When people hear that you are going to cruise on the Queen Mary 2 they instictively react in one of two ways: with envy or with generosity. The envious get a queer look in their eyes and say something like, “You are so lucky.” or “I wish I could travel with you.” The generous smile and wish you a safe and happy trip.
Ocean cruising on the Queen Mary 2, part of the Cunard Line, is less and less glamorous. This is due to a combination of factors. One factor is the number and the social classes of people able to afford crusing today. Unlike the cruisers of pre-airplane travel or those of the pre-Great Depression era, cruisers of today are less impressed by tradition and protocol; and, they are more and more demanding of “at home” creature comforts. For example, Cunard women cruisers of all social or economic classes ignorevening gowns to show up for formal evenings dressed in cocktail dresses or glittery tops and pants! This has nothing to do with the cost of clothing; it has everything to do with independent decision making and personal comfort. Another factor is that most cruise lines are not independent. They are part of a conglamorate. In fact the Cunard Line, Princess, Costa and Celebrity, to name a few, are under the corporate umbrella of Carnival. That corporation, like any corporation, reads the signs and lowers the standards impreceptibly. For example, the cuts of meat served are compromised, but the waiters are trained to keep their smiles and service skills. The corporation charges extra for formerly included spa activities. Juxtaposed with the lowering of some standards is the quality of the entertainers (singers, dancers, musicians, etc. which, at least on the Cunard ships has improved. Nevertheless, like Public Television in the US, classical musical traditions appear less and less.
This Queen Mary 2 cruise being my 10th in 13 years, gave me the time and the experience to observe the results of a boad based social class clientel and corporate analysis of the amenities offered to said clientel on board ship. For my money, Cunard still offers the best, most comfortable and most comforting crusing available. That does not mean that there are no glitches.
At five o’clock one morning early on in our 12 day voyage, my state room mates and myself awoke to the sound of the intercom barking in the hallway which was immedately followed by running footsteps. I noticed that no light was coming from the crack in the bathroom door which we always left on. I jumped up, tried to turn on the bedside lamp to no avail, then hurried to the door and opened it to find the emergency lighting only illuminating the corridor. No sooner had I closed the door than a distress signal sounded from the ship’s deep throated horn. In the dark, my mates and I began speculating on the problem. Obviously, a significant portion of the ship was dark. Was the cause sabotage? Did water get into the electrical system: Did some computer program go down? As long as we didn’t hear seven short blasts followed by one long blast, the abandon ship signal, we might as well go back to sleep, which we did.
The next morning, my friend’s suggestion that the problem was with a computer error was correct. All was now well and we proceded in all of our grandure to the next port of call.