Archive for the ‘Shipshape’ Category

We awoke around 8.00am and, after a good breakfast in the Palms Café, decided to go out on deck where the weather looked much brighter. We had a good wander along the deck, taking in the bracing sea air and watching the Balmoral as she glided through the deep waters of the north Atlantic. There was not so much of a swell today, so it was much easier to move around and all we could feel was the gentle, almost soporific, rocking of the vessel along with the muted vibration from her engines.

At 9.45am we went, as ever, along to the Neptune lounge to listen to the talk, with was all about the Canadian connection with the Titanic. In 1912, however, anyone bound for Canada (even if they were born there) were referred to as “British subjects” so, technically, there are no Canadians listed as being on board the Titanic. However, the speaker, Alan Hustak, said that there were actually 130 Canadians on board the doomed vessel, 48 of which survived.

He then showed a still from the 1997 James Cameron movie, “Titanic” which showed the fictitious characters Jack and Rose and asked everyone to forget all about that image and that movie, at which everyone applauded. This is because any Titanic aficionados (among which I’d like to include myself) absolutely hate the Di Caprio/Winslet film – why include a fictional sub-plot in a true story that is fascinating enough in itself? Also, there were many elements of Cameron’s movie that were historically inaccurate; but that’s enough about that. As our speaker said; forget this image, forget the movie. He was going to tell us the real love story on Titanic which related the short, but steamy affair between a 1st Class passenger, Quigg Baxter, who was a well-known hockey player from Montréal, Canada and a 3rd Class passenger who was a some-time night club singer (allegedly) called Bertha Villiers. To give us a laugh, he’d Photoshopped their images over the Di Caprio and Winslet faces in the photo. 🙂

We had a good walk around the deck of the Balmoral afterwards, and took lots of photos of her from various decks and angles, which can be seen in my gallery. On the lee side of the ship it was fairly mild and, indeed, some people were even braving the Deck 11 swimming pool. We decided to go into the Observatory and have a quiet drink with our birds’ eye view over the Atlantic.

At 12.00 noon exactly came Captain Bamberg’s navigational information from the bridge. We always enjoy listening to this information and it is interesting that they still say that the ship has “steamed” however many nautical miles since the previous day’s announcement. The captain told us the latitude and longitude, the temperature, the wind speed and how many nautical miles we’d travelled. He then ended his announcement, as he does every day, with “Ladies and gentlemen, have a very good afternoon and from the Bridge, all is well.” One of the unique little quirks we often find on each voyage we’ve done, like the captain on the Marco Polo during our Antarctic expedition in 2006, who always ended his midday speech with a little poem. 🙂

After the captain’s announcement the pianist in the Observatory, who had been quietly playing in the background, introduced Lauren Casey, a singer-songwriter. She sat down at the piano and started to “sing”, or should I say screech. What a dreadful, high-pitched voice. We had noticed that the glass in one of the windows of the observatory for’ard had been smashed into tiny smithereens, and we wouldn’t have been surprised if Ms. Casey’s tortuous high notes had done it. When she commenced singing the dreadful Celine Dion song My Fart Will Go On, we decided it was time to leave. Sorry for the play on words, but I hate this song almost as much as I hate the film it comes from.

We went into the Marquee Bar out of the way, and it was obvious that the other people present had the same opinion of the singer that I did, as we could still hear her wailing and ululating her way through her repertoire every time the door opened. There was a brief respite as she took her break for half an hour or so, before starting again. We decided to go somewhere out of earshot.

We went back to our cabin briefly before going up to the Lido lounge where a lady who impersonates Titanic survivor Mrs Margaret Brown was doing a talk called “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”. It was only 1.30pm and she was not due on until 2.00pm but the place was already packed and we could only get a seat fairly near the back, at the left hand side. However, we got the usual supply of extremely inconsiderate and selfish people, arriving late and then grabbing chairs from outside, bringing them into the lounge and then plonking them down right in front of people who’d made the effort to be there in good time. It absolutely infuriates me and we come across this sort of behaviour time after time. It meant that, from where I was sitting, I had gone from an impeded view to now no view at all. Really annoying. I decided to leave as I couldn’t see anything and it just spoilt it for me.

