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Daily Log of a 111 Day World Cruise on QE2 - Entries 1-5

We had some wonderful clients take a 111 Day World Cruise on the QE2 and they documented each day. Once home, they published their cruise in a book and sent it to us along with pictures they had taken each day. Needless to say, they had a great time and we thought it'd be neat to share their experience with you here. We'll try and add a "day" each week.

Interested in a World Cruise? We'd love to help make this once-in-a-lifetime event special for you - give us a call, we'd love the opportunity!

 

Entry 1          Entry 2         Entry 3        Entry 4          Entry 5< 

 

 Posted December 10, 2007

January 9, 2006: Day 1 (Embarkation)

From Bill:

     The flight to LaGuardia was on time and the bus eventually got all of us (25 or so) to the terminal and by 1:30 on to the QE2 where we found all the dining rooms were closed but one called the Lido would open at 2pm…ok with us but some people had come a long way and had not eaten much for a day or so. Our stateroom is fine and certainly large enough but we hear of others who do indeed have 1,000 sq. ft. rooms. We do not have a veranda/ balcony as this ship did not have any for quite some years and a few were added just relatively recently… not worth all that they were selling for. 

     Anyway, we do hear more complaints than I would have thought about people not getting services they expected, etc. and compare the QE2 rather unfavorably to the QM2. Food and all else for us is really great. The one set-back we’ve had is the laptop not being wireless in any of the staterooms. That leaves the Computer Center (16 computers online) and two other exclusive rooms that a laptop will work wireless. So I will go back and see what Rick, the computer guru here, has to say when I plug it in down there.

     The departure pictures are already loaded and we will try doing the text as a document and they copy/ paste and if that works we’ll save a bundle of cash (they charge, as the cheapest rate, $.25 per minute; we are in for 32 hours which should last the 4 months if the plan above works). Finally, we were an hour or so late leaving NYC and so the Captain is now goosing the ship along at a nifty 28.5 knots to get us into Ft. Lauderdale on time tomorrow morning. It is about 73 degrees out, sunny and a little breezy. The smoked Norwegian salmon is beyond approach and is available daily at every meal.

 

From Pat:

     He means beyond reproach. Although it’s really dead so it’s beyond most anything. 

     We are having a fine time except I’m wondering about Marilyn’s surgery and also waiting to have my 99% cancer-free estimate from our Dr. confirmed. We called the hospital Monday am but the lab report hadn’t come in yet. Tomorrow I’ll call from Ft. Lauderdale; Bill didn’t bring the cell phone which is why we haven’t called anyone. In case you were wondering.

     I’m finding it a bit difficult to maintain my good dietary intentions but we did walk a bit today. And, on the walk, I saw someone who looked as if she could be Dolores Loftus. Then we went in and I didn’t see her again… till we left the shore lecture and there she sat, with her husband. It was her; she’d wondered about me too. So after nearly 50 years, we are together. Actually I must have seen her at her grandmothers calling hours. That had to be in the 60’s so it hasn’t been THAT long, after all. We met them for a cocktail before dinner for an hour and will do that again plus, I hope, see them around the ship. We had a good talk! They are getting off in Sydney and flying home from there.

     And today I hauled out the sewing machine and made a few strides on that score, for those of you who might have doubted THAT plan.

     In Ft. Lauderdale we’ll just hit a drug store to pick up a few things forgotten in the last hustle to get ready. I was totally absorbed with laundry that morning so we’ll come home to clean sheets and no 4-month old basket of dirty duds, etc.

     We are at a table of 7. There are to Bill’s and two Joan’s plus a Marion, Eric and Pat. They are all singles. The other Bill is a retired pathologist, age 49. He looks a lot like Don Sherman but is very friendly; even to telling us he limits his gambling money to $500 a day! So far he’s breaking even. He lives in LA. Has a wife and an 8 year old daughter who aren’t with him. He does this every ear apparently. Just likes the ship. Marion and one Joan are widows; the other Joan I don’t know about. Eric turned up for the first time 10 minutes before the dining room closed. We missed him last night since he said he came at 5 of. Retired lawyer from Toronto.

