4th November 2018 - 11th November 2018

The miracle happened again, and we have everything packed, including a bottle of Gin and we are below maximum weight for liners and planes..

We set off early to travel to Essex where we were leaving the car. This caused us to travel on the M25, the ring road around London, it is a nightmare and more like the parking lot around London than a motorway. Our direction was moving so that is a plus, unlike the other direction. We eventually go to our hotel, but too late to catch the train to London to see Bob Adam, which was sad. Charlotte, my friend from School joined us for dinner we had a great chat. 

The next day we drove to Charlottes left the car with her and picked up a hire car. The plan was to pick Andreas and Carsten up at 11:00 at Gatwick. Of course, the plan was made without taking the M25 into account. We were picking up the car when we got the message that the boys were at passport control, “get coffee and wait” they were told. We the set off for Gatwick on the M25!!! Need I say more we actually had a lovely chat to Charlotte for about 10 mins as she sat in her lane to go clockwise and we sat in our lane to go anticlockwise. Once we were on the M25 it was not too bad, and we picked up the boys about 1 hour after we said we would. The boys had had a stressful trip assuming their flight was from Schönefeld as they all are, and it was from Tegel lucky the traffic was light early on a Sunday morning, so they made it

The trip to Southampton was a happy excited trip full of anticipation. Then we drove around Southampton about 3 times looking for our hotel. I feel we may have overlooked it because it was a little basic. Do not stay at the Ibis Budget Southampton, if you do not have to. Carsten and I dropped the car off, with the other two checking for eating places for dinner.

The next morning, we breakfasted at the Novatel our hotel being too awful. That was when I met a man who said it was a marvellous hotel and that this was their second holiday there. Now why you would holiday in Southampton I do not know and if he thought the Ibis Budget was a good holiday destination, then I am sorry for him, still each to their own. After what seemed like a million hours our taxi arrived, and we were embarking onto the Liner. We met Stephen and Monica who had also had a difficult trip. Their taxi driver was a mad man nearly killing them all twice and taking them past the docks to the airport!! They turned up at the same time as us fairly shaken and not stirred. (Martinis here we come)

1/22

1/5

Where was I? Yes, we got on the QM2 after a short wait to clear immigration etc. our cabins were all in a row. We unpacked and went topside to watch us leave Southampton. We decided we would meet every night for predinner drinks and if we were doing breakfast, we would meet at 8:45 (dinner worked well, breakfast worked. Not!!!)

The first night we met our table mates - Carol and Marvin a great couple, who had changed their cruise as a few cruises had been cancelled or diverted due to the big storm in the Atlantic (that will not worry us!!!). The other couple was a little strange "Sam" and "Hilda" (more about her later- not their real names) he was a dyed in the wool socialist and very anti-feminist, so we had to be careful who we sat next to him. Monica and I libel to give him the sharp edge of our tongue. Andreas found he could talk history with him, so he got the short end of the straw for most of the voyage.

Rather than going day to day I will give you some highlights.

I guess you are wanting to know about "Hilda", well I do not like to gossip but……. Stephen and Monica spotted her on one of the final days of the cruise shoplifting chocolates!!! Can you imagine. They disembarked with us but did not get off the ship for ages and were obviously not talking so she might have got taken away for a short chat and a fine!!!

I went to lots of the ships lectures it was the ancestory.com cruise so a lot of them were ancestry. One of the lectures on DNA was in a small theatre and not everyone could get in. I am told there was a lot of angry voices, nearly a riot and complaints made. I decided not to own up to the fact I was not interested but had been chosen for a “who do you think you are”, I might have got lynched. Most of the passengers had booked the cruise because of ancestry.com!!

The Faberge man was on board. He did an interesting talk, but a bit of hard sell.

The ancestry lecture was about finding your ancestors in war records and about all that happened in the last year of WW1 and how the ancestry people had found all the records of final letters etc. It was interesting, and very poignant. I met a nice lady who’s father had been a married American airman in England. Her mother brought her up with out any help as she did not want the family in the USA knowing. Unfortunately, as the father had requested financial help for the English family (which was refused by the family) the letter about the money went home to his family - they opened it. She had gone to meet them a few years ago and they gave her the letter and photos of her father, but she said they were not happy to see her, so she has not kept in touch. A sad story, I thought. As her mother could have used the money; the American family knowing about the affair. They should not have opened someone else’s mail.  

My “who do you think you are” was interesting and disappointing at the same time. They had found out a bit about Grandfather Bradshaw, including the name of his first wife which I do not think I knew. They looked at his army record and his travels around. They were interested in Grandma Bradshaw and had found a copy of her teaching records.

They them looked at the Symes and while it was interesting it was all about Grandpa Symes’s brother and wife who had travelled backward and forwards many times to USA. An unusual thing for the times. The had family over there and it looks like they finally settled over there too.

The Rockefeller Center lecture was very interesting it was all about the art and made me want to spend more time there when we get to New York.

Carsten and I went to the waltz class, Carsten was good I am hopeless. Stephen and Monica made it look easy. Carsten and I also had a small flutter at the blackjack tables in the casino, good fun but we lost our money so fast that we did not go back

We did full formal gear three times having a ball (except for Ross, who I am sure secretly enjoyed it). One night was the ”Meet the Captain” we crept in the back for the free but flat bubbly and canapes.

One night we went to the restaurant and had the best steak meal. The final night was just dinner as usual. We did eat to much. One night I had three courses and an extra dessert.

Carsten and I toured the kitchens amazing so clean and well organised. We were told that the day was chocolate day so to go early to the buffet for lunch. We did and pigged out!!! Who is surprised at that, no one.

I watched Mamma Mia - Here we go again on the big screen and again on the TV in our cabin (I enjoyed it).

Ross played trivia every day and we all joined him at different times. He met lots of people and saw more of the bars than I did.

I was not seasick, lots of people were as the crossing was quite rough. I thanked my ginger tablets. Carsten took some tablets from his Dr and was fine. Stephen and Monica did the same. Andreas and Ross did not notice the seas at all so the group was fine.

We got up early and watched New York come into view from our cabin, it was to cold for me to go on deck. Disembarkation was sad and very efficient. Even the taking "Hilda" away was done very subtly!!

This is all my own work, any mistakes are mine please let me know if you think I should change anything or if I have added a photo of you that you would like removed. My apologise if I offend anyone. Please send me a message using the box above and I will action immediately.

Writer: Clare - Retired Traveler

Editor : Ross Lyon

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Ist Formal night - Captains Drinks