My husband’s grandfather, Charlie, served in the British merchant navy during WWII, at one point sailing across the Atlantic on the ocean liner RMS Queen Elizabeth, which had been outfitted as a troop ship from a luxury liner. He spoke fondly of that voyage and how the Queen Elizabeth had to sail at less-than-full speed so that her escort ships could keep up with her as she zig-zagged her way across the ocean to avoid the German U-boats.
It was with this trip in mind that we boarded the Queen Mary 2 in Brooklyn, NY, this past July. It was a very different experience than Charlie would have had, though he and his wife were able to take several cruises for pleasure in their later years, giving them a taste of what it may have been like to sail on the Queen Elizabeth in her heyday.
The funny thing is, we all know the Atlantic Ocean is vast, but when you are sailing across it in a luxury liner with room enough for 2,620 guests and 1,253 crew, multiple swimming pools, dining rooms, a library with full-time librarian, gift shops, ballroom, a band, … well, you see that even this very large boat is tiny when compared to that body of water. And when the captain actually announces to you that you will be passing over the spot where the Titanic lies, and you realize when it is you last saw land, or even another boat, you get some idea of how cold and lonely and desperate it would have been for those who survived the Titanic’s sinking. And you definitely don’t want to experience anything like it yourself.
It’s awe-inspiring, and yes, I’m well aware that I am using a cliche, but, how do you put into words the sight of this?
It was the trip of a lifetime, as we told our children before we boarded, letting them know that their parents would probably never go on a cruise like this again, but it was quite likely that they would. We were lucky this summer because the high cost of fuel made a one-way airline ticket, times 4, versus a one-way ticket on the QM2, times 4, cost about the same–and there’s no debate between 7 cramped hours in a metal tube hurtling through the sky versus 7 days on a luxury ocean liner. But after an amazing week at sea, Simon and I are wondering how the two of us can get on board the QM2 again.
And who wouldn’t want to experience more of this?