     Okay, enough since I’m beginning to feel queasy. Cant read and ride in a car and this seems to be having the same effect. We are swaying.

 

Posted December 14, 2007

January 10-12, 2006: Ft. Lauderdale to the Tropics

From Bill:

     Good day(?) to everyone (since we are never sure of when we might next get this out… memory curve or something). 

     NYC to Ft. Lauderdale was nice but certainly not more than 75 degrees but no snow! We still have virtually no idea of which end (ahem: aft, stern, bow…) we should head for. The theater is nice and big; that helps. And our dining room doesn’t seem to move about from meal to meal. There are still a majority of bars we’ve elected to miss after last nights which didn’t have as much “clubbiness” as the one next to our assigned restaurant, The Queen’s Grill. Ft. Lauderdale was nice for getting to the mall for several items we needed but left behind, like the charge for my beard trimmer (we still haven’t figured out how to get the battery compartment open so I might yet adopt the Robinson Cursoe image, long before the official costume ball).

    Tonight (Thursday) is the first formal (i.e. tux) night with open bar prior to dinner because it is the Captain’s Dinner night. The temperature has climbed to the 80’s and as we rounded the north end of Cuba, the swells finally started and Pat took to her bed; she has one of the patches on now but is skeptical of going to dinner (lobster tail and/ or prime rib, among other nice choices). This morning we had our 2nd destination lecture: Curacao (anyone know where to get those characters with a cedilla?) and intro to Panama; all events of this kind last no more than 45 minutes, about everyone’s attention span (and, yes, we are really in the age minority but most although older are pretty spry). The ship is full at about 1,700 passengers; about 60% are USA. And over 50% are booked to go around the world. We’ve already met a number of these people who have done it several or more times. The ship traveled at 27-28.5 knots from NYC to catch up with some delayed departure time but we have now settled into 21.5 knots.

     Anyway, a second lecture this afternoon was the first of 5: “At Ease in the White House”, today being “Behind the Scenes at State Dinner”. By now I have been totally frustrated with getting onto the internet (i.e. MSN.com) and finally the guy in charge of teaching this called and set up a 3pm meeting. Of course, I plugged in down at the Center and got right on, but other things like attachments of both text AND some pictures just wouldn’t take. So I ahv edeveloped my own shortcuts and if today’s got out o.k. there will be no more 70 minute sessions down there (at $.25 per MINUTE)!!

     Finally, (Bill Sherman…) the telephone number to the QE2 is: (left blank). See (hear!) you at 11am, coffee time at the Hill Friday?

     Remember they warn it could be $9.50 per minute. I will try getting this out this morning in time to be there in absentia. Just in case you do try the phone, I will hang out here at the room at 11am Eastern time with a coffee in hand, saluting all you guys sitting there. What, no jokes here?

 

From Pat:

     Okay, here goes from Pat. The ship is rocking and I’m not immune to that. Darn! Thought I’d check out how I physically feel and mentally feel about missing the captain’s hoo-ha (handshaking is forbidden due to germs) and the special dinner/ first formal night. Decided eating isn’t something I’m looking forward to right now and, no, I won’t miss the shindig. So will lie low and see what happens. 

     They don’t have Oxford here but there is a series, as Bill said, by a social aide for 6 years at the White House. He began with Nixon; Regan passed a rule that they could only stay 4 years so he’s the one with the most longevity. He’s written a book but think we’ll just enjoy his commentary. There weren’t any particularly titillating tidbits today but he left us with a few hooks to come back tomorrow.

     AND, as some of you heard, Mary Kinsella told me her sister Dolores and husband John Loftus were coming on this trip so I’d been watching out for her. Hmmmm. Thought the last time I’d seen here was in the late 50’s but it was later when their grandmother, Mrs. Tobin, died so I’ll ah veto check on that date. 45 years is a good estimate. Anyway, I was eyeing all these women but didn’t approach anyone till the first morning. Then I was hiking around the deck and saw one who could have been Dolores a couple of times. After the first shore-leave lecture by Dr. Peter Crimes (yep!) I noticed her sitting with a man an dshe looked at me so we were both wondering. Yes, it was her! So we ahd a happy reunion. They’ll leave in Australia.

