Herewith an account of the adventures in England in 2017, written on the spot with scant reworking. The events depicted took place two weeks ago.
That's not the ship.
The current Queen Mary doesn't have cutaway in the hull; lost too many people during bad weather. In many waysthis is the most beautiful ship I've been on. And huge, absolutely massive. We got a look when we came in over Suicide Bridge to the port; it looked like any other ship of its class, but the interior spaces are astonishing. The Allure was bigger, and made you gape when you looked up at its atriums and open spaces, but the QM2 impresses with large indoor spaces that are still human scaled.
Here’s your human, scaled to 650 px, a few hours after boarding:
"Let me guess, the light comes on in contact with water. Fantastic. They've thought of everything."
An account of the day we left port:
Ate; drank; talked; drank and ate; talked and drank
There. That covers it. Or does it?
Yes, it does, but we have seven days of this, so I'm going to have to add some value to justify recounting this voyage. I went to the buffet expecting the usual scrum and the usual disappointment. I’m fine with Holland America food; it does what it’s advertised to do, and I have a deep love for those ships since I’ve been on them over and over and know where everything is. But on the Queen Mary 2 there is a special cheese station. I had some cheddar and some Wensleydale with cranberries for a mid-day snack: just delicious. Mongolian beef for lunch: oh yum more thank you.
People think cruises are all about eating and sitting around, but -
No, that is what they're about. Partly. What matters is when and where you eat - almost more than what. Unless you're one of those people who goes on cruisecritic.com and bitches about everything (the creme brulee was slightly gluey the fourth night, and the waiter did not open his wrists and proclaim that he had brought shame on his ancestors), the food's probably going to be very good.
Voila, the Kings Court:
Recently redone. It looks a big blah here, but that's because I don't have any good pictures. It's bright and clean and modern, and the selection and presentation is fantastic. . I wish I could eat here all the time, but I can't. I'm not allowed. I have to go to the grand room every night as the Featured Speaker at the table.
The evening’s social mixer was held in the Queen’s Room in the stern, and once again: holy hannah. This isn’t the theater, it isn’t the small theater, it isn’t the main bar, or dining room. It’s just the Queen’s Room:
After that, first dinner: good table. Lively discussion. I went off-menu, madly, during tonight’s supper. Blew past the salad options because I wanted a Caesar. Had the fusilli, but no olives, please, and while I will have the low-sugar cake I prefer a scoop of vanilla to the cherry compote.
You have to say these things with complete confidence, an old hand in free-wheeling menu alteration.
The Dining Room is also the nicest I've ever seen.
Starting to get the idea? It's an astonishing vessel. Here’s your human at the end of the day, happy in his element.
Had a good breakfast and felt ill afterwards, and spent the morning thinking oh great finally I have norovirus, but no. Couldn’t have been the previous night’s indulgences, although I did have a ridiculous drink - the result of dim lights and a language barrier. I had asked for Absolut Ruby Red Grapefruit on ice with a wedge of grapefruit, and the waiter said something I did not understand, mashed a grapefruit in a glass and started pouring straight Absolut. I said no, I wanted the Ruby Red, pointing to the bottle, whereupon he said “that is Mandarin. You want?” It was, and I didn’t, but maybe I did. I asked for a Citron with a wedge of lemon, and he poured this on the grapefruit then provided a small pitcher of orange juice, started to pour, and said “say when.”
Well, then, really, but the damage was done. So I had oranges and lemon and grapefruit all in one, with pulp. I tipped him extra for all the trouble we’d been through.
After breakfast I wandered around the ship, exploring its nooks and recesses. Went to the library, which I loved right away: it’s dense and close. The Holland America ships have the Explorations Cafe, with computers and espresso and shelves of books, games, the Crows Nest bar, the piano, and banks of seats for staring at the sea. Spacious. Here you feel as if you’ve entered a small secret place. It has proper stacks, too.
I almost wanted to leave because I was convinced the extraordinary burbling of my stomach was making it difficult to people to read, and I was in the Quiet Area. I was not a Quiet Area. Or rather part of my Area was not Quiet. This mattered less than I thought, though. I went back to the Library a half-hour before closing time, and the clerk became engaged in a terribly important task: pushing all the books up to the lip of the shelf, which prevents them all from spilling over should the ship strike a berg and start to list. She knocked them forward with a practiced move that sounded like rifle shot. One by one heads rose from the tomes and turned to see what was happening, but since it was the librarian making the noise we couldn’t do anything but silently disapprove.
Dinner: quite good. Charming family, three generations of women. One nice old fellow, deaf as a brick. Two guys who were both art historians, and one was an architectural historian, so naturally I’m keen to talk. What’s your favorite period?
“18th century English architecture.” About which I know NOTHING except for a few bromides about the return of classical forms and some urban planning.
Drinks with friends afterwards in an adjunct area of the Chart Room, a special area devoted entirely to champagne.
That’s it. Luxuriously appointed. Elegant beyond compare. Just champagne. Sums up the entire ship.
How does champagne work on a sore throat? Because mine feels horrible. Stomach's better. Throat feels like I've been gargling caustic lye.