However, we managed to get a good seat in the Neptune Lounge afterwards for the Question and Answer session with some of the speakers we had listened to on this voyage so far. The panel consisted of Philip Littlejohn, Susie Millar, Senan Moloney, Ron Warwick and Charles Haas. It was immensely interesting as the members of the audience were invited to take the microphone and put their questions to the panel. There was a wide range of questions from all nationalities and it really illustrated the panel’s knowledge of the people and the events of the Titanic as there was not a question remained unanswered. From my perspective, I was very pleased to hear the ridiculous myths and conspiracy theories that have sprung up in recent years about the Titanic firmly refuted and dispelled. A few of them: the rivets and steel used were inferior (untrue), an unusual phase of the moon affected the tides (untrue), it was really the Olympic and not the Titanic that sank (untrue). In each case the members of the panel were able to argue, convincingly why these stories were just so farcical.

We passed the afternoon pleasantly before getting changed for dinner and going along to the Ballindalloch restaurant, where we had a full house at table #61. As ever, we enjoyed a sumptuous meal in excellent company; the wine and the conversation flowed until, fully sated, we hot-footed it along to the Neptune lounge for the evening’s entertainment, a comedy pianist called Colin Henry.

The comedian was absolutely hilarious; at least the Brits thought so although I suspect some of our transatlantic friends may have had a little trouble with the Lancashire humour. 🙂 He was also a very talented pianist and his pièce de résistance was standing on his head, back to the piano, resting his legs on the top of the instrument then playing a note perfect tune upside down. Apparently he’s in the record books for this. He also played an excellent rendition of Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto, a piece of music which I love and which is completely underrated.

We finished the evening off by going, as usual, to the Lido lounge for a singing quintet who were very pleasant, before having a nightcap and then off to bed. It didn’t take us long to fall asleep tonight, lulled by the Balmoral’s gentle rocking among the vast seascape of the Atlantic.

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Atlantic Crossing

We woke up this morning, or rather I should say woke up again, after having done so several times in the night on a very rough Atlantic ocean. Last night, in the darkness of our cabin, we heard the continuous racket of creaking, groaning, rattling and banging as the Balmoral pitched and rolled in a good three metre ocean swell. Occasionally there would be an almighty crash as a particularly big wave hit our window, or the entire ship juddered as she plunged through the peaks and troughs. A bit of an uncomfortable night as we couldn’t stay still in our beds, but I suppose it makes it more authentic, considering what our voyage is commemorating. In addition, as I have previously mentioned, the Balmoral is a cruise ship and therefore not really built for transatlantic crossings; we have done this voyage before on proper ocean liners (the QE2 and the QM2) and the voyage is much more comfortable.

But it was without trepidation that we made our way to the Palms Café to enjoy our breakfast; thank goodness for our sea legs! 🙂 As is traditional of Fred Olsen ships when it is a formal evening, free champagne and Bucks Fizz was on offer – good old Fred! So I enjoyed smoked salmon, fresh fruits and a glass of bubbly for breakfast, not a bad start at all to the day.

After breakfast we made our way, once again, to the Neptune lounge to listen to another lecture, this time entitled “The Irish Aboard the Titanic” by a bloke called Senan Moloney. His lecture was based around eye witness accounts of third-class survivors of the disaster and gave an overview of the darker side of the story amid the tales of heroism we are used to hearing about the sinking of the Titanic. Were some of the passengers shot dead by the officers of White Star Line? Were some of the men forcibly prevented from getting into lifeboats in the water, despite some of the boats being half empty? There was quite a lot of food for thought in this lecture and it allowed the listener to hear it from another perspective, that of “what would you do?”

We heard the Captain’s noon announcement, giving us navigational as well as weather information. We were not surprised to hear that the wind was a Force 8 on the Beaufort scale; a strong gale. The waves were very high and you could see the spray in the air. Trevor and I did venture out on deck briefly, but despite the sun shining the wind made it feel quite cold, so we didn’t stay out long! Incidentally, the master of the Balmoral is Captain Robert Bamberg. “Bam berg” – bit of an irony there, don’t you think?

The Balmoral continued to pitch and roll in the ocean; we have often found that you get quite a lot of passive exercise in this situation, purely from having to brace your leg muscles hard in order just to stand upright. In the past we’ve disembarked a ship after crossing the Bay of Biscay in a Force 10 and, believe me, my legs ached for days afterwards, as if I’d had a really good gym workout.

We went for lunch about 1.00pm in the Palms Café again, and then came back to the cabin to read our books, have a nap etc. but half the time we were picking things up off the floor that had slid off the chest of drawers with the motion of the ship.

