Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 – Brooklyn, NY – Clear Cold – 25F

Disembarkation Day…

Another bumpy night…

Bow Thrusters engaged around 5 AM so that was as good as an alarm. 

 2012-01-03 Back in Bro0klyn (Small)

Back in Brooklyn before dawn

By 6 AM, we were in the King’s Court for breakfast.  Surprisingly, the buffet was not as crowded as I expected it to be and the food was exactly the same as on a regular day – sometimes, the buffet has an abbreviated menu.  Some pancakes and eggs later and we were ready to pack up for good and go.

We are self disembarking (British for walking off).  The process was scary simple – exit on Deck 3 near the Grand Lobby – scan out – and that’s it.  No crowds, no wait, and no Sea Pass Card souvenirs (Cunard would not let us keep our Sea Pass Cards – the first time that has ever happened;  I wonder why?).

There was a huge crowd at Immigration but it didn’t affect us – We went in through the “US Citizens” line and were first in line. 

We caught a cab right across the street and $35 later (including tip) we were at the Marine Air Terminal at La Guardia.  It was now 9:10 AM.

2012-01-03 On our way to LGA (Small)

Our cab ride to La Guardia

Our Flight, Delta 5947, is scheduled for departure at 1:00 PM so we tried, without success, to get onto earlier flights.  At least there are Delta provided plugs for computers and Kindles and the Delta waiting is pretty comfortable (free coffee and tea for a while).

Lunch was provided – sort of – by Cunard (cream cheese and lox sandwiches and sweet rolls).  The drinks at the airport were highway robbery (8.5 oz of coke for $3.85) – opted instead for bottled water (giant bottle for the same price).

Eventually, our long wait ended and our flight was called.  Again, we are flying the cute little Embraer 175.  I was able to squeeze both of our carry on bags into the overhead compartment. 

2012-01-03 Embraer 175 ready to go home (Small)

Embraer 175 heading for ORD

Gusty winds made for a bumpy takeoff

Climbout LGA (Small)

Climbout LGA

and later on I was knocked around in the washroom during some instant and unforeseen turbulence.  Things eventually settle down and we arrived around 25 minutes early.  The flight attendant made me turn off my camera (now considered an electronic device like a cell phone) because it has an “on-off” switch.  I don’t think a camera emits any radio frequency emissions of any significance.  I have a feeling that, one day, people will be allowed to chat on their mobiles on planes (can’t wait) and I will still have to turn off my camera.

Initial approach ORD (Small)  

On Approach to ORD

We got a ride from the airport and we really did feel like we were back home because the temperature was 15F.

To sum up this trip: The Queen Mary 2 is an amazing technological marvel; the dining room fare was good, the entertainment was great, and, the lecture experience was very rewarding.

Overall, a very nice trip. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012 – At Sea – Atlantic Ocean – Cloudy/Drizzly – Low 60s

A semi bumpy night…

Not a nice day at sea…

I didn’t even try to go outside to get the picture below – too cold and windy.

 2012-01-02 Cold Day at Sea (Small)

Today is lecture marathon day:  Larry Kuznetz’s lecture on ETs is at 10:00 AM.  My lecture “DNA Testing: Solving History’s Mysteries”  is scheduled for 11:15 AM opposite Roger McGuinn’s final lecture and Q/A and Larry’s Q&A.  Christine gives her final lecture on the Statue of Liberty at 3:30 PM.

After all of that, all of the lecturers are taking part in a “Meet the Lecturers” get together in the Winter Garden at 4:30 PM.

I actually attended all of the lectures on this last day.  I am a bit anxious about competing directly with Roger McGuinn and Larry’s Q&A Session.  Apparently, we have distinct audiences since I still had about 250 attendees.  Again, very good feedback on this lecture.  Larry had about 35 people at his session opposite mine. 

The Meet and Greet was sparsely attended but still an interesting way to meet with guests. 

