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Author Topic: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)  (Read 561 times)

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Offline Thomas Hypher

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My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« on: Feb 11, 2020, 10:57 PM »
Hello everyone,

Here’s a summary of my recent stay on QE2:

Approaching QE2 by taxi from Dubai airport brought back memories of when I first saw QE2 coming into view from the backseat of a taxi (as a 6-year-old) as my parents and I headed to board her in Southampton in August 2003. Again, her iconic funnel was the first thing I saw and then her sleek, yacht-like form came fully into view and I almost shed a tear or two in the moment. It was good to be back.

It was wonderful to be back onboard after 11 ½ years and all the uncertainty there used to be in the last decade regarding QE2’s future. It was surreal (in a good way) to board again through Midships Lobby after thinking 30th July 2008 was the end of my direct QE2 story as me and my parents disembarked through Midships Lobby and didn’t look back due to how sad the occasion was. Midships Lobby still has it’s Cunard logo at the embarkation point and the lifts still have the Cunard Lion but no lady announcer anymore. The old Purser’s office was closed off as it’s role is now fulfilled by Concierge which is opposite Reception in the Lobby/Terminal building.

QM2 was in port, from the 30th to the 31st January, visiting Dubai on her current world cruise and it was great for both ships to be together again. Unfortunately, QE2 wasn’t able to reply with her wonderful, deep, beat-frequency laden voice from the two signal mast whistles (yet again due to technical problems) to QM2’s whistle salutes as the latter departed in the early afternoon. QE2’s foredeck foghorn has been removed – the bell of the horn no longer being visible on the foredeck mast.

Contrary to my concerns, QE2 is not void of people onboard either. Of course, she doesn’t have the numbers of people onboard all the time like in the old days but then that cannot be expected in a static role where people can come and go as they please. Several people I met were staying onboard having disembarked QM2, events were well attended such as a live performance event in the Lido, and when a group of corporate visitors came to the Lido for dinner from an event elsewhere onboard and occupied one side of the restaurant. The Lido was also busy during breakfasts (the general hubbub being much like the old days which was wonderful). The Golden Lion was also well attended. There were three events in as many days that I saw notices for, all using several locations onboard (Chart Room, Yacht Club, Grand Lounge etc). The staff onboard also take good care of the ship, vacuuming, polishing and otherwise tending to the upkeep of the ship inside and on the outer decks (that are normally accessible) just like the old days.

Many places onboard still have the same unique smell and she vibrates underfoot in many places too – putting one’s head on one’s pillow when half asleep and one could be back in the old days with the vibration and sounds. The ship has been resurrected in terms of onboard sounds, the vents just behind the bridge on the starboard side are roaring again in much the same way and used for the same purpose (ventilation/air con related) to the point they can be heard on the dockside 90 or so feet below. The vents near Midships Lobby also roar quite a bit, there are machinery sounds in the vicinity of her funnel uptakes on One and Two Deck (air con machinery most likely – certainly not from the engine room), and the unmistakable sound of transformers in plenty of places onboard (One and Two deck corridors at points along the ship, and near what was the Caronia Restaurant on Quarter Deck). She has a 6.6KV power supply through several cables from shore – a lot for the transformers to step down apparently! Hearing the ship alive, albeit not in the same ways as she used to be (the intake fans at the base of the funnel are silent for example), was music to my ears and very heart-warming particularly having visited other ships in permanent static roles and found them mostly dead in terms of onboard sounds. I have specifically recorded video footage, that I hope to share, of the different sources of onboard sound these days. Of course, QE2 being in the Dubai climate contributes dramatically to the above.

