QE2 Story Forum

Introductions and Our own QE2 Stories => Final Departures & Final Season Memories => Topic started by: Malcolm on May 17, 2009, 08:12 PM

Title: Malcolm's diary of QE2's final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on May 17, 2009, 08:12 PM
This is a blog that I originally wrote for Cruise Critic. It wasn't entirely published there and none of it is still available. I've re-edited it and added some comments that I think are applicable from hindsight. Those comments are in [square brackets]. My intention is to post a day at a time in the way the reports were originally written. I welcome comments :)

Our cruise started on 16th December 2006 with the Christmas Cruise. We were in the Caronia Restaurant for that and went onto the full world cruise. We had booked the trip last minute and had only been able to get a couple of Caronia Guarantee cabins. When we got an upgrade to Britannia Grill for the entire trip we were delighted!
Title: 16 December 2006
Post by: Malcolm on May 17, 2009, 08:12 PM
The first thing I want to do is to thank Mary, Penny and David who are posting this diary. Without their help it would remain very much an idea that hadn't worked.

I'll start the diary proper at 4-00am! That's the time I woke up. The alarm was set for 4-30 but we didn't need it. Our taxi arrived promptly at 6-00 and by 6-30 we'd picked up my parents and were on our way to Southampton. Until 6-45 when my father realized that he'd left all his money at home and we had to make a U turn! We eventually got away by 7-00. The delay wasn't that important as it was one of our fastest trips ever to Southampton - arriving shortly after midday.

We checked in and, after a mix-up with passports and boarding cards we got into the queue to have our hand baggage scanned. A voice said "You must be Malcolm". It was Duncan and Mark - two of the newest members of CC. Behind them were Susan and Michael another two CC members. Whilst in the queue for the photograph another voice says "Malcolm?"; We're not even onboard and already we've met three of the CC couples on the Cruise with us.

Our cabins (1058 and 1061) appeared adequate at first sight.  They are not vast but will suffice for three weeks. How wrong our first impressions were. Not only has all our luggage gone in but there is still space to store things. They really are a tribute to the original designers of the ship. There is not an inch of wasted space anywhere. Mother has even found space for her mobility scooter without a need to dismantle it.

Then it's on to afternoon tea (the only time in the entire four months I'll feel hungry enough to do justice to the meal! From there it was onto the Gym to start my exercise regime! 5 years ago I went to the door of the Gym and looked in. I thought I'd only be on the ship that once and wanted to see everything! This time I actually went inside and ended up booking sessions with a personal trainer! They start tomorrow.

Sailaway was the usual brass band, choir and Santa waiving us off and then it was back to the cabin to finish unpacking and then off to the purser to say that my mother hadn't got the bath seat she'd ordered and we haven't got our Anniversary package. (They've taken our cabin numbers and will get back to us - I'll chase them again in the morning).

Dinner was interesting. The food was good but not outstanding. Where one item on the menu is normally as good as another this time we all felt that some dishes were far better than others. The big difference in the restaurant however is the staff. Instead of the usually mix of nationalities they are almost entirely Eastern European. They did not start with the usual introduction - Hello, I'm A; this is my assistant B and we'll be your waiters for this trip. Other than that the service has been very good.

After a lap of Boat Deck it was back to the cabin for a nightcap and bed. When we got back to our cabin we were surprised to find all the breakables on the floor and a note saying they were expecting bad weather. We went to bed wondering just how bad the storm would be.

Title: Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
Post by: cunardqueen on May 17, 2009, 09:39 PM
 I would love to know how on earth you prepare for such a voyage, simple things as leaving the house for 4 months, what to pack, what not to pack? how did you organise to pay the bills, you know all these really mundane things
 And onboard, how on earth did you eat the meals over the 4 month, did you start skipping courses or heaven forbid missing afternoon teas, (what do you mean you only had it once???)  with hindsight would you have preferred to have had longer time to prepare.
 What didnt the guide books tell you about the big daddy of cruises, did you bond with the other world cruisers? and what about the world cruise dinner?
And what about "I wish someone had told me that.."
  well you did ask for some comments, thats only for starters. perhaps these might be answered during your blog, but can we really be expected to wait 4 month... and what did you think of your new home for a third of a year :o  did you ever, perish the thought, get fed up
 I for one cant wait to re read your blog, it was awesome reading the first time round   
 Oh and do you realise how lucky you were to do a world cruise on QE2, personally l would have loved to have done one.....
Title: Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
Post by: Malcolm on May 17, 2009, 11:24 PM
Myles - I think a lot of the questions will be answered as the reports progress. However I'll start by answering some of your questions, things I didn't mention at the time!

I would love to know how on earth you prepare for such a voyage

Everything seemed to happen either in an incredible rush or we spent days just waiting for things to be processed. A lot of things like visas were just a case of getting the instructions from Cunard, applying and then waiting for the results.

One of the enjoyable parts of the preparation was buying the guidebooks for the places we were going to visit and then planning out what we were going to do on each day. Each port required a different plan - were we going to do a taxi tour, a Cunard tour, go on foot, go to see one specific thing or take a tour that would just show the highlights.

We had to decide what Cunard tours we wanted to do and send off the form to book them. (Pointless as it turned out as Cunard said they hadn't received the form and we had to rebook).

There were visits to the doctor to get immunisations for the various diseases that we could encounter. We all got Yellow Fever because our doctor advised it but there were people on the cruise who didn't have it and felt that it wasn't required. Cunard's opinion, even when the cruise was under way, was that it might be ::)

We had to organise some foreign currency. Most of the places we went would accept either sterling or US dollars so that made things much easier. We also had to take lots of travellers cheques just in case.

simple things as leaving the house for 4 months

It was a fairly simple course of action - ask your insurance company how you got cover being away for so long and comply with that. Ours said that we had to leave the heating on, ensure all the windows had locks and make sure that someone checked the house every week - we had some good friends who did that for us.

what to pack

We were going to be away for four months and were visiting everywhere from Panama to Cape Horn. We needed clothing for all climates from long underwear to T shirts and shorts. We banked on taking enough everyday clothes to last us two weeks, assuming that we would be able to have things laundered before those two weeks were up. Of course because we were visiting so many different places we needed too weeks worth of cold, temperate and hot climate stuff!

As well as the different climates it was necessary to pack different sizes of clothes. My waist size went up by six inches on the trip - the clothes I started off wearing when we sailed from Southampton wouldn't fit by the time we returned.

We also had to think about what consumables we would use. Things like tooth paste, mouthwash, shampoo, soap, washing powder, fabric conditioner, the list seemed endless. We had one large bag that was nothing but things we would use up on the journey. It's quite hard trying to think how much toothpaste, etc you will use over four months. There are brands that we like and didn't know if we would be able to get them outside the UK.

what not to pack?

We used almost everything we took. The only clothing we didn't wear was the long underwear because we didn't make the ports where it was coldest. Of the consumables we returned with a lot of tumble drier fabric conditioner sheets because we gave up trying to do most of our own laundry and we only used the stuff to clean the sole plates of irons once (we still have that and don't know what to do with it!)

how did you organise to pay the bills

Most things were done by Direct Debit. We were able to make sure that we had enough cash in accounts that we could access over the internet and transfer money as it was needed.

Our car had to be taxed whilst we were away - that was done over the internet from the far side of the world.

And onboard, how on earth did you eat the meals over the 4 month, did you start skipping courses or heaven forbid missing afternoon teas, (what do you mean you only had it once???)

A world cruise is unlike any other cruise - you go knowing that you are going for four months and that you have to survive for that time. You don't eat four big meals a day (plus afternoon tea) from the start because you know that you wont fit your clothes by the end if you do.

with hindsight would you have preferred to have had longer time to prepare.

Yes. Even at the time there wasn't long enough to mentally prepare for the journey we were taking. Had we booked further in advance (a lot of people book more than a year in advance) we wouldn't have felt the same pressure to get ready.

What didnt the guide books tell you about the big daddy of cruises

Guidebooks didn't tell us much about the cruise itself. With hindsight I wish I'd spent more time in researching the ports.

did you bond with the other world cruisers?

Yes. I'm still in touch with some.

what about the world cruise dinner?

That gets covered later :)

And what about "I wish someone had told me that.."

You get institutionalised. When new people join sectors of the cruise you start resenting them. They are interlopers on your ship! This was most noticeable on the final Cabin Cavalcade - not one of the full world cruisers went on the final one. We knew that we were being surlish but these people who had joined at New York really were interlopers.

I'm not sure that had I been told that I would have believed it but the feeling of resentment was tangible :(

can we really be expected to wait 4 month...

Yes :)

what did you think of your new home for a third of a year :o 

We weren't away for a third of the year - when we returned it was with the intention of going back for another month.

did you ever, perish the thought, get fed up

Yes - see my notes on the later long sea crossings.
Oh and do you realise how lucky you were to do a world cruise on QE2, personally l would have loved to have done one.....

Oh Yes :) And I'd like to do another one but not for a few years!
Title: Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
Post by: hollihedge on May 18, 2009, 01:18 PM
This is wonderfully interesting Malcolm - it is my dream/aim to do a world cruise one day, although on which ship I am not not sure :(  I greatly look forward to reading more of your blog!
Title: 17 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 18, 2009, 07:55 PM
Today was the first session with my Personal Trainer. I went down to the Gym after tea and juice at the Pavilion (It really is quite nice there if you get there first thing). I'm sure that people don't want to read about me exercising (they might be trying to eat) so suffice to say that I did my bit of exercise this morning and got it over with!

I'm sitting in the Chart Room at the moment writing this. As it's a sea day the ship is packed with hoards of people everywhere. I think I'll go back to the cabin and see if our Champagne has arrived (it won't have done) so I can then head down to the pursers again!

I've just got back from the purser. Quite a different story this time - we haven't got the package because our agent didn't ask for it! I have a lot more faith in Babette than I do in Cunard - I still think Cunard have messed up. I just want them to sort it out!

On the topic of information/misinformation I've just been to the email centre to sign up for my free internet time. Cunard have told me (and it has widely been reported on CC) that the World Cruise only counts as one cruise and that the free internet time only applies once on the entire trip. The internet centre tells me that not only does each sector count as a new voyage for internet time but also from the World Club standing - I'll go up to diamond as soon as I meet the required number of days!

Before lunch was the first meeting of the CC group.  There were 14 who attended.  Unfortunately Caddie1 and his party didn't make it. It was a wonderful get-together and the conversation ran non-stop for an hour. The party had to break up then so we could all get some lunch (as if there wouldn't be more food along if we missed lunch!). We intend to meet up with all members at the party at least once before the end of the cruise.

We've just got back from our first (and probably only) FOD meeting. What a letdown. There were six people there (including Paul and myself). When we got there they were sitting in one or the darkest corners of the Yacht Club looking at each other. We tried to make conversation but gave up after several fruitless attempts. I'm having far more fun sitting in the cabin writing emails!

I have completed another first.  At 6-00pm last night I was back at the Gym again, this time to use their pool. It is the first time I've ever been in that pool (the last time I swam on QE2 was in the pool on Quarter Deck that they removed when they redeveloped the Lido in the 1990s!).

Another success story. There was a knock at our cabin door this evening - it was our Steward with a bottle of Champagne, a photographer's voucher, a vase of flowers and a certificate - they have decided to let us have the anniversary package after all.

Things appear to be going right for once - I wonder what's wrong!

Title: 18th December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 20, 2009, 08:16 AM
It is much rougher this morning. I am sitting in the Pavilion drinking tea and trying to send emails. The pool on One Deck is Storm tossed, I can't get an Internet connection, even the tea won't stay on the table unless you hold it! Off to the Gym!

The best laid plans of mice and men. I went to the gym and there was no staff member there. I hung around find 10 minutes and nobody showed up so I gave up. As I had been due to get my exercise regime this morning I went back again and asked after the assistant, and was told that she would be in after lunch and would call me. I was back again in the early evening to be told that she is off sick today and will be in tomorrow after lunch. I've booked a treadmill for the morning.

We got our invites to the Platinum Members wine tasting. It was to be at 3-30pm in the Caronia Restaurant. My parents attended, I attended but Paul couldn't - he is only Gold. At the start the event was attended by about 40 people. I can't comment on how many stayed for the full thing as we left after half an hour. The sommelier in change treated the group as if they were a badly behaved bunch of kindergarten kids. The whole thing was far worse than a Cunard shore excursion. Paul can use my card and go to the next one if he wants!

We didn't do much after that except lie on the bed and read until about 5-00 when I went swimming again! Thanks Bobby for the tip to use the indoor pool - the outdoor one has either been drained or closed because of rough weather since we set off.

The Captain's Cocktail party for the second tier of steerage was this evening. Almost everyone was properly dresses except for one lad (about 16) who was wearing black cords, an open necked black shirt and trainers!

I think I should say, at this point, I have tried to send these reports several times and have not managed. I will try again tomorrow but apologies for sending so many at once!

One final thing to add is that Captain Perkins is getting less and less hopeful that we will make Ponta Del Garda because of the weather. It was a force 8 today and whilst it is expected to ease slightly this evening it is forecast to get much worse overnight.

Title: 19 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 21, 2009, 10:21 AM
After three days at sea we're starting to look forward to a day ashore. Unfortunately David Perkins seems to think the weather makes being able to stop in the Azores unlikely. In the Pavilion, at 6-00am, they hadn't even bothered filling the pool although there looked to be land in sight so I am hopeful to say the least.

We've made it! About 9-00am they announced that the gangways had been landed, the ship had cleared customs and we were free to go ashore.

All four of us first booked a taxi for a three hour tour of part of the island. The place was pleasant, not touristy and very scenic. The island is a bit like the Cumbrae on Gran Canaria although much, much, quieter.

In the afternoon Paul and I took the shuttle bus into Ponta del Garda (except the bus doesn't go right into PdG, just to the dock gates).The town is small and friendly. It has lots of shops to serve the local community but none selling the usual tourist tat. We did find one shop selling fridge magnets with a picture of a cow on them, another shop selling tea towels with either a picture of a cow or a picture of a pineapple on them. (The black and white cow is an emblem of the islands - you see a lot of them as you go through the countryside).

Whilst the Islands are pleasant they have not gone onto my list of places where I must return. I would recommend them to someone doing a cruise stop but would not want to spend a week or two there.

The island only has two tugs and both were used to make our sailaway. There was a lot of blowing of horns from both tugs and ourselves before one of the tugs turned on its fire hoses sending great plumes, of water into the air. I don't think this is a normal activity for departing cruise ships; I think it was because it was the last call of the QE2 at PdG. That such a small island had put on such a show makes me wonder what other places have in store for us in the coming months.

Title: 20 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 22, 2009, 10:35 AM
There's one thing about days at sea when sailing westbound - they are all 25 hour! I was up and drinking tea in the Pavilion at 5-00am this morning! I hate to think what will happen when we're sailing eastwards again and when we move to cabins at the forward end of deck 2.

As we're at sea again today I'll comment about some of the things on the ship.

The Cruise Director
The CD for this trip is David Pepper. He reminds us of a rather poor version of Ted Bovis from Hi De Hi! To say that his delivery of a punchline was poor would be to pay him a compliment! He is factually inaccurate - for example on the breakfast show this morning he was saying that the QE2 once had the capacity to carry 80 cars. He then went on to say how these were regularly loaded at Liverpool.

I think the garage facility on QE2 was limited to about a dozen cars (I haven't got the books with me to check the exact number) although it was certainly never as high as 80 - unless you want to count Matchbox cars! [I was wrong on this point – when first built she could carry 80 cars – but they were never loaded at Liverpool. I correct this point later]

I do not think Liverpool has ever offered a RORO facility for Cunard; it has certainly never offered one for the QE2 (although I stand to be corrected). It is only this year that the QE2 has been able to dock in Liverpool until the cruise terminal opened it was a launch port.

The cabin
Our cabin is divided into three parts. The bed area, measuring about 9' square, the bathroom, about 6' square and the corridor between them which is probably about 5' by 10', although as there is a dogleg partway down it is difficult to guess an accurate measurement.

The "corridor" contains the doors to the cabin and the bathroom; two double wardrobes, one of which holds the safe; an occasional table; a chair; a stool and a dressing table. Paul has set his laptop up on this although at the moment we are both in the Chart Room.

The "bed area" contains two single beds with a chest of draws between them; a fridge with a television over it at the foot of one of the beds and table at the foot of the other.

Although the same grade (C2) the cabin is slightly smaller than the cabin we had last Christmas (195 sq ft opposed to 220 sq ft). It is a lot smaller than the cabins we had a couple of times before that. We are finding that we are spending much more time in the public rooms than we are in the cabin. I am coming to the conclusion that 200 sq ft is the point at which the cabin becomes big enough for daytime use as well. Those people you see around the ship are in cabins of less than 200 sq ft (the vast majority); while those you don't see are in the larger cabins (the minority).

The service
After various reports about the standard of service onboard I was slightly bothered about what to expect. I can however report that the service so far has been higher than it was last year. There are still the occasional slip-ups occurring: one day the wrong soup arrived, the lack of canapés at the cocktail party, slow service at breakfast this morning (although the Maitre d' has spotted it and both he and his assistants we working hard to solve the problem). There is one Steward in the Chart Room who is very slow. It takes about 20 minutes from sitting down to actually getting a drink. Other than that it is very hard to think of examples of bad service - even the pursers only needed asking twice for our anniversary package!

The Food
The food quality is still high. I suspect that they are using more and more readymade items in things like garnishes, etc. One big improvement we have noticed over last year is that the cold starters always arrived chilled, so chilled that they were losing their flavour. This year food is being served at room temperature if it should be at room temperature and chilled if it should be chilled (I'm only talking about cold food here - hot food always arrives hot (except for tea at breakfast).

As predicted today has been quiet. The only thing of note to happen in the evening was that we met up with Andrew and Jayne (Solblue) for a drink. Andrew had reminded me that we had said we would bring a bottle of whisky with us and that they were welcome to a glass of it. We actually had slightly more than a glass each and they staggered off to their cabin sometime after 2-00am! Andrew has some photographs that he has promised to post on CC showing the men first in their pre-tied ties and then without them!

Title: 21 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 23, 2009, 06:47 PM
We got up very late this morning and made do with breakfast in the cabin. Although we can have a full cooked breakfast I have found one thing that they can't serve in the cabin but do serve in the restaurant - Swiss Bircher Muesli. I am very partial to this and when it wasn't on the breakfast card so I wrote it on. When he brought our breakfast Larry was very apologetic that he couldn't get the muesli and had been forces to bring Alpen instead.

We spent the rest of the day in a very leisurely fashion. Once we were dressed we took our books (and I this journal) went up to the Funnel Bar where we hoped to be able to sit peacefully. It was nice weather and there were plenty of cold drinks so we were able to pass the morning doing nothing in particular. At least until midday when the Caribbean Band started up. They were noisy and not particularly in tune and did not encourage us to stay. WE did stay until we'd had our lunch - a first for us as we've never eaten at the Funnel Bar before. All they offered was barbecued hot dogs, beef burgers and chicken; jacket potatoes, salad and a few sandwiches. Not a lot but sufficient for a light lunch.

After lunch the band forced us to move down to a table outside the Yacht  Club where we were able to spend another couple of hours before retiring to our cabin for an afternoon nap.

As I said a very busy day!

One thing that is praiseworthy is the pursers office. Our shower had been varying from scalding hot to freezing in a matter of a couple of seconds. Paul mentioned this to the pursers yesterday and, by this morning, it was fixed. The pursers don't seem to be anything like as unreliable as they used to be.

Title: 22 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 24, 2009, 04:55 PM
Rereading this diary it's odd how a relatively minor thing, like doing the laundry, takes on major importance. Remember that this would be our sixth night at sea and we hadn't actually been anywhere other that Ponta Del Guarda yet. We are well on the way to the Caribbean (we are due in Antigua tomorrow) but we are now feeling that we want to get our feet on land for a bit.
Title: 22 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 24, 2009, 04:56 PM
A new day and another new experience.  We’ve been onboard for a week and it was time to visit the laundry! Having heard the reputation I was very glad when Paul offered to come with me. I only saw a small hint that the laundry deserves its warnings; Paul, who stayed with the machines while I started to iron, nearly came to blows with one man!

There is soap powder provided although we (along with about half the other users) took our own. The first problem was finding out which machines were in use. It appeared that empty machines were left with the top open, although that didn't stop the machines that had been left to wash, had finished their cycle but nobody had come back to empty them. I would guess this accounted for about six of the machines!

The next problem was how to work them. There are instructions but they are not immediately obvious being situated on the rear wall just above some of the only seats. Even then the instructions only make sense if you've already worked out how to use the machines.

So to details of Paul's fight: We'd put the whites and coloureds through two separate machines and had then combined both loads into two driers. Once the shirts were dry I took them to the ironing section leaving Paul to look after the remaining drying. A man challenged him about how dare he use two dryers when other people might want one. There were several empty machines available and Paul pointed this out to the man who said there needn't have been and that we should be more considerate. Paul then watched him loading his wet washing into a dryer that we (and most of the other launderette users) knew wasn't heating up. When he found this out and started complaining he was told that had he been more considerate we could have saved him time by saying that the machine wasn't working properly!

After that we went up to the Funnel Bar again. We ended up spending most of the morning there and, as the band wasn't quite so loud, that we'd stay on for a sandwich. They didn't have any so we said we'd have a burger - no bread rolls so we ended up with a burger without the bun and a bit of salad. The salad looked like it had been prepared a couple of days ago. The cucumber was looking dry and tired whilst the lettuce had gone a very dried up brown on all the cut edges.

We gave up and decided to try the Pavilion. The food there looked identical except for the addition of a great pile of greasy chips. We've settled for a sandwich from room service in the cabin.

After lunch (3-00pm) a group called "Opera Interludes" were giving a concert in the Grand Lounge. They had been on last Christmas and had been very good so we were pleased they were on again. They were good; we enjoyed the performance - a selection of light operatic arias and a selection from some of the more operatic musicals. The only thing that spoilt the performance was the amplification. Although the Grand Lounge is famous for its poor acoustics, in one of the Carmen arias the vocalist came forward of the microphones to sing in the audience, and the quality of the sound improved greatly.

Title: 23 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 25, 2009, 01:04 PM
I wonder if this was the point where we were just beginning to suspect that the ship wasn't quite what she had been ten years ago? It wasn't obvious and many things had improved considerable over the past year but this might have been the point where the ports became more important than the ship. (It didn't matter what ports they were, just that we were able to get off the ship for a while) :)
Title: 23 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 25, 2009, 01:04 PM
I've been making some enquiries about hot topics (or at least topics that were hot when I left!) on CC and can confirm that yes, the swimming pools are heated. This is confirmed both by speaking to the crew and by Carol Thatcher's book where she makes reference to boilers used to heat steam which is, in part, used to heat the pools.

It is 6-35am and both Paul and I are sitting on 1 Deck, drinking tea and have just watched the most spectacular sunrise. The skies are generally clear but there is a little broken cloud on the horizon. The sun rose behind one of these patches of cloud and edged it with a beautiful golden border. It looked as if the clouds were on fire. The whole display only lasted for a couple of minutes before the sun rose. I really must watch out for this in future.

Today we were supposed to dock in Antigua. We officially found out that it would be a tender port once we got onboard. We also found out that three more of the islands would be tender ports and that we would be going to Dominica instead of Bonaire once we were onboard. Cunard had managed to write to half the passengers and change their website but not write to the other half! We were told that the anchorage would be 2.5 miles from where the tenders would dock!

We were told that the tenders would start leaving the ship just after 9-00am and were in the Grand Lounge at 8-45am to secure a ticket on the first launch. The first tender was not called for passengers who were not on a tour until 10-30.  We then had to get to the tender and face the 20 minute journey to St Johns so we weren't actually ashore until turned 11-00am.

The island itself is very nice. It has none of the big tourist traps that make some of the islands seem like Blackpool in the Sun! The most touristy thing is the shopping area just by the cruise ship dock. That said you wouldn't even be aware of it once you were off the jetty unless you went looking for it. We did go looking for it - we'd spent the day visiting Nelson's Dockyard and the Shirlye Heights complex and wanted something to do to pass a couple of hours before we returned to the ship. We found a shop selling whisky so we were able to replenish our stock that had become depleted the other night.

We were able to carry the whisky on with no problem. Security was well aware of what was in the bag - the bottom was giving way and I had said to the security officer that he should be careful because the contents were fragile. He wasn't so the bag gave way depositing a bottle of whisky on the conveyor belt! It didn't break so they took no notice of the bag's contents.

Angela - I tried Wadadli beer (along with another beer, Carribe, from St Kitts) and I must admit that I found Wadadli rather tasteless. Personally I preferred the Carribe although I would much prefer a good, English, bitter! One drink from the island that was very much to my taste was Fanta Banana; made under the authority of the Coca Cola Company but produced on the island.  That is a drink I would buy at home if I saw it.

On the subject of soft drinks one thing that we have bought and used on this trip so far is the Soft Drinks Package. We are aboard for four months and can't manage to consume a lot of alcoholic drinks every day. The package means that you can order a soft drink without feeling cheated because it costs as much as an alcoholic one.

Although we think the service has actually improved we were talking to an acquaintance who was saying how bad he's found it. He cited things like the Maitre D' ignoring him (he's in Mauritania), bar staff being rude, the pursers being totally unhelpful. He's on the 16th October crossing and is talking of cancelling. I never cease to be astonished how different two people can find the same ship!

[Oddly enough it was we who ended up cancelling our final crossings having found the ship to be not quite what she was. Although we did book something else, twice as long, but that included more ports than just New York]

Title: 24 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 26, 2009, 02:58 PM
Christmas and New Year onboard a ship are quite unlike anything you would have on land. Ashore the Christmas holidays start mid-December and run until the first week of January. Afloat it is nothing like that. Although there are Christmas decorations about the ship Christmas doesn't really begin until dinner on the 24th and is over by Boxing Day. There's none of the hassle about last minute presents so a port on Christmas Eve makes a nice day. When that port is in bright sunshine it's even better :)
Title: 24 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 26, 2009, 02:59 PM
Today we were in St Kitts; another of those ports where we should have docked but it was changed at the last minute to an anchor port.

St Kitts is a lovely island. It is another island that tourism hasn't spoilt and has one of the safest and friendliest atmospheres I could imagine. Although some of the islanders appear to live in a great degree of poverty that isn't allowed to affect their attitude to non islanders.

We had booked for the second of the day's scenic railway tours - because 10-30am meant that we'd time for breakfast and a leisurely start where 8-30am was just too early! We therefore got the train that ran from the North East to the South West of the island. This meant that we got the buildings part of the tour first and the very scenic part last - what we'd have chosen had we known.

David and everybody else who recommended the railway thank you - you were right that it shouldn't be missed; having done it once though I doubt the views would appear so exciting next time. One comment I would make about the train is that it only goes slowly but it is a very rough ride! My advice would be to go to the loo before you get on the train - I went near the start of the ride (I hadn't even had one of the free drinks) and fell on the way there.

Once we were off the coach back from the train Paul and I walked through the modern (and only partially open) cruise port and into the town proper. There are no great sights there but the atmosphere when walking through the town is wonderful. It is so relaxed and friendly.

Once back on board we had to pay another call to the purser. Today's daily programme had asked all guests who would be "in-transit" at the end of this cruise to hand their tickets in to the purser. The office didn't know what to do with them (!) so they made a photocopy and gave us them back. I wonder if it means more excitement later on this cruise?

Opera Interludes were performing again in the Grand Lounge. As usual their show was good but over amplified. I was falling asleep during the show so once it was over it was off to bed.

Title: Christmas Day 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 27, 2009, 03:42 PM
Today hasn't started well! I overslept (by that  mean that I didn't wake up until the alarm call came at 6-30am, I couldn't cancel it before it rang so it ended up waking Paul. He couldn't sleep last night and had been at the Pavilion until 2-00am drinking tea.

I went down to the gym as usual for 7-00am; I was there slightly early and was chatting with the other people waiting. At ten past, when nobody had turned up to open the gym someone went and called the purser - someone would be down immediately. A further ten minutes passed and I called - someone would be down immediately to open the gym. By this time the people with 7-30am bookings were turning up and it was a further five minutes had passed before anyone actually arrived and then it was the staff due to start at 7-30am. I ended up being able to exercise for about 4 minutes before someone turned up wanting their 7-30am appointment on the machine.

Because we plan on having a fairly large lunch and dinner we only wanted a light breakfast. We forwent the restaurant this morning and, for the first time in many years, tried the Lido. It wasn't quite as bad as I remembered - the quantity was better than a motorway service station, the quality was about the same and the atmosphere far worse! It did serve its purpose of giving us tea and toast (and in my case muesli) this morning but it's not somewhere I'd rush back to.

We sat on One Deck, by the pool, for several hours whilst I compiled my previous post. We then wrote some postcards whilst the shade lasted (and until we got to the point of not being able to stomach the sight of so many very overweight and nearly naked bodies).

Then we got our books and I found a letter from the gym apologizing for the "inconvenience" suffered this morning and offering a complimentary "Relaxation Capsule Session". [I never did claim that session. I suppose I felt I had better things to do with my time than lie in the dark for an hour!] We then went to find a lounger on Boat Deck and read. We had a very relaxing morning reading and went for a preprandial lemonade in the Chart Room.

Lunch was the worst meal we've had on this ship. The service went from slow to very slow throughout although: the starter was some kind of meat filled pasta with a tomato sauce; the pasta seemed to be the dried stuff you can buy at Tesco, the tomato sauce tasted as if it came straight from a can. The main course was roast beef; it was very overcooked - medium rare came very well done - we sent it back. The new meat was much closer to being properly cooked however the Yorkshire Pudding and vegetables were those that had come with the first meat 20 minutes previously. The puddings were leathery and the vegetables almost cold. The pudding was ice cream with a coffee topping. Paul summed it up best when he said that "there was definitely ice cream in there somewhere!) The coffee arrived after another long wait and tasted as if it had been boiled for several hours before being allowed to go cold. The meal took so long that was probably the case.

Dinner was decidedly better although still not even approaching the standard of food offered last year (or even on the trip so far). There appeared to be far more of the food being bought in readymade rather than being prepared on the ship. It's OK for the odd item occasionally but it is several things at each meal.

One thing a lot of people have commented on is the standard and number of decorations. It was a Gala buffet yesterday evening. There was a Christmas Tree in the Lido that we had been told about and had thought that the people who told us (Andrew and Jayne) had been exaggerating. They hadn't! It had a short length of tinsel and about five decorations haphazardly drapped on it. It looked as if a five year old had done it in about five minutes with no outside help.

Title: Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
Post by: cunardqueen on May 27, 2009, 09:49 PM
In general how did you enjoy Christmas with Cunard? or was it just like any normal sea day except for the fact it was Christmas? Did they pull out all the stops for the very last QE2 Christmas? Could you see the Queens speech and did santa come along and fill your stocking, did they even give you a Xmas card?
 With this cruise now  under way what were your thoughts on the next one....  The food does seem to be an issue on this cruise. Did you ever have doubts that the World cruise might (god forbid) be too much?
Title: Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
Post by: Malcolm on May 28, 2009, 02:53 PM
In general how did you enjoy Christmas with Cunard?

Thoroughly enjoyable. Not Christmas with Cunard though Christmas on the QE2. I am sure that Christmas on either the QM2 or Vicky would be OK but nothing really fantastic. If the QE2 hadn't finished her service life we'd have been there last Christmas and would be booked for next.

was it just like any normal sea day except for the fact it was Christmas?

Yes, just like any other day at sea. Of course there were Christmas themed events such as carol concerts but you didn't have to attend them. If you wanted you could have ignored the fact that it was Christmas Day completely.

Did they pull out all the stops for the very last QE2 Christmas?

I don't think so :( The decorations were the poorest we'd seen in four Christmases aboard; There were major problems with the food (something that just wouldn't have happened on our first Christmas trip in 1992); one of the many problems with Ted Bovis David Pepper was, that at the New Year celebrations, he wasn't there to welcome in the New Year until turned midnight - the whole evening turned into a flop!

I think the last Christmas was actually the worst Christmas I've had on the ship :( It was a great pity but the feeling of it being her final time didn't really start until we reached New Zealand.

Could you see the Queens speech

Latterly yes. They were able to get it via a satellite feed. It was shown on a large screen in the Grand Lounge. My first Christmas onboard was the first time I've missed the Queen's Speech being broadcast live (I think they did get the audio from the radio and broadcast it at a later hour).

did santa come along and fill your stocking

Not my stocking ;)

did they even give you a Xmas card?

Yes, and a Christmas present. One of the advantages of being a gay couple it that we both received one; my parents only received one between them!
With this cruise now  under way what were your thoughts on the next one

This trip seemed very much like the precursor to the big trip although we still managed to enjoy ourselves :)

The food does seem to be an issue on this cruise. Did you ever have doubts that the World cruise might (god forbid) be too much?

Typically for Cunard there was no consistency in the standards of the food. At times it was unbelievably good, more often it was unbelievably bad. A lot of the time it was simply average. I don't think we (I'm sure I didn't) worried about what the food would be like for the WC - there was too much else to be thinking about.
Title: 26 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 28, 2009, 02:58 PM
Today was a rescheduled port. It should have been Bonnaire but was changed to Dominica at the last minute. This did not bother us as we have never been to either island although people who had visited Dominica were annoyed at having to go back!

We started with breakfast in the Lido again (That Christmas Tree has disappeared). It is not as good as breakfast in the restaurant however it more than suffices and means that breakfast does not take over an hour. I think that when we get back to sea days and we cannot go ashore and time is therefore not so important we'll go back to our restaurant.

Rouseau (the capital) is not much. Being Boxing Day it was also shut with the exception of souvenir stalls and one "duty free" shop that had a very limited stock and very low stock levels. After about half an hour wandering around the town we felt that we had seen everything that the place had to offer.

We had continually been asked by taxi drivers if we wanted a tour of the island. We had thought that we might have done but wanted to have a look at Rouseau first. Now that we had seen Rousseau when a driver offered a tour at 20.00 USD each we accepted. It was quite pleasant - we got a two hour run around the island and saw three of the major sites: a waterfall, hot springs and the Botanical Gardens. The only site we didn't get to was the Caribe Indian reservation. I suspect that would have been very touristy.

We returned to the boat for lunch - a sandwich from the Lido. Not fantastic - one slice of ham and a lettuce leaf in a baguette; a little more ham and some garnish would have been nice. After lunch we took our books and went to sit on Boat Deck to read. Our drinks cards paid for themselves whilst we were there in getting free lemonades from the wandering deck stewards.

I went for my usual swim before dinner and then it was down to the cabin to get dressed, the Chart Room for a drink and the restaurant. Again the food was acceptable but not wonderful. Why do their cream soups always taste the same? Whatever kind of soup it is the colour might change but the flavour remains the same. The Yorkshire Puddings were better than Christmas Day but after they've been left to stand on the dumb waiter for five minutes they are still tough. My pudding came with Custard Powder Sauce that was called "Vanilla Sauce". Custard Powder .sauce is not something I'd expect on the QE2 (and certainly not for dinner).

Before retiring we visited the Midnight Buffet. Although nothing like as lavish as in the past it still provided more than enough for anything from a pre-bed snack to a full five-course meal.

Title: 27 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 29, 2009, 09:18 AM
We had breakfast again in the Lido. There is nothing like the choice offered by the restaurant nor is the ambiance as nice but at least the tea is hot, the toast is fresh and the service prompt (self service!). It was not a fantastic breakfast but it was more suited to our day then the restaurant would have been.

Today was another anchor port. We arrived at St Vincent before 8-00am and the first tender left shortly afterwards. We didn't leave until almost 10-00am by which time there was almost no wait for tenders. We had planned to get a taxi to Fort Charlotte first and then onto The Botanical Gardens; however when the couple in front of us were discussing getting a taxi to the gardens we changed our plans and offered to share. They were quite happy to accept but the four of us squeezed into a small car, with no air conditioning, made it rather hot!

As the other couple needed to be back at the ship in about two hours the driver said he would return for us in three quarters of an hour as that was all the time that was really needed. We felt that we could have spent slightly longer there but no more than another ten to fifteen minutes. We met up with the other couple inside the park and went back to the car park together. The taxi wasn't there and he didn't arrive within five minutes. We all caught new taxis; the other couple back to the ship and us to Fort Charlotte.

Our driver to FC was pleasant and friendly and made the ride to the fort enjoyable. He told us that there would be guides there who would show us around. When we arrived at the fort our driver found a guide and got him to show us around. We expected to tip the guide for this "free" tour, he told us at the start that he wouldn't charge but that we should "pay him what he was worth at the end of the tour". We did tip - a reasonable amount for a ten minute tour, and he asked for more. We gave him some more and were told that it wasn't much. We declined to give him any more after that.

The guide put us in what I believed was a normal taxi (although it did strike me as odd that he couldn't give change for 50.00 USD). The driver had difficulty starting the car and, when it moved off, went with several bangs and a loud screeching sound. Paul immediately told him to stop and we got out. He was an unlicensed taxi driver and we suspected that we were safer not travelling in his car. We made sure that we got a proper taxi back to the ship.

We sat on boat deck for about half an hour before deciding that we would go for afternoon tea - only our second time this voyage. The Queens Room was half empty so the service was very good. I must admit to only managing six sandwiches and five cakes!

They (I suspect that means David Pepper) have amended the programme so that everyone can attend a sailaway party he's hosting this evening. He has put the show for those people on the late sitting for the Mauritania Restaurant before dinner. He has also made three announcements about this change (with the emphasis on the sailaway party) today. The first during breakfast, the second at 9-30am and the last one at 4-30pm. There could have been others however we weren't there to hear them if there were.

This is not the first time that David Pepper has made announcements to the entire ship about social events. He has made similar announcements twice before. I realise that two or three times a week is not as often as the announcements on some ships however I do not like being disturbed by someone telling me that the sailaway party is about to start regardless of where I am on the ship.

Dinner was again acceptable but not outstanding. It was certainly not the 5* affair that the ship used to offer. I like a hot soufflé for dinner. It is not something that I make at home because it is far too much bother; when we are out I will normally have one if it's on the menu. So far this trip it has been on the menu six times! Soufflés occur with astonishing regularity. Likewise we have had some variant of steak for four nights in succession; it is not that there is no alternative, just that beef is our choice. I don't think that there should be similar dishes on the menu four nights in a row.

After dinner we went to sit at one of the tables outside the Yacht Club. Now that the Crystal Bar has become non-smoking this is now one of our favourite haunts in warm weather. We met some friends there and sat up talking until 1-00am. I suspect that I won't get to the gym in the morning.

Title: 28 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 30, 2009, 01:18 PM
I didn't make the gym! I'd set my alarm for 6-30am; woke at 5-30am and realised I'd another hour. The alarm woke me again at 6-30am and I just turned it off. I'll go swimming later to make up for it!

Paul and I took breakfast in the Lido again. We found a table that was slightly more central but the atmosphere there is still that of a transport Cafe! The menu is much more limited than the restaurant but the speed of the (self) service and the fact that the food is actually hot when you get to eat is does make it bearable.

Grenada is another typical island; in as much as there is such a thing - every island that we've visited so far has been quite different. We took a taxi again - 100USD to take the four of us to a spice seller, Grand Etang Lake (why is it so famous?), Annerdale falls and a fort. The taxi took my parents back to the ship whilst Paul and I were dropped in St Georges and wandered back through the town. There was quite a big market taking place but all it seemed to sell was some fruit and vegetables and lots and lots of packs of spices. As the entire economy seems to be based on the trading of these spices you've got to wonder how on earth they manage to survive!

Once back on the ship we returned to our cabin and I fell straight to sleep whilst Paul went off in search of lunch. When I woke up Paul was asleep so I went swimming and let him rest. Swimming in the Deck 7 pool was wonderful (a word I'm going to use quite a lot in the next few paragraphs) the water was nicely warm and I had the entire pool to myself for most of the time. There were only two occasions when someone else came in for five minutes.

We met for drinks in The Chart Room. I have developed the habit of getting there early to secure a table although it also means that I'm there to be offered an extra set of canapés. The waiter seems to have worked this out as, wherever I sit he always seems to come to our table last! One negative point I would add was that there was a dirty ashtray on the table I sat at; that same ashtray was still there and still dirty an hour later when we went in to dinner despite the stewards having served several rounds of drinks to the table.

Dinner was very good. Despite the menu being of the kind where you think what would I dislike least and choose that the food arrived promptly, was hot and freshly cooked. In fact the service was wonderful.

It didn't stop there. After dinner Paul and I went to our regular spot outside the Yacht Club. For the first time they had little imitation candles of the table (not tacky - you couldn't tell that they ran on batteries unless you picked them up and removed the "night light”). There was a waiter stationed by the outside tables. Up till now we've had to go in to get a drink form the less than friendly bar staff this evening we had unlimited drinks brought to us by a smiling waiter. The service was (guess what?) wonderful!

At all the bars with deck access there is a notice saying that glassware must not be taken onto the deck. They never seem to have never bothered about that in the Yacht Club. Occasionally you would get a drink served in a plastic glass but not very often. Then, last night, all our drinks arrived in plastic glasses. Why?

One of the problems we've found is that the service onboard is not consistent. At their best the service is out of this world although, for a fair amount of time it is horrendous; most of the time though it is simply mediocre. Another example of this is the deck service. In St Kitts we sat on deck and received a prompt and frequent service of cold drinks yes in St Vincent there was nobody at all serving drinks on deck.

Title: 29 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 31, 2009, 09:09 AM
The Christmas trip was odd. Although we were away for three weeks we only actually spent one of those weeks in the Caribbean; the other two were spent getting there and back.
Title: 29 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on May 31, 2009, 09:09 AM
I've just realised that I didn't say which island we were on - Barbados)

Today is our last day in the Caribbean for a while. Normally we'd be feeling sorry that a holiday was coming to an end (it's still over a week until we arrive back in Southampton so my use of the word "end" is relative) however the return to Southampton signals the start of our next sector ?

We went back to the restaurant for breakfast again today hoping things might have improved. They had: our order was taken quickly and our fruit juice was brought quickly. That was as far as the improvement went though. After that things slowed down and breakfast ended up taking over 40 minutes.

After breakfast the four of us went ashore looking for a taxi to take us for a ride around some of the main sights. A new cruise terminal has been built since we were last here and the distance to walk from ship to taxi is vast. The terminal bares more resemblance to an airport departure lounge than it does to a Caribbean Island. There's nothing much in the shops here unless you want to buy booze, cheap touristy souvenirs or expensive jewellery. It was quite easy to walk past, just such a long way. Our taxi took us around part of the coastline to see some beaches and then onto The Flower Forest and Gun Hill Signal Station. It was adequate but no more than that.

We got back to the ship at about 2-00pm. We were too late for lunch in the restaurant (besides, we didn't want a three course meal) so Paul and I ordered a sandwich from room service. That is one area where the quality and the service remain consistently high.

Mid afternoon there was a "Folkloric Show" in the Grand Lounge. It was interesting enough but not unmissable (when we're back next month I won't be rushing to see it again) although it didn't stop David Pepper raving about how good the act had been when he'd seen it on the QM2. (Have I mentioned that David Pepper keeps on referring to his time on the QM2?) [And have I mentioned that I don’t like David Pepper?] After that it was onto a seat on Boat Deck with our books until we sailed. We had no problem getting drinks from the deck steward while we were sitting there.

I had to make yet another call to the pursers about our shower. I am not complaining that the pursers are not doing anything about getting the shower fixed but that the ship's plumbers are not able to fix it. They have promised they will fix it in time for the morning.

Dinner was again very good. The only complaint I might have had was that the main course wasn't as hot as it should have been; that is until Paul commented that it was beef again!

It was raining heavily this evening so we couldn't sit outside the Yacht Club and had to make do with the Chart Room. We commented how quiet it was when we got there. It didn't last and soon got very busy. It seems that the best time to arrive in the Chart Room for a preprandial drink is 7-00pm when there are still plenty of tables; by 7-15pm it's full. Likewise if you make the Chart Room by 10-00pm - before the early show finishes and before the late sitting of Mauritania turns out - there are plenty of tables whilst after 10-30 there's nothing! I wonder if the same principle is true of the launderette. I must try at lunchtime tomorrow and see if it's quiet.

Title: 30 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 01, 2009, 10:57 AM
We're definitely on our way back to the UK. The clocks went on an hour last night so everything this morning seems just too early! That included getting up time for the girl who was due to open the gym. I was there along with half a dozen other people) at a couple of minutes to seven. When nobody had arrived by five past I went to the hospital to call the pursers. The assistant arrived several minutes after that! Once she had got settled in she went round the gym taking our names and cabin numbers so that she could send us all "something" by way of apology even though she was only "one minute late". I commented that she was more than one minute late by my watch - I've just checked against the satellite signal and my watch is spot on! [We never did receive anything this time]

We're still having problems with our shower. It is still changing from freezing cold to scalding hot in a couple of seconds without us changing the temperature control. It was off to the pursers again to complain about the problem - that makes five complaints so far! They definitely took some action as we've had a plumber here for about half an hour trying to fix it. We'll see this evening if it's worked or not.

We went for breakfast in the Lido again this morning. What a disappointment; I had decided to start with muesli and follow that with a waffle with American bacon and Link sausage. I finished off with a couple of toasted English muffins. I had to get the muesli from one place; then the sausages and bacon (only two rashers) from a second, the Muffins from a third (and wait while they were toasted). It was then onto a fourth place (and another wait) while someone cooked my waffle.  By the time I got to a table to eat it the lot was cold.

At check-in, at Southampton, they kept out passports. We got notification to go and collect them between 9-00am and midday. As the pursers were handling the passports we expected a long queue. Not so, there was one person being served and two assistants on. We were seen straight away.

I then went onto the Computer Centre to see what was happening on Cruise Critic. I spent about half an hour leafing through the roll calls but the internet was so slow I didn't get very far. I have had almost no problem in sending emails and have found that the system is very good. Whereas everyone else who uses the internet has said how slow and hard to use it is.

Now might be a time to mention how we are managing with emails. Paul has a wireless enabled laptop and I am using a wireless enabled Palm TX PDA. Paul cannot access his emails by using the pop3/SMTP servers for his accounts yet they work for me with no problem. I think that it is something to do with the way that the laptop and the PDA configure the internet connection

On the PDA I must first open the web browser (Blazer) and sign into my internet account. I can then go onto the email program (Versamail) and work as normal. When I have finished I need to restart the PDA, open Blazer again and then log off. If I don't it charges as if I were still connected. I have tried a similar process on Paul's laptop without success. I think that it must be somewhere in the configuration and will have e to look further if I can find the time.

Mag sent me an email asking about gym equipment and commenting on the drudgery onboard. She is right - it is so boring doing nothing at all for days on end!

Mag-to answer your question the gym does have "free weights" (at least that's what they told me). The gym is open from 7-00am until 8-00pm and you can go in at any time between those hours. There is a booking system for the cardiovascular machines but that only operates 24 hours in advance. The machines are usually all booked for the first few slots in a morning but usually have good availability after that.

When the time came to get dresses for dinner we tried our shower again. It's not been fixed. We've got a new shower head, the control needs tuning much further before it will start to run warm and the temperature range might be slightly less but, basically, it still isn't working properly. The pursers sent someone up immediately this time - we'll have to see if it works in the morning.

Dinner was beef again. We have stopped wondering what's for dinner and now just ask how they will cook the beef. Other than that dinner wasn't bad.

Title: 31 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 02, 2009, 09:21 AM
This was the New Year's Eve party that David Pepper turned into a non-event. The whole event was far flatter than I have made it sound in my journal. With hindsight I would class the party as one of the lowlights of this part of the cruise.
Title: 31 December 2007
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 02, 2009, 09:22 AM
I forgot to mention the World Club cocktail party last night. What a shambles! They claimed there were over 700 people in attendance in the Queens Room, we think it must have been less as we saw no other Cruise Critic people there although we know many who were entitled to attend. It took about 15 minutes to order and be served with the first drink - well the others in our party were served, they forgot mine and it took a further ten minutes for me to get a drink. There was no shortage of canapés; in fact waiters were walking around with trays full desperate for someone to eat them. This makes me suspect that there was a shortage on the other side of the room again. Once we'd all got our first drinks the waiter was dispatched to get a second round; he came back, five minutes later, with three drinks that were wring - wrong mixers, ice when not wanted, wrong spirit, etc. The problem was that there were far too many people at the party. Had they found some was of splitting the group into two it would have been a lot better.

Paul was feeling a little "over full" this morning so I went for breakfast on my own. . Apart from ordering American bacon and getting normal bacon everything went smoothly and the entire repast took less than half an hour.

The shower is still varying in temperature. As we were leaving the cabin this morning our steward was there so we mentioned it to him. I wonder if he'll manage to get it fixed.

Then it was back to the Pavilion to send and check emails before collecting my book and sitting on Boat Deck. Today service there was nonexistent. I finished my current book and headed down to the library to get another. It also gave me the chance to check on audio books for Grace: there are between 20 and 40 books on cassette tape and 50 to 70 on CD. If you are not particular to what books you listen to there should be sufficient to occupy you for the entire World Cruise; if you want something specific then I'd bring it with me.

We'd arranged to take my mother to the laundry today (she was looking a bit scuffed and in need of something to freshen her up :D ) and had guessed that lunchtime should be an off peak time. It was - the laundry gets quiet from about 1-20pm until 2-00pm. There are not a lot of free machines though as people tend to put their washing in and then go to lunch. It is necessary to empty a machine that has completed its cycle.

Although there was none of the excitement of last week there was one man who annoyed us all. He had first visited the laundry before we got there and put his things in two machines (not a problem). He was then away from the room for well over half an hour (we had arrived in the laundry, run a wash cycle and transferred our things to a dryer before he reappeared). When he returned to the launderette he removed about six things from each machine and put them into two dryers, set them both on maximum for an hour and left again. As we were finishing our ironing he came in to iron a couple of shirts - he was a very loud Yank (judging by his accent) and, whilst in the ironing room, held a shouted conversation with someone in the laundry room. From his conversation it transpired that he was an entertainer (ie staff) and was being unpleasant about passengers on board.  Is it any wonder that people from North America, excluding Canada, get such a bad reputation?

After that it was back on deck to continue reading. First on Boat Deck where it is windy but warm (one advantage of the wind is that there are plenty of free deck chairs) and then to the Funnel Bar (just in time for afternoon tea).

The beef tonight was served with a lobster tail and was followed by yet another soufflé! As there was also duck on offer I had that instead.

The ship's daily programme has been very reticent about what was to happen this evening. Even David Pepper would only say that there would be a Jazz band in the Yacht Club, a masquerade ball in the Queens Room, the Caribbean band in the Grand Lounge and something in the Golden Lion. After dinner Paul and I reconnoitred the venues to see which had the ship's bell and should therefore be the main venue. It turned out to be the Grand Lounge so we arranged to meet my parents there at about ten to midnight.

Paul and I got a drink and went to sit on the seats outside the Lido for an hour before going inside to have a look at the buffet. We took some photographs and then, once the buffet opened, collected a few tasty morsels and took them back to our cabin for later. It was then time to join my parents in the Grand Lounge.

What a disappointment it was. The band seemed very loud and continued playing right up until a couple of seconds before New Year. A countdown was started from nine, the band stopped at one, a net of balloons was released and the band started again at two seconds past.

A few minutes later the band got quieter again. With no introduction David Pepper said that one crew member would ring out the old year and another would ring in the new one. The bell was rung by two people and the crowd sang Auld Lang Syne. The band got louder again. The captain was there but didn't say anything. It wasn’t much of a New Year celebration.

We then all went back to our cabins. Paul and I enjoyed our snack that we had with a rather nice glass of whisky.

Title: Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
Post by: cunardqueen on Jun 02, 2009, 05:13 PM
The New Year party sounds like a big non event?
Isnt the bell rung by the youngest serving crew member for New Year?

I remember on one of my recent med trips 2006 Captain Bates claimed it was the largest World club party they had so far and the next cruise would be even larger so they were going to hold it over 2 nights. The Queens room was mobbed and much to busy, l always maintained they should hold a separate party for the  Diamond members and make it less of a crush.

The following cruise would see the biggest change over of crew.   
 Dare we ask, did you ever get fed up onboard at anytime, or does that come later?

Oh by the way Happy New Year  !!!
Title: Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 02, 2009, 05:53 PM
The New Year party sounds like a big non event?

I put all the blame for that onto the social staff. In fairness to them it wasn't a general arse and elbow situation it was poor leadership (and who was the Social Director? David Pepper :( It really does show that I don't like him doesn't it?)

Isnt the bell rung by the youngest serving crew member for New Year?

Yes, the oldest rings the old year out and the youngest the new year in (or vice versa, I can never remember who rings which!  ::) ). Or at least that's how it's happened in the past. The only time that hasn't happened was when the ship was in Madeira and there NYE is slightly different.

l always maintained they should hold a separate party for the  Diamond members and make it less of a crush.

And perhaps slightly more exclusive? There were so many Diamond members on the WC that I don't think it would have made much difference.

Dare we ask, did you ever get fed up onboard at anytime, or does that come later?

Later :(

Oh by the way Happy New Year  !!!

Happy New Year to you and everyone on this board as well :)
Title: Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
Post by: Rob Lightbody on Jun 02, 2009, 06:52 PM
Re David Pepper.  He was just awful.  An embarassment.  He made it quite clear that being on board QE2, you were on the 2nd best ship, and that he couldn't wait to get back on QM2 where he belonged.  The bad taste, crass jokes etc. were completely inappropriate to QE2, and re-confirmed for me that QE2 would have been better off without a 'show lounge' altogether, as originally designed - leave that to the cruise ships too.
Title: Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 02, 2009, 08:15 PM
It really does show that I don't like him doesn't it?)

Re David Pepper.  He was just awful.  An embarassment.

Wow! I'm pleased that I wasn't the only one who doesn't like him :D

I can't help but wonder what he's like on the QM2. He can't be as bad as he was on the QE2 because they still employ him.
Title: Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
Post by: cunardqueen on Jun 02, 2009, 08:58 PM
He made it quite clear that being on board QE2, you were on the 2nd best ship,

The man is clearly and utterly mad
Title: Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 03, 2009, 08:42 AM
The man is clearly and utterly mad

Unfortunately he's not mad. Mad would be understandable (if not forgiveable ;) ). He is just wrong. He shows far too bigger sense of self worth and ignores anything that doesn't directly contribute to the "David Pepper is Fantastic Club". He is arrogant, over opinionated and boorish.
Title: New Year's Day
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 03, 2009, 08:44 AM
Enough of David Pepper (for the moment ;) ). He leaves in Barbados so we'll be shot of him soon :) Two days of journals today - NYD was a very short entry so I've included the 2nd of January as well.
Title: New Year's Day
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 03, 2009, 08:44 AM
New Year's Day - nothing much happened. Breakfast (good), checked emails, read on deck, snoozed on deck, went swimming, that's about it for the daytime.

This evening was our Senior Officers' Party. Everyone was at the one party in the Queens Room rather than the three separate parties they'd held in the past. This was an excellent solution to the problems caused by holding a party at the Funnel Bar. Previously the Senior Officers' Party has been no more than an excuse for a free drink; this time it was an opportunity to meet and talk with fellow passengers and was an enjoyable party.

One thing we have noticed this trip is the number of young kids that are running about screaming with nobody apparently in control. This has been particularly obvious on some evenings but a couple of times this afternoon there's been the sound of screaming kids going past our cabin.

Title: 2 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 03, 2009, 08:46 AM
There isn't a lot I can write about days at sea. You have breakfast, read, walk on deck, snooze, that kind of thing.

One thing I want to point out is that I have never has Athlete's Foot up until this trip. The day before yesterday I started to get an itch between the toes on my left foot. The only place I have been barefooted outside the cabin is the Seven Deck pool. Am I right to think it came from there? I can get a cream to treat it but for that I need to go to the Doctor and incur a 60 USD charge plus the cost of the cream. I have refused to spend that and have found that Savlon has eased the itching so I will wait until I return to Southampton and go to Boots!

A second comment on swimming - don't wear white swimming trunks! The pools are salt water and leave a brown deposit in anything white. If you're only swimming once or twice it won't show but after half a dozen times it becomes noticeable and after ten the trunks become embarrassing to wear! Coloured trunks are OK, they don't show the discolouration from the water - at least I'm assuming it's the water!

Having said there was not much I wanted to say I seem to be managing to write enough! According to all the documentation we've received form Cunard up until last night tonight should have been formal. When we got today's programme the dress for this evening is given as "semi-formal". How disappointing - I don't see any difference between putting on a dinner suit or a lounge suit. As you know I'd far rather have the formal evenings.

Another thing happened this evening just before we went to bed. We were sitting outside the Yacht Club talking with a group of fellow passengers when the propellers started to make a loud vibrating sound - the kind of sound she makes when she is slowing down. On the way to our cabin there was an emergency announcement for an "assessment party" to proceed to the forward engine room on deck 8. When we got back to the cabin and looked at the TV our speed had dropped to a little over 8 knots. About ten minutes later the assessment party was told to stand down and we speeded up to 26 knots again. There hasn't been any explanation of what caused it. [And we never found out]

Title: 3 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 04, 2009, 09:00 AM
Madeira today. After so many days at sea it will be nice to have a day in port. This part of the trip has passed so quickly that it's hard to believe that most people will be getting off in three days time.

Paul and I started with breakfast in the restaurant. The food was of the expected high standard as was the service. The only criticism I would levy is that Paul's Eggs Benedict arrive a good five minutes before my French Toast. This means that either Paul waits until mine arrives, resulting in hard eggs or he eats his straight away resulting in runny eggs but he has finished them by the time my breakfast arrives.

We have been to Madeira several times before and have seen all the major sites of Funchal, have done the usual taxi tour, etc so this time we decided we'd like to visit Madeira's second town of Machico.

We got a taxi from the ship to Machico for €45.00. Our guidebook describes it as "little more than an overgrown village" and it is right. However we still managed to spend three hours wandering the streets, stopping for a coffee, visiting the various churches, walking along the sea front, etc.

Machico is big enough to have its own taxi rank and it wasn't difficult to pick up a cab to take us further east on the island. He first took us up to Pico Do Facho to a point where most tourists don't get but there are fantastic views west, back to Machico and the airport (built on stilts over the sea Madeira Airport classifies as a tourist attraction), and east, to the whaling town of Caniçal and the coastline beyond. From there the driver took us to the easternmost tip of the island (picturesque and again hardly any tourists) before returning us to Funchal. For that he charged €47.00.

We arrived back at the ship at about 3-30pm - just in time to drop off our cameras, collect our books and make our way to the Funnel Bar for afternoon tea. I used my time up there to finish off yesterday’s report, reply to a few emails and just relax. Whilst I was typing the emails Paul commented that I should point out that the drinks you get on the package are not the same as those you get if you buy individual drinks. You get a smaller glass and you don't get given the remainder of the can - that is kept for the next "free" drink. You can avoid these smaller glasses for the first few days by ordering your drink at the bar and not telling the bar man that it is an inclusive drink until he's poured it, likewise they only have one size of plastic tumbler so if you order a drink on deck you'll get a normal measure. That said I would still strongly recommend the soft drinks package as a way of reducing your bar bill.

Once we had sailed from Madeira the Captain came on the tannoy warning that we were going to run into bad weather, advising us to make sure that anything breakable was put on the cabin floor and telling us that room service could provide dinner if we didn't want to risk the restaurant. We went to the Restaurant anyway where it was beef again. The number of cows they've got through on this trip must be mind boggling!

As dinner went on the weather did get worse. The boat has started to bounce about a bit. We went up to the Pavilion, meaning to go on deck for some air, and could hardly stand. I think we're in for a rough night, although not as rough as I hope we'll get enroute to New York. Unfortunately my parents have gone to bed early and Paul doesn't feel like doing anything either so that's why I'm sitting in the cabin writing this at 11-00 at night.

Title: 4 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 05, 2009, 08:52 AM
This morning was very rough. THE alarm rang at 6-30am for me to go to the gym; I staggered across the cabin to the bathroom and then back to the bed and decided that I wouldn't be able to make deck 7 this morning and went back to bed!

The morning started properly with breakfast in the restaurant. Again it was with no problems. The quality of breakfast normally ranges from good to excellent however there are more than just the occasional days when it ranges from poor to unacceptable.

On the Heritage Tour at the beginning of the cruise Gaynor had said that she was putting together a pictographic tour for those who could not manage to walk round the ship for an hour and a half. This morning was the debut of her pictographic tour in the Theatre. It was very good - almost as good as being there on a small tour and far better than being on a crowded tour. [This is the tour that was sold on DVD where it was really disappointing] Thomas is back on from Southampton; if he continues it I would recommend anyone who can't manage the walking tour to go to one of the static events.

After that there was time for a quick glass of lemonade in the Chart Room before it was time to attend Gavin & Sandra (Fifer's) cocktail party. It was my first time in a cabin on Signal Deck (I've been in those on sun deck before); it was also the first time I've ever set foot on a balcony on the QE2 (small things please small minds) so I was looking forward to it. Gavin and Sandra didn't stint on the Champagne (it was champagne and not PA) they had on offer or any of the myriad of other drinks they also had available. After the party Paul and I got back to our cabin and fell asleep.

I woke up about 5-00pm and set off down to the pool on 7 Deck. On my way there I met someone else who had been at the party; they told me that the pool had been drained due to the bad weather. I suppose it had been quite choppy this morning, it was when we got to Gavin and Sandra's party but we didn't really notice after that! So I gave up the idea of swimming.

As Paul was still asleep I decided to visit the pursers and try to find out how we were being moved the day after tomorrow. The girl I spoke to was less than helpful (she was one of the people I'd spoken to about the shower that still isn't working properly but we've just had to give up on it). She told me that we should have received a letter telling us what was happening. When I said that we hadn't she replied that, in that case, they couldn't have been sent out yet. I asked her to check if the letters had been sent out and she refused saying that we should wait until tomorrow. Why do I have little faith that we will get a letter tomorrow? I should add that yesterday evening the Maitre D' of the Britannia Grill found us and personally confirmed details of our onwards restaurant reservation.