At 2.45pm we proceeded, once again, to the Neptune lounge for another Titanic themed lecture, this time by marine historian Peter Boyd-Smith who talked about the luxury on board the ocean liners of the time, including the Titanic. On this ship, for example, the 3rd Class passengers (White Star and Cunard never called them ‘steerage’) actually ate better food and had more comfortable accommodation than that which they were used to back home. Fares for the transatlantic crossing on the Titanic ranged from £8.00 to £870.00 per person in 1912 – you can put that in perspective if I tell you that it is possible to go from Southampton to New York on the cheapest cabin in the Queen Mary 2 for around £995.00 per person in 2012 – imagine how wealthy some of the passengers must have been on Titanic!

After Peter Boyd-Smith’s talk it was time to go back to our cabin and start getting ready, because tonight was formal night and would give us the chance to dress up in our glad-rags, Titanic themed if possible. It was also the Captain’s cocktail party at 5.30pm for first sitting dinner passengers so we had to be ready early and I had an appointment to have my hair put up at 5.00pm.

At 16:15 hours the Captain made the announcement that – regrettably – there was a medical emergency on board and he would have to turn the ship around and start heading east again, in order to meet with a rescue helicopter that would be coming from Britain. It was obviously serious if the patient was having to be taken off the Balmoral and winched up into a helicopter, but I hope it doesn’t mean that our arrival at the Titanic wreck site was going to be delayed as this is, after all, the whole point of this voyage – to be there in the exact spot 100 years to the hour later.

I put on my long lime and black dress and bolero jacket, along with long black velvet evening gloves, a Guipure lace and Swarovski crystal collar and went along to have my hair put up, before wearing my black hat with the feathers at the back and the net veil. As I was coming out of the hair salon lots of people commented on my costume and several stopped and asked if they could take my photo. Quite a few people had dressed in period costume and everyone looked great. I felt really elegant and quite like a celebrity as loads of people wanted to take my picture. Trevor had on his dinner suit and Black Watch tartan bow tie and cummerbund, but I suppose the men’s fashions in the last century haven’t changed as much as the women’s. Then again, maybe the women’s fashions aren’t so different either, as I’d only bought my dress from Roman Originals 18 months ago, but lots of people asked if I’d had it especially made.

We went along to the Neptune lounge and managed to get a seat near the front. A string quintet were playing on the stage and waiters and waitresses came round with their silver trays of champagne flutes and canapés. Just then, the Captain’s voice came over the tannoy announcing that, because they were waiting for the rescue helicopter, he couldn’t leave the bridge so he wouldn’t be able to greet the passengers. So we had the Captain’s cocktail party without the Captain. Not to worry though – we managed to consume four glasses of the champers each before it was time to go to dinner. 🙂

Dinner was a grand affair with everyone dressed up. Each night the dinner menu has featured a dish that they used to serve on the Titanic as well as a choice of other items. I had a seafood platter consisting of jumbo prawns, scallops, crab meat and smoked salmon. It was delicious and I finished off with the cheese board and a glass of amaretto.

In the Neptune lounge this evening the show featured a really good saxophonist called Sarah Chandler. She played a lot of the classic tunes but with a modern twist and we enjoyed her music. Then it was up to the Lido lounge afterwards for a Titanic quiz. We got 15 out of 21 – not bad, but not good either, as the winners scored 19 points.

Then it was a modern day phenomenon after wards; the ubiquitous karaoke. I got up and did a couple of numbers and, in fact, the general standard of singing was quite high for a change. It was about 1.00am before we went back to cabin 4170, but at least the clocks go back tonight, so we do get an extra hour in bed.

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This morning we woke up and looked out of our window to a choppy and grey Atlantic ocean. A bit different from the azure waters of our last cruise in the Caribbean in January this year. We were due to arrive in Cobh in the afternoon. Cobh, of course, used to be known as Queenstown, and the Titanic had made a port of call there in 1912 to pick up many Irish emigrants, a lot of whom were travelling third class. So Cobh has quite a connection with the Titanic and we were looking forward to our walking tour of the Titanic Trail later on.

Meanwhile, we had nearly a whole day at sea to look forward to on the Balmoral. It’s just a pity that the weather was windy and rainy as it prevented us from going out on deck. Not to worry though; there was a full programme of lectures, music entertainment and other activities to keep us occupied.