QE2 doesn’t appear to be directly attached to shore or fixed in place in the manner of SS Rotterdam. She floats up and down with the tides in Port Rashid – the sewage and water pipes taking this into account along with the electricity cables having plenty of slack in them. She rubs up against rubber coated cylindrical metal cushions stopping her directly hitting the dockside. Also, I was told her Five Deck gangways noticeably go up and down with the tide – the old Dubai airport aircraft gangway for hotel guest use only into Midships Lobby also seems to take the tide into account being deployed on cables and bellows being installed on the sides where it meets the ship, to keep the gangway completely under cover. The list to port also still feels present, something I particularly noticed in my cabin – 1028 (port side, midships and next to what was Traveller’s Cove – the sign is still in place alongside the new name). She is very fouled with barnacles and other marine life under the waterline, but this is to be expected from a static role and sitting in relatively warm water. QE2 is also home to quite a bit of bird life, mostly from what I heard from the dockside. There is however mesh netting over the mooring points under the foredeck to prevent the bird life becoming too at home and completely ruining her paint job with their waste. QE2’s starboard anchor (dockside to) being streaked and piled up with a lot of bird waste and where I photographed a species of wading bird called a turnstone sitting for quite some time. A couple of the old Boat Deck benches (which used to contain spare lifejackets and used to have the embossed Cunard logo) have been placed in the shell door space, before the new automatic doors, of the forwardmost Five Deck gangway. The other old Boat Deck benches may well be used in a similar manner as time goes on.

Furthermore, the onboard lighting in certain places wasn’t as harsh as I expected (Lido (uses candle like table lights and dimmed lighting at Dinner – very similar to the old days), Midships Lobby and the cabin corridors) but was as harsh as I expected elsewhere such as in the Chart Room.

My cabin, 1028, had it’s original main door but the original key based lock and doorknob are replaced with a card activated lock (same as all rooms used as part of the hotel operation). The bathroom door was original with the original cylindrical doorknob. The two portholes were originally openable, but the four bolts are (mostly well) secured against this now. For a couple of hours each day I could see QE2’s reflection in the water from my portholes, the funnel being particularly prominent.

The service onboard was good, the staff being helpful and accommodating right from reception, to the steward, to the waiting staff in the Lido. The staff were also fascinated to speak with former passengers (and crew) from the sailing days, sometimes telling a colleague or two, too! The cabin was made up each day if requested (although no turn down like the old days) and even if not as I initially forgot it was a thing for some reason – I’ll blame the jetlag!

The red surface on Boat Deck is much like a continuously laid version of the cushioned and tiled surface found at playgrounds – somewhat spongy underfoot but also not weirdly so. The wood laid elsewhere on the aft decks (and will hopefully follow on Boat Deck) including the old sports deck area is actually teak but stained due to treatment for it to last under the intense Dubai Sun. If it were not treated and was left so for a time - it would lift and split, and the caulking would fail too.

All in all it was absolutely wonderful (things I don’t say lightly) to be back onboard QE2 and it really was a case of carrying on my QE2 story from where it left off – she still very much felt like the second home she used to be to me and my parents, and a living and breathing home to the happy family memories we made (which did get to me once or twice but that was expected at some time or other). I am and always will be very grateful to my parents for making this trip possible and for all the voyages we sailed on together onboard QE2.

I've attached one of my night photos taken on the DSLR, and a link below to a little then and now video - I took hundreds of photos and videos, many I still need to sort through!


First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008 - we had the better view!

Online Brandon Sterkel

Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #1 on: Feb 12, 2020, 03:01 AM »
Hi Thomas,

Wonderful to hear that you finally made it out to Dubai to see our QE2! I really like the before and after video with you and the ship!

Looking forward to seeing more photos from your visit! :)
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Offline June Ingram

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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #2 on: Feb 12, 2020, 03:54 PM »
Hi Thomas -

Many thanks for your wonderful commentary regarding your recent visit to our QE2.  It sounds to have been a great experience and I am very glad to hear that.  Your positive feedback about our QE2 is very reassuring.

The video of before and after is great !  And I too look forward to many more photos and videos of your trip !

June   :)
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Online Lynda Bradford

Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #3 on: Feb 12, 2020, 08:48 PM »
Good review Thomas, I am so glad you enjoyed your stay on QE2.  I like how you paid attention to some of the more technical details and made comparisons to what you remembered. Did you notice that she creaks as you step onboard at the Midship Lobby? - just magic!

