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On Board with your Flat World Staff !!
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We thought you might be interested in finding out a little about our life aboard the QE2 on her 2003 World Cruise. We have enjoyed calm sailing, with the possible exception of the Pacific passage between LA and Hawaii, wherein Poseidon stirred things up a bit. Later on, we were surprised to find it difficult to go to sleep on the night we spent in Saigon on terra firma, because of the absence of the engine hum and the methodical rocking of the ship. Guess that means we’ve truly re-installed our Viking sea legs! Some might think that months aboard QE2 is boring, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we lack the time to participate in half of the activities offered. Port Days: On port days, we are off from dawn to dusk on guided Cunard bus tours seeing as much as we possibly can, with Bob recording the splendor of it all through his camera lens. Of the five or six tours offered at each port, we make our selection based on what we wish to see and price, with full-day tours in the neighborhood of one to two hundred dollars for two people and overnights substantially more. (A four night tour to Taj Mahal was available, but cost $8000 for two, a bit too pricey for us.) Words simply cannot describe the awe and wonder of seeing the exotic places that we did visit, heretofore known to us only through written or visual description. Meeting the people and seeing how they live and learning about their cultures gives new meaning to our belief in the intricate web of life on this planet and the universal brotherhood of man, especially our utter dependence upon each other for survival. Sea Days: When at sea, our morning usually begins with a workout in the gym, followed by breakfast. We spend the rest of the morning in fascinating lectures on aboard, which are continually changing depending upon where we are at the time. Most lecturers are professors of history or of natural history, such as marine biologists or geologists, world travel guides, foreign affairs experts, newspaper editors, well-known authors and even a few famous theater folks. This informational preparation has greatly enhanced the learning value of our tour experiences. After lunch, one can participate in regular activities such as exercise or computer classes, water color painting, bridge or dance lessons and occasional ones in scarf tying or Spanish lessons (photo). Religious services are conducted at the appropriate times by the onboard rabbi, priest or minister. It is interesting to note that Mr. Cunard, himself, required that that his ship Captains conduct an inter-denominational protestant service each Sunday morning and that has continued unto this day. The Captain’s Sunday worship has quite an Anglican flavor and includes a congregational prayer for the Queen. Scripture is read by various ship officers and the service always ends with the “Sailors Hymn”. Some of our time is spent preparing chapters to be emailed to Nathaniel for inclusion in our Flat World Web site (photo). From the hundreds of gorgeous digital photos that Bob has taken that day, we painfully narrow down to six for inclusion. I prepare a draft of the narrative for Magellan’s approval and we are ready to begin the really hard part, which is email transmission (photo). QE2’s email transmission is quite unreliable. We have no way of knowing whether transmission has actually occurred, even though our account is always charged, with refunds out of the question. Our only way of knowing if transmission has been successful is return email from Nat or Wes confirming reception. Internet cafes on shore are not only often distant from the piers, but each has its own system and you are lucky indeed if the attendant can speak English! Telephone service to the US has been just about as unpredictable in these remote places of Earth. After three months at sea, we can assure you that indeed the world is 70% covered with water and is often miles deep! Meals: QE2 food service is truly first class and continuous throughout the day and night. The fresh fishes, brought onboard at each port are a gourmet delight and as a result we are both sprouting gill slits! Magellan generally prefers dining in the elegant full-service restaurant with guests from around the world, which have been principally from the UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, India and Japan. Here discussions are lively and often from a political perspective not often heard back home. It is not unusual for folks to question our recent actions in Iraq and to voice concern about weakening the integrity of the United Nations. It is interesting that most of these folks speak several languages, in contrast to most of us English-only Americans. It seems to us that Europeans have trouble understanding why Americans need so many guns and why we continue using capital punishment. Occasionally, we choose to eat at the Lido buffet, which is more informal and often features ethnic options such as Indian, Malaysian or Italian entrees. Formal Afternoon Tea is served with white gloves in the Queen’s Lounge or informally on deck, with delightful tea sandwiches, fruit tarts and scones with clotted cream (photo). As world cruisers, we have the additional privilege of partaking in any of this in the Boardroom, an exclusive upscale retreat on the topside. And then of course there is the midnight buffet. If one is hungry in between, complimentary room service is available throughout the day and night! We are most likely to indulge in this accoutrement for coffee and croissants upon awakening, so I can read the New York Times Digest to Magellan without missing a beat. Dress Code: On port days, informal dress is allowed in the dining room, but note that informal means suit, collared shirt and tie for men and dressy after-five dress or slack suit for women. No exceptions are allowed. Bob brought along several turtle neck shirts to wear to dinner with his camel hair sport jacket, but they remain in the suitcase. On sea days, only formalwear is allowed in the dining room, which is tux or dinner jacket for men and floor length gowns for women. We have now become so accustomed to formal dressing that we can do so almost as quickly as donning bathing gear for the deck pool. I hardly recognize Magellan without his tux. And he loves it as formality appeals to his peacock nature. Such formal dress codes are unique to QE2, as most cruise ships today are much more informal to appeal to the crowds. QE2: QE2 is not a cruise ship, such as the floating hotels that glide around the Caribbean. Instead, QE2 is a sleek liner, in fact the fastest passenger liner in service today, which is why we can circumnavigate the globe in a few months. Her maximum speed is 32 knots and her cruising speed is 28.5 knots (32.7 mph). The difference in her appearance from that of cruise ships is obvious from Bob’s photo of her sleek sculptured bow on the opening page of our Web site. She weighs 70,000 tons, is 963 feet long and carries 1750 passengers and a crew of 1000. Of that crew, there are 110 chefs and 200 wait staff assigned to fattening up the passengers and only three (3) young physical specialists in the gym trying to keep us thin. The ratio is obviously skewed and doomed to failure! QE2, the flagship of the Cunard Line, will continue doing world cruises in the future, as the Queen Mary 2, which will be launched next year, is too wide to pass through the Panama Canal. Evening Entertainment: Each evening after dinner, a variety of entertainment is offered. On most evenings, a classical concert, featuring talented professional musicians from around the world, is offered in the Theatre. In the Grand Lounge following, is a continuing array of contemporary entertainers such as magicians, comedians, vocalists, mostly from the UK or Australia. On occasions when we have been in exotic ports, we have been treated to delightful performances by local ethnic cultural groups, from Maori war dances, which seem so outrageously bellicose to us, to the delicate subtle movements of Vietnamese maiden dancers. In the past few weeks, NY operatic singers have been aboard presenting vignettes from well-known operas such as Madame Butterfly and Carmen, which has been very special to us. Some Americans may avoid the rest of the world at a time when perhaps our engagement with others is most needed. Maybe now more than ever we need to interface with folks from around the globe to listen, to clarify and to respect our and their cultural perspectives. Will 21st century people have developed to the level where they can negotiate their differences of opinion rather than resorting to force? Experiencing how small the world really is and seeing how much more similar we are than different, underscores the value of our learning how to live together cooperatively and in peace.

 

COMMAND AND CONTROL HQ Our Fearless Leader Crossing the Equator Flat World Executive Quarters
Flat World Executive Dining in the Mauritania Restaurant Flat World High Tea More "TEA"?

Flat World: COMMAND AND CONTROL HQ

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