The first of these was a lecture by Dr Michael Martin who was a historian telling us all about Cobh (Queenstown) and some of its people who had been passengers on the Titanic. There were some really interesting personal stories about what were just ordinary working class people at the time; strange to think that their names are still being mentioned and they are still being talked about 100 years later. One of the stories concerned a lady who had boarded the Titanic in Queenstown along with her five children. When the ship sank and bodies were found they found a female body which had a bottle of pills in the pocket of her jacket. They were able, with a struggle, to make out the name of the pharmacist in Queenstown who had prescribed the pills and they wrote to him. He confirmed that he had prescribed the tablets for a lady called Margaret Rice. And so she was identified by a bottle of pills. Her body now rests, along with hundreds of others, in Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They never did find any trace of her five sons.

After a tasty lunch in the Ballindalloch restaurant we had a look around the ship and had a brief afternoon nap. Then it was time to go to the next talk given by Susie Millar about her great grandfather, Thomas Millar, who had worked at Harland & Wolff and helped to build the Titanic. He was then given a job on board the ship as a deck engineer. Her presentation was entitled “Thomas Millar and the Two Pennies”.

Just before Tommy Millar boarded the Titanic he gave each of his sons a shiny new 1912 penny each and told them not to spend them until he came back from America and the family were all together again. The boys were sent to live with their grandmother near the shore of the Belfast Lough and they used to enjoy playing in and round the water. Of course, we know the story of the Titanic and what happened in the early hours of 15th April 1912, and when the boys’ grandmother received a telegram from New York explaining what had happened to the ship, she went to find one of the boys playing at the water’s edge, sailing a little paper boat he had made. As she watched, the little paper boat hit a rock, filled with water, sank and disintegrated into a soggy sheet of paper. She asked the young boy if he remembered his Daddy going off to sea in a big ship and, when he said he did, she said “Well, the same thing happened to that big ship as what’s just happened to your wee boat.” When the boy asked if his Daddy was coming home, his grandmother told him “no”. She then asked him if he was going to make another little paper boat, whereupon the young boy burst into tears and said “I hate boats”. So that was the way he learned of his father’s death on board the Titanic.

Suffice to say, the two shiny new pennies were never spent and have been passed down the generations; Susie Millar herself now owns them and they are temporarily on display in Phoenix, Arizona, at one of the many Titanic exhibitions around the world. A lovely little personal story that you wouldn’t normally come across in a book about the Titanic.

We had originally been due to arrive in Cobh today at 16.00 hours, but due to our late departure from Southampton and the adverse weather we were experiencing, we were going to be delayed a couple of hours, so we were now not due in until 18.00 hours. We therefore got decided to go to get something to eat earlier, as we would miss our usual dinner sitting. We went and had a pre-dinner drink then along we went to the Palms Café for our dinners, before getting changed into warmer clothing for our walking tour in Cobh.

What a tremendous welcome the Balmoral had when we arrived in Cobh. All along the shoreline were crowds of people greeting the ship, as well as the Lord Mayor and some MPs themselves. It was almost like a real maiden voyage as we had experienced crowds and a welcome party like this in 2004 when we were on the maiden voyage of the QM2. We disembarked the vessel and waited for our tour guide to take us on the Titanic Trail around Cobh, formerly Queenstown. The weather had faired up a lot and now the sun was shining, just ideal for walking.

Our guide was called Phil and he was quite a character, very knowledgeable about Cobh, its history, the people and the town’s connection with the Titanic. He injected a bit of Irish comedy into his talk so it was very entertaining. We passed the original White Star Line office building as well as an official memorial monument to the 1500 lost souls of the Titanic. We also went into the magnificent St Colman’s catholic cathedral, a lovely piece of architecture. Aside from the Titanic the city of Cobh looked an interesting and picturesque place to visit anyway, with lovely little waterside bars and restaurants. Our walk lasted about two and a half hours and ended with a visit to a traditional Irish pub for a glass of Irish coffee; just what we needed inside us as it was starting to get a bit chilly. The coffee was nice and strong. 🙂

As the Balmoral was not due to sail until 23.30 hours, we went along to the Commodore Hotel on the sea front, where they had put on a show in the function room simply for passengers of the Balmoral. It was a traditional Irish three piece band, called “Something Simple” singing and playing folk songs; they were really good and we enjoyed a cold pint of Guinness while listening to them. 🙂

Then, back on board the Balmoral at around 10.00pm, we went along to the Neptune lounge where the show tonight was a comedy magician called Mark Shortland. He was actually a very good magician and we enjoyed his show. We were quite tired afterwards though, so we just went back to the cabin for our second night on board, en route across the Atlantic.

