The Elegance of the Queen Mary II
We are not cruise people, my husband and I. In fact, we wouldn’t be seen dead on a cruise. An endless sundeck on a mega ship cruising around the Bahamas, or hurtling down an on-board water slide, sound about as far away from fun as we can conceive.
Our aversion to cruises isn’t helped by the names of many of the cruise lines. A carnival conjures up for me images of drunken crowds, loud fireworks and flashing lights. References to the far north conjure up images of extreme cold. I imagine myself shivering on a deck in some Arctic location, never to be warm again. And celebrities--all I can think of is the horror of having to share a dinner table with people who make a living doing dreadful things on TV.
However, my husband turned 60 this August, and we wanted to do something special to mark the event. When he was about eight, he and his mother and brother traveled to Europe on an ocean-crossing liner, and he had often reminisced with fondness about that voyage. I tentatively threw out the idea of a boat trip to Europe. Once we had assured ourselves that this would be a "trans-Atlantic crossing"--NOT a "cruise"--we quickly realized that the grandest way to go would be on Cunard’s flagship, the Queen Mary II.
So in early September, we spent eight days traveling from New York to Southampton, via Halifax. We had a really wonderful time. The ship itself is absolutely beautiful. The decoration and furnishings are fabulous. Often, I turned to my husband to say “I feel like I am on the Titanic,” reacting to the grandeur of the wide sweeping staircases, the handsome carved woodwork, the elegant china dishware and the dining tables covered with crisp, starched-white table cloths. (I always lowered my voice when referring to the Titanic in deference to my fellow passengers who might have felt a little queasy being reminded of it.)
When I first received the dress guidelines for the trip, I was a little shaken. The required dress for three out of the eight dinners on board was formal. Even on the informal nights, women needed to wear a cocktail dress, and men, jackets. (If you truly hated formality, there was an informal dining room). I rarely go to events requiring such attire and, indeed, avoid them if possible, so I wasn’t looking forward to that part of the trip. But in fact it resulted in wonderfully elegant evenings where women in long dress and men in black tie sauntered gracefully into the many beautiful bars and salons of the ship for pre-dinner drinks and then danced the night away in the ship’s magnificent ballroom, reminiscent of the beauty and grandeur of earlier days.
I could go on and on about the other things that I loved about the voyage--the exquisite service, the fabulous food, the intellectually stimulating entertainment. Suffice it to say that when we arrived in Southampton, we were sad to disembark. We may have to go again...
Ellenore is a retired lawyer who enjoys travel, other than cruises.