Photography / Places

Aboard the Queen Mary 2: a Reminiscence with Photographs

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No Entry, photo Kate Hagerman
No Entry, photo Kate Hagerman

The Queen Mary 2 is a floating retirement home, but if you need a break from your frenzied life ashore the Isle of Manhattan, retiring for a week isn’t such a bad idea. The QM2 is no ordinary cruise ship. Cunard, the same company that built the Titanic, constantly makes the distinction that the QM2 is a voyager, a cruise ship is something else entirely. She is not only the greenest, most technologically savvy ship on the sea, she is also the sexiest ship ever built.

My husband and I embarked at sunset on our transatlantic crossing from Brooklyn Harbor bound for Southampton, England. We sipped champagne as Manhattan receded into the grey horizon. We were definitely the youngest un-chaperoned couple aboard. Many asked if we were on our honeymoon, but we were not, we wanted to experience a transatlantic voyage, the old way, the slow way.

My day aboard the Queen Mary looked something like this: a three course breakfast followed by a walk around the ship’s deck (three cycles is 1.1 mile), a soak in the thermal baths, a three course lunch, work in the library until tea time, photograph the boat or make self-portraits on our private balcony, a four course dinner followed by 12 hours of long languid sleep. I had found my new home.

The only annoyance, other than the deep-fried lobster, was the entertainment. It was truly painful. Imagine off-off-Atlantic City acts. My stomach churned as I attempted to sit through a botched Romeo and Juliet- clearly directed by a disgruntled Monty Python wannabe.

When one looks beyond the entertainment, the Queen Mary 2 is a photographer’s paradise. The lines of the ship embody flawless performance and elegant simplicity.

There are few places in the world where the unnamable becomes one’s experience. Onboard the QM2, the light of the sea at every hour is like a dreamscape viewed while awake, where the surreal meets the conscious mind.

I could have stayed onboard for months, in the endless space all around us, between continents, between cultures, where the light and dark merge into something unnamable. But alas, we reluctantly disembarked after our six-day journey and headed to Bath, England.

We arrived at the Royal Crescent Hotel, conveniently, at teatime. We were served traditional English tea along a path of lavender beside ancient sulfur baths: tea scones with sweet cream and jam, Assam, tea sandwiches of crab, cucumber and butter, ham and mustard and egg salad. I love how the English cut off the crust for you.

A cute waiter asked me if I would like more tea. Yes please.

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