I particularly welcome those who are already a keen follower and supporter of Dream Designs Colchester but also welcome anyone who is new and has only just discovered us.
I have especially divided up this blog post into different sections, in order to make it as easy as possible for you to read about our time aboard Queen Mary 2, during the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations! In each section many photographs are included for you to look through too.
Please can I take this opportunity to also apologise for the extended time it has taken for me to publish this blog post. I have been extremely busy as of late. Better late than never!
That afternoon, I had the pleasure of meeting with Christian Reay, who is currently studying Cruise Industry Management at Southampton Solent University. I also met with another keen follower and supporter of Dream Designs Colchester, Richy Conachey and his mother, who had flown over from their home in Ireland to see the 3 Queens arrive and depart the following day.Of course, I took the chance to show my brand new drawing of Queen Mary 2 to them and get some photographs taken too!
Later that evening I also met with Will Morgan, another fellow ship fan. We had a great time and did not finish our conversation until the early hours of the morning. We could have chatted about ships all night, but I knew I had to be up very early to see the 3 Queens arrival.
Three Queens Arrival
At first there was not many people at all, but as Queen Mary 2 edged closed, more and more people began to appear. She slowly made her way past Mayflower Park to the Upper Swinging Ground, where she would wait for Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth to berth. Queen Victoria appeared next and berthed at City Cruise Terminal, finally followed by Queen Elizabeth, who temporality berthed at Berth 102, facing bow on to Queen Victoria.
Queen Mary 2 then made her way back, alongside her two smaller and younger sisters. By this point, there were quite literally thousands of spectators lining Mayflower Park and the surrounding areas, not the mention the flotilla of boats and crafts on the water too. At around 07:00 Queen Mary 2 finally turned into Ocean Terminal to berth.
After watching the 3 Queens arrival we went back to our hotel room and had another few hours sleep. Both my father and I were very tired!
On our last voyage, the 2 night voyage on Queen Mary 2 in October 2011, we were very lucky and were aboard the ship by 12:30. This time we weren’t quite as lucky. We were given a Green B card, which meant we would be one of the first to board, apart from the members with priority boarding.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, embarkation was very messed up in my opinion. Not simply the fact we weren’t aboard until 13:30, but it was the way in which no announcements were made for ages. It was well pass 12:00 and when they made the announcements they didn’t even use the speaker system. Everyone just got up and ran for check-in, many were asked to sit back down.
Southampton Day 1
We then went to Deck 7 to have lunch in the buffet. No idea what we had to eat, this was just one of countless times we ate here! I also bumped into John Titheridge who I knew was travelling on board too. My dad and I headed back to our stateroom, where our luggage was awaiting outside. I decided to get changed as I want to go to the gym on board. Onshore I use the gym a lot now, so even though I was not at home, wanted to keep my usual routine.
After working out in the gym, I headed to the buffet area with my dad to relax and sit down for a bit with a glass of juice. The weather was really poor now, raining and very overcast. The announcement was then made to say that the Red Arrows display that had been planned for that evening had been canceled. We spent the evening then familiarising ourselves with Queen Mary 2 again before getting ready for our departure late that evening. I bumped into Patricia Dempsey too, on her way to the Britannia Restaurant to sort out her dietary requirements.
Three Queens Sail Away & Fireworks
We spun around and slowly began to make our way towards the Upper Swinging Ground, passing Town Quay and Mayflower Park, both which were full of spectators. We then passed Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, both completed covered with camera flashes. Once at the Upper Swinging Ground, we spun right round, before slowly pulling alongside Queen Victoria.
The aft and upper decks on Queen Mary 2, were completely packed with guests, ready to watch the fireworks. We then slowed alongside Queen Victoria and the fireworks began. It was quite a spectacular sight, but the fireworks were ruined a little bit due to the poor weather.
Once the fireworks were over, we made our way up the Solent and out to sea, where Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria followed closely behind us. We then returned to our stateroom to call it a night and get some well deserved sleep, after what had been a very long, but exciting day!
Day 2 - At Sea
After we’d met with Keith, we went back to our stateroom, where I opened my birthday cards. We then went up on deck to see if we could see any ships. We could see quite a few other vessels, we were after all in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. It was then time for lunch in the buffet on Deck 7.
