I was never too fond of cruising since the time I was sailing on that military ship transporting troops to Europe. It was very cramped and we soldiers slept in five-tier hammocks. Regrettably, I had chosen a bottom one. The second night out, a Nor'easter hit the ship convulsing the waters beneath us. Number Five (on top) got sick and barfed on No. 4, who barfed on No. 3, who barfed on No. 2, and, in unison, all barfed on me. Need I say more? However, since her maiden voyage on Jan. 12, 2004, I knew we had to travel on the $800 million Queen Mary 2, the world's largest, tallest, longest, widest, and grandest passenger ship ever to sail the deep blue sea. Someday, I kept telling myself, Gloria and I will get to cruise on that glorious, majestic, floating palace, and feast on its fine, European-style meals.I pictured the two of us dancing, on a moonlit deck, in formal wear (the first time I would wear a tuxedo since our wedding day), sleeping in a king-size, luxurious bed, alongside Gloria, and hobnobbing with the sophisticates. I kept wishingÉ somedayÉ somedayÉ it would happen.Well, when our 41st wedding anniversary came and went, I felt guilty that all I offered Gloria on that momentous day was a shrimp parmigiana dinner at Aunt Bella's restaurant in Little Neck. Then I finally decided to grab the anchor by the tailwind and booked passage on the QM2. I ran to tell Gloria the good news and she pointed to an already packed suitcase I called the "QM3," because of its huge size and weight. Gloria smiled and asked, "What took you so long?" I prepared for the vacation by writing three columns in advance, while Gloria rushed to the department stores to buy some necessities Ð eight pairs of shoes and three shades of lipstick. We then flew to Fort Lauderdale to meet the ship. The Commodore looked at our bulging "QM3" suitcase and said, "You should have told me. I would have brought a larger ship." I was awed by the size of the QM2. Do you know that it is 1,132 feet long, has 17 decks, towers 200 feet above the waterline (equal to the height of a 23-story building), and weighs 151,400 gross tons? It can travel at a maximum speed of 30 knots (34 miles an hour), but only when chasing a mermaid. As that great English entertainer, Beatrice Lillie once said aboard the QMl (which applies to the QM2 also), "When does this place get there?"My statistical-minded wife then figured out that the ship is twice as long as the Washington Monument, 147 feet longer than the Eiffel Tower, 117 feet shorter than the Empire State Building, and stretches nearly four football fields in length. It is so long, Gloria joked, that when the ship docks at St. Thomas, we have only to walk to the other end of the ship to arrive in St. Maarten.The QM2 can accommodate 2,620 passengers, and a crew of 1,253 (one staff member to serve every two passengers), 1,310 staterooms (78 percent outside), all with spacious balconies, hi-fi television, frette (patterned) linens, and walk-in closets. There are also 2,000 bathrooms, and three hungry cats. And that's not all. The ship has a six-story atrium; the largest dance floor, and the longest jogging track at sea; a casino; a planetarium; a SpaClub; five swimming pools; and a Play Zone for kids. But the greatest wonder of all is its seven dining rooms. Talk about gourmet food preparation, as an example, the chefs go through 7,000 boxes of strawberries annually just to cover them in chocolate. We dined at the Britannia restaurant, with a seating capacity of 1,35l for dinner. For breakfast and lunch, there is open seating at all the restaurants, and a tired sailor (like me) can even have his breakfast in bed. Believe me, you haven't lived until you've had breakfast in bed aboard the Queen. The Britannia is one fancy restaurant. Before eating, the guests are encouraged to use a dispenser, which squeezes a few drops of liquid sanitizer on their unsanitized hands. It was like mothers telling their children to wash their hands before dinner. In addition, to ensure that all guests leave the table free from gastric discomfort, the diners are requested to stop eating the moment their belly buttons pop up. The main showroom is the Royal Court Theatre, which seats 1,l05 tiered viewers. The entertainment is professional and the nightly performances are on par with Broadway musicals. Of course, there are also smaller rooms for dancing, where male escorts are available for the single ladies. Gloria said that I am better looking, a better conversationalist, and a better dancer, than any of the escorts and, besides, I can sing better also. Every evening, Gloria and I would walk the deck to converse with other passengers. As an Anglophile, I particularly enjoyed my tete-a-tetes with the Brits. We chatted with Lord and Lady Fingers, Viscount Hugh Fitz, and Sir Horatio Belch. All wonderful chaps. Esmeralda Hefershire, from Stratfordshire on the Hertfordshire, said she recently lost her husband at sea. "Was it a tidal wave?" I asked. "No, he met a redhead on a cruise to the Canary Islands." Yes, it was quite an experience to be pampered and pandered to in such de rigeur (strict etiquette). I now expect Gloria to turn my sheets, fluff my pillows, and put a flower atop my bed every night at home. If my column suddenly disappears next week, you will know I will still be convalesci
©2005 Community News Group
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