Author Topic: Malcolm's diary of QE2's final world cruise.  (Read 74269 times)

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Offline Malcolm

15 February 2008
« Reply #120 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.
« Last Edit: Aug 07, 2009, 10:04 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

16th February 2008
« Reply #121 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 :)

Offline Malcolm

17 February 2008
« Reply #122 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!

Offline Malcolm

18 February 2008
« Reply #123 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.
« Last Edit: Aug 07, 2009, 10:08 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

19th February 2008
« Reply #124 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.

Offline Malcolm

20 February 2008
« Reply #125 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.

« Last Edit: Oct 08, 2009, 09:29 PM by Isabelle Prondzynski »

Offline Malcolm

Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
« Reply #126 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 :(

Offline Malcolm

21 February 2008
« Reply #127 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.
« Last Edit: Aug 07, 2009, 10:11 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

22 February 2008
« Reply #128 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.

Offline Malcolm

23 February 2008
« Reply #129 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.

Offline Malcolm

24 February 2008
« Reply #130 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  :( ]
« Last Edit: Aug 07, 2009, 10:16 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

25 February 2008
« Reply #131 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.
« Last Edit: Aug 07, 2009, 10:19 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

26 February 2008
« Reply #132 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!

Offline Malcolm

27 Februaru 2008
« Reply #133 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.)
« Last Edit: Aug 07, 2009, 10:22 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: 27 Februaru 2008
« Reply #134 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? 
Passionate about QE2's service life for 37 years and creator of this website.  Worked in IT for 27 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Chris Frame

Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
« Reply #135 on: Jul 30, 2009, 03:22 PM »
Rob,

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 **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:
« Last Edit: Jul 31, 2009, 03:59 AM by Chris »

Offline Andy F

Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
« Reply #136 on: Jul 31, 2009, 01:49 AM »
Amazing vids there Chris, putting pictures to Malcolm's most fascinating story
Start every day with a smile and get it over with

Offline Chris Frame

Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
« Reply #137 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 ;)

Chris.

Offline Malcolm

Re: Malcolm's diary of the final world cruise.
« Reply #138 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 :)

Offline Malcolm

28 February 2008
« Reply #139 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.