At around 11:50, we were invited into the navigation bridge by the Captain’s secretary and met with a number of officers who where there. Once the Captain had said hello and made his noon announcement, it was time for me to sound the whistles, which was truly amazing! I then presented my new drawing to Captain Oprey, who said he would find somewhere to display it. One of the ship’s photographers were also there to capture the presentation!
After meeting the Captain and fulfilling another of my dreams (sounding the whistles) my father and I went back to our stateroom to get changed into something slightly less formal. We then spent the afternoon in Illuminations listening to a lecture by Jennie Bond, who was a Royal Correspodent for the BBC. Obviously this was linked in to the Diamond Jubilee events and the voyage too.
Night 2 - At Sea
As it was my Birthday, I was expecting my cake, as I knew Cunard did this. I was so pleasantly surprised when the waiters came over when I least expected it, with a fantastic cake in the shape of Queen Mary 2 herself. It really put a smile on my face. Keith Mayard, the Entertainment Director also came over to wish me Happy Birthday again. The photographer was there again too, to snap away some more photos for me to treasure. (AND PAY FOR!) This was after all a very special voyage.
After dinner we explored the ship a little, everyone seemed to be having a great time. This voyage had a really happy and friendly atmosphere. We strolled into the Royal Court Theatre, where the comedian, singer and impressionist, Allen Stewart was performing. We stood near the entrance, as we were late. We were blown away by the performance. It was hilarious!
It was time then to return to our stateroom, where we retired for the night, as we wanted to be up early for our arrival into Rotterdam.
Day 3 - Rotterdam
At 06:00, we entered the Port of Rotterdam. Rotterdam is the largest Port in Europe, and one of the largest in the world, so during our journey down to our berth in the city centre we knew we would be seeing countless other ships. And we were right! We passed numerous container vessels, bulk carriers and many other small crafts too. We also saw the gigantic flood barrier on route to our berth.
Whilst we were on the Observation Deck, Patricia and Rob arrived to also watch our arrival into Rotterdam. At around 07:30 we first sighted our berth and began to slow before we carefully spun round 180 degrees. We then slowly backed towards our berth. As we continued our careful manoeuvre we passed the historic S.S. Rotterdam, which is now permanently berthed in Rotterdam as a hotel and museum. We finally came alongside the cruise terminal at 08:00, almost perfectly on time.
Now alongside we went to Deck 7 to get breakfast, where we bumped into Patricia and Rob again. We then headed back to our stateroom and collected our belongings before going ashore.
We then made our way to S.S Rotterdam, along the way we met with a gentleman in one of the local parks whilst he was walking his dog, which seemed to get quite a lot of attention from the children within the park. Strangely it turned out that the gentleman had a connection with S.S. Rotterdam and kindly directed us to the ship. We quickly found our way to S.S. Rotterdam, and were alongside the vessel before long, where we took the chance to take some photographs of the historic ship. A gentleman then approached us, to ask if we could help and informed us, that you could visit S.S. Rotterdam for free, he then directed us to the correct gangway to board the ship. We were very surprised and did not know this so jumped at the opportunity and quickly boarded the ship.
The boarding gangway led us onto one of the open decks on the stern of the vessel where we could then take ourselves around the ship. Unfortunately free visits do not allow for you to tour the entire vessel, but we were still very pleased to have had the opportunity to visit the ship.
We then disembarked the ship. On the quayside we bumped into Rob whom had also made his way over to S.S Rotterdam. We briefly chatted before my father and I decided to make our way back to Queen Mary 2.
Once back on board we headed for Deck 7 (which one passenger on board called the food deck) to get lunch. We then spent the afternoon strolling around the ship making the most of the warm sunshine, before most likely having lunch again! We then went back to our stateroom to rest for a short while, before my interview at 17:00 with the Entertainment Director, Keith Maynard.
I was the third guest, so had to sit inline and wait for my moment of fame, as such! Then it was time for my part. We had a brilliant chat and showed my drawing of Queen Mary 2, which I had presented to the Captain the pervious day. After the interview and recording was finished, I headed back to my stateroom, to relax for a while, before preparing from our departure later that evening.
