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|Queen Elizabeth 2 - 2005
Canadian Crossing and Mediterranean Adventure
The Days at Sea
So far we have covered our time in port with the odd details of the rest of those days. These cruises, however, had long stretches at sea and many people have asked how on earth we occupy our time on those days. It is usually quite the opposite problem and we often do not have enough time to go to all the things we would like to. There is already a general coverage of life on board in Introduction to the QE2 but we have gathered the days at sea on this cruise together to be more specific about what was available and what we did this time in more depth. There are currently lots of pictures of the cooking demonstrations, Special Dinners including a Captain's Dinner which coincided with Pauline's Birthday and Gala Midnight Buffets, a highlight of any cruise where all the staff show off their culinary and decorative skills.
Here follows an abbreviated form of our Day at Sea - Friday 23 September, En Route to Naples. As always at Sea, Dress code for the evening was Formal.
Sunrise is at 0740 today. At 0730 we had the chance to meet onboard fitness experts for a brisk morning walk around the deck. The gym opens at 0700 each morning and instead we started at 0730 on the treadmill and cross trainer, working off the calories from the day before. Our normal fitness routine takes just over an hour, so there is just time to jog back to our stateroom, take a shower, and stroll into breakfast.
Breakfast in the Mauretania Restaurant starts at 0800. We arrived at 0845, so that meant we could find a table at the window, as the first people finished their meal. Breakfast is an open sitting, so it is possible to sit anywhere. Many couples prefer a table for two in the morning, even if they are normally on a larger table for dinner. We like to stay with our own waiters, and sometimes have a table for two or else share the large table with the family group and all their children. Breakfast always starts with freshly squeezed orange juice and a mixed fresh fruit plate, followed by perhaps a smoked salmon omelette, or smoked haddock. On special occasions Pauline has a stack of blueberry pancakes with maple syrup. Toast is multi grain. And it is all washed down with lots and lots of black coffee.
At Sea there is always a comprehensive choice of things to do. The QE2 has an excellent library, and we always borrow lots of books. The Ocean Bookshop next door to the library has a good selection of books to purchase, as well as a small collection of old memorabilia. The Travellers Cove and the shops in the Royal Promenade shops are open from 0900 to 2000, so there is no rush for retail therapy.
This morning there are two Enrichment Lectures. The first is at 1000, and is Revelations from a life in Grand Hotels. The second lecture follows at 1100, and is Writing Biography. Both talks are in the Theatre, and they are both recorded so that any one who misses the lectures can see them on the TV in their stateroom. If this is all too serious, then there are classes in playing Bridge, a Shuffleboard competition, Computer Help and Advice at the Computer Learning Centre, classes in napkin folding, a Table tennis get-together and the chance to join Cunard's Heritage Trail - an extensive tour of Cunard's history through the onboard memorabilia.
At 1200 the pace changes. There is a complimentary dance class in the Queens Room. The dance floor is filled with dozens of people trying to learn new dances, to loud taped music. QE2 has a number of Gentlemen Hosts, so all the ladies can find a partner to practice the dance steps. But if you prefer to listen to softer music, then the pianist plays in the Crystal Bar, and the harpist plays in the Chart Room. We like jazz music, so we go and listen to the Hot Rhythm Orchestra who are playing in the Pub. Many people prefer a light pub lunch, but we normally go back to the Mauretania restaurant. However, today we did not see anything on the menu there, so we went into the Lido instead. New health regulations mean that we are not allowed to serve ourselves from the salad bar or food trays, so we have the luxury of it all being done for us. There is always a good selection of salads to accompany the smoked fish as starter, followed by fish, meat or the carvery. Where the Lido always wins is that it has a enormous selection of cold deserts, some very nice ice cream, and one hot pudding. It is very difficult to resist all these temptations, but we have to do our best.
After lunch there is a choice of playing table tennis, or bridge, or a line dancing class, or painting lessons. Pauline was disappointed that the painting classes this time are with acrylic paints and use the One-Stroke method of painting. So she sits and does her own painting instead. At 1430 there is a Destination Lecture, which is recorded and shown later on the TV. We find that it is very helpful to listen to the lectures about forthcoming ports, and today it is about Zakynthos and Dubrovnik. We have been to Dubrovnik before, and so we decided to listen to the part of the lecture on Zakynthos on the TV later.
