Author Topic: Our 9/11 story.  (Read 4155 times)

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Alexandra

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Our 9/11 story.
« on: Sep 12, 2012, 08:58 PM »
Hi all,

first time poster but a few of you know me from other places. Isabelle asked would I tell my story about 9/11 and QE2 so here goes.

James and I were on a road trip across the USA. His Dad had died the year before and we decided to use some of his inheritance to travel across the country I loved. We began in LA in late July and our first night was spent onboard Queen Mary in Long Beach.

We wound our way from California to Canada to Wyoming to Texas and this is where we found ourselves on 10th September 2001. We were in Amarillo, a travelodge, where we watched the "Big Monday Game". We may have had a few drinks and rolled into bed with no definite plans for the morning except to hit the road and see where the wind blew us.

The following morning we were woken by housekeeping knocking on the door. Jamess said we'd be out shortly and then flicked on the TV. I was dozing still. He said "WAKE UP! WAKE UP! THE WORLD TRADE CENTRE JUST COLLAPSED!" I said "What? Don't be stupid." Found my glasses and sat up and my jaw hit the floor. We hurriedly dressed and went across to reception to try and find out just what exactly was going on.

Reception was busy with other guests, mainly the burly train drivers we'd watched the game with the night before (Amarillo has a big freight depot). They had tears pouring down their faces. Big Casey Jones men. Devastated at what was happening to their country. They did think to warn us however that if the siren were to go  we were to drive opposite to the wind direction. Apparently their was the USA's largest nuclear reprocessing plant in Amarillo. Great.

We checked in for another night and slept on our thoughts and joy that we had tracked down my family who were on the SS Norway and mid-Atlantic. They had left New York the previous friday. Relief. We hadn't been able to get a phone line out though, but had managed to get access to a computer at the library and email home that we were in Texas and safe.

The next day came and we tried to give blood, but because we were British we were ineligible because of CJD. We decided to head home but American Airlines couldn't help us change our flights and honestly we really didn't want to head to New York, where our flights were from, nor did we want to fly. It suddenly came to me that we could sail home. We managed to call home to James' sister who would pass on our message that we were going to get home as fast as we could. She was relieved that we would all soon be back on the same continent. It was such a terrifying time. It could easily have been the outbreak of World War Three was the general feeling.

September 13th we headed back to the library to research options across the pond. Cargo vessels? Nothing to the UK so I said look up QE2. September 16th was her scheduled date of sailing. From New York. We found a local cruise agent, I forget the agency name but the lady was called Denise. She was an absolute star. She booked our cabin and we hit the highway. Before I move on I must mention the amazing people of Amarillo. Because we were "trapped" they wouldn't let us pay for anything. Thank you.

Our car was a long term rental and was due for a check in and renewal that day so we checked locations and Oklahoma airport was the nearest location in our direction so we headed there. The rental company wouldn't renew our rental even though it was pre-paid and this was merely a formality to check we hadn't absconded with their car. Four hours of wrangling later and key-withholding later we were back on the road. It was obvious that because everyone was on the roads there was serious money to be made even if that meant stranding two English tourists in the Midwest.

We made it to Springfield, MO that night and called our cruise agent to tell her where we were and check up on where to head to. New York still was the answer so keep going. We booked into another motel for the following night in West Virginia and September 14th saw us heading up I-40 to the East. We arrived late that night and our cruise docs were faxed in with a note.

Boston.

The next morning after coffee, danishes and best wishes we were on our way again. Midnight saw us hit Boston's crazy road system and locate our last hotel. Somehow we had got from Texas to Boston in that time with James doing all the driving because I hadn't passed my test. He was exhausted but no rest for the wicked as they say and the final morning had him running back and to to the nearest walmart to buy bags. We had bought a lot of gear. 13 bags worth as it turned out.

We dropped the car off Logan and cabbed to the port. The ships were holding off because of a bomb threat and we were to sit on the dock side, directly across from the airport and along with every other passenger we ducked as each 'plane took off we ducked. Eight hours we sat there, waiting for our ship to come in and board. We got to know our fellow passengers and their stories. Some Americans but mainly Brits. Scared and wanting to go home. Most had been in New York and seen it all. Their stories were harrowing.

Anyway we eventually we allowed through to check in and board and honestly it was a dream come true. I had seen The QE2 all through my life and always wanted to sail on her, but not in these circumstances. We ate that night in the Mauretania whilst still tied up. It was about 10pm when we ate and the staff were superstars. They had been on their feet since the morning and were still going strong. They were charm personified and made us so happy and relieved to be on "British" territory. We already felt as if we were home. Both of us had conflicting emotions though. Relief to be home but also sadness and guilt at leaving our second home in her hour of need.

We sailed at midnight and quietly dropped flowers taken from the Yacht Club over the stern. There was no fanfare, just darkened decks and a quiet slipping of lines and the open sea lay ahead.

I had one cocktail dress with me and here I was on the most elegant ship in the world, what was a girl to do? Thanks to one of the other passengers I was in luck! She lent me several gowns and I bought one. James hired a tux and we were all set to enjoy our week at sea. Well we and our fellow passengers drank the ship dry. Tattinger was out with four days and bar bills must have sky rocketed. We danced until dawn and enjoyed life. Everyone had seen their own mortality in close up and was going to enjoy themselves. We emailed my parents with the cryptic message "we're behind you."

We finally arrived in Southampton and provided much amusement to our fellow passengers as we crammed 13 bags into a VW Polo. Thanks to Cunard we had spent our first night and our last on their ships. The start with the old generation the last on her replacement and the future. And an incurable itch.

Online Lynda Bradford

Re: Our 9/11 story.
« Reply #1 on: Sep 12, 2012, 09:19 PM »
Thank-you for posting your story of how such sad circumstances led to you first trip onboard QE2.  I can imagine the relief you felt when you boarded the ship and knew that you were sailing for home.

 I can remember being at work on 11 September 2001 and hearing that a plane had flown into the Twin Towers, then the realisation that it was not an accident but an attack.  Our hearts went out to the people in New York who had experienced this terrible incident.

In 2002 I was onboard QE2 at the time of the anniversary of the 9/11 attack and as the day approached passengers were concerned, as it was rumoured that an attack was planned on a famous ship, and there is none more famous than QE2.  However the Captain gave assurances that were was nothing to worry about contingency plans were in place. 
« Last Edit: Sep 13, 2012, 08:33 AM by Lynda »
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
www.qe2event.com

Online Peter Mugridge

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Re: Our 9/11 story.
« Reply #2 on: Sep 12, 2012, 10:26 PM »
In 2002 I was onboard QE2 at the time of the anniversary of the 9/11 attack...

Err... Lynda.... that'll be this sailing then?  https://www.theqe2story.com/forum/index.php/topic,1599.0.html

After we left QE2 at Civitavecchia ( we were the only people on board using the trip as a line voyage - long story! ) we flew to New York so we were actually in NY just before the anniversary ( we flew home on 10th September, and that's when my avatar photo was taken ).

While we were in NY we did visit Ground Zero and Yola tied a bunch of flowers to the fence around it.  At that point it was just a huge empty hole in the ground, all the rubble having been cleared but nothing else had started at that point.

To really understand the scale of the attacks one would have had to have seen the site in that condition; it would be impossible to describe it properly otherwise.  The most telling moment was seeing a small black dot on the side of the wall of the hole and realising, when looking at it with binoculars, that it was a Subway tunnel.  that really put the size of the site into perspective.
"It is a capital mistake to allow any mechanical object to realise that you are in a hurry!"

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Our 9/11 story.
« Reply #3 on: Sep 12, 2012, 11:21 PM »
Thank you so much, Alexandra, for joining us here, and for letting us read your 9/11 story. What an extraordinary time you had, and what amazing circumstances in which to meet and enjoy QE2 for the first time!

Was the atmosphere on board very different to that on other cruises? There must have been a lot of interaction between passengers, as so often happens after a common experience, particularly a crisis...

Did the fact that she had diverted to Boston cause the passengers many problems?

Alexandra

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Re: Our 9/11 story.
« Reply #4 on: Sep 13, 2012, 10:07 AM »
We've never had a cruise with that atmosphere again. People talked and talked and talked, it was a kind of group therapy and the "real world" seemed very far away. We stayed up until dawn most days.

I forgot to mention that we were shadowed by the US Navy and latterly the Royal Navy.

Cunard put on coaches to get everyone who was in New York to Boston, people who were travelling independantely got themselves to Boston by car and train.

Offline June Ingram

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Re: Our 9/11 story.
« Reply #5 on: Sep 11, 2014, 01:42 PM »
Do we have any remembrances today from those aboard our beloved QE2 on September 11, 2001 ?  And any remembrances from those aboard our QE2 when she was struck by the 90 foot wave in 1995 ?  Same day - rather jarring.
QE2 - the ship for all of time, a ship of timeless beauty !

Online cunardqueen

Re: Our 9/11 story.
« Reply #6 on: Sep 11, 2014, 06:59 PM »
Never Forget..Never Forgotten..
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

Offline June Ingram

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Re: Our 9/11 story.
« Reply #7 on: Sep 11, 2014, 07:25 PM »
Awesome, Myles !  Thanks very much for posting !  June
QE2 - the ship for all of time, a ship of timeless beauty !

 

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