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The First Evening

Back in cabin 4170 we washed and changed for dinner at 6.15pm. We have been allocated table #61 in the Ballindalloch restaurant and we met our table companions for the first time: a father and daughter, David and Joanna from Ohio, USA and a couple, Donny and Barbara from Toronto, Canada. They all seemed very pleasant and a lot of the mealtime talk was, not surprisingly, based around the Titanic and White Star Line. We explained to them that the SS Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic, had been scrapped on the Tyne in 1935 and her First Class Dining Room had been disassembled, then reassembled as the function room in the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick, Northumberland, a town about 55 miles away from us. They were fascinated by this information, particularly as the Titanic‘s captain, Edward J Smith, had previously been captain on the Olympic. So we had trodden the self-same wooden decking in the White Swan Hotel as “EJ” himself had done. 🙂

After dinner we went along to the Neptune lounge for the first of several Titanic themed talks which will be taking place this voyage. The guest lecturer tonight was Claes-Goran Wetterholm whose presentation was entitled “Travelling Third Class on the Titanic”. He was Swedish and he had had a great uncle who had been a passenger on board the Titanic travelling in steerage class. His relative was not one of the survivors. Apparently, of all the nationalities emigrating on the Titanic to the USA, the four greatest numbers were the British, Irish, Arabs and then the Swedish. The talk was most interesting and gave us a good insight into what life was like travelling on the ocean liners of the time.

Once the lecture was over we remained in the Neptune lounge for the cabaret, which was a singer called Gavin Murray. He was really good and did quite a few of the Broadway classics, including some songs from The Phantom of the Opera. Then we had a nightcap before going back to cabin 4170 and turning in for our first night on board M/S Balmoral.

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This morning we woke up in Southampton, having journeyed down from Durham by train last night. We were due to board the M/S Balmoral at berth 46, to sail in the wake, 100 years later, of the legendary ill-fated liner Titanic.

The Titanic set sail from Southampton on 10th April 1912, ultimately bound for New York. Interestingly, we are having to leave a full two days earlier than the Titanic did in order to be in the same place at the same time. This is because RMS Titanic was an ocean liner and not a cruise ship like the Balmoral. There are quite a few differences between the two: an ocean liner has a pointed keel and the steel is 25mm thick, unlike a cruise ship which is flat bottomed and is made of steel only 12mm thick. An ocean liner is sleek and built for speed and to withstand the battering of the North Atlantic in winter, whereas a cruise ship tends to be top-heavy and is designed for making short hops, from port to port, in shallower waters. Titanic was capable of doing about 28 knots whereas most cruise ships can only do about 18 or 19 knots flat out.

The only true ocean liner afloat these days is RMS Queen Mary 2. We were lucky enough to be passengers on the QM2’s maiden voyage in January 2004. There are lots of parallels between the Titanic and the Queen Mary 2. They were both the ships of superlatives in their respective times: longest, widest, tallest, largest, most expensive ocean liners ever built. They were both Royal Mail Ships. They both left Southampton on their maiden voyages to sail to the United States, although the QM2 was bound for Fort Lauderdale rather than New York.

But today, 100 years later, the 43,000 ton Balmoral is going to follow in the wake of the 46,000 Titanic and remember and pay tribute to the 1500 lost souls who died in what was, and still is, the worst maritime disaster ever.

This morning we walked into town and saw the memorial dedicated to Wallace Hartley and his heroic bandsmen. Everyone who knows the Titanic story has heard about the ship’s band who played lively tunes up on deck to try to keep up the spirits of the passengers as the ship foundered. They kept playing until the water was lapping around their ankles and finished with the hymn “Nearer, My God, To Thee”. The memorial named all of the bandsmen and had the music notes for the first few bars of this hymn, as well as the words “They Died at Their Posts like Men.” It was really poignant.

Later on, at the Ocean Cruise terminal, we took our place in the queue to check in. Quite a lot of people had really got into the spirit of the thing and had dressed in the period costumes of the era; there were a lot of long dresses, big hats, bowler hats, toppers and frock coats. I have an evening dress, hat and long velvet gloves to wear later on in the voyage.

We enjoyed a couple of glasses of champagne before eventually boarding the Balmoral and making our way to cabin 4170, on the Coral Deck, where our suitcases were already waiting for us.

