We boarded the Queen Victoria at 2:00 on April 25th. All set for unplugging and relaxing for eight blissful days. 24 hours later we realized our mistake.
A northerly 45 knot wind abeam the ship fueled an incessant port-starboard rocking. We had heard from family and friends “you can hardly feel the ship moving”, they were apparently on a different sort of cruise.
Sometime around 2:00 AM on Tuesday the wind eased just enough for the fog to roll in, obscuring the horizon and shrinking our little world even more. The sea changed from frenetic pounding waves to long slow rollers that slithered along the hull lifting the deck as it went. The rollers twisted and pulled at the length of the ship making our cabin walls moan.
Diane’s unease at being in the middle of the ocean was not helped by the fact that we passed within 37 miles of the final resting place of the Titanic today. My anxieties spiked around 11:00 in the morning when the ship began to slow and finally come to a stop. Yes, 90,000 tons of cruise liner dead in the water. The announcement came from the bridge, “We have a bit of an unusual situation. We’ve lost propulsion and need to make urgent repairs.” Fortunately the repair was made quickly and we were underway before we even had time to decide which passengers to eat first.
Our routine has become one of killing time between meals. If you don’t want to eat in the Lido buffet, which is always open, our meal times are limited to breakfast at 8:00, lunch at 1:00 and dinner at 6:00. The food has been good. Not great, not surprising, but good.
Today we queued for an hour to have our passports stamped by an English immigration officer. We met some interesting folks. One elderly woman, Connie, has done the Atlantic crossing twelve times and still competes in the passenger talent show. One perfectly round gentlemen, incensed with the wait, kept yelling “two stars!” to each Filipino waiter that walked by and compared his fellow passenger’s willing participation in the procedure to Nazi collaboration, proclaiming “It is necessary only that good men do nothing to allow evil to occur!”
The bright spot of our days is a visit to the gym. Running on a bobbing and weaving treadmill provides an excellent workout. Neal’s favorite thing is the sauna and oversized showers that face a wall of glass 10 stories above the ocean. There’s something glorious about standing nude while lording over the mighty Atlantic, like Poseidon himself!
We’ve concluded that Cunard’s royal nomenclature is entirely appropriate. The legions of small brown people serving large white people certainly does make for a festive “monarchs of the sea” atmosphere.
It’s Thursday, could it really only be Thursday? We didn’t get a wink of sleep last night, what with all the rocking and rolling (the boat not a band). Foregoing sleep did allow us to slip in to the laundrette unseen by the matronly laundry mafia. These self appointed guardians of the washing machines will brook no tomfoolery and we do so enjoy our tomfoolery when sleep deprived.
Conditions have not improved. The commodore explained it thus: “A complex system of northern and southern swells that could be called rough.” We’re not seasick, I would call it sea-mad. Madness brought about by the constant poking at our inner ears, like a drive across country with your younger sibling poking at you in the back seat the entire way. We unfortunately don’t have a dad in the front saying “Don’t make me turn this boat around!”
The TV channel that shows our location at sea finally includes the outline of Great Britain, Land ho! We couldn’t be happier. We attended the passenger talent show today. Diane’s new best friend, Connie, sang. It was the highlight of our trip. Diane has been threatening to kidnap Connie and I’m not sure she is kidding.
We had lunch today with Angus and his long suffering wife. Angus is Scottish. Over lunch we learned that we have the Scotts to thank for nearly everything good in western civilization. Conversely we have the French to blame for nearly everything else. Angus’ wife, of French heritage, told Diane in all seriousness “give him a kick if you like.”
Early Sunday morning we slipped into Southampton harbor. We were part of a train of cruise ships arriving that morning. We were imaging chaos during disembarkation and had already worked our way through several stages of grief over our soon to be lost luggage. We were happily surprised by Cunard’s efficiency and organization. All went without a hitch. We easily found our driver, an Indian Sikh with a glorious flowing beard that Diane couldn’t stop staring at, and we were off to London.
Considering it was my idea to cruise rather than fly, and that I was the one most disturbed by the motion in the ocean, I can reach two conclusions:
- Neal is a big complaining baby.
- Diane is an incredibly tolerant and generous wife.
See you in London!