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A doomed search for boredom on a trans-Atlantic cruise


“Land ahoy, oh joy!” I shout to Theresa as we enter the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. Despite being half asleep and holding our ears from the cacophony of deafening noise generated by the pilot boat below and a NYPD chopper above, arriving into New York Harbor at dawn is something that both my partner and I had looked forward to ever since embarking Queen Mary 2 at Southampton Cruise Terminal.

Don’t get me wrong, the seven-night cruise – sorry, mean “crossing” – made those wanting to be bored have to work very hard to achieve boredom, such was the array of activities scheduled. The QM2 is longer than the Chrysler Building is tall and its one-thousand-two-hundred crew did their best to overwhelm every one of its two-thousand-six-hundred passengers who sailed the three-thousand-odd nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean. Each day’s programme was left at your door the evening prior, which made for suitable bed-time reading, and listed RADA classes among its LGBT gatherings and AA meetings.

Being transatlantic innocents, T and I merely set out to, first, experience a tradition such as, say, the ship’s whistle at noon and, second, enjoy the white-glove afternoon-tea service which typifies Cunard’s White Star Service. So awestruck were the both of us by all things maritime, though, that purported non-events like looking in the direction toward Titanic’s final resting place proved so engrossing that we lost track of time and missed a Nova Scotian’s afternoon lecture on her sinking.

Granted, the accumulation of calories meant that T and I needed to spend longer (walking and then jogging) on the ship’s fabulous promenade deck. Yet the fact remained: we couldn’t take our eyes off the ocean; a pastime breakfast (in the King’s Court), lunch and dinner (in the Britannia Restaurant) not to mention drinks (in the Golden Lion Pub) didn’t get in the way of. Retiring to the Library (and its 9,000 books) likewise didn’t get in the way since its location, on Deck 8, provided a near-perfect vantage point to view the bow when winds caused it to be closed off.

High winds ensured that Deck 13 was permanently off-limits, but missing out on a Splash Pool and an enlarged sun deck didn’t irk either of us because we possessed passes for the Canyon Ranch Spa and preferred to sunbathe on the Terrace Pool: a place where we waved Union Jack flags upon departure. The continued closure of Deck 11 did concern us, however, not least since this was supposedly the place to view the Statue of Liberty in her pre-dawn glow.

Little did I know, though, that the thunderous storms formed off the coast of Newfoundland, as the warm Gulf Stream collides with the cold Labrador Current (and creates wave-like mountains topped with snow-like crests), were normal and would pass in time for T and I to take our places on the Observation Deck to see the outline of Manhattan form in the early mist. The New York skyline is not what it once was, thanks to the dark day of 9/11, but seeing the sun shine a light on the recently-completed One World Trade Center lead me to say, once again, “oh joy!”

Queen Mary II at Brooklyn, New York

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