[HappyScot, a member of CC posted a message about my athlete’s foot] Message to HappyScot - I am aware that they are a "life form". As fungus is one of the more delicate items served in the grills I'm wondering if it couldn't be used to garnish the cat cassoulette I'm planning for next week! [The cat was a long running joke on CC. Basically I threaten to eat the cat and it threatens all sorts of nasty things to me]

Dinner - what a disaster! The first problem that occurred was David Pepper. In the morning he made a very long winded announcement about how the bad weather would affect that morning's activities. He went into great (and confusing) detail about how the cooking demonstration was cancelled yet the putting on deck wasn't. After several minutes he stopped - until after lunch. This time the people in our party just increased their volume to talk over him. He made a third announcement that afternoon which we slept through! Apparently it involved his changing the dress code for this evening. He ended up with about half the passengers dressed formally, half dressed informally and about ten wandering about in jeans and a T shirt!

Then there was dinner itself. I started with melted cheese straws coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. They arrived cold and solid and they only tasted of grease and deep frying. I left most of it.

Then I had Apple Cinnamon Soup. This was a chilled soup. It looked like dishwater. It tasted like luke warm dishwater with some powdered Cinnamon added. I left it all.

Then, guess what? Beef again! This time in the guise of a Beef Wellington. I like Beef Wellington; it turned out to be quite a nice Beef Wellington; it’s just when it's beef every night you get a bit fed up with beef!

Pudding was an apricot tart with a vanilla parfait. The parfait had almost entirely melted which was just as well because the tart was so dry that it desperately needed some kind of sauce.

By the time coffee came I was still hungry! Conversely Paul had a salad instead of the soup and a chocolate Marquise for pudding - both of which were very nice and meant that, overall, it was a good meal. As I've said there is no consistent standard.

The daily programme listed tonight as a Gala Buffet and as I was still hungry from dinner we went along for a snack. We turned up but there was no Gala Buffet, just the normal light snack. Last Christmas I remember commenting that there was a Gala Buffet and they didn't tell anyone. They've made up for it this year by telling everyone and then not having one!

Title: 5 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 06, 2009, 09:46 AM
We got our letter this morning saying how we should change cabins; we need to pack everything from the draws, shelves, etc into our bags and those bags, together with our clothes on hangers will be moved to our new cabin. We're off to the purser soon to get new ID cards and find out where we eat lunch tomorrow. Once we've done that it's off to the cabin to start packing :( It really doesn't seem as if we've been on three weeks already.

David Pepper was on the TV again this morning going into very confusing details of what to expect on our arrival in Southampton. He went to great pains that, or our end of voyage questionnaire, we should not mark an entire department down because of two or three mistakes. He sounded as if he was expecting a lot of adverse comments about the Cruise Staff.

We've certainly left the good weather behind for the moment. The crowds that are normally hogging the area around One Deck pool, the decks up from there and the Sun Deck have all come inside now and are filling the bars. All of the public rooms have become like a rather crowded departure lounge. It took half an hour from the bar opening for a waiter to come and ask if we wanted a drink and a further ten minutes for them to arrive.

Dinner was OK. Not the worst but equally not the best by far. The ship seems very much to be a ship of people waiting to get off. This evening and tomorrow morning are times I would quite happily miss.

We went to the pursers to try and get new ID cards. They issued cards but only as far as New York, claiming that, as the programme might change, they couldn't issue them any further (odd that we'd just spoken top another couple on the WC who had been told that cards couldn't be issued until tomorrow). As we were to be cabinless for several hours tomorrow they were also able to provide us with secure storage for our valuables.

Title: 5 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 06, 2009, 09:50 AM
I've always said that I would give up my last day of a cruise to avoid that final morning. Disembarking is a horrible and time consuming process. That said the last day of the Caribbean section of our trip was not good either. Almost everyone was just hanging about waiting to get off. We felt that we were just waiting for the cruise proper to begin.
Title: 6 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 06, 2009, 09:58 AM
As the 5th was such an unplesant day I'll go onto the 6th straight away. The feeling of being on the ship when almost all the passengers are changing is weird. I can't think of any other way of describing it. When the ship sets off the feeling continues - you are already at home on the ship whereas most of the other people are still finding their feet.
Title: 6 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 06, 2009, 09:58 AM
Today was surreal. We were arriving in Southampton as "in-transit" passengers when almost everyone else was getting off. Breakfast was still the same reduced menu and it still finished at 9-00am but we didn't have that feeling of having to race through the meal and get off. We didn't go to breakfast until 8-30am and had a leisurely meal whilst the rest of the ship filled up with people carrying luggage.

After Breakfast we put the last remaining things in the cases (Cunard would move things on coat hangers but everything else had to be packed for the cabin change) and prepared to leave the cabin.

My parents, who were not going ashore, went to the World Club disembarkation lounge in the Yacht Club. The only difference they saw from the rest of the ship was that to offer to bring you coffee (although no coffee actually arrived). [This was the only time I’ve ever seen the lounge in action - every other occasion there’s always been a message saying that there are too many people for it to function]

Paul and I wanted to go into Southampton to buy a few things that we'd forgotten. Before they were calling people to disembark we went to the Midships Lobby to be told that we couldn't wait there. We explained that we were "in-transit" and were ushered through the barriers to get off the ship past all the other people who were waiting. We got a taxi (there wasn't a passenger shuttle in operation) into Southampton and spent a very cold hour waiting for the shops to open. I've never spent much time in the centre there; it's always been a place we've passed through. Having wandered round the shops there it is quite a nice shopping centre.

On our way to get a taxi back to the boat we bumped into the couple from the previous evening who had now managed to get an ID card that would last their whole trip. They told us that they had come in by crew shuttle and were intending to get it back. We joined them and got a free transfer back to the ship!

Going into the QEII terminal was very odd. You're first greeted by the woman giving out Norovirus forms who didn't like it when we refuse to fill one in; then the woman who sorts out priority and non-priority embarkation. She didn’t like the fact that we want to go straight onto the ship! In fact the only place we didn't have trouble was leaving the departure lounge and walking up to the gangway - nobody tried to stop us!

From there it was back onto the ship; a ghost ship - there weren't any passengers about to get in the way. We had been told that we should go to the pursers office on our return and get them to unlock our new cabin. We did - except when the purserette took us to the cabin we found it open and with no luggage. It took a further 40 minutes for the luggage to turn up.

The new cabin seems a lot bigger than the previous one, although in reality it's only about 45 sq ft bigger. We have a dressing table running the full length of the side of the ship. It has four very large draws, a medium draw and three small draws under it and the TV, ice, fruit, flowers, etc on it. There is also an illuminated mirror above it. In front of that we have two chairs, a table and a stool. Behind them is the bed with a large chest of draws on either side. There is then a door (we are normally leaving this open) that will close off the cabin from the hallway which had a small coat cupboard containing the fridge, the walk-in wardrobe and the bathroom off it. The bathroom is of the original, only partly refurbished style. The basin, toilet and showerhead are all new although the bath and walls are original. I like the original fittings although there is not as much light as there in with the refurbished rooms.

Once our luggage finally arrived there was time to unpack it and drink the complimentary bottle of Champagne we'd got from David Hamilton (Hotel Manager). By then it was 2-30pm and time for afternoon tea.

At sailaway time it was all on deck for the fireworks as Vicky set off.  I had caught a brief glimpse of her from a shopping centre in Southampton but this was the first time I had seen her without obstruction. Although it was dark her "chimney pots" were very visible and her very steeply raked cabins up to her bow.

Before the fireworks we had an address from Carole Marlow (I assume it was recorded as I haven't seen her since) and an address from Captain McNaught that would have convinced anyone who might still be in doubt which was the best ship. Then the fireworks, the display lasted for ten minutes and was really only mediocre. Had it been twice as many fireworks per minute and only lasted for five minutes I feel that it would have been much better.

We were told by a couple of people that there was to be a party for people doing the full World Cruise this afternoon in the Yacht Club. They weren't sure what time it was and thought it wisest to check with the pursers. There we were assured that the Yacht Club would be closed and that no parties World Cruise, Private or otherwise were being held there. They insisted that the first party of any kind would be the Captain's party the next night. I told the pursers that I didn't believe them although as I had no way of finding out we had to give up on the idea of the reception. The girl we spoke to looked hurt when I said I didn't believe them. When we met Leone after dinner. She confirmed that there had been a party, it was in the Yacht Club and it was for full cruise passengers. Was I wrong to tell the pursers I didn't believe them?

It was the first CC meeting of the WCC in the Chart Room this evening. I have debated what to write; I am definitely not going to mention names as Paul and I attended, met Babette and got talking and ended up missing most of the others there. After dinner was more of an event. Paul and I wandered through the Crystal Bar to see if anyone was there and were greeted by a cry of "Malcolm" in an Australian accent. It was Leone. We hugged and made a great fuss of each other although we had not previously met. Paul was quite embarrassed by my hugging strange Australian women!

Shortly after that Matthew, Babette and their party turned up. Ten Jon, Kyle & Doug arrived to form the more "transatlantic" side of the party. (I said I wouldn't start mentioning names because I'm sure I'm going to miss someone out - Beth, I've not forgotten you but I know I'm missing a lot of other people).

Maybe this is a point there I could mention how young Doug is. As Host Doug I'd thought he was middle-aged when he can't really be out of his teens! (Doug - If I don't tell you beforehand please accept my apologies for staring).

The arrival of Mark & Steve and Gavin helped to bolster the European contingent and Paul and I spent far longer than we intended in the Crystal Bar this evening. I thank Paul for bearing with me. He must have been very bored because he didn't know who any of these people were!
Title: 7 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 07, 2009, 07:36 AM
This is our first day of the World Cruise proper. We are travelling slowly and, although I don't make much of it) Vicky is struggling by our side to keep up. There were wonderful pictures circulating aboard QE2 of Vicky with her bow totally submerged in white water :D and showing that ship at some very odd angles :D
Title: 7 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 07, 2009, 07:36 AM
We didn't do much today. In fact I wonder why it is that I've got so far behind in writing up events - I've just finished yesterday and it's tomorrow afternoon already - so if I manage to keep this short I might manage to start on tomorrow's whilst it's still today!

The morning consisted of going to the gym, having breakfast and a trip to the Launderette. We also made a partial discovery - the World Club Lounge. This is in the Boardroom and offers free tea/coffee/soft drinks/pastries for everyone on the full world cruise. It also offers a concierge to help out with any problems on board, advice on ports and timings, etc. She was very quickly able to sort out why we hadn't got invites to the party and the lounge and even why we weren't on the list for full world cruisers. It was really quite simple: details were only sent to those who were embarking on the 6th January and not to those few who were already onboard.[This was a problem the pursers office did not seem able to grasp and reoccurred repeatedly throughout the trip]

One other advantage of the lounge is the stewardess. It is Rowena; she had been our waitress in the Caronia for Christmas 2006 and we had seen her on occasions this Christmas and said hello. I think she was as surprised as us at our meeting her there. We were delighted that she will be with us throughout the entire trip.

There is nothing I can write about the launderette today. When we got there it was empty and there were about four people in the ironing room when we left. All I can conclude it that the day after sailing is a good time to do your washing!

In the afternoon I did the Heritage Trail again. It was different from the last times I've done it, with Gail or with Thomas. We got to go to different places and see different things. It also differed from Gail's tour in one other important respect - there were about 100 people on it in rough weather opposed to the half dozen she had.

The weather is quite bad. Whilst we can see the Victoria she is keeping a fair distance away. The concierge in the world cruise lounge has a wonderful (for those not on her) picture of the Vicky with her bow completely under water. She looks to be having a much rougher ride than us.

It was our Captain's Cocktail Party this evening and I wore that bow tie and cummerbund. Matthew got his picture and I trust that he's already posted it somewhere on the site. Now all I need to do is see him for the cost of the tie and the Champagne.

As it's been a fairly quiet day I'll comment on the differences I've noticed between dining in the grills and dining in one of the restaurants aboard. I think a lot depends on the quality of the server you get in the restaurant and where abouts in the restaurant you are. I can't comment on the food and service in either the Mauritania Restaurant or the Queens Grill as they have separate kitchens but as I have recently eaten in the Princess and Britannia Grills and the Caronia Restaurant share galleys and I have eaten in all three recently I feel able to comment.

For Christmas 2006 we had Rowena as one of our waiting staff and a table about halfway down the Caronia Restaurant. We felt that both the quality of food and the service was better than we'd had in the Princess Grill the year before. This year we were sitting at the back of the Caronia Restaurant and found the service not so good, the food often arrived lukewarm or cold and not necessarily cooked to our liking. Whereas, in the Britannia Grill the service has been good, the food has always arrived hot and cooked as required.

The second benefit of being in a grill is the cabin. This is a much more important benefit. You get a much larger cabin with plenty of space. Although there was plenty of space to store all our seven cases in our C2 some could not be fully unpacked and items that would not be needed every day had to be kept packed away. In our P2 we have two chairs (rather than the one in the C2); we will sit in our cabin rather than sitting in a bar or lounge. The bigger and more comfortable cabin means that we are far more likely to spend time there. You also get your sheets changed every day instead of every three days - very useful if you're in the habit of going to bed after mud wrestling and before showering ?

The third benefit is the snob value! As nobody else on the ship knows what cabin you're in I don't see it as that important.

Is being in a grill on the QE2 worth the extra? Personally I don’t think so - on a short (1 to 3 weeks) trip I think you can get far more for your money by spending it elsewhere. On a longer trip I think that the benefits of being in a grill will become more apparent [By the end of the trip my opinions have changed – we booked Grill cabins for our next voyage] but I still think that, had I got to find an extra £26,000.00 to do this trip in one of the grills I wouldn't have gone [I still feel that as well!]. I will do my best to make sure that I get a decent waiter and table in the Caronia for my next trip.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: highlander0108 on Jun 07, 2009, 11:48 PM
January 7, 2008 view of Queen Victoria as taken from Boat Deck on QE2.  We saw alot of the bulbous bow on day one of the crossing. Notice the water pouring out of the bow thruster locations.  QV does not have thruster doors, another factor to limit her speed.  There were times where you could see daylight through them. :o  I have to admit, after spending some time in the Computer Center, I needed a bit of air too, but I loved every minute of the rougher seas.  There were a few times where I felt like I was on a rollercoaster that morning in that room.
Thanks for reposting this Malcolm.  It was at this time in the crossing that I had not met many of the WCC people.  We missed the initial meeting, having gotten completely caught up in the moment of finally getting back on the ship and experiencing a winter crossing.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Rob Lightbody on Jun 08, 2009, 09:31 AM
QE2 Departs on final world cruise - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/7173887.stm
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Rob Lightbody on Jun 08, 2009, 09:32 AM
Here are some AWESOME photos of QE2 (and 1 of qV) tackling the swells.


How I would have given ANYTHING to be there to see that...  even if it meant beiing on board qV!
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 08, 2009, 10:42 AM
QE2 Departs on final world cruise

"The new £300m Queen Victoria was named by the Duchess of Cornwall in December and will eventually replace the QE2 on regular transatlantic crossings."

I didn't know when that was published the QE2 was still on the regular transatlantic route, let alone that Vicky has replaced her on it! I'll bet it makes for some very unstable crossings ::)
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 08, 2009, 10:44 AM
(and 1 of qV)

That picture of Vicky shows her just as I remember her! :D
Title: 8 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 08, 2009, 11:04 AM
Yet another day at sea! Since the 29th December when we left Barbados we've only called at Madeira and Southampton. That's nine days at sea and only two ashore. There's another four sea days before New York. I'm just starting to wonder if there can be too much of a good thing. I haven't finally decided but I don't think so.

There were only three things of note today - 2 lectures and a CC meeting (or actually two).

The first lecture was in the theatre and was hosted by Peter Crimes, the Destination Lecturer for the world cruise. It was interesting in that it provided some ideas for sightseeing in NY but as we intend to meet some friends of Paul's it probably won't be that much use this visit. Never mind - there's always April! I think that his talks on the more exotic destinations that I haven't been to will be far more exciting.

The second lecture, also in the theatre was given by Theodore Scull and was entitled "From RMS Britannia to MV Queen Victoria" and gave a brief history of Cunard. It was another lecture that didn't tell anything new but did have some very nice pictures of the insides of past ships.

There were two CC meetings: one planned and the other not. The first one was in the Champagne Bar. It was the first (and probably only) time I've gone into that bar when it has been open. It is one of the original rooms on the ship and as such is worth seeing but I found the bar crowded, dark and not a particularly comfortable place to be. I've described it as a CC meeting - we did meet with other CCers and chat (the usual pleasantries) but my overriding memory is that the bar is not that nice. Perhaps it is nicer when there is less of a crowd there.

The second meeting was nor planned and in many respects was not actually a meeting; jut some of us that happened to bump into each other in the Chart Room. Paul and I had gone with my mother to see the show and had then taken her back to the cabin. After that we decided to return to the Chart Room for final lemonade before retiring to bed.

[At this get-together we must have met other CCers and discussed a Cabin Cavalcade although I don’t make this clear – I suspect that I was interrupted mid report when originally writing and missed this point out. The next paragraph makes no sense without knowing that a cavalcade was planned!]

I have said I want to go and Paul has said he's resigned to having a vast number of strangers traipsing through the cabin.

After a second lemonade it was off to the cabin for a nightcap before retiring for the night.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: cunardqueen on Jun 09, 2009, 01:22 AM
Going into the QEII terminal was very odd. You're first greeted by the woman giving out Norovirus forms who didn't like it when we refuse to fill one in; then the woman who sorts out priority and non-priority embarkation. She didn’t like the fact that we want to go straight onto the ship! In fact the only place we didn't have trouble was leaving the departure lounge and walking up to the gangway - nobody tried to stop us!

 I must confess l love the "intransit" perks.The times its happened to me Once a woman asked me if l was in the Grills, l just looked at her and said No Im in Mauretania!! then she tried to usher me through the regular checkin line, well lm not sure what was worse,so l produced my (then) platinum card and got somebody to escort me through, well the baying mob may just have attacked me, and of course then you can walk on straight away whispering the magic words "Im intransit ;D"  to all that can hear, l was practically singing it when l boarded ::)
 Then l  discovered if you do pop ashore and come back before checkin opens your guided to the crew entrance, and thats an experience (well any crew entrance is an experience) only trouble with that is you miss the embarkation photo, but it does give a new insight (and great photos ) of QE2
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 09, 2009, 06:28 AM
Then l  discovered if you do pop ashore and come back before checkin opens your guided to the crew entrance, and thats an experience

We only got to use the crew entrance when we finally disembarked. It was an experience all right but not one I'd want to repeat again in a hurry!
Title: 9 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 09, 2009, 06:32 AM
Yet another day at sea! I'm not complaining, just stating a fact. It allows plenty of time for doing nothing!

The lecture this morning was on the monuments of New York. Again vaguely interesting and it helped to pass an hour before pre lunch drinks before lunch in the Chart Room. We went for lunch in the restaurant today - we just had one course but it was more than sufficient to put us on till dinner. It also gave me the opportunity to have a chat with the Maitre D'. He is very disappointed that the cat hasn't turned up yet. He was hoping to get a pair of gloves lined with orange fur and had told the violinist that he would help her secure new strings.

After lunch it was a quick visit to the cabin to tidy up before I went off on the Cabin Cavalcade. (Paul stayed in the cabin and, once we'd visited our cabin, went to sleep).

The CC group met in the Midships Lobby where Doug did a great job of organising everybody into cabin order whilst Jon took a group picture.

We started the tour on Deck Five and worked our way up the ship to Deck One. We saw a wide range of passenger cabins from M6 through to a Q3.

The smallest cabin we saw was an M6. About half of the floor space of the cabin was occupied by the bed and upper bunk whilst the other half contained a small wardrobe and chest of draws.

We saw a C3 that was a very strange layout. It was basically two square cabins linked by a narrow corridor. The first contained the beds and the TV, whilst the second contained the porthole, a settee and chest of draws. Had I been in that cabin I wonder how much time I'd have spent sitting on that settee looking at the chest!

There was one M4 (I think it was on Five Deck) that was accessed by a corridor that went around four or five corners and ended with an emergency exit door.

As we passed through my cabin I collected Pip [my toy squirrel] to finish off the rest of the tour with us. As we passed through various cabins we met other mascots including Evangaline [the mascot of a friend] and Gwen [another mascot] (and many others too numerous to mention). In Matthew and Kirsten's cabin Matthew collected Bluey [A teddy bear and another mascot] so I'm pleased to report that the Animal branch of Cruise Critic was represented on this Cavalcade. I am sure that there will be some pictures of this momentous event posted on the web soon.

The best passenger cabin we saw was Beth's. A Q3 that was vast. It still had all its original fittings although the ceiling had been replaced at some point in the past.

After another P1 Gavin had arranged for the tour to finish up in the Captain's cabin. This was a delightful ending - not only to finish up in a different cabin, but also one not seen by most of the public. Unfortunately I must report that Captain McNaught publicly hit Bluey and refused to shake Pips paw. They were both highly unamused.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: highlander0108 on Jun 09, 2009, 01:41 PM
8 January 2008
From a C1 cabin porthole

9 January 2008
Our Captain at work
Title: 10 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 10, 2009, 02:43 PM
We are at sea again today. I understand what Captain McNaught means when he says that this crossing is "like driving a car full of children saying are we there yet?" It is not important that we get to New York quickly, but it is important that we get there with the best of our ability. We are travelling along at 19 knots and are strolling; the QV is alongside and is going flat out. It is such a pity that we can't leave the QV behind and arrive in NY a couple of days early.

Last night at dinner the bottom of Paul's pudding plate was covered with chocolate. Paul didn't see this and ended up with chocolate all down the front of his shirt. The restaurant manager said to leave the shirt on the bed this morning. As my shirt needed laundering as well we put them both in a bag and filled in a laundry list. When we went back to the cabin later in the day the shirts had gone but the list was lying on the bed. Our steward said that the Britannia Grill had arranged for our laundry to be processed at no charge. This is the level of communication and service I used to expect from Cunard. It is such a pity that it does not occur that often now.

This morning's activity was a lecture by Theodore Scull entitled "Queen Elizabeth 2 1969 - 2008 - Reigning Monarch of the North Atlantic". By the time the lecture started there was standing room only in the Theatre. In typical QE2 fashion it began on time with an introduction by David Pepper. Theodore Scull was greeted with tremendous applause when he got to the stage. Unfortunately the projector wouldn't work so he spent the first 20 minutes adlibbing until it was fixed. He made a marvellous job of this and I'm sure that some people didn't realise he was extemporising until he finally gave up on the crew and went to fix the projector himself.

I think it only right to point out that he had a very receptive audience. As long as he was talking favourably about their ship most of the audience were more than happy to listen.
I must offer an apology to David Pepper - when he said the QE2 used to carry 88 cars I did not believe him, at the lecture this morning Theodore Scull confirmed that when she was first built she had a capacity of 80 (ish) cars that was gradually reduced to the final capacity of 14. I do not offer an apology for his misinformation about Liverpool however!

The bad news is that the pool at the gym is getting busier. This morning I counted 14 people in it; more like a rather lumpy soup than a pool full of water! This evening was a lot better with only four people. The problem is that the pool on One Deck has been closed since before we left Southampton; all the people who would have splashed about in it and have, until now, been sitting in the bars are starting to get bored and are exploring the ship. There is now a steady stream of people taking pictures of the gym and many seem to be returning just for a splash about. Roll on New York.

Paul and I went for afternoon tea in the Queens Grill Lounge. We got there about 4-10pm and there were several empty pairs of seats; by 4-30pm there were several empty tables and by 4-40pm the lounge was half empty. I don't think the tea was any different from the Queens Room - it was just easier to get a table! [That opinion changed over the course of the trip. I now feel that the QGL has the edge of the offerings in the Queens Room]

I can't remember if I said or not but when we first came aboard on 16th December all the rear decks were very springy. So springy that walking was difficult across them as you felt in danger of being bounced off. As we approached the Caribbean that movement subsided until it could not be felt. As we returned to Southampton it was just detectable and now it's gone again. What was causing it?

Dinner this evening was a disaster. The service was so slow. It took over an hour from entering the room to getting our main course. Paul and I gave up at that point and left.

One other difference we've noticed between the Caronia and Britannia is that the grills offer a fifth entrée that is not on the menus of the two main restaurants. This is addition to the a la carte menu.
Title: 11 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 11, 2009, 10:00 AM
Today's report came in two parts. The first was a few short (for me ;) ) paragraphs about the Vicky. The gossip was that the bad weather had caused a major delay and that we would have to leave her if we were to arrive in New York on time. Looking back I can see that would never have been an option for the Carnival PR department but it did seem a very likely option at the time.

The second part is the normal day-to-day report when nothing much happened!  :)
Title: 11 January 2008 - Breaking News
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 11, 2009, 10:00 AM
The new about QV! (or at least a supplemental update about her progress)

Gossip aboard ship spreads like wildfire. I suppose that it's something to do with not having much else to do!

The gossip last night was that we would need to do upwards of 30 knots to make NY on time. This morning was that we had sped off and left her in the night, that she had moved ahead of us in the night, that she was heading off in a totally different direction (a kind of  "I'm going out - I may be some time"!) or that everything was fine and we would arrive together.

The channel on TV that gives the ship's speed and position was turned off by 11-00pm yesterday; it is still not working this morning. It looks as if the authorities want to prevent us knowing where we are.

The QE2 does feel as if she's running faster. I have no information to prove this, it is very much a feeling shared by both Paul and myself. The vibrations on the ship do seem to have increased again implying that we are either going faster or getting ready to.

I can confirm that it's now 10-45am and the QV is still off our port side. The only official comment we have heard is that WE will make New York on time.

[Interestingly enough Vicky did manage to keep up with us and managed a top speed greater than had been advertised. That said she was still incredibly slow!]
Title: 11 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 11, 2009, 10:01 AM
I've got a cold! I expect sympathy! It started with a sore throat a couple of days ago and has now developed into a blocked yet runny nose a cough and the sneezes. I took a Lemsip this morning before going down to the gym; another mid morning and a third after lunch before going to bed for the afternoon. I've been in bed since then and haven't got much more to add to my earlier "news" about the Vicky.

Except ? She's still with us. Our speed has gone up to over 22 knots and the Victoria is managing to keep up. Why do I suspect that Cunard weren't being entirely truthful when they said her maximum speed was only 19 knots? I suppose a top speed of 23 knots is slightly faster but it's still slow!

The time is now 5-30pm; we've reached 23 knots (!) and the Vicky is starting to drop behind. I wonder how much later she'll be arriving in New York than us.

It's now 6-30pm and our speed's dropped to 19 knots. Vicky is now noticeably behind us although not for long as, whilst I've been typing this paragraph our speed's dropped to 18.8 knots and is still falling ?

6-40pm and we're back at 23 knots again! The Vicky is by our side. Our speed is still increasing - you can feel the added vibrations and hear the extra creaking as more engines come online?.

Service at dinner was fast; very fast. Almost, but not quite, too fast. The food was good and hot exactly what it should have been. Matthew was asking if the service improved since the earlier days. The answer would have to be "in parts". We still waited 25 minutes to get a drink in the Chart Room today; a sheet from the pursers still came out with the deadline of Saturday 11th January 2007; today's Daily Programme still gives details about passing through US Immigration if you are getting a Cunard bus to either Gatwick or Heathrow! However David Pepper has been much quieter (we've stopped watching him on TV in the morning and there haven't been any ports for him to make announcements about); Service in the restaurant has, on the whole been better and we've been able to get a table for afternoon tea.

As we head off to bed the Vicky is still alongside and still doing 22 knots. When we get up we can look forward to another day on this slow crossing to New York!
Title: 12 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 12, 2009, 07:42 AM
The 12th is another very short report so I've included the 13th as well. On the 12th I was still recovering from my cold and didn't write very much :)
Title: 12 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 12, 2009, 07:42 AM
Oh dear. Was I Saying that I thought service had improved? At breakfast we got our fruit juice and starter very quickly then everything stopped, for about 15 minutes. When the main breakfast did arrive the pancakes and bacon were cold and the poached eggs overcooked.

On the first couple of days of this crossing our cabin was serviced first thing. Yesterday it wasn't touched until after lunch. It's 11-45am and it still hasn't been serviced. Consistency certainly isn't something this ship goes in for!

Just before lunch we bumped into a friend in the Chart Room. We invited her back to try a drop of malt whisky. The party broke up at 7-00pm when it was time to go for dinner. Kathy - I got your email and decided to follow your advice, except I didn't bother about the tea, honey or lemon!

I feel full of cold. As tomorrow is an early start we were in bed with the lights out by 10-00pm (and remember the clocks go back an hour as well)!
Title: 12 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 12, 2009, 07:43 AM
Finally, after a very slow crossing, we arrive in New York :)

We were up very early this morning. The ship was expected to lead both the QM2 and the Vicky under the Verazano Narrows Bridge at 4-30 this morning. We, along with half the passengers, were on deck for this time although the ship was running slightly behind time and didn't pass under the bridge until turned 5-00am. By 6-00am we'd passed the Statue of Liberty and were preparing to dock.

The restaurants opened at 6-00am for breakfast so we went and got something to eat before returning to the cabin to shower and get dressed properly. At 7-40am there had been a call saying that the gangway would be available until 9-00am and from 9-30. At 8-55am there was an announcement saying that the gangway would remain open past 9-00am. We were just putting our coats on to leave the boat at 9-25am and there was another announcement - the gangway would be closed because of queues until further notice. We eventually got off the ship at about 10-00am.

Our first stop was the Empire State Building. We had bought tickets in advance and were intending to go either today, in April or in October. As today was a sunny day with clear skies we decided that we'd chance it today. [it was just as well we did – there was fog in April and we didn’t go in October] We were glad we did - the views are spectacular (we were also glad we'd bought queue jumper tickets as the queues were spectacular as well, although not as bad when we went up as they were for ascending when we were coming down).

The ESB nicely filled the morning meaning that there was just enough time to have a coffee at Grand Central before heading to the Rockefeller Center to meet Paul's friends and have lunch. As it was the last performance of the season for NYGASP (New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players) they had arranged a backstage tour and then seats for The Pirates of Penzance.

We had expected only to be able to stay for the first half hour but, as the ship's sailing had been rescheduled we were able to stay for the entire show. The performance was very good but it did not show the New York audience in a good light. They would lean forward in their seats, chatter and wander about throughout the whole performance and, when it came to the end most of the audience were out of their seats and on the way out before the curtain had come down. I suspect this is a cultural difference (In London only a few people would be on their feet before the house lights came up and many would stay in their seats until the orchestra had finished playing).

We got back to the ship just after 6-00pm and luckily decided to get showered and changed before we went on deck to see the fireworks. They were late starting. Very late. 7-15pm (the official time) came and went. It started to rain about 7-45pm and by 8-15pm the crowds on deck had almost vanished. The fireworks started about 8-20pm. They were OK, but they weren't worth getting soaked to the skin for. Before they'd finished the heavens opened and I headed off to the cabin to leave my wet coat and then to dinner.

David Pepper, who had been very quiet on the transatlantic leg was back on the tannoy telling everyone what fantastic entertainment he'd got lined up for this evening. I'm sure that I'm not the only person onboard who would miss an important announcement from that man because every announcement he's made so far has been useless, confusing or both!

At 10-00pm there was the initial pre-meeting meet of those Cruise Critics who were on for the section from New York. I said a brief hello and then headed off to bed - It had been a very long day.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Scott Ebersold on Jun 12, 2009, 03:46 PM
Hey Malcolm.  I'm not sure what happened at that Gilbert & Sullivan show.  I work in theater in here in NY and customarily audience members don't talk or move about or get up before the final curtain call (other than for the now obligatory Broadway standing ovation).  The only exception would be the septuagenarian set who are rushing off to get to their cars before the rest of the crowd.   :o
Title: 13 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 13, 2009, 10:03 AM
Despite yesterday being such a tiring day we were both awake early (think 5-30am)! I was at the gym for just before 7-00am (it was already open so I was able to make an early start). I got back to the cabin just as our tea and fruit juice arrived.

Paul said he wasn't bothered about breakfast so I quickly pulled on some clothes and headed off to breakfast saying that I'd shower etc when I got back. I enjoyed breakfast (Blueberry pancakes with a Minute steak on the side) and was back in the cabin less than half an hour later. I sat on the bed meaning to get ready for the shower and then thought how comfortable the bed was. It was 10-40am when Paul woke up and woke me to tell me that the lecture I wanted to go to started in 20 minutes. After a hurried shower and even quicker dressing I made the lecture just as David Pepper was introducing Peter Crimes so I didn't miss anything.

Once the lecture was over it was back to the cabin to pick up our washing before heading off to the launderette. Paul wasn't there but as I'd thought today should be fairly quite I thought I'd go on my own. How wrong we had been - the launderette was packed. Four of the twelve washers and a dryer were out of order which made the jam worse but I managed to be able to secure two washing machines next to each other for our clothes. I set both machines going and tried to find somewhere out of the way to stand.

I glanced at one machine and that was doing fine; I was not so lucky with the other one unfortunately. There was water pouring out of the bottom of the machine. I opened the lid and the thing was full to the top with hot soapy water. Although the machine had stopped when the lid was opened water kept pouring onto the floor which was already a couple of inches deep in water, fluff and hair! The telephone extension to call for assistance was always engaged and the pursers said they would send someone but nobody turned up. In the end I went to find one of the cabin stewards from the cabins in that area and he was able to organise someone to clear up the water. When it came to dealing with the machine that had flooded the water level had dropped; when it was restarted it ran with no problem.

Then there was a shortage of driers. One girl pushed in front of me in the queue. When she realised what she had done she was so apologetic. She insisted in removing her things from the dryer so that I could use it. I was pleased by that as I'd just secured a second drier for the delicate fabrics. She asked if I would put her things in the drier when I'd finished - I was more than happy to do that.

Whilst things were drying I realised that I'd not got any hangers to put the shirts on and went back to the cabin to get some. Paul was there and straight away offered to come down and help. He started (and finished) ironing whilst I stood guard over our driers. The ironing room was also full with the exception of the two irons that weren't working. By the time we left the launderette there was a queue out of the door with people waiting for machines.

There seems to be a lot of things that aren't working at the moment on this ship. Not only are a substantial number of machines in the launderette not working but neither are two of the four lifts at E or one of the two at G.

As I am still recovering from my cold I decided I wouldn't go swimming this afternoon so we decided to attend our first FOD meeting of the WC. I must admit that it was better than the meeting we attended before Christmas but only because there was nobody else there! We might give it another try later in the cruise but I doubt we'll be going again in a hurry.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: highlander0108 on Jun 13, 2009, 02:03 PM
NYC Arrival
Title: 15 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 14, 2009, 10:34 AM
Last night we were in bed by 11-30pm. We were both up before I went to the gym this morning. We were both up and about when the tea arrived. We were at breakfast by 8-10am. Then we came back to the cabin and went back to bed. We finally left the cabin at 11-50am! That's what days at sea are all about - relaxing and taking life easy. (That we have now slowed down to fewer than 15 knots to allow the Vicky to keep up also encourages slothfulness)

After lunch I went to see the concierge about various things but one of which was that I had received a welcome letter to the WC party in New York but Paul hadn't. Lisa thought that it was probably because she'd referred to Mr Kelly and Mr Kelly's parents - as no direct reference was made to Mr Howarth he'd been missed off. She promised to get us all invites to the Fort Lauderdale party.

Although sunny the weather on deck is still quite chilly. Today is the first day the pool on one deck has had the safety netting removed. There have been a few people in it but very few. My cold has meant that I've missed swimming for the past few days, as it's now nearly better I decided I'd start again. When I got to deck 7 the gym was busy but the pool was empty. When I got in the pool it was very cold and I put this down as the reason. After I'd been swimming for 50 lengths (it sounds a lot but a length is only 7.5 meters) two more people joined me. By the time I'd reached 70 lengths there were eight people in the pool and two more just about to get in. I gave up! I hope that tomorrow will be quieter - when it's a port day and everyone can go to the beach.

We got a very nice package from our travel agent today. It contained a welcome aboard letter from a couple who are hosting a group on this cruise and details of five free shore excursions. None of the excursions are for ports where we had planned a Cunard trip although a couple of the ports are where we had planned to see the main sights. Having read the details carefully I think we'll go with the tours and not on our own as the tours look to be very good.

Tonight was the first night since Madeira that it's been warm enough to sit out on deck. We had our first post dinner drink in the Chart Room and then moved out on deck. One thing we've found is, with the soft drinks package, that they only have one size of plastic beaker. If you get a drink in a glass it is a smaller glass than their usual soft drinks; if you ask for a plastic beaker to use on deck you get the normal size. Is it really worth it for 1/4 can of lemonade?
Title: 16 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 15, 2009, 09:31 AM
It's 5-30am. I've been awake since 4-00am and I'm now sitting in the Pavilion drinking tea and catching up on emails. Before we sailed Cunard told us that we would get four hours each for the Christmas trip and another four hours for the entire World Cruise. These hours would not be transferrable and any left from Christmas could not be used on the WC. So I got four hours for Christmas and then I’m getting four hours per sector. These hours are cumulative so at the moment I'm still working on my transatlantic hours and haven't touched the ones for this sector yet. What's more World Club points are upgraded at the end of each sector so when I move to Diamond I should get eight hours! I've more internet time than I know what to do with!

One thing that I've been asked to mention is the dimensions of the pools. The inside pool is "just under 8 meters long" which I've taken to mean about 7.5m although it's difficult to be too accurate as both ends are curved. The pool is slightly narrower than it is long (I'd guess only by 1 to 1.5 meters) but there are steps down into the shallow end that reduced the effective width by 1/3. The outside pool is of similar dimensions but without the steps. Neither pool is open 24 hours a day (as 1 deck pool was at one time). Deck 7 pool is only available gym times - 7-00am until 8-00pm and 1 Deck Pool is covered from mid evening until 8-00am.

The daily programme has changed from reading "Daybreak with David" to "Wake-up with Warren". As the programme is recorded the previous evening I'm not sure why David Pepper couldn't do it (although I'm very pleased he didn't). As Warren Smith was still to board he couldn't host the programme so we had the Assistant CD and one of the Cunard Singers and Dancers fronting the show. Their presentation and liveliness was far superior to anything David Pepper managed over the past month. The show was enjoyable and something I would recommend others to watch.

Today we are in Fort Lauderdale. We booked tickets for the shuttle bus that ran between the QE2, the Vicky, the Beach and the Galleria shopping mall. My mother was able to take her mobility scooter on the bus and that meant that both my parents are able to go to the mall and look at the shops.

As we left the ship security tried to scan my ID card. The code wouldn't scan and the number had to be entered manually. This had also happened in New York - I had been told to check with the pursers to ensure my card would work at all future ports. I did but they obviously didn't!

The mall was interesting. It was very clean and relatively quiet. (Am I damning with faint praise here?) However in a lot of the shops it was hard to believe that Christmas was over there was so much Christmas merchandise on sale. Other shops had great empty areas and gave the impression that they were only opening because they had to. In one shop the assistant asked me where everyone had come from and seemed surprised that there were two ships in.

One thing that did surprise us about the shops was that they all offered to charge our credit cards in sterling. The reason for this wasn't clear until we got home and checked our receipts. The US Merchant Services charges 3% commission for this service. If you have a card that does not charge you for foreign transactions you are far cheaper making the transaction in the local currency and letting your bank convert it.

Once we'd finished at the mall we caught the bus back to the QE2, on to the Vicky and then to the beach. If you allow for the weather the beach area is very reminiscent of Scarborough's Foreshore (without the fruit machines) out of season. There are a few Fish and Chip shops (Crab and Burger in FL), a few tea shops (Bars) and lots of shops selling tourist tat! It is worth walking back from this area into the more residential areas where you can see all the boats and canals that got the area called the Venice of America.

We didn't find the area so entrancing that we missed the final of the World Cruise Welcome parties. There were only about 20 people in total there. They must have been expecting more as there were about sixty glasses of something that has been cold and fizzy and was now warm and flat poured out ready. We didn't go for that of course but availed ourselves of the free bar. There was no difficulty at all in obtaining a second drink. Likewise with the canapés - there were about six trays for the party - It quite made up for having missed lunch!

Both Paul and my mother were rather "tired" after the party and went to lie down (separately!) whilst my father and I went on deck to watch us sail. We were due to sail at 4-30pm but, by that time, there was still a load of stores that needed to be loaded from the dockside. We went and had afternoon tea (in the QGL - plenty of space) and returned to deck to watch the Vicky sail at 5-30pm. It really is astonishing that she needs no tugs or anything to help her get out of a tight space.

We gave up waiting for us to sail and went to get dressed for dinner. It's just as well as we didn't sail that evening until turned 8-00pm. Mother didn't come to dinner - her back and shoulders have been playing up and she said that she could sit still for that length of time. As we were leaving dinner I asked the Maitre D' about the brochure's statement that one could order from the full menu in the cabin. I was told that if you ring room service and ask for a menu they will bring one and take your order. They will then bring the food. As I was already in the restaurant I took a menu and phoned the order through. It arrived as promised.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Rob Lightbody on Jun 15, 2009, 07:54 PM
NYC Arrival

Title: 17 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 16, 2009, 10:19 AM
It’s got so that I don't even know what day it is now! I have enough to do remembering that today and tomorrow are at sea, then Barbados and then more days at sea. Now that we've lost the Vicky and the speed has increased the journey is much more pleasant and the seas seem less rough.

We met father at breakfast who told us that mother didn't sleep at all well last night and was going to see the doctor when father got back from breakfast. Meanwhile Paul returned to the cabin whilst I went to a couple of today's activities.

The first was the lecture on Barbados by Dr Crimes. His lecture was good and has convinced us that Bridgetown is worth visiting and not just passing through. My opinion of Dr Crimes’ lectures has improved greatly. I was in the balcony and did not see the stalls, however I was surprised at how few people there were there - the balcony was less than 1/4 full.

The second activity was a talk about the "New Cunard World Club" and how the changes in categories would affect members. They told us that Diamond Members could have a free lunch in Todd English; someone from the audience has to point out that there wasn't a Todd English on the QE2. They reiterated several times that the inclusive minutes were not cumulative - I am sending this using minutes from the transatlantic leg! They then started to go through the various problems people had been having buying minutes. At this point I gave up and left!

I went to visit mother after that and see what the doctor had said. He has given her some paracetamol to ease the pain and given her a couple of Valium tablets to help her sleep. As the pain in her shoulders has only started since we changed cabins he has suggested trying a different variety of pillow. Mother now looks a lot happier.

This afternoon was the second official Cruise Critic meeting (There have also been two unofficial ones). It is nice to be able to meet up with people on the same trip as you and discuss tips, hints and general gossip! The last of the full world cruisers joined in Fort Lauderdale; it is a pity they didn't come to the meeting.

The activity for the afternoon was swimming - the sunny weather hasn't driven all the people who like to splash about outside. The pool still attracted a fair number of splashers. There was one who insisted on swimming half widths when the other two serious swimmers were doing lengths. She got in everyone's way most of the time!

Mother ordered dinner in the cabin again last night - her shoulders are still causing a lot of pain - whilst Paul and I took father to the Captain's Cocktail Party and then on to dinner.

After dinner Paul and I were able to sit outside the Yacht Club and have a drink before retiring to bed. The clocks go forward again tonight so that means today was only a 23 hour day - something we'll feel in the morning.
Title: 18 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 17, 2009, 08:18 AM
I've been thinking hard about what to write today. It's not that nothing's happened just that nothing worthy of comment has happened. We've gone to meals - the food and service has been good but not exceptional, we've drunk in the bars - again service has been fine but not exceptional, we've slept - our bed is very comfortable though!

One thing of note and that thing I only attended out of the duty of research for Cruise Critic (!) was the "Buccaneer Ball". (When I say "attended" I mean that I walked through the Queens Room on two separate occasions to see what was happening!)

Before the ball this evening I didn't see anyone in the restaurant in fancy dress at all (I only saw two people wearing fancy dress in the restaurant for the ball on the Christmas Cruise). I did see one man coming out of the Mauritania with a scarf tied round his head but that was it.

Several of the cruise staff were in costume - I assume that was because it was part of their job rather than because they wanted to dress up.

If you did not know that it was a themed ball you could quite easily miss it if you were in the Queens Room, if you were elsewhere on the ship you would have no idea that it was happening.
Title: 18 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 17, 2009, 08:19 AM
The 18th was only short so here's the 19th as well :)
Title: 19 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 17, 2009, 08:20 AM
Barbados today. In 40 years I visit Barbados three times. Once 15 years ago and the last twice within the past three weeks! The island must really have something to bring me back so quickly!

I was the only one of the four of us who made breakfast. Paul missed the meal claiming that he'd eaten too much and my parents that they'd overslept. It didn't matter; their abandonment meant a nice peaceful breakfast and a relatively late start.

We weren't tied up in the same place we were last time, within walking distance of the port buildings, but had to catch a shuttle bus (as David Pepper got wrong for our last visit and as the Captain got right for this one) from the boat to the terminal. From there it was a short walk to a long queue. We wondered if this was the queue for taxis but the taxi pick up point was to the left - the queue was for the shuttle to town.

We wanted to do something different this time and rejected the offer of a normal taxi tour saying that we wanted to see the Concord exhibition, a Plantation house and finally spend some time in Bridgetown.

The Concord part of the trip was well worthwhile. I had emailed the site before we left the UK asking for details of their opening, prices, etc and had got an email back advising that the 29th December would be quieter than the 19th January when there were a lot of groups booked. We therefore went on the 19th! The site was almost deserted. I doubt that there were more than a dozen people looking around when we got there at 11-00am. The entrance fee was US$ 17.50 - not cheap but well worth it.

The visit consisted of three main sections. The first was a brief tour of part of the site followed by a short talk in the rear cabin about the Concord itself and then being shown the front cabin, the cockpit and the exit. The second was an audio/visual display about how the plane broke the sound barrier and how it ended up in Barbados. The third was a chance to wander around and take photographs.

After Concord our taxi took us onto Sunbury Plantation House. A house that was "typical of the great sugar farming houses. Although vaguely interesting it was far more of the second rate tourist trap you might expect from a typical Caribbean island. It had a large buffet restaurant and was geared up for serving groups - it wasn't hard to see why Cunard use it as a lunch stop on their full day tours. We didn't eat there (although we did have a drink), one reason for not eating was that the food we saw didn't look that good.

Our taxi took us back to Bridgetown and dropped us in the centre. The entire trip had lasted just over four hours and had cost US$ 125.00 (plus tip).

Bridgetown is interesting. Don't be put off by Fodors who say that the town is noisy and dirty and not worth visiting - it is, but it is well worth visiting to soak up the atmosphere. The main street is very touristy and not worth spending much time on but the streets just behind it are almost unvisited by tourists and have a very different atmosphere.

We got another drink at a bar overlooking the water and then caught another taxi back to the port. The charge for this was US$ 10.00 which we thought was expensive for a five minute taxi ride. Before returning to the ship we stopped at one of the "duty free" shops in the terminal and topped up our whisky and tobacco supplies.

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Louis De Sousa on Jun 17, 2009, 08:42 AM
Barbados today. In 40 years I visit Barbados three times. Once 15 years ago and the last twice within the past three weeks! The island must really have something to bring me back so quickly!

Barbados.That is the port i used to stock up(booze) for the World Cruise.I was there 10 times and loved every minute of it great memories.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Louis De Sousa on Jun 17, 2009, 08:54 AM
Here i am on my first visit to Barbados in December 1990.
Title: 20 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 18, 2009, 02:41 AM
Another day at sea. Peter Crimes was giving a lecture on Salvador and, before the lecture, we'd decided that Salvador might not be that safe and that we would be as well booking a tour. We booked one for ourselves and got my parents on the waiting list for another (we were told they had requested another coach and that this shouldn't be a problem). There was standing room only at the lecture when Peter Crimes said that he would highly recommend going on a tour in both Salvador and Rio as they were both risky. He said that he had never done other than go on tour in these ports. I imagine that all tours are now sold out and have very long waiting lists!

This was the day for the first Cavalcade for all those on the entire World Cruise. There were only fourteen cabins on the cavalcade although one person missed the meeting so there were only thirteen cabins in total. Most were either M4s or MIs - the differences were quite astonishing, particularly when it came down to the MIs. There was also a CA and our P2 from the "first class" cabins.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 18, 2009, 02:42 AM
As the 20th is only short here's the 21st as well :)
Title: 21 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 18, 2009, 02:44 AM
Just when I thought I couldn't find anything else to write about for a sea day and email Penny, Mary and David to say so something happens and I feel that I need to write about it!

Peter Crime's lecture on Rio lasted for about 35 minutes and was OK if you wanted to go up Sugarloaf Mountain, visit the statue of Christ the Redeemer or go to a beach but that was about it. [We managed one out of the three – do you expect more? :D] He did not give details of any of the other things Rio has to offer. I wonder if this is because he's recommended taking a tour and the tours of Rio only go to these places? His talk was of very limited interest to anyone not taking a ship's tour.

Dinner: Service in the Britannia Grill has generally been OK. I still feel that when the service is good it is way above what the restaurants offer (unfortunately a fairly rare occurrence), however when it is bad it is way below average in the Caronia. (When service is bad in the Caronia it is way below the worst the grills can offer!)

Last night started badly. My parents went in to eat about half an hour before Paul and I and were only on their starter when we joined them. It seemed to take ages for them to come and take our order and even longer for the starters to arrive (My parents sat for a lot of this time with their dirty plates in front of them before their soup arrived).

We finished our starter (which was overcooked) and our plates were cleared before my parents finished their soup. When they had finished their soup and their plates were cleared and, after a short wait, they were served with their main course. They had almost finished this before ours’ arrived.

When we had finished our main course we left although my parents stayed for pudding and coffee. The two courses had taken over an hour to get through and we were never offered a bread roll for the entire meal! I am not complaining about the lack of bread rolls, just citing it as a physical example of the way the restaurant seemed panicked last night.

The grills still have the advantage of getting the bigger cabins but I wouldn't book grill for the food alone (and in both C1 and C2 you still get a fair sized cabin).

When we returned to our cabin this evening there was another small "gift" on the bed waiting for us. An A3 planner for January showing where we were and on what day, what the dress code is for each night and other useful information. At least it would have been useful if the calendar had arrived at the start of the month - now that it's almost over there doesn't seem much point!

We're due to cross the equator at about 3-00am so this will probably be the first email I send from the southern hemisphere!
Title: 22 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 19, 2009, 11:01 AM
We crossed the equator at about 5-30am. There was no fuss and no announcement. I only know that was the time because Paul was up and he noted the event.

At midday there was a ceremony involving Neptune to mark the occasion and to initiate all pollywogs into the ranks of Shellbacks! The Daily Programme said that participating in the event was obligatory for anyone who hadn't crossed the equator before and that all participants should wear swimming costumes, sun lotion and hats. Needless to say we did not participate! We didn't even get to see the ceremony as Deck One Lido, the section of Quarter Deck outside the Lido and Upper Deck outside the Yacht Club were all three deep with spectators. That did mean that the rest of the ship was fairly quiet.

I went and found a table in the Chart Room where I sat and read until midday when I went looking for Paul to go for lunch. It was while I was looking for Paul that I made an important discovery - who it is that likes Pol Acker and has made it the drink of choice for Cunard. I had walked right round Boat Deck and was standing waiting for a lift at "A" stairway. There were a couple of stewards unloading boxes from a trolley and carrying them into the Wardroom. All except for two boxes; one containing tins of Heineken and the other bearing the label "CAPTAIN" containing 12 bottles of PA! It is McNaught that likes the stuff. It is obvious that Cunard only carries it so that he can be sure that his favourite tipple is onboard!

The ship is very warm. On deck it's very warm (low 30s) and humid, inside it's less humid but almost as warm. The air-conditioning has definitely been fixed - it's stopped blowing bits of soot now. Unfortunately it's not capable of reducing the temperature the way it used to.

After dinner there was time for a drink outside the Yacht Club before the show - magician Jamie Allen - he is quite good but only has one show. As he was on over Christmas the show had lost a lot of its appeal.

Off to bed then as the clocks go on an hour tomorrow morning - I'm surprised that Brazil is only three hours behind the UK.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: highlander0108 on Jun 20, 2009, 05:46 AM
NYC Arrival


Our favorite Captain's silloette in the middle.  :)  For me, that was quite a first time arrival on QE2 into NYC for me.  I think I got all of 2 hours sleep that night and it was bone chilling cold. 
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 20, 2009, 02:21 PM
I think I got all of 2 hours sleep that night and it was bone chilling cold. 

I remember that we had to be up very early and that it was very cold as well. We were up early for the New York arrival at the end of the WC but when it came to her arrival in New York as part of the Autumn Colours Trip we just stayed in bed!
Title: 23 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 20, 2009, 02:24 PM
We went to the Funnel Bar mid morning to sit and read and to ensure that we got a table in the shade. There was drinking water available until 11-00am when the bar opened. Paul and I are trying to drink the ship dry of Diet Sprite and Ginger Beer!

There were the normal messages from the Captain and First Officer we were sitting at the table nearest the bar and in the back row. The woman at the table in front suddenly pointed to the BBQ and said it was setting fire to the bulkhead. Various bar stewards and chefs told each other about the problem and one of then threw a jug of water over it. There was then an urgent announcement from the bridge calling for an assessment party to attend the Funnel Bar. Within 60 seconds a group of officers had attended to see what was wrong. By that time the fire was out although the message to stand down wasn't given until 15 minutes later.

We are now left with a number of chefs and waiters walking round the BBQ and wondering how they are going to serve lunch!

Last night, when we went for dinner, our waiters asked us if we'd been to the party. We asked "What party?" and assumed that it was just one that we'd not been invited to. Tonight we met my parents in the Chart Room for a drink before dinner. There was a party in the Queens Room and Paul went to see what it was. It was the World Club Party. We'll have to find out why we didn't get an invite. [It’s odd, at this stage I wasn’t concerned that we had missed out on a free party – there’d be lots more, I only wondered why we hadn’t been invited this time]

Another disappointment was the World Cruise Gift for this sector. We got back to our cabin this evening to find cards on the bed telling us that the baseball caps accompanying them were the gifts. It is just as well that the cards were there - otherwise we would have thought that they were just some more of the tat that's often left on the bed! (I'm sounding ungrateful but I thought the WC gifts were normally something special (they're not truly gifts as the cost of them will be included in the fare)).
Title: 24 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 21, 2009, 11:14 AM
Today was a port day - Salvador de Bahia - it was nice to be off the ship. As previously mentioned we had booked a tour as Peter Crimes had said that Salvador needn't be that safe. For that reason we had also booked my parents on another tour that was "designed for guests who prefer little or no walking".

Brazilian customs didn't turn out to clear the ship so that resulted in a delay of over an hour before we could get off. The Tour Office were very good however, making sure that the theatre didn't get overcrowded by starting to use other public rooms as waiting rooms, ensuring those who were in the theatre had a seat if they wanted one and keeping the waiting crowd informed by making an announcement every five minutes.

Paul and I had one of the best tours we have ever experienced from Cunard (and one of the cheapest at US$ 35.00 for a four hour tour). Our coach started by driving from the lower city to the upper city with our guide pointing out various important landmarks, until we arrived at the top of the lift that links the two halves of the city. From there we saw the view over the bay before walking through the old town to both the Cathedral and the church of St Francis. Both were stunning. After that we had half an hour of free time and were advised that the jewellers, H Stern, offered both free refreshments and the cleanest washrooms in that area. From there we walked through the Pelourinho District to rejoin our coach. Returning to the ship the coach made a brief stop at the San Antonio fortress to allow us to photograph both it and the beach it guarded.

My parents had a totally different experience. They went to the Theatre and were told to go to the Grand Lounge (remember this is a tour for those who "prefer little or no walking". They spent two hours there before their bus was called. There were only two announcements made during that time one was to say that the buses wouldn't have a toilet aboard (imagine the stampede that caused by those who required a tour with little or no walking!) and the second that there would be a walk of twice the ship's length (in reality it was far more than that) to get to the coaches. When my father asked about the possibility of wheelchair access he was told that "it's too late now", "you should have asked days ago".

My parents were not happy with the contents of the tour itself. As I wasn't on it I can't comment on that and just sum up some of their more major complaints: Over an hour of a two hour tour was spent queuing in traffic; the bus went along the same road several times; they couldn't understand most of what the guide was saying; they couldn't see that well from the coach.

We've just had lunch with my parents. The tour had upset my mother so much that she was in tears as she told us about it. My father was just angry; both at the quality of the tour and the way the Tour Office had treated my mother. I believe that my parents did get a rough deal with the tour and that it is just another example of the inconsistency of Cunard!

After lunch we went to see Lisa, the World Cruise concierge about our not getting invites to the parties of the last couple of nights. Apparently this trip counts as one cruise from the perspective of parties (unlike the internet minutes) so we can only expect one senior officers party on one of the segments. Likewise the World Club party although we should get a Wardroom party! [we never did]

After a cup of tea (OK and a slice of New York cheesecake!) in the cabin I went swimming. It was fine at first, for 20 lengths. There were a couple of other people in but the pool can cope with three people. Then this big, fat, woman got in. I think she was from the US although as she spoke with both a US and a German accent it was difficult to tell (as she was speaking English I'd guess American). She swam about half a length and bobbed about whilst I swam another ten lengths. As I was turning she stopped me to thank me for not splashing - I wish I'd thanked her for keeping out of the way, it would have been easier in the long run.

By the time I'd got to 40 lengths she was talking to the other couple in the shallow end. A woman came in to swim lengths. Between us we were able to use about 1/3 of the width as those three chatting were using up the rest. They kept up talking until I'd got to 117 and was fed up of having to swim round them. As soon as I'd got out they expanded to occupy the whole of the width.

I'd gone swimming early because we had the first cocktail party organised through our agent at 5-00pm. It was very much like any other Cunard party except for the numbers there (only about 30) and the drinks (no Pol Acker, just proper drinks). The reps, Glen Peters and his wife, were able to tell us a bit about Ensemble Travel: who they were, where they were based and how to book through them (but still using your existing agent, NOT directly. They gave the impression of being a very competently organised association.

Glen then went on to talk about the tour in Rio tomorrow. He was able to confirm that my mother will be able to take her mobility scooter and the arrangements for getting her on and off the ship.

The tour as originally offered did not include either Sugarloaf Mountain or the statue of Christ the Redeemer. Glen was able to tell us that the tour had now been amended to include a trip up Sugarloaf and a glass of Champagne.

Title: 25 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 22, 2009, 04:11 PM
Another sea day. It's nice to feel that you're in the familiar and safe surroundings after yesterday (not that we ever felt unsafe in Salvador - just that you very quickly become institutionalised onboard).

Yesterday both Paul and I forgot to take our hats as we left the cabin and then couldn't be bothered to go back and get them. Last night I felt a bit headachy and Paul said he felt he'd had too much sun. The clocks went on again last night so we had an early bedtime and I slept well; Paul didn't and as a result has dozed until about midday. He's taken a couple of paracetamol but still looks half asleep.

Peter Crimes has given another destination lecture - this time on Montevideo - that was very well attended. The lecture was far more encompassing than the one on Rio and has given the impression that Montevideo is a large and relatively safe city with lots of interesting buildings but nothing that's outstanding.

The ship has been much cooler this morning. Since boarding, mid-December it has ranged from warm to stifling with the exception of the odd area (such as a couple of metres or corridor or by the doors from the Yacht Club onto the deck), we haven't had our cabin thermostat set above minimum in the past six weeks. Our Assistant Restaurant Manager solved the problem at lunchtime however. Apparently the air-conditioning was shut down entirely yesterday mid morning and should now be working properly.

After lunch I went to sit on deck. It was warm although slightly overcast. Now that we are heading away from the equator again it is starting to get cooler although the term cooler is relative - it is still far warmer than it will be in the UK! There was still sufficient sun to be able to see shadows on the deck and for me to want to find a chair out of it. Suddenly it started spotting with rain and within 30 seconds had turned into a downpour. The decks emptied incredibly quickly. I retreated to the Boardroom to finish these notes. I've just looked out and the sky is blue and the sun shining. When I've finished my coffee I might go back outside!

The sun stayed out. At least until Paul met me on deck and then we both retired for afternoon tea! Only two sandwiches and one cake - I am still trying to control me weight!

According to the Daily Programme today was "Burns Day". I have never heard of a day for Robbie Burns, just the night (and I thought that was the 24th)! Here nothing was done to mark the day until evening though and then only in the menu. I started with Haggis, a very nice meaty Haggis although possibly geared to the US taste rather than being authentic; then I had Clam Fishcakes on a bed of Clapshot, these were five large, whole, clams that had been coated in a mixture of breadcrumbs and oats and deep fried then served on a mixture of mashed potato and swede; finally I had Highland Flummery, if you think cold porridge with cold apple sauce you won't be that far off! All in all the meal was very acceptable even if the pudding did leave something to be desired.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 22, 2009, 04:15 PM
I've would like to see all Peter Crimes' lectures again. I suspect that having visited the places I would get far more out of them a second time around. (Equally it might mean that finding mistakes was much easier ;) )
Title: 26 January 2007
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 23, 2009, 12:32 PM
It's five o'clock in the afternoon, we've just got back from our tour of Rio de Janeiro and what a day we've had!

It started at 4-30am when we got up to see our arrival. In his talk on Rio Peter Crimes had said this was one entry we shouldn't miss, in fact everyone we spoke to said that the arrival in Rio was well worth seeing. Unfortunately, on this occasion, they were all wrong. We were on deck by five. As we sailed past them you could just about make out Sugarloaf Mountain and the statue of Christ but dawn didn't arrive until 6-00am so we passed them in the dark. We were tied up by just turned 6-00am. We were back in the cabin by 7-00am and I went for breakfast whilst Paul went back to bed for an hour.

