The night before we boarded the Queen Mary 2 (the largest ocean liner in the world!), we arrived in Southampton, England after dark by train (about 5.30pm) and caught a taxi to the hotel – driven by a Portuguese driver who had spent time in Australia. We had a great room (right above the railway line which suited us perfectly…sounded like thunder every time a train went past), where the trains ran every 15-20 minutes with last service is at 2.20am.
We walked up the road with the initial idea of heading into the shopping area to go to a supermarket and buy something to eat when we got back to the hotel…but with hordes of incredibly well behaved football fans leaving a ground near us after a Sunday match (Southampton vs Portsmouth), we decided against going with the flow of the crowd and had hamburgers just up the road!
I had booked our taxi for 2.45pm (embarkation was timed for 3.30pm), but I went to print out the E-tickets, the boarding time had mysteriously been brought forward to 1pm…I didnt bother to read why but went back down to hotel reception in between making up luggage tags and asked the hotel receptionist to change the taxi booking time forward to 12.15pm – a good move in hindsight as complete chaos reigned the next day with people who had been to the football trying to check out of the hotel, people coming off 3 cruise ships trying to check into the hotel, and then people checking out of the hotel trying to get on the next cruise…..and a steady stream of taxis circling the carpark!!!!
We arrived in the cruise hall and sat around watching the other passengers waiting for our boarding group to be called…it’s quickly clear who has been on this trip before by their demeanour and their behaviour…seasoned travellers don’t fidget..new traveller’s have very big eyes with their heads on a swivel!!
After discovering that we had been mysteriously upgraded from Deck 6 midships to Deck 12 forward (again)…we ambled off to security and boarding…I didn’t want to take my ‘Storm’ bracelet off and had to subject to a patdown, and upon suggesting that she (the Customs agent) might give me a shoulder massage at the same time as my shoulders were sore after carrying baggage all over Europe, I ended up with a 5 minute shoulder massage (in a previous life, the Customs agent had been a massage therapist)…now that just wouldnt happen in an airport…
Once on board, and still waiting for our luggage which was labelled with the cabin tags for Deck 6 but had not yet arrived on Deck 12, we ambled down to Deck 7 for afternoon tea, and joined the other seasoned travellers who had beaten us to it!! Clyve hunted down his much loved vanilla icecream and I had 2 small cakes and a cup of tea.
As we left Southampton docks at 6.30pm at the beginning of the Queen Mary’s world cruise, they were playing Rod Stewart’s “Sailing” at full blast…seagulls flocked around the water disturbed by the ship and the fireworks display to herald the beginning of the cruise ended to cries of “Bravo” from people watching from the decks.
For dinner tonight I had rack of pork with gravy, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, bread roll and a Cardinal dessert. Clyve had Chicken Cordon Bleu, French fries, bread roll and coke ($4.30 a glass), and……icecream!!!!