Last year I stayed on QE2 following a cruise from HK to Dubai on QM2 and I thoroughly enjoyed my time onboard QE2.  Like you have said the staff were friendly and did everything they could to make our stay enjoyable. 

I was pleased to read that the ship was fairly busy when you were on the ship.  This is similar to my experience, but there was a conferences business meetings and a theatre show, which meant there was quite a good vibe.  However, there were areas that were a bit quite at times, just because there was not 2000 passengers to fill the space.  But this may change as they lease more areas of the ship.

Did you like the terminal reception area with the exhibition and cafe?  I liked this area and enjoyed sitting there, surrounded by QE2 memorabilia, after a day out in Dubai.

I have advised several friends who visit Dubai to go onboard QE2 for a meal and the feedback has been good. 

Looking forward to seeing more of your photos. 

Thanks for taking time to post your review. 

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Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #4 on: Feb 12, 2020, 09:42 PM »
Thank you for your report, Thomas, which makes for fascinating reading. I very much appreciate your focus on her smell and even more so, her sounds and vibration. It is good to read that she still seems to be alive :) .

Offline Thomas Hypher

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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #5 on: Feb 14, 2020, 04:54 PM »
Lynda,

I didn't notice her creaking upon stepping onboard at Midships Lobby but I did notice the vents roaring in the vicinity of Midships Lobby and the vibration through the deck.

Indeed she was quiet a decent bit of the time but as you say this comes with the nature of her new role.

Yes, I liked the repurposed cruise terminal/lobby (that QE2 inaugurated in the early 2000s on a world cruise), I spent hours sitting near the café looking out at QE2's forward section admiring her sleekness out of the glare of the Midday Sun. If anything I wish there was more on QE2's history but Dubai are making do with what they have photos and moving image wise (Carnival/Cunard haven't helped at all).

I would definitely recommend at least visiting the ship too. Also some things have to be seen or experienced in person to have a view of the ship or aspects of her now that aren't coloured by the negative statements so often found online on the likes of Facebook. That doesn't mean to say I agree with all Dubai have done by any stretch (Queens Room, Boat Deck etc) but Dubai should, in my opinion, receive more credit than they get as QE2 could still be sitting neglected in the cold layup in the Dubai drydocks (along the lines of SS United States) or scrapped, or carved up per the original plans back in 2008/9 and they are committed and passionate about making her a success in her new static role not to mention having also caught the "QE2 bug" like we all did. QE2 needs and should have people onboard to make her complete and she does now.
« Last Edit: Feb 14, 2020, 05:44 PM by Thomas Hypher »
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008 - we had the better view!

Offline Thomas Hypher

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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #6 on: Feb 14, 2020, 05:01 PM »
Then and now photos attached to this post:

My photos from last month on top and my Dad's (James A Hypher's) photos of me and my Mum playing table tennis on our first voyage in August 2003 underneath.
« Last Edit: Feb 14, 2020, 05:22 PM by Thomas Hypher »
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008 - we had the better view!

Offline Thomas Hypher

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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #7 on: Feb 14, 2020, 05:04 PM »
Then and now photos attached to this post:

My photos from last month on top and my Dad's (James A Hypher's) photos from October 2004 (first photo) and July 2005 (two following) underneath.
« Last Edit: Feb 14, 2020, 05:21 PM by Thomas Hypher »
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008 - we had the better view!

Offline Thomas Hypher

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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #8 on: Feb 14, 2020, 05:08 PM »
Then and now photos attached to this post:

My photos from last month on the left and my Dad's (James A Hypher's) photos from July 2005 (first photo) and October 2004 (two following) on the right.
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008 - we had the better view!

Offline Thomas Hypher

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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #9 on: Feb 14, 2020, 05:11 PM »
Then and now photos attached to this post:

My photos from last month on top and then my photos from August 2007 underneath.
« Last Edit: Feb 14, 2020, 05:21 PM by Thomas Hypher »
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008 - we had the better view!

