I ignored our steward’s advice to bring the pocket map. I wanted to wander and see where the ship’s seemingly endless hallways would take me, and as I heard the distant sound of plates clanging down the corridor, I realized it had taken me to breakfast. I thought a good cup of coffee would help to awaken me from this surreal dream I had been living in since yesterday evening, when I embarked on my first transatlantic cruise.
The Queen Mary 2 slipped away from the new terminal in Southampton fashionably late. She was scheduled to set sail at 5pm, and as passengers gathered on the outer decks in anticipation, Captain Nick Bates came over the loudspeaker.
“Well folks, as they say, even the best laid plans. It seems will be running a bit behind today, but we should be sailing shortly.”
It wasn’t until around a quarter to six that I interrupted the woman I was chatting with on the outside deck to ask, “Are we moving?”
Indeed we were. Unlike the two other cruise ships that had left before us, the Queen Mary 2 didn’t make a sound to announce she was leaving. The horn blasts didn’t sound until the late hours of the night as we sailed toward the Southern tip of Ireland where the fog was so thick that I couldn’t see the ocean from our cabin's balcony.
The woman who I had been talking with as we waited to sail explained that the six night crossing to Brooklyn had been a surprise from her husband. While they were traveling last summer, she had fallen in love with a dress and had been gushing about it for the remainder of the trip – regretting that she didn't have the money to buy it at the time. A few months later, she discovered the dress wrapped under the Christmas tree with the Cunard cruise tickets attached.
“You need somewhere to wear that dress you were talking about,” he had told her.
“I didn’t think he listened to me,” she told me, with a cheery British accent and a smile that said how much she loved him. This ship is full of romance like that. You can feel it the moment you step onboard.
They were a lovely couple, and I hope I run into them again during this once-in-a-lifetime journey.