DAY 8/9 - A GALA T0 GREECE
AT SEA & HERAKLION, GREECE
102 days, 31 ports, 18 countries.
Queen Mary 2 World Centenary Voyage
Ellen Frazer-Jameson reporting from The World Centenal Voyage - Queen Mary 2
UPDATE: DAY EIGHT - AT SEA
GALA NIGHT AND CAPTAIN'S RECEPTION
All were invited to the Captain’s cocktail party in the Queens Room. Hundreds of guests in their finest evening attire push the ship out to Celebrate Gala Night with a Masquerade Ball.
Dress code on Gala Nights means that from 6:00pm onboard attire is dinner jackets, tuxedo or dark suit for the men with a regular tie or bow tie. For ladies, evening or cocktail dress, smart trouser suit or formal separates. Men’s Formal wear is available to hire onboard for those who left their tuxedos at home.
There are always guests who choose not to dress up and they are kindly asked to congregate in the more casual dining options in the King’s Court or Golden Lion. The dress code does not apply in the casino or Carinthia Lounge.
Some of the ladies go all out and dress in the most fabulous ballgowns, evening dresses and head to toe sequins with luxurious fur wraps and glamourous fascinators.
Each guest is greeted at the door to the Queens Room by The Captain and a line-up of his officers and offered a glass of champagne. Though most guests have just finished dinner or are about to go for their evening meal, we are nevertheless treated to a mouth-watering array of canapes, including caviar, and delicious desserts. Shimmering ice sculptures grace the tables and on display is a giant decorated cake celebrating Cunard’s Centenary.
Captain Aseem Hashmi likes to joke around and after asking who sailed on the last QM2 World Voyage he complained. “You are the ones who deserted us in Adelaide when we were all recalled home because of the pandemic. You flew off and left us to sail the ship home alone. Now I have a plan: when we reach Dubai on this World Voyage, myself and some of my senior officers are leaving the ship – then we’ll see how you like it.”
A cocktail reception with the Captain are a highlight of any voyage. Captain Hashmi explains that because of health and safety protocols put in place because of covid, it was over 1,000 days since he hosted a welcome party. Due to covid there are also still restrictions on various aspects of cruising life. Table photographs at dinner are no longer on the menu and also, those embarrassing embarkation photos at the gangway – which quests love or loathe – no longer happen on port days. Rather the photographic teams offer personalised momentoes. Individual photo shoots with guests choosing their preferred locations around the ship, are highly popular. That way the ship and the guest are showcased.
Many passengers on board have been waiting years to be able to cruise after the industry was completely shut down. From what I hear, although some passengers were nervous or reluctant to return to sailing, once back on board, they remember all the great reasons why they love cruising. Cunard always strives to exceed expectations and one has only to observe the enthusiastic guests lining up at the future cruise desk, to see how many guests are already planning their next voyage.
"Time flies when you’re having fun and nowhere does it fly by more quickly than on board QM2."
Thursday 18th January
UPDATE: DAY 9 - HERAKLION (CRETE), GREECE.
Myths and Ancient Stories
A cold weather front has been chasing us for days and in sunny Greece it caught up with us. The cold north wind blew through all of our plans. We arrived late in port due to the awaiting departure of two of the daily ferries to. Athens.
We sailed into Heraklion, the principal town on the island of Crete which is the largest of the Greek islands and fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. Crete flourished more than 4,000 years ago and over the centuries was invaded and occupied by many conquering countries. Crete was the cradle of the later developed Aegean and Greek Civilisations. In 1941 Grete was liberated and she gained independence in 1944. Crete is at the heart of Minoan civilisation and the home of Greek myths and monsters. In the
mythical story of Hercules, the warrior was forced to perform seven challenges and when he arrived on Crete his task was to kill the sacred white bull King Minos had imprisoned in the labyrinth beneath his palace.
Knossos Palace, the ruins of that ancient Royal residence from 3,500 BC, Is a short drive from the town of Heraklion. Major excavation work at the site uncovered the palace and its 1500 room but no one has yet discovered the labyrinth. The myth associated with the white bull claims that Queen Minos fell in love with the bull and her jealous husband
decreed that the sacred white bull with golden horns be killed.
Some photos from our tour...
In our pre-pandemic era, the historic site attracted 600,000 visitors annually, second only to the Acropolis as a tourist destination. An Englishman from Oxford, Sir Arthur Davis discovered the mythical palace in 1884 and during the most active phases of excavation, there were some 150 workmen, artisans and archaeologists carrying out preservation at the site. Restoration was undertaken of the temples and living quarters complete with ancient drawings, some original, some representative of the original wall paintings from a time BC.
Research shows that centuries ago, peacocks roamed the gardens of the palace and to continues the tradition, 20 peacocks are at home in the grounds. Three times Knossos Palace has been destroyed by earthquakes and three times it has been restored again. In storerooms, visible from a wooden walkway, giant vessels were filled with olive oil, wine and honey. The Minoans were a religious people and held ceremonies in which they offered up blood sacrifices to the Earth Goddess Gaia. Ceremonies were performed under olive trees which were considered sacred. These trees are still highly prized and in Crete there are said to be over 35 million olive trees.
A visit to the palace brings to life the myths of ancient Greece and through many areas are now roped off and not accessible, the Palace is one of the wonders of the ancient world. We are asked to tread with respect.
Treasures which were discovered here and in other places are now in the Archaeological Museum. On the return coach ride back to the ship, the tour guide asked how many people now believed in the myth of King Minos and the Sacred Bull. Only two people raised their hands. OK, I own up, I was one of them.
Before returning to the ship we have free time in Lion Square where a restored stone fountain features four proud lions. Lion Square is the gathering place for residents and visitors to congregate, eat, drink and shop.
Photos from the square and town center...
One last chance to visit an orthodox Greek church and become mesmerized by the priceless icons, frescos and a colossal chandelier. A side chapel houses the burial place of the skull of Saint Titus. The whole experience was peaceful and inspiring. I tend to observe one ritual while traveling and that is...
...lighting candles in the local church.
Always good to put oneself under divine protection. Even if it is all Greek to me.
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CURRENT POSITON AND SEA STATE: 20 January 2023 | GMT 15:35
Queen Mary 2 current location is at East Mediterranean
(coordinates 34.67888 N / 27.61496 E) cruising en route to SUEZ CANAL
SMOOTH SAILING TODAY - .9 Metres (3 feet)
Photo of the day (from the archives of JD Schwartz)
Further updates will be posted as soon as we get them from Ellen onboard Queen Mary 2.