Queen Mary 2 - Autumn Escape
After watching the three Queens sail on the 13th July 2012, I had an urge to go on one.  Mary was yet again the temptress the following day, as a Getaway fare was ridiculously cheap for Cunard (though I'm sure it could get lower!), and the 4 nights on the 16th-20th November was good even for singles.  As it turned out, my friend Fay has no willpower either so, after thinking about it for a while, said she'd come so we booked it that night.  We chose a C4 guarantee so hopefully we'd get a good cabin, with upgrade!  With these Getaway Fares, you had to pay it all there and you cannot amend any booking, which is a bugger so I'm glad she decided to come at the time rather than say yes after I'd booked.  It was totally crazy, but impulse usually is.  I'd only get back from Independence of the Seas five days prior and was off Celebrity Constellation six days before that!  Our cabin was allocated on the 24th August but email sent the 1st September.  We'd been upgraded from a C4 to C1 and got 6032, which was the one next to mine year before.  Several weeks before, Le Havre had been replaced by Guernsey.  Now it was back.

Mary was in Ocean Terminal on the 16th November with Oriana at Mayflower and Balmoral in City.  Fay was obviously keen to fulfill a dream since Mary first loomed over Southampton Water on Boxing Day, 2003, in miserable conditions, so caught the 9.45am Red Jet.  These conditions were miserable too, though thankfully only fog rather that wet stuff.  It was bloody freezing though!

We met at Town Quay at 11am when I arrived and walked to Ocean Terminal.  A quick snap of our girly before getting luggage labels and going up to departures.  We were green E, but they had priority check-in until noon when they began calling other numbers.  Someone was collecting for Children in Need dressed as Bugs Bunny.  Being port side, it was easy to see my porthole cabin in 2011 next to our window.  Check-in was pretty speedy but the security queue was the usual slow thing, though not as bad as June had been.  Playing piano in the Grand Lobby was my ex-boyfriend, Patrick Patton, the first time we'd come into contact since May 2010.  After collecting a Daily Programme for Fay from the Purser's desk, we went to our cabin and she was amazed at the size.  They are definitely the largest I've been in and while I rattled around next door a year previously, it was still a bit too big for two.
We went to the Golden Lion for a spot of lunch before taking photos as I showed Fay around her home for the next four nights while Patrick tickled the ivories in the Grand Lobby until 3.30pm as more people filed on from the deck above and it began to get crowded.  This would be my last cruise as a Gold World Club member and I was really looking forward to priority boarding!  The fog showed no signs of buggering off and obscured Oriana completely while Balmoral could just be made out.

I had a tweet from Olivia Braddock, Princess Cruises personal cruise specialist, saying she was joining the ship that day so we waited in the Grand Lobby for her before giving up and returning to the Golden Lion where Fay decided no more booze at those prices.  I stuck to my soft drink package!  Various texts went back and forth and we arranged to meet after dinner in the Commodore Club.  Muster was at 4pm and amazingly, we saw from the window half an hour before, two white ships in the fading light!  The fog had gone!!!!  We hoped it wouldn't return before we left.  our muster station was the Winter Garden.  It was quite odd really.  Cabin 6028 was muster station A (gym) but 6032 was B.  I had expected to hear the droning words of Captain Kevin Oprey again, since Cunard revamped their website but removed the list of monthly officers, but instead it was Chris Wells.  I hadn't had him on a ship since Oriana in 2007!  Nothing changed in the way he orated.  Then it was on the Observation deck for sailaway where Captain Wells mentioned something about how we may anchor by Jersey tomorrow.  The itinerary said sea day, Le Havre and Zeebrugge.  Hmmm....  Balmoral moved off and headed up to the swinging ground rather than turn on the spot meaning we and Oriana went first.  It was so cold and windy but Oriana gained on us as we slowed to a crawl by the Isle of Wight, passing us.  We could see her from the warmth of the room as she sped by.  Fay went up for photos but I decided to defrost, going out only to see if I could spot Balmoral, who was on our starboard and passing too.

