February 13, 2005
LIVING ON THE QE2 - FROM NEW YORK TIMES
Crossing the World in Her Apartment
By JOSEPH P. FRIED Published: February 13, 2005
Beatrice Muller traded in two states for the seven seas, and she is still counting the rewards.
In 1999, Mrs. Muller and her husband of 57 years, Robert Muller, were on the latest of several world cruises on the Queen Elizabeth 2 when Mr. Muller, who was 85, died aboard ship. The Mullers, who lived in Bound Brook, N.J., and had a second home in Myrtle Beach, S.C., had so enjoyed the cruises that they had planned to spend all of 2000 on the QE2, taking every one of its voyages that year.
At a son's suggestion, Mrs. Muller went forward with the plan, solo - and, along the way, decided there was no reason for her to leave the ship. Officials of the Cunard Line, its owner, were amenable, and since January 2000, a small fourth-deck cabin on the fabled ocean liner has been Mrs. Muller's permanent home, with her payment of about $5,000 a month also covering meals and housekeeping.
Mrs. Muller, now 85, whose unusual living arrangement has drawn newspaper and television attention, has sold off virtually everything she and her husband owned, including the Bound Brook home, though she has kept the Myrtle Beach property. Before they retired, the couple had an engineering consulting business.
Though Mrs. Muller's cabin is a mere 10 feet by 10 feet and windowless, she feels "no sense of confinement," she said in an e-mail message from the ship last week. The novelty of her life as the only noncrew resident on a huge ocean liner has not worn off, she said, even after five years.
"I plan to be a passenger on this beautiful ship or, if necessary, another, until I am bored or dead, and don't expect that to be for a long, long time," she wrote.
"QE2 is a small village traveling about the world," she said. "Everything is here for one's needs." She cited shops, entertainment, cultural events and medical facilities. She has made friends among the crew members and regularly returning passengers, she said, and her two sons periodically book cruises "to sail with me."
Mrs. Muller sent her e-mail message on Wednesday, as the QE2 was about to leave Sydney, Australia, on a cruise that began in New York on Jan. 3 and is to end in Southampton, England, on April 16.
"When QE2 is in port, I get off and go somewhere," she said. The voyage so far has included the Bahamas, a run through the Panama Canal and stops across the Pacific, with Japan, Thailand, India, the Middle East and countries in Europe among the places to come.
"It would be very hard," Mrs. Muller said, "to pick up life on land again."