Offline Thomas Hypher

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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #10 on: Feb 14, 2020, 05:21 PM »
Then and now photos attached to this post:

My photo of Queens Room last month on top and my Dad's (James A Hypher's) photo from October 2004 underneath.

My Dad's (James A Hypher's) photo from August 2007 on top and my photo from last month underneath.

My photo from last month on top and my Dad's (James A Hypher's) photo underneath from August 2003.
« Last Edit: Feb 14, 2020, 05:23 PM by Thomas Hypher »
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008 - we had the better view!

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #11 on: Feb 14, 2020, 06:47 PM »
Excellent, Thomas! You really managed to replicate a good series of photos with the "then-and-now" objective. That must have taken you some time and care, well worth doing!

You were so young when you were originally on board -- there are probably many things about QE2 that you understand better at this stage, maybe even with the knowledge that this Forum has brought to you.

Offline Thomas Hypher

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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #12 on: Feb 14, 2020, 07:06 PM »
Excellent, Thomas! You really managed to replicate a good series of photos with the "then-and-now" objective. That must have taken you some time and care, well worth doing!

You were so young when you were originally on board -- there are probably many things about QE2 that you understand better at this stage, maybe even with the knowledge that this Forum has brought to you.

It was great to be able to mirror my own and my Dad's old photos...lining up the Queens Room photo took a bit of working out!

The forum has definitely massively contributed to the knowledge, including the smaller details and facts regarding QE2. Combined with the personal memories and information learnt from books as a young child it allowed for telling facts and anecdotes to the people on the project I was involved with onboard (which will see the light of day later this year if all continues to go well) as many of them were new to the ship but were nevertheless fascinated by her and taken in by the "QE2 bug/charm" and wanted to hear more facts and recollections even outside of work time.
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008 - we had the better view!

Offline Thomas Hypher

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First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008 - we had the better view!

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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #14 on: Feb 16, 2020, 12:19 PM »
Another video :)


Lovely shot Thomas, must have sent shivers down your spine!  Sad though, also, especially with QE2 unable to respond.  Did they bring QM2 astern so she was closer to QE2?

I'm sure we discussed this before elsewhere, but with QE2's whistles being electric, not steam, it can't be beyond the relms of possibility to make them work again, in some capacity, 11 years on...  Them sounding at midday every day again, would add some of the "special" back thats been lost.  I'd also fantasised about some sort of fake smoke that could be made to rise from the funnel on occasion, relatively easy things, that no other Dubai hotel can do.
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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #15 on: Feb 16, 2020, 12:21 PM »
Then and now photos attached to this post:

My photo of Queens Room last month on top and my Dad's (James A Hypher's) photo from October 2004 underneath.

My Dad's (James A Hypher's) photo from August 2007 on top and my photo from last month underneath.

My photo from last month on top and my Dad's (James A Hypher's) photo underneath from August 2003.

You've done well with them Thomas, the columns line up exactly in the Queens Room!  Have they changed which end the Queens Room's stage is at?

The photos with you and your Mum in them are quite moving indeed, its not just that your Mum has gone, its that everything else has gone too.  I acknowledge that the areas are totally recognisable (which is nice) but they just removed too much (in my opinion).  Wouldn't it be nice to just add back the table tennis table!  Its unusual, unique, its so QE2, and it would also be cheap and easy and give hotel guests something to.  It would make more sense than the dead casino machines...

The photo you took from the very stern, looking up at the tiered decks towards the funnel - that is a photo I took in 1987 as a 14 year old, for some reason that view always fascinated me.  I remember thinking the lines of big glass windows in the Lido etc looked so modern.  And my photo shows the Golden Door fitness class taking place up above the Yacht Club, in the North Sea fog.

Memories! 
« Last Edit: Feb 16, 2020, 12:28 PM by Rob Lightbody »
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Offline Thomas Hypher

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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #16 on: Feb 16, 2020, 02:15 PM »
Lovely shot Thomas, must have sent shivers down your spine!  Sad though, also, especially with QE2 unable to respond.  Did they bring QM2 astern so she was closer to QE2?