I've received several requests for CC gossip from members not on the cruise. I've always said that there isn't any; now there is! Whilst we were on deck at 4-30am we met up with Leone, Charlie and Jo-Ann. WE also got the opportunity to meet Jo-Ann's new beau. He is called Alan and had latched onto Jo-Ann as soon as she came on deck at 3-00am. When we met him he had obviously had a lot to drink and was having trouble keeping his balance. What he was like when Jo-Ann first met him at 3-00am I hate to think. He left us at 4-45am, claiming sea sickness. What his hangover was like when he woke up I hate to think - I must ask him if I see him again!

Today was the first of a series of complimentary tours we'd got thanks to our travel agent and Ensemble Travel. We were to meet in the Yacht Club at 9-00am. We all got there early which was just as well as we found out that we needed the name badges we'd been given at the first, introductory, cocktail party before they'd allow us to join the group. As neither Paul, my father nor I had brought them we had to race back to our cabins to get them.

Once the entire party was assembled, the hard of movement (over half the group) started to make their way down to the gangway. My mother had been told that she would be able to take her mobility scooter and was already finding that it had saved her walking the length of the ship three times. Once ashore the two groups met up and proceeded to the coach.

The first stop was at the cathedral, a 1960s building in concrete. Although it was starting to show its age and was in need of some repair, it was a very interesting site and a building that very much suited its purpose. Unfortunately we only had about five minutes there - enough time to take a few photographs and look inside the building.

From there we went on to the National Museum and spent the best part of an hour on a guided, whistle-stop, tour. This was the lowlight of the trip. It made us realise that I was the youngest person there; there were only about four who were under fifty and the majority were over seventy. It meant that a vast number of sticks and other walking aids accompanied us wherever we went and that the entire group did everything at an incredibly slow pace.

To describe the museum as "not that interesting" would be kind. The tour overran by 15 minutes and was almost insufferable. The guide appeared to be reading the label on an exhibit and then saying this is whatever. After the museum we wondered if we should just get a taxi and make our own way - we decided not to because the next thing on the agenda was  Sugarloaf Mountain, something we wanted to see anyway, and if entrance fees were paid why pay them again? We made the right decision.

From the museum it was back on our coach and the short drive to the bottom station for Sugarloaf. My mother had intended to leave her scooter on the coach and walk as far as she could however the guide was most insistent that she would be able to take it all the way to the top. She did take it and was very glad she did. We joined the queue for the first cable car whilst my mother and father were taken directly to the front of the queue. The queue wasn't very long and we were able to get the next car up to the first level. We had about five minutes there before being shepherded to the second cable car. Our guide ensured that we were all together as a group and that we were the first to board the next car - ensuring that we all got good views on the journey.

We had about twenty minutes at the top to take pictures before it was time to join the long queue for a car down. Our guide walked along the queue collecting everyone and telling them to wait by the top cable station. He then ensured that the entire group were out on the next car down - saving us a good half hour in time spent queuing.

Back at the midpoint there was a separate area set aside for our group. Here we were served a cocktail consisting of chopped lemons and limes and the local liquor - fermented sugar cane juice. It was a very refreshing and enjoyable drink (not to mention potent) when we were offered a second I didn't refuse. We were then taken to the front of the queue for the lower car and returned to the coach. [I have since found this stuff at Tesco and can confirm that it is as nice drunk at home as it was up Sugarloaf Mountain]

By this time it was about 1-30pm and time for lunch. This had been arranged at a local restaurant, the Julieta de Serpa, in a wealthy man's palace built in 1910. I believe this is one of the better restaurants of Rio. We started with a glass of sparkling wine and then went onto a three course meal with more wine. The service could have been a little faster and the main course quite a lot hotter but it still was a very good meal. After lunch there was a tour round a couple of the public rooms there before it was time to reboard the coach and head back to the ship.

Once back on board Paul went to sleep whilst I spent some time writing up today's happenings. When it was time to go and meet my parents for dinner Paul didn't want to know so I left him to sleep and headed off to meet them. They were both very tired. Mother managed half a glass or orange juice and father managed to order a tomato juice before they headed back to their cabin. I had dinner on my own; it was wonderful not having to wait for anyone else.

After dinner I headed back to the cabin where Paul was just starting to come round. By 9-00pm Paul and I headed to the Chart Room for a couple of lemonades before going to the "Folkeloric Show" in the Grand Lounge. We were not sailing until late so there was only the one show this evening, at 9-45pm, and it was packed. Every seat was taken on the lower level and the balcony was three or four people deep all the way round. The show was very similar to the show that had been put on in Barbados which in turn was very similar to one I'd seen in Curacao 15 years previously. The show was only something to fill an evening in port. Had there been somewhere else to go I would have gone there.

Once the show was over we headed back to the cabin. As Paul had missed dinner he was starting to feel hungry and ordered a couple of courses from room service. I couldn't leave him to eat on his own so I joined in with his repast. We were due to sail at 11-00pm, we hadn't by 11-30pm - the time at which I fell asleep, exhausted. Paul tells me that he didn't get to bed until 2-00am the following morning.
Title: 27 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 24, 2009, 07:54 AM
I was woken by the alarm at 6-40am and was in the gym by 6-50am. I was back in the cabin by 7-40am in time for the tea to arrive. Once I'd had my tea I went back to bed and slept until 11-00am! Paul talked about going to breakfast on his own but then decided that he wasn't really that hungry.

We are sitting at the Funnel Bar at the moment drinking lemonade. The bar man has just put out a display of Auchentoschen malt whisky. It is a limited edition of 1000 and is marked for the farewell Season of the QE2. At US$ 59.00 it is not expensive - it is just a pity that Auchentoschen is not that good a whisky. [This spelling of Auctentoshan was queried in the original blog. The bar sign was definitely spelt –shen although the correct spelling on the bottle is –shan]

We have bought four bottles of the whisky. I was wrong - it isn't for the Farewell Season but the 40th Anniversary Season. I wonder why the barman has only just put it out at his point. Why wasn't it on sale for the Christmas cruise as well? I'm fairly sure that we haven't seen it before although as the barman has now moved the display to an almost out of sight position behind the bar I'm not too sure.

After lunch it was back to bed for both of us. I slept until 5-00pm when I went swimming. I feel so much better for a full day's sleep! Whilst we were asleep we missed something - the ship stopped! Apparently the captain came on the PA system and said that the problem would take an hour to fix; an hour and a half later he came on the tannoy again to say that the problem had been fixed and that we would now use our additional speed to catch up with our intended position and asking us not to tell anyone concerned with the Vicky know we'd had a problem. So please don't tell them!
Title: 28 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 24, 2009, 07:55 AM
The 27th was a fairly short entry so here's the 28th as well.
Title: 28 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 24, 2009, 07:55 AM
Paul is ill (and I am feeling hard done by, hence my way of starting!) He's had a cough and a wheezy chest for a few days but, as he'd didn't come to bed, 2-00am, he woke me up several times in the night and he was asleep when I got back from the gym, things were far worse this morning. If I wasn't a man and if I didn't believe that he does feel poorly I would call it "man flu"!

Peter Crimes was lecturing on Port Stanley at 11-00am. To ensure I got a good seat (and for something to do) I also went to the Tours Lecture for Easter Island, Tahiti and Tonga. Rather more interesting than normal as most of the tours are already full and they had to give more of a talk about the places themselves. It still wasn't that interesting!

It's been a week since we last did any washing and we had set today for our trip to the launderette. We had quite a lot of washing and mother had said she wanted to come with us so when Paul said that he didn't feel up to it I felt that I should really go on my own. What a mistake.

The launderette was busy. Every washer apart from one was in use. I put my whites into that (think of it as washer two) and set it going. A second machine soon came free and I was able to set mother going with hers’. About ten minutes later the washer immediately to the left of the one I'd started with (washer one) came free and I used it for our coloured load.

I had taken our washing in a black holdall (as normal) and had left it on the top of washer two when I'd filled machine one. When I went to check on machine two I moved it towards machine one; this old, scrawny, American, woman shouted out "keep your dirtbag off that machine". I replied to say that I was just moving it to check the machine so she said “keep your dirtbag off that machine". I said I wasn't going to argue and left her grumbling.

My mother (remember she's 81 and has difficulty walking) moved towards a recently vacated seat. This same woman shouted out that there was someone sitting there and would not let her sit down (The person who had been sitting there had just collected her stuff and taken it out of the launderette). Whilst my mother was being harangued someone else took the seat.

One lady had forgotten which dryer she had put her clothes in. When she went to check one dryer the old woman went mad saying that it was her stuff and that it should be left alone. Almost everyone else in the laundry room commented that this was not a very pleasant woman and the room would be much happier when she left. The (apocryphal?) story about two men having a fight in the launderette and then being put off the ship was told and we agreed that this woman could start a fight like that! [More, a lot more about this woman later!]

As I was the only one doing our washing I couldn't both watch the drier and do the ironing. Someone opened our drier twice and didn't start it again when they closed it.

Every iron was in use. Whoever designed that room designed it for right handed people. They never gave any thought to what it would be like to be left handed and have to iron buttock to buttock with another user!

That said I went back half an hour later to iron the clothes where the door had been opened and the room was quiet. There were lots (four or five) free washers and driers and the ironing room was almost empty.

Doing the washing today took 3 1/2 hours. It took so long that I even missed lunch! I was pleased that I was in time to make up for it by having a large afternoon tea. (I also managed two puddings at dinner ;)  )

Now is a point where I would like to add a note that I am not mentioning everything. For example we did visit the launderette last week but it was fairly quiet and nothing noteworthy happened. I have just received an email commenting on my remarks about service in the Britannia Grill. I must say that the waiters have now started serving Paul and I and my parents as two separate groups and the speed of service for us has increased greatly.

Mary, Penny and David will wonder what's happened - I've managed to get today's notes out before midnight! Paul retired to bed early (9-30pm) so I'm sitting in the Chart Room catching up.
Title: 29 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 25, 2009, 08:46 AM
Montevideo - what a friendly and unspoilt place Uruguay is. Museums and galleries are free, the streets are safe, and the traders take no for an answer, in fact the whole place has more of an air of Europe about it than South America.

We started the day by taking a taxi with my parents to tour the sites of Montevideo. A normal taxi that would take four but would be very tight was USD 100 for a three hour tour. This came with an English speaking driver who would act as guide. We opted for a bus that would seat up to 14 and cost USD 200 for three hours and came with both a driver and a separate guide.

The tour started by running round the centre of Montevideo and visiting some of the sites there. One thing I would say is that there are no must see sights. The whole city as far more about the atmosphere and the relaxed feeling. As well as visiting the cathedral and several other public areas we visited the Presidential Museum - a museum that charted the history of Uruguay's presidents from gaining independence from Spain until the present day. I will freely admit that this was not a museum that immediately attracted our attention but, once we'd gone in, we were glad we had. It is housed in a wonderful 1930s building. The entrance hall is fantastic (note that I am not commenting on the content of the museum).

The taxi then took us through some of the more affluent areas of Montevideo. Here there were some very nice houses. It's actually unfair to call them houses, the term mansion is more appropriate. We then drove past various monuments in the outskirts of Montevideo before returning to the ship through the diplomatic sector. There was an opportunity to stop at a wool factory which we declined.

The entire tour lasted for just over 3 1/2 hours and was well worth the US$ 200 it had cost. Both the driver and the guide seemed delighted when we said how much we'd enjoyed it and that we tipped at 15%.

For lunch Paul and I went to one of the BBQ restaurants in the old train station near the docks. All the restaurants there come highly recommended and we were tempted to have slightly more than the "light snack" we'd intended. We ended up having a meal that consisted of a couple of pieces of steak, four lamb chops, a quarter sucking pig and copious quantities of BBQ'd vegetables. It was a very nice meal; I'd certainly recommend someone eating their main meal of the day there. Including drinks the meal cost about GBP 20.00 per person - not bad if you're not planning on having dinner that evening!

After lunch we finished walking through the market at the old train station and then headed back into the old town to photograph some of the buildings we'd seen on our taxi tour. One of the things about Montevideo is that some of the streets are not that attractive - lots of empty buildings, uneven pavements, graffiti, etc; yet the next road can be a very attractive shopping street with some classy shops.

From there it was back to the ship to change before dinner. As we are in port overnight the dress code is "Elegant Casual" and the Daily Programme specifies "No Jeans" yet we still saw four men wearing denim one of whom was eating in the Britannia Grill. A man eating with him was wearing a windproof anorak in lieu of a jacket and there were a lot of men in other parts of the ship who were wearing only a tee shirt or polo shirt with shorts.

It was not just the men. There were a lot of women (we saw about 20) who seemed to think that a tee shirt and shorts fitted in with the description of Elegant Casual.

There was a local group putting on a Tango show after dinner and, having seen how crowded the Grand Lounge had been in Rio, we decided to get there early to ensure a seat. To save time we stopped and had a cold drink in the Golden Lion rather than going down to the
Chart Room. This was my first time in the Golden Lion for several trips and I was amazed at how "second class" it has become. It gives the impression of being a not very good pub from a rundown area of the UK. The entire room reeks of stale cigarette smoke [Remember I am pro the right to choose when it comes to smoking], the scratches on the wooden floor make it look like it's covered in sawdust, There are two large TVs showing pictures but with no sound and often a pianist singing off key! I saw Jo-Ann's Alan sitting at the bar. He was wearing tracksuit bottoms, a tee shirt and open toed sandals; everyone else at the bar was dressed in a similar way! If there is to be an area of the ship where the dress code doesn't apply the Golden Lion would make an ideal venue. I do not believe that anyone who comes on this ship should not be willing to follow the dress code, but if there are people who want to dress down they would be ideally paired with the pub!

We got to the Grand Lounge about fifty minutes before the show was due to start. It was already almost full. After a further five minutes the lounge was full and the balcony was already two deep. We passed the time before the show started by trying to get a steward to get us a drink and then by talking with the Dutch/American couple who were sitting behind us (they were lamenting the poor dress standards).

The show was as it said - 45 minutes of Tango. Interesting but I'm not sure it merited the fifty minute wait before hand. After the show we went to have a drink and sit on deck at the back of the Yacht Club. So far this cruise that area has been fairly quiet and we have never had a problem getting a table. Tonight they had cleared away all the sun loungers and set out another two rows of tables. They were all full. After about five minutes we got two seats at a table when another couple moved away. They had also rigged up a couple of speakers that were piping "music" onto the deck. There appeared to be a problem with these speakers as they kept cutting out - we didn't complain.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 25, 2009, 08:49 AM
We're off on holiday later today for a couple of weeks. We're taking a laptop and have mobile broadband access so I intent to keep posting these journal entries whilst I'm away. IF I have problems with the connection there may be a few days when I can't post - please forgive me :)
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: cunardqueen on Jun 25, 2009, 08:43 PM
Enjoy the holiday, not a cruise is it !!! and enjoying reading again your exploits of the World cruise
 Have Fun
Title: 30 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 26, 2009, 09:06 AM
I've managed to get online this morning :) so I might manage most mornings :)
Title: 30 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 26, 2009, 09:08 AM
We were feeling tired after yesterday and weren't in a rush to get off the ship. In the end we were off at about 9-30am and caught the free shuttle to one of the leather stores. They had quite a range of products and their prices appeared to be very competitive with home. I bought a couple of belts and paid US$ 25.00 each for them; in the UK I would have expected to pay between GBP 20.00 and GBP 30.00 [Remember that the exchange rate was very favourable to us at this time – those belts were cheap].

The leather shop was located in a very down at heel area. I was surprised to see one "lady of the night" plying her trade very much during daylight hours. I hate to think how much busier it will be by night! True to form we only had to walk for a couple of blocks before we came into one of the better shopping streets with lots of cafés and interesting stalls. We stopped at one of these cafés for a coffee and a mineral water. The coffee was unusual (we both had a hard job to finish a cup full) but was served with the most delicious choux balls filled with a vanilla confectioner’s custard. Those alone were worth the US$ 7.00.

After coffee we wandered back to the ship looking at all the interesting styles of architecture. This is a city where you will miss a lot if you don't look up (keep looking down as well or you'll miss your footing). A lot of the buildings have had new fronts at ground level but from first floor up there are the wonderful original facades.

I have caught Paul's cough and bad chest. It isn't very bad at the moment and I'm just hoping it doesn't get any worse. There seems to be a vast number of cold like symptoms passing through the ship - half of the people you speak to either have a cold or cough or are recovering from one. At least it's only cold germs that are passing round the ship - within a closed group far worse things can be passed on.

The dress code this evening was informal (semiformal). The man in denims was wearing them again, as was the man with the anorak. We only saw one other lot of denims being worn although passing through the Golden Lion on the way to the Grand Lounge was an education in what was considered "informal"!

We went for a drink outside the Yacht Club before the show in the Grand Lounge. This time they had cleared the sun loungers and put clothes on the wooden tables but there weren't any extra tables out and the oil lamps of the previous night were replaced with the "electric candles" that we'd last seen on the Christmas trip.

In the past 10 years I have never seen an act in the Grand Lounge that I was aware of off this ship. Tonight I had heard of the comedian - Kelly Monteith. He had been on TV in the UK about 25 years ago and I had a big crush on him then. When his series stopped on TV I forgot about him and was curious to see what the past 25 years had done. It had not been kind. He is now a grey haired old man who looks to be about 70. He looks as if he's filling in his final years working cruise ships before retirement. It is not always good to see your childhood idols much later in life.

My chest is feeling far worse by late this evening. I think it's off to take a couple of paracetamol and then to bed.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Twynkle on Jun 26, 2009, 10:31 AM

Hey Malcolm

Hope you are  having a good holiday - and thank you for keeping us posted!

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 27, 2009, 08:27 AM
Thanks Rosie :) We're touring - so moving on today - I've no idea what the mobile broadband signal will be like then!
Title: 31 January 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jun 27, 2009, 08:28 AM
I woke up at about 2-00am feeling very ill. Last night I had every intention of going to the gym this morning but by 4-00am I'd decided that I wasn't going and had turned the alarm off. I didn't get back to sleep until about 7-00am when I dozed for a couple of hours.

There were three talks on this morning (starting at 10-00am, 11-00am and 12-15pm) that I wanted to hear so by 9-15 it was a case of dragging myself out of bed, into the shower and, dosed with paracetamol, off to the theatre. As the talks were running consecutively they filled the morning quite nicely.

The first talk was be Peter Crimes, on Chilie, and was as usual excellent. Not only are his talks of general interest but there is no doubt that they do help us to plan our port days.

The second talk was the first in a series by Hilary Kay of Antiques Roadshow fame. It gave a general overview of the roadshow, how it started and where it was heading. The talk lasted for a fairly humorous 45 minutes.

The third talk was by Dr Petra Schmidt, one of the doctors working aboard the QE2. The talk was about a year she had spent at the Halley Research Station in Antarctica. It was not just about the official workings of the station but also the human side, the crew relaxing and having fun. Dr Schmidt did not give the best rehearsed talk however that the subject matter was so interesting and that she was talking form first hand made it a very good lecture

Once the talks were over I was not feeling that good again and headed back to the cabin and to bed. I woke up at about 3-00pm feeling slightly hungry (I hadn't eaten at all today) and called room service to order tea (for both Paul and I) and a tuna sandwich (for me). I think that can be taken as a sign that I am feeling a lot better.

After dinner we went for a drink outside the Yacht Club again. It was only one very brief drink as it was a lot cooler than we are used to and could even have been described as chilly. The sun loungers had been cleared and there were cloths and lamps on the tables although we were the only people out there (There was also a man talking on a mobile satellite phone - the usual type of conversation: I'm on deck, we're in the middle of the Atlantic, etc).

Once we'd finished that drink we retired to the Chart Room where it was warmer. There was a group there that looked very out of place. It consisted of two couples (an older pair and a younger pair). The older woman was dressed in a two piece that would have been very suitable for an informal night and would have just passed for formal. The younger woman was wearing black denims and a coarse sweater. The older man was wearing jogging bottoms and a tee shirt, the younger blue denims and an open neck shirt. These clothes would not even pass for elegant casual. They are only permitted in the Lido after 6-00pm when, according to the Daily Programme "Tonight's formal dress code applies - throughout the ship". I am offended by the attitude to dress codes. Partly because I enjoy dressing up and seeing others dressed up however also because by not following the rules these people are showing their attitude to the vast majority who do follow the rules.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 07, 2009, 06:39 PM
The 27 th was the last day that our mobile broaband worked so, now that I'm home again, I'll continue from 1 st February
Title: 1 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 07, 2009, 06:39 PM
Today we should be arriving in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. The RAF were giving the ship a flypast at 7-30am and we were out on deck to watch and photograph it. It wasn't so much cold as windy. The wind was so strong that it was difficult to open the doors onto the outside decks. We saw the flypast and a helicopter even landed a man on the bow for a few seconds and then we decided to go for breakfast.

Service at breakfast seemed confused to say the least. Everything took twice as long as usual. You had to ask for things like water that would normally turn up as part of normal service. My pancake and minute steak arrived cold, Paul's Eggs Benedict arrived warm but overcooked.

While we were waiting a couple who we've become friendly with came over to chat. After a little while I asked them if they were going on tour today. They thought this was very funny as at 7-00am the Captain had announced that we wouldn't be able to call at Stanley because of bad weather. We are very disappointed (although we knew that it was 50:50 at best) and, as it was to have been a port day, have a very limited programme.

As I write this a revised "Today's Activities" has come under the door. It now gives revised opening times for the shops, casino, tour office, etc and includes a few new activities like a Heritage Trail Lecture and Interest Corner, Classic Movies (unhosted) and has had things like the flypast, the FOD meeting and the Sabbath eve ceremony removed.

It's almost Lunchtime and the ship has become rather like a crowded cross Channel ferry! The cabin hasn't been serviced yet, every comfortable seat has someone sitting in it, most of the uncomfortable ones are taken as well so there's nowhere to go. I went to sit in the Queens Room and listen to a recorded book until two women sat at the same table and talked loudly; I went back to the cabin and ordered some coffee from room service (I tried it but left it as it tasted very funny); I went back to the Queens Room - that was OK for ten minutes until a dance class started; I moved to the Chart Room where there was one seat on its own, however the sound of the dance lesson and the harp clashed; I've come back to the cabin which still isn't serviced. I now know exactly what Paddington meant when he described himself as being at a "lewse end"!

Jimmy - you're right. (Looking at CC stopped me wondering what to do) Auchentoshan is spelled with an "a" on the bottle (and on the Daily Programme). It was the Cunard sign at the Funnel Bar that was wrong!

Mother's caught Paul's cough. Paul is still coughing and feeling terrible. I still don't feel 100% but I can manage. The only person who's anywhere near well is my father and it would be saying too much to describe him as 100%! It seems as if most of the passengers on the ship have some form of cough (except for very loud women with American accents who never shut up for long enough to cough!) This cough even seems to have started to spread amongst the stewards.

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Twynkle on Jul 07, 2009, 07:02 PM

Welcome back!
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 08, 2009, 06:09 PM
I managed to post yesterday's comment and that was it - until now! I'll post today's entry and then I might get chance to look at the rest of the site :)
Title: 2 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 08, 2009, 06:10 PM
Our Daily Programme for today said that we should be passing into the Beagle Channel at about 4-00am, completing formalities at Puerto Williams and then heading back out of the Beagle Channel by about 7-30am. We were then due to pass Cape Horn not once but three times so that we saw it from all directions (and to pass the time gained from yesterday's missed port).

At 9-00am all that changed! The Captain told us that we had not made the Beagle Channel because the Chilean Authorities had warned that the weather was too bad and had granted our clearances by email. So we are therefore bobbing round in circles at 18 knots until 11-00am when we will make our first pass at the cape. The weather report last night had been for 50' seas; today it is almost a flat calm. So, for the moment, we are lucky.

We were very lucky. We were just south of Cape Horn Island at midday when the noonday whistle sounded. It was sunny and warm. The seas were calm and we had a view over the island and the waves breaking on the rocks. However it had not been like that all morning. The Captain announced that we were starting to make our circumnavigation of the islands at Cape Horn at 11-00am. We had to brave the ice cold gales, the flurries of snow, the driving rain to see that there were indeed some islands near to us. An hour and a half later it was warm enough to sit on deck without a coat - how fast the weather can change.

Now for an example of the kind of excellent service Cunard are capable of. Paul left his winter hat in the taxi in New York. It wasn't expensive so we weren't that bothered but he had to get a new one by the time we went to see the penguins; that is now tomorrow. We checked the shops onboard - lots of baseball caps but no hats. Fort Lauderdale, Barbados, Salvador, Rio, etc were all too warm to be selling hats. That left Port Stanley - we didn't call there! Paul desperately needed a hat so we checked the shops again - still no hats but I had a job persuading him that a tea cosy wasn't suitable! Out of desperation we asked Lisa, the World Cruise Concierge, she managed to find one, exactly what we were looking for, in the Crew Shop. Thank you Lisa, you're a star ?

We have now (6-30pm) finished our trip around the islands and have returned to the Atlantic. We are heading for the Magellan Straits to make our way into the Pacific properly.

Title: 2 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 08, 2009, 06:17 PM
Rounding Cape Horn was one of the big things on this trip. It was a voyage I had been taught about at school, endless TV programmes had talked about the passage round Cape Horn and the idea of passing Cape Horn had been my idea of an adventure for most of my adult life.

Oddly enough I don't make much of the passage. I suppose that we sailed there and then sailed away and that's about all there is to say. I feel that I've seen Cape Horn and have no great wish to go back! I've seen it, been round it and now can cross it off the list of things I want to do.
Title: 3 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 09, 2009, 02:28 PM
Today is another missed port. We were booked to go on a tour to see a penguin colony. We had been told to dress warmly and had brought extra layers (long underwear) especially for today. We put on our warm coats, picked up our hats and gloves, remembered our protective overshoes (I'm told that penguin poo isn't that pleasant to remove from the treads of one’s shoes so we were prepared) and plodded of to the Grand Lounge (the theatre was in use for something else) to check in for our tour. Check in went promptly (we were bus 4) and then we sat and waited. After about twenty minutes the Captain came on the PA to say that the local authorities had cancelled the port.

We left Montevideo on the 30th January and haven't made land yet. That means it'll be as long as the crossing with the Vicky without anywhere other than the ship. The Cruise Director, Warren Smith's just been on the PA announcing today's revised programme - there's even less of interest on than there was when we missed Stanley as the Chileans won't allow gambling of any kind, even Bingo!

There is one advantage to having missed the port - we will get to sail down the remainder of the Straights of Magellan in the sunlight rather than the dust it should have been. A small consolation I'm afraid. It's not as if the scenery is as spectacular as the Norwegian fjords - where there is something worthwhile to look at.

As it had been a port day Lunch was being served from midday until 2-00pm. As things like the dress code for dinner, afternoon entertainment (there wasn't any), etc hadn't changed we assumed that lunchtimes hadn't changed either. Wrong! Lunch didn't start now until 1-00pm. We turned up at 12-30 and had to go back to our cabin for half an hour.

After lunch both Paul and I were feeling fed up. At that point had you offered to set our lives back the way they were before Christmas I think we'd both have accepted without too much hesitation? Paul, who is still feeling very poorly, came to lie down and possibly sleep whilst I went to take some pictures of the land we keep passing and then went to book an appointment for a pedicure.

When I'd done that I was going to go back to the cabin and read; until I remembered that tomorrow is laundry day. If I did it today it would be out of the way.

The laundry was almost deserted. There was no problem in using two washers and three (yes, three) driers. At one point I was talking to the room's only other user, a lady from Illinois, when a man wandered in, opened a drier, saw it was full and left. There were lots of empty driers why did he only look at that one? Why didn't he restart it? We restarted the drier and commented how thoughtless some people were. A few minutes later the man came in again. He opened the same drier (it was this lady's clothes in the drier) and felt the contents. He reclosed the drier (and restarted it this time) and left. We never did find what he was looking for!

The consolation is that I got the laundry done in less than two hours. The only problem is that in doing it I've managed to lose all Paul's underwear! I hope when he wakes up he remembers that he put them somewhere other than with the laundry.

That's about it. The highlight of my day - doing the laundry.
Title: 4 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 10, 2009, 11:42 AM
[At this point the messages start to sound very confused. I was trying to keep each day separate however because something had to happen before I could write about it and because so much was happening so quickly I didn’t always succeed.]

Things started badly today. At 1-30am Paul woke me to say that he'd fallen and was in great pain. I thought that he'd probably just sprained his ankle and that things would be a lot better in the morning. I just turned over and went back to sleep.

I got up at 6-30 to go to the gym. Paul was up soon after and he said his ankle was still painful. We agreed that we'd go to the doctor when I was back. By 8-00am he was dressed and ready to go.

Surgery stared at 9-00am and we were the first in the queue. The Doctor saw Paul and then sent him for x-ray. I was called in to join him when they told Paul it was a fracture. It needs a plate putting into the leg and the plate pinning to the bone to prevent the leg from healing out of shape. This operation is only something that can be done ashore and would be best done in the UK. Paul had his leg set in plaster and we were back in the cabin by 11-00am. The hospital provided crutches [which they added to our bill at the end of the trip] and contacted housekeeping for a wheelchair. It was already in our cabin when we got back.

All the crew on the ship have been fantastic. You could not have wished for more help from anyone. The First Officer came to see Paul; he has to investigate any fall. He was friendly and polite (and another pipe smoker). We needed someone to talk to and get our thoughts in order on what the doctor had said The First Officer provided that quite happily. The housekeeper called in to see if there was anything housekeeping could do to make Paul's life more comfortable. The purser allowed us a couple of free satellite phone calls to contact our insurance company (we had to make quite a few more calls from our cabin but that was the insurance company's fault and not the Purser). The restaurant was fantastic in sending food to the cabin. We visited the Chart Room in the afternoon for a couple of lemonades before we went back to the doctor and the deck outside the Yacht Club for a ginger beer before bed and in both the staff went out of their way to ensure that we could get a wheelchair where we wanted it, where they were crew we have met previously in the cruise they expressed concern that Paul was in a wheelchair, where they were staff we hadn't met previously (few in number) they expressed concern that Paul was comfortable.

I'm breaking from my norm of one message per day to say that it's now Tuesday 5th January. We're waiting for insurance companies and doctors to get back to us before we will know what we're doing. I'm finding that I've plenty of time to write this diary. It is helping to pass the time although I think that any time now there will come a point where there isn't any time to write anything!

I haven't been on CC yet (I doubt I will in the next couple of days but that could change!) but thank you to everyone who has sent emails of support to Paul and myself. Paul isn't experiencing any pain, just the discomfort of the plaster and the long, monotonous, wait to see what happens. We aren't keen on the idea of long flights so the possibility of returning to the UK and then setting off for Australia is not on (besides once the insurance company's got us home it won't want the expense of flying us out again).

Thank you all once again for your sympathy - It means so much to us knowing that other people are hoping for the best for us.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 12, 2009, 12:14 PM
I've just realised that I missed posting yesterday do I'll post two today :)
Title: 5 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 12, 2009, 12:14 PM
It's 10-00am on the morning of the 6th [I wrote this report on the 6th – it details what happened on the 5th. I found writing this to be very therapeutic whilst I was waiting in the hospital]. Paul has just been wheeled out of his hospital room to whatever. I am left in Paul's hospital room and expect to be here for the next couple of hours so now will be a good time to update my record.

In my previous message I said that we were still waiting for the insurance company and the doctor to get back to us. We are still waiting for the insurance company. I called them last night to find out what was happening and who we could expect to be paying for today's procedure and was told that the person dealing with the case had gone home for the day and that nobody else could help. They did add that the treatment would probably be covered but they could not give a definitive answer. We are lucky that we have enough cash with us to pay what is needed for the treatment.

The doctor did get back to us however. He made an arrangement for us to meet him in the ship's hospital at 7-45am and from there someone would escort us to the gangway. A representative of the port agent would meet us there and take us to a clinic where an appointment had been made with a surgeon for 8-30am. Depending on the outcome of this appointment the surgeon might operate on Paul's leg by mid morning and he could be back onboard ship in time to sail at 7-00pm. The doctor did not know the name of the clinic, where in Chile it would be or even if the doctor spoke English. He did try to find these things out for us and requested for a translator to go with us but the port agent didn't reply to his emails.

After I'd finished yesterday's report the day seemed to go very quickly although I can't say exactly what filled it. A couple that we have become friendly with on board, Roger and Rosemary, came to visit Paul for an hour. This left me free to go on Thomas's "Dress Heritage Trail". This is something apparently he only does on world cruises and is far more theatrical than a normal tour with Thomas (can you believe that?). It involved the Cunard Singers and Dancers, the dancing champions and various members of the cruise staff dressing up and acting the parts Thomas was talking about. I would certainly recommend this tour as well as a normal Heritage Tour and hope that I get the chance to go again.

Once the tour was over I headed back to the cabin. Roger and Rosemary were still there so we opened a bottle of Champagne to toast Paul on his forthcoming adventure. They stayed until 5-00pm and both Paul and I were very grateful to see them. It meant that Paul got to see and talk to someone different who wasn't only asking how he'd done it (If we'd got a dollar for every time he's been asked that in the past days we wouldn't need to bother with insurance!) and it meant that I could leave Paul for an hour without feeling guilty (Paul has been very good about me leaving him but I still feel guilty if he's on his own).

Shortly after Roger and Rosemary left Leone (Runaway from CC) called to see how he was - another cheerful chat that wasn't just about Paul's accident. I barely had time to get changed before I was off to Veronica's (Adrenaline Junkie on CC) birthday party. Her birthday wasn't until the next day but as she was going on an overland tour from Valparaiso the event was held the night prior.

I had to be away from the party by 8-20pm as I'd arranged for Paul's and my dinner to be served in the cabin at 8-30pm. Before we came on this trip I looked at the brochure and wondered who on earth would eat in their cabin when they could choose to eat in the restaurant. Now I know. The only one of our party that hasn't had a meal in their cabin now is my father.

Our plans were that we should be back on the ship by tomorrow night however I packed a bag with a couple of changes of clothing so that if we were delayed we wouldn't be stuck with nothing. It contained very much the essentials and things (like this journal) to keep me occupied whilst Paul was in surgery.

We sat up until about midnight drinking (we finished the bottle of wine we'd had with dinner and then started on the water - this was the first day we haven't used our soft drink package!) and talking. Paul is very worried. He has never been in hospital before let alone had an operation and to have both things happen so far from home and in a strange country that doesn't speak English is worrying him.
Title: 6th February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 12, 2009, 12:15 PM
We were due in the ship's hospital at 7-45am so we'd set our alarm and booked wake-up call for 6-45am. When the call came I did not want to know, I suspect it was a relief for Paul as he hadn't slept well and was already awake. I went into the bathroom and showered meaning that Paul could wash himself as best he could whilst I got dressed and then I'd be ready to help him. It is astonishing how quickly Paul is gaining confidence to do things on his own.

Jerome, our steward, brought fruit juice, tea and Danish pastries for breakfast at 7-30am. Although Paul hadn't been told not to eat we guessed that would be a wise precaution if he was going to have a general anaesthetic. That meant I got two pastries and Paul got none!

We were in the ship's hospital by 7-45am and at the gangway by 8-00am where there was a slight delay getting off due to new staff members coming onboard. The wheelchair would not go down the gangway with Paul in it but he managed with his crutches (had he stayed the way he was he wouldn't have needed the chair in a couple of days) and there was a specially adapted car that would take a wheelchair by the ship that took us directly to the port gates. There things started to go wrong. We were taken straight past immigration and customs and were then left with the local staff that were not aware that Paul was on his way for surgery and could only help if we had booked a tour and were wearing a numbered badge.

To cut a long story short (and because they've just collected Paul's bed and told me he'll be back shortly) we eventually got a Cunard Car at about 9-15am to the "Valparaiso Clinica" where we arrived at about 9-30am (remember our appointment was for 8-30am). After various problems arising out of not speaking a communal language we got to meet the surgeon who said that he had already looked at Paul's X-rays and that an operation was needed. His intention was to operate at about 10-30 with a procedure that should take about an hour.

The cost of the surgery was One and a half million Chilean Pesos - about US$ 3000.00. The hospital would accept credit cards however when they tried to process any of our cards the machine would not work and we ended up having to pay with travellers cheques. There is a large part of our holiday spending money gone - we'll have to break into the sterling we've brought as a reserve!

Once the admission was complete it was off to a private room for them to do various tests, ask questions and get him ready for surgery. At 10-30am they came and collected him. His trolley was wheeled out with him wearing a white hairnet, an overshoe on the uninjured foot and a blue, disposable, hospital gown (the kind that doesn't meet at the back).

At 11-30am they collected his bed and told me he was out of theatre and would be up soon. That was all I heard until 11-00am when the surgeon came in and told me that the operation had been a complete success. The plate was in place, the fracture was nothing like as bad as they'd first thought and that, after a couple of days rest, Paul should be up and about on crutches. He could expect the stitches to be out after a couple of weeks and to gain normal use of his ankle within a month. He told me that Paul had been in the recovery room for about twenty minutes and that I could go and see him when I wanted.

The only thing that was better than seeing a Paul free of worry about the operation was when a nurse came into the room and said they had lunch for me (but not Paul - it was too soon after the operation). I had a nice, 3 course lunch consisting of a consommé served with a bread roll, casseroled pork with olives and onions served with boiled rice and a stewed pear covered in chocolate. Not the standard of the Britannia but still quite acceptable.

I'd finished lunch and was just adding the previous paragraphs when Paul was wheeled through. We are now just waiting for the doctor to return and discharge him. And waiting. And waiting. We waited through afternoon tea (which we both got - a bread roll, some cheese and a toffee horn served with a cup of warm water and milk into which we put a teabag - yuck) and then continued waiting until just turned 4-30pm when a nurse came to change Paul's drip again. He hadn't smoked since about 8-00am and was starting to feel the craving. He told the nurse that he didn't want the drip but wanted to put his clothes on and to go outside - she didn't understand. The whole fiasco lasted until they'd brought the doctor (who did speak English). He said that it was perfectly OK to smoke inside a Chilean hospital. Paul still didn't have the drip though. The nurses gave us a letter from the Chilean doctor to the Doctor aboard, various drugs and an X-ray of Paul's repaired ankle.

It was just turned five O'clock when the admissions assistant came in (the one who spoke a little English) and asked for our credit card again as their bank wouldn't accept our travellers cheques. We had to accompany her back to her desk to get our cheques back. We did not have a single credit card that would work in their machine and in the end the assistant had to telephone their card processor to ask advice. It turned out that Chilean card terminals won't accept the magnetic stripe on a card that has a chip (as all UK cards do) and the hospital did not recognise this and therefore did not use the chip reader. When the card was processed correctly the authorisation went through immediately. That left us with US$ 3000.00 of countersigned travellers’ cheques!

The hospital put on an ambulance to get us back to the ship. This was a journey that took about 15 minutes. Although the driver was not sure where he was going his occasional use of the siren meant that the journey was fairly quick.

We were back at the ship by 6-15pm and on deck by 6-30pm to watch us depart. Paul has found that the third rail round the ship is at just the right height to rest his leg on so he was quite happy for me to push him on deck for a while. As someone's commented the boat was late leaving (waiting for the Santiago tours to return) and we didn't stay on deck until we sailed but that was the most we have seen of Valparaiso all day.

We had dinner in the cabin and were in bed by 9-30pm and asleep by 10-00pm. It was the best night's sleep either of us has had since long before we boarded. I don't think we realised just how exhausting we'd found the day.
Title: 7 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 13, 2009, 11:31 AM
Back to the drudgery of a World Cruise after the excitement of the past few days. (Not quite - I still have to push Paul everywhere!)

As previously said we slept well last night. I didn't wake until 7-30am, Paul was even later. I went to breakfast (Paul didn't) and then it was off to the Tour Office to cancel Paul's tickets for Easter Island. There are three tours available for Easter Island; we felt that tour A was the most desirable with tour C the least. Tour A was sold out shortly after leaving New York, tour B was sold out by Valparaiso leaving only tour C with a few places left for the afternoon only. We had booked places on tour B for the morning and A for the afternoon. I was able to cancel Paul's B ticket with no problem, before I could cancel his A ticket someone else has already offered me cash for it. I should have charged commission on the sale! [The man who bought this ticket from us was quite slow in getting us the money and then, every time he saw us, crowed about getting the ticket. Had Paul been able to get out of his chair he’d have cheerfully throttled the man]

Once I'd got rid of the tour tickets it was back to the cabin to help Paul get dressed and then onto the spa for a pedicure. It was nice to be able to spend 3/4 of an hour having someone undo the sore feet I'd got yesterday. I can't confirm that it's like the Spa on the QM2 though. There was definitely a push to sell me something (I gave in and bought a foot scrub for US$ 60.00 although she was trying to sell me several moisturisers as well.

[I went for a pedicure with one particular thing in mind – I had a lot of hard skin on my right foot and wanted it removing. The hard skin had been there for over a year and was becoming uncomfortable to walk on. It wasn’t until I returned from the WC and went for a pedicure in York in another attempt to get this hard skin removed that I was told it was a Veruca and needed a specialist treatment. This had been completely missed on the ship]

After that was the destination lecture for Easter Island, given by Peter Crimes and good as usual. I bumped into Roger and Rosemary at that and they came down to see Paul while I went to the Pursers Office to try and sort out the travellers’ cheque problem. I was quite surprised to be told that they would accept them as payment for our account but that, if we needed the money, they would pay us cash back and we could settle our account by credit card.

I went for afternoon tea in the QGL. As usual there were plenty of tables. I asked for a scone (in the QGL scones aren't included on the normal platter of cakes you have to ask for one and then it comes served with separate jam and cream). It was the lightest scone I've ever tasted. A scone is not normally my favourite patisserie but these were wonderful. I don't think I'll be able to leave it long before I have another.

Before I came on this trip I assumed that we'd get as set of the various cocktail parties etc. per sector. We certainly got one set on the transatlantic and another on the New York to Valparaiso leg. Tonight however was the cocktail party only for those who'd joined at Valparaiso. It looks as if the number of free drinks we get will be limited.

Paul and I ate in the cabin again last night and then went on deck for an hour, just to sit and enjoy the fresh (and cool - the ship is still very hot and our air-conditioning is back at minimum again) air. We didn't get changed as it was too hard for Paul and too much effort for me! I wonder what the correct etiquette is in those circumstances. Is it permissible for an invalid and his carer not to change if they are not eating in their restaurant but are only going on deck?

Title: 8 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 14, 2009, 10:39 AM
My father has caught the QE2 cold. I have started my gym visits again and was just back from there when the phone went; it was mother who wanted to know if I'd take her up for breakfast as my father wasn't going to get up. I had time for a hurried shower and to make sure Paul was comfortable with a cup of tea, etc before I had to go and collect mother and take her for breakfast.

Once breakfast was over I was able to take my mother back to her cabin and return to ours where Paul had got himself up and was getting washed. He also managed to dress himself, only needing the odd thing passing or shoe lacing.

There were two lectures that I wanted to see today. The first was by John Killeen and was entitled "Why is my flight always late?" It was billed as relating to the "current issues" of air travel. Unfortunately it didn't live up to this billing and was just a monotonal lecture about the rudiments of how air traffic was controlled out of Chicago. I only stayed for the first 20 minutes and then went back to keep Paul company.

The second lecture was only slightly better. It was by Dr Peter Quatermaine and was called "Easter Island: First Impressions". Mother wanted to hear this lecture as well so we sat together. The lecture turned out to be about how records of explorations were made in the South Sea Islands before the advent of photography and featured almost nothing particular to Easter Island. We tolerated this lecture for half an hour. Talking to other people who'd also attended the lecture it seems as if it was not the lecture most people were expecting.

It's only been five days since I've done any laundry. We're not running short yet but yesterday I thought that just after the start of a sector could be a good time. I forgot about the laundry yesterday so instead went this afternoon. At first I thought the launderette was fairly quiet and not worth writing about. Not for long! About 20 minutes after I'd got there people were queuing for machines.

My first comment has to be that there were three washers out of order. There was a repair man there for half the time I was but, when I left, those three machines were still out of action.

I started thinking about some men's attitude to helping with the wash. I have seen men sitting there watching their wife do the ironing or telling the woman to hurry up and finish but I thought about the way some women verbally attack their men.

When I had got to the laundry there had been this woman sitting there waiting for her washing to finish. Once it had she set it to dry and told everyone in the room that she had to keep removing things as soon as they were dry to prevent them shrinking (?). At this point I moved through to the ironing room; she followed about five minutes later. She was joined by her husband about five minutes after that and the diatribe started. He had been asleep. She would have finished much more quickly had he been there. She could not both watch the dryer and do the ironing. It was his fault that his underpants were thick and took longer to dry than his shirts. Why hadn't he brought any thin underpants? As his underpants were so thick and heavy (I never saw a pair to verify this description) he would have to wash them himself in future.

This carried on for a further five minutes before another woman who was also ironing turned round and asked if she would be quiet and not chastise her husband in public. This gave the first woman a chance to attack the second woman. Telling her how she was disabled. She could walk but she could not stand. How her husband's actions had left her in great pain. How the second woman should keep her nose out of things that didn't concern her! At this point I'd run out of ironing by this time so I made a tactical retreat to the machine room to check on my remaining washing. There was nothing dry that needed to be ironed so I left the machines running and came back to the cabin for half an hour. (I know - I'm a coward!)

I ventured back to the launderette after about half an hour. The disabled woman had gone but the rooms were still very busy. I took the shirts that were dry to the ironing room, emptying one drier but leaving a second working. The conversation in the ironing room turned to a man who was using four driers, each of which had been set for an hour and only contained a couple of things (the example I was given was a pair of pyjama trousers and a couple of pairs of socks). When the ladies had asked (I suspect that they were slightly more forthright than "asked") that he only use one drier rather than four he had refused. They were all very annoyed that anyone could refuse them and were bitching about it as hard as they could! Several of the women in the room admitted that they used two washers and two driers (I do but I didn't dare admit it) but were told that was not the same as using four.

A couple of the ladies there then started to grumble about their husbands. How the husbands were quite happy to sit on Sun Deck and leave their wives to do all the work. How, if all the ironing wasn't finished, it would be the husbands' fault. Do you really blame the men for keeping out of the way?

I returned to my one remaining drier to find that someone had opened the door and not pushed the start button when they closed it. It was still full of damp clothes. I gave up, went back to the cabin and hung them over the towel rail.

Back in the cabin Paul has come up with a very good idea. We have missed several ports at which we had budgeted for expensive tours and are therefore below budget. Why not use the money saved to pay for sending all our clothes to the laundry? I've half agreed with him so we've agreed to send things that need ironing to the laundry but we'll still wash the things that don't need ironing at the launderette.

One thing we've found today is how poor the cabin service has been. Jerome brought our tea as normal at 7-45am but that was the last we saw of him until turned 5-00pm.

As Paul is in the cabin for most of the day we don't get the normal cabin service but our steward does come in to give us fresh ice, clean the bathroom, provide clean glasses and fresh towels, empty the bins, etc. Today we only got fresh ice brought by a man who spoke no English. Paul ordered a sandwich from the restaurant menu for lunch. When it hadn't arrived after half an hour he rang to see what was happening; the restaurant assured us that it had been dispatched from there. It finally turned up in our cabin forty minutes after it was ordered, brought by a steward who spoke no English, cold, soggy and accompanied by cold, inedible, French fries.

Paul had been due to make dinner this evening however in the end he decided that he would find it easier just to join us for a drink before dinner and then to eat in the cabin. My father decided to miss dinner altogether so it ended up with just my mother and me eating.

Sitting at a table on the other side of the restaurant was a lady who looked familiar (remember that I have eaten in the cabin since leaving Valparaiso so I assumed that any new faces had boarded there). This lady saw my staring and made a kind of half-wave. I just nodded and smiled. I couldn't get over how familiar she looked, just like Leone (Runaway on CC) but I knew that, as she was eating in Mauritania, it couldn't be her. Throughout the meal my eyes kept returning to this lady and she saw my glances. By the end of the meal I felt that I had to go and explain why I had been staring. I approached the table and the lady smiled and waved. I was taken aback - who was this person? It very quickly transpired that it was Leone. She had been invited to dine in the Britannia Grill this evening and had not liked to make too much fuss when she saw me sitting there!
Title: 9 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 15, 2009, 09:32 AM
I'm having problems with the wireless internet onboard at the moment. Yesterday afternoon and evening I couldn't access the network to let me log onto the internet. Any emails I'm sending have to be done trough the Computer Learning Centre. As Danielle, the Centre Manager, is ill there's nobody about to ask. If you read this you'll know I've solved the problem.

I didn't sleep well last night and put my sleeplessness to good use - I spent half the night trying to sort out my internet problems! Father still has a cold so I had to take mother to breakfast and then onto the QGL where she could read her book.

When she was settled it was back to the cabin where Paul had already managed to get washed and dressed. We first went to the computer centre to try his laptop - that connects with no problem - and then onto boat deck to sit in the fresh air. It is warm and sunny. The Pacific is a deep blue colour with no white tops to the gentle waves. The only problem is a gentle swell that could stop our getting to Easter Island tomorrow.

As Paul is indisposed I have had to make my own arrangements for getting my hair cut. I had made an appointment in the salon for 11-00am and was prepared to resist any hard sell. It cost US$ 36.80 for a 20 minute appointment - very expensive when you consider that I've been getting it for free for the past 11 years! The hard sell however was for gift vouchers for Valentine’s Day and came with suggested packages for the recipient. One package included a shave, a facial and a massage of the face, hands, arms and scalp. I didn't want it for Valentine’s Day but thought it a good way to pamper Paul after I've gone off to EI tomorrow. Paul agreed and I've booked him in for 9-00am tomorrow.

We sat on deck until lunch time and then returned to the cabin for something to eat. After lunch we watched the second lecture given by Peter Quatermaine as it was shown on one of the TV channels. The lecture was entitled "Building a Modern Cruise Ship" and was much more interesting than yesterday's although as it was delivered in the same monotone voice we were both soon asleep!

The Spa called at 5-30pm. The beautician's appointments had been rescheduled and they needed to change the time of Paul's appointment - would 3-00pm be OK? That time is not as good as we had wanted but, hopefully, it will still amuse Paul for a little while. I feel incredibly guilty that I am getting to Easter Island and he is not.

Dinner was in the cabin again. To think that I once asked why one would choose to eat in the cabin if you could eat in the restaurant! On that subject I have an apology to give to Matthew (and and everyone else who was offended by my more money than sense comment in relation to the Grills). I had a couple of poor experiences in the Princess Grill followed by a very good experience in the Caronia. Having spent some time in the Britannia Grill I feel that it is well worth the extra. I'm not saying that the Caronia is poor (and it's so long since I ate in the Mauritania that I can't comment) just that I now feel that the BG does offer a high level of service.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 16, 2009, 08:17 AM
I worried an awful lot about leaving Paul on the ship while I went of to see Easter Island. I know just how much he wanted to see it and I found the thought of me going there without him very unpleasant :( I am so pleased I did - the morning tour wasn't much but id did complement the afternoon. I enjoyed it so much that Easter Island became one of the highlights of the trip.
Title: 10 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 16, 2009, 08:17 AM
Easter Island. It was probably this port more than any other that made Paul and I agree to come on this trip. We both have memories going back to early childhood of pictures of those enigmatic statues and the idea of somewhere so remote that nobody knew what they were nor the why or how of their presence. We were both looking forward to this port.

Despite Paul's indisposition I had decided to go on both tours we had booked. The first tour "Ancient Cultures of Easter Island" was scheduled for departure at 8-30am, meeting in the theatre at 8-15am. Luckily I met up with several CCers there so I'd someone to talk to but I didn't leave the theatre until 9-20am! The problem was tendering - there was a very small harbour with only room for one tender to get into the port at once. To make matters worse the entrance to the harbour was lined with large rocks for quite a way out to sea meaning that the next tender couldn't even get near the jetty until the previous one was out of the way.

There were about 30 people on my tour. We were divided into four groups and split between various taxis and minibuses. The tour went first to view the caldera of Rano Kau (one of the volcanos). This was no different from looking into any volcano that hasn't erupted in a while. Although it was a relatively unusual sight it was not enough to make me rate Easter Island as a must see destination.

Then it was on to Orongo Village - the site of the Birdman Cult - that was used to decide the ruling tribe each year on the island. The village was in use until the arrival of missionaries in the early 18th century but at that point had been abandoned. It was rediscovered in the 1960s and restored. Now it is reminiscent of the pyramids on Tenerife - very heavily restored with no way of telling what is original and what is supposition. The site had some spectacular views and it was interesting to see the origins of the cult.

 Then it was on to Vinapu. This was the site of three (although only two were visible) ruined ahus. Again the site was interesting but still lacked the wow factor I'd been expecting

The last site on the morning tour was Ahu Akivi. This was seven of the Moai (statues) an an ahu (the plinth). It was interesting to see the statues but the whole site looked as if it had been set up for tourists and I felt was of limited interest.

I was feeling rather disappointed. Easter Island has been somewhere I've wanted to see for about 35 years, from before a time when I even knew where Easter Island was. I thought that my expectations had been too high; that I had expected something earth shattering and no site on earth could match my expectations. As we had been so late setting off I arrived back at the harbour at 1-28pm for a tour that left at 1-30pm. I passed through the queue for tenders back to the ship; there must have been two hundred people in it. To be honest I wasn't too bothered if I made the tour or not. I had checked several times before we left the ship and been told that I would make the tour - If I did miss it I could go and see Paul (It's a pity they'd changed his appointment from morning to afternoon) and could also make a very good case for getting my money back (at US$ 84.00 each they were quite expensive).

I am so glad I did not miss the "Highlights of Easter Island" tour. Peter Crimes had said that both this and the Ancient Cultures tour were similar - they weren't!

Our first stop was at Ahu Tahai. A site with five Moai on an ahu; a single Moai and a Moai with a top knot (a red stone top that only appears on the later statues). The site also had a couple of shelters that had been used by the early inhabitants.

From there it was on to Vaihu. This was an unrestored site where all the Moai were still face down where they'd been toppled. It was fantastic to see the statues in the state they had been in before any restoration was done to them. You wonder what is being done to protect these sites - until you drive further round the island and realise that there are so many other similar sites it is not possible to protect, let alone restore, them all.

Once we were all back on our transport it was off to Rano Raraku – the quarry where the Moai were carved. We arrived in a carpark at one end of the walk through the quarry. There were a few stalls selling souvenirs, a stall selling cold drinks (welcome) and some toilets (very welcome - they were the first we'd seen today). We were told the walk would take about 3/4 of an hour and were offered the option of taking the bus to the carpark at the other end of the walk although nobody accepted. We set off on a walk that could only be described as fantastic. The quarry is on the side of a volcano although we never got to the crater. We walked past vast numbers (the quarry contains about 400) of Moai ranging from the partially complete, to those left in storage awaiting installation and those where damage had meant that they were not used. We saw the largest Moai; that was still partially attached to the rock.

The last site on this tour was Ahu Tongariki. Fifteen Moai on an ahu. This is another restored site but, despite that, is very impressive and gives a stately impression of the Moai. It was also only the second place we saw a Moai with a top knot although we had seen several top knots without Moai at the unrestored site.

On the drive back to the ship our bus got a puncture. Luckily seven of us were able to transfer to another bus in the convoy and the remaining eight were able to connect with another tour.

Meanwhile Paul had been having a quiet day at sea. He had got our cabin steward to wheel him up to the Chart Room where he could get a Ginger Beer whilst he looked out at the island. He met my mother there and then got someone to help them both into the restaurant for lunch. After lunch he went back to the cabin until it was time for his facial.

The steward took Paul up to the salon on One Deck where the assistant met him and first cut his hair. It was then necessary to move into a room in the beauty section for the shave, massage, anti-aging treatment, etc. His opinion is that the treatment was pleasant enough but nothing special. It did help pass an afternoon. My opinion was that it did make him look more youthful ( ;) ).The effect is only temporary and its value is therefore doubtful as an "anti-aging" treatment but its value as something to make Paul feel special is undoubted.

Once I was back onboard I went to the cabin to collect Paul. The sun had been so strong today that I thought I should wear a long sleeved shirt so stop my arms getting more sunburnt. I changed my shirt and then we went on deck to give Paul his first proper sight of Moai.

We stayed on deck until we sailed (late again because of the delays tendering). Then we came back to the cabin. That gave me the first chance to wash my hands and face - the flannel came away black. I admit that I was not surprised - most of the driving had been on unmetalled roads and the clouds of dust our vans had left would have to be seen to be believed! I took my shoes off and my socks had a definite orange band that ended where the sock entered the shoe.

I had a very tiring day on Easter Island. I am so sorry that Paul missed it but am so grateful that I got to see a glimpse of it. I have told Paul that, if he can manage the flights, we will come back next February and spend a week there (combined with a week in Salvador and a week in Buenos Aries) - there is so much more to see there I don't think I would get the chance to be bored and I feel that the journey would be very worthwhile.

Some people who were on the same bus as me for the second tour commented that it was an equal of Egypt in the sites that it had to offer. I have never been to Egypt and therefore can't comment first hand, but everyone I have spoken to who saw that quarry has said just how spectacular it was.

[Once the World Cruise was over I rated Easter Island as one of my top two ports. Unfortunately at the time of updating (May 2009) we haven’t managed to get back yet and have no plans to do so]
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 16, 2009, 08:25 AM
I've just reread my notes on that second tour. They don't make it sound anything like as earth-shattering as it really was. For that tour alone it would be worth returning to Easter Island.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Twynkle on Jul 16, 2009, 11:39 AM


It not difficult to imagine why Easter Island needs another visit for both of you!
(I think that QE is making her maiden visit there on her  WC 2011)
There are many YouTube clips, both commercial (BBC, ITN and Nat Geog) and personal ones
Perhaps you have found them already!
A place that's been at the very top of my (QE2) wish list - sadly, not going to be possible :'(
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 16, 2009, 09:14 PM
I would not go back to EI on a cruise (or that wouldn't be my main reason for taking that cruise). There were not enough facilities on the island (things like tour buses, public toilets, souvenirs, etc) to cope with the QE2. As the only access to the island was by tender this also was not good for getting people ashore and back again.

I did fancy taking the QM2 to New York; flying to Santiago; onto EI; back to Santiago and then stopping in a couple of cities in South America. It would then be a case of flying back to New York to catch the QM2 back to Southampton. Unfortunately neither money nor time have made that possible yet. I can but hope ;)
Title: 11 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 17, 2009, 05:04 PM
Today is another day at sea (and, to be honest, a chance to rest from the stresses of yesterday). My plan was to spend a leisurely day not doing too much and taking things as they come.

The day started with the gym at 7-00am. I was grateful for the extra hour in bed we'd got when the clocks went back. The regulars in the gym were starting to get rather concerned that I had been missing for so many days - they did know about Paul's ankle, they were just waiting for news. I found it very hard to get back into the gym routine again having missed it for quite a few days. I hope tomorrow will be easier!

Back to the cabin to shower, dress and make sure Paul was OK before I went for breakfast. Paul decided he'd stay in bed for the morning so I headed to the Crystal Bar to catch up with emails, this journal, etc. I was planning on going to the lecture at 11-00am but, before I did, the stewardess came to the table and asked if I was Malcolm Kelly; there was a phone call for me. It was Paul, he was now dressed and would like to move up to the Chart Room.

Today's lecture was Peter Crimes talking about Tahiti (our next port). I got to the Theatre about fifteen minutes early and found my mother had claimed four of the last seats in the balcony. Together with Roger and Rosemary we sat and watched the lecture. The Theatre was packed. Not only was every seat taken but there were people sitting on every step of the isles and the walkway around the back. It was so busy that Thomas was saying that if you hadn't a seat you should plan on watching it when it was televised later that day.

The lecture itself was interesting but no more so than most of his others.  The news that he is a good and interesting lecturer is obviously spreading because more and more people want to see him.

Between the end of the lecture and lunch Roger and Rosemary joined us for a drink in the Chart Room whilst Paul sorted out the transfer of pictures from their camera onto their laptop. We all went into the restaurant for lunch (mother, Paul and me just having a sandwich, my father a three course meal).

Paul and I escaped back to the cabin for an hour before it was time for a performance by Martyn Dominique who was singing in tribute to Mario Lanza. We were left with the impression that Martyn Dominique is not that good a tenor, something not helped by the over amplification demanded by the Grand Lounge.

This evening was our "senior Officers Party" and was the first time we'd got to the Hotel Managers Party in the Yacht Club. It was certainly a better venue than the Funnel Bar has been in previous years. Paul and I had to leave the party early to ensure we were back in the cabin for 8-30pm, the time we had ordered our meal for.

The clocks go back two hours this evening so it lookd like it could be a very long evening. It was; although I was falling asleep by midnight.
Title: 12 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 18, 2009, 05:43 PM
Pitcairn is one of those places I never expected to see. I had heard of it but I doubt I could have told you where it was until we left Easter Island. Now that I've seen it I thing that I've seen all that can be offered to cruise ships and I'm not in any hurry to go back. I would be vaguely interested to go ashore there but I don't think it could be worth the very difficult journey getting there!
Title: 12 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 18, 2009, 05:44 PM
Today's "port" was unexpected. It was only yesterday that we got final confirmation that we would be able to pass by Pitcairn Island and that the islanders would be coming aboard to talk about their island and to sell souvenirs.

As today was not an official port day things didn't get going until 8-00am. Because the clocks went back two hours last night most people (including us) on the ship were awake early and raring to go. This meant that the gym was unusually busy and everyone wanted breakfast as soon as the restaurants opened. This resulted in long delays - breakfast took over fifty minutes!

We were due at Pitcairn at 10-00am; the islanders were due to come aboard; we were due to make two circumnavigations of the island sailing away at 1-30pm. During this time we should all have had the chance to see the island, buy as many souvenirs as we could and attend the lecture on island life.