Rotterdam Sail Away & Night 3
My Dad and I then decided to go up on deck, so quickly made our way to the Promenade Deck and then up to Deck 11 on to the Observation Deck. Again, just like our arrival into Rotterdam earlier that morning, we passed countless other ships, many of them with crew looking at Queen Mary 2 in awe and taking photos. The weather was lovely too and we had quite a beautiful sunset as we headed down the main channel out to sea.
Once we had exited the main entrance into Rotterdam, we made our way back to our stateroom and relaxed on our balcony for a bit, before finally retiring to bed quite early for a change.
Zeebruge Day 4
As always, we made our way up to the Observation Deck, which was closed due to the strong winds, so instead we watched our arrival into Zeebruge from the Promenade Deck on Deck 7. Here the windy was blowing quite a gust as we entered the harbour. We stayed out on deck as we continued to make our way into Zeebruge, braving the wind as we turned 180 degrees and slowly and carefully manoeuvred alongside.
Once we were pretty much docked, we headed inside for breakfast. After breakfast we proceeded back to our stateroom. I decided I would then go for a swim in the Pavilion Pool on Deck 12. Luckily this pool is inside and has a glass roof, so I was protected from the cold and wind outside. I was the only person in the pool when I arrived as it was still quite early, but before long others soon appeared. It was still quite nice and relaxing in the hot tubs at the sides.
I then went back to our stateroom to get changed before my Dad and I headed up on deck to brave the wind. The Observation Deck was still closed due to the wind. Instead we went to the stern on Deck 8. From here we watched two ro-ro car carriers arrive. The wind had really picked up by now and was blowing quite a gale. Standing directly in it, on the overhang on Deck 8 was quite challenging at times! (As you can see from the photos below!)
By late afternoon the wind had got even stronger and two tugs where now in place to keep us alongside our berth. The wind was blowing directly onto the side of Queen Mary 2, so she was literally being pushed away from the dock. We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the Commodore Club, looking out over the bow, watching the waves out at sea, before enjoying yet more food in the buffet on Deck 7, just before our departure from Zeebruge.
Zeebruge Sail Away & Night 4
At approximately 18:20 we very carefully slipped away from our berth in Zeebruge and slowly headed out to sea. Despite the strong winds, quite a few guest braved the wind and were also out on deck, some enjoying it more than others. Due to the rough weather the two tugs which had been keeping us alongside, escorted us out the harbour to make sure we got out safely. (Take a look at the photos of the tug below!)
Le Havre Day 5
Once berthed securely alongside, my Dad and I then headed inside to have breakfast. Whilst we were in the Le Havre the crew on board were required to take part in a crew drill to test the life saving equipment on board. We then headed up to Deck 11, where we watched the ultra large container vessel CSCL Uranus arrive in the container port opposite.
Later that morning, we met with Keith Maynard again as I wanted to get some photographs with him and my drawing with Queen Mary 2, which I presented to the Captain earlier in the voyage. We met with Keith in the Grand Lobby where we took a number of photographs before heading to the photo gallery to get some more photographs of the drawing with the ship’s model behind.
Following our meeting with Keith we headed back to our stateroom to get changed into something less formal, so that we could spend the afternoon relaxing on board. From our balcony we watched another container vessel pass, this time somewhat smaller than the previous one. We then decided to explore the ship a little more before relaxing in the Commodore Club, enjoying the view over the ships’ bow.
Now back on board we headed for Deck 13 where we then ended up playing tennis for a while. Afterwards we went to the golf putting area on the other side of the ship, where we spent some time developing some strange but at times rather good golf putting techniques. For the remainder of the afternoon into the early evening we relaxed in the sun on our balcony, before our departure from Le Havre.
Le Havre Sail Away & Night 5
Once out at sea we rushed to the Royal Court Theatre to ensure we got a seat for that nights show. Allen Stewart who is a comedian, singer and impressionist who has worked on board many cruise ships, put on a spectacular performance. It was a really great way to spend our last evening on board Queen Mary 2.
Southampton Day 6
I would also like to extend my appreciation to Cunard Line, particularly Captain Kevin Oprey and Keith Maynard, for making us feel so welcome aboard Queen Mary 2 and making our voyage even more special.
I hope that you have enjoyed this blog and welcome any comments and feedback.
May I finally take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support.
President & Managing Director
Dream Designs Colchester