First day at sea: exploration

Our first day at sea awoke to heavy fog outside, seas about 4-6 feet and chilly breezes about 15-18 mph. The Cunard TV channel 45 displays a loop of position and conditions, and channel 43 shows a bridge cam of the view forward. Not much on this foggy morning, as we steamed eastward toward the longitude of Nova Scotia.

It was easy to sleep in, as tired as we had been from the long day before. Besides, it doesn’t get light until late at this time of the year and latitude. Our stateroom in the forwardmost bow of Deck 5 gives us more ride for our money, for sure. The motion is gentle and subtle though constant. On the other hand, we have noticed that in the areas farther astern feel the engine vibrations much more, a constant, persistent low level vibration at your feet.

We barely made breakfast in the Britannia before they shut it down. Lynn’s Eggs Benedict was deemed excellent. My eggs were poached perfectly, although accompanied by tasteless Cumberland sausage. The croissants were quite buttery and flaky, not quite French but certainly passable.

We signed up for a small Internet package so we could have some basic level of e-mail. It’s expensive at $.75 a minute (Embarkation Special–$47.95 for 135 minutes), clumsy to log in and operate, excruciatingly slow to load (despite more than 800 hot spots around the ship), and we have to hold our stateroom door open to get on at all. Later the next day I learned that the system requires more than just a simple log-off, as our 135 minutes disappeared when I did not close down a browser tab properly, leaving me technically online, even though I had clicked the log off button. I understand this is a satellite based system, but in this day and age, you would think that 21st century shipboard online access would be cheaper, faster and simpler. It’s none of those.

(Special note: this is also the reason there will be no photos until we reach England and regular Internet access. I can’t download photos from my phone to drop them into this blog.)

Internet aside, our goal this first day at sea was to explore the ship from stem to stern, top to bottom. The bridge viewing area is on Deck 12, in a small space behind a glass wall separating the working staff from us passengers. Deck 12 is 41 meters (135 feet) above the waterline. The bridge crew of two officers and their quartermasters work four-hour watches, and the viewing area offers informative brochures about the operation of the ship and its technical specifications.

After our initial circumnavigation of the QM2 along the promenade outside Deck 7, we launched on our most important exploration of all—the quest for a Bloody Mary. No need to wait for Sunday.

The ship offers a number of friendly watering spots, including as the Chart Room, the Golden Lion, Carinthia Lounge, the Veuve Clicquot (figure out what they serve there), Sir Samuel’s, a pool bar at the indoor pool and a host of others. They all play some form of music all day long to attract passengers to stop in and sample their wares.

Since all your food is included in your passage, the only extra charges are for beverages. Prices are reasonable–$8.95 for a Bloody Mary and most regular mixed drinks, $4.75-6.50 for beer and $8-14 for wine by the glass. Our first Bloody Mary was in the Golden Lion, the British pub where a lively game of darts goes on all day long.

Verdict on the Bloody Marys—just fine, but require a bit of instruction to the bartenders for more Worstershire and less Tabasco. We will keep testing across the ship.

After a lunch at the sprawling King’s Court buffet restaurant that runs almost the entire length of Deck 7, we made our way back to the stern of Deck 14, where the indoor pool and hot tubs are located. The golf simulator is adjacent to the pool, and on the spur of a moment I signed up for the pitching contest. Some 15 of us swung away to a pin 90 yards away. Miraculously, I actually hit the green on my first shot and finally finished 7th in the contest, after being ranked as high as 4th.

Wednesday was the first of three formal nights on the ship, so we gussied up ion our best to join our dinner companions in the Britannia. The experience of wearing a tux and long dress to dinner is what the Queen Mary 2 is all about—elegance from another age.

Sadly, during the day, the QM2 experience is much like any other cruise ship. The uniform dress includes—even in early January on the North Atlantic—shorts, t-shirts, flip flops and tattoos. Brits do not dress any more elegantly than Americans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *