Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

From Sea to Shining NYC; JOHN HONEYWELL Makes the Classic Atlantic Cruise Crossing to the Big Apple Board the Queen Mary 2 and Finds This

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

From Sea to Shining NYC; JOHN HONEYWELL Makes the Classic Atlantic Cruise Crossing to the Big Apple Board the Queen Mary 2 and Finds This

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN HONEYWELL

IT'S not every cruise holiday that begins with the Duke of Edinburgh dropping in for lunch to send passengers on their way with a joke and a cheery wave. But then the Queen Mary 2 is no ordinary cruise ship.

Some claim it's the only true ocean liner afloat. Prince Philip was aboard when Queen Elizabeth 2 left the UK for the final time back in November 2008, heading for retirement in Dubai (the ship, that is, not the Duke - he's got years to go yet). And he was back earlier this year to mark the 10th anniversary transatlantic crossing of her younger and bigger sister, Queen Mary 2. I suppose it helps that his wife launched both ships at ceremonies 37 years apart.

On board QE2 he stifled a grimace when Captain Ian McNaught gave him a memento in the form of a turbine blade mounted on a wooden plinth, almost as if to say "Yes, it's all very nice, but what will it do apart from gather dust on the sideboard?" Later he sent the assembled dignitaries into a fit of giggles when he arrived at a Champagne reception in the ballroom after his tour of the ship and pronounced: "So this is where all the drinkers are."

He would probably have enjoyed the seven-night crossing to New York, but perhaps wisely left before we set out into the teeth of a 40-knot westerly gale which blew steadily for a couple of days.

For safety reasons, the open decks were closed to passengers as heavy seas tried to toss the ship around like a bathtub toy.

QM2 shuddered and juddered as shockwaves ran along the 1,132ft from bow to stern. She would steady herself, give a little shake of the shoulders and head forward at a stately 15.2 knots - only half her design speed of 30 knots (that's about 35 mph, landlubbers...) Although the 10th anniversary of QM2's maiden voyage was actually back in January, she had been on a world cruise since then and this was her first crossing of the year.

Sister ships Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth had led the Cunard flagship up Southampton Water earlier in the day, and a 10-minute firework display marked our departure.

The passenger list for this 214th crossing was packed with distinguished names.

There was Commander Ron Warwick, former master of the ship; there was Stephen Payne, the man who designed the vessel - and there was Maureen Ryan, for many years a social hostess on Cunard ships.

Each of them entertained packed houses in the Royal Court Theatre and the Illuminations Planetarium with their reminiscences.

Maureen recalled her days as a telephone operator at a time when there was a branch of the Midland Bank on board, transatlantic flights were in their infancy and the advertising slogan was "You Can Work Harder On A Cunarder".

For those travelling for pleasure rather than business, she confided, the daily programme would contain information such as "Miss Sayers will effect introductions in the Card Room". …

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