The lecture is followed by another Enrichment Lecture, this time The History and Future of Supersonic Flight, by a Concorde Flight Engineer. QE2 has always had a special relationship with Concorde, and many of the pilots and other officers have been invited to give lectures on board. Sadly Concorde will no longer fly across to New York to meet the QE2, but there is still a lot of interest in the history of Concorde, and the lecture was full.
We always attend the Afternoon Tea ceremony when we are at sea, and so it was a rush from the lecture to get seated. The lecture finished just before 1630, and tea finished at 1700. The classical Trio entertained us while we nibbled our sandwiches and planned the rest of the day.
The Rule is that at 1800 everyone in the public areas of the ship had to be Formal. So we went back to our stateroom and changed into Dinner Jacket and Long Dress. We wanted to look our very best. This evening Captain Nick Bates invited the guests in the Mauretania restaurant to join him and his Officers for cocktails in the Queens Room. This is a traditional event on each cruise. QE2 is so large that the Captain's Cocktail Party is spread over 3 evenings, and depends on your Restaurant. Joining the formal receiving line, and having a photograph taken with the Captain, is an important social event. We duly arrived at 1945 as instructed, and sipped our glasses of chilled sparkling wine. We were able to chat with a number of the Officers, and the Staff Captain, before the lights were raised at 2100 and we had to depart for dinner. Last orders were 2115 so by the end of dinner it was really late. The Show in the Grand Lounge began at 2230, but the seats were all filled as we passed by. We settled down in the Chart Room to listen to the gentle notes of the harpist. Then after a romantic stroll around the decks, we ended a perfect day at Sea.
We attended two demonstrations on the first sector; each took place to a capacity audience in the Grand Lounge and two chefs take part. The first demonstration was by the Executive Chef, Karl Winkler, paired with the Lido Chef de Cuisine, Nicholas Oldroyd. They prepared Crusted Sea Bass and Salmon, Paella Valencia, Ricotta and sun dried Tomato Mediterranean Cheesecake, Apple strudel and the preparation of the special pastry and an incredible Flambed banana and rum pancake terrine served with a tangy orange tarragon and cinnamon Sauce.
The second demonstration was by Klaus Kramer, the Chef de cuisine from the Mauretania, covering the preparation and presentation of Gravad Lax partnered with Nizam Nor, Chef de Cuisine from the Caronia covering Lamb Wellington and Roti Canai, a Malaysian bread/pastry and recommended fillings. We noted that Klaus uses Warstainer professional knives on the ship but prefers ceramic knives in the safety of his own home. The final cooking demonstration on the Mediterranean sector brought back the Lido Chef de Cuisine Nicholas Oldroyd, partnered with the Queens Grill Chef de Cuisine Alana Morison. By the end of the cruise we had seen the chefs from the top to bottom of the restaurants at work.
Birthdays tend to be made special on the QE2 - the purser's office identifies them from your passport information or the QE2 booking form and a bottle of sparkling wine often arrives in ones room. Pauline's occurred on the first day at sea leaving Southampton, heading south through the Bay of Biscay. It was a formal evening, as are all days at sea. And the seas were calm, so she was able to get all dressed up and enjoy the evening. With dinner we had already reserved the last bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, good value at $40 on board. The Cunard tradition is that a cake with a candle is provided. And all the waiters in the area come and sing "Happy Birthday" . This year, as one of the Maitre d' changes to the restaurant, there was a new song. The first formal evening also serves The Captains Gala Dinner. This is an excellent menu of all our favourite foods. Having gorged herself on the lobster as a starter, usually served as a main course, followed by an excellent and enormous steak as the real main course, she insisted on still having her creme brulee as well as the large slice of yummy chocolate birthday cake with its strawberries and ice cream. It was a memorable day.
Two new watercolours of the Peggy's Cove and the Lighthouse Coast by Pauline
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