     We also met several Joans – two are at our table along with another Bill (he’s another story!). Finally today we met a secont Pat who said she’s met lots of us. Go figure.

     By the way, yesterday when we were in Ft. Lauderdale I did get to call the hospickle, as the twins used to say, and found out my results were benign so no running back for a quick mastectomy! Since the doc said he was 99% sure that was the case I didn’t lose a wink of sleep over THAT!!! But it’s good to know for sure; funny how nervous I felt while dialing.

     Today I did psych out the parts of the ship and have a better idea of where some places are located. We are not in as bad shape as Bill might have suggested. This is definitely an older ship, someone said it had a few more years; then it will be sold and refurbished for use for another 10 years. Then, the knacker, I guess. 

     On the QM you could get in a mile 3 times around the deck; this one requires 5. I walked today, too. Went up some stairs aft wondering what the sign indicating high, dangerous winds really meant. Once was enough! They had a railing which was useful, not that I’d have been blown overboard, but it was a good feeling to have some help to move against the gale up there.

     The quilting project is moving along slowly. It’s hard to get a handle on how to begin with so many pieces and colors but some starts on various lines have been made and it will be interesting to see what comes home with us. Actually, Pam, there is a mirror right in front of the sewing machine with lights at the top and bottom so the lighting is excellent. We have two portholes for natural light; this is not a sunny cabin with a sliding glass door, etc. to a deck! But no complaints! 

     I think the patch must be kicking in since I’ve come this far without any ill effects.

     As Bill said, ther are LOTS of folks who have taken this trip several times; we are real neophytes compared to them. Also there are several in various states of decrepitude. You have to admire their guts! Yesterday we watched a lovely woman deal with a grumpy bus driver who said it wasn’t possible to load her husband’s go-kart into the bus. She smilingly shoed how the seat, etc. came off. Finally he opened up the luggage compartment and put it in. a couple of other men gave her a hand helping him up the bus steps. Apparently he can still walk a bit with help. We are grateful…

     And now I have ordered my room service dinner: tea and dry toast. Bon appétit!

  

Posted January 10, 2007

January 13, 2006: Somewhere in the Caribbean

From Bill:

…Oh, come on; they won’t let me steer the ship, anyway… 

Sunrise:7:30am

Sunset: 6:35pm

Air Temp: 84 degrees

Sea Temp: 82 degrees

Ship speed today: 19 knots

     NOTE: Thanks for some of you responding so now we know we are finally connecting. But we do not have roadrunner speed here so if you do send/ reply, it would be best for us if you would delete our previous message and omit pictures we might have sent. This seems to slow our download time a lot (time is money…)

     Weather continues to be what they predicted some days ago about Curacao area: some clouds but sunny, mild winds, and will get progressively warmer, as you can see from what we’ve already sent. Now some opeople have begun to complain about it being too hot, while others are donning sweaters everywhere when they are inside in the too-cold air conditioning. And, for some reason, the number of people appearing at our table each meal runs from 7 down to 3. but all are very pleasant and knowledgeable.

     Pat slept soundly with her new patch on, the clocks got set ahead one hour so we had to get breakfast in the Lido buffet which I am beginning to want to want to seriously avoid; there is a herd instinct up there, much rushing and pushing around by people who must be starving or something. But we were in plenty of time to read incoming emails and send one out. Then on to the next White House lecture, State Dinners with the Nixon administration where this guy never mentioned the work CROOK. Afternoon lecture was on Panama Canal and, right after that, another horribly boring, pedantic, totally non-entertaining astronomy lecture. No more for me!

 

From Pat:

     My turn. It’s 3:00pm in Willemstad, Curacao. Saturday Jan 14, 2006. well, good for me for accuracy, spelling notwithstanding.