Pitcairn is one of those places (like Easter Island) I never expected to see. It's been in the news recently but has never made the status of somewhere I must see (unlike Easter Island). It is only within the past week that I thought I might get the chance to see it.

We got the last wheelchair space and chair on the port side of the ship which allowed us to view the first circumnavigation of the island. The island itself is small and, where there isn't a cliff, the land slopes very steeply into the sea.

The souvenir stalls were in the Grand Lounge. By the time I'd taken Paul back to the cabin the lounge was packed with a crowd four deep round each stall. The main stock was of postcards, stamps, T shirts, carved wooden fish and souvenir booklets. I didn't spend much time there. I only bought four jars of Pitcairn Honey (expensive at US$ 7.00 each) and looked quickly at the other stalls before I got away from that great  mob of unwashed (at least they smelt unwashed) humanity - My fellow passengers, not the islanders!

The lecture was a lecture about an island where there isn't much of interest. Once you've covered the island's isolation and its connection with the Bounty that's it. That must be mitigated by the comment that the recording wasn't that good - the sound quality was poor and one side of the picture was very discoloured (the other was simply discoloured) - but there is still a limit to what can be said about a small island and its even smaller community.

There was an announcement that anyone who wanted a Pitcairn Island stamp in their passport must pay US$ 5.00. I went to the pursers and arranged stamps for the four of us; just in time - by the time I'd finished at the desk the queue had gone from two or three to twenty or thirty. [Paul and I got our stamps – my parents didn’t. It took a lot of arguing with the purserettes to convince them the stamp wasn’t there and that the least they could do was refund the cost – in the end they did the least!]

We received two invitations for cocktails today. The first was from Ensemble Travel to drinks in the Yacht Club at 5-00pm. We all attended this as it was the opportunity for the Ensemble Travel reps to tell us about the tour tomorrow. They have confirmed that the coaches (there are about sixty people on this sector with Ensemble so we'll have two coaches) will take wheelchairs so that means Paul should be able to go as well as mother's scooter. It will be Paul's first time ashore since the hospital in Valparaiso and he's looking forward to it.

The second party was the Captain's reception for all Full World Cruise passengers who are dining in the Grills or Caronia. Paul felt that he'd had enough excitement for the day and decided to give the party a miss. It was due to start at 7-15pm; I didn't go until 7-30pm and there was no queue at the receiving line. I was able to walk straight up and shake hands with Capt. McNaught who recognised me, asked how Paul was doing and made several comments that not only showed he knew who I was but was aware of what was happening in Paul's case. I was very impressed. My parents also decided not to attend. This was a shame as the party was far more than the normal Captain's reception. There were far fewer people there for one thing; there was a buffet in the middle of the dance floor which included the normal selection of canapés, a side of smoked salmon, a large ice bowl of prawns and plenty of caviar. The buffet was garnished with several ice sculptures.

I got back to the cabin just in time because dinner was delivered as I approached. During dinner our invitations for the World Cruise Dinner arrived. It is to be held in Honolulu and reads as if it will be an impressive event.

Once we'd had dinner I pushed Paul outside the Yacht Club for a couple of drinks. Although the ship was well lit and there were stars in the sky there was no moon. Outside the glow cast by the ship nothing was visible.
Title: 13 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 19, 2009, 09:51 AM
I'm sitting in the Chart Room catching up on yesterday's notes and I've just glanced out of the window – it’s pouring down! I don't believe you should get bad weather on holiday! .......

... Half an hour later. We've just finished talking to Veronica (Adrenaline Junkie on CC). She'd come inside to shelter from the sudden downpour although by now the rain has stopped and the sun is shining again.

The housekeeper called in to see if our airconditioning was working any better than it was (apart from that one day when the a/c turned chilly our thermostat's been set at minimum for the entire trip). The housekeeper had noticed that we've been leaving our door open and wondered why. She's now arranged for someone to come and check it whilst we're out tomorrow.

It's been nine days since I last went swimming, there's been quite a lot happening that meant I just haven't made it! I decided that I should start again and went down to the pool at 5-00pm (a time when it's normally starting to get quiet). There were three people in already so when I joined it was busy. When two more got in and there was a third getting undressed I gave up - after only 22 lengths!

We had dinner in then went to the deck outside the Yacht Club for a couple of drinks (OK, 3, but only Diet Sprites!). From there it was off to an early bed.
Title: 14 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 19, 2009, 09:55 AM
As the 13th was only short here's the 14th as well :)
Title: 14 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 19, 2009, 09:56 AM
Valentine's Day and we're in Tahiti or at least we will be when we dock. We were both awake very early again this morning. I was up, showered, dressed and at breakfast by 7-00am. Breakfast service was slow (3/4 hour) so by the time I was back in the cabin Paul was up and dressed.

We've each got a water bottle (the kind meant for cyclists) to take for days ashore. I normally fill them from the cold tap before we leave the ship and they will last us an entire day although by the end of it the water does taste very chlorinated. Today I went to fill the bottles and the cold tap was running warm water; I left it running whilst we had a cup of tea - still warm. Eventually I gave up and went to fill them at the Pavilion from the drinking water bowser there. What a stroke of luck, we've now found somewhere to fill up where the water doesn't taste funny by the end of the day.

Today was the second in the series of tours from Ensemble World Explorers - tours paid for by our travel agent and that are not on the normal Cunard tour programme. From the literature the tour came across as being very good. It included lots of things that sounded interesting and fun. It also included lunch (our tour in Rio also included a lunch that was first class so we were looking forward to see what Tahiti offered).

The ship was late in clearing customs. The group assembled in the Yacht Club at 8-30am for a tour that started at 9-00am. We didn't even leave the boat until 9-20am. Once the tour was underway, about 9-45am, it was straight into a long traffic jam caused by the trimming of trees on the central reservation of the road we were on.

The first stop on the tour was the "Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands". This was not interesting. Look back at my comments about the museum in Rio. The same comments I made there would apply here.

The next stop was "Mara's Fern Grotto". Pleasant enough and less than a five minute walk from the main road. The information we'd received from Ensemble made it sound far more interesting than it actually was.

Then lunch. This was a buffet at the "Restaurant du Musée Gauguin". This turned out to be a second rate coaching stop. There were about six other coaches there; it seemed as if every full day tour offered by Cunard was stopping there. The buffet was not vast (just like their plates) and at the time I visited it had run out of all the meats except cold chicken and plastic ham. What was good about the restaurant was its setting. It was beautiful, located by the sea with several private fish ponds containing lots of large and active fish and with views down the coast.

After lunch it was on to the Gauguin museum itself. This museum has very pleasant gardens but doesn't contain a single original work by Gauguin every picture on display is a print. Even the location of the museum bears little relation to where Gauguin was during his time on Tahiti.

Our penultimate stop of the afternoon was at Vaipahi Gardens - another waterfall and pool surrounded by flowers. A very nice area but not that different from Mara's Grotto that we'd visited in the morning.

The final stop was at Marae Arahurahu, an "ancient open-air temple". An interesting site. It was somewhere the buses could pull up very close to the temple itself but it was unfortunately over restored. It was reminiscent (although of nothing like the importance of) Orongo Village on Easter Island or the pyramids on Tenerife. It was interesting enough to see but, had I missed it, I wouldn't have been that bothered.

I don't mean any of my comments about the tour to be criticisms of  Ensemble Travel or their representatives, just that I don't think that Tahiti has any first or second class sites and has so few third class ones that almost every tour is very similar. [As the cruise went on I began to feel that we had been very lucky in Rio – the tour had been good. A lot of the Ensemble tours seemed to go to second rate sights when there were first rate ones available. If there were a next time I would be more careful about taking the included tours.]

One comment I would add is that Tahiti is not a particularly wheelchair friendly place - there are ramps but there are also lots of places where levels are changed by means of one or two steps; a coarse gravel is used for a lot of outdoor paths making pushing a chair impossible; a lot of sites have no wheelchair access at all; I didn't see a single toilet with facilities for people with disabilities - not such a problem for Paul but it could be a very embarrassing inconvenience for someone.

When we got back to the ship our cabin was not just cold but icy! They've fixed our air-conditioning. Now instead of having the thermostat set to minimum and the room still being too hot it's set to maximum and the cabin's still chilly! There's no pleasing some people!

We had dinner in the cabin again and Paul fell asleep shortly afterwards. I followed him at just turned 10-00pm. It had been a very tiring day.
Title: 15 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 20, 2009, 06:46 AM
I'm worried; we told them that our air conditioning wasn't cooling the cabin. The cabin's been like an ice box all night - and the thermostat's set to maximum. Are we to spend the second half of our trip in Arctic conditions?

Christopher Biggins is the Guest Lecturer today and I wanted to hear his lecture. Unfortunately the plumber came to look at the shower (the cold water pressure's been low although as it was much better this morning I thought they'd already repaired it) and didn’t get to the lecture. I'll have to catch the lecture on TV this afternoon.

Paul wasn't up when the plumber came - He (Paul) had found yesterday very tiring and wanted a rest. The plumber disappeared without saying anything at about 10-40am so Paul used the plumber-free time to go into the bathroom. We were just heading up to the Chart Room when the plumber got back so we left him to it.

I saw the Christopher Biggins lecture on TV. It was full of things he'd done in the 70s, 80s and 90s but nothing beyond that. In many ways the entire lecture was a name dropping exercise, unfortunately a lot of the names he was dropping had died at least 10 years ago. (One thing that the lecture showed was that whilst he might have been well known in the UK he hasn't done much in the US and therefore probably isn't known. To give an idea of his standing in the UK he's the most recent winner of "I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here!” This is a reality programme that puts has-beens through a jungle experience for the pleasure of viewers at home. The important part of that is has-beens!)

Now that we're sending most of our dirty clothes to the laundry there isn't the same need to visit the launderette frequently. However the pile of dirty socks, underwear, handkerchiefs, etc was getting bigger and I decided that this afternoon would be as good a time as any to get the launderette out of the way. It was quiet. Possibly due to the fact that for the first time since before Christmas every machine was working. A more probable reason for the Launderette being orderly was that the men outnumbered the women - at one point there being nine men and only one woman. There was even a man who'd split his load between three driers without starting a fight. I was puzzled by the man who washed nothing but a pair of socks and the man who only washed one dress shirt. What did they do with the rest of their clothes?

Now for an update on Paul. He is still getting about in a wheelchair. He's had his last injection to prevent blood clots and took his last tablet to prevent inflammation last Wednesday; the stitches can come out next Wednesday. He can start putting some weight on the ankle a week after that. He's hoping that by the time we leave Australia he'll be walking almost unaided. [This didn’t happen – it wasn’t until we’d left Australia that he started walking long stretches without a wheelchair and we were back in the US before he abandoned his crutches all together] This seems very different from the Doctor's first prognosis which said he'd have to fly home from Valparaiso. I am NOT saying the doctor was wrong, but I do think he was being exceedingly cautious and was more concerned about getting a possible problem off the ship than he was about getting Paul suitable treatment.
Title: 16th February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 21, 2009, 10:21 AM
I've just gone to get the report for the 16th and found it missing :( Where had it gone ??? Then I looked at the report for the 17th. That explained it :D

As the 17th is only short I've included the 18th as well :)
Title: 17 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 21, 2009, 10:21 AM
We've crossed the International Date Line. It's now tomorrow. Other than the fact that the 16th February 2008 has disappeared from our lives it hasn't made any difference.

The shower this morning was wonderful (this morning was the first time I've used it since it was repaired). The water was warm and the jets had great force - a combination we've not experienced before in this bathroom. I suspect that as the ship has got older the number of maintenance problems has increased dramatically; as November nears I suspect that the amount of maintenance done will actually decrease and the number of unfixable problems will therefore increase.

The only other thing we did of interest today was to go on deck for an hour after dinner (in the cabin). We hadn't changed for going on deck; I was surprised just how many others hadn't got changed either!
Title: 18 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 21, 2009, 10:23 AM
At sea breakfast always starts at 8-00am and at 7-00am in port. Today just had to be different - breakfast started at 7-30! This would not normally matter except I didn't sleep well last night and had been awake since 4-00am. I have spent the three hours between then and my rereading the Daily Programme eagerly anticipating what I would have for breakfast.

We were in no great rush to get off today as Tonga is a launch port and both my mother and Paul were rather hesitant about climbing onto a tender. Paul decided that he didn't want to risk it - not getting onto the tender but the steps back onto the ship at the end of the day; my mother decided that she would risk it!

So at about 9-30am Mum, Dad and I all headed off to the Grand Lounge to get our tender tickets. We made the lounge with only having to go back to the cabin once - my father forgot his hat! On the way back from collecting the hat I saw the housekeeper again, thanked her for getting the air-conditioning fixed and explained that there was just one problem - it was too well fixed. She says she'll get someone to look at it.

The queue for tender tickets wasn't long and we were called to a boat by 10-00am. Once outside the ship it was hot and humid. On the tender the sweat was literally dripping off me. This was the point where I realised I'd left my water bottle on the table in the Grand Lounge. Once off the boat and into the breeze the temperature appeared to drop slightly (although it was still over 30C) and we found a sat in the shade for my mother while my father and I went in search of a taxi.

We'd intended to get a taxi for the three of us although, in the end, we could only get three seats in a shared taxi. This taxi took seven people all together so besides the three of us there were two couples already waiting. I don't think they knew each other (if they did they never spoke). I was in the back seat with one of the couples - they were pleasant enough but hardly ever got out of the taxi to see the sight we'd stopped at (understandable - he'd been to Tonga twice before and obviously knew what to expect, I do wonder why they bothered taking the taxi though?). The next row of seats was taken by my mother and father and the wife of the second couple. She had the look of someone permanently sucking lemons and obviously wore the trousers in that relationship. The husband of that woman was sitting in the front passenger seat.

When we booked the taxi we had been told that it was US$ 25.00 for a two hour tour. When we'd said that we wanted to go for three hours we'd been told that would be US$ 30.00. The man who spoke good (ish) English left us at this point in the care of the driver who spoke almost no English whatsoever, although admittedly a lot more than my Tongan!

We set off and after half an hour we arrived at the museum of Tonga. Our driver asked if we wanted to get out and see the museum at which point the lemons woman said "No, just drive on. I want to see a beach". So we missed the museum (although after experiencing other national museums I'm not that bothered).

Then it was on to the place where Captain Cook had first landed. On our way there we passed a white building in the distance that we were told was the Royal Palace. Captain Cook's landing place was not that impressive either - it was a small bay with a pillar reading that the Queen had visited in 1970. Although one of the island's main tourist sites there were no facilities there.

While driving round the island we seemed to pass a vast number of cemeteries. Most of the graves in these were garish with a lot of the graves being decorated with cheap plastic flowers and cheap rechargeable garden lights. Some of the graves had painted sheets over them, behind them or both!

Our tour went on to the first of the Royal Graves - the Royal Step Graves. This was where, amongst others, a Tongan Prince and Princess who had died in the US are buried. The site consisted of two mounds each about 30' x 50' built round with large stones to give two steps up to the graves. The graves themselves were just as garish as those seen on the rest of the island.

From there it was onto the blowholes, another major Tongan site. As we approached them it started to spot with rain although as we got there it looked as if the rain was stopping. That is until we were all out of the taxi (the two sitting next to me at the back also got out). After a couple of minutes the heavens opened and we were soaked almost instantly. We raced back to the taxi - that is all except the two who were sitting next to me and had to get in first. They wandered around in the rain leaving us to get even wetter. Once back in the air-conditioned taxi we died out quickly although we were very cold.

We made a stop to look at some "Flying Foxes" (bats) sleeping in a tree and from there we headed for another view of the Royal Palace (covered in scaffolding) and a view over Nuku'alofa and the bay in front of it. The ship in the bay made the view.

Finally it was on to a second set of Royal Tombs, grander than but just as gaudy as the first, before heading back to the ship. I suspect that I'll never go to Tonga again and am therefore pleased that I can say I've been. However, if I never go again, I won't feel I've missed anything.

It was back to the ship in time for lunch (a sandwich in the cabin) and then an afternoon spent reading before going on deck just before we began our slow sailaway through the outlying reefs. These reefs stayed with us for a good hour after we'd sailed, with sandbanks and rocks visible very close to the ship.

Dinner was in the cabin again and that was it for our day in Tonga.
Title: 19th February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 22, 2009, 10:38 AM
The launderette isn't the only place to generate fights, the gym isn't too bad at it either (although the launderette is still the winner by far!). This morning six people got into an involved argument because one man had stayed on his treadmill for two minutes longer than he had booked. The sextet spent more time fighting than the extra time taken on the treadmill!

Last night both Paul and I got a letter from the purser. It read that Cunard no longer needed our passports for clearance purposes and that we could go and collect them between 9-00am and midday. After breakfast I went on to collect them while Paul started to get up. We have both got stamps from Brazil and Chile and the one that had to be paid for from the Pitcairn Islands. Paul has also got a US immigration stamp and I haven't. Why?

There were two lectures I wanted to hear this morning. The first was Peter Crimes talking about Auckland. A very interesting lecture that made Auckland sound very appealing - I wish I was going to get to see more of it. [Auckland was a very interesting place. I’d have liked more time there. Another place to add to the list to revisit ? ]

The second was Christopher Biggins' first lecture on his time on "I'm a Celebrity". I said he was a has-been; here's the proof: he gives three lectures, the first is about his life and stops in the mid 90s and the final two are about his time on a TV programme that is known as a tool used be ex-TV personalities to resurrect their career. Having said that the talk was funny and well delivered and I am looking forward to hearing the second half.

I had sat next to Roger and Rosemary at Peter Crimes' lecture and they had offered to go and see Paul while I was at Christopher Biggins' lecture. I was very grateful because I don't like leaving Paul alone for too long. When I got back to the cabin they were discussing a possible trip in Adelaide. Paul's mood had brightened considerably.

I was a very naughty boy last night! I decided to let Paul eat on his own and I went into the restaurant with my parents. When I got there I found that there was a bottle of wine I'd started last sector that was opened but still there. I would have expected it to have gone off having been open for so long but I'm pleased to confirm that it was still quite drinkable.
Title: 20 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 23, 2009, 12:50 PM
Lisa, the concierge in the World Club lounge, lent me the folders on New Zealand and Australia so that Paul could look through them. I had to take them back this morning. Whilst I was doing that I picked up some more interesting leaflets on Auckland. I read them while I was having breakfast and then took them back for Paul.

On my way back from breakfast I met the housekeeper again. She asked if the air-conditioning was better now, was the cabin less like a fridge. I replied that it was although it was still a bit chilly. Her response was that the temperature was as good as the a/c engineers could get it; when we move into cooler waters we will have to ask again if we want the temperature altering. I think this is another case where Carnival is not spending money repairing the ship because the repair won't pay.

[Later on in the cruise, when it was starting to get cold and we asked for the heating to be turned back up, we were told that was not possible – the temperature could only be altered by the dial in the cabin!]

Paul also found the leaflets interesting and took me up on my suggestion to go up to the Boardroom and see what other leaflets there were. Whilst we were there we also had a coffee and Paul used it as an opportunity to check his emails. The visit also gave us a chance to quiz poor Lisa about the facilities for wheelchairs in Auckland and Sydney!

I wheeled Paul down to the Chart Room at about 10-50 and found him a table where he could look out. I then went off to the third lecture by Christopher Biggins. This covered his winning "I'm a Celebrity" and went to prove that the show does help flagging personalities! Although I have made it clear that I think the show is for has-beens (I'm sure that Christopher Biggins would agree with me) two of the talks that Christopher Biggins has given have been very good. I have enjoyed them and would go and see him if he were in the York area.

After lunch (in the cabin) Paul was resting whilst I went to see the first Charity Tug-of-War. This consisted of teams of crew from various departments and took place at the Funnel Bar. Having seen the crowds that went to (and not having been able to get a place for) the Crossing the Line Ceremony I thought I had better get there early to ensure I had a place. The competition didn't start until 2-30pm. I was there at 2-00pm and got the last good place with a view. There were seats and there were places in shade but these had all been taken long before I got there.

The competition consisted of 16 teams. Eight teams of men, four teams of women and four mixed teams. The first four heats were for places in the male semi-final and consisted of two or three tugs per pair of teams with the looser dropping out and the winner going through to the semi-final. Then there were two heats of women's tugs with the winners going into the women's final. Finally the four mixed teams tugged for the two teams to go into the mixed final.

The second part of the competition consisted of the Men's semi-final and the mixed and woman's final. Four teams were tugging in the men's semi-final and were reduced to two. There was then a break to allow the two teams of finalists to get their breath back and cool down whilst the Captain presented the trophies to the mixed and women's winners.

This was one of those odd occasions where passengers and crew were allowed to mix. By this time it was just turned four o'clock and the crowds of passengers that had been there at the start were starting to thin because of the sun. This didn't seem to be bothering any of the crew whose numbers appeared to be swelling. It was quite odd to be on a deck where passengers and crew were cheering on their teams.

Finally the two men's teams tugged for the winner's trophy. One team won the first tug and then the other won the second. The Engineers, winners of the first tug, also won the third however the second team objected - they claimed that their team hadn't been ready when the tug started and appealed to the judges for the tug to be set aside. The judges decided that the tug should stand and the Engineers were declared the winners for the third time in a row. I understand that the Captain later declared the match a draw because he felt the final tug had been started before both teams were ready.

The whole event lasted for almost two hours and there will be a rematch in April. I'm looking forward to it but I might go even earlier (even if it means sitting out in the sun for longer) and get a seat! [In the end I didn’t make it to the April Tug]

Bed early (relatively - about 10-45pm) as we've been told the sail into Auckland is worth seeing and I'd need to be up by 5-45am to see it.

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 24, 2009, 04:40 PM
I made a mistake yesterday  :-[ I put the 29th February on the report of the 20th :( I've changed it so that the correct date is there now but apologies to anyone I confused :(
Title: 21 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 24, 2009, 04:41 PM
We were both awake by 5-30am. At 5-45am it was still dark so I didn't bother getting up. Paul and I lay in bed and watched the lights of Auckland passing our windows. We were docked by 6-40am; sunrise wasn't until 6-57am so I don't think I missed much. The one thing that I know I missed was the Maori dancers that welcomed us to the city.

I went for an early breakfast and when I got back went on deck with Paul. This was the first time he has been anywhere outside the cabin just using his crutches and not having the wheel chair as well. He found it a great effort but managed it - I'm proud of him.

We were off the ship at just turned 9-00am. There is a proper liner terminal in Auckland so the gangway was from the Midships Lobby on deck 2, almost by our cabin and directly into the terminal without the need for lots of stairs. One thing struck me at this point - how friendly and helpful everyone on the port staff was, from porters to Customs and Immigration. They all gave a very positive introduction to their city and country.

We had been told that there was a hop on - hop off sightseeing bus but nobody had been able to confirm if they would carry wheelchairs. We decided that we would take this, if we could, and headed to the stop at the Ferry Buildings, a five minute walk from the ship. Once there they said that they did not have the equipment to carry passengers in wheelchairs but, if Paul could walk onto the bus, they would be able to carry the wheelchair separately. The cost of the bus was NZ$ 30.00 per person for an all day bus pass and NZ$ 15.00 per person for a ticket that allowed you to ride round once without getting off. It is worth noting that the bus would accept US$ in payment for the full fare.

We didn't get off the bus at every point, opting to spend a lot of the journey listening to the commentary and seeing the sights from the windows. The bus first ran along Tamaki Drive to Bastion Point giving fantastic views over the harbour to both Auckland and Devonport before it went round to the site of the cathedral and St Mary's Church.

The cathedral was a modern building with the oldest part only dating back to just pre-Second World War and the later part of the building being late 40s. It was a very impressive building and was well maintained. I would recommend it as somewhere that one should see.

St Mary’s was the timber church that had been used as the main Anglican church before the cathedral was built. When the cathedral opened just across the road from the church it fell into a state of disrepair and, by the 1970s, was on the point of being pulled down when the money was raised to restore the building and physically move it across the road so that it was next to the cathedral. It makes another very interesting stopping off point on the tour of Auckland.

Once we'd finished at the cathedral we walked (I walked, Paul was pushed) down Parnell Road and through Parnell Village. The village had been sold to us as being full of Victorian architecture, small shops selling good quality souvenirs and lots of coffee shops. There were a lot of new building there and the shops were more specialist than souvenir shops but there were plenty of cafes. We stopped at one, intending just to have a coffee and ended up having lunch. They did the nicest sandwiches and Blueberry pancakes that we have seen. The bill for a sandwich, Blueberry pancakes, two cappuccinos and a bottle of water to do two was NZ$ 44.00. We thought that was very reasonable.

We got the bus from there to the Sky Tower, the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. The ride to the top is NZ$ 25.00 each however we were given an Auckland A-Z which includes a voucher giving a 10% discount. To go to the top level (we didn't bother as it was only 36m higher) was an extra NZ$ 3.00. The views from the tower are spectacular. The ride up the tower however is interesting as there is a glass panel in the bottom of each lift car giving a view right down the lift shaft. The inside doors to the lift are glass. For the first half of the ride you only see concrete whizzing past you however above the midpoint the lifts run on the outside of the building and offer an interesting, if vertiginous, perspective on the city.

Once down the tower we caught the bus again for the final leg of its circuit and got back to the ship at about 3-30pm. We ordered a cup of tea and rested. Paul got me to check his emails and then we thought about going to the Maori show in the Grand Lounge at 4-15pm. It's just as well that we didn't - at 4-45pm someone from the cruise staff came on stage to say that the performers hadn't turned up so the event had been cancelled!

As we're late sailing (and I'm not going to be eating with them this evening) I took my parents for a preprandial drink ashore. I had a dark beer in the hopes it would be a bit like a British Bitter. Unfortunately it was more like a rather flavourless larger although it was strong!

After dinner I pushed Paul on deck to watch us sail. What had been a lovely warm day had, just like a British summer's day, turned quite breezy and we were glad we'd put on some warm jumpers. Earlier in the day we'd seen several of the ferry operators selling tickets for "Farewell QE2" cruises (just like New York and the three Queens) and these boats were all in the harbour cheering us off. There were also a few private boats out to see us off for the last time and once she'd finished pulling one of the tugs did some impressive acrobatics. The Hilton Hotel is right next to the jetty. Most of the balconies had people on them watching us sail, as did the balconies of the neighbouring flats. At both ends of the jetty (the bits where the public was allowed) were crowded with well wishers who wanted to say their final goodbye.

Auckland gave us a very emotional yet friendly send off. I am very pleased with the impression it has left and want to go back and explore New Zealand a lot more. That country seems to have all the advantages of the UK, Europe and Northern America without any of the disadvantages of those places. It also has quite a few advantages of its own.
Title: 22 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 25, 2009, 09:39 AM
When we got back to our cabin last night there was a letter under the door from the pursers telling us that we should attend Australian Immigration in the Grand Lounge between 8-30am and 9-00am. There was no indication of what day we should attend though! I rang the pursers and was told "we forgot to put it on the letter"! "Attend tomorrow". We sat down to fill our cards in as per the guidance notes and ran up against several problems where the notes were of no help at all. It was off to the pursers to seek further guidance, they didn't know either and were only able to hazard a guess at what the correct answers were.

Apparently four Australian Immigration Officers boarded the ship in New Zealand and will process passengers en route to Sydney. Their plan is to see passengers from "deck 8" cabins any time between 7-00am and midday. Deck One cabins were from 8-00am to 8-30am, Deck Two from 8-30am to 9-00am, Deck Three 9-00am to 10-00am, Deck Four 10-00am to 11-00am and Five from 11-00am until midday. I wonder what the officers are going to do for the next two days if they see everyone this morning. Is it just a way of getting a couple of days cruise paid for by us?

Last night we had been warned to put breakable things on the floor as the Captain was expecting rough weather. This morning we woke up to very choppy seas. I am quite enjoying it; the weather meant that the gym was very quiet this morning; unfortunately it makes pushing a wheelchair along a corridor very difficult.

We made it to the immigration inspection for 8-30am and found almost no queue. Even if there had been it wouldn't have mattered. The inspection was taking place in the centre of the Grand Lounge - an area to which there is no wheelchair access. One of the Cunard stewards got one of the officers to leave his desk and clear our passports immediately. We were through immigration in less than five minutes. (As the officer was quite cute I can forgive him stealing a couple of days cruise ;) ) Both Paul and I went in to breakfast this morning. When we talked to people just coming into breakfast as we left they were saying that the queue had grown and was then taking over 20 minutes!

Peter Crimes was giving his talk on Sydney this morning. I got there early as I thought it would be well attended with the weather being bad. I was quite wrong, the bad weather was keeping people away and the theatre balcony was less than half full. After the lecture I visited the Computer Learning Centre to find out information about wheelchairs on Sydney's monorail (the CLC was nothing like as busy as it normally is) and to check CC. Then it was back to the cabin for a cup of tea.

In the afternoon it was time for Paul to have the stitches in his leg removed. The Medical Centre was open from 4-00pm until 6-00pm. At 3-00pm we went to the chart room for a drink. The sea had calmed down quite a lot by this point, making Paul feel relived - he wasn't looking forward to anyone using a sharp near him in rough weather. We went down to the Medical Centre at about 4-00pm. The sea started to get rougher. When we were seen at about 4-30pm the sea was quite lumpy. Paul was wondering if he wouldn't be better leaving the whole thing until tomorrow. The nurse and I persuaded him not to wait until tomorrow and soon the stitches were out with the minimum fuss and only a little pain! Once they were out Paul looked so relieved - I hadn't realised just how much the idea of having his stitches out in rough weather was bothering him.

Paul had dinner in the cabin again whilst I went for dinner with my parents. I met them for drinks in the Queens Grill Lounge again this evening. The room is very quiet; the description of “Cemetery Waiting Room" certainly fits; although their canapés are better than those in the other bars!

When I got back to the cabin after dinner there was an envelope and small box waiting for me. It was the second World Cruise gift. A pair of cufflinks just like the Platinum WC badge but without the chip of glass. My mother didn't get cuff links, she got a small jewellery box instead.
Title: 23 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 26, 2009, 08:18 AM
The sea is much calmer today. The ship is still giving the odd lurch and pushing a wheelchair goes from struggling to move it up a steep incline to running downhill to keep up with it every 30 seconds! But generally speaking things are much easier than they were yesterday. The gym was slightly quieter than normal but, walking from the cabin to the restaurant, I saw nobody! The public areas of the ship were totally deserted. If I hadn't been to the gym I'd have thought that the clocks had been put back and I'd forgotten. Once I'd got to the restaurant that perception vanished - it was a busy as normal.

The rest of the morning was spent, with Paul, sitting in the Chart Room catching up with this journal, reading, watching the sea go past. We returned to the cabin for lunch.

There was a "Meet The Captain" session in the Grand Lounge this afternoon. This was where Warren Smith (Cruise Director) first interviewed Captain McNaught and then acted as host whilst the audience asked questions. There were three notable questions. One good, one not good and the third bad.

Firstly the Captain confirmed that the ship and the entire contents had been sold to Dubai. He said that, when he takes the ship there in November they will disembark the passengers and then spend about a week decommissioning the ship. When he and his crew finally leave the ship they will pack their personal possessions and leave everything else. That is as I understood the deal before I left in December. HOWEVER the captain also said that when (if) the QE2 is finally scrapped all the memorabilia onboard must return to Cunard. This could be in a very long time (think of the Mary) and he gave no indication of any payment that might be required to get them back but does imply that Carnival haven't just sold everything without any concern for the history.

The second was that he is going on leave in Singapore. His replacement will be David Perkins!

The bad news is that we will not be going into the Ocean Terminal in Hong Kong but will have to tie up at a container facility some way out. The Captain said that we would not be getting any more time there and (jokingly) that we will see Carol Marlow and should complain to her if we feel aggrieved. Between starting and finishing this paragraph I have raced to the Tour Office and booked a tour for Hong Kong. It might not be needed, we can cancel it if we don't want it, but at least we have a way of seeing Hong Kong if we are a long way out.

The entertainment this evening was "QE2 Pop Idol Grand Final". There were three shows this evening; the 8-30pm and 10-30pm shows as normal ant then a crew show at midnight. The best I can say about the singing is that I'm glad I wasn't at the heats if the best four were chosen to appear in the show! The QE2 might be excellent for many reasons however the crew’s singing is not one of them. Two of the singers were better than the other two. Their performance was near the standard of the normal entertainment (and remember I don't think much of that) but it did still not make a good evening's entertainment. At the end of the show the audience were asked to vote for a winner who will be announced at the final show this evening for the crew and at the show tomorrow for the passengers.
Title: 24 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 27, 2009, 09:12 AM
I was woken this morning by Paul up in bed. He was looking out of the port holes. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was just going past! We've moored at the Garden Island Naval Base this morning. At the moment the view is of the botanical gardens.

As soon as I was up I turned my phone on. Five minutes later I got a text from Margot saying that they had arrived in Sydney (and got a nice hotel room). I texted back to say that we were also in Sydney and then, putting my phone down on the dressing table, headed off to breakfast and Paul went back to sleep. Whilst I was at breakfast Margot called back. Waking Paul and annoying him because he couldn't even get to the phone to see who was calling! When I returned from breakfast I called Margot back. I am really starting to believe that we might just get to see them. [Margot and Lyn were two acquaintances from CC]

We caught the courtesy bus from Garden Island. We had been told that it went to Circular Quay; it didn't, it actually dropped us off about 20 minutes away. We drew some cash and then got a taxi to the bottom of George Street, in "The Rocks", where the market is at weekends. I'd forgotten to bring the details of the rout we'd intended to follow and Paul had forgotten his lighter so we headed off looking for replacements for both. We found a replacement guide in the tourist office in The Rocks and directions to a convenience store for the lighter.

Once we'd both the map and the lighter we decided to stop for a drink and to study the map when this voice said "Malcolm?" It was Margot and Lyn. Apparently we were just outside their hotel when we decided to stop and they were just coming out to go sightseeing. They joined us for coffee and we spent over an hour chatting like old friends.

When we left Margot and Lyn (we're only leaving them for a few hours - we're meeting up for dinner this evening) we started to follow the route on our map. We checked with the tourist office and they'd told us the entire route except for one small detour was wheelchair accessible. It was not. Even discounting the places where there was no dropped kerb, the road was up a 30 degree incline, etc there were three places that required negotiating a flight of steps to pass. By retracing our route and using the map we were able to retrace our steps to complete the walk however by the end Paul was very shaken and I was exhausted. Sydney (or at least the Rocks area of Sydney) is nothing like as wheelchair friendly as Auckland was.

Our trek had left us back at Circular Quay. We were able to fight our way through the crowds to the Central Station (we also had the excitement of seeing Vicky ) and pick up a taxi. The taxi driver spoke very little English and appeared to have even less knowledge of Sydney's sights however we convinced him to take us up to Observatory Park; an area that has magnificent views our over Sidney. From there we were able to persuade him (with the aid of a map) to take us around Mrs Macquaries Point which let us see parts of the Botanic Gardens and The Domain and also gave us views across Wooloomooloo Bay to the QE2.

Our driver then took us back to the Ship. The entire taxi journey lasted just over an hour and cost AU$ 45.00. We didn't think that was too bad.

Once back on the ship I went for afternoon tea. I didn't have a struggle to manage it because I'd missed lunch. Once tea was over it was back to the cabin to collect cameras and then onto deck to watch our move to Circular Quay (and, I suppose, Vicky's sailing has also got to be noted).

The first thing that I noticed was the number of small craft (hundreds not tens) that were sailing past us. From the cabin I'd seen them but I couldn't see where they were coming from or going to. On deck we could see that they were sailing up Wooloomooloo Bay, past the QE2, turning round and then sailing past the QE2 again. They were repeating this manoeuvre again and again.

Then we passed Vicky. There was a flotilla of small boats following her out. However there was a similar flotilla following us in. Circular Quay is a big terminal for ferries going out of Sydney. Every ferry that passed us was crowded with waving people. The top of Fort Denison was crowded with watchers. [Afterwards we learnt that Carol Marlow was there)

Finally were the crowds onshore to welcome us. Mrs Macquarries Point was 10 to 15 deep. The crowd stretched back further than I could see. Bennelong Point (the headland where the Opera House stands) had as many people standing on as there was room. As we approached the Overseas Passenger Terminal we could see that the road running up to the Harbour Bridge was crowded with watchers as was every available part of Sydney Cove. I would think the number of people equalled those in Greenock on her maiden call there for her 25th anniversary.

We'd arranged to meet Margot & Lyn at 8-15pm outside the door to the Overseas Passenger Terminal. unfortunately the way we came off the ship wasn't the same way that Margot & Lyn had thought we'd come off the ship (or the same place that the Daily Programme said we'd come off the ship)! We spent half an hour making lots of phone calls trying to find each other. This process wasn't helped both by our finding signs saying variously that we were on levels one, three or four and by there being a roadway which was empty of cars at both our level and Margot and Lyn's!

Eventually we managed to meet up. Margot and Lyn had booked a table in a restaurant for 8-30. Because of the confusion at the terminal it was about 9-00pm when we got there however Lyn had spoken to the restaurant and they were quite happy to serve us. It was an Italian restaurant, less than five minutes from the ship. It was just as well that they had booked as all the restaurants in the area were full and had signs out reading "Reservations Only".

Our order was taken and the starters arrived in a timely but not rushed fashion. Paul and I shared an Anti-Pasto which arrived well before Lyn and Margot's starter. Then, when we were about halfway through our starters the waitress came and asked if we would like our main courses now. She was told that no, we'd like them in five or ten minutes when we'd finished our starters. About two minutes later our main courses arrived! As Lyn and Margot had finished their starters they took their main courses; as Paul and I hadn't finished we couldn't. When we finally got onto our main courses they were freshly cooked - They were not the meals that had originally been brought and kept warm but freshly cooked food.

At 10-00pm, when we were partway through our main courses they started folding and stacking the tables, putting down the sun umbrellas (we were eating outside) and generally clearing and tidying to close. By the time we had finished our main course the entire restaurant had the look of being shut! They did not offer us a pudding but did hint that coffee could be available - we declined. The bill was brought without any delay and we found ourselves outside on the pavement.

I suggested heading back to the terminal and going for a drink at one of the bars there. The first bar we went to was shut. The next bar, one that had been recommended to us by Lisa, was also shut with a large group of ex-patrons standing on the pavement outside it. In the end we had to say our goodbyes on the quay and head home to bed. We were both very pleased to have met Margot and Lyn. We hope that we will meet them again. [It’s now 18 months later and we’ve lost touch so another meeting is unlikely  :( ]
Title: 25 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 28, 2009, 08:45 AM
Today was our second day in Sydney. Unfortunately it started badly. I’d gone to the computer centre to send yesterday’s report whilst Paul got dressed. I sent the email and then my PDA crashed! When I tried to restart it the opening screens displayed and then the machine just rebooted. It kept doing this! In the end I had to leave it as we were due to head into Sydney. I’ll try to sort it out later.

The first part of the day was spent by taking the ferry to Manly (a beach resort about half an hour away). The ferry ride was interesting as it allowed us to see more of Sydney Harbour. It is vast. It is more like a boat ride down the coast than a trip within a harbour. The journey to Manly only covers about ¼ of the harbour’s length. Am I conveying the size of this harbour? :D

Manly itself is not that interesting. The main attraction (and what Manly is famous for) is its beach, long, with the bay full of surfers waiting for a strong wave. (There weren’t many strong waves so there weren’t many surfers – we gave up waiting to see a surfer riding one. The surfers seemed to spend most of their time floating in the water). The town has quite a lot of shops (mostly selling swimming/surfing apparel) and a few restaurants (mainly offering variations on the theme of fish and chips). We got a light lunch at one of these restaurants. It was acceptable but nothing out of the ordinary.

We returned by ferry to Circular Quay. We sat on the other side of the ferry so that we could get a different view. The sight of Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the QE2 together is fantastic. (I’ll try and post a picture if I get the computer problems sorted out).

From Circular Quay we caught another ferry; this time to Darling Harbour. We were told this was one of the most picturesque areas of Sydney’s waterfront. It is a modern development that consists of restaurants, shops and places like the Sydney Aquarium, The Outback Centre and the Maritime museum. I am sure that these are all very worthwhile places to visit if there is time. Unfortunately that is one luxury we didn’t have. We settled on riding the Monorail that does a complete circuit round the harbour. The ride was only short – about 15 minutes – but it did offer a couple of interesting views and showed us parts of the city we wouldn’t otherwise have seen. However it ran, for a lot of its route, above backstreets with not much view. If you add to that the train only consists of seven cars, each of which is packed to bursting, it wasn’t the most enjoyable or worthwhile of rides. It is unusual because it is one of the few monorails in the world but it is really only there as a tourist attraction – there are few people riding it to get from one place to another.

By the time we got off the monorail we were both feeling absolutely exhausted and were ready to go back to the ship. We caught the ferry back and were onboard about an hour before we were due to sail. We had time for a cup of tea in the cabin before we had to be on deck for the sailaway. Leaving Sydney was both exhilarating and emotional. There were crowds out to see the ship leave and say their final goodbyes to her. There were not as many people as there had been the previous day, the see both the QE2 and the Vicky, but that had been on a Sunday when people had not already done a day’s work. There was still a large flotilla of boats that followed us down stream and out of the harbour.

Sydney was interesting; however it had a brashness that we didn’t see in Auckland. Whereas I could imagine myself living in Auckland (and it is somewhere I would definitely like to revisit) Sydney is somewhere that is interesting to see and there is a lot more that I could see but I have no great urge to go back soon. I wonder if I’ll find the rest of Australia the same.
Title: 26 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 29, 2009, 03:21 PM
Yet another sea day! I don’t want to give the impression that I’m fed up with the ship; I don’t want to give the impression that I’m homesick; but today was one of the first times I’ve felt that I’d rather be at home!

Sydney was the halfway point for the World Cruise. We’ve now been at sea for well over two months. The ship seems like home – it has always had that feeling of homeliness – after a day ashore you’re always pleased to get back to the ship, kick off your shoes and relax (or at least get dressed for the evening). The ship feels a very safe place. You don’t have to carry money (just like the Queen – and no snide comments), if you want a cup of tea you just pick up the phone and ask, likewise if you’re hungry. I wonder if we aren’t all losing some of our independence – we are forgetting how to do those everyday things that are necessary for life off the ship (like cooking, making the bed, looking after ourselves).

I really have trouble believing that we have been on this ship for so long; I am having even more trouble in realising that it’s coming to an end. In less than two months we’re back to the cold realities of life off the QE2. I haven’t really thought about it yet but I’m starting to dread that happening. The idea that this life is coming to an end is very unsettling.

That I am now computerless is a major problem that is probably contributing to my feelings of anxiety. I left my PDA overnight and tried it again – still nothing. [When I got it home and sent it for repair the motherboard had failed] I resolved to get a laptop as soon as possible and went as far as going to see Lisa to get the name of a shop that stocked them in Hobart. She obliged but said that I really would be better waiting another two weeks and getting one in Singapore – I would get far more laptop for my money. So at the moment I’m computerless and having to “sneak” time on Paul’s when he’s asleep! (It’s not quite as bad as that, I just don’t like using it when he’s awake and confined to the cabin.)

I’m wondering if a second reason could be that about half the passengers changed in Sydney. Whereas I looked round in the dining room before Sydney and saw people I recognised now I see a whole lot of new faces with only the odd familiar one. It’s not only that the passengers changed but some of the crew as well. Although we still have the same cabin steward my parents’ steward has changed as has our wine steward. It means we’ve got to go through the whole process of educating him to know what we like, how we like it and when we like it!

So today started with the gym and then breakfast. After that it was back to the cabin to use Paul’s laptop while he got dressed (something that’s taking a blessedly long time at the moment) and then wheeling him up to the Chart Room.

I turned Diamond just before this sector so I had to go and get my new card. I had visited the pursers last night and been told that the upgrade wasn’t showing on their system yet but to check with Cruise Sales in the morning and they would ensure that I got my new card. After leaving Paul in the Chart Room I went to Cruise Sales who confirmed that I was Diamond and said I should have been sent a letter (I wasn’t) and that if I went to the pursers now they would issue me with a Diamond card. I went back to the pursers and, after queuing in two different lines, was issued with another Platinum card! When I asked the purser why I would want to change one Platinum card for another the girl shrugged and said she didn’t know! I finally persuaded her to ring cruise sales and sort it out. I got my Diamond card after about half an hours’ work.

The only other thing that happened in the morning and was worthy of note was Peter Crime’s lecture on Hobart. As usual the lecture was interesting and made Hobart sound like another interesting place. It was also well attended although there were still some empty seats unlike those lectures before Sydney.

I’d decided to go to the Launderette after lunch. It was packed! (Paul told me later that, when he’d been in the Chart Room, he’d heard some people saying how quiet it had been in the morning). There was no bad behaviour, fights or arguments, just a lot of people wanting to do their washing! (Actually there was one example of poor etiquette – someone was complaining that their washing had been removed from two of the driers – they’d only left it there to go and have lunch – by this time it was 4-00pm!)

I went swimming before dinner – the first time I’ve been swimming in days. The pool was fairly quiet when I got there (three other people) and two of them got out within 10 minutes.

Note from Paul:

Poor Malcolm seems to be a bit down at the moment. He’s no computer. His parents are as demanding as ever, and he has the chore of pushing me around (in a wheel chair, that is.) A world cruise is not like a couple of weeks’ holiday – all the little things that irritate and annoy which you can tolerate for a week or two become much more significant when they go on for months! Hopefully a day ashore will cheer him up a bit!
Title: 27 Februaru 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 30, 2009, 07:40 AM
I didn’t sleep well last night and was up early. We didn’t get off the ship until 1030am so I’d already spent a lot of my time in Hobart doing nothing by the time we left the ship for the town. I did get to see part of the crew emergency drill that takes place in most ports though. It seems to consist of lots of crew members standing around in life jackets and looking vaguely embarrassed. I’m sure it serves a good purpose though.

Hobart is a very interesting port. It is only small and does not, at first, seem to have a lot to entertain the tourist. However it is a town that has the interest of being not touristy and giving one the chance of seeing how a normal Tasmanian lives. One thing that really impressed us was the helpfulness and friendliness of the people. Everyone, from waitresses to strangers on the street was polite and friendly. Twice, whilst we were looking at a map, people stopped to ask if we needed help. The first was a lady passing by on foot, the second person to stop was a car driver.

The weather in Hobart was the closest we’ve had to an English summer’s day. The temperature started at 13C and rose to 20C before we left. There was a very light sprinkling of rain at lunchtime, but not enough to even call it a shower.
What was unusual was the breeze. It had a chill to it that I wouldn’t expect in summer. In that it was more reminiscent of a warm spring day when winter’s almost gone but it leaves just a reminder of itself where it can.

Hobart’s port is a working port and as such the authorities are not keen on people wandering about inside the port area itself. The port had provided a shuttle bus to go from the ship into the centre of Hobart, about a 15 minute journey. The daily programme had not been that helpful in providing details of the shuttle bus as it said that the bus was only to the port gates, you were not allowed to walk from the ship into Hobart and that the walk from the ship was about 10 minutes! The programme aside Hobart is the most wheelchair friendly place we’ve been so far. Almost every kerb is dropped; lots of roads have long level areas on them; There are plenty of wheelchair accessible toilets (even if some are a little hard to find) and, one of the biggest things of all, the shuttle bus was adapted to take wheelchairs and had a ramp for access as well as a seating area inside.

The shuttle bus took us to the central tourist information centre. There we were able to pick up a map showing the main places of interest in Hobart. These were mainly buildings like their Town Hall. According to the map there are quite a lot although most are really not of great interest to anyone who doesn’t actually work in the building!

We started by heading out of the city centre to the Salamanca area. This was an area of Hobart where the Georgian warehouses have been restored and many have been turned into cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, etc. There was also a rather more modern area of more restaurants, bookshops, bars, etc just behind the old warehouses. We felt this area was a bit of a disappointment – there were a lot of parked cars making it difficult to see the buildings. Every Sunday there is a market in this area. We had been told that it should be there today because there was a ship in. It wasn’t.

From Salamanca we walked along the waterfront. It was very reminiscent of the harbour area of Bridlington (out of season)! There was a sculpture commemorating the first passages to the Antarctic. This memorial was built on the rocks by the sea. It consisted of penguins and seals standing around a man with a dog. (As I said not a lot of great interest ;) )

From there we walked past the Theatre Royal – the oldest working theatre in Australia and then onto Elizabeth Mall – the shopping centre. He we got lunch. We had a ham and spinach quiche with a coffee – nothing exciting but very tasty and a good sized portion. All the food we’ve got in Australia has been of a good standard and has been enjoyable.

We finished by walking through the city centre, past building like the cathedral and the post office. By the time we got back to the shuttle bus we were both exhausted.

After a refreshing cup of tea in the cabin it was time to go on deck to watch the sailaway. Here again there were a lot of small boats al sailing with the QE2 towards the mouth of the harbour.

I think we would both agree that we have found Hobart a much more enjoyable stop than Sydney. It could well be something to do with the number of things there are to see – Sydney left us feeling that we’d only been able to scratch the surface in four places whereas Hobart left me feeling that I’d seen the town. (Of course there’s a lot more to Tasmania than Hobart.)
Title: Re: 27 Februaru 2008
Post by: Rob Lightbody on Jul 30, 2009, 12:28 PM
Here again there were a lot of small boats al sailing with the QE2 towards the mouth of the harbour.

That must have been AMAZING to see.  Her final departures with all the small boats were always amazing, and left people teary eyed.  Do you have photos of this? 
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Chris Frame on Jul 30, 2009, 03:22 PM

I was aboard for this historic farewell segment of QE2's World Cruise. The response that Australia gave QE2 was superb. Sydney's "Royal Rendezvous" started off the chain of goodbyes which climaxed with Adelaide, Albany and then finally Fremantle. It was, with out a doubt, one of the most memorable voyages QE2 ever took. Not only were her passengers teary eyed - but the crew were taken a-back at the magnificent turnout, love and good will shown towards the Queen of the Seas.

Some pictures of the Sydney rendezvous reside at my website's Queen Victoria section http://www.chriscunard.com/tour-qV.htm (http://www.chriscunard.com/tour-qV.htm) **for some reason the URL keeps showing a small "Q" - so you'll need to make it a capital Q to make the address work**

We included lots of shots of the Australian farewell in our book (www.qe2book.com)

Video (thanks to the wonders of You Tube) Below:

Sydney - her beautiful horn:

Hobart bagpipe farewell:

Melbourne farewell:

Adelaide says goodbye (48 seconds in the horn sounds!!):

Albany Maiden (and final) visit of QE2:

Fremantle - very emotional as QE2 sails into the sunset:

And of course, the final "Cunard QE2" crossing of the Equator:
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Andy F on Jul 31, 2009, 01:49 AM
Amazing vids there Chris, putting pictures to Malcolm's most fascinating story
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Chris Frame on Jul 31, 2009, 04:19 AM
Thanks Andy,

It was absolutely fantastic - eclipsed for me only by the thrill of being invited to speak aboard Mediterranean Sojourn!

I thought that the 2008 W/C would be my last voyage on QE2, but knew deep down that my QE2 Story wasn't over yet ;)

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 31, 2009, 09:07 AM
I do have pictures. Lots of pictures  ;D Unfortunately the computer with them on is poorly and has been from the start of these postings :( When it's repaired I should be able to access them :)
Title: 28 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Jul 31, 2009, 09:09 AM
The gym was very quiet this morning. Even the pool, which is normally packed, only had about three people in it. I wonder if everyone was tired after a day in Hobart. It wasn’t just the gym that was quiet the entire ship was – even the restaurant.

Peter Crimes was lecturing on Melbourne today. I left Paul in the Chart Room while I went to his lecture. As usual it was good but I felt that there was some doubt as to some of his assurances in his introduction. Watching the lecture later on TV with Paul he said that he felt the same. (Note by Paul: Crimes didn’t know, apparently, that the Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne is by the great British Architect, William Butterfield!) (And a further note from Malcolm – who cares? :D)

After the lecture I joined Paul in the Chart Room for a couple of drinks before it was time for lunch. Whilst there I paid a visit to “Marie’s Charity Table”. She runs a stall selling various ephemera that she’s collected as the cruise has continued. Proceeds from the sale go to World Cruise charities: Shelter Box – Aid for disaster victims; The Prince’ Trust – help for UK teenagers; The Pattaya Orphanage - in Thailand, a regular WC charity and Winston’s Wish – helping bereaved children. Normally she has nothing of interest on her stall. Today however she was selling copies of Sydney’s Sunday Morning Herald (at a vastly inflated price US$ 10.00 as opposed to the cover price of AS$ 1.30!). This contained pictures of both the QE2 and the Vicky. I heard about the edition only once I was back aboard so I was glad to be able to obtain a copy.

When we left the Chart Room We headed back to the cabin, me with the intention of ordering lunch in the cabin. I was surprised and delighted when he said that he wanted to try walking into lunch with the aid of crutches. He didn’t even take the wheelchair route through the Caronia but went down the steps from the Crystal Bar.

Once lunch was over we both went to sleep for a couple of hours – perhaps Hobart had been more tiring than we thought as well! About 5-15pm I went swimming. It was lovely. There was only one other person in the pool and she got out shortly after I got in. I had the pool to myself. About 5-45pm someone else came in. She was joined by a couple. All three just wanted to bob around and not to swim. When three more arrived to join them I got out!

I was delighted again when Paul said that he would be coming into the dining room for dinner. He walked the entire way and (although it left him exhausted, I’m very pleased to be able to say he’s done it!

One little niggle that’s been building is the speed of the ship. When we crossed with the Vicky we were down to about 18 knots. We knew that we would be and it was one of the penalties of doing the World Cruise. Other parts of the cruise, such as Pitcairn to Tonga, were done at speeds of 28 knots. Then today – we’ve been reduced to 15 knots as we dawdle from Hobart to Melbourne. Why couldn’t we have set off at a reasonable speed and arrived in Melbourne this afternoon? It’s not just that we feel that we’re wasting time in getting from one port to another (days at sea are nice) but also the ship has a different feel when she’s going slowly. Even when there’s no land in sight you can tell how fast the ship’s going.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Andy F on Aug 01, 2009, 02:06 AM
I do have pictures. Lots of pictures
That's great Malcolm.  With so much detail contained in your blogs, it would certainly be nice to see a selection of these in due course to support your amazing story.  One can only wonder what it must be like to complete a full WC but your comprehensive reports certainly paint a good overall picture as seen through your eyes.

I found the changes in speed mentioned in your latest post, particularly interesting.  While the reduction to keep up with QV is understandable, I agree it does seem odd to slow down between Hobart and Melbourne.  I can only assume this was a cost saving measure, not only in reduced fuel usage but also to avoid paying port dues longer than necessary and regarding your comment about her having a different feel, I take it by this you mean she was rolling around (and no doubt displaying that customary creak)?   
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Chris Frame on Aug 01, 2009, 03:45 AM
Andy; the voyage south to Hobart was very smooth, QE2 presented hardly any roll or pitch. I think perhaps Malcolm is referring to the fact that QE2 doesn't quite feel herself when she's sailing slower than she can - kind of like a greyhound made to walk on a leash. :)
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 01, 2009, 05:12 PM
I think perhaps Malcolm is referring to the fact that QE2 doesn't quite feel herself when she's sailing slower than she can

That's it :) The vibrations just weren't right!
Title: 29 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 01, 2009, 05:14 PM
I woke early this morning. I lay in bed from 5-30am until 7-09am (I remember checking the clock and thinking I had another five minutes before I needed to be up) and then I was woken at 7-30 by an announcement telling us what we couldn’t take off the ship into Melbourne. We didn’t go back to sleep again after that!

We were off the ship at about 9-00am. The weather forecast had been hot and sunny; in reality it was cold and overcast. The advice had been to get the tram from the terminal into the city centre and we bought tram tickets to do this. When we got out of the terminal we found that there was a courtesy shuttle bus that had been provided by the port authority. Had we known we would have taken this.

Before we left England I had downloaded several walking tours from the Melbourne Tourist Office’s web site. We had decided that we would walk a combination of two of these tours in the morning (covering two parks, the Cathedral and an upmarket residential area) and walk a further tour in the afternoon (covering the shopping district and its arcades). We got the tram to the cathedral and started to take some photographs of the outside. It started to spot with rain and, within a couple of minutes, the heavens opened. We raced to a café and, whilst drinking a coffee, decided that we would do the walk we had planned for the afternoon in the morning as a lot of it was under cover and then rethink what we would do in the afternoon.

Our morning walk was only 1.5km but it took us through the heart of Melbourne’s shopping district. Melbourne has a lot of grand (and some not so grand) arcades. In some places the street has simply been roofed over to form the arcade and the shop fronts are as they were when the lanes were first built. There are a great number of cafes and restaurants (why isn’t everyone in Melbourne obese?) and lots of places to sit down. The city is also very wheelchair friendly. At most stops most trams are level with the platform; every dropped kerb is level with the road; there was only one place, in one of the arcades, where Paul had to get out of the chair and navigate about five steps.

By the time we got back to Federation Square (the start and end of all the walks) the sun was out, the skies were blue and the temperature had reached a comfortable level. We decided that we would take the walk through the park. Just after setting off we met up with Melbourne’s tourist bus. There isn’t a hop-on hop-off bus in Melbourne but there is a free (and fully wheelchair accessible) bus that runs round the city centre, visiting the main sights and with a commentary saying what you are passing. We caught this bus for one stop. By this point both Paul and I were finding it so hard to hang on to the chair (the brakes are almost non-existent) that we weren’t able to look out of the window. We decided that we might as well get off and continue our walk through the park.

We headed down through Treasury Gardens and onto Fitzroy gardens. They are both very pleasant to walk in, though not outstanding. Although small the conservatory in Fitzroy gardens is the exception. It is full of wonderful displays of blooms. We then headed to the Victorian houses at the other side of the gardens. This area consists of many styles, dating from the 1830s onward. Some of the terraces have the most elaborate and delicate wrought iron balconies and railings, a house has been built in a gothic style (and didn’t look out of place, a fire damaged church had been converted to flats in the 1980s and was a striking, but not disagreeable, piece of architecture. The area was also very quiet. There were good roads (all with dipped kerbs at crossings) but only a few cars meaning that the whole area seemed very peaceful.

My mother has an elderly cousin who lives in Melbourne and my parents had gone to visit her while we had gone walking. Paul and I had agreed to get a taxi at 3-00pm to go and meet my parents at the elderly relative’s son’s house. We got to Fed Square just before three and joined the queue for taxis. We waited over 20 minutes and only one taxi turned up. We did move through the queue quite quickly though as people gave up and went to find another way to their destination. In the end we called the son (he’s retired) and said that we couldn’t get a taxi. He said he would pick us up but it was not until 4-30pm that he arrived with my parents and members of his family to take us on a tour of Melbourne. He was surprised to find Paul in a wheelchair – mother had forgotten to mention it!

The following three hours was not fun. Both Paul and I were tired from walking through Melbourne and did not want all that extra time squeezed into a car. Paul and I had not had any lunch (my parents had) and by the time 7-30 came we were wondering if we would get any dinner either. By the time we got back to the ship we were just in time to order a snack to eat in the cabin (lobster – a snack?).

There was one interesting thing waiting for us in the cabin when we got back this evening – an invite to cocktails in the Captain’s quarters’ tomorrow evening. I wonder if this is something all full World Cruise passengers get or if there is some other reason for it. The envelope was also addressed Mr Kelly and Mr Howarth; usually we get one each if the communication has come from the normal ship’s database.
Title: 1 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 02, 2009, 12:09 PM
The gym was very quiet again this morning for the second sea day on the trot. I wonder if a port every other day is too much for a lot of the passengers.

Once the tea had arrived Paul tried to turn his laptop on. Nothing happened. He tried several times and in the end gave up. I tried about twenty minutes later, at first nothing and then it started to work! I don’t feel that we can rely on his machine any more so it might be a while before this is read! I’m off to see if they sell USB keys onboard that we can use for backup.

Later: Unfortunately they don’t sell USB keys (almost every other kind of memory though), so we’ll have to wait until Adelaide.

We went to the Chart Room for a couple of drinks before lunch and then up to lunch. Once that was over we headed back to our cabin and bed. We’ve spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping.

We were up in time for me to watch Dr Crimes’ lecture on TV. It didn’t seem to be as interesting as his previous lectures have been. Maybe this was because we have something planned that he didn’t mention and therefore the lecture didn’t seem that relevant.

There was a message from the pursers saying that they needed all passports to be handed in at their office. I took our passports along for collection and also asked them why, as we’d been told to carry our passports whenever we were ashore, we didn’t now need them for Adelaide, Albany or Freemantle. They told me that they had checked with the relevant authorities and had been told that we would not need them.

Then off to the Captain’s party. Our steward called us at about 7-10pm and said that he would be collecting us and taking us up to the Captain’s quarters. There were probably about thirty people there (why did we get an invite?).When we arrived at lobby on Boat Deck, A Stairway there was a queue forming of people waiting to enter the party. Our stewards took us straight to the front of this queue meaning that we were the first ones in and both my mother and Paul were able to get a seat (If Paul had needed to stand he wouldn’t have been able to remain at the party). I was very impressed that the Captain could recognise us by sight and also was keeping abreast of the developments with Paul’s leg – he was not only aware that the stitches had been removed last week but also that is was only a couple of days ago that Paul had started putting weight on it. [We guessed that Paul’s broken leg was the reason we were invited to the party but never found out for definite]

When we arrived there had been the usual steward offering a tray of what McNaught called “Champagne”. The Captain offered us this or any other drink we would like to name. The drinks were very strong. I had a G&T. It was one of the few G&T’s that tasted more of the Gin than the Tonic! I managed that and half a second and had to admit defeat – had I had all evening then I might have finished it. Unfortunately by this time the party was drawing to a close. I have to report that I have found out what the Captain does with his PA – he serves it at his cocktail parties. My father had taken a glass of the “Champagne”. When the steward came to replenish our glasses he also brought a bottle to top up my fathers. It was PA!