The Meet and Greet went a bit long so we changed quickly and headed to our final dinner on QM2.  Another nice meal – Seared Sole and Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Spinach (also ordered the Veggie Item – Pita Bread with hummus).  All good.

After dinner, we listed to the harpist, Margaret McMahon, in the Chart Room, until it got to loud to bear. 

2012-01-02 Margaret Mc Mahon Chart Room (Small)

In the theater, we sat next to some guests who lived in Libertyville a few years ago and knew our neighbors.  The father of the woman lives in Gurnee now and I am sure I have played golf with him at Heather Ridge.  Small world.

Tonight’s Show:  Variety with David Howarth (who turned out to be our neighbor in the ED) and The Unexpected Boys.  A very nice show.  The Boys are all Broadway vets and are all very good singers – they scored big time with “One Day More” from Les Mis. 

2012-01-02 Unexpected Boys (Small)

2012-01-02 Unexpected Boys 1 (Small)

Unexpected Boys – Royal Court Theater

Ellen has done a great job of repacking our clothes so we will have to do very little in the morning. 

We move our clocks back one hour tonight and we are hoping that that hour is spent sleeping.

The ship is rolling…

Sunday, January 1, 2012 – At Sea – Atlantic Ocean – Sunny, Warm – 75F

Our last warm day at sea…

 2012-01-01 At Sea (Small)

I don’t have to lecture today – so the plan is to attend one of the lectures and spend the rest of the day on the warm decks.

I attended Steve Rivellino’s lecture in the morning on “Radio City Music Hall”.  He had some great vintage footage of the Rockettes.

The entire afternoon is spent on Deck 7 – I am on the sunny side since it is a bit cool out there.  This gives me the time to finish “Bossypants” by Tina Fey.  The picture below is my view of the Atlantic Ocean from my deck chair. 

2012-01-01  View from the deck (Small)

On the way to dinner, I took the two pictures below through the window on Deck 2 (near the game hallway).  Why?  Because it looks like a UFO made an appearance in both of them – up close and then departing.  Next stop – National Enquirer.

2012-01-01 UFO (Small)

  2012-01-01 UFO2 (Small) 

Close Encounters of the Second Kind (top left) 

Another formal night tonight…the final one of the voyage.

2012-01-01 E Grand Lobby (Small)

Ellen in her formal outfit – Grand Lobby 

We had great dinners tonight – grilled salmon with a side dish of stir fried vegetables.  The best food yet.

The Royal Court Theater hosts another Production Show tonight - “Impassionata”, which the poster says has been running on ship for 6 years.  It highlights the Royal Cunard Dancers, who are the best we have ever seen.  The show is very good but, in my opinion, each dance segment is too long.  And I wish they would have included an Irish Step Dance.  One of the four singers wasn’t in the show tonight – I wonder what happened to him.

2012-01-01 Impassionata (Small)

2012-01-01 Impassionata1 (Small)

2012-01-01 Impassionata2 (Small)

There is a lot to do tomorrow so we call it a night.

December 31, 2011 – At Sea – Atlantic Ocean – Sunny – 70s

Road Town, Tortola to Brooklyn, NY: 1408 Nautical Miles

The seas are calm and the air is warm.

2011-12-31 At Sea (Small)

2011-12-31 At Sea 1 (Small)

In the morning, I went to hear Christine Rousel’s lecture on “The Art of Rockefeller Center”. 

Following that, we went to see Roger McGuinn’s second show – this time we sat in the front row so I could get some pictures.  We also met Camilla, Roger’s wife, who chatted with Ellen.

2011-12-31 McGuinn (Small) 2011-12-31 McGuinn 3 (Small) 2011-12-31 McGuinn 4 (Small)

Lunch has turned into pizza lunches – pizza, especially, when it comes out of the oven, is really good. 