     Yesterday I went to a beading workshop and have a bracelet nearly finished. One woman, Home Bureau type, showed us how. Another woman was an accomplished beader, from her comments. They didn’t squabble. However, another very vocal woman was calling us all the teacher’s pet as she guided us along. So elementary school! I just clamped my mouth shut and kept trying to find the hole in those pesky little beads! It was fun and will be interesting to see what her next trick will be. Earrings to match I hope! There is another group at the same place who bring their crewel or counted cross stitch. No other sewing machines are in sight; already Bill’s talking about making this into a quilting cruise.

     Last night was another formal night. Whoooptidoo. So far we haven’t met the captain; Bill didn’t go through that line during my tea and toast night.

     This morning we went ashore and hiked around Willemstad. Since we’ve been here before, we didn’t bother with a tour. And, Sewing Sisters, there was a fabric shop facing the ferry landing, right there in blatant plain sight. Good grief. Talk about overkill. However, on our way back to the ship, I did buy a yard of Curacao – reminder: turquoise for the sea, orange for the tile roofs here and a touch of yellow for sunlight. It was very inexpensive and may turn out to be ‘cheap’ quality. However, I’ve got it, Pam and Carol!

     Our diding room is on the same floor as the theater “balcony” so most nights after dinner we stand or get a chair and watch the last of the early show. This is no Queen Mary or Navigator of the Seas with spacious lobbies and HUGE auditoriums. But it works very will for us. And so far we haven’t seen any entertainers falling off the edge of the stage.

     Well, I’m sorting out another bag of scrappy treasures so need to finish that task.

     Bill’s doing a great job of getting this mailed, isn’t he?

     I’d like to know how Betty and Otis are making out if anyone would let me know. Hope all is well with everyone. And, Joanne, would you please print these out so we’ll have a record when we get home? I know it’s all on the little ememory stick but accidents can happen. Thank you. I’ll buy you a couple reams of paper when we see you next!

 

     Stay well!

 

 Posted January 17, 2007

January 15, 2006: Curacao/ Caribbean

From Bill:

Outside Temp: 91 degrees

Inside Temp: 65 degrees

(That’s really cold for a lot of these travelers but it doesn’t seem to keep them out of the dining rooms.)

     Curacao ship parking was at a premium since it is not a deep port; however we could not help noticing that the GIGANTIC Sun Princess was more inside than we were; at lease we could walk (15-20 minutes) to the town which, to use my favorite term, was interesting. It is a clean town (I checked for rotting stuff; none around). The usual small vendors were just outside the port gates but none of the grinding poverty we found on so many islands like especially the Dominican Republic. Pat was almost immediately in hog heaven when a very crowded (with locals, no less) fabric store appeared right on the main street (of course she never buys on the first chance, but had a steel trap memory for a fabric that she later went back for on our return to the ship). We wandered up and down several alleys; ran across a free shuttle shaped like a large toy train. My favorite spot was the local fish/ meat/ vegetable market in the town center. I resisted buying bushels of yams, some chickens, and mangos. Now keep in mind that we were there from about 10-11:30am and the temp. had climbed to over 85 degrees but thankfully there was a nice trade wind blowing so no noticeable sweats.

     Meals on board in the Queen’s Grill go from 8-9:30 (B), 1-2:30 (L), and 7-9 (D). As many of you know, I am a stickler for being on time (5pm) for the daily Happy Hour so this posed a real problem even asking for the low proof Gordon’s (there is a conspiracy I believe outside the U.S. to only serve this or other (90 proof stuff). The other problem is locale: in the summer, of course, we head for our pear trees for the local ambience. Here, we are allowed into the Queen’s Lounge which is just before the dining room, and having tried several others on different floors/ decks, is really the only choice. But a 5pm start would mean just too much gin before eating at night, so we kind of drag our feet about getting ready (by the way, I usually order triple shots of Gordon’s on ice, in brandy snifter, lime and ice: the cost (I know you must be wondering…): $4.25 per shot. Let’s do the math since I suspect the O.P. coffee crowd already has by now: $4.25x3x2 per evening times 111 days? I make that out to be $3,259 for the trip; tip is included already). This definitely makes me yearn for the Flieschmann’s gin with New Hampshire prices.

