Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Travels with Mary Agnes and Trubey, II

In the course of a conversation about who knows what, Trubey's father discovered that I had never traveled outside the US, except for the Bahamas.  He decided to change that.  He decided that we should travel to Paris and from there to Italy, where we would board a cruise ship for the United States.  Before he could book the passage for himself, his wife, Zoe, and Trubey and myself, terrorists took over the Achille Laure in Italy.

This caused him to consult his travel agent in Miami Shores, FL about alternatives.  They came up with a transatlantic cruise on the QEII.  Bill Walker figured if the British could handle the IRA, we would be safe  against terrorists.  He booked us for a matched sailing cruise (matched sailing in those days meant you went east to west --NY to England-- and then 6 days later went west to east for the price of one-way, but you pay your bar bill!)  We were fortunate in the people randomly assigned to our table in the dining room.  Jack and Martha Wingert became family friends with the Walkers and Trubey to this day visits them in California after the January California TNNA market.  Amazingly they had also signed up for the matched sailing so we sat with them on the return voyage.  I think our voyages on the QEII were atypical.   On the way to England, on the 3rd night at dinner, we noticed a change in the motion of the ship.  Bill Walker, an experienced yachtsman, commented that the ship was turning around.  (NOTE:  In Maritime law, if a person is thought to be overboard, the boat/ship must turn around to the supposed point of the person's entering the water in an attempt to search for and possibly rescuing the person.)  We ultimately discovered that a man and his wife and her lover were sharing a cabin.  The husband was hoping the voyage would result in a reconciliation, only to discover that his wife had brought her lover along.  The ship was full so they shared a stateroom.  They drank and quarreled for over two days, throwing luggage in and out of the stateroom.  On the third day, their surrounding passengers were fed up with the disruption.  That was when announcements on the ship intercom called for the husband, wife, and lover (named individually) to report to the purser's office.  Only the wife and lover appeared.  Hence the search. Of course, if someone is tossed 12 decks from a cruise ship into northern Atlantic seas in late October, either the impact or the cold of the water will be deadly.  When the ship passed the Isle of Wight, a helicopter with Scotland Yard detectives landed on board.  The whole matter was kept very quiet by Cunard and we never heard about any trial.

It was a surreal experience at our hotel, the Intercontinental.  As we discovered, it had an Arabic owner.  This was confirmed in our room's bathroom where the instructions for using the hair dryer were first in Arabic, then French, and then English.  This was also where we had our introduction to purse searches, daily at our hotel upon reentry and at the Tower of London and at our other tourist stops. After 5 or 6 days, we sailed home.  It was November, and we encountered a massive storm in the North Atlantic. The damage to the ship's contents was massive as the captain continued on the set course.  Many passengers were seasick.  The contents of the crystal shop were broken on the deck (or floor?).  The stancheons holding the machines in the casino were broken and on the ground (these were repaired quickly!).  The bookshelves in the library were on the floor and the books scattered helter-skelter.  (In the "old" days, they used to have straps to hold the books in the shelves.  Obviously, not so for our trip, though even the bookshelves fell down.)  The QEII served tea or bovril twice a day, once about 10 am and then again about 4pm.  There were tea carts and tea cups hidden in cubbyholes all over the ship.  These careened everywhere.  It seemed that millions of tea cups had been smashed.

All of a sudden, about 2 am you could tell the ship had changed course.  The captain had been trying to reach New York for our scheduled docking, hence all the damage on board.  He finally changed course and we were told we would be going into Boston.  Scratch that as we discovered when we arrived in New York as scheduled.  However, there were no cabs on the pier as they had been told we were going to Boston.  Trubey's tall, blonde, actress daughter was meeting us.  She managed to commandeer a sweet man driving a woodie station wagon who had delivered something to a relative in the crew.  The five of us, with our masses of luggage, piled into this man's station wagon and went to the Plaza Hotel.  The look on the doorman's face was priceless as we started climbing out of the car--it really was like one of those clown cars!!!  But the moral of this story to me, a 5-foot 6inch brunette, is that to travel without a hitch, one must have at least one  6-foot blonde along!


  1. I never knew cruise shop travel could be so exciting!

  2. This is for you, MA.

    1. Jane, I checked that website and there were NO entries for the QEII. An English friend commented when we met her the day after we landed in London that there was a one-line mention of an "incident" at sea on the QEII. Cunard at that time (and today?) controlled the news.