We are over five hundred nautical miles from the nearest speck of land. A lone wandering albatross and I share the early evening as the gentle swell of the fog soaked Atlantic Ocean laps against the bow of the ship. The mournful fog horn echoes a call no other ship will ever hear.
Seventy five years ago at the beginning of the Second World War these waters of the Mid Atlantic were the hunting ground for German u-boats, their prey was merchant craft and Allied shipping. Over 3,500 thousand ships were sunk and thousands of lives lost before that war ended.
While I spare a thought for all who were lost to the sea, I’m especially mindful after recent news reports of those enduring wretched suffering right now, adrift on a sea of misery. People driven to desperation seeking refuge in an uncaring world. Their journey is so different from my own.
As a gloved hand rubbed across a frosted window reveals a glimpse of what’s inside, so too a week on the Queen Mary 2 allows one a view into another world.
As well as the buffet, there is a smorgasbord of people. Juan, the mysterious South American financier who claims to be on his 132 cruise and his 12 Atlantic crossing. Vera the elderly Eastern European with enough disposable income to splurge $18,000 on a diamond encrusted bracelet for her terrier Trixie. Then there’s Julia, a travel writer with a major American newspaper traveling incognito so as to get the real story on shipboard life. “If they were to actually find out who I was, I would suddenly find complimentary bottles of Champagne in my Stateroom.”
And you thought your job was tough!
An dizzying array of shipboard activities are scheduled daily in between the never ending courses of food. You can organise a programme to suit your own particular interests. There’s at least 3 swimming pools, spas and jacuzzis, beauty treatments, lecture series’, watercolour art classes, a well stocked walnut panelled library, a casino, numerous bars, high end shopping, live theatre, movies, formal and informal dining etc, the list is endless.
Wealth and privilege are evident on board ship and just like in other areas of life subtle exclusion is used to keep the chattering classes at bay. Formal dress requirements: Dinner jacket or tuxedo with tie for Gentlemen, evening or cocktail dress for ladies is required at dinner, less well dressed passengers are provided with an alternative option but must use other areas of the ship out of respect for their fellow guests.
If I were here any longer than a week, I would begin planning a mutiny, with the class enemies either made to walk the plank or placed in irons below deck. Me and my cheerful brigade of working class heroes would then commander the ship and sail to Cuba. Viva the Revolution!
Looking forward to docking in Southampton UK tomorrow and getting back on the bikes.