When we got back to our cabin after dinner and looked at the Daily Programme there was the usual message saying that we had to carry some form of photographic ID (like a passport) ashore. I went back to the pursers, mostly out of devilment as I knew that they did not know what should be happening with the passports and that the message in the programme had been issued before the passports were collected in. I guessed that the idea of clearance being obtained for us not to need ID ashore was only a sop to get me away from the desk. When I got to the desk I was astonished that the staff there were so defensive. One of the men stood up and aggressively shouted at me that it was not their fault but the Australians who kept changing their minds. Another, the one who’d told me that ID would not be needed, told me that they had only just seen the programme when we did and they couldn’t be expected to know what was in it! I have to return at 7-30am to collect our passports (I’m looking forward to the problems that causes  :P )
Title: 2 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 03, 2009, 03:46 PM
I went to the purser’s after breakfast. I re-asked my original question and complained about the service that had been offered last night and the attitude with which it had been offered. I received an appology (although no indication that something might be done about it) and an assurance that no, passports were not needed despite what the Daily Programme had said and what I was told last night. I hope they are correct – if not I wonder if Adelaide has enough prisons to hold all the passengers and crew from the ship that have to venture ashore without passports!

Adelaide is one of those ports that Cunard says they are going to dock at but actually dock a fair way away (like Trieste for Venice). We actually docked at Port Adelaide, a ¾ hour bus ride form the centre of Adelaide itself. Had we thought that through in advance we’d have booked a tour.

As it was we, Paul and I (my parents were visiting more friends), hired a taxi to take us to Cleland Wildlife Park. The guidebook said that the park was only 20 minutes from the centre of Adelaide, which it was. It was an hour’s drive from Port Adelaide though! The taxi there cost us AU$ 85.00. It was fully equipped with a lift and space to carry up to three wheelchair passengers (in their chairs) and four passengers in normal seats. This was on top of whatever accommodation the driver’ cab had to offer. It was fully air-conditioned but seemed very empty with just the two of us in it. The space was nice though – it meant that Paul did not have to stay in the chair but could get out easily and stretch his leg.

The wildlife park was what you’d expect an Australian wildlife park to be. There were kangaroos everywhere, a hut with Koalas in it (there was also a place where you could have a picture taken holding one), wallabies, emus, a Tasmanian Devil and an assortment of small native mammals and birds. They sold Kangaroo and Emu food at the entrance to the park; the emus had plenty of food of their own and weren’t bothered by the bag I was holding; however we’ve got a lovely picture of two kangaroos, each with both paws on my hand, eating the food. I wanted to see kangaroos and koalas in Australia (Australia doesn’t have any other wildlife ;) ) This park meant I could see them close up, stroke and even feed them.

Our taxi met us 2 ½ hours later (that was enough time although had we both been walking we could have spent the whole day there) and took us to the summit of Mount Lofty, the highest point of the Adelaide Hills, having views out over the whole of Adelaide.

Our taxi then returned us to Adelaide itself and the Anglican Cathedral (St Peter’s). This was the other cathedral designed by Paul’s architect although as the plans had been handed over to an Australian architect to finish the building there wasn’t much of Butterfield’s work left. This taxi journey only cost us AU$ 55.00 – the difference being the cost of getting from Port Adelaide to Adelaide proper. From the cathedral we walked through the city to pick up the courtesy bus back to the ship.

Sailaway was early, 5-00pm, but there were still a lot of people (somewhere between 500 and 1000) who had come to line the shores of Port Adelaide to watch us sail. There were two large day trip boats both full of onlookers and also between 50 and 100 small craft on the water. Some of these craft came out a long way with the ship.
Title: 3 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 04, 2009, 10:29 AM
This section of the World Cruise seems very port intensive. We’ve got a port every other day – quite a change from all the days at sea crossing the Atlantic. [Here I’m annoyed by there being too many ports – not that long ago there weren’t enough!] One other thing that’s bothering us is that the clocks went back last night and go back again tonight; a 25 hour day is nice. However we’re almost at the turning point – how will we cope with 23 hour days?

As a day at sea it was like any other. I pushed Paul into the Chart Room with his laptop (we’re risking turning it off so I have to hope that this gets read tomorrow) and then I went to Peter Crime’s lecture on Perth and Freemantle. This was the second lecture I found not as satisfactory as normal. I would say that it was my familiarity breeding contempt except my mother made a similar comment. Here are the two major things that make me say that the talk was not as good as normal: He talked about the Australian War Memorial (no objection, it’s one of the sights of Perth) and then went on to spend more than five minutes of a 45 minute lecture talking about the problems faced by the Australian Forces in Galipoli and the Dardenelles; he finished the lecture talking about Wave Rock – a 12 hour drive from Perth and somewhere best seen first thing in the morning. Had we been in Perth for three days there would have been a possibility of seeing this site, as we’re only there for about nine hours what’s the worth of mentioning it?

Tonight was our third World Explorers cocktail party before our third World Explorers tour in Perth. It was a good party – plenty to drink and quite a few people we’d already met and could chat to. The group seemed younger than we’ve previously experienced – Paul was again one of the most invalided people there! Glen announced that this time the tour was categorised at the top end of the scale for activity. He thought that meant standing and stairs (not a problem for Paul) rather than walking long distances. We both hope he’s right.

Paul’s walking is improving daily. For the first time since his fall Paul walked (with the aid of crutches) to the Chart Room before lunch, as well as walking into the restaurant for both lunch and dinner. He only agreed to take the chair as far as the door to the Yacht Club because I said it would be safest – I still hope to do our tour in Saigon, a fall now would mean that wasn’t a possibility.

Now that we’re half way through the World Cruise I’ve been getting emails asking if we’re running out of anything and suggesting ways of getting it along our route. That set me thinking about what we’ve brought and not used, what we’ve brought too much of and what we’ve needed to buy along the way.

The most bulky thing that we’ve brought and not used is the thermal underwear! We’d been told that both the Falklands and Puenta Arenas could be very cold and had come prepared. As we were unable to land at either and could therefore stay inside a warm ship we didn’t need the extra layer! Another thing that we’ve brought and not used is the disposable protective overshoes. We brought these thanks to a hint on the CC boards saying that penguin excrement was not pleasant to remove from one’s shoes and recommending them. As we didn’t get to see penguins we didn’t need them.

I have brought far too many shirts. Most of my long sleeved shirts are still folded as I brought them. I’m going to be taking home most of my long sleeved Rugby shirts unworn as well – they’re fine on deck but far too warm inside the ship. I brought about twenty shot sleeved shirts – ten would have been more than enough.

I’ve worn denims twice – both times in Southampton. I brought two pairs when one would have done. I brought five suits (four lounge (business) and a dress (tux) in a mix of sizes). I also brought second sets of trousers with a substantially larger waist for one of the lounge and the dress suits. That seems to have been sufficient so far and, although I am onto the larger waists, I am not near that maximum size yet.

I’ve brought far too much soap! Based on usage so far I’ll be taking back at least four tablets unopened. Batteries are the other thing I vastly overestimated our use of. Most of the packets I brought will be going home unopened.

I wasn’t far off in my estimate of washing powder, fabric conditioner and Vanish tablets. If it hadn’t been for Paul’s ankle and we’d continued to do our own washing then I’d have brought sufficient (48 white tablets, 48 coloured tablets and conditioner sheets) to do us for the trip. I also brought some liquid fabric softener – the machines won’t take it (although the instructions say they will) so that is another thing that remains unused.

Being away from home for four months made us think about what we did at home and what we would therefore want to do onboard. I bought a CD player to bring and we both brought CDs – Paul’s listened to one while I’ve listened to two – I’m glad we’ve got something to do with it when we get home. I bought an MP3 player and spent a lot of time ripping tracks that it would play for use in the gym. In actual fact I’ve taken it to the gym with me twice (the first two mornings) but the player has proven much more useful for listening to about the ship, during Paul’s operation, etc. [Since I got home that player has come in very useful when I’ve been at the gym in York]

We ran out of both Lemsip and Paracetamol. I had to buy more of both when it came to the ship’s ubiquitous cold and, more seriously, Paul’s broken leg. We’ve run out of mouthwash. I bought more in Hobart. Interestingly, although it’s made by the same company, Australian Listerine doesn’t taste the same as that bought in the UK. I had to get more toothpaste as well – when I try that I’ll know if the brands taste the same as in the UK.

The other very important thing that we wish we’d brought is a couple of spare computers or at least sufficient USB keys to enable us to back everything up. I didn’t manage to get any in Adelaide (it was a Sunday) so I’m hoping for better luck in Albany.

One other thing that we’re running out of (again) is whisky. We brought several bottles aboard with us in Southampton, we topped up in Barbados and we’ve also tried the 40th Anniversary whisky but it’s amazing how much you get through drinking a glass each night!

What has struck me, as I read through my musings, is how much I’ve talked about home. What we’ll be taking home, what I wish I’d left at home, what we’ll do with things when we get them home. I’m never wishing that I was at home (well, almost never ;) ) unfortunately now that the trip is halfway through the realities of home seem to be making themselves more felt.
Title: 4 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 05, 2009, 03:23 PM
Albany is both a maiden port of call and a final port of call. The QE2 has never been here before nor will she come again. I am sure that the brochure said it would be an anchor port however when the Daily Programme suggested that the gangway would be on deck four and when the Captain said we would be tying up we thought the brochure might be wrong. [Hard to believe wasn’t it!] Once we found ourselves tied up it was obviously not an anchor port. Albany looks like it is ready to give us a big welcome. There is a pipe band on the quayside and there are crowds by the fence outside the port.

I’ve already said that consistent is not a word that can be applied to this ship. I’ve written before about the Australian Customs announcement being relayed through the cabins – it wasn’t today, it was only announced in the hallways and public rooms. However we did get the announcement that the ship had cleared customs and telling us where the gangway was instead. At previous ports this has not been played through the cabins!

The guidebook describes Albany as “an agreeable and genuine destination, largely bereft of bogus tourist traps”. We would agree: the town is delightful. It is the nicest place we have visited in Australia so far (I’d go back but only for a few days – after that I think I’d have exhausted its attractions). We started by catching the shuttle bus into the town. The shuttle bus was provided by the town and a charge of AU$ 5.00 was made per person for unlimited all day use. The Daily Programme informed us that the town was “within walking distance” and continued by saying that the bus was only for “anyone who didn’t want to walk”. We considered walking but thought the town looked further away than a few minutes’ walk. We finally decided to catch the bus which was just as well as the journey by bus took ten minutes. If I’d walked I wouldn’t have got any further than the bottom end of the main street.

We got off the shuttle bus at Alison Hartman Gardens. The tourist office has staff everywhere who wear a blue shirt with a yellow “i” on it. We both needed a haircut and asked where the nearest barber was. We went to get our hair cut first – when we left there was a queue building. I suspect that we wouldn’t have had time if we’d left it until later.

Heading back to the gardens there was a small craft market (I don’t know if that was just because there was a ship in or if it happened as a regular occurrence). We looked at the stalls. There wasn’t anything we wanted but what was being sold wasn’t tourist tat but the kind of merchandise you’d get at a local craft fair at home. As we finished looking round a man came up to us and asked Paul? Malcolm? It was Iain; another CC member. He had emailed me to see if we could meet, I’d replied and said yes but I'd then had my PDA crash losing all my email contacts. I’d never got to arrange when or where we would meet. It is wonderful to go to strange places and be recognised! (This time it was Paul in the wheelchair that was recognised not me.) We all went for a coffee and a chat. Iain was telling us that there had been crowds on the headland to watch us arrive and that there should be crowds watching us leave as well. (Iain – because I haven’t got access to my emails I can’t write and say thank you – please accept a message here instead).

With some local advice we went searching for USB Keys, a mouse mat and indigestion tablets (the food is good, honest). We found a very pleasant pharmacy quickly although we had to walk slightly further to get the USB Keys. It was only a short way though – Albany isn’t large enough for anything to be a long way! We never managed to get a mouse mat though. It seems that optical mice have taken over and there’s no call for mouse mats any more. One isn’t urgent so we’ll keep on looking.

Armed with our USB Keys we headed back to Alison Hartman Gardens where there were busses that were offering various tours in and around Albany. We settled on a tour which covered the view from the ANZAC memorial on Mt Clarence, the view from Princess Fort on Mt Adelaide, drove through the town and visited the beach at Emu Point. The tour lasted for just over an hour and cost AU$ 25.00 each. It was a good tour but we felt that the charge was more than sufficient for a 1 hour tour – had we booked a taxi for a couple of hours it wouldn’t have cost a lot more.

Once the tour was over we wandered back down the main street. When we got to the bottom we walked to look at the replica of the Amity (a brig that had brought the 60 original settlers to Fredrickstown (the original name of Albany). From there we wandered along the original waterfront (there has been a lot of infilling since these places were built). We stopped for a drink and a cake before returning to the ship.

My father would like a typical Australian hat – the kind with corks on strings – and has looked everywhere. He was hoping that Albany would provide a suitable, rural, shop. Other than the hats that Margot and Lyn wore continuously we’ve never seen those typical hats anywhere in Australia.

When we sailed we were followed by another flotilla of small boats. The breakwaters of the harbour were lined with well wishers watching us go. As we sailed out past the hills that surround Albany you could see that the roads up the hills were lined with people. They must have got there by car because you could see the sun glinting off all the cars’ windows. I suspect that there were almost as many people in Albany as there were in Sydney. There was certainly a far higher percentage of the population had come to watch.

Although Albany wasn’t the most wheelchair accessible place (it was still quite good, the main problem was that there wasn’t always a dropped kerb) it was the friendliest place that we’ve been to so far in Australia. I’ve been saying that for each port we’ve got to – I can’t wait to see what Perth’s got to offer.
Title: 5 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 06, 2009, 03:05 PM
We were supposed to have done thirty knots to get from Albany to Freemantle. Due to high winds we only managed 28 (are high winds really a reason for slowing down considerably? The ship was hardly rocking). This slightly reduced speed meant that a tanker got first call on the tugs, we were delayed in our arrival and the programme of today’s events was set back by just over an hour.

Today was to be the third tour with Ensemble World Travel. The tour had been very good in Rio and nothing like as good on Papete. We wondered what this one would be like. The group met in the Golden Lion (the first time I’ve been in there and thought it half way decent – it was shut though!). The group was scheduled to meet at 9-00am. This wasn’t changed despite the delay in docking. We actually left there at about 10-00am and headed for the lifts at E stairway.

As Paul is still in his wheelchair we were told to go in the first group of people going down to the gangway. Whilst we were waiting for a lift (and almost blocking the passageway) this little, old, American, woman [Think back to January 28th  and the launderette – there is worse is still to come!] (who was also on our tour :( ) tries to push past saying that she needs to get to a lift now! As she tried to push her way past us Paul put his crutches out and blocked her path. She said to Paul “Let me through; I’ve got permission to go down”. Paul commented that we were also going down and that there was a queue. At this point the woman went round the back of us. She decided she’d go down the stairs (it was only three flights). As she went she turned to Paul, pulled a face at him and spat like a cat. Once we were on the bus several people commented that she had been out of order. (This was not an isolated incident – this was the same woman I’d had a run in with at the launderette about putting my bag on a washing machine and had told my mother (who has difficulty standing) that she could not sit in an empty seat).

When we got down to 2 Deck, the gangway was at D stair off the Midships Loby, the queue of people wanting to get off was horrendous. It ran right round the lobby, well beyond E stair on both sides of the ship at the stern and to A in the bow. There were also people trying to join the queue from D stairway. There was quite a camaraderie built up in that queue – the half hour it took to get through seemed to go quickly. One final criticism of the ship and the port (not Ensemble World Explorers) was the provision they had made for wheelchairs etc. There are a lot of people on this ship that rely on wheelchairs, strollers, scooters, etc. At the end of the gangway there was a flight of four steps with only one security guard to provide any assistance. This was one of the primary reasons for the long queue.

Our tour first took us to the Sandleford Winery. This was about an hour’s drive and took us through some of the suburbs of Freemantle and Perth. The winery tour was just that. A ten minute film and then twenty minutes being shown four of the areas used for making wine. This tour was no different from any other winery tour.

Once the tour was over there was an opportunity to try some of the wines from the vineyard. Our guide took us to a room where there were two bottles of each of six different wines. He told us a little about each wine and then told us that there should be enough there to give everyone in the group (there were about 40 people in total) a taste of each wine. The guide went on to say that room was only licensed for tasting and we should only fill each glass to a line – the first dozen people to get to the table took several full glasses meaning the rest of the group only got to try some of the wines. I would far rather we had been given a sample of the first wine to try and be told what it was; then the second, third, etc.

After the tasting was lunch. The service was incredibly slow however this gave us the opportunity to talk with the others sitting at our table. There were Paul and I and my parents. A Parisian couple living in London, an Australian couple and just the one American couple who we had become friendly with in the restaurant on board ship [My parents are still in contact]. It worked out that every non-American couple was on our table. We were all agreed about how much better we were finding the service from US travel agents rather than agents in our own countries. Lunch was good. After lunch we had an opportunity to visit the shop to make any last minute purchases. I was pleased that the shop would take our last Australian Dollars as part payment with the remainder charged to a credit card.

After we’d finished at the winery the bus took us for a tour through Perth. The guidebook says that “central Perth lacks the charisma that makes a great city more than just a collection of skyscrapers”. I’d agree: the city is pleasant enough but lacks character – there’s nothing to make Perth memorable. (The guide pointed out several Victorian buildings that there had been campaigns to save from demolition. They would hardly have merited a second glance if they had been in the UK. – Paul.) The bus stopped for a half hour photo break in Kings Park. There are some good views, albeit of a characterless city!

We found the day very tiring and were grateful to return to the ship. Because of our late arrival our departure had been delayed so we had time for a cup of tea and a rest before going on deck to watch the sailaway. There were probably about 50 people waving to the ship from the terminal. There was also a brass band to play us off. When we moved away from the terminal the shore and breakwaters were packed with people waving the ship goodbye. There were a couple of fire boats in the bay and an aeroplane towing a banner that read “Freemantle Port farewells the QE2”. There were also between one and two hundred small boats sailed with us. The final goodbye to Australia was quite moving.

When we got back to our cabin Jerome had already turned it down and got it ready for the night. There was an envelope addressed to me on the bed. It was another invitation for drinks with the Captain. This time tomorrow night and at the Funnel Bar. My parents have also received one however Paul hasn’t! I’ll have to see what I can do tomorrow!

I think I should also add that the cat has not turned up [The cat of the CC in-joke]. I could understand it missing the Christmas trip. After all we were only in the Caronia. I am very upset (as is the chef) that it didn’t join us once we’d moved to a Grill. When it didn’t join us in Southampton or Valparaiso I had high hopes for Sydney. When it didn’t join us there I guessed that Margot and Lyn were spoiling it – It’s still not with us. I’ve almost given up hope that it might join at Singapore. (Cat fried noodles could be interesting)
Title: Re: 5 March 2008
Post by: Rob Lightbody on Aug 06, 2009, 03:11 PM
We were supposed to have done thirty knots to get from Albany to Freemantle. Due to high winds we only managed 28 (are high winds really a reason for slowing down considerably?

Presumably the ship wasn't actually able to go any faster, if there was a strong headwind it could easily cause the speed to drop by 2 knots.  Might have "only" had 7 or 8 engines on-line though!
Title: Re: 5 March 2008
Post by: Rob Lightbody on Aug 06, 2009, 03:15 PM
When we moved away from the terminal the shore and breakwaters were packed with people waving the ship goodbye. There were a couple of fire boats in the bay and an aeroplane towing a banner that read “Freemantle Port farewells the QE2”. There were also between one and two hundred small boats sailed with us. The final goodbye to Australia was quite moving.

Sounds Amazing Malcolm, you lucky, lucky man!!
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 06, 2009, 09:21 PM
I do have pictures. Lots of pictures  ;D Unfortunately the computer with them on is poorly and has been from the start of these postings :( When it's repaired I should be able to access them :)

I now have access to the pictures :) My intention is to start adding pictures onto the relevant posts. If they don't start appearing this evening then I'll be having problems :( Wish me good luck!
Title: Re: 5 March 2008
Post by: Chris Frame on Aug 07, 2009, 06:47 AM
When we moved away from the terminal the shore and breakwaters were packed with people waving the ship goodbye. There were a couple of fire boats in the bay and an aeroplane towing a banner that read “Freemantle Port farewells the QE2”. There were also between one and two hundred small boats sailed with us. The final goodbye to Australia was quite moving.

Sounds Amazing Malcolm, you lucky, lucky man!!

It was a moment that everyone aboard will remember for the rest of their lives - absolutely touching.
Title: 6 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 07, 2009, 09:05 PM
I went to see Lisa first thing (well, second. it was after the gym but before breakfast!) She has confirmed that Paul’s name was on the list of invitees and that he should have got an invitation. She said that he should attend anyway and that she will make sure there is an invitation delivered to the cabin by lunchtime.

The last date for cancelling the tours in Vung Tau (Vietnam) is the 6th March. We are booked on a full day tour there that goes to Ho Chi Min City and were wondering how much walking was involved. Cunard class the tour as moderate; as that covers anything from a tour with a couple of steps to a half hour walk it isn’t much help. I went to the tour office and was told that it might be suitable for someone with a broken leg as a broken leg “wasn’t that serious” (!), the tour was fast moving as there were quite a lot of places to cover, we could take a wheelchair and that it wasn’t really suitable for someone who was in a wheelchair. I was also told that the tour was classed as moderate and that should be taken as a guide. As usual the tour office has proven to be of no help whatsoever. We will have to wait until the 6th and see how Paul is progressing.

On the way back from the Tour Office I met Jo-Ann, Ritch, Don and Jerry. We talked about a strange apparition in an orange cat suit Paul and I think we first saw it on the way into Sydney, (although I think Babette saw it crossing the Atlantic). And mentioned it to Margot and Lyn. They are both desperate for pictures so I’ll have to see what I can do. Could this be that cat? Has it voyaged halfway round the world and not dropped in to say hello? [It wasn’t the cat from the CC joke – it was a fellow passenger who wore very unsuitable clothing!]

Peter Crimes’s lecture this morning was good. It was about Singapore and covered lots of useful information (like smoking in public carries a $500.00 fine!) and did not include anything that could not have been used by some passengers. It was also the first talk Paul’s attended since the talk on Port Stanley. I’m pleased to report that he made it there and back on his crutches and did not need his wheelchair.

After lunch I went to the Launderette. It was relatively busy and there was what I thought was a queue at the door. I asked the woman at the back of the queue if she was waiting. “Oh no” she said “but there aren’t any free machines”. I went in to check anyway. The first machine I came to had finished but there was still some washing in it. I asked if it belonged to anyone in the room, got no reply and so started to empty the machine into a basket. The woman who had been blocking the door told me to leave it. When I said “no” and carried on she told me that there would be awful trouble if I didn’t stop. I just ignored her! She then started to tell anyone who would listen that she had once come back to the launderette to find that someone had stopped her washing midwash and had left it a sopping wet pile. For some reason I do not quite believe this story. When I checked round the Launderette there were four other machines stopped but containing washed clothes. The owner of the laundry did turn up forty minutes later, checked the machine where he’d left it and looked angry to find the machine empty and that his clothes had been removed, looked for his washing and quietly took it out of the launderette.

I tried to check emails and download Paul’s onto the laptop. I wasn’t able to log on to the wireless network so I gave up without spending fruitless hours trying for a connection. I have not been as assiduous about swimming as I should have been over the past couple of weeks and am determined to get back into the habit of going every sea day. When I got there the pool was very quiet with only one old lady in. She kept to one side and left me most of the pool. I was very happy until I’d been in for almost half an hour. Within the space of five minutes four more people got in. I got out!

The cocktail party this evening was interesting. I couldn’t work out why we had all been invited to this party. Veronica and Judi were there – they couldn’t see one thing that linked everybody either. It wasn’t just for people on the Full World Cruise, we talked to people who had joined at Sydney; it wasn’t for members of a certain CWC standing, between the three of us there were Gold, Platinum and Diamond members; it wasn’t based on restaurant, again between the three of us there were people dining in Mauretania, Caronia and Britannia. The drinks weren’t as strong as they had been in the Captain’s private quarters (nor were the canapés as plentiful) but the party was more fun – there were other people there that I already knew and there was therefore a basis to talk to people outside our small group.

After dinner I tried to download emails again at the CLC with no success. I could not even log onto the network. I then went and tried the Pavilion. I was able to access the network there but it was very slow. It took about 50 minutes for me to send four emails and read one and to download about fifty plain text messages for Paul before I gave up. Hopefully I’ll have more luck tomorrow.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 07, 2009, 10:34 PM
I now have access to the pictures :) My intention is to start adding pictures onto the relevant posts. If they don't start appearing this evening then I'll be having problems :( Wish me good luck!

And I've caught up in only 24 hours!
Title: 7 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 08, 2009, 01:37 PM
I had a very funny dream last night. I don’t dream much and it’s odd that I remembered it for long enough to write it down (It’s now about 10-30am and I’ve been up three hours). The only reason I call it a dream rather than a nightmare is that it had some very good elements. I dreamt that we were coming towards the end of this trip (I know that we are but it’s still a little while yet). We had missed all the ports between Freemantle and Los Angeles. I was bitterly upset by this but was also delighted that I was finally getting to meet all the people who are on that leg or are on the transatlantic. I wonder if this is my worries about the end of the cruise starting to manifest themselves?

As I went down D stairway at 9-10am I saw a queue starting to form. I guessed this was for the “Memorabilia Signing by the Captain at 9-30am. I passed again at 11-30 and the queue was still there – twice as long. I can’t understand why most people are so desperate to have something signed by the Captain. [I did join that queue in October – the queue was so long at the first signing that after 1 ½ hours they gave everyone else in the queue tickets to get to the front of the queue at the next signing!]

It was at this point that I discovered that it is not that cat I have seen about the boat. The spectre I had seen in an Orange Cat Suit the other day went past in an orange tennis dress today. It still did not suit her!

Today was the “Swimathon” where Andres (Captain’s Secretary), Jayne (Librarian) and Lisa (World Cruise Concierge) were swimming non-stop for an hour to raise money for the WC Charities. The event was held in the One Deck Pool and I expected there to be large crowds watching. In reality there were no more than 20 – 30 people. Thomas compered, and started by introducing the swimmers. He then went on to exhort us to give, give, give! The swim started at 12-15pm. All the competitors were swimming laps in the pool. They kept this up for an hour with Thomas continuing to provide a commentary and persuade the audience to part with money. I must admit that I was only there for the first ten minutes. Once the swim had started I retired to the air conditioned Chart Room to wait until the end of the event. I returned for the finish. Thomas was still offering to do anything for money and the three had swum a total of 636 lengths.

Exhausted by their swimming I went to bed after lunch! I was up again by 5-00pm and went swimming. I was pleased that the pool was quiet again. There were only two other people there. I wasn’t pleased for very long – between the two of them they managed to occupy ¾ of the width of the pool. They weren’t swimming, just standing there chatting. Shortly afterwards a man got into the pool: He swam zig-zags! I was about to get out but the two women beat me to it. I could just about manage with one erratically swimming man so stayed for a bit longer.

I am pleased I didn’t get out; it was then that I thought about how the attitude of all the Full World Cruisers is changing. Whereas most people can manage to live with most other people for a couple of weeks on holiday it isn’t very often that it lasts beyond that. Everyone who is on the full cruise has now been here for two months and is starting to get irritated by other people who do not do exactly what is expected of them. Although we are getting off in ports, going on overland trips, etc  we are still the same 800 who started out together. Familiarity is definitely breeding contempt. This is one place where Cruise Critic comes into its own. We do not see a lot of each other but there is someone else there when we want to bitch! That other person knows what the cruise is like, they’ll know who we’re bitching bout, they’ve probably noticed the same thing themselves.

My father posed an unpleasant question at dinner this evening: What will we do for our next holiday? That’s easy – our next holiday is the back to back transatlantic [It wasn’t – we’d decided to cancel that by the end of this cruise]; but after that? The question is what can we do that will beat this trip? (I know Penny says a world cruise on the QM2 but I’m still not quite convinced by that ship – and I don’t want to do a single transatlantic on the Vicky!). The alarming thing is that is shows my father’s thoughts are changing to when we get home. I think that we’re all starting to feel that the cruise is well through.

The internet has been very unstable all day. We’ve not been able to check emails, Cruise Critic, Cunard Critic, etc. I’m hoping for more luck tomorrow. [Now I would also add www.theqe2story.com to the list ;) ]
Title: 8 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 09, 2009, 10:18 AM
Today is another day at sea with all the usual events happening. I got up; I went to the gym, had breakfast and returned to the cabin; Paul got up; we went to the Chart Room to read and then Lunch. After lunch we returned to the cabin.

Today’s film “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” was one that I couldn’t remember if I’d seen or not. I went to the matinee thinking that I could always leave if it was a film I’d seen. I stayed to the end and, having seen the film, still can’t say if I’d seen it previously or not! The film was so forgettable that I suspect if I saw the film again tomorrow I wouldn’t be able to remember if I’d seen it or not from the content! [We are now well past “tomorrow” and I haven’t a clue what that film was about!]

Coming past the Caronia on the way back from the film I noticed that there were lots of flags up in the restaurant. I guess that it must be the BAP this evening. I’m glad they don’t offer that in the grills!

At about 6-00pm we passed Krakatoa. At least it’s somewhere to add to the list of places I’ve seen!

Title: 9 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 10, 2009, 01:02 PM
The alarm went off at 6-40am. I turned it off, thought about going to the gym and decided I wouldn’t bother! I didn’t get back to sleep again though and was glad when Jerome came with the tea at 7-45am. I didn’t bother showering and made breakfast by 8-10am. I was back in the cabin by 8-30am and I went back to bed! I finally made a move at about 10-30am.

Last night’s Daily Programme warned us that we’d need to carry our passports for Singapore so the pursers put a letter under our door stating that we had to collect them this morning. I was pleasantly surprised that there was no queue. I doubt it will be like that this afternoon when it’s the turn of decks 4 & 5 – almost ¾ of the ship in a three hour period, the same time that was allowed for the other ¼!

Today was the day we left the Southern Hemisphere. We bid goodbye to those interesting lands where people braid their armpit hair, wear corks dangling from their hats, war thongs sparkling with multicoloured sequins. [More in-jokes from CC] (Lyn and Margot – the Koala and the Kangaroo are doing fine. They are looking a little worried to be venturing away from the place they call home – although we will be visiting the country of their creation. They are still waving their flags and are looking forward to spreading the joy that is Australia around the word world![These were two soft toys than Margot and Lyn gave us – they now live on the bureau on our landing])

There was the usual “Crossing the Line” ceremony on board. If you remember I didn’t get to see the last one because of the number of people grabbing space so I made sure that I was on the part of Quarter Deck overlooking the One Deck Pool in plenty of time. The ceremony was due to start at midday; my mother and I got there at 11-00am to find all the seats by the windows were already taken. We did manage to find a space near the side of the boat though so we did get to see the event – by 11-45am there wasn’t a space left anywhere.

The ceremony started with the midday sounding of the ship’s whistle and then the announcement by both the captain and the third officer about the happenings of the past 24 hours and the ship’s present position. Then Warren Smith, the Cruise Director, took over. He made a speech that was entirely in verse that introduced the other participants: the Captain, the Hotel Manager, The Chief Engineer and King Neptune and his wife. They all made responses, again in verse, thanking him for the welcome and making criticisms of the Vicky!

Finally the proceedings got underway. Those exhibitionists who had not crossed the equator before (I don’t think any check was made so if they really wanted to look fools they could have signed up each time they crossed) were made to kiss a fish – held by Thomas who was dressed as a nurse, had various kinds of gloop poured over them (spaghetti, cold porridge and some kind of coloured foam) and were then pushed into the pool.

Once they had dealt with all the passengers who wanted to experience this (and had a choice about taking part) they then started of the crew who didn’t have a choice! The dunking was much rougher for the crew than it had been for the passengers. It made me glad that I’d already crossed the line earlier this trip (although I hadn’t taken part in the ceremony) and wasn’t like to be called to take part in today’s show.

Finally, as it was the last time that QE2 will cross the equator King Neptune and his wife were also fished, glooped and helped into the pool. I doubt the costumes will be able to be used again. As Thomas commented – they won’t be needed again, on this ship, anyway.

Tonight was the CC meeting for Ritch’s (Jo-Ann’s husband’s) leaving. He only joined her for a shorter sector of the entire trip. Paul and I have not seen much of him because Paul has been confined to his cabin for a lot of the trip. I was pleased to be able to go to the meeting however.

We have not received any World Cruise Gift or Passenger List for this sector of the World Cruise. I went to the pursers to ask and was told that they knew nothing about any gifts (not surprising). They are going to call me in the cabin shortly – I can’t wait – LOL.

Paul and I decided that we’d go and sit outside the Yacht Club for a nightcap (Ginger Beer!). As we passed the pursers I stopped to tell them that I wouldn’t be in the cabin for the next hour but would be in after 11-30pm and that they should call then. I was told that they wouldn’t bother as they’d got a reply – they didn’t know. I’ll see if Lisa can help tomorrow.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 10, 2009, 01:03 PM
We're going to be away for a few days so I'm going to stop posting until the 14th.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Twynkle on Aug 10, 2009, 02:52 PM


Thank you very much for providing a magnificent picture of what must have been both wonderful and dreadful times!
Sorry that you missed the early morning sailing into Sydney - almost worth trying to do it again - as well as a better experience of Easter Island, too!
The experience of sailing from Fremantle in 1972 was pretty amazing - the whole length of Old Arcadia was tied to the shore-side Farewell-ers by streamers - and for the QE2's final visit it must have been as Chris mentions, unforgettable!
Have a good few days 'off'!

Title: 10 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 14, 2009, 05:25 PM
The most important thing I need to say first of all is that I’VE GOT MY COMPUTER! I don’t need to share Paul’s anymore I can work on my own whilst he works on his. What a relief.

However, before I got my computer, I was up early. Very early – at 1-00am I tried to check emails with no joy – web pages were inaccessible and the network logged me of the internet without asking. By 1-30am I’d given up and gone back to bed. It’s now about five days since I’ve been able to check or send emails.

 I was up again by 6-30am (I couldn’t sleep because I was going to get a new computer), had showered and was at breakfast by 7-10am. After breakfast I went and filled our water bottles, at the Lido this time as the Pavilion had no water there at all. They’ve got chilled water on tap at the bar serving coffee, tea, fruit juice, etc. After a day in a water bottle it doesn’t taste as good as the water from the bowser in the Pavilion but it’s still far better than normal tap water. Paul was up and about by this time and the morning tea had arrived but, as they hadn’t announced that the ship had cleared customs I went off in search of Lisa to chase our gifts and passenger lists. Lisa wasn’t there (although there were several other full worlders who hadn’t received anything either and were interested in the outcome of my enquiry) so I left a message with Enrique that he will pass on to Lisa when she’s back.

They announced that the ship had cleared customs at 8-10am and Paul and I went to get off the ship. It was the first time he’s been in his wheelchair for days. As we were just going to go computer shopping in the morning and then return to the ship we weren’t sure if he needed it or not. In the end we decided that we would be safe rather than sorry – just as well as things turned out – and took the chair. The gangway was on 4 Deck, G stairway. There wasn’t a queue to get off (we’d been worried there might have been) but it was sickly amusing to find that people at the end of their trip were struggling down there with all their luggage, expecting to be able to get off, only to be sent back to the public rooms and told to wait. We had intended to get a taxi into central Singapore but when we found there was a shuttle bus leaving at 8-30am we decided to take that instead.

We were in the city by 9-00am. We got a taxi (they are cheap – 9.00 SN$ for the journey) to Sim Lim Square (the shopping mall that deals with computers, cameras and all things IT related). When we go there almost every stall was closed. We asked at the security desk to be told that most of the stalls wouldn’t open until 11-00am, even the coffee shop didn’t open until 10-00am. We decided that we would reverse our plans for the day and start by visiting some of the tourist sites, leaving time for computing at the end of the day.

We started by catching another taxi (Really cheap – only SN$ 3.00) to the Old Government House area. This was near the place where Sir Stamford Raffles first landed, a site that is marked by a statue. The area is very photogenic (and full of tourist). It is a mixture of Late 20th and early 21st Century sky scrapers and mid 19th Century Houses and shops (most of which have now been turned into restaurants).

From there it was only a short walk past The Fullerton Hotel (originally the GPO) to Boat Quay and the Merlion. Boat Quay is picturesque enough, with some lovely views. The Merlion on the other hand is a concrete gargoyle that spouts water. It was put there in 1972 to symbolise tourism in the city. It is not worth going out of the way to see, as we were passing we stopped.

From Merlion Park we headed across the Singapore River and back into the Colonial District. We stopped at St Andrew’s Cathedral. It is a bright white building but is not otherwise remarkable as a church. Once we’d visited the cathedral we stopped in the shopping centre to look at some of the shops. Prices were cheaper than in the UK although not by a lot.

By this time it was about 1-30pm. It had been spotting with rain when we left the cathedral and when we came out of a shop it was pouring down. We got a taxi back to Sim Lim Square and started looking for the things we wanted. The store is amazing. There are seven floors, each with between 30 and 40 stalls per floor. Even discounting all the stalls selling just cameras, software, industrial supplies, etc there was still about 15 stores that sold laptops per floor. The only way I could decide which store to buy from was to pick one that looked reasonable and go with that. I’ve paid just under SN$2000.00 for a laptop running Vista Home Premium (I think – I’m in the Chart Room at the moment and can’t find out how to check the OS), with Office 2007, both wired and wireless network connections, a card reader and various other things I wanted. I think that it was cheaper than the UK but only slightly [With hindsight I was wrong. I think that had I not been so desperate for a new computer I would only have paid half that]. The one place that I thought there was a big saving was in the software. Had I known before coming away that I would be buying a computer I would have thought carefully about what software I could use and would have planned to buy it [I wasn’t wrong about the software – it was very cheap].

Back to the ship then – via a taxi to the Hyatt Hotel and the shuttle bus from there. Once back on the ship we just collapsed until it was time to get dressed for dinner. After dinner Paul went to bed whilst I went to the CC meeting to welcome those joining in Singapore. There were only two people joining us here – Jim and Ruth – they hadn’t turned up by 11-00pm. One nice surprise was to meet David – the person that I had hoped to meet after Sydney but had missed. At the maximum there were probably about ten CCers in the Yacht Club tonight.

When I got back to the cabin there was a letter for me congratulating me on becoming a Diamond member of the CWC and stating that I could go tomorrow and change my Platinum card for a Diamond one (I did that when leaving Sydney). The letter also said that membership benefits would not apply until after tomorrow. I guess that means they have not allowed me the full internet credit – I’ll have to check tomorrow.
Title: 11 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 15, 2009, 02:03 PM
I went to the pursers first thing this morning to get a copy of my account. Guess what? They’d only allowed US$ 90.00 internet credit for a package that had cost US$ 164.85. I’ve asked them why. It’s not as if there is an internet package that costs exactly $ 90.00. They’ve said they’ll look into it and get back to me. I’ll ask again this evening as I don’t think I’ll hear anything.

Secondly breakfast and then to the Boardroom. Firstly I wanted to see Lisa about various things; secondly it’s a wireless hotspot. My main concern for Lisa was Costa Rica. Some people say that we are going whilst others say that it will actually be Columbia that we go to. Lisa isn’t aware that any change has been made to the programme although she will check. She also gave me the answer to my WC gift and passenger list enquiry. Apparently the gifts are only monthly and not per sector and the passenger list will now only be distributed four times during the cruise and not every sector as previously (in that case why were the last two issued per sector?)

I’d just got back to the cabin and the phone rang. It was the pursers. They admitted that they had got the amount wrong; I was told that it was now corrected and they said that a revised account would be sent to my cabin. To complete the surprise later in the morning a revised account that clearly explained how the error had been corrected. I am in shock! It is not that someone made a mistake or that it was corrected; it is that the pursers did it at first request without making more of a mess.

Today Paul started moving around the ship with just the one crutch. I hope he is still going to take the chair ashore but I feel its use is getting less. We both wanted to go to the Destination lecture although that wasn’t until 12-15 pm (I’m not sure why but everything that should have been in the Theatre this morning has been moved into an afternoon slot) so, as Paul is walking without needing me there, we agreed to meet in the Chart Room at midday. I was ready early and got there for just turned 11-00 am, Paul was slightly later and got there for about 11-15 am. At 11-30 am someone walked up and asked “Is it Paul and Malcolm?” It was Jim (cajim) who I’d hoped to meet last night. He had gathered from this blog that we’d probably be in the Chart Room before lunch and had popped by to introduce himself and say hello. We chatted for a bit and I said that Judy would be in the Yacht Club at 3-00 pm to meet him.

Then it was off to Peter Crimes’ Destination Lecture on Vung Tau, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta. The Theatre was full again for this talk, with people standing in the aisles.

After Lunch RADA was doing a presentation of their version of Noël Coward’s play Private Lives. This was a cut down version of the full play and lasted for just under an hour. I had expected this to be just another filler provided by Cunard to enable them to say they were providing something that was approaching serious (like their classical concerts where they don’t say what will be played until the show). How wrong I was. This was one of the best shows I’ve seen on the QE2 and rivalled most land based professional productions.

Although the play was cut down it lost none of its wit and humour. It retained all the life expected from the full play and being cut down made it very suitable for an afternoon performance aboard ship. The performance took place in the Grand Lounge. That room has the reputation of having very poor acoustics and that has been given as the reason why everything is over amplified and that level of over amplification is always increasing. Today’s performance was without any amplification and I did not hear anyone complain that they could not hear the performance. I think it goes to show that the acoustics are not as bad as Cunard would like its passengers to think but the quality and projection of the voices of the acts are getting worse.

I’ve just come back from the Computer Learning Centre. I wanted to send some of the five days’ reports that I haven’t been able to send and have a look at www.cruisecritic.com and www.cunardcritic.com. The internet was so slow it took me over half an hour to compose a short message, attach the first three pages and sent them to Penny, Mary and David (and I suppose I’ve got to say the cat as well). I was just about to click send when the internet cut out. I gave up and will try again later.

Paul and I left our cabin and headed towards the lift at D so that we could take it up to Upper Deck for dinner. As we approached the lifts the old woman that Paul had stopped from pushing towards the front of the queue at Freemantle got there just in front of us. She called the lift and then stood in front of one whilst we stood in front of the other. “Her” lift came first and she got in; when Paul and I followed her she muttered that she’d “rather wait” and got out. She is obviously determined not to be anywhere near Paul or I (good ;) )
Title: Re: 11 March 2008
Post by: Rob Lightbody on Aug 16, 2009, 04:14 PM
Malcom (& Everybody) - the following extracts from your diary made me think....

Then it was off to Peter Crimes’ Destination Lecture on Vung Tau, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta. The Theatre was full again for this talk, with people standing in the aisles.

After Lunch RADA was doing a presentation of their version of Noël Coward’s play Private Lives.That room has the reputation of having very poor acoustics and that has been given as the reason why everything is over amplified and that level of over amplification is always increasing. Today’s performance was without any amplification and I did not hear anyone complain that they could not hear the performance. I think it goes to show that the acoustics are not as bad as Cunard would like its passengers to think but the quality and projection of the voices of the acts are getting worse.

.... wouldn't these 2 events be better swapped about?  The Theatre had superb accoustics and sightlines, and would surely be better for a play?  The Grand Lounge's poor sight-lines and accoustics, wouldn't matter for a location talk surely?

Just a thought... I always thought they used the Theatre wrongly...
Title: Re: 11 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 16, 2009, 04:49 PM
.... wouldn't these 2 events be better swapped about?

I don't think that Peter Crimes would have been better in the Grand Lounge. His talk called for a lecture theatre and that is what the Theatre was.

The Grand Lounge's poor sight-lines and accoustics, wouldn't matter for a location talk surely?

The poor acoustics of the Grand Lounge is a myth. I had no difficulty and didn't hear of anybody who had difficulty understanding what was being said. I believe that Cunard were perpetuating this myth to excuse their putting on third rate acts.

(The talks were illustrated with slides so a decent view was important :) )

I always thought they used the Theatre wrongly...

I think they could have used it a lot more than they did. It's main uses seemed to be the port information and the Destination Lectures on the WC, showing a video, "Classical" recitals and as an assembly point for tours. The latter was a use the room definitely wasn't suited to! ::) I think that having several things running there regularly meant that the room couldn't be used for another purpose as well.
Title: 12 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 16, 2009, 04:57 PM
Ho Chi Minh City is somewhere I want to go back to. However I would be very reluctant to go on another Cunard tour, although we didn’t (and still don’t) think there was any other choice yesterday. We had booked the tour because Ho Chi Minh City is 2 ½ hours away by coach (or so the tour book said) and we didn’t feel that we wanted to be that far away without the security offered by a tour. The tour had been scheduled to run from 8-00 am to 5-45 pm, although on 28 February we’d got a letter changing the times to 7-30 am to  5-30 pm. Yesterday’s Daily Programme gave a meeting time of 7-25 am for our tour; there were five other tours with meeting times ranging from 7-10 am to 7-45 am. There were over 600 people on these tours and I don’t think that scheduling so many people to all leave within 35 minutes of each other, from an anchor port, could work. The reason I am detailing these arrangements is that the tendering arrangements did not work.

[When we got home we found out that there is a high speed ferry service from Vung Tau to Hi Chi Minh City. Why didn’t Cunard use that? They did in previous years].

Paul decided that he wouldn’t take the wheelchair today and that he would manage with just his crutches. I was delighted. We both wanted breakfast before we set off and, as cabin breakfast wasn’t available until after we’d gone, both went up to the restaurant at 6-30 am. We were dressed, through breakfast, water bottles filled and ready to go into the Theatre by 7-10 am. Paul went and got a seat in the Theatre while I went to go and find the end of the queue for tickets. I found it in the end – the queue went from the Theatre, through the Casino and ended up halfway down the Grand Lounge! I would guess that there were between two and four hundred people joined it after me. This queue did move fairly quickly and after about ¼ hour I got stickers for bus “Silver 5” and went to join Paul. We sat there for over an hour.

When we were finally called to the tender Paul and I were lucky in that Paul had gone to the Golden Lion for a smoke and we were therefore starting from a forward position. We got a lift down to Five Deck and got onto the tender straight away. We then sat on the tender for about ten minutes whilst we waited for more people to come and fill the boat. Again we were lucky that we had got one of the catamarans. This was able to make the transfer in only 20 minutes! The normal boats used as tenders were taking at least 30 minutes. Once ashore we were put onto coach 4 and told to take our “5” stickers off. The coach filled and left within two or three minutes.

It would be an understatement to say that the traffic in Vietnam was heavy. The journey to Saigon was given as 2 ½ hours in the tours brochure, to include a rest stop. On the outward journey it took 3 ¼, including a rest stop of five minutes at maximum. We then drove though outer Saigon before heading to our first stop.

Reunification Hall was the palace built for the French Governor before the North and South were reunited. At this time it was renamed “Reunification Hall” and turned into a museum and Convention Centre. There was a monument there featuring the first two tanks reputed to be involved in the final battle and the bunker that would have been used in an emergency for the president to run the country. Paul did not come down to the bunker – it involved too many stairs. I went and felt that we were rushed through without being given time to have more than a cursory glance at a couple of exhibits.

From there we drove past several significant sites (including the site of the American Embassy that was one of the points in the Vietnam War). I am sure that we passed lots of other important sites, and that they were pointed out, however we went past them so quickly that I do not remember what they were. We stopped at The Rex Hotel and the City Hall. We got the opportunity to get off the coach and take photographs here – for five minutes! Our final morning stop was at the Post Office and the Roman Catholic Cathedral. Again we got five minutes to photograph the sights.

Once everyone was back on the coach we were all taken to a local hotel (I never got chance to find out what it was called) and told that we had half an hour to get into the hotel, get upstairs to the function room they were serving lunch in, help ourselves to three courses from the buffet and get back on the coach! The buffet lunch was very good but unfortunately we could not do it justice in half an hour. Unfortunately it was a case of eating as quickly as possible to make sure that we were back on the coach in time. There were also Vietnamese singers and dancers to provide entertainment during the meal. They appeared good but I did not have time to watch them.

After lunch it was off to the Sea Goddess Temple. A typical but otherwise not particularly noteworthy Chinese temple. Again we felt that we were rushed here.

From the temple it was off to the Lacquer Factory and show room. Paul and I missed the demonstration of lacquer making, because it was upstairs, and went straight into the showroom. They had many things on display that we would have liked. They were all of good quality and were a lot cheaper than they would be if we tried to buy them in the UK. Unfortunately we do not need, nor do we have space for, another large chest of draws, even more chairs and tables or a Vietnamese Galleon in full sail. I had to make do with buying a small trinket box.

Our final call was at the National Museum to see a display of Water Puppetry. This is a traditional Vietnamese art form that involves puppet operators standing behind a screen and waist deep in water. The puppets appear in the water on the other side of the screen. The operators cannot see their puppets while they are working them. These shows are worth seeing once. However, like Prague’s Black Light Theatres, they seem to be put on for tourists and are not worth watching more than once!

We did complete the journey home in 2 ½ hours. This was without a comfort stop and with the driver going well over the speed limit. We were back on the Quay by 7-00 pm (we had been due to sail at 6-00 pm) and were then kept waiting for over ¾ of an hour sitting on the coach. Once we were allowed off the coach we were able to join a queue for tenders for another 20 minutes! The tour office had managed to get a hydrofoil to take passengers back to the ship and that reduced the queue greatly; however it was still turned 8-30 pm before we got onboard. My parents had not gone with us; they had done their own thing in Vung Tau. When we were not back by 6-30 pm (we had been expected back by 5-30 pm) they had begun to get worried. They were only able to find out part of what was happening by speaking to their steward, bar staff, etc. The Captain made no announcement as to why the ship was late sailing.

Two of the things that were noteworthy about the journey were the roads (large sections of the central reservations were beautifully manicured with flowers, topiary, floral displays, etc whilst the verges were often just a belt of scrub that was festooned with litter – plastic bags and bottles, paper, empty cartons) and the motorbikes (they are everywhere. It was quite frightening to see how close they got to our coach and how good our driver was at avoiding them!)

About a dozen of the bike riders had met us at the first comfort stop. They were the street traders who followed us form venue to venue. As we reached the end of our tour the prices (both asking and accepted) dropped substantially!

I have tried to keep the reports specific to the day they are about. However I am including a bit of what I did on the 13th as I believe it is relevant to the events of the day.

I’ve just been to the Tour Office to complain about the numbers of people and the way we were treated. The first man I spoke to would listen to my complaints about the tour (I didn’t really have any – it was rushed but other than that was good) but refused to recognise that our delay in getting ashore had been in any way a problem. In the end he passed me onto the Tour Manager, Gail Seymour. She did understand the problem but explained that her hands were tied. She said that she had been aware that it was an anchor port and that the numbers getting ashore would be restricted however Cunard wanted to sell as many tours as possible and would not let her limit the number of tours sold. She attributed this to them wanting to make as much money as possible. She claimed the responsibility of getting the hydrofoil to take passengers back to the ship although she was concerned that Cunard might not feel it necessary.

She also said one further thing that was of interest. Her preference would have been to let the tours continue and then time could have been spent in Saigon rather than waiting for tenders. It was Captain Perkins who overruled her and insisted that all the tours were brought back to the ship as quickly as possible.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Rob Lightbody on Aug 16, 2009, 05:13 PM
Just to say - for those of us who use 'view recent activity' to look at the posts - this function doesn't show any attached photos!  Malcolm's been going back and adding photos to his posts - worth a look for the 'big picture' of this world cruise.
Title: 13 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 17, 2009, 01:27 PM
Today is a day of rest after yesterday. Both Paul and I (but particularly Paul) feels that the waits of yesterday have taken their toll of us. After breakfast I went to the Tour Office – see yesterday’s notes for the result. I then went back to the cabin to collect Paul before we went to Peter Crimes’ talk on Hong Kong.

Once the talk was over we went and sat in the Chart Room, Paul to continue working his way through something G&S related and I to start to catch up with these notes. I didn’t realise that it was midday until a couple of minutes after midday when the Third Officer’s announcement was made. How odd! No Captain’s address. Captain Perkins didn’t make any announcement yesterday about the delayed sailing. I do hope he isn’t ill.

I thought I’d check emails this afternoon. I was delighted to find that the internet was much faster. I actually managed to catch up with all the reports I hadn’t sent (Sorry Mary, Penny and David. Cat – I hope your paws drop off with typing :) )

The internet service was much faster until it cut off abruptly. The advice was to return in an hour and see if it had started again. When we returned the internet was back but much slower than previously. At least we’ve had half an hour of fast internet (fast for this ship). Whilst I was wailing there I met Veronica. We had a little grumble about the internet speed, our late departure from Vung Tau and she passed on some gossip that the QE2 will be late for Hong Kong. We haven’t heard a squeak out of this captain since he boarded; I wonder if he’s trying to hide something? Veronica also gave me the address for her blog of the World Cruise. It is www.aroundtheworldin80dresses.co.uk. She’d be delighted to get more visitors.

Captain Perkins has just made an announcement. This announcement was broadcast throughout the entire ship including cabins. Because of our late departure from Vung Tau our arrival at Hong Kong will also be delayed. He now expects us to arrive at the pilot station at about 8-00 am, alongside at 9-00 am and passengers should be able to go ashore by 10-00 am. To compensate for this he has made arrangements for us not to leave until 10-00 pm. At the moment we are doing 29 knots, Captain Perkins hopes that we may be able to speed up slightly and arrive sooner.

Once he had delivered this message twice he said that Gail Seymour would make an announcement about tours as soon as he had finished. We waited, listening, but there was no announcement. Then we heard faintly the tail end of Gail’s announcement. It had been broadcast only through the corridors! I went up to see Lisa, the WC Concierge, and ask her what the announcement had been. She wasn’t there but Enrique and Rowena (the steward and stewardess in the Boardroom) were there and gave me the gist of it. They were able to tell me that the Tour Office was open and said that I should check tour details with them. I did and was told that the arrival time should be between 9-30 am and 10-00 am and that our tour will leave at 10-45 am but will still be for the same duration. I was also told that as we will not be sailing until 10-00 pm there will be a shuttle bus from the Ocean Terminal to the Kwai Chung Container Terminal with the last bus operating at 9-00 pm. The tour will be able to drop us in Kowloon on its way back to the ship. I was not the only person to miss the announcement; on the way back to our cabin I met Susan who also wanted to know what had been said.

Once I was back in the cabin Gail Seymour repeated her announcement, this time through all the cabins as well. She confirmed all the details already given except that the last shuttle bus will now be 8-30 pm. When it comes to important announcements I really wish that the Tour Office, the Tour Office Manager and Percy could all agree their details BEFORE they give them out.

This evening was an evening of firsts. After Dinner Paul and I had decided to go to the show. As we didn’t finish dinner until 9-45 pm and the exit from the restaurant is on Upper Deck we didn’t want the fuss of getting to the Chart Room for only 20 minutes so we decided to stop and have a drink in the Golden Lion. Previously we have only ever passed through there in an evening and thought how dreadful it is; now I can confirm that it is as awful as it appears! When we got there the Pianist was playing. There was a group sing-song taking place with songs like “Knees-Up Mother Brown” and “Show Me the Way to Go Home”. It was the kind of activity that you could imagine taking place on the bottom deck of a steamer taking victims of the Irish Potato Famine to their life in the New World!

The Pianist finished at 10-00 pm (thank goodness) and was replaced by “Me n’ Jenny” who were hosting the Karaoke. They started by singing (very badly) the first verse of a sing to encourage others to join in. Then a man sang “Nellie the Elephant” (!/?). He was the worst singer I’ve ever heard. He was followed by another man who wasn’t the worst I’ve ever heard – we’d just heard him – but was still one of the worst. We managed about halfway through his song before making our escape. This was my first time at Karaoke and I hope will be my last!

We do not normally bother with the evening entertainment in the Grand Lounge. It is usually either a third rate entertainer or the onboard troupe doing an old show that we’ve already seen and is getting very tired. However the troupe of dancers changed a few days ago and there were a couple of things that encouraged me to go and see them. Firstly there were eleven in the troupe rather than the eight there’d been previously and secondly the show “On The West Side” was a new show - one we have not seen previously.

The show was described as “Romeo and Juliette featuring the songs of West Side Story” and “songs delivered with a fresh and innovative approach using R&B, Jazz and classical musical styles”. I am not normally fond of tampering with productions – I believe that something should not be altered greatly from the way in which it was written – and West Side Story is one of my favourite musicals so I was a little worried about what they would have done to it. As it turned out I need not have worried. The sound was still over amplified and the music was recorded, not live, but that was made up for by the freshness of the routine.

They had made space on stage for the extra three dancers by doing away with the band and using that space as an extra stage area. This meant that, as well as there being more dancers, there was a lot more room for them to move about the stage. That the music was recorded did not make any difference the amplification was so great.

My favourite saying at the moment is that Cunard is consistent only in its inconsistency. I now know that applies to its shows as well. We have gone through three months of poor shows and then we get two together (Private Lives and On The West Side) that are both above average. I am pleased that I have seen On The West Side; I wouldn’t rush to see it again but I did enjoy it for what it was!
Title: Re: 13 March 2008
Post by: Rob Lightbody on Aug 17, 2009, 01:32 PM
At the moment we are doing 29 knots, Captain Perkins hopes that we may be able to speed up slightly and arrive sooner.

 ;D Having that amazing turn of speed readily available must have made schedules easier to keep.  A cruise ship that cruises at 19-20 but maxes out at 22-23 doesn't give anything like the same flexibility...
Title: 14 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 18, 2009, 04:04 PM
Today started with a leisurely morning. We went down for breakfast at 8-30 am and watched as we sailed through the islands around Hong Kong. We don’t need to meet for our tour until 10-30 am so we have plenty of time to get ready before going ashore. As we approached our dock the security officer made his usual announcement about not crowding the gangways until it is announced that the ship has cleared security. Oddly enough there was no announcement from our captain.

We wanted to get some Hong Kong Dollars so I went to the exchange machines to buy some. Those machines are expensive however they are convenient when you only want a small amount of money quickly. The machines could only offer Singapore Dollars – no use or Japanese Yen – not needed yet. I wasn’t the only person there looking to buy HK$ but we were all out of luck. I went to the pursers and asked if they would sell them – the answer was “No. You’ll have no problem using US$ anywhere”. This was not what Peter Crimes had said in his lecture yesterday. Yesterday the Tour Office had told me that the tour would drop us in Kowloon and we could catch the shuttle bus back later if we wanted. I asked the pursers where the shuttle bus pickup point was and was told the same place it drops you on the way in. When I said that we weren’t getting the shuttle bus in I was told that they couldn’t help.

Then it was off to the Theatre to join our tour. The tour was scheduled to leave at 10-45 am and we were to be in the Theatre at 10-30 am at the latest to meet it. We actually arrived at 10-10 am to find that we were on the last bus – everyone else had already checked-in! We were called to the bus at 10-25 am and were on our way by 10-40 am.

The reason it took ¼ hour for us to get underway was that we had another run in with the pushy old woman (I met her in the Launderette, Paul had a run in with her going on a tour and she got out of a lift we were in). Paul is still walking on crutches and finds being in one of the front seats of the coach makes it a lot easier for him to get on and off. When we got to the coach one front seat on either side was occupied. An elderly lady was sitting in one of the pair of seats behind the driver and the old, crabby, woman was sitting by the window on the other side. I took the seat next to the old lady whilst Paul went to sit in the seat next to the poison dwarf (she’s only about 4 foot high).

She first claimed that the guide was sitting there and therefore Paul couldn’t have the seat. Unfortunately (for her ;) ) the guide was standing just outside the coach and when he heard this said he was quite happy to give up his seat for someone on crutches. Then the shrivelled hag (her skin looks like old leather that’s not been cured properly) demanded that Paul let her out as she wasn’t willing to travel on this coach and demanded that she be given a place on another. Paul offered to change places with me and I offered to change places with her – neither was acceptable. She was making such a fuss that in the end Gail Seymour was called. Gail was another one who could not understand why this woman would not sit anywhere other than in the front seat on her own. The woman told Gail that Paul could walk better than she could – she is slow but doesn’t even need a cane! Gail’s response to this was to say that Paul was walking with crutches and ask if the hag hadn’t noticed. In the end she was told that she could get off the bus if she wanted but, as this was the last bus for this tour, she would forfeit her place on the tour and would not get a refund. Very grudgingly the woman accepted the solution we had put to her in the first place and she consented to change places with me. Whilst she had been off the bus complaining two people had spoken to us saying that she had been a pain on the tour bus already.

The tour started by driving to the Man Mo Temple. This Taoist Temple is far more impressive that the Sea Goddess Temple in Saigon. It is larger and busier; there is so much incense being burnt that you can hardly see across it and smoke billows out of every door and window. We had about 20 minutes there which was sufficient time to view it. We did not feel rushed in any way.

It was then back onto the bus for the journey to the Victoria Peak Tram. There was a long queue for this funicular but it was worth the wait. The journey time of the tram is about 8 minutes and some of the views on the way up are spectacular. They are nothing compared with the views once you get to the top. There was a haze so the views over both Hong Kong and Aberdeen Harbours weren’t as good as they can be but they were still good –from the top of the tram (not the actual summit). The summit is reached after a 20 minute walk – something we didn’t try today) we walked downhill slightly to the car park where the coach met us and carried us down the winding road to Aberdeen Harbour itself.

We got off the coach by a series of jetties where we caught the ferry to the Jumbo floating restaurant (a journey time of no more than two minutes). The restaurant had laid on an excellent (and unhurried) buffet for us. This consisted of mainly Chinese but also some Japanese, Indian and western dishes. There was plenty of food and it was prepared from top quality ingredients and to a very high standard. I do not think that it would have been unfit to serve in one of the main restaurants on the QE2.

