Life on the ocean wave is good – if a bit choppy at times! We’ve aready had four Champagne receptions in the first five days at sea …………
…………. our first, held in the Queen’s Room, was the Captains Welcome Aboard party ………
……… and , of course, being held on a formal evening we were in our finest colours!
A big highlight on this voyage has been two talks given by John McCarthy. The journalist, who was abducted in Beirut by Islamic Fundamentalists and held hostage for 1,943 days, gave a stunning and spell binding presentation of his experiences. John spoke with great passion and humilty for 45 minutes without script and had the packed auditorium hanging on his every word. Rightly so, the audience gave him a standing ovation at the end.
The North Atlantic has been fairly gracious to us (so far!) and we’ve only had Force 9 winds. Enough, however, to close the decks on occasions and net off the swimming pools.
As we’ve done previously, we’ve signed up for the “trans-Atlantic Olympics” this week. The weather (with wind speeds on deck of 65 –70 mph) has been severe enough to keep us inside so, instead of deck games and speed walking, the entertainments team got us to throw a few bean-bags around indoors.
And while the other teams threw their bean bags at the Baggo board we could sit and ponder the magnificence of “Queen Mary’s” funnel, glinting in the sunlight through the glass roof of the Pavilion Pool.
A popular event during any cruise are the fruit and vegetable carving demonstrations given by the very skilled chefs. This demo is being held in the Grand Lobby.
Overlooking the Grand Lobby is the ship’s bell ………
……… which, at 12 noon every day, is used to signal “eight bells”. A little group gathers each day to watch, hear and photograph the event. An officer appears (as if from nowhere) with a very colourful and ornate rope with a big tassle on the end and secures it to the bell’s clanger.
He then studies his timepiece for the exact moment at which to carry out his task. Four sets of two strikes in quick succession – ding,ding - ding,ding - ding, ding - ding,ding. Marvellous!
Another guest on board for this leg of the journey is ex-DJ and TV presenter Jon Hammond. He’s given an interesting series of lectures on Human Communication and Confidence. He’s a humorous and fascinating entertainer.
We received an invitation this year to the Champagne reception for Cunard World Club members. (gosh! are we?) Again held in the Queen’s Room before dinner and, again on this occasion, we had the pleasure of Captain Christopher Wells to address us with one of his unique and entertaining “talks” on things nauticle. Each day, after “eight bells” at noon, we hear his strident tones across the PA system as he gives us the benefit of his extensive knowledge of things like the ocean floor, continental shelves, ships and ocean currents, in a little five minute snippet before handing over to ‘Tom’,’ Dick’ or ‘Harry’ to give us the technical stuff on speed, position and weather. James loves it!
In John McCarthy’s second appearance he was interviewed by the entertainment director Paul O’Loughlin (left). The crowds were waiting to get into the Royal Court Theatre an hour before he was due on stage. There wasn’t a seat left vacant and people were standing at the back and sitting on the stairs. During the interview John spoke of his eventual release and the events leading up to and after it. Again he was given a standing ovation at the end. A truly inspirational man and it was a great privelage to be able hear him speak.
Well, this great ocean liner has maintained an average speed of over 20 knots since we left Southampton on Sunday 10th January and, despite waves of 6 to 7 metres, she is currently speeding us smoothly westwards towards New York. What fun!