     So yesterday afternoon, about the time we headed to the deck for the island send off, the Captain announces a delay. Apparently in the middle of the afternoon, another boat (tug?) rammed into us (we felt the shock of it even up in our stateroom). So we stayed in port for an hour linger before leaving around 6:30; by this time many people elected to vacate their premium viewing spots at the rail so we had a nice long view of our departure. No word was ever given out about the ramming or lack of damage thereof. This capped off a long afternoon for me trying to puzzle out why I could send out text to all of you but msn.com would not recognize that we had folders of pictures in the My Pictures location in documents. That was solved this afternoon after church….. I wonder.

     Sunday on board is apparently rather laid back when the day is “at sea”. Service started promptly for all Christians at 11:15, whereas the sun worshippers started much earlier and were beginning to redden up rather quickly. The theater was very full (a big contrast to QM2 in September!). a few prayers, including one for a “frequent world cruise traveler” who got off at Ft. Lauderdale, and died. Teach him! No sermon, 4 lovely, very familiar (3-4 verse) hymns including the traditional one that ends all Cunard ship services, the Navy Hymn (“Eternal Father Strong to Save”). Done by 11:45; communion optional at the end (not many takers).

     Pat’s patch (say that a few times after 5pm…) has worked wonders. Best of all, she sleeps very soundly every night now.

     Tonight is the third (in 7 nights) for formal attire which is ok with me since after the first one, I found I could leave the studs and cuff links in place and just slop into it in a jiffy. I’ll let Pat cover the rest of that subject.

     Tomorrow at about 6am we arrive at the beginning of the Panama Canal; travel starts through the Gatun Locks about 7:30. reportedly from the pros, it is best to be at the rail by 5am or so. Luckily, Pat also has her camera…

     Temp. is expected to be in the 90’s and pretty humid, and always a chance of rain even in this dry season.

     Some final thoughts this afternoon from me:

       1. They have had some first rate, new movies but we have yet to get there on time.

       2. We miss the weather reports about Potsdam so we’re chocked to read the email of it being in the mid-50’s and then another this it had gone down to near zero.

       3. It has been 6 nights already and I, for one, have been anything but bored. For me, meals have been somewhat of an ordeal because a) the servings are much, much larger than I want (I am trying to get the wait staff to think of me as a baby portions), and b) the choices are as supurb as ever. And, no, they did not provide a scale in our bathroom this trip. 

 

From Pat:

     MY TURN NOW!! From Passenger Pat with the Patch.

     I just got back from “beading class”. Since I was the only one there my bracelet is finished. The leader is just a passenger, not a crew member. She must make out like a bandit. She does contribute handicrafts to a sale table, the proceeds of which go to a charity. I think it has something to do with relief of sailor or naval families.

     On the computer Bill left a note, giving me permission to “add but please don’t edit my part.” Okay.

     I am pleased that he seems to be enjoying the food – eating quite a bit, actually. I just hope he doesn’t expect a leather-bound menu with choices in 5 categories when we get home. I do get a little tired of the “small portion” concern being verbalized at EVERY meal!!! We have a nice waiter and waitress and it seems to me they are smart enough to have learned this.

     We usually have at least 5 sheets of info slid under our door at night. This gives us the daily agenda, notices of special sales events like art work and jewelry, etc. so far we’ve resisted it although I did blow a whole $10 for a bracelet to go with two pairs of earrings I did manage to pack; I am finding that some things (minor) I meant to pack never got in the suitcase. This is the same $10 store which was on the quilting cruise, I think. Tomorrow – ah, well, you already know about that. Should be fun and one major item off Bill’s list of things to do while we can still percolate under our own steam. 

     Thanks to you all who have written. Hope we can get this off to our whole list. Take care, all. Pat

     P.S. Oh, yea – I squandered $1.50 on a half-yard of fabric in Willemstad. Maybe I can do better in Panama and/ or Mexico. 