We decided to stay until dinner and were on table 73 in the Britannia with two couples.  We couldn't be bothered going to the show so just went on deck for a while before going back to the cabin.  Our steward, Mark, had only left one Daily Programme despite asking for two and put the chocolates on one bed.  For some reason there was no info channel and we had to put our watches forward an hour despite still being in UK waters.

Lazy day but woken up when they dropped anchor at Corbiere Anchorage, by Jersey.  If we were tendering, it would be worth getting off but we were far enough away for the shops and casino to remain open so stuck on the ship.  Personally, I would prefer actually being at sea and don't buy Chris Wells' splitting hairs we're surrounded by the stuff so are at sea.  Despite paying a fuel supplement, it was obviously this was all about saving money, which was a shame.  I noticed she juddered even when at anchor.  Very odd.  After lunch in Kings Court (such as it was - salad choice appeared even less than in June!), we went on deck and found it raining heavily and awful.  We did the quiz, which had been moved to the Chart Room due to football being shown in the Golden Lion, then returned to return to the cabin to watch Gillette Soccer Saturday on Sky.  I popped out later and it had stopped raining at last - yay!!!!  It was a lovely view now the cloud had lifted but really needed sunshine.

Room service was ordered before half time in the football, arriving during the second half.  Fay went for the cheeseburger while I had turkey and it was very filling.  We won - wooo!!!!  Fay asked me to photograph the result then we went to the Chart Room to celebrate and got some culture.
Our departure was 7.30pm - or supposed to be!  The sea must have been really deep as the anchor took forever to come up.  For a long time it was pitch dark on the Observation deck and bow, then the lights came on.  There was nothing from Captain Wells to say we were off nor any blasting on the whistle.  Instead we just moved slowly towards Guernsey so we could go between the islands.
It was formal night but no Captain's booze up, which was odd.  We were fairly full from the room service so skipped dessert, taking a wander and finding the Queens Room Orchestra playing jazz in the Winter Garden.  Neither of us are particularly keen on this type of music but it was pretty lively and little Stevie's song and dance was very good.  Stevie used to work on the QE2 with my ex, Patrick Patton, which is where I'd seen him before.  They ended with When the Saints Go Marching In, which was apt since our Saints (Southampton FC) beat QPR that afternoon!  A quick change from the constraints back to scruff and out onto the deck.  Brrrr!!!!  The info channel was working - yay!  But out location was a bit off since were were actually rounding the tip on Cherbourg.  Somewhere in the dark yonder was Celebrity Constellation en route to Southampton.  I had seen Mary from Connie in October as we sailed to Le Havre from Southampton while she went the other way so hoped to see Connie from Mary this time and I did!  She was so well lit making her easy to spot.  Both ships were built in St. Nazaire (Connie entering service 12th May 2002 while Mary was 12th January 2004) and both have pot holes on deck 2!  I couldn't find them on Mary back in June and assumed they were repaired during refit in November 2011 but they were certainly coming back now.  A stroll around the very windy deck before heading back in.  Then it was time to sleep.
Another late get up.  Well, it was only Le Havre and I'd been there loads of times while fay had by ferry.  We planned to get the shuttle into town and find a good spot to take photos of the fat one, only for some reason I had dreadful pain in my hip, making it hard enough just getting around the cabin.  It was just so sudden.  We had lunch in Kings Court, since Fay liked the food, and took a few pics onboard.
Then we attempted to go ashore.  I made it to the gangway but that was it.  Too much pain so we turned around.  Those gangways would have really crippled me even though they were much lower than on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean ships when I'd been on there!  Golden Lion was full of selfish people not enjoying the delights of the port or being ripped off in Paris so we went to the Chart Room instead which was so peaceful.  I returned to the cabin to rest and Mark came to do the room so I moved to the sofa.  Later, we went to the quiz in the Golden Lion where we came joint second, then there was a gorgeous sunset, so I got myself on deck.  Too many were waiting for sailaway despite it not being until 6pm.
We left nearly half an hour late and Captain Wells gave his spiel.  At least it wasn't as cold as near-Jersey had been and we slowly moved off.  It was funny watching it in the dark, having been there on her in June when we left during daylight.


© Patricia Dempsey 16th-20th November 2012
Not to be reproduced without permission