SEAS THE DAY
DAY 28 - 08 February 2023
AT SEA enroute to Penang, Malaysia
Queen Mary 2 World Centenary Voyage
102 days, 31 ports, 18 countries.
Ellen Frazer-Jameson reporting live from Queen Mary 2
FITNESS & HEALTH / INSIGHT / GALA ON DECK 13
Sea days - an opportune time to establish fitness disciplines. At least go and check it out and while I’m at it sign up for the special 12-day spa pass - $199 or $39 per day. Either arrangement gives unlimited access to the VIP ocean view area. Hydro-pool/Aromatherapy/Steam Room/Herbal Sauna/Reflexology Basin/Finishing Sauna.
UPDATED HEALTH PROTOCOLS (05 February)
All staff are masked. Breakfast at the Queens’ Room is elegant affair and less crowded than the buffet. The recommendation on board is to wear masks. There have been cases of covid and passengers have to undergo ten days in quarantine – tough going if you are a couple in an inside cabin or a solo traveller.
King’s Court buffet is no longer self-service and advanced health and safety protocols are implemented around the ship.
Around the ship and in places where people gather, such as the theatre, I wear a mask. Best to take sensible precautions.
The founder and first CEO of Cunard. was Sir Samuel from Halifax, Nova Scotia. On QM2 an elegant lounge with drinks and delicious pistachio macrons, bears his name. If you are on board and haven’t discovered this hidden feature, examine up close the portrait of Sir Samuel on Deck 3. It is collated from hundreds of individual photographs of Cunard ships. A unique work of art.
Cunard’s fascinating daily Insight programme hosts onboard guest experts and interested parties to deliver lectures on various subjects covering culture, history, arts and current affairs.
“John Peters. RAF Squadron Leader and Tornado Pilot. “ A true Hero.
On the Centenary World Voyage, Squadron Leader and Ex RAF Tornado pilot, John Peters captivated the packed Royal Court Theatre audience with a first-person account of being shot down and captured by the Iraqis during the first Gulf war 32 years ago.
On the first day of the war, John and his RAF navigator, crashed their plane in the Iraq desert and were forced to surrender to the Iraqis. Few members of the British television viewing public will ever forget the shocking sight of an RAF pilot being paraded on Iraqi TV, face bruised and bloodied with an enemy soldier holding a gun to his head.
John Peter’s book Tornado Down graphically details the terror of his seven-week imprisonment, constant torture and ever-present threats of death. John was locked in a concrete box 10x10; starved, beaten and interrogated several times a day. As a serving officer and prisoner of war he was allowed only to state his name, rank and date of birth. The war and daily bombings raged on around his prison in Bagdad. Then all of a sudden, the bombing stopped and an Iraqi officer came to tell John and the other British and American captives, “The war is over. You are going home.”
John is surprisingly upbeat about the devastating trauma he endured. ‘People are always surprised, when they meet me, how normal I am,” he explains. “I suffered no psychological effects and once I had put back on the three stone I lost by being starved for seven weeks, I was physically and mentally as good as before the ordeal. I am very fortunate that I suffered no Post Traumatic. I call it Post Traumatic Growth. I came out of it stronger than ever and with a better sense of self.”
John admits to one regret. “I failed. I didn’t do my job. I was there to drop a bomb on the enemy. I failed to do that and also crashed the mega-million-pound fighter jet that I was privileged to fly. “
At a special question and answer session for the passengers of QM2, John and his wife, Helen, recalled the day the ordeal came to an end. John had been transferred to a military hospital in Cyprus. A Red Cross co-ordinator asked, ‘Do you want to phone your wife?”
John laughs, “It seems a pretty obvious question. I was given a five-pound phone card. Then asked to sign for it. Could I have two,“ I said. The nurse lowered her voice, “Ok, but don’t tell anyone.”
At home on an Army base in Germany, Helen was drinking champagne and celebrating with friends. She had just seen her released husband, now bearded and almost unrecognisable, walk down the planes of the military aircraft bringing him home.
Above the noise of the party, someone shouted, “Helen, it’s John.” The phone had been ringing constantly since the news of John’s release was confirmed, calls from RAF personnel, the press, family, friends and well-wishers. sisters. “John who?” Helen asked.
Replying to a question from an audience member, John was asked what he thought about during interminable hours of solitary confinement.
“Love, “ he says. “For three days, I examined what I felt about love. What did it mean to me? I explored my feelings about whether I loved Helen, the woman I met at university and married and with whom I had two children, a two-year-old boy, Guy and a baby girl, Tori.
Helen remains expressionless as she waits for the answer .
“The answer was “Yes”. Asked whether he believes in God, John is less certain. “I certainly prayed when I was in that Iraqi prison. No one is an atheist on the battlefield. Now, I’m back to being an agnostic but I am committed to trying to understand the meaning and purpose in life.”
John retired from the RAF and is now a successful businessman. When asked how he found the strength to go back into the cockpit and fly again after his ordeal, he answers without hesitation. “If I failed to fly again, the enemy won. No one can shake my belief in who I am.
This past week the Captain hosted a cocktail party at the Boardwalk Cafe featuring a world-class melange of culinary art on Deck 13 (Sun Deck)...a delectable and savory set up for guests...(click image to enlarge)
ONWARD - NEXT
Exploring Muscat, Oman / Gearing up for Malaysia
Current position of Queen Mary 2 - 08 February 2023
Under way from Muscat to Penang, Malaysia
Departure was 4 d 1 hrs 17 min ago. (at 18:00 h local time)
Arrival will be in 2 d 8 hrs 43 min. (at 08:00 h local time)
Traveled distance since Muscat: 2,017.95 nm (3,737.24 km)
Remaining distance to Penang: 1,173.20 nm (2,172.76 km)
Traveled distance since Dubai: 2,335.46 nm (4,325.27 km)
Happy Sailing ... The Journey continues... Ellen
NEXT PORT - PENANG, MALAYSIA
11 February 2023
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.