After lunch, we took in the Planetarium Show - “Search for Life”.  The shows are produced by the American Museum of Natural History and narrated by established stars – Harrison Ford did the narration today.  

My newly added talk - “Forensics and History:  Mysteries of the Seas” is scheduled for 3:30 PM.  This is the first time I have given this  particular talk on a ship.  Attendance was good – maybe 200 – 250 people – and no one left before it was over.  I got some very good feedback on this talk. 

Formal night for New Year’s Even…

Balloons are suspended everywhere…

People from various countries are planning to celebrate their own New Year’s Eve at the time it happens in their own countries. 

2011-12-31 New Years Eve (Small)

Ellen in the Grand Lobby 

The Britannia Dining Room is all decked out in New Year’s Eve Glory.

2011-12-31 Brittania Dining Room (Small)

Britannia Dining Room

 2011-12-31 Formal Night Chart Room (Small)

In our fineries in the Chart Room

The Dining Room was very festive, with balloons on every table.  There were hats for the men (a little small for me) and tiaras for the women. 

2011-12-31 Dining Room (Small)

Britannia Dining Room Lower Level

We look great on this last day of 2011…

2011-12-31 E and New Yeaars Eve (Small) 2011-12-31 Nice Hat (Small)

After a nice dinner, Salmon and Mahi Mahi, we are off to the Royal Court Theater. 

Tonight’s Headliners are “The Unexpected Boys”.  We have seen them before.  Once you get past the non sequitir group name and the silly shtick they do between songs, the boys are a pretty good cover for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  They have the choreography down and sound pretty good.  They have some new folks in their group since we last saw them – notably the lead singer.

After the show, we headed tot he Queen’s Room to join in the New Year’s Eve activities.

2011-12-31 Queens Room Ball (Small)

The Queen’s Room

We listened to the music for a while but we never seem to be able to make it to midnight. 

Still it was nice to see the Ship all gussied up for New Year’s Eve. 

Friday, December 30, 2011 – Road Town, Tortola BVI – Mostly Sunny – 79F

Phillipsburg, St. Maarten to Tortola: 134 Nautical Miles

A beautiful day in Tortola…

Tendering again today and not on tour.

 2011-12-30 Tendering to Tortola (Small) 2011-12-30 Tortola Silver Spirit (Small)

Top: Tendering to Road Town; Bottom:  Silver Spirit docked.

Ellen found a wonderful new Health Spa (run by an ex-pat from New York) on Main Street (a place we had never explored before) and decided to get a Swedish Massage.  While she was being pampered, I went to Road Town Bakery, purchased a coffee ($1.75), and picked up a WiFi signal from “Wireless”.  Over the next hour, I sipped good coffee, took in Caribbean sun, double chatted with the kids, and caught up on email.  I picked Ellen up – she had a wonderful time – and we walked back through Road Town again.

We got back just in time to grab a quick lunch.  The rest of the time was spent on the open deck (a wonderful warm day on the deck).

There are some interesting metallic objects on Deck 7 Forward.  They look like works of art but they are actually spare propellers for Queen Mary 2 (a total of 6 spares).  Never seen anything like this on any other ship although I am sure they carry spares.

2011-12-30 Spare Propellor Blades (Small)

Spare Propellers for Queen Mary 2

The view of Tortola from the ship was very nice (below)

2011-12-30 Torotola (Small)

Later in the afternoon, we went to the Queen’s Room to get some quiet time.  Practicing for their evening show were featured dancers, Nadya and Volodymyr. 

2011-12-30 Nadya and Volodymyr (Small)

Nadya and Volodymyr – Featured Dance Couple

Tonight’s production show is called “Crazy in Love”.  It is a highly technical program – all kinds of computer backgrounds – but also features a lot of dancing and singing.  One of the best had to do with the “Summer of Love” and involved a stage full of hippies.  I don’t recall hippies looking quite like that but the number was great.

