The Legend Lives On
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Today marks my last day aboard Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 as we make this Westbound Transatlantic Crossing with the National Symphony Orchestra. After 81 cruises, the last day of a voyage never gets any easier. That is particularly true aboard Queen Mary 2. I dislike proclaiming that any one ship is my favorite, but after a lifetime of admiring ships, I have to say: Queen Mary 2 is my favorite.
She is the ship I dream about. She is the ship I long to sail around the world on. I don’t know why – maybe it’s her ocean liner pedigree or the grandeur of her public rooms or her British traditions that carry on with the full blessing of parent company Carnival Corporation PLC – but I feel she is the most elegant, graceful, powerful ship afloat.
When I started this site, I always told myself that I’d be honest above all else, regardless of the fact that what I write might embarrass me or make me sound overly sentimental. Sorry – travel is sentimental. That’s just the way it goes.
I have a complicated history with the Queen Mary 2. I’ve followed her career since she was first announced in 1998. I finally got to sail her in October of 2008, on an abortive voyage when personal issues forced me to disembark in Halifax, Nova Scotia at the tail end of Hurricane Kyle. My next voyage, in October of 2012, I was chased out by Hurricane Sandy, but completed the journey to Southampton.
Now – hurricane-free – I am as in love with the Queen Mary 2 as I ever have been. Can you fall in love with a ship? It sounds odd, sure, but I have to say yes, you can. It is my last night aboard Queen Mary 2, and I feel as if I am being torn away from my lover. And I’m not happy about it. I walked around the deck at half-past-ten tonight. I ran my hands along the teak railings on Deck 7 like I might never see her again. It’s been three years since I have been here, and it’s been three years too long. I worry about when – or if – I will walk these decks again.
My favorite colour is blue – perhaps yours is orange. Who know why we adore the things we do? Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is so many things to me. She is sadness and regret. She is loneliness and desperate longing. But she is also happiness and joy. She is triumph and grandeur. She represents the hopes and dreams of every passenger on every transatlantic liner that has come before her. She is the lover of every shipyard worker, of every maritime navigator, for she embodies the past, present and future of transatlantic oceanic travel.
Tomorrow, I will be up at four in the morning to see Queen Mary 2 pass under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Just as Aquitania, Lusitania, Mauretania, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary have done before her, the Statue of Liberty will come into sight. I am Canadian, but my roots are European. My ancestors made this crossing. I have now made this crossing. In doing both the Westbound and Eastbound transatlantic crossings, I have realized a long-held dream come true.
This isn’t a journey you make because it’s a vacation. To sail across the ocean aboard the Queen Mary 2 is to allow your heart to dream – of new places, new friends, and new loves. I don’t want to leave. It breaks my heart to leave. But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
Fortunately, Queen Mary 2 will solider on across the Atlantic for many decades to come. In the words of the late, great John Maxtone-Graham, it’s still The Only Way to Cross.
Our Live Voyage Report aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 has sadly come to a close, but we’ll have a full recap of our transatlantic adventure next week! Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.