Southampton... "all aboard"...

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Mar 22, 2004
Nottingham, England.
Tuesday afternoon, 26/8/2014...

This afternoon finds me aboard the Cunard liner Queen Mary 2, having "afternoon tea, with scones and jam", listening to a bloke play piano, nearing New York, where we should dock at 6.30am tomorrow morning...

It has been a lot of fun to take this, my first sea crossing. The ship itself is massive, and although the captain mentioned one day that the waves were 3 - 4 meters high, there was hardly any motion detectable on the ship. I guess we were lucky not to experience any bad weather, I am sure that a storm could make itself felt.

It was only a month ago that I decided to travel to America, so this is my usual last minute caper...

Cunard make a big fuss over the "formal" evening wear, which is not my thing at all, but I did enjoy the atmosphere aboard more than I expected.

Food is a big part of these cruises, and I was impressed by the options, both formal and informal... no way have I lost any weight on this voyage!

I had kind of imagined that with seven days looking at the sea, I might have had some of the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything, revealed to me, but this was not the case. The sea was pretty uninteresting, and because there was no huge visual change from one day to the next, although we have covered thousands of miles, it is a bit like looking out from a hotel window and not seeing anything new... The distance traversed is not marked by the changing view. Not boring in any way, but somehow I expected more variety... probably on a smaller ship one would feel closer to the sea, somehow?

We had a genuine "all hands to emergency stations" announcement yesterday evening, which left those passengers half way through their posh dinners without any waiters or indeed food for some half hour or so.

The staff all donned life jackets and looked a bit tense, the captain made several announcements about "noxious fumes in the engine compartment" Something had gone awry, but no one was hurt, and normal service resumed, although the evenings social events had to be put back by an hour or so.

Just been topped up with more scones and tea, so feeling quite well looked after, one could get very used to this lifestyle very quickly indeed... Forget religion, global warming, war, famine, and all bad stuff, including my cholesterol levels, and just float along aboard this luxury raft!

1st September 2014.

This trip started in Nottingham with a short free bus pass ride into Nottingham, my son had arrived early to see me off, we had a good parting at the bus stop. Unremarkable train ride down to London, tube to Waterloo, then train again down to Southampton. I was spending the night in Southampton as the coach / train connections on the sailing day were too tight.

Had a quick look around town in the afternoon and also the next morning, bought a few snacks, then a taxi to the Cunard terminal. A painless check in, then my first view of the ship interior. Very hard to be blasé, most impressive levels of swank, and I do mean with the “s”...

Room most comfortable, huge king size bed, fridge, welcome aboard bottle of bubbly on ice.

One has several food options, one has a table allocated for all meals in the posh restaurant, or there are several other less formal places... One is expected to “dress for dinner” if using the posh option.

I had met several people at the solo passengers daily get together, and there were lots of entertainments to partake of on the voyage, from dancing lessons to lectures on astronomy and even a tour of the huge kitchens.

The US immigration was just like from the airport, very long lines, slow, and then a big queue for the taxi rank.

I was lucky to meet a guy from Germany and an English woman, we shared the cost of a cab into town, so that worked out well.

Took the Amtrak train from New York to Washington, and enjoyed my stay at the HI Hostel there. Interesting room mates from all over the world, and slept well as no one snored!

Enjoyed the Smithsonian museums, the warm sunshine, and the ability to buy and cook my own food in the hostel kitchen... Porridge back on my menu!

Took the “Cardinal” amtrak train yesterday morning from Washington to Chicago, a trip in coach seats of just over 24 hrs, a very tiring ride. I met a gent from the AU forum on the platform at Charlotteville, he surprised me by buying a ticket to accompany me to the next station. A most interesting companion... Thanks for meeting up, I hope your train ride back was good too.

I am staying in Chicago ‘till Thursday, no real plans, then on to Reno and Sacramento.

Some pics from the voyage can be seen here:

To read the next part of the trip, please click here:

Ed. :cool:
Last edited by a moderator:


Gathering Team Member
May 6, 2011
The gent you met at Charlottesville is the "official" AU greeter there. :) I met him last year on my way to the Gathering.


Lead Service Attendant
Jun 7, 2013
That was a bucket list of mine... would love to cross the Atlantic and your pictures have absolutely inspired me. Amazing photos... thank you.

Green Maned Lion

Dec 27, 2007
I always wanted to do it too, although I don't think I could do Cunard to HI. Last time I went to DC I stayed at this place called the Willard. I think it was an Inter-Continental? Very reasonable, $110 a night IIRC.


OBS Chief
Oct 25, 2011
£850 w return airfare is really good! I was looking at doing a solo cruise in the Caribbean just before Covid and the single supplement was a killer for most bargain cruises. I think Norwegian and Royal Caribbean had the best deals for solo cruisers but I think a seven day cruise with 5 islands was going to be $1400-$1600 and there was no airfare involved. But it has been almost 2 years and maybe my memory is playing tricks.
The cruise I wanted was to do as many islands in a week as possible so I could find an island I liked the most and then return to it by air fairly frequently. I ended up traveling to St. Thomas and St. Johns by air over the Covid era and they are both ok, w St. Johns being slightly nicer. But I still haven't found "my island" so a cruise may be in my future travels.
Not sure Cunard would work for me, but it sounds like a heck of an experience!