2011-12-30 Crazy in Love (Small)

2011-12-30 Crazy in Love 2 (Small)

Crazy in Love:  Top:  Summer of Love; Bottom: Finale

Tomorrow, we begin our three day return to New York.

Thursday, December 29, 2011 – Phillipsburg, St. Maarten – Mostly Sunny – 81 F

Castries, St. Lucia to St. Maarten: 277 Nautical Miles

A beautiful day in Phillipsburg, St. Maarten.  We are not on tour today and plan to check out the main shopping area.  Even though we have been here a few times, we have never walked the town because it was either too hot or we were on tour. 

The town is right on the beach but you need to take a water taxi from the cruise terminal to the town ($6 per person round trip) or walk about a mile.

Once in town, we were able to find shade pretty easily.  A nice breeze also cooled things down.

 2011-12-29 Buddha 1 (Small) 

The Buddha and me

 2011-12-29 Phillipsburg SM (Small)

Phillipsburg, St. Maarten

 2011-12-29 Crossroads of the World SM (Small)

Better than GPS (Is that Evanston?)

2011-12-29 Yoda place it is (Small)

A long long time ago, on a Caribbean Island far far away…

2011-12-29 Summit Valor and QM2 SM (Small)

The cruise terminal from the Beach

2011-12-29 Staying out of the Sun (Small)

Ellen on the Beach

2011-12-29 Phillipsburg beach (Small) 

The beautiful beach at Phillipsburg…

2011-12-29 Tropical Downpour (Small)

…and then the rains came

We could not find any WiFi in Phillipsburg so after walking a good deal of the town, we headed back to the ship.

We spent some nice time on the deck to round out the afternoon.  We were so comfortable on the deck that we did not go to dinner in the Dining Room but rather had something to eat in the King’s Court Buffet.  We will be back in the Dining Room tomorrow.

Tonight, after dinner, we are going to the Senior Office Party (invitation below).


The deck party was very nice.  I introduced myself to the Commodore (he said he had heard of me from some passengers).  We had some Mai Tais and snacks.  We had a nice chat with Steve, the Broadway Producer, but knew no one else in the group (a few hundred people).

2011-12-29 Commodore Deck Party (Small) 2011-12-29 Commodore Deck Party 1 (Small)

2011-12-29 Commodore Deck Party 2 (Small)

The Headliner tonight was Pianist David Howarth.  He’s talented but we decided not to stay for the show.

We went to one of the lounges for a while. 

Did a lot of walking today so we headed to the room.

Pedometer: 13597 steps; 6.44 miles; 666 calories

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 – Castries, St. Lucia – Mostly Sunny – 85F

Bridgetown, Barbados to St. Lucia: 164 Nautical Miles

It’s a beautiful day in St. Lucia.  We are tendering into the town today – apparently, the QM2 is too long to dock at the town’s terminals.

 2011-12-28 Tendering to Castries (Small)

Tendering to Castries

2011-12-28 St Lucia BAY (Small)

A tender and the QM2 in the distance

2011-12-28 Castries (Small)

Castries Shopping Area

It was hot in the city today so we took shelter in a new shopping complex near the pier.  We found out that the Science Museum in the complex had WiFi and we were able to get the password (for the cost of two Coke Zeros).  The WiFi signal was very strong so, in addition, to catching up on e-mails, we also used SKYPE on my phone for the first time.  It worked fine – just like a cell call.  A new way to communicate.  We stayed in the museum for over an hour and took advantage of the air conditioning and WiFi. 

2011-12-28 Silver Spirit and Carnival valor (Small)

Returning to ship – Silver Spirit and Carnival Valor

 2011-12-28 Tendering back to Ship (Small)

After dinner, we attended “Singers In Concert” – a concert given by the Cunard Singers accompanied by both orchestras, the string quartet, and the harpist.  It may have been the best show we have ever seen on a ship.

2011-12-28 In Concert (Small)

Cunard Singers in Concert

A great evening.