I'm sure we discussed this before elsewhere, but with QE2's whistles being electric, not steam, it can't be beyond the relms of possibility to make them work again, in some capacity, 11 years on...  Them sounding at midday every day again, would add some of the "special" back thats been lost.  I'd also fantasised about some sort of fake smoke that could be made to rise from the funnel on occasion, relatively easy things, that no other Dubai hotel can do.

Indeed it did...I looked round and up at QE2 when QM2 had finished her salutes and willed her on to reply but to no avail. QM2 wasn't brought closer (nearer or around the corner in Port Rashid) instead going astern off her berth and turning without tugs in the turning basin and going out of the outer port. The depth of water under QE2's keel is around 2 to 3 metres at most from speaking with one of the senior people onboard which could make it dicey to bring QM2 around the corner in the port or even alongside given she draws nearly 10 feet more than QE2 these days (relative to QE2's bow draft anyway).

I enquired beforehand with several senior people whether an attempt to exchange whistle salutes with QM2 would happen and was told it would be tried - I didn't want to miss the potential occasion. After the event I was also told, without asking, that it was tried but to no avail. It is puzzling that they are still having problems but they are still working on the Signal Mast whistles (one electric motor powered horn and one compressed air powered horn). The original whistle control panel on the bridge would likely not be used though with the bridge's new role. I also enquired as to whether they'd blow her Signal Mast whistles on other occasions (if they can get them working) but they were concerned with volume levels if done regularly/frequently - new apartments are being built just beyond QE2's stern for example and Port Rashid will cease to be Dubai's main port in the coming years and become more of a residential area so that could be a reason. QM2 will still be brought over to Port Rashid from the new Dubai commercial port even when the above happens, specially to say hi to QE2.
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008 - we had the better view!

Offline Thomas Hypher

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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #17 on: Feb 16, 2020, 02:27 PM »
You've done well with them Thomas, the columns line up exactly in the Queens Room!  Have they changed which end the Queens Room's stage is at?

The photos with you and your Mum in them are quite moving indeed, its not just that your Mum has gone, its that everything else has gone too.  I acknowledge that the areas are totally recognisable (which is nice) but they just removed too much (in my opinion).  Wouldn't it be nice to just add back the table tennis table!  Its unusual, unique, its so QE2, and it would also be cheap and easy and give hotel guests something to.  It would make more sense than the dead casino machines...

The photo you took from the very stern, looking up at the tiered decks towards the funnel - that is a photo I took in 1987 as a 14 year old, for some reason that view always fascinated me.  I remember thinking the lines of big glass windows in the Lido etc looked so modern.  And my photo shows the Golden Door fitness class taking place up above the Yacht Club, in the North Sea fog.

Memories!

It would seem that they can choose which end of Queens Room to use as a stage as the space originally used by the QE2 band is still present as it was. I tended to stay away from Queens Room when it was set up for events though as getting photos and video wouldn't have been possible without problems.

Indeed it would be nice to have the table tennis table in place again but the area is used to place equipment related to events in the Grand Lounge, and I seem to recall to help run dining service when waiter/waitress serviced events are on in the Grand Lounge. I'd tried to get the photos on an earlier occasion but found out the above and didn't want the equipment in the photos!

It is a wonderful view to this day, and largely intact to how I remember it between 2003 and 2008 which made it very special to be back. It would be interesting to make a multi-photo collage with your photo, my Dad's photo, my photo, and anyone else's photos from different times in QE2's life for comparison!
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008 - we had the better view!

Offline Thomas Hypher

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Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #18 on: Feb 16, 2020, 02:46 PM »
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008 - we had the better view!

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: My stay on QE2 (28th January to 1st February 2020)
« Reply #19 on: Feb 16, 2020, 07:11 PM »
A short panning video

The sound seems familiar and makes it seem as though she were "alive", spending a night in port. Only the strip of lights says the opposite... I have not got used to that...

Thank you for the photos and videos, and of course for your write-up, which I read with a lot of interest. Looking forward to hearing more about your project as soon as the time comes :) .