After unpacking and hanging up our clothes it was time to collect our lifejackets and proceed to our muster stations for life boat drill. This is something that they didn’t have on board Titanic because it clashed with the 1st Class passengers’ evening meal. How ironic… but then the whole of the Titanic story consists of many ironies and ‘what ifs’.

After life boat drill we went along to the stern of the ship to join the Balmoral‘s sailaway party. Straight away we spotted a couple of familiar faces; Hubert Greaves who used to play the steel drums on our Amazon cruise on the Braemar last year, also Ricky Jermy who was the cruise director on the Braemar. Braemar is one of Balmoral‘s sister ships in the Fred Olsen Cruise Line.

In fact, we have already been on the Balmoral once before, back in 2003, only she was called the Norwegian Crown then and was one of NCL’s fleet. The Balmoral was refitted in 2008 and we have to admit we don’t recognise anything from her Norwegian Crown days.

At 15.45 hours the Balmoral gave a blast of her foghorn and slowly moved away from the dock. We had started our voyage in the wake of the Titanic.

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At the first stroke of the alarm clock at 4.30am on Tuesday, 12 October 2010, we leapt out of bed… strange how it is so much more difficult a feat to accomplish at 6.30am on a working day 🙂

Our journey by coach to Southampton was, thankfully, uneventful; no traffic jams, no bad weather, no roadwords or any other eventuality which might have delayed our arrival. Sipping a champagne and waiting to embark the ship, whilst surreptitiously examining fellow passengers-to-be is part of the excitement of the impending voyage. 🙂

We boarded the Queen Elizabeth at around 2.30pm, and proceeded to our stateroom, number 6179. As we opened the door, the afternoon October sunshine streamed through our balcony doors and glinted off the steel champagne bucket, where a chilled bottle and two flutes awaited us. 🙂

We cracked open the bottle and took it out to our balcony. Eight decks below us we could see the frenetic activity of passengers embarking, and supplies being loaded onto the vessel; barrels of beer and cases of wine, fresh fruit and vegetables and the plethora of other items intended to make our voyage a comfortable one.

We made our way to the pool deck at the stern in order to procure a good vantage point for the first time the Queen Elizabeth would slip her moorings and sail off into the sunset. Below us, a brass band played “Land of Hope and Glory” and “Jerusalem” and other rousing, patriotic tunes. All around us the passengers waved their arms or their Union Jacks, then, with three deafening blasts of the ship’s foghorn, we were off!

For me, those three blasts herald the symbolic start of any voyage, and particularly the Maiden Voyage. It is so reminiscent of old film footage of famous ocean liners leaving, destined for foreign shores and hopefully better things.

As the Queen Elizabeth glided majestically away from the Southampton shoreline and along the Solent, a flotilla of smaller ships and boats followed alongside us, the air filled with a cacophony of hoots, blasts and whistles.  Occasionally the QE gave a mighty blast back, as a forest of waving hands and flags accompanied us.  Another thing that made this Maiden Voyage so special was that we were sailing the same route that the grand old lady of the sea, the Queen Elizabeth 2, had taken on her maiden voyage way back in April 1969.

Tired, but excited, happy and so privileged to be part of this, we changed and made our way to the Britannia Restaurant and the first of many sumptuous meals.

The voyage had begun. 🙂

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It is with great excitement that we are counting down the days to the arrival of Cunard’s new luxury cruise ship, the Queen Elizabeth, as we are among those lucky enough to have procured a place on her Maiden Voyage on 12 October 2010.  The QE’s maiden voyage is the fastest-selling cruise ever in Cunard’s history, selling out in a record 29 minutes 14 seconds, so we are indeed lucky to be one of the chosen few.  🙂

Queen Elizabeth was officially handed over to Cunard White Star line on 1 October 2010 and she is, at the time of writing, on her way to Southampton from Fincantieri yard in Italy.  She is due to arrive in her home port tomorrow morning at around nine o’clock.  I have been looking at her bridge cam every day to see where she is: you can watch her arrival in Southampton by going to:


On Monday 11 October, Her Majesty the Queen will be doing the official naming ceremony in Southampton by breaking a jeroboam of champers on the Queen Elizabeth’s bow.  Let’s hope the bottle smashes; it has long been considered bad luck in nautical tradition if the bottle doesn’t break. 😦

I shall be doing a daily blog to mark the Maiden voyage for posterity.  It’s the first cruise I’ve done since I set up this blog so I will actually have something to write about for a change!  🙂

Anchors aweigh!

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