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Captain's Blog

Celebrity Century - New Zealand/Australia - January 2012

 

There’s no finer way to spend the holiday season than to sail to the Caribbean on the only ocean liner in the world, the Queen Mary 2. I had the privilege to sail this journey and host a wonderful group onboard. Without about 40 in our PIED PIPER group, we embarked on a balmy winter day from Red Hook, Brooklyn to the warm waters of the Caribbean. For the three sea days from New York, we had a rare spell of warm weather to enjoy the ship and spend time outdoors on deck as well.

Our group gathered at the G32 disco prior to dinner for our first PIED PIPER party, where everyone enjoyed complimentary cocktails and met one another for the first time. It was a nice mix of of folks from around the country. Introductions were made and the ice was broken and we were off with a chatty and friendly group. That evening was the first of five formal evenings on this elegant and regal ship. Our group was elegantly attired each of the formal evenings, even with some surprises from our group.

Most people used the sea days to relax and enjoy the ship or relax and unwind in deck chair outside. Naturally, there were lectures and other events to attend during the day or simply do nothing. Our group had a private screening of one of the episodes of Downton Abbey that had not yet aired in the U.S. We also enjoyed a group lunch at the Todd English speciality restaurant and everyone remarked how they especially enjoyed this amazing meal. Nonetheless, everyone was present in the dining room that night for dinner for another wonderful dining experience. Each evening, we gathered at the Commodore Club for pre-dinner cocktails, in what might be the most elegant bar on any ship at sea.

Both Christmas eve and Christmas day dinners were formal affairs and the ship didn’t disappoint with the meals or the décor. The ship had been decorated beautifully for the holiday with a large gingerbread (not for consumption, as the sign said) in the large corridor on the ship. Carols were sung around the large Christmas tree in the lobby and Santa made his entrance through the funnel on the ship (we were told) and then all around the public spaces ending in the Queens Room to distribute gifts to the children. Dinner on Christmas day included a gala souvenir menu and traditional British Christmas crackers with silly hats to wear at dinner. Upon our return to our staterooms, we found that Cunard had given us souvenir Wedgwood mugs and a book on the 175 year history of the line.

For our first port of call, PIED PIPER organized a taxi excursion to the beautiful Magen’s Bay beach for several hours. It was a restful morning, but after a few hours people left for shopping expeditions, lunch or just to return to the ship, which had become our home. The following day we called in St. Kitts, where several people took the tour on the small railway there. St. Lucia was a free day for our group to do their own thing and people found wonderful tours on their own or some just stayed on the grandest hotel there – the QM2.

In our next port, St. Maarten, PIED PIPER once again organized a taxi ride to the beautiful Orient Beach, where we again enjoyed the amazing sun and sand there. Our area had already been reserved and our group had front row seats at the beach to relax, drink and swim here. Despite a quick downpour, it did little to dampen the spirits of the group. Several people enjoyed lunch at various venues in the area.

For our final port of call on the beautiful island of Tortola, PIED PIPER had recommended the excursion to the island of Jost Van Dyke for an exquisite beach. It proved to be an amazing location. After a 45-minute ferry ride to the island, we then boarding taxis for a five-minute ride to a beautiful bay with a lovely beach. The group headed to the furthest beach club with deck chairs (sun and shade) for a relaxing couple of hours there. Beverages and and a lobster lunch was provided. The Caribbean lobster was grilled there and was fresh and tasty. Another private party was held in G32 disco for our group, but by this time most people had bonded well and already knew one another. One evening had been designated in the original program as the Buccaneer Ball, but ended up being cancelled. Nonetheless, the several people in our group who had brought elaborate costumes and a very naughty talking parrot made a splashy entrance into the dining room that night and were the talk of the dining room, including the one wench in the group.

The following day was already the last day of 2015 and everyone was getting ready for the gala New Year’s Eve dinner. We had a private showing of the Oscar-nominated film, The Danish Girl, provided by someone in our group (Shhh!). Once again, souvenir menus were provided and the table decorated with festive hats for the men and tiaras for the women as well as noisemakers. Some of our group traded hats for tiaras!! Later, most gathered at midnight (ship time) at the Commodore Club for the champagne celebration to bring in the New Year. People then disbursed to different celebrations around the ship for partying into the wee hours. We still had another hour or more to celebrate the various New Years for the different time zones in the U.S.

Naturally, New Year’s Day was a relaxing day to recover from all the celebrations the night before. The only Planetarium at sea had reopened now and some of our group took advantage of this to see the show there.

The remaining sea day allowed more time for the wonders of the QM2, including the formal tea in the Queens Room and just relaxing as the weather got cooler as we headed back to New York. Before dinner on the final night, our farewell party took place in the G32 venue. The final dinner onboard provided everyone to say so long to their new friends. I know that we will see these people on another PIED PIPER cruise in the future.

Bruce

See you onboard!