still leaves on her own. Night three they leave together. Being the old incurable romantic that I am, I ask the Duchess where they can go for some ‘ooh la la’ as both appear to have boarded with other people. I reckon he took her ‘up the Launderette’ (There being an unlocked one on each deck). The next night, and subsequent nights, he was alone at the bar. To be fair he is a little fat dwarf when he stands up. A bit like Elton John.
Being a ‘traditional’ boat every afternoon is ‘Afternoon tea’ in the Ballroom. A very posh affair where there is a tea dance, sandwiches with no crusts, and scones with jam and cream.
Most bars close at 12.30AM however there is the discotheque where I can dance like an elderly man at a wedding.
Today I use a different running machine, which appears to be the only one in MPH not KPH. I did not notice this. I plug in my Ipod, adjust my head band, start drinking water, press the start button, and promptly fall off as the speed was twice what I thought it would be. Very embarrassing.
The last couple of nights it seems the fat dwarf has stopped seeing his lady friend and sits up the bar, alone, all night. The lady friend he took up the launderette appears to have a liking of RADA, or at least one of the actors. However on the last night the fat dwarf comes into the bar with an elderly lady, who has had one too many face lifts, and skinny hands with fingers like tentacles. She is clearly worth a few dollars. Within seconds he is touching her arm, her, with her spindly fingers is wrapping them around his legs, she is saying in a cackerley American voice ‘young man, you are so lovely.’ It is horrible, even I would not talk to something like that. Within minutes they disappear from the bar, hand in hand, yuk. The thought ‘any port in a storm’ comes to mind, well we are on a ferry. Later we find them cuddling, yuk, in one of the quiet seated areas. Just hope he didn’t ‘take her up the launderette’ if she sat on the spin dryer her wig would fall off. The added problem is that the seats they are sitting in having a ‘fumble’ with her vein infested tentacle skinny hands are the seats we have to sit in the following morning to await disembarkation. It anything happens there we shall have to watch we don’t sit there as I know the mess a snail makes!
The last morning we have travelled 3,122 Nautical miles. I now weigh 91Kgs. The love dome is at critical level and in danger of exploding. I have taken lots of photos of where dolphins were a few seconds earlier.
We are greeted as we get off by both daughters at the quayside to take us back to reality.