So today a bit about this ship. Launched 2010, the Queen Elizabeth was built at Fincanieri, Monfalcone Yard in Italy and is 294 meters long, with a beam of 32 meters and a draft of 7.9 meters. She rises up 55 meters from the waterline, holds 2092 passengers and about 100 crew for a ratio of 1 crew member for every 2 passengers. She can go 24 knots, but usually cruises somewhere around 19 knots. She burns 240 tons of heavy fuel every 24 hours. We were invited to cocktails with the captain last night (along with about 900 other people) and he told us that this trip the ship was sold out. The passengers come from 28 countries, with the most people (900 or so) from Great Britain, followed by America (500), then Germany. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen so many men in kilts in one place before.
Tonight we met one of the chief chefs. He supervised 65 underchefs in one of the ship’s 12 kitchens. Overall the vessel has 165 chefs, he said. Meals are planned according to the nationality of the passengers. Cunard, he said, has figured out what people from different countries tend to order and plans its meals accordingly. They are so good at it, that on a night like tonight, they may end up with just five to 10 servings left over of any one dish.
While my mother and I have been taken aback by all the extra charges — for example, if you want to visit the bridge and the engine room be prepared to shell out $120 per person– we also have been amazed at the extent of the things this company will do. Today, we met officers on the deck who were preparing for a funeral service for someone who had asked that their ashes be thrown off the Queen Elizabeth in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Apparently this is not a rare thing. We said we hoped they threw the ashes downwind, and this officer said yes he had seen people try to do this upwind and end up wiping ashes off their faces.
Lunchtime today we hit the halfway mark between New York and Southampton. We have travelled 1,650 nautical miles. The wind has dropped and the sun is trying to come out. Hard to believe this is the North Atlantic in winter. Still some people on board are seasick. We went to hear a piano concert this afternoon. The pianist played one song and then stood on the front of the stage and told us all he could not continue because he felt ill. Still there are other people who apparently think they are in the tropics. They are swimming in the outdoor pools, rolling back in forth with the water in the pool as it shudders in the swells.
As I look out at the waves rolling by and feel the gentle swell under the ship, I keep on wondering what Samuel de Champlain who did this 27 times would be thinking now. We did see a seagull flying around the ship. I wondered what kind f gull it was and went to check in the library. Most likely it was a kittywake. We also learned today that the ship plots its course according to something called circle sailing. Apparently taking the circular route is faster than going in a straight line because it follows the curve of the earth.
The photos below show:
The north Atlantic, Emmy at lunch, A wooden veneer image of the Queen Elizabeth designed by David Lindley (Princess Margaret’s son), the ship’s library and our favorite magazine displayed there (who could have delivered them!!??), dancers in the ship’s theater and the Captain introducing his officers to the passengers.