When lunch was over and we’d appreciated the views from the top of the restaurant we caught the ferry back to the jetties where there were a series of sampans waiting to take the group for a short (½ hour) trip around Aberdeen Harbour itself. I was last in Hong Kong 14 years ago, when the harbour was full of sampans being used as homes. These have now mostly gone and the harbour is no longer the picturesque place it was but instead looks as if it’s seen better days (which it has!). The vast reduction in boat numbers means that Aberdeen Harbour is not somewhere I’d class as a “must see” for Hong Kong anymore.

After our boat trip the coach took the group round to Stanley Market. This was the one truly disappointing part of the tour. 14 years ago the market had been full of life and had sold goods of use to locals and tourists. Today it only caters for the tourist and sells only cheap, tacky, souvenirs and budget clothing. The market used to have a very ‘native’ feel. This has now gone: most of the walkways have been paved with modern sets, the area is clean and tidy and the stalls are well kept. There is no hope of finding something unusual – all the stalls sell the same things. I was looking forward to going back to Stanley Market; now that I have been back I wouldn’t be bothered about returning again.

We both thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Hong Kong. We were not going to book a tour and only did so because we were docked a fair way out of the centre. I am beginning to wonder if I should review my opinion of Cunard tours. I think it would be fare to say that they are all expensive (this one was US$ 174.00 per person!) but the full day tours seem to do a lot of things. If you want to see as many sights as possible, either without having to plan or because you cannot go on your own, a tour is worth considering. For two people a taxi would still work out the same and for four people would be much cheaper!

Our sightseeing was not over though. The bus returned via Kowloon and the pickup point for the shuttle. The guide did know where the pickup was, when the last one would be and how often it would run and was very helpful in saying what shops would sell what things (He could tell us where to go to buy some replacement whisky as our stocks have run out! Alcohol in Hong Kong is not cheap – it’s about the same as the UK, although it is still cheaper than if bought from a bar onboard).

Once we’d got the whisky we walked a little way through downtown Kowloon. Night had arrived by this time and it was wonderful to experience the bustle and see all the neon signs. We couldn’t make it as far as Nathan Road (the main shopping street and the street with most illuminated signs) but what we saw gave a good idea of what the main roads would be like.

The shuttle buses went from just outside the Ocean Terminal. There were two ships moored there. One could well have been a gambling ship but the other was the Star Princess. I think that’s a normal cruise ship. I wonder which line owns her. When we got back to the ship we were exhausted. When we got back to the cabin there was an invite to the next Ensemble World Explorer Party; for Monday 15th March. Why do I suspect that Cunard have had a big hand is sending out the invitations? (It’s Saturday 15th March and Monday 17th) Tonight was another occasion when we were only too pleased to be able to eat in the cabin.

After dinner I went to check emails and got the messages about Costa Rica/Colombia.[These were from various members of CC and our agent informing us thst Costa Rica had been replaced by Cartagena] Interestingly the ship still hasn’t managed to confirm where it is actually going yet!

We had a very enjoyable, it tiring, day in Hong Kong. Don’t tell Cunard but I’m glad the ship was late in arriving. It meant that we could have a leisurely morning, do a full day’s sightseeing and see Hong Kong after dark. What would have been even better is if they had extended the day in Vung Tau meaning that tour departures could be spread out and everyone could have had their full tour of Saigon without the mad rush at the end.
Title: 15 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 19, 2009, 12:26 PM
I went to the gym again this morning. I was rather annoyed to find that I’ve not been booked in for today or any day in the future and that someone else has now booked the 7-00 am slot. Luckily the other man and I were able to sort it out – had I relied on the gym staff I would just have lost my slot.

The day before yesterday we had to race to get from Vung Tau to Hong Kong. At one point we made a speed of 29.8 knots before we dropped back to 27 knots. It is nice to know that they were pushing the ship as fast as she could go in order to make up the required time (LOL). Today we are back at a much more respectable speed: 16 ½ knots! Even Vicky could keep up with us today.

Oddly enough as I was writing in yesterday’s entry about Costa Roca/Colombia a letter from Perky was pushed under the cabin door. It tells us about “a change to our planned itinerary”. In the letter he says that “Puerto Moin is historically not a good port to run a launch operation, and recently the port has experienced easterly swells, making it unsafe for ships to run their launch service.” Why have they changed the port? We were scheduled to dock so launch operations being unsafe shouldn’t affect us. Why did I find out about the change through Cruise Critic/Cunard Critic (a very apposite name) and personal emails long before Cunard thought to tell any of the passengers? Why has this change only been made now? They cancelled the WC visit last year and cancelled the QM2’s visits for this year last December – well before this cruise even started. Have they only just worked out that they cannot get in? In the letter Percy says “The decision to make this port change is purely to enhance your Cruise experience.” I don’t believe him. I suspect that Carnival’s profits are at the bottom of it. [Rereading this Diary in May 2009 I can’t help but wonder if this change of port was the reason they were so reticent about the Yellow Fever immunisations]

I went to ask Lisa about the problem. Lisa is the best person to ask about anything. I believe she has access to most of the crew – if she doesn’t know she will try and find out. If she can’t find out at least she will tell you that and not tell you a half-truth to get you to go away! Her comment was that she had not realised that is was scheduled to be a docking port; she will email several people and find out. With regard to Yellow Fever inoculations she does not think that it has been that well researched. Again she will check and find out.

Perky did make a noon announcement today. At least to part of the ship! Paul and I were in the Chartroom. We got an announcement saying that the horn would be sounded on the open decks (unusual to hear if you’re not on the open decks) but then both the Captains announcement and most of the announcement from the Third Officer were only played through the stairways. The announcement was not relayed to the rest of the ship until the closing words. I would have believed that this was a fault with the PA system in the Chart Room except for the fact that my parents, who were in the Queens Grill Lounge, reported the same thing.

From what we could tell of the announcement we need approximately 3 ½ engines running to get us to Shanghai on time. We will do 16 ½ knots this morning on three engines and then speed up slightly when a fourth engine is started.

In the afternoon I took our unironables to the Launderette. It was busy but not that busy. Most of the users were men. I wonder if that explains why there was no fighting.

Late afternoon was our Ensemble World Explorers Cocktail Party. It was another very enjoyable event. Having these Ensemble Travel events seems like a big added bonus to the holiday. Paul and I were talking to another invitee. She was telling us how the poison dwarf was claiming that a man in a wheelchair had tried to kill her. This invitee said that she was sure that it wasn’t Paul – until we told her the story of the tour in Freemantle! Paul’s comment was that if he had tried to kill her he would have succeeded!

One thing that we have found about cocktail parties in general, besides ordering what you want (including cocktails), is that you can order a double (or a quad, etc) and get it. If you order a double brand (for example a double Bombay Sapphire and tonic) you will get it. (Hic!)

We saw our captain for the first time last night. Last night was the CWC party for all those who joined in Singapore. Perky had been there to welcome members. Once the party was over he came and sat in the Chart Room for a drink with three other people.

After dinner Paul and I went to the Show again. The turn was Phillip Hitchcock, a “Comedy Magician”. He was OK but not wonderful. I would place him as above average on the pub and club circuit but still on that circuit – still not even a second or third rate entertainer. Although Cunard have done a couple of decent production shows I don’t think that their average level of entertainment has actually increased.

Title: 16 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 20, 2009, 04:46 PM
I am pleased to be able to report that we have speeded up. We are now going at 16.6 knots and not 16.5 as we were yesterday! All that extra speed gives a feeling of great importance to everyone onboard.

I am also very pleased to report that the internet is back up to its full speed. I’ve finally managed to download a virus checker for my laptop (I haven’t managed to get any updates yet though). It only took 45 minutes – My previous two attempts took that long and got nowhere. Once I’ve got those updates I should (with luck) be able to download emails instead of having to read them on the web.

The pursers have just made an announcement throughout the ship. I am in the Chart Room and so I cannot say if it was made in the cabins as well. It was made by someone who’s spoken English was not that good. The gist of the announcement was that photocopies of our passports will be certified by the Chinese authorities and then placed in our cabins. We should carry these ashore with us in Shanghai and hand them in on our return to the ship. He then went on to add that if we haven’t already returned our Chinese Health Declarations would we please do so immediately. This announcement was then repeated, the broken English totally confusing the message. The whole announcement took about four minutes. Why couldn’t this information be put in the daily programme? We’ve been at sea for over 24 hours – they must have loaded the stamps etc in Hong Kong so why do they have to treat is as if they have only just found out about the entire thing?

Ten minutes later: There was a second announcement by the same person, in the same broken English and saying the same thing. Again he further confused his message by repeating it twice. Following this we had two separate messages in Japanese and one in French. I assume they were saying the same thing but I don’t know. Why do the pursers decide to take it upon themselves to disturb the entire ship?

Today marks an important anniversary. It was three months ago today (at about 2-00 pm) that we boarded this ship for the first time this trip. It doesn’t actually feel like three months – over a month, but not long over, and forever. I’m feeling that there’s only just over a month to go :( Why am I feeling sad? That’s still ¼ of the trip.

We went to the show again this evening. As we only had about half an hour to pass we didn’t bother going further than The Golden Lion. I can see why that bar has an appeal to a lot of the passengers – it’s just like a working man’s club – but it still does not appeal to me. We stopped for a drink to pass ten minutes before it was time for the show. Tonight’s act was Annette Wardell. She was billed as an opera singer however more than half of what she sang was from Musical Theatre (Things like Showboat, My Fair Lady, etc). In her introduction we were told that she was world famous and that she was the world’s most important up and coming opera singer. I have never heard of her; if she is still hoping to make it in the world of opera I suspect she’s left it a bit too late!
Title: 17 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 21, 2009, 04:06 PM
Today is the 17th March. That means we must be in China! We are going to so many fantastic places and doing so many different things it becomes very easy to become blasé about the changing experiences. It becomes easy to think that it’s just another port!

We’d booked a tour in Shanghai. Going on all these tours are against my normal philosophy about tours but Shanghai city is an hour from Shanghai port and one of us has a broken leg. The idea of doing it on our own seemed a bit daunting so we’d given in and decided on an organised trip.

After breakfast I’d gone to fill our water bottles at the bowser in the Pavilion. On the way there I met Gail Seymour and stopped to thank her for her help in Hong Kong with that woman. She asked if we were going on tour today and if so which one. When I told her she said to make sure that we told them when we checked-in for the tour and they would ensure the front seats in the coach were reserved. I returned to the cabin and collected Paul. On our way to the Theatre we met Michael from the Tour Office. He had obviously just spoken to Gail and told us again that they would reserve seats if we told them at the desk.

Our tour start time was published as 8-45 am; we were due to meet in the theatre at 8-25 am. We actually got there at about 8-20 am and were on our way by just after 8-30 am. We had decided that as part of the tour was walking we would take the wheelchair although Paul wasn’t riding in it. We thought it might come in useful later. Paul went and got a seat by the exit to the Theatre whilst the chair and I went to check-in. There was a small queue and once I’d checked-in there was Michael taking our bus number (no 7), saying he’d make sure seats were reserved and telling us to go down when they called bus 5. Sure enough when we got to our bus there were the two front seats reserved for us. This level of communication and helpfulness is what we expect from Cunard staff. Why can’t they always be this good?

I checked with the Guide about the amount of walking there would be (she said about half an hour) and about the wheelchair access to the Yu Gardens. I was told that there was the odd place where Paul would need to get out of his chair to clear a couple of steps but other than that there would be no problem with using a wheelchair on that part of the tour. This we accepted and the driver only got the wheelchair out for that section of today’s tour.

Shanghai reminds me of East Berlin soon after the Berlin Wall came down. There is the same amount of new building, similar numbers of major constructions and the same differentiation between rich and poor. There is also an air of hope and expectation although it is nothing like as strong as it was in Berlin.

The tour started with an hour’s coach journey from the ship to the new area of town. From here we got to see the Oriental Pearl TV Tower (famous) and the Jin Mao Building (not famous) from close up. I doubt we walked 100m from the coach to the view point before returning.

Then it was back on the coach for the transfer under the Huangpu and to the Monument to the People’s Heroes for the view down the Bund with its view of the elegant architecture. We stopped here for about 20 minutes. Long enough for us to get off the coach, have a quick look at the monument, take a photograph and get back on the coach. I could have quite happily spent half a day on the Bund.

Once back on the coach we made the short transfer to the Old City. This is where the guide was taking the group on a walking tour and I was to push Paul. The arrangement worked fine (although I found that I didn’t have much time to take photographs) until we got to the Yu Gardens. The area of the old town that we walked through was very interesting and, despite the numbers trailing thorough, was unspoilt by tourists. The stalls were selling the kind of thing I remember from Stanley Market in Hong Kong 14 years ago. I would have loved to be able to spend a lot more time here rooting through the many stalls. I’m sure I could have found something I really needed but hadn’t realised I hadn’t got!

Then we got to the Yu Gardens. I had asked the guide specifically about these before the tour started and been told that they were wheelchair accessible except for a couple of places where there were a few steps. The gardens cannot be classed as accessible to anyone with mobility problems. There were lots of steps, bridges, uneven surfaces, narrows, stepping stones, etc that, whilst they make for a picturesque garden, make wheelchair access impossible. As Paul is able to walk with crutches we tried to see if we could leave the chair at the entrance for collection later – there was nobody there who would agree to look after it. In the end I had to push the chair whilst it was folded and Paul had to manage with his crutches. His comment at the end was that, whilst he was grateful for the chair on the way to and back from the gardens, it had been such a problem he would rather have walked the entire way.

Despite those problems the gardens are well worth seeing. They are a set of traditional Chinese gardens laid out in the 16th Century. There are various pavilions that are used as museumettes and for assorted displays. The gardens are another place I could have spent a long time. Our visit was nothing like long enough. Despite it being winter and most of the trees being bare (the exceptions being the Magnolias and some of the Flowering Cherries) the gardens looked to be kept with all the detail you would imagine.

On our way back to the coach we passed through another part of the old town. This was narrow pedestrianised streets lined with traditional houses, temples, etc. You could not tell if these were well preserved or heavily restored originals or if they were new buildings designed to attract the tourist but attract the tourist they did! The streets were packed with people. It’s becoming a familiar comment but I could have spent more time here as well. It did not deserve anything like as much time as some of the earlier areas though.

By this point it was time for lunch and we were off to the Jin Jiang Hotel. A 5* hotel that is probably better known by its old name of Cathay Mansions. Here we were served a traditional Chinese meal. We were seated at tables of eight and dishes were placed on a lazy Susan in the middle of the table. To start with there was an Hors D’Oevres. This was seven cold dishes of things like Tofu with flavourings, bean sprouts, a salad of tomato and cucumber. This was followed with eight hot dished such as sweet and sour pork, chicken with spring onions and ginger, special rice, etc. The hot dishes were brought to a close by the serving of sweet corn soup and pork dumplings. There was then a tray of watermelon as a pudding.

After lunch we visited the Jade Buddha Temple. This temple contains two famous sculptures of Buddha. One is a reclining Buddha the other is sitting up. They are both carved out of White Jade. Our guide book says that “it is not one of China’s more spectacular complexes”. This may be true but we still found it very interesting. Once we had seen the statues of Buddha we were given a tasting (with the hope that we would then buy) of teas blended by the temple. We tasted a total of five teas. They ranged from tasting of nothing but hot water to disgusting! I could not have drunk any of the teas on a regular basis. Needless to say we didn’t buy any.

Our penultimate call (and the last call mentioned in the Shore Excursions Programme) was going to be to the Children’s Palace. On the 15th we got a letter from the Tour Office saying that the Children’s Palace would be closed because of government activity and the kindergarten would be substituted. At the Children’s Palace we had expected to see various children between the ages of 6 and 16 singing, dancing, etc. This use of children does not interest us however the building is reported to be of interest. It was built between 1918 and 1921 as a private residence and still contains many of its original features. The building for the kindergarten was built mid 1990s and was not architecturally of note. After we had been taken into several classrooms containing children aged 4 and 5 Paul and I, along with several other members of the group, decided that this was distasteful and left. I believe the rest of the group went on to see several other 4 and 5 year olds who could play a musical instrument, sing, etc.

This activity showed how the Chinese state will misuse its children to present an image to the outside world. The tour was kept well away from the poorer areas of Shanghai. We were told, but of course could not see, that the poverty outside the cities, in the countryside, is extreme. I wonder what else was put on as a front? What else was kept out of our sight to prevent us forming opinions that the authorities would not like? Had we been in China for longer than a day what else wouldn’t we have seen?

The final port of call was at a factory that made silk products. Our tour guide said that people on the coach were asking for an extra shopping opportunity. She said that the coach would only be able to go to the silk factory if everyone agreed – we weren’t all asked. Despite this being an unscheduled stop there were several other Cunard tours there. The prices for their clothing did not seem a lot cheaper than in England. It would be very difficult to compare their duvets as they didn’t give measurements for heat retention in the same way.

We enjoyed most of our tour of Shanghai. The kindergarten and the silk factory could have been missed and more time given at some of the other locations but that is a fairly minor complaint. If we went again soon we would not do a general tour and would decide on what particular bit we wanted to see. The tour let us see as much of the city as was possible in one day and had to cater to all tastes. I accept that some people would have loved the kids and the silk factory and not been that interested in the architecture of the Bund.

On our return to the ship there was a letter from the pursers about Japanese immigration. Attached to it were a health declaration, a customs declaration and a combined embarkation/disembarkation form. We had to fill these in and attend Japanese Immigration in the Grand Lounge in the morning.
Title: 18 Mach 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 22, 2009, 06:52 PM
The ship was almost deserted this morning. I put it down to being the day after a port day and the clocks going forward this morning. When I got to the gym I wondered if it was actually open. The door was unlocked but the only light came from the emergency lights - the sight of heads floating backwards and forwards in the pool was surreal! I don’t know who had opened the gym this morning but they had forgotten to turn the lights on, start the fans and switch on the televisions.

Once I’d been to the restaurant for breakfast I turned on the television for firstly the speed (28 knots) and then the Breakfast Show. There we were told that we should take our Customs Declaration and Embarkation/Disembarkation Card to the Grand lounge but NOT our Health Declaration – that would be checked as we left the ship tomorrow. When we got to the Grand Lounge we got a third set of instructions. This time we were to take our passport and Embarkation/Disembarkation Card and nothing else. As Cunard already had our passports in the Grand Lounge the instruction to have your passport ready caused some confusion. When we collected our passports we asked about the confliction instructions. The receptionist said that they had asked to see our Health Declarations to make sure we had filled them in correctly. When we pointed out that their notice gave a third set of instructions she said “Oh”!

The Embarkation/Disembarkation Cards were mostly precompleted and only needed Country and City of residence and occupation filling in. However for port of disembarkation there was a date. On most people’s it was the date they joined the ship, however for anyone who joined before 31 December 2007 the date was given as December 2008! We questioned this and were told “Oh dear; we’ve made a mistake; I didn’t realise”!

On the way back to the cabin I went to see Lisa to see if she’d got anywhere with Malaria, Yellow Fever and Puerto Moin being a port where we’d been due to dock. She has emailed someone at Cunard Head Office about both the Yellow Fever and Puerto Moin. She’s had a reply about the Yellow Fever – it’s not needed – but the person failed to reply about PM. She will email them again.

As usual Peter Crimes’ lecture was good. I hadn’t realised that there was so much to see within only a short distance of Osaka (Kyoto is only 1 ½ hours away). He who never books tours and actively discourages people from doing so went to the Tour Office to enquire if there were any and if so what tours they had left. It turns out they are still able to offer both the tours we’d be interested in so I think it’ll back to the Tour Office to book one when it reopens this afternoon. It means we won’t be able to go on the Ensemble tour tomorrow but we think that seeing several World Heritage Sites is going to be more fulfilling than a tea ceremony.

The couple we were sitting next to related their tour of Shanghai. It was the same one that the old woman had been on except she was on a different bus – one for people with walking difficulties and who required an easier tour. Apparently she was not happy about being put on a bus with all the people who had walking difficulties. She said she did not like being included in this group. She raised a stink saying that she was quite able to walk (This was the woman who said Paul, with a broken leg, cold walk better than she could). I am pleased to say that the tour guides did not give in and kept her on the bus for the immobile.

Perky missed his midday announcement again (It could be that it just wasn’t broadcast where we happened to be but, as we moved from the tour office, down G stairway to Quarter Deck, though the Queens Room and into the Chart Room, we didn’t hear it. It might be that Perky suddenly has a lot of urgent things to attend to and therefore can’t make these announcements as well, or that  I wasn’t used to these announcements at Christmas and therefore didn’t notice their absence but I’ve got to wonder if Perky isn’t worried about passenger feedback and therefore keeping out of the way.

We went to the Tour Office at just turned 3-00 pm. We had decided either to book the tour to Kyoto (rates as most walking) or Nara (substantial walking). Peter Crimes had recommended Nara but had said the tour included a lot of walking. We went to the Tour Office to seek advice before booking. The first person we spoke to said that one was rated most walking whilst the other was rated substantial walking; that meant that one involved a lot of physical activity whilst the other didn’t involve quite as much. He was not able to tell us anything further than was already in the booklet. He suggested that we spoke to either Michael or Gail.

Michael was available (but not serving – that’s why we hadn’t asked him first) and he suggested the Kyoto tour because he had done that tour and knew that the walking was possible. He had not been on the Nara one and said so. He checked with Gail who said both tours were similar in a different way and could not put one over the other. We have ended up booking the Nara one as there is not a shopping trip scheduled onto it whereas the Kyoto trip had an hour spent at the Kyoto Handicraft Centre. If the tour office were always as good as Gail and Michael we might book more tours (I’m not sure though – they are still very expensive!).

I also got two more bits of news: Firstly the tours are now out for Cartagena. There is nothing that is of great interest on any of the tours so I suspect we’ll end up taking a taxi for a few hours. [Oddly enough we ended up taking a tour there; it turned into one of the best tours we have ever had.] Secondly, and most importantly, they have cancelled our stop in Brooklyn. It has been replaced with Manhattan. We are going into the centre again. I suppose that means another early morning to watch our arrival.

When we were late leaving Vung Tau and had to rush to get to Hong Kong we were told that the QE2 was being pushed as fast as she could. We only reached speeds of 29 knots. Today we are not racing (as far as I know) but our speed seems to have increased. Before lunch we were doing 28 knots and this afternoon we managed 29 knots. Paul’s just turned the TV on and we’ve hit 30 knots. 30.3 to be precise. We have already dropped to 29.3 knots but at 5-25 pm we did pass the magic point of 30 knots.

After dinner there was another new show that we’d decided to attend. Once dinner finished and before the show began Paul and I wanted to go for a drink. As The Golden Lion was just at the top of the stairs from the restaurant Paul wanted to stop there. Not for long, we’d hardly sat at a table before I was able to persuade Paul that the pianist singing “Little Brown Jug” at the top of his voice was not the best entertainment! I think it was pointing out that it was Karaoke shortly that actually got him to move.

The show was another new production. It was not as good as the one based on West Side Story but was still far better than the previous shows had been. It was titled “Fiesta Latina” although it seemed to have little to do with either Latin American or fiesta music! It started slowly – halfway through the second song I whispered to Paul that I would leave when he wanted. My opinion of the show changed fairly quickly. By the end of the third number I wanted to stay and I was sad when the show ended.

When we left the Grand Lounge we passed back through the Red Lion. Karaoke was in full swing. Oh dear!

The seas had been getting a bit choppy this evening and when we got back to the cabin we turned the TV on to see what speed we were doing. 31.6 knots! We’ve passed the 30 mark again! So much for the rumour that was going around after leaving Vung Tau – that the Captain had tried to speed up and had been forced to slow again because of the way the ship was shaking herself to bits.
Title: 19 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 23, 2009, 12:10 PM
Our tour was scheduled to leave at 8-15 am. The tour was to meet in the Theatre at 8-00 am. We went to breakfast at just turned 7-00 am. Our plan was to go straight from breakfast to the Theatre so we left the wheelchair (We thought it was better to take it and not use it than not take it and want it) outside the starboard entrance when we went down to breakfast. Breakfast was over by 8-45 am and I was in the queue for tickets (I left Paul in the Golden Lion where he could have a smoke). Michael radioed to Gail, who was with the coaches, and got her to reserve us a couple of seats and then told me that we could go straight to the coach. The gangway was on Two Deck but Thomas, who was marshalling the queue to get off, sent us to the gangway on Five Deck where there were no steps.

When we got to the coach we found that a woman had taken one of the reserved seats. There were two reserved signs but because only one had a name on she had assumed the other one was vacant. She moved across to the front seat on the other side of the coach and was quite happy. The Cunard Rep (I think another of the Gentleman Hosts but I’m not sure) said a few words, basically don’t be late, but said it in a far more pleasant way than the host in Shanghai. We were underway by 8-10 am.

The drive to Nara only took 40 minutes; we had been advised that the drive was normally about 1 ½ hours and to “expect traffic congestion and delays”. We were delighted to arrive at the Horyuji Temple (Buddhist) before 9-00 am. The Horyuji Temple was our first World Heritage site of the day. It contained some of the oldest wooden structures in the world and was divided into three parts: The Western Precinct, the museum and the Eastern Precinct. Paul and I explored the Western Precinct and the museum. We did not venture into the Eastern Precinct because it had started to rain and we decided walking slowly back to the coach would be enough for us. We were not the only people who thought this – when we got back to the coach most of the passengers were already there!

From there we travelled to the Kasuga Shrine. This is a Shinto Shrine that was first built in 768 AD and is notable for the large number of stone lanterns (upwards of 2000) in its grounds. It is another World Heritage Site. The rain eased as we got here but soon started to pour down again.

Lunch was served at the Nara Hotel. The hotel is a modern building very close to the Kasuga Shrine. We ate in the hotel’s main dining room and got a four course lunch (smoked salmon, pea soup, roast chicken and strawberries and ice cream) with coffee. We were all seated at tables of either four or six. Paul and I ended up sitting with Jo Ann (from CC) and a friend. This good company made it a very pleasant and enjoyable meal stop.

The rain stopped during lunch. Just down the road from the hotel was our third World Heritage Site of the day; the Todai-ji Temple and we considered not taking our umbrellas. We decided that we would and it was just as well as the rain started again when we were about half way round. The Todai-ji temple (Buddhist again – temples are Buddhist and shrines are Shinto) was built around the second largest (16m) cast Buddha in the world. (It was thought to be the largest until a larger one was discovered in Tibbett recently). Work started on the temple and the Buddha in 710 AD. This temple is the largest wooden structure in the world.

From there it was back to the coach. We left at 3-30 pm and were back at the ship by 4-40 pm. The return journey was another very pleasant and relatively traffic free event. We feel that Japan has been one of the highlights of the cruise so far. All the sites that we saw were of world class standard. Driving through Osaka (and modern Nara) they looked just like any other big city, full of tall grey buildings. The continuous rain did not help this impression. However that there are such important and spectacular sites more than mitigates the rain (and the grey buildings).

When we were almost back at the ship our guide pointed out the local shopping centre; it was about two minutes walk from the ship. I took Paul back to the cabin (he was very tired. He hadn’t used the wheelchair all day and on at least two occasions had walked a few steps without even the help of crutches) and then set off to spend the last of my day in Japan window shopping. It was a decent sized shopping mall with a major food court. Had I had the time (and the appetite) I could easily have eaten at a lot of the restaurants there. The shops were interesting although there was nothing I wanted to buy – (not quite true. I did get a pair of shorts for the gym as those I’ve brought with me have shrunk). The mall struck me as shops for locals rather than directed at the cruise ships that call. I had to rush from the mall after only half an hour to make sailing; I could have spent much longer. One thing struck us about Japan – how few places accept credit cards. If you want to be able to buy anything then you must have Yen (There is an exchange just inside the terminal, much cheaper than the machines on board).

I think that our impression of Japan came from the tour. By way of contrast I am going to describe briefly my parents’ tour. They started at 10-30 from the Yacht Club. They had a short drive through Osaka to the Umeda Sky building – two 40 floor skyscrapers with a bridge connecting the two towers. There is a garden on the top of this bridge with views over the whole of Osaka. Unfortunately they didn’t get into the garden because it was raining so hard. They got a traditional Japanese lunch – “interesting, filing and bland”! – and a traditional tea ceremony that lasted for 15 minutes. There was a short talk about the kimono before a return to the ship. They were not impressed and said this was the worst Ensemble tour there has been on this trip. Paul and I are both very glad that we decided to change tours at the last minute and go to Nara.

The mall had balconies at the back (overlooking the QE2) running the full length of the building. People were already starting to gather along them while I was still shopping. By the time we sailed they were crowded. It was still pouring down but that did not appear to affect the numbers on shore; it greatly reduced the numbers on deck though. The sail from Osaka was not grander than the sail from any of the Australian ports but it came close. It is wonderful that so many people turn out to say goodbye to such a famous ship.

The clocks go forwards tonight so after dinner it was a case of checking emails and then going to bed.

[Osaka was the other port in our top two. I could not decide which I’d put first – Easter Island or Nara.]
Title: Re: 18 Mach 2008
Post by: Rob Lightbody on Aug 23, 2009, 06:32 PM
The seas had been getting a bit choppy this evening and when we got back to the cabin we turned the TV on to see what speed we were doing. 31.6 knots! We’ve passed the 30 mark again!

Thats incredibly, it really is.  Basically a full TEN knots faster than QV.  The fact that you had no idea you were going fast in your cabin until you turned on the TV says everything that's needed!
Title: 20 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 24, 2009, 06:44 PM
There were only two people in the gym when I got there this morning. The clocks going on have made the whole ship sleep in! It has been quite rough through the night; they’d emptied the pool in the gym. I could see why when I went in – the carpet was soaked. When you walked across the floor you left dry footprints where the water had been squeezed out.

Breakfast didn’t start until 8-30 am. When I got to the restaurant there were only two other passengers eating. By the time I left I would think that there were only about ten!

After Breakfast I went to see Lisa about Cartagena. Apparently the man at Cunard has asked where she’s getting her information! She has told me that there is no need for Malaria tablets and no requirement for Yellow Fever. Cunard are still remaining silent about the reason why we are not going to Puerto Moin though.

Peter Crimes lectured on Honolulu and Maui this morning. He said that he has lumped the two together because he has never been to Maui and can only give general guidance and show a few photographs taken by someone else several years ago. He also said that he did not yet know where we are to dock in Honolulu. He hoped that it would be by the Aloha Tower, in the centre, but had heard that another container port on the outskirts was a possibility. At this the audience gave a loud moan.

Perky did make his noon message today. It allowed him to apologise for the rough seas we experienced last night. Apparently they were totally unforcast and nobody knew about them until we were into them and to apologise for not having been in more contact with the passengers – the Bridge has been very busy and there have been times when the pilot run has been long. I strongly doubt that there are ports where the pilot needs to be aboard more than 18 hours before we dock. That would be the length of time required to prevent him making a midday announcement. If we have visited any then the Daily Programme, in its Navigational Information section, has made no mention of them.

I went to see Lisa about Hawaii. I suspect that Peter Crimes has caused some headaches by suggesting we might dock at a container port. I am assured that we will dock either at the Aloha Tower of at the other passenger terminal half a mile from the tower.

After that we went to bed and slept. We got up in time for dinner. Once dinner was over we headed back to bed again! The clocks go forward again tonight (and almost every sea day until we reach Southampton) so it’s going to be a month of early nights.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 25, 2009, 01:26 PM
What I find interesting at this point is that, while we were still almost a month from the end, we were feeling the approach of that end very quickly :( Four months onboard sounds like forever but when three of those months have passed incredibly fast then you have a horrible feeling the fourth won't last very long either.
Title: 21 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 25, 2009, 01:28 PM
Another short night and another quiet morning in the gym. The carpet in the gym is almost dry now and is looking much cleaner where it was washed with pool water. What happened to the idea that they’d replace the entire carpet if it got soaked in sea water (a la Alan Wicker)?

When we’d both finally roused ourselves (I fell asleep when I got back to the cabin after breakfast) we went up to the Funnel Bar at about 10-30 am. We took our books and were quite happy sitting, sipping lemonade and reading until it was time for Perky’s noon announcement. We got the warning that in three minutes time the horn would be sounded; we got the horn itself and then the Third Officer giving his navigational information. Yet again no announcement from our glorious Captain! As we are over 900 miles from Japan in one direction and 2700 from Hawaii in the other I cannot believe that it is long pilot runs that have detained him; the weather is only force four so I can’t think that has kept him on the bridge all night either. We haven’t seen Perky since before Japan. Was yesterday’s announcement made by radio? Have we left him behind?

Paul had a sandwich at the Funnel Bar and I declined. I went for Afternoon Tea in the Queens Grill Lounge and Paul declined. About 5-00 pm we both fell asleep and that was it until dinner! There is very little to amuse anybody in a diary that just says “went to the gym” and “went to sleep” and that is what I’ve written for the past couple of days. But that is all we are doing!

Everyone who has been on the entire WC so far seems to be lacking energy at the moment. I’m not sure what is causing it. It could be something to do with us starting to approach the last sector (LA is still 11 nights away) or it could be to do with us starting to feel that we’ve had our fill of different and exciting places. I think it’s due to us having only 23 hour days when at sea. This will happen almost every sea day until Southampton. Everyone has been used to 24, 25 or 26 hour (on one occasion) days and is now still trying to fit a day’s activities into two or three hours less. I think that it will take a while for us to adjust to the shorter day and doing less.

One thing that I can write about is the cabin next door, the one with the adjoining door to ours. The people in there are on the full WC – at least we assume so – they’ve been there since New York at least. We’ve only ever seen them once, going to dinner when they said a quick “good evening” and hurried off but we have heard plenty from them! Nothing like enough to warrant a complaint (and what would we be complaining about anyway?), or even a mention before in this diary. I think it started shortly after Valparaiso, when we were spending a lot of time in the cabin because of Paul’s broken leg. They would go playing Bridge and then come back to the cabin, order a cup of tea from room service and loudly argue about the game and how each other had played. Paul and I started to get annoyed by this and made some loud comments. After a few days (and a few comments) the arguments mostly stopped. Every few days we would hear them trying the interconnecting door on their side.

Paul and I both had the QE2 cough at this point. One night, about midnight, we were both coughing and our neighbours banged on the wall to shut us up! They both have the cough now and we’ve to put up with coughing, snorting and trumpeting all night long.

Then (and this is what reminded me to write now – they’ve just made ‘that’ noise again), a couple of weeks ago, they started doing something that sounded like putting masking tape around the door. These noises lasted for a good ten minutes. I have to say ‘sounded’ because I’ve never been in their cabin and cannot think of any other explanation for the noise although I can’t think that they would spend so much time sealing the door. Now, at least once per day, there is a similar sound but that only goes on for a minute or so. What are they doing? They’re not really annoying us (apart from some homophobic comments they made once) It’s just irritating to hear these peculiar noises and not know what they are! [At the end of the cruise our steward told us that it was masking tape on the door – to keep the pipe smoke out!]
Title: 22 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 26, 2009, 03:46 PM
This is the first report for 22 March 2008. It was the day we crossed the international dateline so we got two 22nds! The second one is tomorrow :)
Title: 22 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 26, 2009, 03:46 PM
I can’t even write about the gym or breakfast today. Last night turned into a very late night, we didn’t get to sleep until well past 1-30 am. That, combined with the clocks going on, resulted in my not getting up until 9-30 am and being far too late for the gym and for breakfast.

Even Perky has set out against my having anything to write about today. Come noon he made his announcement. Not that interesting (most addresses aren’t actually that interesting anyway whoever they’re from, it’s just that, on occasion, they can be quite informative, amusing or even educational), just a comment that the weather is improving and a warning to avoid sunburn.

As usual at sea when I don’t think anything important happens something comes along to help the day pass! I am noting today’s happening for Lyn and Margot. I saw the Orange Cat again! And I can now say for definite that it is not the pest that’s got itself banned from CC. I’d got a back view photograph the other day, that indicated it wasn’t our cat, but have been waiting to get a front view shot. I was in the pool and it wandered into the gym with husband in tow! Then, when I’d got out of the pool and was catching the lift back to our cabin she got in it with me. I got the chance of a close up inspection. Unfortunately I was in swimming trunks and a bathrobe; I didn’t have either camera or mobile phone on me :)

I’ve also had an email from Kathy. She has worked out that an email sent to me c/o Cunard comes in hard copy (not difficult to workout but too hard for my confused mind). Mary’s come up with a similar suggestion at the same time. So if anyone’s emailing me please send an email to my normal address but also CCed to qe2@cunard.com with Malcolm Kelly Cabin 2044 in the subject line.

One of the nice things about sailing from east to west is that you cross the International Date Line and get an extra day. We crossed this afternoon and whilst today is Saturday 22 March tomorrow will also be Saturday 22 March. We got invitations to another Captain’s Party, again at the Funnel Bar. I’m sure Perky is only doing it to prove that he is onboard and is not making his occasional announcements by telephone. The party is tomorrow night and the date on the invitation is given as “the second Saturday, 22nd March”!

Title: 22 March 2008 (again!)
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 27, 2009, 05:27 PM
The clocks didn’t go on last night. That meant breakfast starting at 8-30 am was actually quite late. When I got there (8-31 am) there were four people in before me. Two couples both of whom had seen the time change reminder and read it as the clocks advance by one hour and not go back by 24! They were up an hour earlier than they wanted to be!

I went to one of the lectures this morning. It was entitled “The World’s Worst Cruise Videos – and How Not To Make Them” and was given by a man called Brian Ford. The lecture was not that interesting (an understatement) and it did not tell me anything that I do not know already. The first thing Brian Ford did was to spend about five minutes plugging his books (he’s written two, both of which are available on board). He struck me as smug and his lecture seemed well rehearsed, as if it was a lecture he was frequently giving on various cruise ships where he was selling his books. He said how worried he was that his lectures would not be well attended and that he was always relieved when he got a good attendance (the balcony was about ¼ full and five people left before the end).

I’m at a quiet point in the day, have my computer turned on and have time to write so I would like to take this opportunity of thanking everybody who is joining the ship soon and has offered to bring us anything we need. I’ve spoken with Paul and we can’t think of anything that will become urgent in another week! So we don’t think that we need anything. We are both touched that so many people have thought to ask if there’s anything that we need though.

(Matthew – the mouse mat isn’t urgent but if you can get one that would be great; Susan and Michael – which address did you write to? If you used mrkpnh@dsl.pipex.com I won’t have been able to access it, since I lost my PDA I’ve not been able to check that account. Email me on the other address or qe2@cunard.com)

Guess what? At noon we didn’t get a captain’s message and we didn’t get a Third Officer telling us the navigation details for the previous 24 hours; instead we got a Deck Cadet telling us our position, the distance we’ve covered and our average speed. If they are running out of deck staff that are willing to talk to us perhaps they can start on the hotel staff – I’m sure a lot of them would be interesting.

The Deck Cadet did say one thing of interest – we expect to cross the International Date Line at about 3-00 am tomorrow morning. This is quite contrary to the Daily Programme of yesterday reading “Today we continue on our course across the Pacific Ocean towards the Hawaiian Islands and we expect to cross the International Date Line in the afternoon.” The TV still shows our longitude 175 6.7E. If this is an example of how good the navigating team are perhaps we would be safer with the hotel staff steering the boat! (Or perhaps the captain producing the Daily Programme ;) )

The Launderette only gets a mention today because it is the quietest I’ve seen it since we left Southampton on the 6th January! I managed to get two washers, as did a woman who’d come in at the same time as me. There were a couple of times during the first part of my time there when there were five washers in a row not being used and a further two marked as “out of order”. There were two people using four (4!) driers each and there was still enough capacity to allow for an empty drier. The peace didn’t last. By the time my washing was half dry there were queues for washers.

Perky’s party (why does that sound like a romantic comedy released by Hollywood in the 1990s?) was just like any other – A lot of people that we’d say we’d never seen before and not a lot of excitement. Except for the couple who asked me if I was keeping a blog, if one of us was called Paul and told me that a family (of eight I think) in their restaurant had been reading it and were onboard until Los Angeles. I gave the lady our cabin number and she said she would pass it on – If the message doesn’t get through then (to the family who are reading this) we’re in 2044 if you want to call.

Captain Perkins was at the party; we shook hands with him. So I can confirm that we didn’t leave him behind in Japan! Once we’d shaken hands we went to find a seat and order some drinks. When the drinks hadn’t arrived after five minutes we ordered some more. Both lots arrived at the same time! Roger and Rosemary (the only other people that we knew at the party) joined us – they were on their second drink as well. We all had a third drink (and in some cases a fourth) and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Paul and I made it to dinner and then to the show. This show was the best this new troupe has put on so far. The performance was entitled “Elton John” and was basically a collection of his well known songs put together with dance. There is no plot to it and it isn’t a show that tries to have great depth but it is fun, well sung and well danced. Again it’s not a show I’d say that I must see again; if it were on and I’d nothing else to do I’d probably go and watch it as I’ll have forgotten most of the most of the show in the next couple of days.

The clocks go forward again tonight so it’s off to bed to sleep and to recover from the cocktail party!
Title: 23 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 28, 2009, 08:24 AM
The combination of cocktail party and clocks going forwards meant I didn’t make the gym again this morning. I did however make it to the restaurant in time to join the queue of people waiting for it to open. Since Good Friday we’ve had Hot Cross Buns as an extra at breakfast, this morning the restaurant was decked out with streamers, pictures of Easter Bunnies, large crepe paper eggs, etc. As at Christmas I hope these decorations will all have disappeared by tomorrow morning.

We then spent most of the morning on deck. It was quite windy, but it was a warm wind. As long as you were sitting somewhere sheltered it was quite comfortable. Paul read while I listened to some radio comedy shows I’ve got on my MP3 player (I’m not using it in the gym but it does come in handy around the rest of the ship).

Perky didn’t make any announcement again. I’m missed who it was they got to give the navigational information but I suspect it could have been one of the KPs!

We stayed on deck until about 12-30 pm when one of the Third Officers made an announcement warning of a shower of rain ahead. The open decks weren’t crowded so they cleared very quickly. Nobody wanted to be soaked by a sudden shower, even if it was a warm one that would quickly pass.

This afternoon we got another letter from the purser. This time it was about immigration into the US. Neither Paul nor I were clear about its implications so I went to the pursers to check how the immigration applied to us. The girl on the desk looked at the back of the Visa Waiver Form (why? It’s blank!) and said that we had to attend immigration – no reason or even any interest as to why I was asking. I asked to see the Purser who wasn’t available and so I said would they make me an appointment to see him (I think it’s a man but I’m not sure) at about 9-30 am tomorrow morning and inform me they had done so by putting a note under my cabin door this evening.

By the time we went to bed there was still no note.
Title: 24 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 29, 2009, 11:53 AM
Today's report was just a long line of complaints. I think that they=were mostly justified but I could think of nothing else to write. I knew that I was just moaning but didn't seem able to do anything about it. I'd been onboard the ship for 3 1/2 months at this point - I was becoming very institutionalised!
Another important thing to remember is that the report was written after another lengthy sea crossing.
Title: 24 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 29, 2009, 11:53 AM
I was late to breakfast this morning. It’s another sign that Paul is getting better – he was able to stand and cut our hair this morning. That’s saved us about US$ 80.00 in bills from the onboard services (not to mention that it was much quicker and more pleasant).

On my way back from breakfast (9-15 am) I saw one of the purserettes heading the same way as me. When she passed me she didn’t acknowledge me so I was surprised to see her stop at our cabin and put a letter under the door. I slowed down so that she would have finished at the cabin before I got there – as she walked past me she still didn’t acknowledge me, not even an anonymous good morning. When I got to the cabin the letter was to Paul confirming his appointment with the Manifest at 9-30! We assumed (as it turned out correctly) that the letter was meant to be addressed to me confirming my appointment with the Purser.

I went along to the pursers office and said I had an appointment with the Purser at 9-30 am. When Birgit Gilly appeared she said “Good morning Mr Kelly, How can I help?” This was a perfect example of how the receptionists make silly mistakes – They had made the appointment in Paul’s name and not mine according to the letter they’d sent. Birgit Gilly is not the Purser but the Assistant Purser – another little mistake by the receptionists? The letter states that everyone must clear immigration before the ship can be cleared. BG has confirmed this is not the case. Once the 14 disembarking passengers have cleared immigration then the ship will be cleared, in transit passengers only need to clear immigration by 9-00 am. This is so different both from the original letter and what the girl on the desk told me last night that I feel it justifies my repeated asking.

Today’s message is turning into nothing but a whinge! There was a Crew Emergency
Drill scheduled for 10-30 am. Perky didn’t make a noon announcement today; as the drill wasn’t over until 12-15 pm I suppose Perky can claim some sort of dispensation from having to make his announcement today (although I think Captain McNaught still made an announcement when there was a drill on – I can’t say for certain though as I wasn’t listening out for the announcements then). The Third Officer didn’t escape though – he made his announcement at 12-20 pm.

While I’m in an awkward mood I’ll complain about the fact that the ship’s running out of things. The Travellers Cove has run out of Listerine (and face powder my mother tells me), There are six wines on the wine list that they don’t have any more, The Chart Room has no tomato juice whilst Paul got the last tomato juice in the restaurant. The crew say that they don’t know when these things will be in stock again although it will probably be Southampton. I don’t know if this is because of a stocking mistake, they are already starting to cut things out for November or if it is an aspect of a World Cruise – we can expect things to run out because it’s so long since we were in the home port.

I said today was a day for whinging; I think whatever I do today I’ll find fault with! I went swimming. There were four people in the pool but I decided to chance it – after all one of them must get out soon. One of them did and, although it was crowded, we were all trying to swim full lengths and managed to keep it up without getting too much in anyone’s way. That is until this oldish Oriental gentleman got in. He stood to one side of the shallow end, between the steps and the ladder (being a blockage of about half the width of the pool), and watched the swimmers. I gave up and got out. He watched the other swimmers whilst I showered and put my dressing gown on and he was still standing there, watching, as I left the gym.

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Louis De Sousa on Aug 29, 2009, 06:10 PM
There are six wines on the wine list that they don’t have any more, The Chart Room has no tomato juice whilst Paul got the last tomato juice in the restaurant. The crew say that they don’t know when these things will be in stock again although it will probably be Southampton. I don’t know if this is because of a stocking mistake, they are already starting to cut things out for November or if it is an aspect of a World Cruise – we can expect things to run out because it’s so long since we were in the home port.

Malcom, the ship was in Hong Kong on the 14th of March,normally the ship gets stocked up their.If wines are missing that can happen on World Cruises but running out of tomate juice that is a joke........and because it all ends in November their is no reason to run out of it.Tomate Juice is a basic product just like to flour is to make the bread........

Title: Re: 23 February 2008
Post by: Isabelle Prondzynski on Aug 30, 2009, 01:25 PM

Firstly the Captain confirmed that the ship and the entire contents had been sold to Dubai. He said that, when he takes the ship there in November they will disembark the passengers and then spend about a week decommissioning the ship. When he and his crew finally leave the ship they will pack their personal possessions and leave everything else. That is as I understood the deal before I left in December. HOWEVER the captain also said that when (if) the QE2 is finally scrapped all the memorabilia onboard must return to Cunard. This could be in a very long time (think of the Mary) and he gave no indication of any payment that might be required to get them back but does imply that Carnival haven't just sold everything without any concern for the history.

Malcolm, thank you for this diary, which I am enjoying reading. At some stage, I got busy and failed to keep up, so I have printed it out and am now reading it at my leisure when I get a relaxed moment.

The above quote is very interesting and the one and only time I have heard or read this. It may be common knowledge, but it just had not reached me yet.

The Cunard memorabilia (the Heritage Trail, plus perhaps some more?) back to Cunard some time whenever the QE2 is no more? That would mean that these items are currently on long-term loan to Dubai, and presumably there is an obligation to look after them caringly, as they have to be returned. That to me puts a different spin on the arrangement. Could be quite reassuring to many of us...
Title: Re: 21 March 2008
Post by: jdl on Aug 30, 2009, 04:58 PM
They’re not really annoying us (apart from some homophobic comments they made once) It’s just irritating to hear these peculiar noises and not know what they are! [At the end of the cruise our steward told us that it was masking tape on the door – to keep the pipe smoke out!]


Did you not consider reporting them for their homophobic comments? - as the QE2 fell under UK law they could well have faced serious punishment for these illegal comments - if nothing else you would have had a fairly good chance of having them removed as passengers at the next port of call!!

Title: Re: 23 February 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 30, 2009, 07:10 PM
these items are currently on long-term loan to Dubai, and presumably there is an obligation to look after them caringly, as they have to be returned

I've since heard, from another reliable source, that the items need only be offered back to Cunard for Cunard to buy if they wish. I don't believe that anything has been set regarding the price that is asked for them or how long Cunard have to be given to pay for them :(
Title: Re: 21 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 30, 2009, 07:13 PM
Did you not consider reporting them for their homophobic comments?

No. There were only a couple of comments made on one occasion - they weren't about us. There was nothing after that. I don't think that either Paul or I thought about reporting them or that if we had it would have been worth the effort!
Title: 25 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 30, 2009, 08:25 PM
We were in the queue for immigration at 5-55 am this morning. We didn’t see the immigration officers until 7-00 am. The queue started at the portside of the Queens
Room. It went right the way past Cruise Sales, Past the Caronia Restaurant, through the Chart Room, back through the Queens Room on the other side and we joined it at the tea counter of the Lido. At 7-25 am I went to see how long the queue was – it had extended through the Lido and was back into the Queens Room. We were in that queue until 7-00 am before an immigration officer stamped our passport and gave us permission to leave the ship. This delay was in no way attributable to Cunard. The officers were due to start work at 6-00 am; at 6-10 am a purserette walked along the queue saying that the officers were not yet onboard; at 6-15 am there was an announcement that the officers had just arrived and it was not until 6-25 that they finally started to stamp passports. By the time we’d breakfasted and gone back to our cabins to shower and change for the day it was 8-30 am.

We are docked at pier number 2. This is not at the Aloha Tower but is only about five minutes walk – if you’re a good walker; if not you’d better allow ten minutes or, much easier, take the shuttle! Our first impressions of Hawaii were that it’s an Americanised Tahiti or Tonga. There doesn’t appear to be a lot here for someone who doesn’t want to get involved with water sports.

We took the shuttle in to the tower first thing and got a taxi from there – the taxis at the terminal only wanted to do tours to Waikiki Beach (we’re not into beaches) and Pearl Harbour (we’re not really into public outpourings of faux grief either). There were plenty of taxis at the tower and we were able to get one to take us to the Bishop Museum.

Our guidebook, the Rough Guide to Honolulu and Oahu, quotes the museum as “The best for Hawaiian history, anthropology and natural history – and the world’s finest collection of the arts of the Pacific”. Whilst I do not doubt this I suspect that it is only because other museums are in places like Tahiti and have far less impressive collections. The main hall, the Hawaiian Hall, was closed until 2009 for renovations so this might have increased the feeling that there was not that much actually at the museum. We did get to see a demonstration of Hula Dancing. If you think how Disney would give a demonstration at one of their theme parks and then reduce the cast to three you won’t be far off!

We spent about an hour and a half at the museum. When we’d finished we caught another taxi to the ‘Iolani Palace. This was the residence of the monarchs of Hawaii from 1882 until their overthrow by American sugar farmers in 1893. It then became the Capitol Building until 1969 when it was turned into a museum. A lot of the original furniture was returned to the palace at this point and it is reputedly well worth seeing. Unfortunately the palace was being used as a film set today and so was closed to visitors. We could only look from the outside of the palace which is certainly very impressive.

After leaving the palace we walked past the Missionary Houses (so called because they were the first houses Christian missionaries lived in when they arrived on Oahu) and then slowly back to the ship. Paul’s leg was aching badly by this point so I left him at the shuttle bus stop and headed off on my own. I had arranged to meet Beth and Jerry (imacruiser from CC) at 3-00 pm and had about an hour to kill before that. I wandered around the Aloha Tower Marketplace and decided that a trip up the tower would pass ten minutes. The best things you can say about the tower are that it’s free and it had a lovely view (at least today when the QE2 was in port!) I took the lift back down again and wandered round the shops again. There really is not that much there of interest so I was delighted when this voice said “Malcolm?” It was Beth who had also arrived early and had recognised me from my avatar. I was pleased that we had met early because it meant that we could spend a full hour talking rather than the 30 minutes we’d thought. I felt sorry for Jerry, I feel sorry for all partners when two (or more) CCers get together, because it was an hour spent almost entirely talking about CC related stuff. I had to rush off at 4-30 pm or we could have talked for much longer.

It is the World Cruise Dinner this evening. Coach transport to the Honolulu Convention Center is provided however, because there are so many people involved, the coaches are scheduled to depart from 5-30 pm until 5-50 pm for a 7-00 pm dinner. They had made arrangements for anyone with walking difficulties to be collected from their cabin and either be taken by wheelchair accessible transport or to get the first seats on each coach so my parents had gone on before us. We got a coach at about 5-40 pm. It was a very peculiar feeling to be leaving the ship in full evening dress and having people who were not on the full trip looking at us in a puzzled way, wondering where we were going and why. The people who were invited to dinner were a very well dressed group. I think I only saw two men in dark lounge suits rather than dinner jackets and only saw a handful of men in anything other than the correct black tie. The coach did not go directly to the centre but did a short tour of the city first. The guide on the tour made great efforts to point out the ‘Iolani Palace and the statues of past monarchs about the city.

When we all got off the coach at the conference centre we were all given a lei by a group of young (10 – 14 years old) girls dressed in the traditional grass skirts before we were ushered onto an escalator. The escalator started from a large lobby with pillars shaped like modernist palm trees and very large windows on two sides. We rose through an atrium that spanned about five floors with the views of the city spreading out behind us before we reached a second, enclosed lobby. From there a second, shorter, escalator took us to roof level.

The top of the escalator was under cover but as soon as you started to walk away from it you were in an open-air roof garden. This occupied a very large area (There were about 750 people attending the dinner and I would guess the space could have held at least twice that many before it became crowded and probably had a capacity of about 2000. Around the edge of the garden were various tableaux depicting figures from the Hawaiian monarchy and demonstrations of how Hawaii has changed over the centuries. The centre of the garden was set out with tables and chairs for use during pre-dinner drinks; There was a large water feature on one side and on the other was a band playing Hula songs. At one point the girls who had been handing out the leis came and danced in front of the band.

When we entered the roof garden there was a receiving line that had Carol Marlow, Perky and David Hamilton shaking hands with all who wanted. We declined the opportunity to shake hands preferring instead to go in search of a drink! We were given a drink when we first got to the garden and then wandered round looking at the tableaux. You could order whatever you liked although the servers’ trays normally only had red and white wine, beer, Mai Tais, cola and soda water. These servers then continued to pass through the crowd and we had no problem in obtaining a second drink (as long as it was wine, beer, Mai Tai, etc).

When dinner was announced the Hula Dancers led us into one of the conference rooms. This conference room was large. There were tables numbered from 1 to 78, each of which seated either nine or ten people. The tables were arranged around a large dance floor with a lot of room around the edge of the tables for servers, etc. I would guess that you would have had no problem fitting another 40 tables in the room and making each table hold 12 people each. Each place was provided with a glossy booklet that included the evening’s menu and each table had a centrepiece consisting of a tall glass vase containing white orchids.

The waiters poured everyone a glass of wine and then we sat back while Perky introduced Carol Marlow. Her speech started and finished well by talking about the QE2 and her passengers. Unfortunately the middle of the speech was just a sales blurb to try and encourage everyone to go on the Vicky. She even paused to show a short film showing of the Vicky’s insides! After Carol Marlow’s address there was another display of Hawaiian dancing, singing, military work, and a faux parade with people pretending to be the last King and Queen of Hawaii. This lasted for about half an hour after which Perky said grace. I was not expecting a grace, it’s not that widely done anymore. I don’t think Perky was expecting to have to give one either. He said “We’ve got to thank someone so let’s thank God”. That was it!

The meal was very good. I think it was above the standard we get in the Britannia Grill, Paul and my parents think it was slightly below. Whichever we are all agreed that it was a very good meal. The menu looked as though there was going to be a choice at each course (unbelievable when you think they’re serving 750 people at the same time) however when the courses arrived everything was on the one plate. This wasn’t that peculiar with the appetiser but when the entree consisted of both a broiled filet of beef and a half lobster on the same plate at the same time it was slightly unusual; especially when they were both with their own sauce and were two totally separate dishes except on only one plate (not like Surf and Turf that is one dish of steak and shellfish cooked together). The wines were topped up as often as was wanted throughout the meal.

The only major problems to occur with the meal happened after the pudding had been cleared away. I list them as “major problems” but they were not that major – if I were to rate the meal and were allowing for these problems in my rating I would only give it 8/10 instead of 9/10. What happens at the end of the meal is what you remember about the meal; these were all fairly minor irritations but still left an unpleasant memory.

The coffee was almost cold when it was poured. Different teas were offered by pouring hot water from a jug into a cup and letting the diner choose their teabag to dunk. As the water was lukewarm the tea was poor at best. Three of the people who had tea at or table had difficulty opening the envelopes that held the teabags. Their tea must have been almost cold and even less tealike!

There was a flute glass on the table as part of each place setting. This was used for drinking the Loyal Toast. There were two problems here – they only half filled each person’s flute. Despite this being quite a saving in Korbel Blanc De Noir (not a Champagne (it originates in California) despite Perky calling it one) it makes the company look mean. The extra cost of a full glass on top of the meal would not have been a great excess. The second problem was with the definition of the Loyal Toast. I (and so did all the people at our table) believe that the Loyal Toast is only drunk to The Queen. When Perky gave the toast it was not only to The Queen but also the President of the United States and all other world Leaders!

Once dinner was over all the guests were offered a liqueur. We were offered either brandy or Baleys but they would bring other drinks if they were asked. The brandy was a very cheap liquor, the Baleys did not taste quite like Baleys; I suspect it was a cheaper generic make. If they hadn’t offered anything other than wine they could have saved the money they’d spent by giving full glassed of Sparkling Wine.

Then there was a tribute band to The Supremes. The dancing to this band continued until we left at 10-30 pm, I assume that it went on until the party was over at 11-00 pm. Since we’ve known that we’d be going to this year’s World Cruse Dinner I’ve asked about to see what happens. I’ve been told that they are fantastic but not how they are fantastic. Despite the fact that I’ve written a lot (I’m horrified at just how much!) about the dinner and entertainment my understanding is that each one is different. I have to agree with the person who told me that you really must experience one before you can really understand what they are about.

[Looking back from May 2009, I find that my memories of the event are fading. I think that you really need to experience many more than one to truly comprehend what a World Cruise Dinner is all about. My strongest memory now is that it was a stupendous evening and something I must repeat if ever I can]
Title: 26 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Aug 31, 2009, 02:20 PM
We finally got to bed at half past midnight after a very tiring day. I’m allowing us a lie-in tomorrow – I’ve not set the alarm to go off until 7-30 am!

The alarm went off at 7-30 am and I just didn’t want to know. I pulled the duvet back over my head and went back to sleep. I was woken a quarter of an hour later though when Jerome brought our morning tea. Paul thoughtfully stayed in bed for as long as he could. I went to fill our water bottles and then for breakfast!

After breakfast Paul went to the Grand Lounge to get tickets for the tender whilst I went to collect my parents. They weren’t ready so I reluctantly agreed to go with Paul to get the tickets and then meet my parents at G stairway on 2 Deck. I caught up with Paul in the Midships lobby and together we went and got the tickets – we actually went to the lounge to be told to go straight to the tender. Paul caught the lift to 5 Deck while I walked to pick my parents up. We all got onto the tender quickly and, as it was only a short tender ride, we were ashore by 10-15 am. There were not plenty of taxis waiting at the pier side however one of the tour guides was able to call us a car that collected us quite quickly.

I had planned on doing a trip that went from Lahaina to Wailuku by way of the North West coast of the north mountain. This route would have taken in the Kahekili Highway. Our guidebook describes it as “A dangerous drive ... not quite matching the Road to H?na ... is exhilaratingly beautiful ... provides a glimpse of how Maui must have looked before the advent of tourism”. The guidebook said the drive would take an hour; both the agent on the port and the taxi driver said the round trip would be nearer four hours. Unfortunately this meant that we did not do this journey.

Instead the driver took us on a typical tourist trip. From Lahaina to Papawai Point, a good spot to see whales – there weren’t any in sight! From there to the Maui Tropical Plantation – a stop on a lot of tours (there were several Cunard tours stopped whilst we were there) because entrance is free however the gardens are not of that much interest.

The drive took us through Kahului, the largest town on Maui, again not that interesting and consisting of nothing earlier than the 1950s. From there it was onto Ho’okipa Beach. This is reputed to be the best windsurfing site in Maui and one of the best in the world. Nobody in my family is a windsurfer and therefore the main attraction of the beach was missing, considered as somewhere to see it is not hugely attractive!

Our final stop was in the ?ao Valley State Park. The park consists of a viewpoint and the ?ao Needle. This “erosional residue” is a 1200 foot high pinnacle of lava. It is something worth stopping to look at if you’re passing but as one of Hawaii’s most famous natural spectacles” it leaves a lot to be desired.

[I regretted not insisting on doing the drive as originally planned. I suspect that we’d have come away with quite different opinions of Maui]

Our taxi then brought us back to Lahaina where Paul and I left my parents and headed into the centre of the town. As towns go it was one of the more subdued that we’ve been to, but that was only from the perspective of the number of locals out to fleece the tourist. There was a street market selling souvenirs but these were not the normal tourist tat. Most looked locally made and there wasn’t a sign of dolls, in red plastic “grass” skirts that twitched their hips in tine to an electronic tune!

