Queen Mary 2, Ventura, Queen Elizabeth 2 & Amadea
The QE2 and QM2 were reunited on the 10th October 2008 for the penultimate time they'd be in their home together.  Mary arrived first at 5.45am, and for the first time was in City Terminal and, more importantly, port rather than starboard!  Yay!!!!  My cousin John Matchett and wife Sandra were on her.  Ventura was second for 6.30 and in Mayflower.  Amadea's itinerary stated 9am and port in 104 yet VTS had her for 8.30. Lizzie was due her usual 7am.  We planned to get the ferry across but as we don't get out that early usually had no idea the ticket office didn't open until 7am and didn't have enough change for the ferry so went to get some only Martins was closed, as was the other newsagent.  As Lizzie was early and docking, we went to the Promenade to get this unexpected bonus while we waited for Martins to open.  The weather was surprisingly mild for October.
After getting change we bought our tickets and went down the pier.  It was beginning to get light now with a beautiful dawn towards the Solent.
We got the 7.10 ferry over but before we'd even reached the end of the pier, I slipped and landed on my knee.  That's really helpful when you've a busy shipping day ahead!  The new Ocean Terminal had part of the roof on.
A little before 8am Amadea was on Lizzie's webcam and emerged around her almost on the hour.  There were a few people out at Town Quay, as well as irritating fishermen blocking the path.  Some fellow photographers even had stepladders to get photos over that damn fence and were really funny when they rushed from their respective cars and set up.  Disappointingly Amadea was mute as she passed.  I know these Phoenix Reisen ships usually are but this is the last time they'll be together so you'd think the captain would have done something.
Since Amadea had to turn which would lead to the 9am docking, we decided to head over to Mayflower Park to save some time since I had another QE2 visit immediately afterwards.  We turned the corner onto the main road and couldn't believe how Mary towered over everything.  Even after nearly five years I am still astounded by her size.  She has a presence I'm afraid the Royal Caribbean Voyager and Freedom class ships don't have.
We entered the park and there were a few people dotted around, mostly not bothered about sweet little Amadea or even Ventura.  They only had eyes for the big lummox.  She may be boxy and not sleek like her predecessors but she's got something which makes her a worthy successor to the Cunard crown.
We went back to Town Quay and while I got a taxi to the QEII Terminal, my dad went home until I called him later that day.  I collected my pass with my then boyfriend, pianist Patrick Patton, and boarded the ship.  I'm going to miss Nicky in the pass office.  She's got such an excellent memory and is a lot of laughs.  On the way out to the bow, we passed Roman sitting on the stairs, my waiter during the Fjords cruise.  He smiled and waved but I was unable to speak to him as he was on the phone.  Nice to see him again though and be recognised.
En route to lunch in the mess, Patrick introduced me to Bea Muller, the 89 year old American lady who's lived on the ship since 2000.  She was very nice and knows her stuff about ships.  I'm in full agreement with her about them all being the same.  Hopefully I'll be able to talk to her more during my forthcoming cruise.
After lunch, Patrick wanted to get off the ship before the following days at sea to New York and back.  But before we did, he led the way to the upper part of the bow which was now open.  There was also a bloke taking photos and we laughed when we'd get in each other's way.
He was becoming more impatient when I reminded him I hadn't been to the Observation Deck.  I'd been unable to get photos of Mary from there a month before but this time would be better so I was determined not to.  He said he'd never been there before and the bow was better.  I couldn't disagree!
Patrick dropped me at Town Quay after dragging me all across town trying to find a music shop which aggravated my knee even more.  I caught the 3.30pm ferry back to Hythe and stayed on the pier for the departures.  Most passengers congregated to the port side as we crossed to catch a glimpse of our beloved Lizzie so I stayed starboard avoiding them.  I sat talking to a bloke and his wife on the pier as I waited for my dad to turn up.  The bloke used to work for the port and was really interesting to listen to.  The pier was pretty packed, as was the marina.  Then we got into a decent position and saw a vicar complete with QE2 book!  A woman on the phone told whoever was on the other end QE2 and Queen Victoria were in.  Even the vicar rolled his eyes and chuckled at that one.  The wind had come up and it was colder but it was still a lovely day.
All of them, bar Amadea who was 9pm, were listed to leave at 5pm.  Just before 5.10pm Ventura moved and blasted three times.  In the wind it was hard to hear her.  Not many people were even interested in her or Amadea.  They wanted the Queens!  As she passed Mary she blasted three times with Mary replying.  Once she was safely passed, Mary began to back up.
As Ventura neared the star of the show, she blasted three times.  Lizzie responded with the same.  This was pretty boring blasting.  I hoped it would be better between the Cunarders.
The wind had dropped considerably as we watched Ventura.  Then something happened which took us all by surprise - the tugs pulled Lizzie out!  We'd all expected Mary to pass and Lizzie follow.  Mary just moved forward very slowly as Lizzie was positioned in the lane.
Mary got a sudden attack of blast mania as she approached QEII and continued when she'd passed the pier.  It was a pity Lizzie stayed mute as she continued her own journey.
So off they went for Lizzie to say goodbye to New York on the 16th October before they return home together for the final time on the 22nd.  Mary goes to refit that day so I'm hoping the buggers won't disappoint three times in a row.  If I had a wish it would be for Cunard to defer her departure until the usual 5pm so they can sail out that last time in tandem before Lizzie veers towards Spain and Mary Germany, saluting each other as they part off Nab.  Won't happen though.

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© Patricia Dempsey 10th October 2008
Not to be reproduced without permission