“Gotta go. Gotta go, get away…’ Georgie FameA few days away from New York now, and I’m already getting somewhat reflective on the adventure that is still unfolding like an old movie reel all around me.
Here on Queen Mary 2, there is the sense of being both participants in and, also, observers of some grand, period drama. Everything about the big liner is lavish, over sized and spectacular. Which, of course, is exactly what you would want from a ship that has this level of heritage, poise and breeding.
Wide, broad walkways form a series of spectacular thoroughfares throughout the public areas, flanked by enormous, brushed steel bas reliefs of life in ancient Egypt, Mexico and contemporary America, among others. These spaces, crowned by dramatic, almost double height ceilings merely serve to emphasize the colossal scale and grandeur of this Cunard paragon. She’s an exciting, beautiful and charismatic lady.
But the real sense of space is betrayed by the numbers on board. Built for a maximum of 2700 passengers- and the ship is pretty much full for this westbound crossing- the Queen Mary 2 has far more personal space than many similar sized cruise ships, which usually pack in around 4200 passengers on board.
There are times when you literally find yourself wandering deserted corridors on board. But- my word- make sure you grab a window table before 11.30 in the Golden Lion if you want first dibs at the delicious ritual of a British pub lunch at sea, It’s like that every day, too.
And yet sometimes, there are moments so warm and wonderful that they bind everybody in the vicinity like some sinuous, silken web. Last night, before dinner, a string quartet swung lushly through a series of popular old Christmas themed standards in the Chart Room for an hour or so. With the magnificently decorated corridors as a backdrop, it assumed a quite magically beautiful feel. You would have to be made of stone to have been unmoved.
And there lies another truth; out here, every feeling and sensation seems to be heightened, sharper, somehow more intense. I have always called this strange, intangible feeling ‘sea magic’, because it certainly does not exist on dry land.
There is real harmony and contentment out here in this charmed, artificial place, in this magnificent palazzo on the ocean which is, for now, our entire world. No matter that the seas outside are a surging, roiling mess. No matter that the wind is howling like a cross between an angry banshee and a Celine Dion mega mix.
Why would it matter, when the food remains superb, and the Martinis are sublime? We drift through a series of spectacular, deftly served public rooms, not always sure of where we are heading, or even why.
We bump into friends and exchange gossip. We make new friends, and often delight in the series of suddenly discovered, quirky co-incidences that bind us together on some strange level.
But, most of all, we just move like wraiths through this astonishing hinterland, this unique pastiche of space and grace. We savour it’s grandeur and warmth like fine wine and, of course, we dread the inevitable, looming end of the show.
Such is the world of the transatlantic liner in the 21st century.