The town centre was full of small shops selling interesting (although not so interesting we had to buy) products. As well as the shops there were a lot of local restaurants offering a good selection of food at reasonable prices. We each had a burger and coleslaw for lunch. Both the burger and coleslaw were homemade and only cost us about US$ 12.00 each – very reasonable by UK standards.

When we got back to our cabin Paul fell asleep on the bed whilst I tried to catch up with this journal. I was able to spend an hour on yesterday’s entry before it was time to go on deck and watch us sail. Whilst I had been getting ready to go on deck thee had been some announcement that I hadn’t heard. As I was going onto Boat Deck I was surprised by the number of people heading the same way; until I reached Boat Deck. Apparently Captain Perkins had made an announcement saying that there were two whales visible off the starboard side. At last I’d got to see some whales and even take some pictures of them. I knew that my parents had seen them from the QGL and so I went to try and wake Paul to see if he wanted to see them or not. I managed to wake him sufficiently for him to say he wasn’t bothered!

Paul continued to sleep. He slept through a phone call from my parents, my getting changed for dinner and going to dinner. When I got back after dinner he was awake and hoping that we could go and do something. He was disappointed – all I wanted to do was go to sleep. It was only 10-00 pm but after two hard days and with the clocks going forward again tonight I needed some sleep! I was asleep within five minutes of my head hitting the pillow.
Title: 27 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 01, 2009, 10:15 PM
I went to the gym this morning. I got back to the cabin just as Jerome was bringing the tea. Once I’d had my tea I went back to bed and slept until 10-15 am and it was time to get up and go to Peter Crimes’ lecture on Los Angeles. I met mother in the lecture. We both fell asleep during part of it – I must try to catch it on
TV later and see what I missed!

Something I forget to mention in yesterday’s notes was that as I was going on deck to watch us sail from Lahania I saw that evening’s cabaret rehearsing. It was to be a tribute band for The Beatles. The band consisted of two men both with ginger hair. Two men with ginger hair do not equal four men with dark hair!

We were in the Chart Room at about 11-45 am when Susan (Drangoscots) came past. She was saying how she’s noticed that most of the Full World Cruisers are becoming very short tempered, are really starting to get fed up with the ship and are all continuously tired. I think there is a certain amount of truth in this. Within my small family group we are becoming a lot less tolerant of each other than we were when all this started. We are all much more willing to criticize the way the ship runs and I am much more willing to bitch about people like the Captain who I might consider has not done something he should. The tiredness aspect is certainly there – my mother and father spend a lot of the day asleep, Paul slept through dinner yesterday and I was asleep by 10-15 pm last night and went back to bed for a couple of hours this morning.

 [As I read through this journal I think that can be said about many of my entries. They are turning into little more than a log of minor criticisms]

Perky made his address at midday. It was only a very short address which mainly went to great lengths to point out why he had not sounded the horn when leaving either Honolulu or Lahaina – apparently he needed permission from the coastguard who refused it on the grounds of noise pollution. (I’m not surprised that he couldn’t sound the horn at 1-00 am in Honolulu but don’t see why not at 6-00 pm in Lahaina). This sounds as if someone had been grumbling at him for not sounding the horn and this was his way of replying. (Is this another example of people getting fed up with the ship?)

Sitting in the Chart Room again after lunch I met Don who asked me what the “Ancient Order of the Turtles” was. Apparently they had an initiation this morning in the Yacht Club. The room was closed for a Private Party with invitees standing outside the Yacht Club until they were called to be inducted. Thomas was presiding over the induction. Don had asked the inductees what the AOT was – they did not know what it meant and Don couldn’t ask them what it was when they came out because once they had been inducted they didn’t come out again [or not while he was there!]. Don was curious about this and hoped that I would have the answer. I don’t, does anyone else?

Just before we went to dinner (we were dressed and about to leave the cabin) Paul asked me who Trevor was. It transpired that there’d been a letter addressed to “Trevor” put under our cabin door just after lunch. I hadn’t been with Paul when he’d got back to the cabin and he’d forgotten to mention it when I did get back. I said to open it (I’m nosey, and how could we trace Trevor if we didn’t open it?). I ended up opening it and it wasn’t to Trevor it was to me. From Laurie and Greg who are on the Singapore to LA leg. They have been reading this blog and wanted to say hello before they get off. This must be “the family of eight” I talked about on the 2nd 22nd! I wonder where the rest of the family are. I didn’t have time to contact them before dinner and it was too late afterwards so I will have to try and contact them tomorrow.

Title: 28 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 02, 2009, 05:38 PM
Another morning like yesterday: I got up, went to the gym and went back to bed! I finally emerged from the cabin at 11-30 am.

Unlike yesterday Perky didn’t make any announcement today. There was certainly no feeling that he was hurt by what people had said (the fact that people may be hurt by what he hasn’t said doesn’t seem that important to him). Oh well; almost time for lunch.

This afternoon is the afternoon of the Spring Fair. This event is another of the events held in aid of World Cruise charities. It was held in the Grand lounge with a selection of stalls. The event was opened by the Captain. I admit to not hearing his opening remarks. I will try to detail all the stalls but, as I didn’t visit all of them, I have probably missed some out!

Tombola – What it says. I won a 10 year diary and a flowery luggage label!
Guess the weight of the Easter egg – Veronica (adrenalinejunkie on cc) won this.
Human Fruit Machine – Three people who picked a fruit out of a bowl. If they each picked the same kind of fruit you won, if they only picked two of the same type you got a consolation prize of a miniature Japanese Hapi Coat. I got a Hapi Coat!
Thrift Bookshop – Various books on sale. I didn’t see anything that I wanted.
Darts – Hitting a target. I didn’t play.
You’ll be shocked – The electricians had set up a hoop along a wire game. Again I didn’t play.
Arts and Crafts – Gifts the Youth Centre had made to sell
Distance Target Golf Competition – I didn’t try my hand at golf.
Cruise Staff for A Day – An opportunity for the highest bidder to be with the Cruise Staff for the day – Not me either, I don’t pay to work while I’m on holiday!
Silent Auction – Two Dolls went to the highest bidder. I didn’t bid. What would I do with two dolls?
Carrot Chop – Cutting a carrot that’s been dropped down a tube.
Photo sitting in the Captain’s Chair – They’d brought the chair down from the bridge specially.
Navigator’s Station – Selling off charts and other ephemera for areas of the world that the QE2 won’t go to any more. Unfortunately she’s still to visit all the places I’d be interested in maps for.
Paintings – A guest selling of pictures he’s painted on this cruise. Most of his pictures appeared to be of wildlife he’s seen along the way.
The Sweet Tooth – How do you sell food on a ship where all the food is free? This stall knew how to do it and made over US$ 300.00. (Their cakes were very tasty though – I just couldn’t resist!)
Hoopla – I had nine goes at this and didn’t manage to hoop a single thing.
Secondhand Rose – New and used clothing and accessories – mostly women’s wear but a little for men. They didn’t have anything I wanted though.
Haunted House – This was set up on the stage behind the partially closed curtains. I didn’t visit but saw three people dresses as a witch, a skeleton and a monster standing in front of the curtains as the raffles were drawn. I imagine they were part of it.
Tapestry Raffle – Barbara Isherwood had embroidered a 6 inch by 12 inch tapestry. She sold over 3500 tickets for its raffle.
Ten Pin Bowling Powerstrike Challenge – this was the video version of ten pin bowling.
Tour of Hotel Stores – This was another silent auction. The winner got a tour of the hotel stores onboard. Although the stall was called a silent auction there was a figure showing what the highest bid had been. When I got to the stall at 2-15 pm there had only been one bid for US$ 10.00. This did not strike me as very high. I placed a bid of US$ 50.00.

I went back to the cabin for a while and then revisited the stall. Someone had placed a bid of US$ 110.00 so increased my bid to US$ 130.00. I returned to the stall a little later to find a bid of US$ 150.00. I increased my bid to US$ 160.00. The person running the stall asked me to wait a moment as the person I was bidding against was right behind me; this lady increased her bid to USD 165.00! When I had bid US$ 175.00 and the lady had outbid me by saying US$ 200.00 I decided to call it a day. Just before I left the stall I said to the person running it that I would still pay US$ 175.00 for two places on the tour.

As I left the stall the winner caught me and brought Warren Smith (Cruise Director) to my attention; He said that if we would both pay US$ 200.00 then he would take four people on the tour and that he would include more than just the hotel stores (things like the laundry). I accepted. He is going to contact me to arrange a time for the tour.

While waiting for the results of the Spring Fair I cornered Thomas about the Ancient Order of Turtles. When I first asked him what it was he said that he didn’t know. When I said that he’d been seen initiating people into the society he said “oh” and told me that it was an ancient society that had been going since biblical days, and was only open to passengers by invitation. I am now even more curious to know what it is about.

I did manage to get hold of Laurie (Rizzo) and Greg. We were invited to their cabin for drinks at 5-30 pm. As well as us there was Rizzo’s sister and John and Penny, the couple who’d introduced us (but whose names we didn’t actually know) at the party. It was a very jolly affair and we spent over an hour and a half talking quite happily. One thing that John and Penny said was that they’d met someone who had an entire set of 1995 plans. I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d got them from the same person I have.

After dinner we went to the Gala Midnight Buffet. We haven’t been to a Gala Buffet since New Year’s Eve and thought we’d try another one before Southampton. How disappointing! The midnight buffets have been reduced from the lavish, must see affairs, which occurred every night under Trafalgar House to a light snack on most nights and a slightly grander buffet which occurred once per cruise. Now this slightly grander buffet has been reduced in scale so that it is not much more than a light snack. I hate to think just how small the normal buffets have become!

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Louis De Sousa on Sep 02, 2009, 05:46 PM

Navigator’s Station – Selling off charts and other ephemera for areas of the world that the QE2 won’t go to any more. Unfortunately she’s still to visit all the places I’d be interested in maps for.

This used to be my favorite stall i was lucky to buy a lot of charts over the years.

Title: 29 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 03, 2009, 03:28 PM
You can tell that we’re coming to the end of a sector - there are a lot of people wandering around taking pictures of every part of the ship. There is a constant parade of cameras coming through the Chart Room.

Perky’s noon report was quite short today but at least he made one. It consisted of three parts: The first was that we had gone at a speed of over 30 knots, on nine engines, last night (we managed an average speed of 28.9 knots over the past 24 hours); the second was to say goodbye to all the passengers departing in Los Angeles and the third was to promote future cruises with Cunard.

Another sign that the World Cruise is almost over is the number of people who are leaving the ship in LA. According to Peter Crimes there is about half the ship due to leave. I suspect that the figure is slightly less than that but I haven’t seen any definite figures [I can’t now remember why I suspected there were less]. One part of this departure is seeing suitcases outside cabins. They had already started to appear before lunch and the build up of cases is much more noticeable than it has been at the end of other sectors. Even at Sydney where there was a very big change there were nothing like as many cases as there are today.

As I didn’t make the gym this morning I decided to go swimming this afternoon. The pool was blessedly quiet with only a couple of men in who were splashing about out of the way behind the steps (why is it that men don’t always seem to monopolise the pool in the same way that women do? ;) ). When I’d almost finished this couple got in. He reeked of cheap aftershave and they both insisted in swimming partway down middle of the pool. They weren’t swimming but splashing about and getting in the way! Every time the ship rolled slightly (we’re in the Pacific – the rolls are slight) there was a wave washed across the pool. Each time a wave washed one way this woman called out wo-op and each time it washed the other she cried out we-ee!

As we are in LA tomorrow today was the last full day onboard for some CC members. Both Susans, Jo-An, David and Jim and Ruth are all getting off tomorrow (Jim and Ruth – sorry I didn’t say goodbye – I didn’t realise it was your last day until I was writing this). There was a gathering in the Crystal Bar so that we could all say our farewells. I was going to meet my parents for drinks and so couldn’t stay long (I think I managed five minutes!). I am delighted to have met so many people I hope I can now class as friends.

I have also got a confession to make. I’ve checked back through my notes for Honolulu and see that, on the 25th – the World Cruise Dinner, I said that David Hamilton was on the receiving line. He was not. He had been the Hotel Manager on the Christmas and New Year cruise and the World Cruise until until Freemantle but then John Duffy took over. John Duffy was the Hotel Manager and he was on the receiving line in Honolulu. Sorry :)
Title: 30 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 04, 2009, 12:21 PM
There was a very valedictory feeling about the ship last night. Everywhere was full of people taking their last photographs and having their last drink – until about 11-00 pm and then almost everyone disappeared to bed. We aren’t rushing to get off to sightsee today and that has meant that we’ve been about to view the morning’s activities. It has been a morning of guests waiting to get off and guests being called to disembark.

I was up and dressed before Paul. I went for a walk ashore to see if there was anything interesting within walking distance of the terminal. The answer is that no, there isn’t! Not even a couple of souvenir shops in the terminal itself. It is possible to get off the ship, walk down to the taxi stand and then return to the ship but that’s it.

There have just been three announcements made through the cabin. The first was that the ship has now cleared customs. A bit late, considering that I’ve already been off the ship and come back onboard again. The second was that the ship will be sailing at 1800 hours and passengers should be back onboard by 1730; that announcement also said that crew leave had been granted and that crew may go ashore. The third announcement said that we were sailing at 1700 hours and should all be aboard by 1630. This third announcement may have been directed at crew (I missed the first couple of words) but does make me wonder how the crew can sail an hour before the passengers!

The four of us took a taxi to the Queen Mary. This cost US$ 25.00 including a tip. The taxi picked us up from the terminal and dropped us at the gangway for the Mary. Here we parted from my parents, leaving them to go their way whilst we went ours. We had thought it would probably take us a couple of hours to see the ship. In fact we spent four and a half hours there before we had to leave and get back to the QE2!

We started our explorations by heading up to the Sports Deck to see the Bridge, Wireless and Radio Rooms. There were also some of the senior officers’ cabins on view here.

We then started to head downwards and got to Sun Deck. I was delighted to be able to see into the Veranda Grill through its windows but was disappointed that we couldn’t get inside.

The Promenade Deck is the main deck for tourists visiting the ship. Here is the Observation Bar (rather touristy – we were going to stop here for a drink but decided not to bother) and the main shopping promenade. This is still as it was installed and is a very attractive space. The shops there sell mainly souvenirs but there are also a hairdressers and a ladies outfitter. The Promenade Deck is also where the Queen’s Salon (1st Class Smoking Room) and Royal Salon (another 1st class room) are located. These were both in use for functions today but, as the Queen’s Room was only setting up we were able to see that room. Before leaving the Promenade Deck we had lunch at the Promenade Café – not fantastic but not that bad either.

From the Promenade Deck I went down to the Isolation Wards (until today I’d never realized that transatlantic liners had such things) whilst Paul stayed on the Promenade Deck to avoid the steps. We then headed to the bow area located on M deck before heading onto A Deck and the Fire Station Controls. I suspect that we went through a door that we shouldn’t have at this point although we didn’t see any signs saying that the area was for hotel guests only. We ended up on one of the original corridors of the Queen Mary. There were cabins off on both sides. These decks are very impressive and appear to be unchanged from the way they were when the QM as in service. If we did go through a wrong door I am very grateful.

We continued down the A Deck corridor until we reached the reception desk. We had decided that we would have time to catch the “Ghosts and Legends” Show before we got a taxi back to the QE2 however I remembered something that had been posted on CC a little while ago – ask at the reception desk to see a cabin; if there’s one available they will  let you see it. We did ask but we didn’t get to see a cabin; we got to see a suite of rooms. There was a sitting room, double bedroom, single, inside (think MI although the single on the QM was a lot bigger than most MIs), bedroom and two bathrooms. The cabins had televisions now and there was an extended range of toiletries available but the cabin was basically as it was in 1934. Thank you to whoever said to go and ask to see a cabin – it was a very valuable tip.

We never got time to see the “ghosts and Legends”, the 1st Class Dining Room, the engine room nor the submarine moored nearby. The Queen Mary will be worth a lot more time on our next visit.

We decided not to risk the 6-00 pm sailing time being correct and were back by 4-15 pm (rightly as it turned out – we sailed at 5-00 pm). Back on the QE2 there was a letter waiting from Warren Smith. He has arranged for the Hotel stores tour to take place tomorrow morning. We went on deck to watch us sail. We thought we’d order a lemonade from a passing waiter (We recognised him and he recognised us; he knew that we’d been on since Southampton and that we’d always had the soft drinks package). We’d ordered when I realised that we hadn’t bought our drinks package for this leg. He would neither trust us that we were going to buy one nor would he arrange for us to purchase one there and then. We ended up not having a drink.

The promised band did not materialize and we had to content ourselves with a quiet sailaway. Perky came made an announcement over the PA system. He welcomed aboard the new people who had joined us for this leg and said that because of other ships we would not be able to turn round but would reverse out of the port. He went on to say that the Coastguard had given permission for him to sound his horn and he would therefore be sounding it as he left.

First on Deck we bumped into Susan and Michael (ONADECK). They had been on the cruise at Christmas and we had been looking forward to seeing them again in LA. Whilst we were talking to them another man came up and asked if we remembered him. It was Bob who we had met with his Partner Chris on the Christmas 06 trip.

We went to the Chart Room for a drink before dinner. As we walked in two “odd” (:p) women jumped up and hugged and kissed me. It was Angela and M-L. They were sitting with Matthew, Paul and Tim. Michael and Ben joined us later as we all sat and had a pre-prandial drink and made introductions/catch-ups. We all confirmed the arrangement to meet in the Yacht Club at 10-00 pm that evening.

Once dinner was over Paul and I sat in the Golden Lion for 20 minutes. It is somewhere we dislike strongly but, as we only has to pass 20 minutes before we met the rest of hate CC group, we thought it would do. Whilst we were sitting there Michel came through for a break. We were able to pass a few minutes chatting quite happily. It was good to talk with Michael but it really was unfortunate that we were seen in that place!

Here is where I stop mentioning names (because my memory is so bad I’m bound to miss someone out). There must have been about 20 at the CC meeting in the Yacht Club. I was very pleased that the people boarding at Los Angeles thought the meeting time was 10-00 pm. I thought it was then as well but most of the people on the full world cruise thread were saying that the time had been arranged for 10-30 pm. Although most of the people on the entire cruise had never met most of those joining at LA we still got on like a house on fire. It was turned 11-00 pm when the party started to break up and nearly midnight before we decided to call it a day. The party was still going when we left.
Title: 31 March 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 05, 2009, 12:01 PM
The gym was busy again this morning. It was full of new people all eager to show their keenness! When the clocks start going on (tomorrow) the numbers will drop. When I checked the sheets I haven’t been booked in beyond today. I’m not too bothered – I’d already thought I’d give tomorrow a miss (the clocks going on, there’s another new show I want to see and a lot of CC people I want to see as well) and here’s my excuse!

The people in the cabin next door have changed. We wondered a while ago because the bridge arguments stopped, although we thought that the people in there had just worked out that we could hear everything they said. Now there is a definite Australian accent in the voices next door so we can be sure they’ve changed. I guess we’ll never find out what they were doing with all that sticky tape!

10-25 am – five minutes before the hotel stores tour was supposed to start. I’ve just had a telephone call from Warren Smith saying that he has just spoken with the stores and they have said how busy they are. Apparently they took a very big delivery yesterday at LA and they are in the process of storing it all away. The advice was that we did not do the tour today so it has been rescheduled for the 4th March (another sea day) at 11-00 am.

Another day when we did get a midday announcement from the Captain; quite a long announcement as well! In his announcement he said that 60 people are onboard with no luggage because of the problems at T5. I hope that BA can sort it so that the luggage is in Acapulco before we get there.

This afternoon was the second Cruise Critic get together. There were over 20 people there at the meeting’s busiest. Tomorrow is Judy’s (Oldchick) birthday and Charlie (songanddance) had arranged for there to be a cake at today’s meeting. The meeting was also the first to include the soft toy contingent. Bluey, Doggy Boy, Pip, Lyn and Margot were all there flying the flag for mascots. At about 4-20 pm it was decided that eight humans amongst us should go for afternoon tea. The soft toy contingent decided they would join us. The waiters were not best pleased when they had to find a table for eight (plus five) partway through service. This tea was the first official Cruise Critic Teddy Bear’s Picnic (I hasten to point out that orange cats were not welcome).

It was the Gala Dinner menu again (!) and I hadn’t fancied anything from the menu. I asked for a special order for both my appetiser and entree whilst Paul just had the special order for his appetiser. We had both said we would like Fociaccia del Potate (sp?) – a kind of potato soufflé with Grappa; the Maître ‘D had never heard of this but listened to the recipe and said he would sort something out. What the kitchens produced was nothing like the dish that Paul makes at home but was very acceptable. It was also a “proper” soufflé – not like the sweet ones that they serve as a pudding – it did collapse quickly if not eaten.

The photographs from the World Cruise Dinner were in our cabins when we got back for the night. They are horrendous! On the night we had told the photographer that there were four in our party and the photographer had told us that he was taking one picture of the entire table. What we have got is a picture of mother, Paul and I with my father sitting facing away from the camera; with the woman who was sitting to Paul’s left also facing the camera (Paul did not get off on a particularly good footing with her as her first question to him was what department did he work in on the ship).
Title: 1 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 06, 2009, 09:52 AM
I went to see Lisa bout the World Cruise Dinner photograph. She said that “they” had spotted that the picture wasn’t that well composed and had spoken to Graham (the officer at the table). His response had been that all the other people at the table had said they didn’t want their picture taking. That’s it. I find it hard to believe that the photographer could not work out that there were more than four people at the table wanted their photographs taking. Graham tells Lisa that he was busy talking to the man on his left and therefore wasn’t in the photograph. As the host for the table wasn’t it his job to ensure the photograph was taken correctly? Lisa tells us that there’s nothing else she can do about it. We’ve left the photographs with Lisa – we don’t want them.

I thought it had gone on too long to be true. Perky didn’t make any announcement today. We did get the usual navigational information – from a Deck Cadet. I wonder if anyone’s pointed out to Perky that there are a lot of people who look forward to the Captain’s announcement.

Yesterday I was delighted to be able to access the internet from the cabin. It was the first time I’ve been able to get access despite having tried it in the past. I’ve tried twice today and can’t get a signal again. I’ve also been to three wireless points – I can’t get access there either. I’ll have to try again tomorrow.

Michael of Michael and Susan (ONADECK) had invited us to drinks before dinner as it was Susan’s birthday. It was meant to be kept quite because, like me, Susan doesn’t like a fuss made of her birthday. Paul and I had rather broken the surprise by sending her birthday flowers earlier in the day. We met Michael and Susan in the Chart room at 7-30 pm. Michael (Tour Office) and Anna (Cruise Sales) joined the group later. The party had to break up at 8-45 pm. If it hadn’t we would all have missed dinner!

After the quickest dinner we’ve ever had (45 minutes to include 3 courses and coffee) we went onto the deck outside the Yacht Club for a Ginger Beer and then to meet Bob and Chris for a drink. I didn’t get to bed until well turned midnight again.

Title: 2 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 07, 2009, 01:50 PM
We’re anchored in Acapulco Bay this morning. After a leisurely breakfast (for me) and a cup of tea in the cabin (for Paul) we both went to the Grand Lounge to get tender tickets at 9-00 am. We were delighted to find that there was no queue and that, as soon as we’d got tickets, we were told to go straight to the tender. This is the second time we haven’t had a problem with tenders. If this could be kept up then it would make tender ports preferable to docking ports.

The tender dropped us at the Cruise Terminal. This is about a mile from the old part of Acapulco. Be warned; not only is this not a pleasant walk but you also have to run the gauntlet of taxi drivers all trying to sell you their tour to see the Cliff Divers (we did want to see the divers, just not first thing). For over half of that mile walk we had to tolerate people trying to find us taxis or show us shops that we didn’t want. This problem did ease as we moved further away from the Cruise Terminal.

Our first impressions of Acapulco were that it was not that pleasant. Our second impressions went on to confirm that! We had intended to walk into the old town but had instead ended up in the current centre. It was full of beggars, hawkers, and people wanting to show you where to spend money. It was not nice. Acapulco has a system of licensed guides. They are not paid by Acapulco but make their living from tips earned by giving help to tourists. We had generally avoided them but out of desperation asked one the way to the Cathedral (in the heart of the Old Town). He was very helpful and certainly warranted the tip we gave him (US$ 2.00) for helping. He told us that we had walked past the road leading to the cathedral and that we should retrace our steps until we got to the correct turning. We did so and found ourselves in a much more interesting part of town.

The old town was pedestrianised with wide streets and several small squares with fountains, etc. We spent a very enjoyable half hour wandering around this area. We did find the cathedral. It was a very modern building (by comparison with most cathedrals in the UK). Work was started on it in the late 1800s and finished in the 1920s. Paul’s comment was that it looked like a picture palace built in the 1920s!

We got a taxi back from the Old Town to the Cruise Terminal (we couldn’t face either the walk or the hoards of taxi drivers). The taxis for hire on the street are very interesting. They are Volkswagen Beetles that are painted blue and white; there are hundreds of them and they are cheap our taxi cost us US$ 5.00 and US$ 1.00 tip for the journey back). As we were dropped at the taxi stand it meant that we didn’t have to face the drivers we’d walked past on the way out.

We’d agreed to meet my Mother at 11-30 am and go together to see the divers. As we were at the terminal early we asked at the official stand about talking a taxi to do what we wanted. The driver quoted a fare of US$ 200.00 to do what we wanted in a large van (it would have seated 14!). We didn’t haggle as we felt that fare wasn’t that bad for the added convenience and space a large taxi just for us would give. As it was just turned 11-00 am we decided to go back into the terminal proper and have a drink before we went looking for mother. We were just about to order when both she and my father arrived. We all had a cold drink but dad did not stay with us – he decided to walk into town on his own. Mother, Paul and I got into the taxi at 11-15 am.

We had said that we wanted to see the Chapel of Peace in the hills overlooking Acapulco but had thought we would visit after seeing the cliff divers. Our driver told us that the chapel shut at 1-00 pm for a siesta and we would therefore need to go there first. Despite being busy with Cunard tours the chapel and its grounds still had a very peaceful air. The views form the grounds are certainly not to be missed. It is a fabulous location to get views out over the bay and the QE2. I suspect that the views from there are still quite good, even when the QE2 isn’t there!

From the chapel we made the journey back round Acapulco to La Quebrada, the place where you go to view the divers jumping. There are two places where you can view the divers jumping. The first is the public viewing area. This is down quite a long flight of steps (over 50) and was quite crowded by the time the divers jumped.

The second is from the Hotel El Mirador. The hotel charges US$ 14.50 per person for either two drinks or a light snack and one drink, a seat and table and a good view of the divers. We only got to the hotel at 12-55 pm for the 1-00 pm show and got the last table. It probably had the worst outlook of any of the tables there but it still had quite a good view). The restaurant does take credit cards although they are very slow at processing them; we paid cash and they were able to handle that fairly quickly.

Of the two places I would guess that the public area has the better view of the divers. The hotel has the major advantages of being on the flat, you can get something to eat and drink whilst watching and it has good and plentiful seating. The divers are not spectacular. If I were in Acapulco again and there was something else I wanted to do then I would quite happily miss them. But I am pleased to have seen them.

When we’d finished lunch our taxi took us to the Fuerte de San Diego. This building is just up the hill from where the tenders dock. There is an entrance, with a bridge over the road, almost next door to the terminal. However it is still quite a climb up to the fort. I am glad we got the taxi to take us there. The fort, heavily restored, was last used in the battle for Mexican independence. It contains a museum telling the story of Acapulco. The fort itself is not the most interesting of places but does offer some more spectacular views over the city and bay. We gave the museum a miss however I’m told that it does contain some good pieces.

We wandered round the shops in the terminal – nothing of great interest and nothing that we’ve not seen elsewhere – before we got the tender back to the ship. We were back onboard by just turned 4-30 pm.

After dinner Paul and I went to sit outside the Yacht Club. They had cleared away all the sun loungers, put tables in their place and hung coloured lights from the deck above. This is only the second time this has happened on the World Cruise and at Christmas (the first was when we overnighted in Montevideo). There is no mention of any event outside the Yacht Club tonight; not even “Cigars Under the Stars” something that is scheduled there no matter what the temperature.

I’ve just checked yesterday’s Daily Programme to make sure that the event wasn’t mentioned and then written the above paragraph. Whilst I was writing it Paul was looking back through the programme. When I’d finished writing he found mention of it – ‘Evening Under the Stars” – hidden away under the heading “Recommended Drinks for Today”!

Whilst we were there Joel and Jane (Novascotian) came and joined us. It really is wonderful thar CC means you know so many people on the ship. There is usually someone about who wants to chat or have a drink.
Title: 3 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 08, 2009, 10:16 AM
I had a relatively leisurely morning this morning. After going to the gym I skipped breakfast and spent quite a long time doing nothing before I had to get up and get dressed. I tried to send emails from the cabin with no luck – I can connect to the network but have no joy in accessing the ship’s servers to gain internet access. I then went down to the computer centre and tried there. No problem – I was able to connect straight away and, with only a few users online, the internet was quite quick.

We had wondered about Peter Crimes’ talk on the Panama Canal. Some of his latter talks, particularly those on the Pacific Islands and the West Coast of the States have tended towards the geology of the area and have not been as informative as some of his other talks. We need not have worried; he didn’t mention any more about the geological structure of the canal area other than to say it was made up of a lot of rock and mud! Unlike the talk on Los Angeles it was very busy. Every seat was full five minutes before the talk started and there were people standing in the aisles.

I wonder if I’m being too hard on Perky. We saw him this morning, wandering through the short corridor that links the Queens Room with the Chart Room. He did stop at the one table in there and exchange a few words with the people sitting there. His parting words to that table were something to do with having to get back to the Bridge to make his announcement! (Overheard comments so I’m not sure that is what was said ;) )

I am being too hard on Perky! He’s just made quite a long midday announcement which included a promise to make an even longer one tomorrow when he will give us provisional timings for our trip through the Panama Canal. He’s promised that he will not only give the information but that it will be published in the Daily Programme for the day as well.

Today was the Cabin Cavalcade. There were 14 cabins to view. They ranged from MIs and an M6 to 3 Q2s. And from Five Deck right up to Sun Deck. One of the surprising things was the Q2s. All Q2s are on either Sun or Sports Deck and have similar facilities however we saw a “normal” Q2 that had a full balcony, a Q2 towards the front of the ship that had a shorter balcony and a separate sitting area off the main cabin and the Q2 that doesn’t have a balcony but is a much larger cabin. We also managed to visit the Synagogue, the Princess Grill Bar and the Princess Grill, the Queens Grill Lounge and the Queens Grill and the Mauretania Restaurant.

I thought that I’d been almost everywhere you could go on this ship. I was wrong. Matthew showed us a route from the A stairs to the penthouses that didn’t involve the Queens Grill Lounge. I have often seen these stairs but have never thought too hard about where they go; I’ve just assumed that they led to officers’ quarters. I now know where another of those unlabeled flights of stairs go!

Today has set me thinking about other places I would like to see. I have never been in either a Q1 or a QS. I would like to see both (more than one QS as they are all different). I would like to see the nursery (not because I want anything to do with kids but because I am interested in the ship?).What have they done with the kennels? I’d like to see what’s left. I’ve never seen the kitchens for either the Mauretania or the Queens Grill. I haven’t included the engine rooms because they are totally out of bounds and I haven’t included anything else on decks Six, Seven or Eight because they are normally out of bounds. Who can I ask to see these places? What else should I be asking for?

I really think I have been misjudging Captain Perkins. Tonight was the Gala Farewell Cocktail Party for full World Cruise Passengers. It was very similar to the welcome cocktail party that was held at the start of the world cruise in that there was a buffet with canapés, smoked salmon, prawns, caviar, an assortment of small cakes, etc. There was also the usual problem of people ordering drinks, the drinks not arriving, ordering more drinks and then both lots turning up ten minutes later! However both Paul and my parents made this party; Paul and I got to a brief chat with Captain Perkins. The conversation wasn’t world shattering: just about Jamaica (Perky was born there) and his advice to people going to see the island (only on a tour) and the difficulty of anchoring there.

Captain Perkins also made a speech to the entire room about the future of the cruise, the ship and Cunard. He was less than flattering about the Vicky (a la Captain McNaught).

Title: 4 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 09, 2009, 01:29 PM
We were very late getting up this morning. We missed breakfast and that meant I managed to finish yesterday’s report. I was able to email it from our cabin again! I wonder what it is about this part of the world that makes wireless signals travel further. I didn’t turn the antennae on the laptop off when I’d sent it; I’ve just looked at the network status and it’s showing only limited connectivity now so I suspect I was lucky.

Carol Thatcher is the Guest Lecturer onboard for this section. Her first lecture, “Consorts: From Evita to Carla Bruni”, was this morning. In many ways it wasn’t about consorts at all, in many others it was all about them. I think she used the concept of consorts as a way of talking about the subjects that interested her. Whatever, her talk was very interesting and filled up fifty minutes very nicely. She talked for just under half the time and then used the remaining time to invite question from the audience. Not surprisingly most of the questions were related to her family and life in No 10 although there was one question asking her about consorts in other lives. She came across as very devoted to her parents and her father in particular and was quite willing to accept that things in her early life were not usual, or even occurred once, to other people.

After the lecture it was time for our Ship’s Stores tour. Warren had telephoned earlier this morning, while I was at the lecture, to say that Thomas would be conducting the tour and that we should meet him at 11-000 am in the Midships lobby. I had arranged for my father to do the tour as well so the three of us met the other couple in the lobby just before 11-00 am. Thomas was already waiting so it was about 10-55 am that we all set off.

We first caught the lift down to Five Deck (eek!) and then walked along about a third of the ship. Thomas then directed us through the big double door, just past the Car Lift, marked “Crew Only”. From there it was down another two decks to meet the officer in charge of the stores, Gregory Dorothy. Gregory then took us on a tour through the stores areas. We started in the dry goods store, then the frozen fish, raw meat, fruit, veg and ice cream freezers; the banana store, the housekeeping store and the spirits, wine and beer cellar (They still have the tanks that were used to carry beer but they are no longer used). We got to see one of the goods lifts from inside and the store under the hatch in the foredeck. It was also interesting to hear stories about the stores and to know that the ship won’t run out of butter before reaching Dubai (because of an ordering mistake).

I had thought I’d have managed to write much more than a single paragraph about the stores. I’m not sure what else I can say about them though. I do have lots of video showing the vast piles of potatoes, the storeroom with boxes of pineapples going from floor to ceiling (not just pineapples but strawberries, melons, Kiwi fruit, asparagus, cauliflowers, bananas, almost every vegetable or fruit you could name). Pictures do not do justice to the sights of the stores; you really need to be there to understand just how much stock is held there.

I did see one sight that will gladden the hearts of most Cunard passengers – there was a place in the wine cellar for keeping Pol Acker. There was only one bottle left. Unfortunately, when I commented on this, I was told that there are four places around the ship where it is stored and only this one was empty.

The entire tour lasted just over 1 ½ hours so I missed Captain Perkins’s midday message (although I have it on good authority that he did make one). Yesterday he had told us that he would be giving the approximate times through the Panama Canal – we missed those as well although we weren’t too bothered as we’d been told they’d be in the Daily Programme.

The Nautical Auction was due to start at 2-00 pm. Its preview was due to start ¾ hour before, 1-15 pm, we didn’t have time to go into the restaurant for lunch so decided to make do with a snack from the Lido. It was good (by motorway service station standards) but the atmosphere was still that of an up market transport caff; with as large number of people, all trying to eat as much as they can, in as short a time as possible. I would not have chosen to eat there had there been another alternative.

After lunch I stopped for a coke and Paul a smoke in the Chart Room. We got to the Grand Lounge at about 1-20 pm. The preview was already underway however as it was only a couple of tables, in front of the stage, we hadn’t missed anything.

The Auction consisted of 66 lots. These lots were arranged either on the stage or on the tables. There was an A4 sheet detailing 63 of the lots in the auction. The lots consisted of things like: a glass globe given on the 2004 WC; a 1000th voyage pin; the souvenir books from the 1977 and 1982 WCs; an Azimuth ring; an old porthole; a used piston ring; etc. There was also a selection of items from the Wardroom: Polo shirts, Rugby shirts, tie pins, lighters, plaques; etc. To finish off there was a miscellany of items: a pilot card from 1982; a megaphone found on the bridge (nobody knows “when it was used or what it was used for”); various courtesy flags from countries the ship has visited and won’t be visiting again; a house flag and the World Cruise Chart – a map of the world showing the full route of the World Cruise, every port we’ve visited and signed by both Captains and the Bridge team.

About twenty minutes before the auction was due to start two officers went through the collection of items to be auctioned and described them. Some of the lots were so “unusual” that they had great difficulty in describing them. I was particularly interested in the crew items (a towel and a set of mugs); the Wardroom items (Rugby Shirt, Polo Shirt, Tie Pin, Belt and Cummerbund); the Final World Cruise Banner (there was also the 25th WC Banner and the 40th Anniversary banner); the ship’s plaques and, of course, the World Cruise Chart.

The first few items went fairly cheaply – the 1000th voyage pins fetched US$ 40.00. Then the prices started to go up. The Christmas Gift of 1997 went for US$ 100.00 and the crew towel for US$ 90.00. I bought the 1977 souvenir book for US$ 120.00 and that was the last thing that went cheaply.

There were two 40th Anniversary Cruise Banners; they went for US$ 500.00 and US$ 520.00! The Rugby shirt for US$ 240.00; the lighter for US$ 400.00 and the Azimuth Ring for US$ 650.00. Even the rather battered megaphone went for US$ 200.00. The courtesy flags started to go at US$ 150.00 and went up to US$ 750.00 for Australia. The Blue Ensign went for US$ 1100.00; a lifebuoy for US$ 1300.00 and the porthole for US$ 1850.00. The final item, the World Cruise Chart went for US$ 6000.00! For ¾ of the auction (1 ½ hours) the prices were so high that it felt like there was no point in being there.

After the auction Paul and I got as far as the Chart Room. We experienced problems trying to get a drink – there was neither steward nor server working. When a steward came into the bar to put out ashtrays we got our drinks. I got a second drink with no problem. Then it came to the third drink (Paul’s second); the steward had vanished again but the server was still on duty behind the bar. I went to the bar to order and showed my Cruise Card with the Soft Drinks Package sticker. I was asked if we both had stickers and I replied in the affirmative. She then demanded to see them both (ignoring the fact that we had previously ordered drinks form her (via the steward) on two occasions within the past 15 minutes; I had to go and get Paul’s card off him to prove that we were both entitled to the drink. Whilst we were in the Chart Room we met Leone who should have been invited to the Farewell party tonight. She had been and was so cross with the invite she had torn it up! The invite had been to all passengers dining in the Mauritania Restaurant.

I nipped back to the cabin to put away my 1977 souvenir guide and then it was off to the Final Ensemble Travel Cocktail Party of the World Cruise. This time Peter Crimes (the Destination Lecturer) and his wife had been invited. He gave a short talk on how and why he had got to lecture on cruises.

As parties go this one was quite good. Paul got there and ordered a whisky with water on the side – it arrived with the water in a separate jug. My father ordered the same and was told that they no longer serve water on the side! I asked for a separate glass of water and was told that was alright (why?) and then pointed out that Paul had been served with a jug of water, the steward just shrugged and said that he’d been told not to serve them.

Although we still didn’t have the timings for the passage through the Panama Canal we’d been told that we would be starting early and decided to have as early a dinner a possible and then head to bed. We were through dinner by 8-30 pm and were heading to bed by 9-30 pm. The Daily Programme arrived shortly after that and informed us that our arrival at Miraflores Lock was scheduled for 6-40 am. Wanting to be on deck long before that we sat an alarm for 5-00 am and went to sleep.
Title: 5 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 10, 2009, 04:13 PM
The alarm rang at 5-00 am. Neither of us wanted to get up but we did want to see the canal and so were on deck just before 5-30 am. It felt funny to be walking through a quiet ship (or at least that’s how it seemed) carrying sun hats and glasses ever although sunrise wasn’t due for another ¾ hour. The ship stopped feeling quiet when we got to Boat Deck. It was thronged with people all searching for the best place to put their sun lounger for the day. We went to the walkway beneath the Bridge and claimed the last two places looking out over the bow. We stayed here until 9-00 am, when we were through Miraflores Locks and we decided to go for a late breakfast.

Mary – your email didn’t reach the cabin until the middle of the night. I didn’t get to read it until first thing this morning. I hope the timings I posted were of some use to someone. I went to the computer centre to post those times; whilst I was there I saw a new notice saying that there was a shortage of paper on the ship and that things should only be printed if absolutely necessary. I wonder if this will mean a reduction in the number of pointless flyers from the shops and the beauty department.

At 5-30 am it was still dark. Paul had difficulty photographing the Bridge of the Americas as there was not enough light to get a good picture. He also had difficulty getting his camera to focus, until he wiped the lens – coming from an air-conditioned ship to humid Panama quickly had caused condensation to form on his camera. I was not so lucky. My camcorder would not work for the first hour because of condensation on the tape heads.

As we sailed into the entry of the Canal we could see the tall buildings of Panama City in the distance on the starboard side. It wasn’t long before we saw the entrance to Miraflores Locks. There were boats heading upwards in both directions and it seemed to take ages before the boat on the starboard side had locked out of the lower chamber. I was surprised when the canal authorities immediately started to empty the chamber again for us. Despite there being no time lost in the handling of the ship it was still turned 9-00 am when we departed Miraflores Locks (we had been advised 8-00 am in the Daily Programme).

Paul and I went to breakfast and then headed back to the cabin to rest a little so we missed our passage through Pedro Miguel Lock (Missed? We saw it from the cabin – that in itself is an experience) [What you see are the walls of the lock. After months of seeing sea with the occasional bit of land the walls were really disconcerting!]. We were back on deck again in time for our passage under the Centennial Bridge to the north of Pedro Miguel Lock. We took photographs from the area under the ship’s Bridge and then started to walk around Boat Deck. All the outside decks were packed. I think there were more people on deck than I‘ve ever seen before – even Christmas day in the Caribbean or the three ships sailing from New York.

We walked around Boat Deck for a while vaguely hoping to find a seat. We weren’t hoping very hard because, as I’ve already said, the open decks were packed. However we were lucky. As we walked round the stern of Boat Deck there were two empty chairs right by the water cooler. Better still one of the good stewards from the Chart Room came past and managed to get us both cold lemonade. It soon became obvious why those chairs had been vacated – the seats were in full sun and had no breeze to cool them. We stayed there for the next half hour until the ship had almost entirely passed through the Gaillard Cut – the work that was required to dig this is unbelievable. It’s only a short stretch of waterway but a mammoth construction task.

Once the ship had started to emerge into Gatun Lake Paul and I did another partial circuit of Boat Deck before we decided that it was too hot and deck and we’d head back to the cabin for Paul to doze and me to catch up with this journal. It was incredible to sit in the cabin and see big container ships passing so close.

We had been due to start locking down Gatun Locks at 1-30 pm. As we were an hour late leaving Miraflores Locks I guessed that the same would still apply. At 2-00 pm I went on deck to have a last look at Gatun Lake before we began our descent. As I left the cabin Captain Perkins was making an announcement. He confirmed the hour’s delay in sailing but then went on to say that we had been delayed further and that there were four boats to lock down in front of us. He was not optimistic about our making Cristobal this afternoon and will give a final decision when he knows how quickly we make it down the locks. His reason for missing Cristobal is that we need a speed of 28.5 knots to get to Cartagena in time. I do wonder why we can’t increase that speed to 31 knots (we’ve done that a couple of times under this captain) and delay our arrival in Cartagena (we aren’t due to sail until 9-00 pm; There are no tours scheduled to leave before 10-00 am and non due back after 6-00 pm so I don’t think that a delay of two hours would bother any of the passengers).

It’s half past three. They’re just starting to get the first of the Gatun Locks ready for us. I think that the Captain will have a hard job announcing that we will not be going to Cristobal.

At 4-15 pm Perky announced that we would not be going to Cristobal after all. I feel sorry for him. (Really, I do ;) ) He was so uncommunicative at the start of this contract that he is now automatically getting the blame for everything.

It’s now 6-45 pm and Cristobal is far behind. I’ve got a question for Perky: Why are we doing just under 21 knots? I assume that for whatever reason we’ve not been able to get into Cartagena early so we’re going slower to economise on fuel and arrive when we should. However if two extra hours means we can drop our speed by 7.5 knots (remember – Perky told us that we needed a speed of 28.5 knots to make Cartagena in time) we would not have made the next port in time had we stuck to the original schedule and speed. There may be a reason for this reduced speed. For example: we would need 6 ½ engines so we do half the distance with 6 and half with seven or there are restrictions in navigations around the Panama Canal and that reduces our speed, we’ll speed up later. We’ll have to see.

Two hours later and I must apologise to Perky. We have increased in speed. We’re now doing 21.1 knots! I think my question still stands. (At 9-05 pm the speed was down to 20.9 knots) I think what makes this a major problem is that it is not the first time that the passengers have been told a half truth to cover up (cover up what I’m not quite sure, sometimes it’s financial, but others I’m not so sure about). 9-30 pm and the speed’s now 20.8 knots.

Why do some waiters serve water on the side and yet others have been told not to? The number of staff who are rude are in a very small minority – Cunard Management refuse to accept that their staff can be rude. When we went to the Caribbean Cunard informed about half the guests (the other half were left to find out when they got on board) that some of the ports would be tender ports rather than a dock 24 hours before those guests travelled; The Captain said Cunard had known for over a year. I know what happened with the Gala Dinner photograph and the host at the table, yet I’m told the host disagrees with me entirely but I’m given no chance to dispute his word. Why do they sell far too many tours and then seem surprised when it all goes wrong?

Am I just grumbling for the sake of grumbling? Have I become fed up with the World Cruise Is four months onboard too long? I don’t think so.

[I still ask myself that and I am coming up with a broadly similar answer – four months is an awfully long time to be on holiday and that had an effect on my feelings but a lot of the problems were Cunard related and there was nothing I could have done to have avoided them]

I don’t want the end of the cruise to come quickly. These are all fairly minor events but when something like this happens every day you start to expect the problem to come out of Cunard doing something to help itself rather than putting its passengers first.

On a slightly nicer note when we got back to our cabin this evening there was the final World Cruise “Gift” waiting for us. It is a 2” x 6” miniature picture. The picture starts on the left with the Farewell World Cruise logo and behind that is a section of the globe showing Asia and the North Pacific. To the right half of the picture is QE2 travelling against a blue background of sea and sky. There is a letter from Carol Marlow calling it a “water colour”; however on the back a label calls it a “miniature print”. It is a very nice souvenir and one that we shall hang on the wall when we get home.
Title: 6 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 11, 2009, 07:55 PM
I woke at 6-00 am this morning and put the TV on to check our speed – 20.0 knots. I don’t want to think that Perky is telling porkies (note to all people not from the UK – porkie = pork pie = lie) but he is certainly not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (part of the oath in a British court). I am sure that there is more than a couple of hours delay that was the reason for missing Cristobal.

We docked in Cartagena at about 9-30 am. I was surprise (although I’m not sure why) to see another ship docked beside us – the Celebrity Constellation. That is an ugly ship. From our porthole I can’t see any endearing features about it at all. It may however explain why the tours are so restricted at this port. I suspect that Celebrity has all the coaches booked for the morning and our ship has had to take second place again. (I was later told that it’s not unusual for there to be four or more ships in, I can’t see any other reason for the lack of tours though)

As our tour is not until this afternoon there isn’t much we can do this morning other than hang about the ship. Staying on the ship in this port is just like a sea day except you’re not actually moving. As there are almost no tours this morning there are lots of people about. We have been advised by both the port lecturer and the tour office that Cartagena is not that safe to walk about on your own.

It’s now 11-30 am and I’m looking for something to do. We’ve walked on deck – it is very hot and humid; we’ve filled our water bottles at the pavilion; we even got to the restaurant five minutes early for lunch! In the end it was half past one and we thought we might as well make our way down to the dockside and wait for the tour. We didn’t have long to wait; as soon as we were on the shore we were put into a coach. We’d set off by 1-40 pm.

Our first stop was at La Popa Monastery. On the way to the monastery we passed through some areas where regular Carthaginians lived – this was nothing but a shanty town and it was reminiscent of some of the poorer areas of Dakar. It seemed as if we only stopped for ten minutes but we were probably there for twenty. There are three reasons for stopping at the monastery: the view – a very good view over the city but really not much different from many views we’ve seen over the past four months; the gold altar – Paul thought it impressive, to me it looked garish; and the monastery courtyard – very attractive with bougainvillea and other flowers in abundance but alone not worth the journey.

From there it was back onto the coach and the short journey to the Fort of San Felipe de Barajas. The fort was started in the 17th Century as a method of deterring pirates from raiding the town – then an important silver area. The fort is very tall. The tourist access is similar to the access to get to the acropolis in Athens however there is far more climbing involved! Once at the top we had a five minute breather before we had to return to the coaches at the bottom. This fort is a World Heritage site and would be a reason for visiting Cartagena without any of the other sites on the tour. We could quite easily have spent half a day here without having to visit any other sites as well.

The next stop was Las Bovedas. This is a section of casemates that are now used as shops selling Colombian handicrafts. This stop was supposed to be 20 minutes however we left after 15 because everyone was back on the coach and waiting to leave. We left both shopping stops early. I think that there was only one person on the coach who bought something at one of the stops.

The coach then dropped us at one of the gates to the old town (or walled city).The whole area is pedestrianised so it was not possible for the coach to take us any further. This is a very picturesque area of Cartagena with lots of wooden balconies, narrow roads and open squares. The walking tour took us through Simon Bolivar Square before ending up in the Church of San Pedro Claver – the patron saint of slaves.

Before we left the old town we stopped at the Naval Museum for a (very welcome) bottle of water and a ten minute sit down. We were then briefly taken through one of the museum’s displays charting the development of Cartagena and its forts.

The last stop was at the Pierino Gallo Shopping Mall – an open air building with two levels of shops selling souvenirs, handicrafts, leather goods and emeralds (there were about a dozen shops selling emeralds). We were supposed to be at this mall for half an hour; after 25 minutes everyone was back on the coach so we returned to the ship.

Despite the shopping stops being slightly shorter than planned the tour still over ran by ten minutes. I think that there was enough subject matter in this tour to have filled a tour twice its length. We certainly saw as much in this four hour tour as we did in the 9 ½ hour tour of Shanghai.

One thing that we noticed about Cartagena was how safe the areas we were in appeared to be. The old city itself was very quiet with only a few street traders about. However everywhere we went was surrounded by a ring of armed guards. I am sure that the authorities had decided that they wanted to encourage tourism and were therefore making certain that nobody got hurt at any of the tourist sites. The areas outside these sites appeared ropey at the least.

The day had been so hot and humid and the tour had involved so much hard walking that by the time we got back to the ship all our shirts were soaked through with sweat. Where as you might expect dark areas around your sweaty bits these areas had joined up so that they were no longer separate. (It did mean that when we got back onto the air conditioned bus clothing became very cold and clammy).

When the tour got back to the ship we both returned to the cabin. I left Paul there while I nipped back to look at the shops in the cruise terminal. There wasn’t much – a cafe, a bar, somewhere selling perfumes and spirits, an ATM, several souvenir shops and a tourist information centre that had shut – so I was only about ten minutes before I turned round and headed back to the ship.

Before I kicked my shoes off I thought that I’d better check that my booking for tomorrow morning in the gym (they seem to have forgotten to carry it forward so many times already). I was quite correct. They hadn’t booked me in. We are now so close to the end of the cruise I’m not going to bother about reminding them again I’ll just keep booking myself in.

We were both ever so disappointed to find that the Lido wasn’t open for dinner this evening. This disappointment was mitigated by finding that there was a Barbeque at the Funnel Bar from 6-30 pm to 8-30 pm. We were sitting in the Chart Room enjoying a pre-prandial when we realised it was 8-30 pm and we’d missed the barbeque. We were so disappointed :D

On the stairs down to the Britannia Grill there is a sign which says that gentlemen must wear a jacket and tie to dinner. As the dress code for tonight is Elegant Casual the “and tie” part had been covered over with sticking tape!

We didn’t do anything exciting after dinner. Today has been so tiring that we just went back to the cabin and to bed. We were asleep by 11-00 pm.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Chris Frame on Sep 12, 2009, 03:07 AM
The Celebrity ships really are ugly aren't they. I think it's a combination of design and decoration - their livery leaves a lot to be desired.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 12, 2009, 08:27 AM
The Celebrity ships really are ugly aren't they. I think it's a combination of design and decoration - their livery leaves a lot to be desired.

I think that it's something to do with there being nothing about their ships that can be called nice. Externally (I've never been inside and so can't comment) there's nothing that's even plain  :o
Title: 7 April 2009
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 12, 2009, 08:32 AM
Today's entry comes in two parts. We had to keep the second part, our bridge visit, quiet until we were off the ship. Now we are off the ship, well off the ship :(, I've put it back in chronological order.
Title: 7 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 12, 2009, 08:32 AM
The sea was quite rough this morning and the cabin floor was not that stable. I looked out of the porthole and it was pouring with rain. Once I was back from the gym the rain had stopped and the seas were calming slightly. By the time I was back from breakfast the sun was shining although the seas were still quite rough.

There was a knock on the cabin door at about 9-15 am. It was Glen Peters, the Ensemble World Explorers representative. He was bringing a “small gift” from Ensemble to mark the end of our voyage. Both Paul and I have got leather “Change Tray” for use on our dressing tables at home.

Peter Crimes was lecturing on Jamaica this morning. Whilst his talk didn’t make it sound quite as bad as I had thought I am still glad that we are doing a tour there. I have heard so many uncomplimentary comments about Jamaica I wouldn’t be going ashore if it wasn’t on a tour. We were sitting in the balcony as usual. About 25 minutes into the lecture someone started to snore (I think it was a man but it could have been a woman with a deep snore). That went on for about five minutes and ended with the entire balcony in laughter. We never did find out who was snoring though.

No Perky again at midday. We just got the Officer of the Watch today at 12-04 pm. It was just as well really; I’d had a long email from Myles that I wanted to reply to and I wanted to send emails to both Karie and Kathy. It didn’t strike me at the time but Myles asked “How does it feel to be nearly at the end?” We’re seeing Kathy in New York; her email ended “Looking forward to Saturday”. Both these set me thinking that the end is almost here? When I read on the calendar that tonight is the last formal night before NY I was thoroughly upset and cannot ignore the fact that this trip is now almost over.

I think my biggest feeling at the moment is one of fear or dread; almost a fear of the unknown. I’m not too bothered about what will happen when I get back – that will sort itself out in time. But how will I manage without someone to bring me tea each morning? Make the bed? Cook all my meals? Do my washing? Being on this ship for so long has had a very institutionalising effect and I am scared of what will happen when the ship is no longer there to look after me.

After lunch we had the second part of the Stores Tour that I’d won at the Spring Fair. However as they say “It would be appreciated if you would keep this invitation private and not discuss it with fellow passengers” and there are a lot of fellow passengers who are reading these notes I’m not going to say where the tour finished up until we’re all home again.

The medical centre called Paul in the mid-afternoon. Would he go down and see them and collect his x-rays. He went to see the nurse and she asked his name. She then went away only to return after five minutes and ask his name again! After finding his records the nurse said that the x-rays he’d just had taken were ready for collection. Paul hasn’t had any x-rays since before Valparaiso and told her this. The nurse said that he had and, presenting him with a DVD, here they were. When Paul got her to check her records she reluctantly agreed that those were the ones taken before Valparaiso and that Paul did indeed have a copy. When he got back Paul wanted to send an invoice for his wasted time! In the end we decided not to bother - that it was so good of Cunard to think that we might have some spare time and to find something for us to keep us occupied!

Paul took the immigration forms for the US to the pursers. Whilst he was there he also wanted to upgrade his Platinum World Club membership card to a Diamond one. The pursers were quite happy to cut his old card in half to stop it being used and then, having destroyed the old one, to say that they couldn’t issue a new one. They suggested that Paul try the cruise sales office. They say that one should be on its way soon (given that neither my parents nor myself have ever received a new membership card I doubt it).

Title: 7 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 12, 2009, 08:36 AM
Our “stores tour” was divided into two sections. The first, the actual tour of the stores, had already happened. We got a letter on Friday 4th April regarding the second part. It was from Andrea Kaczmarek, the Captain’s Secretary. The letter was conveying Captain Perkins’ wish that we be invited onto the bridge on Monday 7 April. It also included the sentence “We would appreciate it if you would keep this invitation private and not discuss it with fellow passengers”. As there were (I’m writing this on the 8th and an having great difficulty saying were and not are) people reading this from the ship I felt it only fair to leave details of this invite until everyone has left the ship.

[As the wish to keep the bridge visit private no longer exists I’ve put it back in chronological order]

We met Andrea on Boat Deck at A stairway and were escorted through the door opposite the entrance to the Queens Grill and past the Captain’s cabin. I assume that Perky was there because there was a curtain drawn across the doorway but the door was not shut. We went up another level and through a double set of doors designed to prevent light being let onto the bridge at night every time someone came through the door from the rest of the ship.

We first spent a long time on the Bridge itself. We were shown the instruments at the back first by a Second Officer who answered any questions we put to her. Then the tour moved onto the instruments at the front of the Bridge and the windows that overlook the front of the ship (with a first class view). I got a chance to sit in the Captain’s chair (we were told that he doesn’t sit in it that much unless he has to spend a long time on the Bridge as the view and access are better if you’re standing up.

Then it was out onto the port Bridge Wing. This was the first time that I’ve been out there while the ship has been underway. It is a very strange feeling to be standing at the end of the Bridge Wing, to look at the side of the ship and to think just how much water there was below you!

Finally we returned to the Bridge proper for five minutes before returning to the land of normal passengers’ below. We never did get out onto the starboard wing – there just wasn’t enough time. I would think the entire visit took just over half an hour although I could quite happily have spent all that time just on one Bridge Wing.
Title: 8 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 13, 2009, 06:00 PM
Why did Cunard choose Jamaica as the last port of call for the World Cruise? (At least it’s the last port for a sizeable minority who are getting off at Fort Lauderdale.) It’s an anchor port with a dubious safety record. Having seen Jamaica I wonder why Cunard didn’t pick somewhere with a bit more for the tourist to do other than sunbathe or look at very minor sights.

Today was the day of the final Ensemble World Explorers tour and we were due to meet in the Yacht Club before 8-30 am for a departure at 8-30 am. Both Paul and I had been rather worried about my mother taking this tour. We had been told that it involved extended periods of standing (one in excess of 30 minutes) and required walking a moderate distance. Five of six of the people who were entitled to go on the tour had cancelled, fearing that the levels of physical exertion would be too much. The tour was graded at level 4 with level 5 requiring the most exertion (Perth had been a level 5 and my mother had managed that although there were no warnings given about the length of walks or stands).

Mother had arranged to meet the group at the gangway to the tenders so, at just turned 8-30 am we all set off. Tendering out was very easy and we all got on a tender almost straight away. The entire tendering process was quick and we were ashore by 9-00 am. There were two coaches, each seating 22 people, provided. I am very pleased that my parents, Paul and I got one coach whilst the poison dwarf got into the other (She and Paul had sat and pulled faces at each other in the Yacht Club!)

Our first stop was on the Tryall Golf Course. This was about a half hour drive from the ship. It was at the site of a sugar factory that had burnt down a long time ago. The waterwheel from the factory was still standing and water was running over it. Whilst it was a picturesque spot we both hoped that the island had something better to offer. On a positive note there were several stalls there selling rather nice items in carved wood – we bought a couple.

The coaches then took us back towards Montego Bay to visit the Alpha Arts Pottery Works. This is a small studio with one potters’ wheel and one pot decorating table. Both were demonstrated. The studios are situated in nice beachside gardens with views across the bay to the QE2. There is a small shop at the pottery where they sell the items they have produced. We were given a glass of fruit punch and had plenty of time to browse in the studios before it was back on the bus.

It was about 11-20 am by this time. Our guide announced that our next stop would be for lunch at the Day-O Plantation Restaurant. By 11-30 am we were in our seats! We were first served a drink, either fruit or rum punch, and then a drink with the meal, wine, beer, soda or more fruit punch. The main course was three different Jamaican specialities (jerk chicken, ackee & codfish and fried snapper). All were interesting, the chicken and snapper the tastiest.

During lunch Paul Hurlock (the owner of the Day-O) played music, sang and provided entertainment. Once lunch was over there was a dance/acrobatic troupe also providing entertainment. Unfortunately this entertainment went on for far too long. Once the troupe had finished their act they invited the guides and then anyone they could get from the diners up on stage to sing and dance. Including this entertainment lunch took just over two hours!

The scenery deteriorated when we left the restaurant and now started to become rather dry and tired. We passed back through Montego Bay and saw some of the hotels that cater for a lot of the tourists that come to Jamaica. We passed several theme pubs and speciality bars that were designed to cater to the tourist – I’m very pleased that they didn’t cater for us!

The last stop on the tour was at the house that Johnny Cash used to own and live in when he was in Jamaica – Cinnamon Hill. Although this might have been of great interest to Johnny Cash fans it was of very little interest to us. It was just a mansion that was kept as it had been (even down to the washing-up on the draining board) 40 years ago.

Then the coaches started to return us to the ship. The scenery heading north from Montego Bay is certainly much better than that to the south – the north is lush and green whilst the south is dry and rubbish strewn. It wasn’t long before the coaches were caught up in a traffic jam. What our guide said should have taken ten minutes ended up taking an hour.

The last tender was scheduled to leave the port at 4-00 pm. We didn’t reach the port until 3-59 pm. The bus however did not drop us off at the tender dock where it had picked us up in the morning. Instead we were dropped at the Cruise Terminal and made to go through security before getting onto another bus to take us to the tender point. We ended up getting back onto the ship at about 4-30 pm, the time at which we were due to sail. I don’t think we were the only people caught in the traffic – the ship didn’t actually sail until 5-45 pm (I found out that some tours were delayed until 5-30 pm).

