Previously in Travel Notes: SFO to NYC.
I ‘ve never had the slightest interest in a cruise. Before last month, my longest voyage had been the overnight passage between Greece and Italy, when I was in my early 20s. My preferred marine transport is a kayak.
But I love the ocean and I hate flying, and a couple of friends had taken the Queen Mary 2 between the US and England and had a wonderful time. And I had a reason to go to England: to reconnect with an old friend and her family. So the Queen Mary 2 began to look appealing. To my surprise, the fare isn’t terribly expensive (if you take an inside stateroom, as I chose to). In fact, it was less than my return airfare from London to San Francisco.
I crossed the Atlantic in the biggest ocean liner afloat — in fact, the only dedicated transatlantic ocean liner (as opposed to a cruise ship). The Queen Mary 2, which entered service in 2004, is 250 feet (76.2 meters) longer than the Titanic; it can carry 2,691 passengers and 1,173 staff members, and it takes seven days to travel from Brooklyn’s Red Hook Terminal to Southampton.
If you’re imagining friends coming aboard to bid you farewell over champagne toasts, as in a Fred Astaire–Ginger Rogers movie, imagine again. I counted eight security checkpoints before I reached the actual ship, although there may have been a ninth. No visitors allowed.
The departure from New York, at about 6 p.m., was glorious. That’s a Chinese junk in the foreground, the Statue of Liberty in the background. (Now imagine crossing in the east-to-west direction and entering New York Harbor at dawn. It must be spectacular.)
This was my economy-class stateroom — cozy, and blissfully dark at night (no porthole or balcony.)
The bathroom, minus the shower (out of frame to the left). Keep in mind that this was the very cheapest option.