December 16, 2004
THE BEGINNING OF THE TRIP (IN DETAIL!)
The beginning of the trip (written Thursday 16 December @ 17.50)
We were collected bang on 12 noon by the driver from Cruise Connection Chauffer service. We had booked this through Cunard as it is advertised in the brochure. It is just as well that he had a large Mercedes as we seem to be talking almost every item of clothing that we have! There are 2 large suit carriers, a large "wheelie" suitcase and we both have our small "wheelies" and a bag with the Christmas presents that we are giving each other.
I had written a long list of clothing and other items that I thought we should take, and Mark and I had gone through that and scarily we had added to it. We had to take of course our Tuxedos and the dress shirts etc, but also then suit for the 2 informal nights (yes, on the QE2 "informal" means jacket and tie!). We also brought "smart casual" as we were not sure how smart we need to be during the day on the ship, plus then jeans and more casual stuff for when we are in Washington. Although once we got to the QE2 and got a better sense, it is clear that we have brought too many clothes, and all of the cupboards are very full.
We got down to Southampton in about 1.5 hours and drew up at the Queen Elizabeth terminal. You drive into a large hall which is decked out with the Union Jack. A porter comes and takes all the bags out the car, and the next time we saw them they were in the cabin.
There was a queue into the terminal, and we joined it. A lady came bustling by asking of anyone was "Queens or Grill accommodation" and when we said we were, she handed these forms you need to sign saying you have not been suffering from vomiting or diarrhoea in the previous 48 hours (which is part of a health screening to stop bringing stomach bug on-board like the one that got people stuck on the P&O Aurora on a Med cruise last summer). She then marched us through the queue. She was pretty much shoving people out of the way into the "Grill Passenger" queue. In the queue behind us we started chatting to the people who are in 8005, which is across the hall from us.
The lady who served us was (of course) the slowest of all of them and she also did not give us a "Gold" boarding card that would have allowed us to board immediately. But Mark sorted that out with the ladies handling the boarding and we basically then went straight on-board. Pausing for the inevitable and compulsory photo with a QE2 life ring (The photo costs $12.50 if you want to buy it).
We entered the ship at the "Midships lounge" which is surrounded with a series of scenes telling the history of Cunard, and also contains a silver model of the QE2 made by Asprey. We were allocated a lady to show us to our room. What is scary is I knew better than she did towards the last part and pretty much showed her where our room was. The QE2 is VERY confusing to find your way around. As we have found as we tried to get around yesterday, and today. It is apparently as when the ship was first conceived and designed it was going to be a 2 class ship and so passengers would only have access to parts based on what class they were travelling. But it is confusing. I am sure we will work it out.