Title: 9 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 14, 2009, 09:31 AM
I am feeling miserable. This trip is coming to an end and I’m miserable. It’s not home sickness (although I freely admit that I’ll be pleased to see home again I’m not that bothered if it’s next week or next month). It is like the feeling of sitting by someone’s hospital bed knowing that they’ve been given a very short term prognosis and waiting for them to die. Today’s a sea day so there’s even more time to just sit and brood?

We were sitting in the Chart Room at midday. Perky failed to make his announcement (again!). At 12-07 pm we did get the navigational information announcement made by a “Cadet”. Perky leaves the ship when the refit starts and Captain McNaught takes over when the refit is complete. He will then stay here until he takes her to Dubai. As Perky’s been with the ship for so long I suppose he’s feeling sad that he won’t be seeing her again after Southampton. At least I still have October to look forward to.

We went to the pursers to cash the last of our travellers’ cheques. They managed it with no problem at all. Whilst I was there I asked how much was outstanding on our account and said that I wanted to pay some off. The purserette did a very quick job of convincing me that I shouldn’t pay anything off using a credit card until we reached Southampton. I asked for a copy of the bill and checked the amount due. It’s only US$ 5828.24 for over four months! Remember that I did pay US$ 3000.00 off at the beginning of February when they took the cheques the hospital in Valparaiso wouldn’t accept so our total invoice amount stands at US$ 8828.24. (GBP 1000.00 per month? or GBP 250.00 per week? For two people! I think that’s a bargain) I had thought that I’d need to pay of more than that to leave a significant balance.

I’ve just been swimming (very quiet and as pleasant as any exercise can be). Once I was out of the pool I went to the lift to bring me back upstairs and got talking to a man who was waiting. The lift didn’t come, when the button was pushed the light came on but, when it was released, the light went off. This turned the conversation to the number of staff that is riding in the public lifts. It is not just for luggage on the evening before departure. There are regular occasions on A & E lifts that the entire lift is in use by a cleaning trolley; D is used for general furniture and C is frequently used by staff going to work in the Caronia Restaurant and Princess and Britannia Grills. Regularly A, D, C and E are used to move large quantities of dirty laundry. Both of us thought that this use of lifts was another thing introduced by Carnival that went to the detriment of the passengers.

We were invited by Chris and Rob to help them drink their bottle of Champagne (NOT Pol Acker). Theirs is the big Q2, the one without the balcony. We spent an hour and a half there. When we finally left it was past the start time for the Cruise Critic farewell party for Sharron and Jerry who are leaving us tomorrow in Fort Lauderdale. The numbers of full world cruisers are dwindling. Leone has worked it out: on the way back to Southampton there’ll only be six of us left.

When we went back to our cabin after dinner we put the lights on. There was a bright flash and then the only lights that would come on were the concealed lights by the window and by one of the wardrobes. I called the pursers and they got an electrician to come, set the fuse that had tripped and replace the bulb that had caused the trip within about 15 minutes – it was less than five minutes from my call to the electrician arriving. I don’t think it would be reasonable to expect faster service.
Title: Re: 9 April 2008
Post by: Chris Frame on Sep 14, 2009, 01:21 PM
We were sitting in the Chart Room at midday. Perky failed to make his announcement (again!). At 12-07 pm we did get the navigational information announcement made by a “Cadet”. Perky leaves the ship when the refit starts and Captain McNaught takes over when the refit is complete. He will then stay here until he takes her to Dubai. As Perky’s been with the ship for so long I suppose he’s feeling sad that he won’t be seeing her again after Southampton. At least I still have October to look forward to.

David Perkins was aboard QE2 when I was there in September 2008. We were aboard for his last voyage and farewell announcement.
Title: Re: 9 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 14, 2009, 01:43 PM
David Perkins was aboard QE2 when I was there in September 2008.

When in September? We had McNaught for both the Autumn Colours and the Round Britain. I'm fairly sure that McNaught took her for everything else until Dubai. Did McNaught board immediately before Autumn Colours and Perky have her until then?
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Chris Frame on Sep 14, 2009, 01:55 PM
Ian McNaught boarded after Mediterranean Sojourn which was the voyage before Autumn Colours.

I do think he was aboard from the April refit 'til sometime mid-year when David Perkins came back for a few months.
Title: 10 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 15, 2009, 05:19 PM
We had decided to have breakfast in the cabin to save time before going through immigration. Breakfast was delivered at 7-45 am, the earliest in-cabin breakfast is available. Before this there had already been three calls for passengers disembarking the ship to wait in the lobby by 2 Deck, G stairway. They will not be able to go through immigration until all the luggage has been landed – something that has not happened yet. Apparently in-transit passengers will not be able to leave the ship until all disembarking passengers have gone. There was a fourth call at 8-00 am for two families who hadn’t turned up and yet another call at 8-25 am for the remaining husband and wife to leave the ship immediately. In-transit passengers were finally called at about 8-35 am.

The cabins on Deck Two were scheduled to go through immigration between 8-30 am and 9-00 am; we left the cabin at 8-50 am. The gangway was from the Midships Lobby so we didn’t have far to walk to get into the terminal. When we got there everything stopped. There were three queues and four immigration officials. One queue was for US citizens – this never had more than three or four people waiting. The other two queues, for non US citizens, must each have been about 100 people long. We spent over half an hour standing in this queue to get a stamp out in our passport. Whilst we were standing in this queue we were asked five times if we had our blue immigration cards although these were not checked at any point until we left the terminal (They weren’t checked at all on our return).

I cannot put the blame entirely on US Immigration (although why they have to perform so many and such useless checks ashore are beyond my comprehension) as many people were not obeying the written times they’d been given for their deck. (Had I been on Five Deck I’d have objected to being told I couldn’t get off the ship until after 10-00 am.) Once ashore we had to walk the length of the terminal three times in order to get to the taxis.

There were taxis waiting and we got into one straight away. We wanted to go to downtown Fort Lauderdale and were almost there when the engine stalled. We were in the third lane of a four lane highway (Eight lanes in total, four in each direction). The driver tried to start it with no success. By this time there was smoke and steam rising from under the bonnet – Paul and I got out quickly.

We stood by the side of the road whilst the driver tried, without success, to fix the car. After about five minutes we asked him if he’d call a new car in order for us to continue our journey. After ¼ of an hour there was quite a puddle of water on the road under the taxi. At this point a Cuban lady who worked in the First National Bank (I think) was about to go into the Real Estate Agents that was by where we were standing. We ended up having quite a long conversation at the end of which there was still no replacement taxi to let us finish our journey.

By this time the original driver had managed to restart his taxi and had moved it onto an area of hard standing; he left it there while he came to tell us that he had ordered another taxi and it would be with us shortly – although he thought his car was drivable he didn’t want to continue with our journey and was going to take the taxi straight to a mechanic (There was still water pouring out of it and we wouldn’t have ridden in the car even if he had offered to pay us).

The driver drove off; five minutes later (over half an hour in total) we were still standing there waiting for a taxi. We decided that one was unlikely to turn up after this time so I went into the Real Estate Agents to ask for help in summoning another. The lady in there was incredibly friendly and helpful. After talking about where we were from, where we’d been and what had just happened she said that of course she’d call a taxi for us but that Las Olas Boulevard was only two blocks (a five minute walk) away and she’d recommend walking. It might have only been a five minute walk for someone in reasonable shape, for someone with a broken leg it took far longer. About half way to Las Olas Boulevard we sat down so that Paul could rest his leg and arm. Had we seen a taxi then we’d have caught it straight back to the ship. As the day started to improve after that we’re glad we didn’t give up.

We walked on to a lift bridge over the one of the canals. The road went straight ahead and climbed steeply to get to the bridge; whilst the footpath went down the side of the bridge approach and then up a series of ramps to get to the bridge. Walking to the ramps we passed a bar that was just opening and stopped for an orange juice before starting the climb (The juice wasn’t great but the sit down was welcome and the service was very friendly).

Once we’d recovered slightly we crossed the bridge and walked into the Las Olas Riverfront Center. Whilst this is probably a lively and bustling centre on a Saturday evening 11-30 am on a Thursday morning is not the best time to see it. Although it was clean and tidy the whole place had a rather grubby, used and tatty feeling.

As we were leaving there I saw a bus called the Sun Trolley. Here is where the day started to improve. The Sun Trolley is a free service that runs from 11-30 am until 2-30 pm Monday – Friday. It only covers a very short route: from the Center, up Las Olas Boulevard and back again. It is so short that just two busses can ensure a service every ten minutes. We caught it up to where the boutique shops start and then continued on foot from there. We stopped a couple of times along the downtown end of Las Olas Boulevard for more fruit juice as we walked along looking at the shops. We then caught the bus again and did a full loop to see a bit more of the area. We saw a sign to the Stranahan House, one of the few historic sites in Fort Lauderdale, and decided to go and visit it.

The Stranahan house was built in 1901 and was one of the first buildings of Fort Lauderdale – the shack it replaced was the first. The house was lived in until 1971 by one of the original occupants. When she died it was left to the Seventh Day Adventist Church who then sold it to a not for profit trust. This trust restored the house and opened it in 1984 as a museum.

The house is incredibly interesting. I would recommend that anyone coming to Fort Lauderdale should include it on the list of places that should be seen. There are also three other properties, including the Historical Society, that are listed along with this museum. We didn’t get time to visit them but would have done had we known about them earlier.

After we’d visited the Stranahan House we stopped at “The Cheesecake Factory” for a bite to eat. Is The Cheesecake Factory a chain? If so I think it is a good one (and not particularly expensive). We both had a main course (I managed a slice of cheesecake as well) and a 22 oz glass of a speciality beer. The cost was US$ 44.95 plus service.

When we’d paid our bill we asked where we could get a taxi and were directed to the hotel at the rear of the buildings. There weren’t any taxis outside so I went in to ask if they would call one for us. Instead they offered their hotel shuttle to bring us back to the ship for a fee of US$ 22.00. The hotel shuttle turned out to be a minibus that would have seated 12. The shuttle was already at the hotel so there was no waiting and took us directly to the port, much faster than the taxi on the way in had managed. Both the hotel porter and the driver of the bus expressed surprise that we wanted to go to the QE2 but had no luggage – we did explain that we had not been staying at their hotel and had only been visiting Fort Lauderdale for the day. The driver did not seem to be expecting any payment when we got out of the bus – if that was the case then the fare plus the tip must have seemed like a very nice tip indeed!

Before we sailed both Paul and I tried to check our emails with no joy. Once we’d sailed we heard that Cunard had sent some engineers onboard to fix some minor problems with the internet signal. They have left the ship with no internet signal at all and it is now up to the ship’s engineers to fix the problems caused by the specialists.

This was QE2’s last call at Port Everglades and there was a flotilla of small boats to see her off. There were two fireboats sending up plumes of water and a small crowd had formed along the coast. It was not as grand a farewell as some we have seen. I’m thinking about those in Australia (particularly Sydney and Albany) and Osaka, Japan.

Once we’d sailed we went back in at A stairway on boat deck to return to the cabin. Most of the lights were off; when we got into the lift about ¾ of the lights were out, there was no lighting in the corridor outside our room at all and the lights weren’t working in the cabin at all! We were met in the corridor by a stewardess with a torch who got us into the cabin, shortly after which the lights came back on again. After that the air-conditioning went off, there was no cold water in either the wash basin or toilet and the ship stopped moving.

We heard the air-conditioning come back on at 6-20 pm, I’ve just got a glass of water from the tap (6-40 pm) and the ship appears to have picked up speed – there’s no way of telling though the details that are relayed from the Bridge are not working!

Tonight’s dress code is “semi-formal”. I thought I’d got out the suit I’d bought for the second half of this trip; unfortunately I’d got out the suit that had fitted me when we came aboard in December. I didn’t realise until I put the trousers on – the waist failed to meet by six inches!

It’s now 7-45 pm. All the fluorescent lights in the cabin have failed and we appear to have stopped again! The light bulb in the wardrobe has blown. I’ve rung the pursers but I suspect that getting the ship going is more important than fixing a light bulb.

Now it’s 9-30 pm. All the lights are working – even the one in the wardrobe! We’re also speeding up. In the space of about five minutes we’ve gone from 16.8 knots to 23.1 knots. We’ll have to hurry to make New York on time. I suspect that we’re hurrying now.

Title: 11 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 16, 2009, 05:07 PM
We might have been speeding up last night but we’re down to 27.1 again this morning. Both Paul and I were awake at 5-00 am. The ship was very quiet. There was no air-conditioning (although the extraction from the bathroom still seemed to be working) and it didn’t feel as if we were moving. It’s difficult to tell if there’s no land to see. At night it becomes impossible. All I can say is that the speed display had vanished from the TV, there was no noise or vibration from the engines and that feeling of “forward motion” wasn’t there. I think that we lost power again last night and are heading to New York using as many engines as we can whilst the engineers work to repair those not on line.

There is still no satellite signal for the internet. We didn’t get a newspaper this morning, instead a letter apologising for there not being one due to “technical difficulties with the satellite connection”.

It’s now 8-25 am. At 8-20 there was a feeling of slightly increased vibration and our speed has increased to 27.8 knots. There’s just been another slight juddering sensation. I wonder if this feeling is caused by another engine starting up. I wonder if we’ll make a speed of over 30 knots. I wonder if we’ll have to miss out New York.

8-32 am and the speed’s disappeared from the TV screen to be replaced by snow; the air-conditioning has stopped and, although we still look to be moving quite quickly, the ship is rolling quite a lot so I suspect the stabilisers have packed up!

8-46 am and the air-conditioning and the TV readout are back. Our speed’s back at 27.7 knots. I suspect that this pattern is going to keep up for the rest of the day.

At noon Perky made his midday announcement. Not noon exactly, it was actually eight minutes past, but it was still an announcement. He was very apologetic about the engine problems and spoke very highly of the engineering department that had solved them. Everyone was proudly told that, with the aid of the Gulf Stream (I didn’t realise the Gulf Stream reached as far as the east coast of the US), we would be making 30 knots.

He was also apologetic that or arrival into New York is also to be delayed by an hour. I am pleased about this (as is everyone else I’ve spoken to). It means that we can all have an extra hour in bed and will pass the Statue of Liberty in daylight. I am rather puzzled though. He has twice shown on this cruise that the ship is capable of running at over 30 knots for considerable distances. If we are doing 30 knots and he were to increase our speed by three knots (an increase he has done on previous legs) we would have only needed to keep that speed up until 10-00 pm this evening; an increase of only two knots would have meant we’d have caught up by 3-00 am – still leaving us plenty of time to board our pilot at 4-00 am.

One advantage of arriving an hour late is that we’ll also be leaving an hour late. One disadvantage is that there are a lot of people who have made arrangements to meet/visit people in New York. We need to tell them that we will be arriving late. Both the internet and the telephones are down and will remain so until New York at the soonest – unless you believe what the pursers are saying (my advice would be not to), that both services might be fixed tonight.

We met Matthew and Michael and Susan before lunch for a drink in the Chart Room. Michael and Susan are getting off in New York so it was nice to have a chat and to say goodbye. Drinks lasted until well into lunchtime.

After lunch was the first of a series of lasts. I had run out of black socks. Unless I washed some then I would have to go barefoot into dinner. I went to the launderette for the last time this trip (and hopefully for all trips). It was almost as quiet as it was that day in Southampton when the entire ship was changing. It only took me just over an hour to wash and dry two loads. I’ve said the first of a series of lasts but I think the first of those was actually this morning in the gym. Assuming the clocks go forward an hour every night except the last (nobody is able to confirm this) I won’t be back in the gym again either.

I think that Perky is reading this report as I write! I’ve just been for a swim and, when I get back, the speed is up to 31.6 knots. Could we still make New York on our original timings? Or is this faster speed needed just in order to make the one hour delay. As it’s now 6-00 pm and we’re down to 28.3 knots I guess we won’t be there by the original time.

Tonight was the farewell to all those Cruise Critic Full Worlders who are leaving in New York. There are only six of us left now that have been on for the entire trip. It is so sad to think that we won’t be seeing all those people we’ve become friendly with over the past months.
Title: 12 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 17, 2009, 05:55 PM
The alarm was set for 5-00 am. I was awake long before that and eventually got up about five minutes before it went off. I was on deck by 5-20 am while it was still dark.
There was a small but hardy band of people drinking tea on deck and chatting. The area under the bridge was opened at about 5-45 am and most of the group went to stand up there. As it got light we could see that the sky was clear and, when it got high enough the sun would be shining. It was going to be a beautiful day.

As we approached New York there was a thick black line on the horizon. “Was that land?” people were asking. After a while it disappeared to port (we were turning to starboard but didn’t know it at this point). At 6-30 am Perky made an announcement. We had been approaching the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and had been forced to turn round. We did a complete loop and tried it again.

I missed the bridge entirely. I missed seeing the place where it is and (I’m told) the fog rendered it invisible. Paul and I went for breakfast while we were sailing in. I then went onto the deck to see if there was anything interesting. Suddenly the Statue of Liberty loomed up on our left hand side followed by the towers of Ellis Island. Soon the lower half of the skyline of Manhattan appeared (the upper half was hidden in low cloud).

As we sailed up the Hudson the cloud lifted. By the time we reached pier 92 the sun was shining although there was still a lot of cloud about. It took over an hour to tie the ship up and to call passengers to disembark. They called all self-help passengers and then, only a couple of minutes later, they called all in-transit passengers. When we got to the Midships lobby we were grateful our cabin is located forward. The queue of people waiting to get off was as big as it was in Perth. It stretched right round the lobby and off towards the stern at both sides. There was almost no queue to join from the front of the ship.

We weren’t clear of the terminal until 10-20 am (we’d been due to meet Kathy and Gene at 10-00 am but I had rung them to warn them). We got a taxi immediately and were with Kathy and Gene by 10-30 am. Kathy had already bought tickets for the sightseeing bus so we were off to join the queue for the downtown bus. This was a long queue and it wasn’t until the third bus came that we got places on the top, in the open air. The other thing she had bought, for which we were both (but especially Paul), were extremely grateful was a packet of pipe cleaners. She uses them to “clean the spider eggs out of the furnace jets”; we were astonished that American non-smokers would even know what they were.

The tour started by heading from Times Square through the theatre district, past Macy’s and Madison Square Gardens. We passed the Empire State Building, the Flatiron building and the site of the World Trade Center en route to Greenwich Village.

We then walked through the Village. It is so different from the rest of New York. The roads aren’t numbered and don’t go in a grid pattern. Most of the buildings are low, only a few floors high. It has a very definite, uncitylike, character. Whilst there we took the opportunity to see the Stonewall Inn (the place where gay men first stood up to police en masse and where the struggle for equal rights first started). As a pub it’s slightly disappointing. It looks no different from countless gay bars in the UK; however as a sight I am very pleased to have seen it.

We then continued, on foot, through Soho, Chinatown and Little Italy. It was funny to pass shops here selling “real” fake Rolexes and other junk that had been offered in many of the places we’ve been for much less.

Then it was back on the bus; up the east side of Manhattan, past the UN, The Waldorf Astoria and onto Central Park. We got off the bus again at Central Park to walk a little way and look at the park. We got lunch here, at a restaurant named after and originally owned by a famous baseball (I think) player. We all had burgers. Kathy and Gene had turkey and vegetarian burgers whilst Paul and I had steak burgers. Both Kathy and Gene were surprised when we were asked how we wanted our burgers cooked, that we both said “well done”. In the UK it is not normal to have a beef burger cooked in any way other than well done.

My parents went to Afternoon Tea in the QGL. They said that they had never seen it so busy; that there was a queue of people waiting for seats with the Maitre d’ marking tables as reserved as soon as they became free and then showing the waiting people to tables. I suppose this is yet another sign that our holiday is coming to an end.

After that late lunch it was into a taxi and back to the ship. There was no delay in getting back to our cabin; we were back by about 4-45 pm. We had a cup of tea and a rest. Then it was almost 6-00 pm and it was time to go back on deck to watch us sail. At 6-20 pm the ship was still firmly tied up and the bunkering barge was still secured to our starboard side. At 6-30 pm Perky made an announcement to the effect that bunkering had now finished ant that we should therefore sail at 7-00 pm. We finally sailed just after 7-30 pm.

This late sailing was not an entirely bad thing in that it meant that whilst the sun had started to go below the horizon and the lights had come on there was still enough light to be able to photograph the buildings as well as the lights. By the time we reached the Statue of Liberty however there wasn’t enough light to get a good picture with the camera without a tripod and a long exposure and the ship was moving too much to be able to use a tripod. The main problem was that, with not passing the Statue of Liberty until 8-30 pm, there was only half an hour to get to the cabin, change and get to dinner!

Although there were a few tables that didn’t come to dinner last night most of the people there were unfamiliar. We have become used to seeing the same people each night, we say “Good Evening” to them and they to us; pleasantries are exchanged with diners as they pass through the restaurant. We managed to eat dinner quite quickly and headed back to our cabin.

Paul was energetic and went to see if the internet connection was back up. It was so he went to download his emails. As we were both up early and had walked a long way and therefore ate a quick dinner and headed off to bed. We both slept like logs.
Title: 13 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 18, 2009, 05:12 PM
We were both awake by about 7-30 am although we didn’t get out of bed (except to get the tea) until almost 9-00 am! Then I went to get emails before we put away the clothes that had been accumulating, tidied the cabin and sorted out the Daily Programmes that were for the last sector. I left the cabin at about 10-30 and headed up to the Chart Room to continue with yesterday’s diary entry. Paul said he would check emails and would join me shortly.

The ship is very busy today. Every table in the Chart Room was occupied by 11-30 am. Everywhere one goes on the ship today there are crowds of people with unfamiliar faces. To say I resent all these people taking over my ship would make me sound unfriendly and I certainly don’t mean to convey that impression. However the combination of being so close to home and having become so familiar with the ship makes it very hard to tolerate those who’ve jus come aboard for the first time and still haven’t found their way about.

I hadn’t been sitting there for more than five minutes when this man walked along. He paused and then asked if I was Malcolm. It was David (dak). I am delighted that I can put yet another face to a name. He joined me for a drink (he was drinking ginger beer and me lemonade) and a chat. We hadn’t been talking long when Babette (Ocngypz) came past. As David and I had just been talking about good travel agents I was delighted to introduce her to David and continue our conversation.

Meanwhile Karie (Travel-to-go) had gone to our cabin to deliver the pipe cleaners we’d also asked her to bring (she uses them to make tree trunks!). I’d obviously not been there but Paul had been in to take delivery. They had spent quite a while chatting before Paul had gone to the Computer Learning Centre to download emails. There he met Marc (Karie’s husband). Karie then came up to the Chart Room to join the group there.

Perky did make a midday announcement. He said a little about the anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking (tomorrow) and then went on to say that tomorrow the weather will be a little rougher than today but should calm down for the second half of the crossing. First thing this morning there were blue skies and sunshine, later on there had been slightly rough seas with fog. The horn has been sounding for most of the day.

David left (he’d only meant to stop and say hello) and Paul joined the group. All of a sudden it was 1-00 pm and lunch time. We actually got to lunch at 1-20 pm.

We were through lunch within half an hour and Paul and I headed back to the cabin. On the way back I was telling Paul that there was a CC meeting planned for 2-00 pm in the Yacht Club. When we got back to the cabin I said I was going to try to download the issue of the Design Magazine that related to the original designs of the QE2 (www.xxxxxxx   – a link that Karie had given me  ); Paul gave me an odd look and asked if I realised that it was 2-05 pm already – the meeting had been due to start at 2-00 pm!

(The following was added as a footnote at this point:   I will post this link once I’ve checked that the link I’ve got goes where it should! [I’m sorry but I have no idea what this link was anymore :( I hope that someone from the QE2 Story knows it and can post it here :) ] )

I felt that the meeting was very much divided into two parts. There was the group who had been on the ship for a while and were generally more active on CC (subdivided into those who had done the full world cruise and those who hadn’t) and those who were just doing the transatlantic crossing and were often less active. Maybe this dividing came about from the feeling of strangers in our midst.

We passed the housekeeper in the corridor. I asked her if she could get someone to look at our air-conditioning as it was now blowing too cold and explained that earlier in the cruise the opposite had been the problem and her predecessor had arranged for the reheater to be disconnected. She promised to get someone to look at it. When the a/c man came to look at it I did tell him that the reheater had been disconnected; he said that wasn’t possible and would make some adjustments outside. The cabin is still no warmer.

I went to afternoon tea with my parents (Paul stayed in the cabin). The QGL was packed. Whereas in the past on this cruise there’s always been plenty of space there were people waiting for tables again. I suspect that it’s the new influx of people – all hungry and looking forward to good food. They haven’t had time yet for their appetites to be damped by all the food available.

At 5-45 pm I decided to go swimming. I didn’t even stay at the pool long enough to get my trunks wet! The newbies have found the gym as well – there were six people in the pool (my pool? It was only last week that I had it all to myself).

I feel that the staff are giving less of their time to serving those who have been on the ship a while and are devoting much more to the newly joined passengers. I think that I can understand this – those of us that have been here a while have developed routines, the staff know who to expect and where, whereas someone who is new to the ship has to experience as much as they can in six days.

We went up to the World Cruise Lounge for a coffee. This was somewhere we could be sure of not meeting newcomers – the lounge is only available to those on the full world cruise. It has been busy; we’ve stopped going in because it’d become impossible to get a seat. Today there were only three other couples in there and lots of empty tables.

I do not mean this to be a rant against new people joining the ship and I feel that is exactly what this is becoming. This is the final leg of the world cruise; today Paul and I were discussing the final gratuities that we’ll be giving; the six full worlders from CC have been discussing or final lunch together; we’ve planned our final Heritage Tour with Thomas; there have been plans made for the final Cabin Cavalcade (it’s tomorrow. I don’t think any of the full worlders are going – we’ve all done three and don’t really want to do a fourth. I don’t think that many people who joined before New York will be going either.). There’ve been a lot for finals today and that has left me feeling glum and ready to pick fault with anyone who doesn’t act like people did a week ago.

While I’m in a grumbling mood I’m going to grumble a bit more! It was the first of the Captain’s Cocktail Parties for the people who joined in New York. Tomorrow will be another Captain’s party; the day after the World Club Party (for the new passengers) and the day after that the Senior Officers’ Party (again for the new passengers). We had our last cocktail party 11 days ago. It annoys me that those who’ve been on the ship for three months don’t get any parties whilst those who’ve only just joined get three in succession.

Title: 14 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 19, 2009, 10:15 AM
Another sign that we’re almost home – it was British immigration this morning, when Paul and I went the queue was quite long (there weren’t two queues, one for EU and one for non EU citizens, just the one for everybody). It took us just under ten minutes. When my mother went there was no queue at all.

After immigration we wanted to hear Ron Warwick speaking on his trip to view the wreck of the Titanic. I had guessed that there would be a lot of people wanting to hear him speak and we were there about 15 minutes early. We weren’t the first but were amongst the first 20 to take seats in the balcony. By the time the lecture started the balcony was full. It was a pity that the lead had come out of the back on the laptop that Ron Warwick was to use. He spent a very frustrating ten minutes trying to adlib whilst the technical staff tried everything on the keyboard to make the laptop work!

Ron Warwick admitted that the lecture had been put together as a last minute thing once he was aboard the QE2. He did not have plans for a talk before he boarded. Unfortunately this showed – the talk looked as if it had been hastily assembled from what he had already had rather than having been thought through carefully. It did not show Ron Warwick in the best light.

At the end he was asked questions by the audience. Most of these questions were from people who are far too fond of their own voice however there was one that was of interest. The questioner asked what Titanic commemorations were planned for later today and when would they be. Commodore Warwick’s response was that he was not sure exactly what was planned but he was sure that the Captain (Perky) would mention it in his midday announcement. Paul and I looked at each other and said, in unison, “If he makes one”!

He did make one. He’s told us that we’ll be passing the wreck site at approximately 5-00 pm. That there will be a wreath dropped into the sea, there will be an announcement over the tannoy and there will be a minute’s silence in memory of those who died. He also said that it’s the Mauretania Cocktail Party this evening. It is not. It is only the party for those who joined at New York and are eating in the Mauretania.

We met Babette (Ocngypz) while we were heading to our cabin before lunch. She told us that there was to be a screening, just for CC, of the home movies some people had taken of the tandem crossing. The screening was to be in the Theatre at 2-00 pm this afternoon and that any CC member was invited. When Paul and I got back to the cabin I tried to contact the four remaining full worlders without success.

As Paul and I headed to the restaurant we saw Veronica (Adrenalinejunkie) and Norman (Nadis). We told them about the showing and they said they would be pleased to attend. After lunch (about 1-45 pm) I tried calling Leone (Runaway) and Judi (OldChick) again. I was delighted when they both answered and both said they would be at the showing.

I got to the Theatre at about 1-55 pm to find that Leone was the only other person there. However Veronica, Judi and Norman soon followed. Babette turned up shortly after two and that was it! People were starting to arrive for the talk at 2-30 pm so we all decided to adjourn and move to the Crystal Bar. We had a very pleasant hour chatting and asking all those travel related question of Babette that you always want to ask your agent and never quite get round to! Babette has probably secured a couple of bookings from the meeting as several of us went off to place deposits on future bookings without having to commit to one particular voyage.

Paul slept while I went to Afternoon Tea with my mother; I slept while Paul dealt with a TV repair man who insisted that our TV wasn’t working (it is). At one point Perky announced something. As the announcement was only through the corridors we didn’t hear it. I suspect it was something to do with being over the Titanic and their being about to throw the wreath into the sea. As it was raining we didn’t go to see it.

I have to take back my words of yesterday. We have got a cocktail party invitation. It is to the party of “the Captain and Senior Officer’s”. I do wonder what the Senior Officer has that he wants to introduce us to (and, for that matter, which is the senior officer as both John Duffy and Paul Yeoman are in the list of inviters). A second error on the invite is the capitalisation of the word starboard. The invitation reads “... enter via the Starboard side by the Chart Room”. [I think I might have been a bit pedantic on the second point but the misuse of an apostrophe on an invitation is unforgivable!]

I’m writing this on the evening of the 15th having been to the event. I’m looking back at the invitation and have found yet another inconsistency. The invite refers to “Portside” (their capitalisation) and “Starboard side”. Why is the former one word and the latter two words?
Title: 15 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 20, 2009, 07:27 PM
We were in the Chart Room by 9-30 am this morning. Life is getting more and more unfair; when we got to the bar there was someone else at our table again. Who do these people who joined in New York think they are? We have sat at that table every sea day since Southampton and these new cruisers think they own the ship!

Thomas was doing his Heritage tour just for Cruise Critic this morning. Paul and I were sitting in the Chart Room when we met Karie. Paul didn’t want the extensive walking so Karie and I made our way to the Midships Lobby for the tour. There were about 30 Cruise Criticers there, ranging from new posters to old friends like Matthew and Karie. Although I have done the Heritage Tour with Thomas quite a few times (three on this current trip alone) the talk he gave both in the Midships Lobby and around the ship was new (although the tour didn’t go anywhere I’ve not been before). I thoroughly enjoyed it; it lasted for longer than the normal hour and a half and I regretted having to leave five minutes before the end.

Noon came whilst we were still on the tour. Perky failed to make an announcement. The navigational information was given by a “Cadet”. Thomas paused the tour whilst his brief announcement was made.

I had to leave early because the six original full worlders were meeting for lunch (arranged by Leone) and Paul and I had invited them for a glass of Champagne in our cabin beforehand. Jerome, or steward, had really done everything he could to ensure that our drinks party was a success. Paul and I had been out of the cabin all morning to give him time to sort things out and when we returned not only had he provided the Champagne and glasses but there was also a tray of canapés. He had made sure that the cabin was properly cleaned (not that it has ever not been), the broken light had been replaced and all the odds and ends that we’ve collected over the cruise were tidied away. I am pleased to inform that we did serve Champagne and not Pol Acker – that Cunard favourite.

After drinks it was straight up to the Mauretania (the only restaurant in which we had contacts and could provide a table for nine) for lunch. As well as organizing the meal Leone had also provided the wine with lunch. Although I have previously eaten in the Mauretania whilst it’s been located on Upper Deck this was before the refit of 1994. I have never eaten in the refitted restaurant either as the Caronia (as it was immediately after refit) or the new Mauretania so I am pleased to add it to the list of restaurants I’ve eaten in.

After lunch it was off to the “Friends of the WCC” as it appeared in the Daily Programme. This was the screening of the videos from the Tandem Transatlantic that some members had taken in January. I admit that I left after half an hour. There were far too many shots of the Vicky struggling in bad weather (Veronica later told me that there was some footage of the QE2 in the same weather – I’d have liked to have seen that).

As the portholes on Deck Five have been closed; Judi tells us that those at the bow of Deck 3 are shut and Tim that the bow of Deck Two are fastened I suspect that this should be taken as a warning of bad weather to come. As I left the screening early I took the opportunity to start packing. This is another thing that really makes it feel that the trip is now at an end. On previous cruises I have said I would give up the last day at sea to avoid the final morning; on this trip I would quite happily have given up the return crossing to have been at home straight from New York.

It was our “Senior Officer’s” party this evening. As neither Paul nor I were bothered about shaking hands with Perky, John Duffy or Paul Yeoman we followed the instructions to “enter via the starboard side”. The queue was almost as long as it was to join the receiving line.

Once we were through the queue we got seats and started to look for a steward. There wasn’t one in sight. Finally I managed to get one (the steward that had refused to get us a soft drinks package at Los Angeles) to say that he would come and take our order when he’d served the drinks he was carrying. On his return he said that he’s already taken two new orders and would come to take our order once he’d served his new customers. We were not happy.

It was noticeable that there was a group of about eight officers standing at the back of the room; they all had drinks. When two more officers joined them they were served immediately. We approached two other officers who were heading towards their colleagues and said that we were having problems ordering a drink and that the steward we had asked had just taken orders elsewhere. These officers shrugged, said we’d just have to wait for a steward and headed off to their friends.

We caught one of the stewards serving Pol Acker and asked him. He said that we would need a wine steward and then said he would ask one to come over.  About five minutes later he did come back to us to check that a steward had taken our order.

Twenty minutes into the party we were finally able to place an order with the steward that had taken another order. We ordered a Bombay Sapphire with diet tonic and a Laphroaig with water on the side and no ice. The steward repeated this. Ten minutes later, half an hour after we’d first got to the party, the steward came back. He’d forgotten the Bombay Sapphire and had a whisky with the water already added, far more water than we would have added ourselves. When we said that we had wanted water on the side we were told that they don’t do that. They have often provided water on the side at parties in the Queens Room; why didn’t the steward tell us that he couldn’t provide water on the side when we finally ordered on this occasion? As this was the steward who had lied to us about the availability of soft drink packages from the Funnel Bar we doubted the veracity of his statement.

At this point we left of the party and decided to go for dinner. It is not fare to put all the blame for poor service onto the stewards. The Queens Room was as full as I’ve ever seen it for a cocktail party and there were only four wine stewards serving drinks. It seems that Cunard have decided that, whilst they still want to say that other drinks are available and for their officers to get what drinks they want, passengers must drink only warm, flat, Pol Acker.

Once we’d left the party we passed through the Golden Lion en route to the restaurant. John Duffy was sitting there drinking with a fellow officer. The event had been so crowded and the service so poor that he had obviously decided not to stay at his own party but to go drink in a quieter environment (the Karaoke hadn’t started by this time).

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Louis De Sousa on Sep 20, 2009, 09:57 PM
We were in the Chart Room by 9-30 am this morning. Life is getting more and more unfair; when we got to the bar there was someone else at our table again. Who do these people who joined in New York think they are? We have sat at that table every sea day since Southampton and these new cruisers think they own the ship!

 :D LOL I wonder did you own the ship?
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 20, 2009, 10:27 PM
:D LOL I wonder did you own the ship?

Of course not! :D Those full worlders who were left couldn't be bothered with the intricacies of running a ship! :P

I've said how at the CC get-together the six remaining full worlders sat together and didn't speak outside our six. We know we were isolating ourselves; we knew we were being churlish; but our comfort zones had been invaded in many different places and at every occasion we ventured outside our cabin.

When I look back I am really astonished that we allowed a couple of people who were not on for the duration to join us for the final lunch. For us the cruise had ended once we left New York. We were just on a very tedious journey home. :(

As I've read through these reports again I've been astounded just how critical I became about anything and everything. I am not the latter day Cunard's biggest fan but I am really pulling them to pieces over the slightest error on this journey home. I think I was aware that I was doing it but just couldn't help myself.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: southfielddane on Sep 21, 2009, 01:28 AM
My wife and I have enjoyed reading your postings and comparing them with my wife`s copious notes of the same World Cruise. I have 20 or so dvds of my own of the cruise from the Southampton departure on 6 January to the return on 18 April so we have very fresh memories of the cruise which are reawakened by these.
I agree with a lot of what you have said especially about "Perky" but I disagree over some of the details and your attitude to the staff at times. We could just afford a Caronia cabin on 3 deck and are now penniless having spent almost all our lump sums after 40 years or so of teaching.I do not regret it and would do the same again if I had the chance and financial ability. Your comments about the few remaining World Cruisers do not ring true as I know that there were at least a dozen or so more. We were  not members of the Cruise Critic circle and obviously this meant you were unaware of our presence.   
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Louis De Sousa on Sep 21, 2009, 06:11 AM
I agree with a lot of what you have said especially about "Perky" but I disagree over some of the details and your attitude to the staff at times.

Sadly there was a lot of passengers with this attitude.  >:(

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: southfielddane on Sep 21, 2009, 12:09 PM
Yes sadly there were times when we were saddened by the attitude of the more "well-heeled " passengers on board. One particular incident in the Boardroom that happened caused my wife and I to support the staff. Enrique & Rowena did their best without complaint to serve and welcome all the World Cruisers who made use of the Boardroom facility. One particularly busy day they were out of sight preparing the drinks, biscuits etc when a brash American woman flew into the room and marched up to them when they appeared and demanded coffee immediately. She was told politely to take a seat and would be attended to when they had finished serving those who were waiting for their orders. The woman had a fit at being asked to take a seat and then proceeded to delve into a jar of biscuits despite a prominent notice asking passengers not to serve themselves. On having the notice pointed out to her she went ballistic and threatened to report Rowena and Enrique to the hotel manager before storming out. Having spread e-coli or whatever throughout the contents of the jar Rowena had to take the jar and throw away the contents.........We never found out if the bitch did complain but we offered our support to E & R should there be an enquiry.
Another thing that amazed us was the petty theft that went on. One of the World Cruisers had a mobility scooter and this had to be left outside the theatre when attending a lecture.She had a bought a souvenir bag in Hong Kong and put some library books in it, leaving it in the carrier at the base of the scooter. On returning to the scooter she found the books had been taken out and placed on the carrier while the bag itself had been stolen.
We also heard tales about keys to the scooters being deliberately removed.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 21, 2009, 08:10 PM
I have 20 or so dvds of my own

I've only got six - although 17 hours of footage was edited to go on them! Paul manages to take about 10 000 photographs  :o (I say about because a lot were deleted whilst we were still on the ship. We've about 1000 left so I'm guessing at 10 000 to start with).

I disagree over some of the details and your attitude to the staff at times.

Can you give an example of what you disagree with please. Maybe I can give some reasoning to my feelings. We always found the staff either exceptionally good or bad. At times the service was out of this world whilst, at others, you felt the staff were treating you like dirt.

We could just afford a Caronia cabin on 3 deck

Remember we had booked Caronia Guarantees - A C2 for my parents and a C4 for us. The Britannia Grill came as a quite unexpected upgrade :)

Your comments about the few remaining World Cruisers do not ring true as I know that there were at least a dozen or so more. We were  not members of the Cruise Critic circle and obviously this meant you were unaware of our presence.

Remember - I was talking about my acquaintances from Cruise Critics. This diary was kept partly for CCers at home to read and therefore related to what was happening CC (an Cunard Critic) wise. On that final leg there were only six of us left; I know there were some non CC people who had done the entire trip but we full worlders were still few and far between.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 21, 2009, 08:14 PM
Enrique & Rowena

Rowena had been Paul and my waitress in the Caronia for Christmas 2006. She was fantastic then. We were delighted to see her at the start of the WC and she was pleased to find that we were on for the entire trip. Those two were an example of just how good the service on Cunard could be.
Title: 16 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 21, 2009, 08:21 PM
We got a copy of our account the day before yesterday. There were two charges that we didn’t recognize. The first was for over US$ 150.00 and was from the Caronia Bar; the second was for US$ 36.80 and was from the Britannia Grill Bar (this second amount was unusual not because of the charge but because it was in Paul’s name – I have signed for all the wine in the restaurant).

We went to the pursers. There were two purserettes at the desk, both with their heads down. There was nobody waiting for assistance; when we got there one looked up and then went back to what she was doing. After a pause of about ten seconds she looked back up and asked if she could help. I queried the two charges and she went off to find the dockets. When she came back with a fist full of dockets she started to go through them in silence. When she found the dockets that matched the transactions (the Caronia Bar was room service that had been invoiced the day before we had it, I had signed a wine bill that was issued in Paul’s name) she just put them on the desk for us to see without saying anything. When we had seen them she put the dockets away again without saying anything. I do not believe this level of rudeness (and I believe that it was rudeness, that or indolence, but I don’t think they could be that lazy by accident)  is in anyway acceptable, even with clients who have caused problems in the past (which I don’t think we have done).

The “Cadet” made the navigational announcement today at about 12-04 pm. After which Perky made his announcement.

Paul had been for breakfast and so didn’t come down for lunch. Raul, the Maître d’, had realised that we had gone to dinner early last night and that we were cross about something. He had asked us why we were cross and had passed the details of the party fiasco onto John Duffy. J D had replied saying that he had not been in the Golden Lion at all the previous evening (Raul commented that the Golden Lion was not normally a haunt of J D). Even if we were mistaken about J D it does not make our criticism of the rest of the party any less valid.

We went to the show after dinner. This evening it was the “Crew Show”. I like the idea of the crew putting on entertainment but I do not think that it should be the main entertainment for the evening. It started with three lots of singers. One was the act that had come third in the “QE2 Idol” show earlier in this cruise; one was a male vocalist and the third act was a group of four – one singer and three musicians. These acts were of the standard I’d expect from a general Passenger Talent Show and were not fantastic (although better than the normal passenger show).

The penultimate act was done by a crew member, “Jerry”, and involved him lip synching to the Julie Andrews number “Doh, Ray, Me” from the Sound of Music. He was dressed in a blue and white pinafore dress and did some very funny movements to fit the song. It was what I could only describe as a drag act and was the funniest drag act that I’ve ever seen [With the exception of Hinge & Bracket and I wouldn’t call them a drag act].

The final act was “Kenny”, the Assistant Maitre D’, from our restaurant. He sang “Three Times A Lady”. We had been given advance warning that he was a good singer and he was. The drag act and Kenny saved what would otherwise have been a poor show (although by Cunard’s standards the acts were all above average).

After the show the Cruise Director, Warren Smith, came onto the stage to give his final announcements. He also added that there would be one more act – The Cruise Staff had put together a song that they would now perform. This involved most of the Cruise staff taking part in a joke song that would have been suited to a student panto but the audience seemed to enjoy. It did provide a nice end to the evening, if unCunardly.

After the show Paul and I walked back to the cabin along boat deck. Tonight was our last formal night on this trip. I was in tears. There have been so many highs and lows and now it’s over except for that horrible last day. I have done so much that I never thought I would and also regret not having done things that would have made the trip even more exciting.

When we got back to our cabin there was the final World Cruise gifts. Both Paul and I have got a Wedgewood dish (about 3 inches in diameter) with Cunard and the Cunard logo, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Farewell Celebration 2008 on it. This is quite nice and will go out somewhere at home. We have also been given another ticket wallet (?) although unfortunately not containing a new set of tickets. There is also an extra luggage tag. Both the ticket wallet and the luggage tag have a brass plate saying that they are for the 2008 Final World Cruise. These are what we got at the beginning of the journey; it looks like they have a lot left over and want to get rid of them before the World Cruise ends.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: southfielddane on Sep 21, 2009, 09:28 PM
You were very fortunate to have had Rowena as your waitress on an earlier cruise. We found her a delightful and very pleasant person.
I`m afraid I will have to read your blog again to give you some examples of where I disagree. So far it has taken 165 double sided pages to print out so I may be some time before I get back to you on this point. The points are really nothing major and probably were a matter of having a better experience of the same event because those we interacted with were more pleasant/efficient. I recall you had problems over the photo at the World Cruise dinner in Hawaii. We had no problem at all. In fact my wife positively swooned when we found that the officer presiding at our dinner table was none other than Zak- he of the much awaited noon announcements! For some time he had been replaced by an Ozzie who couldn`t pronounce the Beaufort scale as " Beaufort" but "bewfort".We told Zak to have a word and sure enough a day or so later the Ozzie officer attempted the " Beaufort" ;
The photo was excellent with everyone properly seated around Zak and it remains a lovely souvenir of a memorable evening.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 22, 2009, 12:22 PM
I recall you had problems over the photo at the World Cruise dinner in Hawaii.

When I went to see Lisa about the very poor quality of the photograph she commented that ours was the only one that was no good. Apparently she had checked with the officer involved before the pictures were distributed and the officer had said that my father had said that he did not want his picture taking. I was there; this was not true; the officer had lied - he was far too busy talking to one other person at the table to concern himself with the photographs.
Title: 17 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 22, 2009, 04:31 PM
Here's the penultimate report. I enjoyed the holiday  :) ; I've enjoyed rereading the reports  :) ; but I feel ever so sad now that I'm approaching Southampton and have to get off tomorrow  :( . I remember how I felt on the evening of the 17th and I'm starting to feel a bit like that now :)
Title: 17 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 22, 2009, 04:31 PM
After breakfast we came back to the cabin to carry on with the packing. The remaining third took far longer to pack than the first two thirds. We haven’t actually finished packing that third yet – there are still lots of bits everywhere that we need to find space for.

There was an email under the door from Karie this morning. She was confirming the web address for the site on the original design of the ship. The address is http://vads.ahds.ac.uk/diad/diadmagazine.php?title=244&year=1969 .

We had thought that we’d have plenty of space in our luggage going home as lots of supplies that we brought with us (toothpaste, mouthwash, soap powder, etc) have been used on the trip and don’t need to be carried back. However there are lots of things (like four months’ Daily Programmes) that we didn’t have coming out and have filled up the space!

We took our excess dollars and paid them onto our account. The pursers tell us that the RNLI collecting box will accept any currencies and so we have dumped our Singaporean, Hong Kong, etc remainder currency there.

We stopped for our final prelunch drink in the Chart Room and went for a final walk on deck before lunch. We had our final lunch in the restaurant and then returned to the cabin. I collected my laptop and went to check emails – I’ve just found that I’ve got my first bit of spam on the address I’ve been using. I went to www.yahoo.co.uk to start receiving all the mail from the groups I belong to. I’ve got far too much internet time available. I’ve got about four hours left on the package for the LA to Fort Lauderdale sector; I haven’t even started on the eight hours for the transatlantic. I wonder if they’ll still be there if I come on again. [They weren’t.]

We went for our final afternoon tea in the QGL – very busy again and then a drink in the Chart Room to pass an hour. The entire ship is talking about how it will be over soon, those of us who did the full world cruise meet up and lament just how short a trip it’s been this year.

I am touched to have received so many emails saying how much you’ve enjoyed reading my experiences. There have been many occasions when I’ve worried that I’m mentioning events that are just too inconsequential.

At 6-45 pm we got a letter from Anna and Yoyo, the CWC representatives on board, saying that because of the “large number” of Platinum and Diamond members there will be no disembarkation lounge available at Southampton. It is so nice that they only send the letter out once their office has shut and it’s too late to provide any feedback!

We intended to go for a drink before dinner at about 8-00 pm. At 7-00 pm I was on my way to see my parents to range a place and time for that drink when I bumped into Babette. At our request she came back to our cabin for a drink and we ended up not even starting to get changed until past 8-00 pm! We finally got into dinner at 8-50 pm.

After dinner we had a final drink (or two) in the Chart Room (We didn’t have that heavy a night, but the bar managed to run out of both Laphroaig and Tallisker). After that it was back to the Cabin to put out the final suitcases.

We didn’t want to go to sleep – that would mean the holiday was finally over so we watched the trailer for the “Your Voyage” DVD and commented on how bad it was; we ordered a pot of tea and a sandwich from room service and then watched this morning’s breakfast show!

We finally went to bed at 1-30 am.
Title: 18 April 2008
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 23, 2009, 10:00 PM
I was awake at 6-30 am this morning. We were already docked in Southampton. We can only just have docked because there were still tugs moving round the ship at 6-30 am. I hope that’s a sign that they’re in a rush to get in; that they’ll get the luggage off quickly and in turn we’ll be off quickly as well.

Oh dear. That was written first thing this morning. It’s now 1-15 pm and I’m in the back of a taxi heading up the M 3. Disembarkation was a fiasco. Here’s what happened:

We both were up by 7-00 am. I used our travel kettle, some milk removed from yesterday’s tea tray and some mugs and tea bags removed from the pavilion to mash some early morning tea. We were in breakfast by 8-00 am and were offered the full menu despite it being an in-port breakfast day (ie a limited breakfast menu). As our restaurant stewards have been so good both in sorting out meals for Paul when he couldn’t get to the restaurant and in serving my parents and Paul and I at different speeds for many meals we decided that they deserved more than the standard gratuity. We gave each steward US$ 200.00 on top of the normal Hotel and Dining Charge.

By this time it was just turned 8-30 am, the time at which we were supposed to vacate our cabins. We went back to the cabin to collect our belongings and discuss where we were to go. Whilst we were in the cabin we heard the sound of the tape being ripped off the adjoining door to the next cabin. As we knew that they had already vacated their cabin we guessed that it must be our steward making that noise and went to ask him what it was. I was right. It was masking tape to keep the tobacco smoke out of the cabin next door.

We had also decided that we would give an extra gratuity to our cabin steward as well (also US$ 200.00). I said thank you to Jerome and gave him the envelope with the money in it. I also asked him if it would be possible to stay in our cabin until we were called. He reluctantly agreed.

My parents weren’t so lucky with their steward. At 9-30 they were turned out of their cabin. We all then decided that we would look for somewhere to sit and wait. As the gangway was supposed to be (and at this time actually was) from the Midships Lobby on Two Deck we thought the Computer Centre could be a good place to wait. We were right it was. There were only about two other people there; both Paul and I had plenty of time left on the internet so there was something for us to do; there are toilets on Boat Deck, just up A lift from the Computer Centre and there is also access onto the open deck for the smokers in the group. The only problem is the lack of availability of tea, coffee or cold drinks.

10-00 am came and went and nobody was called to the gangway. Twice there had been announcements saying that they were still landing luggage and that they expected disembarkation to start at 9-30 am and then 10-00 am. At 10-30 am the purser announced that those people on the first transfer to Heathrow could get off the ship but, as they were still landing luggage, everyone else should wait. At 11-00 am there was a rush of airport and coach transfers called and then at 11-30 am decks One and Two were called.

When we got to the Midships Lobby the queue stretched from the exit, halfway round the lobby and into the ship at D Stairway. How much further it went beyond that I do not know. We were lucky – as my mother was in her scooter and Paul was using both his crutches we were able to join the wheelchair line which should have given a fast track to the exit. We stood in the queue for about five minutes. As our driver had been booked to meeting us at 10-00 am I thought I’d better call him and advise him of the delay. He was still waiting but said we should call him when we were finally off.

We continued to queue but the queue didn’t move. I could see Matthew in the line in front of us and Veronica and Norman in the queue behind us. We must have stood waiting for fifteen minutes before the queue moved at all. Apparently high winds were making it almost impossible to fix the gangway and they were at the point of giving up.

Five minutes later there was an announcement that the gangway location had been moved from Two Deck to Five Deck and asking all passengers currently queuing on Two Deck to make their way to Five Deck via the D Staircase. As most people had more than one piece of hand baggage, there were several wheelchairs in our section of the queue and most of the passengers were elderly it did not seem like a particularly good idea to suggest using D where the lifts only go down as far as Deck Three. We  went to A; to find that one of the lifts was out of action completely (or so the Crew Purser told us, although as she also said that as her job was crew related she couldn’t advise passengers) and the other was being used by staff to ferry laundry.

Once we were on Five Deck we had to go through the door marked “Crew Only”, from there to an entrance I’ve never seen from inside before and then onto a wooden gangway. The problem was that there was a very steep slope up onto this gangway, the gangway had quite deep wooden treads across it and there were three steep steps to get back off it again and onto ground level. My mother could not drive her scooter over it. I had to cross the gangway with my hand baggage, go back and collect mother and her hand baggage (and she carries a vast amount). When I went back to get the scooter I asked the security man on the gangway if he would help me with it as I couldn’t carry it on my own. He said that someone would come and help shortly. I looked him in the eye and said “YOU will help me carry it now”. You could see him wondering if it would make me angrier if he refused and then he asked how he should pick it up!

Once we were off the ship it was a long walk to baggage reclaim and customs. The bags had been sorted by colour but not by number. My parents, Paul and I had orange tags but my parents’ tags had a number one on them whilst ours had a number two. Tags one, two, three and four were all mixed together making it difficult to find our bags. Once we’d got our baggage there was nobody on customs and we were out of the terminal and with our taxi in about five minutes.

The problem with the taxi was the amount of luggage we had to fit in it. Putting everything into the taxi was a bit like doing a jigsaw with no picture however we’ve managed to make everything fit (just) and should be home by 5-10 pm (according to the taxi’s sat nav).

We actually got through our front door at 6-05 pm. It has been an experience; one. To be honest, I’m not in a hurry to repeat. I’m very glad that I went, I enjoyed most of it but I’m also very glad to be home.

[18 months on I would now like to repeat the holiday. Not repeat exactly – I would like some different ports and I don’t want to do another long cruise where half of the journey is eastbound – but I would like to do another world cruise. Perhaps one day, in the dim and (hopefully not too) distant future.]
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: highlander0108 on Sep 23, 2009, 11:09 PM
Malcolm, my tablemates from the January Crossing were onboard with you for the entire trip.  Roger and Wendy if you evern chatted with them.  As they put it, there was a big "cockup at disembarkation"  They experienced the confusion and delays like you.  They were heading back to Luton, but it took all day to get off the ship.  Mind you, they are not ones to complain, but this event earned Cunard a complaint letter and they ended up with a nice voucher, which they used this year for a QV cruise, in which they saw QE2 in Dubai. 

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Twynkle on Sep 23, 2009, 11:42 PM
Hello Malcolm
What an amazing Diary -
Thank you very much indeed for showing us your experience of QE2's way round the World.
Your description of the ending has echoes of other disembarkations - although not quite as elongated or tricky.
It's as if the magic's almost gone when you waken, and when you step onto dry land, the dream is well and truly over - it's back to earth with an enormous, unQE2-erly bump.

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Kathy M. on Sep 24, 2009, 02:14 AM
Thanks for sharing all of this, Malcolm - it is a great read!
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: cunardqueen on Sep 25, 2009, 06:05 PM
  Thanks for sharing your story and for your personal comments, warts and all of for what is for many a dream voyage that of a QE2 world cruise.

 If you had known now what you know then, would there have been anything you would have changed? how did the luggage work out? had you overpacked or underpacked?

 Dare l mention the unmentionable subject of weight? l realise that nobody would eat like a king for 4 months and that we all pig out on QE2, but after 4 month l would have been like the side of a house.
 Thanks again for a wonderful diary
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: southfielddane on Sep 25, 2009, 06:47 PM
We have enjoyed reading of your exploits and comparing them with our own.
The disembarkation fiasco was a mess wasn`t it?  It beat the embarkation fiasco by a mile. We had a car booked for 9:30am and like yourselves didn`t get ashore until 12:30pm.The high winds were given to us a reason but we were permitted to stay in our cabin until we disembarked. Our cabin steward (Anna) was another example of Cunard staff at their best. Nothing  was too much trouble. We were lucky to have her attending to our cabin on deck 2 when were able to get a last-minute booking on the final Round British Isles cruise last September/October. Cunard still messed up the embarkation by not explaining that we could go straight through the waiting passengers as we had platinum WCC cards by then. Disembarkation was ok. We`ve now booked on the QV for the Canary Isles Cruise next May so it will be interesting to compare the experiences.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 26, 2009, 03:21 PM
If you had known now what you know then, would there have been anything you would have changed?

The biggest thing I would like to change is Paul breaking his leg. If that hadn't happened we would both have been able to see and do so much more.

Other than that the changes I'd make would be what we did in some ports. I had spent a lot of time researching the ports in advance and planning what we would do. Most ports we did stick to that but in some we didn't. Hong Kong, for example, we booked a tour because we were docked so far out of the centre.  The tour included far more than we could have done on our own. The problem is that Hong Kong has changed a lot since I was there before - a lot of the places the tour went weren't worth visiting (think Aberdeen or Stanley Market).

how did the luggage work out? had you overpacked or underpacked?

Most of the stuff we packed we used at least once. I am just very glad there was no restriction on the amount of luggage we could take though! How people like Leone managed when they had to fly too and from the cruise I hate to think.

Dare l mention the unmentionable subject of weight? l realise that nobody would eat like a king for 4 months and that we all pig out on QE2, but after 4 month l would have been like the side of a house.

It is not possible to eat three main meals every day and morning coffee, afternoon tea and a midnight snack for four months. You find yourself starting to miss the odd meal; afternoon tea becomes an occasional treat; I don't think I went to the Midnight Buffet after leaving Southampton for the second time. I did put on weight though - far too much! My waist went up by about six inches whilst I was aboard - something I'm still trying to loose!
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Malcolm on Sep 26, 2009, 03:27 PM
Disembarkation was ok.

Was it? ??? Paul and I did the Autumn Colours and the Farewell to the British Isles; my parents did the Farewell to the British Isles and both final Transatlantics so we were lucky to be able to wait in their cabin. I remember they cancelled the waiting area again (usual reason - too many people) but other than that I don't remember too much about that final morning. Even although I knew that I wouldn't be seeing the ship again I was still pleased to be off and on my way.
Title: Re: 15 March 2008
Post by: Isabelle Prondzynski on Oct 11, 2009, 02:17 PM

From what we could tell of the announcement we need approximately 3 ½ engines running to get us to Shanghai on time. We will do 16 ½ knots this morning on three engines and then speed up slightly when a fourth engine is started.

Malcolm, your World Cruise diary has been fascinating reading! I printed it out a while back and am now reading it at my own pace, at leisure, much as I would a good book.

There will be plenty more questions and comments coming from me -- at my leisure! The quote above is one of the bits I read today, and it brought a big grin to my face.

The speed for which qV has to push herself, is here taken at leisure by QE2 on 3 out of her 9 engines... marvellous!

And then, she has all that massive reserve power to push herself when necessary...  ;D
Title: Re: Printing Malcolm's Diary
Post by: Isabelle Prondzynski on Oct 17, 2009, 12:23 PM

Malcolm, your World Cruise diary has been fascinating reading! I printed it out a while back and am now reading it at my own pace, at leisure, much as I would a good book.

Just in case anyone else might like to print this diary and read it at leisure, this is what you can do :

I have now printed 137 pages, which takes me as far as 18 March, so I shall need to print some more to reach the end.

Be aware of the fact that the photos included in the diary are not part of the print view and will not be printed -- so you would need to have a look at the online version as well if you want to see those.

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Chris Frame on Oct 20, 2009, 02:27 AM
Malcolm - it was great to follow QE2's World Cruise through your words and pictures. Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Jakester on Sep 29, 2010, 10:54 PM
Thank you very much for this blog Malcom. I truly enjoyed reading it end to end. You have a way of making it sound as if we were friends talking about your latest trip over dinner.

I started opening Google Earth to see the ports you were talking about...and when I got to Sydney, There She Was!! They have yet to change the sat pick. Damn if I can't post a shot of it.

Again, many many thanks!

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Twynkle on Sep 29, 2010, 11:31 PM
Hi Jake

You'll find QE2 here too!
That is, unless google have renewed their images since the last time of looking!

Malcolm's Topic is a great record of QE2's last sailing around the world
Bet they still miss seeing her in all her many ports of call
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: highlander0108 on Sep 30, 2010, 01:58 AM
Malcolm's Topic is a great record of QE2's last sailing around the world
Bet they still miss seeing her in all her many ports of call

To complement Malcolm's excellent diary of QE2's final World Cruise, check out this blog with accompanying excellent photography.
Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Jakester on Oct 05, 2010, 10:25 PM
Thank you Ken and Rosie for those great links. What fun reading and looking (I heart maps ;))

Quick question, what cabin grade was the "dresses" lady in? Quite an interesting layout. Given the Broom Cupboard comments I've heard regarding some, I assume it to be an original First Class...

Title: Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
Post by: Twynkle on Oct 05, 2010, 10:30 PM
Hey Jake

Right from the very top, to the very bottom (in terms of accommodation)
everyone made an enormous effort to look their very best!
That's what QE2 was really all about (amongst other things too!)

Can't say that the cabin / wardrobes (?closets?) we had in the bargain basement could have accommodated more than say 8 dresses, never mind 80...
We managed well enough with 4 sort of mix and match 'things', no matter how long our stay was on board!
Title: Re: 15 March 2008
Post by: RobertQM2 on Oct 26, 2010, 07:12 AM
Malcolm, your World Cruise diary has been fascinating reading! ............is here taken at leisure by QE2 on 3 out of her 9 engines... ........when necessary......

I had the rare chance of being let down to the engine room while in motion on 7 engines. To stand on the "balcony" of a cylinder head covering, with 11 MW beneath my feet this was like being in engineers heaven to me. Thank you QE2 for serving us once, because it was a once in a lifetime experience to us. Thank you Malcom for the wonderful diary, we are so looking forward to our first WC Segment on QM2 in Feb.11