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Vacation 2004, Day 5.
Sunday, October31st
London/Southampton/Queen Mary 2

Today I began the most interesting part of this holiday trip, the transatlantic crossing on the newest, largest and greatest (according to Cunard) ship in the world. This crossing was the last one of the QM2's inaugural transatlantic season. There will be lots more about the ship and the crossing to come but first I need to get to the ship.

This day started out with a taxi ride from the Hyde Park Hilton hotel to the Victoria Coach Station where Cunard's coach transfer to Southampton departed from. The taxi ride took about 10 minutes (the traffic on a Sunday is substantially less than a weekday) with arrival at the coach station well before the appointed time of 11:00. After checking in I put my suitcase in the back of a truck (along with many others) for its own separate trip to Southampton. There is so much baggage for one of these crossings that it won't all fit in the space available in the motor coaches. It is usually waiting in your cabin when you board the ship three or four hours from now. Sometime between 11:30 and 12:00 the coach I was on (the second of what I think were 6 that day) departed for the two and a half hour trip to the Queen Elizabeth 2 Terminal in the dock lands area of Southampton.

The coach ride was uneventful. I ended up at the very back where there is lots of legroom (a good thing). It is also the bumpiest place as well (a not so good thing). Arrival at the dock was between 2:15 and 2:30. As you can probably imagine the check in process for 2600 passengers does take some time. There are many places to checking and the process is relatively painless. It was at this point that I was told that I had received a cabin upgrade. I was now in cabin 9060 not lowly cabin 4138 that I had booked. See the picture below for the difference in location. It took me several days to realize what I had been upgraded to. You will see what it turned out to be the pictures below. After going through what is the equivalent of airport security I arrived in the departure hall area.

These 3 pictures show the departure area in the QE2 Terminal. The Queen Mary 2 is docked just outside those windows on the far side. The boarding gate is on the far side where the crowd of people are. When you check in, you are given a coloured card and you called to board by that colour. I think mine was light green.
The final picture in the sequence showing the lounge. These pictures were taken shortly after 3:00. I think I boarded between 3:30 and 3:45. It is a long process to get all 2600 passengers on the ship.

Those of you who have been on cruises know that as you board the ships photographers are there to take your picture. Here is mine. It should be noted that because this picture was for sale, it should not be reproduced in any way.

Once past this point you arrive in the Grand Lobby of the ship. There is a photo ID card that is also your cabin key that needs to be shown several times. Once past that, figuring out where to go is the next problem. The large number of people does stress their resources somewhat and a certain amount of confusion exists. I eventually found the way to my home for the next 6 nights, cabin 9060. The picture below shows the location of the two cabins, my new one and the one I had originally booked.

As you can see, 9060 turned out to be a penthouse, one of only 6 cabins like it on the ship. Here is what I saw when I arrived.

This is the hall on the port or left side of the ship looking forward (towards the bow) from just outside of cabin 9060. This is the same hall from the same spot with the door to cabin 9060 looking towards the rear or stern of the ship
Upon opening the door, and looking slightly left this is what I saw. After walking straight in the door to the opposite wall this is what I saw looking back towards the door.
This is from the same spot looking left.
This is from the far left corner, beside the bed looking back towards where the previous picture was taken.
The bed with a protective cover to put your luggage on for unpacking. My luggage wasn't there yet because it was tagged for the other cabin. Cabin Steward Ferdie went and retrieved it. The main bathroom/washroom on the left and the walk in closet on the right.
The main bath/washroom. It had a massage bath tub with stairs to get in which are just visible by door. There was a separate shower (in marble) just to the right behind the door. It had a marble seat in it. The walk in closet. The drawers were very narrow but it was really nice.

 

Just to prove I was really there, that is me taking a picture of the cabin (and me) in the mirror. Notice the life jacket on the chair in the foreground ready for the upcoming lifeboat drill. This is the second washroom that was located behind the door just inside the entrance. That is the left door at the far end of the previous picture.

Not only did I have this incredible penthouse suite but I also had a huge (something like 20 ft or 7 metre) long balcony. Here are some view of and from it.

The balcony looking towards the stern (rear) of the ship. There were two doors one at each end of the cabin. (Far left in picture.)
Here is the balcony from the opposite end.
Here are several views from the balcony. The city of Southampton is in the distance.
Another view to the right of the previous one.
This is the view looking towards the bow of the ship. The white structure protruding out from the ship is the wing of the bridge. When we sailed, the ship went straight ahead and slightly to the port or left up the opening that can been seen there. It takes about 4 hours to sail from here up Southampton Water to the Solent and out to the English Channel.

I have to admit that I still didn't believe this. I expected someone to come along and say sorry they got it wrong and that I would be moved to some other cabin. Didn't happen though!!!
These pictures were taken between 4:30 and 5:00 local time. At 5:00 lifeboat drill took place. You don't actually go to the lifeboats just to the muster station where you would then be guided to the appropriate location by the crew. By maritime law this has to be completed before the ship can sail.

After a slight delay for some late arrivals the ship sailed just after 6:15. Here is what it looked like as it left the pier.

These two pictures taken at 6:31 and 6:32 show what it looked like as we sailed away.

After all of this I went and had dinner in the Queens Grill. This is the top quality dining room on the ship. It came with the upgraded accommodations that I still have no idea how I came to have.

After all this excitement I went to bed as we sailed through Southampton Water, out of the Solent, and into the English Channel heading west.

Just to give you some idea of the difference in what the two different accommodations cost, here is what the brochure pricing was for a single person in the two different cabins. The one I booked was over $6000 CAD. The one I ended up in was something over $30,000 CAN. The single supplement, (included in the prices above), was 175% of the per person double price on the original cabin and 200% of the one I was in. It should also be noted here that you very rarely ever pay the brochure price. There are may things, such as Early Booking Discounts that can change these prices. As is always stated, contact a professional Travel Agent and she/he will help you get the best prices.

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Date Created: April 27, 2005
Last Modified: May 15, 2005