 

Posted February 1, 2007

January 17, 2006: Panama Canal Railroad

From Bill:

 Weather: Humid with temp. in the mid-80’s

     This was the first of a dozen or so use of a tender (vs. anchoring at a port) to get ashore… in this case about 20 minutes on the open sea into a harbor. Seas were fairly calm but it was pretty obvious that this could have been a real stomach-turning adventure. We had been informed at NYC that the QE2 would be saluted royally in every port; Ft. Lauderdale must have been to busy and Curacao had other things to do. But today, as we re-boarded the ship at 3:30, we were surprised to see a crowd of 20 or so waiting to go ashore, puzzling because we were expected to haul anchor in less than 2 hours. Turns out the First Lady (I assume of Panama) and guests had been invited on board… Anyway, as related to us on out rail ride, the Pacific side gets annually 60 inches of rain; the Atlantic side gets 120 inches. We came back from the train, the Atlantic side, by tour bus (90 minutes) where, 10 minutes from the dock, there was a torrential downpour. Go figure!

     #9 and #10 – This was a Roy Horst dream-come true: riding a railroad rebuilt and cars refurbished from the 1950’s (which were bought from Amtrak). This was built in the 1900’s to get the canal built and then languished until the late 1980’s. it is 47.6 miles long, and the ride goes 55-60 MPH. with the Canal comes all the land inland (5 miles) from both sides. Note: for container ships, there are really only 3 shipping options: Go around the Cape (3,000+ miles, and maybe an extra three weeks); ship via the Canal (7-9 hours which costs and average of $70,000, depending on tonnage); or unload the containers, put them on rail cars, move them to the other side, and reload to another of their ships (cost unknown). From sea to sea is rather treacherous driving so many elect to commute by rail at $50 roundtrip or pay $500 a month, which most coast to coast commuters do. By the way, apparently the QE2 paid at least $280,000 plus other fees for a preferential reserved time to enter the Canal. Such times are negotiated up to several years in advance; otherwise, freighters must wait and that can be up to 2-3 weeks before a time becomes available.

     #14 – Gatun Lock. This gave us an entirely different perspective of what we saw from onboard yesterday. Up close those “mule” engines were pretty impressive. I was also very surprised by how quickly a lock empties and fills… I am speaking of minutes here that for a very large Canadian container ship (the space between ship and lock on each side was no more than 18”!) to clear out. Since we were told to be back on the buss by 11AM, we all had to miss the next ship, a Majesty of the Seas ocean liner. And then the unthinkable happened: one of the bus people did not show up as told… and the bus waited 35 minutes. No show still. Never did! (on every trip we’ve been on, departure time is repeated ad nauseum; you’re late, you catch a cab or next flight or whatever). My fellow passengers were very, very kind about this nonetheless.

     #12 – These are bird nests, relative to the oriole. Apparently if the male doesn’t build the nest right, the female shows up and tears the whole thing apart!

     The picture we could not take: Occasionally, along side the tracks were extra rails, 8-10 or so laid close together parallel to us. On these rails, every yard or so, there must have been 10-20 armadillos sunning themselves in total disregard to us flying by just inches from them.

     #4 – It was a grand trip and once again demonstrated how incredibly important it will be to get off the ship and sample what just cannot be tasted by a lecture.

 

From Pat:

     Wow, what could I add to THAT? This was definitely a trip men related to better than women. That is: no shopping. No lunch till we got back at 3:00 so mealtimes are a bit closer together today.

     He didn’t mention that this side (Panama City) is definitely more affluent, safe and clean than the other (Colon). We just went through that but I did get a shot of a tenement with clothes hanging out to dry from the windows.

     Tomorrow we’ll meet the Loftuses again for a pre-prendial.

     Today we could not get on line to send messages or receive yours. Drat. I love it when the modern conveniences work. I have to admit I’m loving the digital camera.

     So I will wish you a fond farewell for now….