DAY 0 - PREPARATIONS TO SAIL
102 days, 31 ports, 18 countries.
Queen Mary 2 World Centenary Voyage
It has never been my great good fortune to win the National Lottery, or hold aloft a gold medal at the Olympics, but I am convinced the feelings generated by these life-changing events are comparable to winning a coveted place on the passenger list of a 102-day World Cruise on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.
Feelings of excitement, anticipation and personal achievement begin with the arrival of an email stating “Your Booking is Confirmed” on a letterhead featuring the iconic red CUNARD logo under a gold crest showcasing a crown and laurel leaves. With all the formality of a Royal invitation - I know about that because I did receive an invitation from the late Queen to Afternoon Tea at Buckingham Palace - the message is a passport to another world.
Life will never be the same again. Every day, for however long to your sailing date, begins with the realisation, “I’m going on the World Cruise.” This oh so ordinary world slips away and a veil lifts granting passage to a world of luxury, elegance and adventure.
102 days, 31 ports, 18 countries.
Friends point you out to their friends, “She’s going on a World Cruise,” Strangers become friends as they share their treasured Cunard memories. Transatlantic voyages to New York, a journey to Alaska, Christmas in the Caribbean, a special anniversary on board.
To spend Christmas with the family in London, I flew in from Miami,
two weeks before embarkation.
Social niceties observed, I retired into a frantic preparation zone. All day every day, I wrote lists, checked off items and ordered package after package from Amazon.
From the States I brought three suitcases packed with clothes. As an avid cruiser I do have formal wear. Evening dresses, long and short, glittering tops, wraps and those cute little fur capes that only seem to make appearances on cruise gala nights. I arrived with three cases, during the packing process they would double to SIX. I lie awake at night, not counting sheep but counting ball gowns. Three black, two red, one blue, one green, one white , two pink, one bronze, one gold, one silver. Matching shoes; gold and silver, jewelled evening bags, large enough to hold a stateroom key card, iPhone and lipstick.
A photo of QM2 docked at Southampton's Queen Elizabeth II Terminal on one of her previous sailings.
I look forward to arriving at the Terminal and standing by as a liveried footman nods approval at my stylish collection of four black matching Lulu Guinness lip embossed suitcases. It was not to be. My needs far exceed my resources, another suitcase was called for. Perfectly presentable, it travelled with me to Hawaii last summer, but it’s brown. Maybe, no one else cares, but I do. No way will I let anyone see I have four black suitcases - and one brown. Internet to the rescue. I order an Express delivery of another black suitcase – not Lulu G. but very acceptable with red flashes - not BOGO – but I order two. Plus, an Uber – to take me shopping for more dresses to fill up the last suitcase. I recall a story told to me by a delightful Nepalese lady in a boutique in Surrey. She arrived at the terminal with four suitcases for a 16-day Mediterranean cruise. The luggage handler looked impressed as he told her, “Ma'am, you travel light.” No one is going to say that about me!
QM2 LOCATION 12:34 GMT | 10 JANUARY 2023
Tomorrow, the journey begins as a family member transports me and my arsenal of luggage from London to Southampton to board Queen Mary 2. I doubt much sleep will be had tonight...
Watch for my updates regularly as this voyage unfolds and my life heads into a new dimension beyond my wildest dreams. EFJ.