Conquering the Atlantic

Day 4: Tuesday 28th May 2013

 

Ships position: 46 degrees 59.96′ N 032 degrees 43.64′ W

Ships time: 10.15

GMT: 13.15

Weather: A moderate 17 degrees C

 

(If anyone knows where the degrees symbol is on an i-pad let me know!)

 

Woke up around sun rise this morning (4.30am) fell asleep at about 1am UK time, but the ship time was 10pm… It’s all very well and good the clocks going back an hour every night but it means I’m exhausted in the evening and bright as a button in the morning. Those who know me well know that this is a rare phenomenon.

 

Went off to a lecture called ‘Steam conquers the Atlantic’. It was packed out and I now know why! Was pretty spectacular history of transatlantic crossings and the rivalry between the states and England. Part of a two part lecture, the other one is later on in the voyage.

 

Cunard, the company that runs the ship I’m on amongst the other queens (Elizabeth 2 and Victoria) sent its first ship, the Britannia, across the Atlantic in the middle of the 1800’s using steam. Before that loads of American companies had ruled the transatlantic always departing from New York and by method of sailing. The fastest sail ship took around 25 days to cross the Atlantic….

 

Introducing steam ships was pretty revolutionary but very expensive and heavy… They could get through 40 tonnes of coal a day or something crazy like that. Up until Cunard, like I mentioned the Americans ruled the waves. A few American companies switched to steam too but had a few particularly non successful voyages. Collisions, sinking and in one case a ship departed from Liverpool in the 1860’s and hasn’t completed its voyage yet…

 

After the American wars Cunard took over, and then another line sprung up in the UK called the white star line. When Cunard began all their ships were named ending in ‘ia’ for example the Britannia, the Arcadia etc. the white star line decided to name their ships ending in ‘ic’.

 

You may figure out where this is going now… But essentially the Americans just let the English get on with it and took a step back from the whole transatlantic shenanigans. The white star line launched various ships like the pacific, the gigantic etc, and most famously the titanic.

 

This is where the lecture stopped! So, more interesting factoids to come on that later in the week….

 

I decided not to eat lunch today. I’m still full from Sunday so it was probably a good idea.

This afternoon saw us attending the 2nd ocean seminar. Again an interesting education mainly involving all the work that is being done to observe and monitor the oceans movements across the globe. This included learning about the satellites, buoys that dive under the water for 4 days recording everything and then come back up to the surface to transmit their findings to inland stations before diving under again. They can do this about 500 times. Ships all round the globe have equipment onboard that record vital statistics and goings on in the ocean. Planes are used as hurricane chasers, satellites can pick up the formations of a hurricane a pretty sufficient amount of time in advance. Probes are at the bottom of the ocean recording plate activity and transmitting data to an attachment buoy in the surface that in turn transmits data to satellite which in turn communicates back down to earth the likelihood of a tsunami based in the readings.

Found out that I am currently in the most safe place if there was to be a tsunami. If the mid Atlantic ridge, (probably still directly beneath me..) endured an earth quake, the wave starts from right underneath us and doesn’t actually form on the surface of the ocean until its a lot closer to land.

Submersibles are used to go down to the deepest parts of our ocean. The deep sea trenches. We as humans would explode if we were to go down there ourselves. Water pressure at the deepest point in the ocean is more than 8 tonnes per square inch, this is the equivalent apparently of 1 person trying to hold 50 jumbo jets!

We do however have human submersible that can hold about 3 people inside and can dive down to just under 15,000 feet below the ocean surface. This is not on my bucket list as something to do.

The world scientists all share any new information they gather from our oceans from all over the globe, which is very nice. Like a communal platform of new information and data all day everyday.

An interesting seminar. I had not realised being in this cruise ship would be quite the education!

After the seminar we chilled for a while before getting ready for dinner.

We were informed that a yacht was out to the starboard side of the ship. The yacht was on the 4th and final leg if its around the world trip. It was 6 days out from Bermuda and 9 days away from lymington. Pretty mental lifestyle choice, but I bet its incredible.

