Last September at the conclusion of a cruise with Seabourn from Copenhagen to Southampton we met a couple that also live in Connecticut and are experienced travelers. When asked which flight they were taking to New York they told us that instead of flying they take the Queen Mary between England and New York. When planning for our September 3rd Seabourn cruise from Dover to New York via the North Atlantic we decided to take the QM2 from NY to Southampton. We really are starting to dread the airport treatment, so a leisurely 7 night cruise to England made a lot of sense!
August 22nd Other than the usual traffic jams our trip to the Red Hook terminal in Brooklyn went smoothly. Security and boarding the QM2 went quickly and without hassle. Cruising on one of the Queens of the Cunard Line is much more formal than our previous cruising experiences. On this seven night cruise we will have four formal nights. We had a lot of fun shopping for Eleanor's wardrobe, and were pleased that our suite on the QM2 had considerably more closet space than the Seabourn ships. In addition to the benefit of avoiding the airlines there was no luggage restriction!
After unpacking and the customary safety drill we enjoyed watching the New York skyline as we departed. Personally I was a bit surprised and disappointed when it seemed we were the only couple on the ship that were moved when we passed the site of the World Trade Center where so many people lost their lives nearly 10 years ago. The new Freedom Tower is rising above the city, but again I don't believe that many on board were aware of that. We were escorted by police helicopters and boats as we left NY harbor and passed under the Verrazano Bridge with about 13 foot clearance. This will be our last visual contact with land until we reach Southampton next Monday morning.
Dinner was relaxing and enjoyable. We were assigned a table for our exclusive use during the duration of the cruise in the Princess Grill Dining Room. Our room and bed were extremely comfortable and quiet and we slept soundly.
August 23rd The QM2 is many times larger than other cruise ships we have been on (Cunard gets a bit picky about the QM2 being an Ocean Liner - not a cruise ship. Hull design is different being a deeper "V" design). There are approximately 2700 passengers on this crossing compared to 440 on the larger Seabourn vessels and 200 or so on Seabourn's three little sisters; the Legend, Pride and Spirit. We have been surprised that it does not seem at all crowded. There are several large theaters which have lectures and entertainment as well as a myriad of bars and clubs on board. Today I listened to an interesting lecture on the history of Cunard and its Queens (Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria) and we also attended a seminar on the use of an Apple IPad. This was our first Formal Evening and we also attended the Black and White Ball after dinner.
August 24th - onward The days are falling into a routine. For the most part we are enjoying just relaxing and enjoying our comfortable quarters. We have a spacious balcony and the weather has remained warm and the seas calm. We enjoy dressing for dinner and the evening entertainment which is extremely well done and I'm sure on a par with the best NY and other large cities have to offer. Much more elaborate than on the smaller ships, but not as intimate. With Seabourn the entertainers are always mingling with the passengers when not rehearsing or performing, so we end up with a personal attachment to them. As mentioned we chose to have our own table and really have not socialized any with other passengers. There are about 1200 English, 900 Americans and several hundred Canadians on board as well as large numbers of Australians, Italians, and French. Many, many other nationalities are passengers, even a couple from Sri Lanka. Our head waiter is from Mauritius, and his assistants are Hungarian and Philippine. The Maitre d' is Austrian and his assistant is Romanian.
August 29th We docked in Southampton on schedule at 6:30 AM and after breakfast disembarked at 9:00 AM where our car and driver was waiting to transport us to Canterbury where we will stay until September 3rd when we board the Seabourn Sojourn for our 27 day cruise back to New York via the North Atlantic. Immigration procedures had been completed on board, so it was a very straight forward process to gather our luggage and depart the Southampton terminal.
For us this was clearly a superior choice over flying to England and we most likely will repeat it in the future. Most of this cruise involved listening to lectures, enjoying the entertainers, and of course dressing for the evenings! There wasn't much in the way of scenery after we left New York, so most of my PHOTOS are of Eleanor and the interior of the ship.