The good ship Elizabeth

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.









We head to sea

This part of my blog will chronicle my adventures with my mother on a 7-day cruise on the Queen Elizabeth from New York to Southampton, England. We drove from Boston to New York on Saturday, arriving at the pier at around noon. The Queen Elizabeth was berthed right next to the aircraft carrier Intrepid, complete with the Concord and space shuttle Enterprise parked on its decks. They look small compared to this towering ocean liner. As far as I can tell this ship has 12 floors and at least 2 very fancy stairwells. We are on floor 5 on the port side with a small balcony. Just below us are the lifeboats. We’ve been given all sorts of instructions for where to go in the event of an emergency. But I plan to jump out the window and into one of these handy lifeboats. Our room is about 20 by 10 feet, with just enough room for two beds, a desk and a sofa. But It’s cozy and somehow I do not think we will be hanging out here much during our voyage on this ship with its spa, five or more restaurants, library, lounges and endless recreation areas.

The ship left the pier at 4:29 p.m. We barely noticed she was moving at first, but suddenly the shoreside cars disappeared and we ran up on deck to watch as a Moran tug helped ease the great liner out into the Hudson River. As the tug pulled away it honked four times, a high beeping sound. The Queen boomed back with a long, shuddering moan of a horn. And we were off.

Heading down the river in the afternoon sun, with a light breeze and warm sunshine, the buildings in the city sparkling in the light was glorious. An older Scottish lady had brought along her bagpipes and played on deck as we eased along. As we passed the southern end of Manhatten she played Amazing Grace, saying it was for the people who died in 9/11.

River ferries zipped back and forth below us like bugs. As we approached the Statute of Liberty off to starboard, a cloud covered just enough of the sun to create a spotlight that dramatically silouetted the statue. A rich tycoon’s massive (300-440 foot long) private yacht was moored quite close to Ellis Island, which seemed ironic to me — give me your tired, your poor, oh yea!

Next came the Veranzano Bridge, which we cleared by 89 CM, according to the captain. As the sun began to set and New York disappeared into a pink haze, a small pilot boat pulled alongside just below our room to take the pilot back into port. Once he was onboard it zoomed back behind our stern and met up with a larger pilot boat. We are headed out into to ocean, going about 18 knots. We’ll be in the Gulf of Maine for Easter.