After doing the competent crew sailing our last summer with my brothers, I am genuinely interested in going to work on a yacht somewhere on the globe for a season at some point in my life!! Was such an amazing experience and it was only a week long. Just need to persuade the brothers and I’m sure we’ll be on the way…

Some pilot whales were also at the front of the ship at some point this morning, but I didn’t see them which made me sad 😦

Before dinner I found a place on the ship I hadn’t been to yet (of which there are loads more I am sure) its called the lookout point and its right at the top front of the ship. So rather titanic stylee (minus the dreamy Leonardo di caprio and the epic love story) I literally stood at the front of this huge ship, in the middle if the atlantic transfixed by the beauty of the sea and the horizon and the sky for about half an hour. I could literally have stayed up there all day.

Dinner was lovely. Our waiter now knows to call us by name. Well last name anyways. That makes you feel quite special… Afterwards we went to watch a violinist play in the theatre. She was incredible and her name is Jacqueline Roche. One piece I’m going to have to look up was from an Italian movie and it literally made me well up!

 

Anyways, after this we went to our cabin. In England it was about half past midnight but on the ship it’s  half past 9. Still whilst mum fell asleep I wondered down to the nightclub and had a drink and chin waggle with the DJ called Chris. I was really trying to stay awake as long as possible. But all this eating and doing nothing is very tiring so eventually I went to bed.

 

Bon Voyage

Day 1: Saturday 25th May 2013

Set off from Southampton port yesterday evening. After the dreadful rain we had had the day before I was fully prepared for what could be the beginnings of a pretty rough crossing of the great Atlantic Ocean. However, the weather was fantastic. We were slightly behind schedule so ended up actually departing at around 6.30pm which basically meant that we were bang splat on time for a pretty decent sunset and awesome views across the Solent including Portsmouth and the isle of white.

 Having crossed the Atlantic 5 years ago on another cruise line, I semi knew what I could expect from the ship and the general onboard shenanigans.

However, the Queen Mary 2 isn’t quite like other cruise ships. When built it was the biggest cruise liner in the world. Pretty sure it is still up there in the top 3. This ship is huge. The internal decor is insane. Beautifully designed inside and out. Swanky bars, various restaurants, 5 swimming pools, a casino, a planetarium/cinema, ballroom, theatre, spa, sports area and gym are a few of the main highlights.

Once we had had a little ponder around we returned to our cabin for a complimentary glass of champagne and watched the sun go down over the isle of white.

 

Day 2- Sunday 26th May 2013

 After a peaceful and well needed nights sleep we ventured down to breakfast where you can practically have whatever kind of breakfast you like. I went for a fry up. Standard.

Particularly worried about gaining weight on this journey. There is food available 24 hours a day and all included. Will have to involve myself in some kind of exercise methinks…..

 After breakfast we decided to go to a lecture on ‘the ocean’ was pretty cool. Sort of David Attenborough style facts and movies. It’s the first in a series of lectures throughout the week onboard. After this mum encouraged me to go to a meeting in the nightclub (at midday) of all the 18-30 year olds onboard. Met two girls, Florence from Paris and Matilda from Norway. The guy hosting the whole meet was a south African called Chris who has been working on board QM2 for 6 years. The benefit of the meeting was the free champagne… 4 glasses and almost 2 hours later, I walked (stumbled) up to the 7th floor (there are 13 – not including the base levels) where I met mum for a sobering up lunch before then snoozing in the cabin for an hour before getting ready for the black and white ball.

 

 I would say about 70% of the people onboard are over 50 years old. There are families and young couples and various single young travellers too, but declaring this fact will give you an idea of people I am surrounded by onboard. I say surrounded, but as I said this ship is huge. Including the staff (around 800 people) there are near 4000 people onboard, which is crazy!!

The black and white ball featured ballroom dancers Vladimir and nadya who I believe have both appeared in Strictly come dancing. After their pretty awesome performance everyone else began to take over the dance floor. Clearly there are some pretty seasoned cruisers aboard, as I would say at least half the dancing couples looked like professionals.

Floating gentlemen were around to offer ladies that didn’t have a partner (or ladies that had partners that didn’t want to dance!) a chance to dance. Mum and I both had a dance with a gentlemen. I danced to one of my faves – mambo Italiano – was practically a cha cha. Bit out of touch with the whole ballroom dancing scene. But that similar invigorating and semi liberating feeling doesn’t take long to reappear. A few amazing dancers, dresses and very strong mojitos later we retired to bed.

 Each evening so far we have set our clocks back one hour. This I suppose will allow us to gently overcome the time change so that by the time we arrive in NYC on Friday we won’t be so tired at all. It does mean however that I am finding I’m getting up pretty early!!