Travel Weekly’s Donna Tunney is aboard the Queen Mary 2 for a transatlantic cruise. Her second dispatch follows. Click to read her first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth dispatches.
Plowing toward the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and shrouded in a dense fog, the Queen Mary 2’s passengers are becoming accustomed to hearing the fog horn blow every two minutes.
It's a warning to others who might be sailing or fishing in these waters that a 150,000-ton vessel is in their neck of the woods, so to speak.
With rain falling and winds blowing, visibility is limited to what looks like a few hundred feet from the ship. It means that this group of about 2,600 will keep busy indoors as they push eastward on their seven-day transatlantic crossing to Southampton.
And with everyone confined to the ship's cozy gathering places, it becomes easier to get to know people and chat them up a bit.
That’s not always the case, though.
Take Al Stern, for example (names have been changed to protect privacy). I notice Mr. Stern during embarkation. A short line had formed while the ship’s photographers snapped pictures of everyone just before boarding. But Mr. Stern, a distinguished-looking British retiree wearing a very well made suit and who was traveling alone, wanted no part of the tradition.
"Is this required?" he growled to the staff person organizing the photos.
"No, sir, of course not. You can just go round."
I met up with Mr. Stern at the elevators and then again at a coffee and tea station, and tried to get a smile out of him. No dice.
I sat with Amanda (Manny) Pearls at breakfast. She’s a well-to-do widow from the Baltimore area who’s big into jewelry, even at 7 in the morning. Friendly and obviously lonely, I don't have the heart to tell her this is no singles cruise. Maybe she could liven up Mr. Stern.
The vast majority of the passengers are married couples. There’s Mr. and Mrs. Elbourn, from Australia. They're on an around-the-world journey. They flew from Australia to "San Fran," as Mr. Elbourn calls it, then onward to New York, where they spent several days before joining the Queen Mary 2.
"In England, we're visiting old friends, you see," said Mr. Elbourn, who had a habit of using his arm to nudge a person he was talking to, as if this would drive it home.
After a week in England, it's on to Hong Kong for a few days, then "back to the deep south — get it? The deep south?" he quipped, with a nudge to my ribs.
I chatted with 60-something Rose Weery on a stairwell, and both of us are a little lost at the time. I had a deck map but she didn't.
"These stairs are killing me and I can’t find my way anywhere I want to go. I’m exhausted already and I've only been here two days," she said.
There are elevators nearby, I remind her.
"Yes, but then you don't really get to see the ship do you?"
I gave her my map.
One of the younger people I bumped into was Anne Cryan. She was talking on her cell phone, in an animated way, and then I realized she was crying.
"I want to fix this," she sobbed into her Blackberry. "I’m coming to London."
Ah, heartbreak, even during a luxury cruise.
If she could dry her eyes for a few moments, she might notice John Silverfox. He's a handsome, single, young retiree from the Pacific Northwest who's on a three-month jaunt to Europe.
"My business partner recently bought me out. Now I'm an investor. I just felt like getting away for a while. Figured this would be a fun way to get to England."
Where, oh where, is Ms. Cryan?