Sometimes I had to pinch myself that this was only the sixth day of our fifteen day cruise. It seemed weeks since we geared up to leave Cape Town on a cruise to Southampton with the band striking up and the rest of it. We had decided to stay away from organised activities and do our own thing as if we owned the boat. Partner would say ‘ship’ but then my dad was a landlubber not a Unicorn Shipping Lines captain.
Ship Life on the Queen Mary
We were not alone in our decision. Queen Mary 2 has all sorts of quiet corners to get away from the madding crowds. We enjoyed the peace and quiet of the walnut-panelled library, which has a magnificent view forward through giant windows beneath the bridge. I thought twice about it but did not take a picture. Librarian was watching like a hawk. The sign said quiet please. Cellphone cameras click and even Richard Farrell knows his boundaries.
The sense of sailing on a piece of history surfaced in many subtle ways. The ship’s bell from the original Queen Mary enjoyed pride of place near the bridge. We stumbled over fascinating details in the most obscure of places. The ship’s model in the photo is about six foot long in total. It would puff away merrily if you fired the boiler up.
We found a long curving passage that lead down to the lower decks. The walls glittered with memorabilia presented at every port the ship had called. There were also personal touches like a silver plaque from Desmond Tutu among original paintings of ocean liners. And why not? I have no doubt a benefactor gifted Arch with the cruise of his lifetime.
The passage discharged into Cunard’s version of a games room just above the bow wave. A row of tables held evolving jigsaw puzzles of immense complexity. It became my habit to progress one every morning for half an hour. When I returned the next day someone had always added to it. I never met my fellow-players. That was part of the intrigue.
Each midday the captain tested the hooters to mark the hour. He also used them to say hi and goodbye in port. The main klaxon was transplanted from Queen Mary I and had a twelve-mile range. The low echoing boom was so massive I could feel it pressing on my eardrums when I stood beneath it. After that the Captain gave out the daily announcement.
I forget how many watering holes the ship boasted. Some were hugely posh. One was built around a heated swimming pool where bodies beautiful hung out ooh la la trés bien. We decided we preferred the pool deck pub – I am the vertically challenged one standing in the middle. Just as well the beer was nice and cold after observing all that candy for the eyes.