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A Night for Celebration

Our daily newsletter onboard the ship told us it was a Night for Celebration. We all dressed in our formal attire while a special dinner was prepared for us in the main dining room. It did not matter what we were celebrating: a birthday, anniversary, or some special family event. This was the evening to celebrate all the good things in our lives. When we arrived at the dining room, all the tables were decorated and we were each given a top hat to wear in one of 6 different colors (red, yellow, black, white, green, blue, and gold). There were noisemakers and balloons, and even the Barbershop Quartet came to our table to sing to us women. The meal was delicious (escargot, lobster tail, and filet mignon) and wine or champagne was included with the meal. Then at 9:30 PM the chefs unveiled a Dessert Extravaganza that was a sight to behold. So here are a few pictures for you to enjoy and put you into a festive mood!


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Flowers, Bonnets, and Chocolate Aboard ms Amsterdam

No one knows the origin of the word Easter. Many scholars believe it comes from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon name of a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. Her pagan festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox; traditions associated with the festival continue today with the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in the coloring of eggs with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, and used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts. During the Presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881), it was Mrs. Hayes who originated the custom of inviting children for egg rolling at Easter on the White House lawn.

Many different events were held on the ship which included multiple religious services, an egg scavenger hunt throughout the ship, an Easter Bonnet and Hat Fashion Parade, the Art of Flowers walking tour, and formal Easter dinner with elaborate decorations and a special menu.

For something different we enjoyed breakfast (blueberry pancakes) in the dining room that was lavishly decorated with streamers and decorated eggs.

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When we returned to our cabin we found an unexpected gift of a stuffed bunny key chain and a box of deluxe chocolates for each of us.

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We opted out of the scavenger hunt for colored eggs hidden throughout the ship, and, as it turned out, a very outgoing young lad, nine years old, won the event.

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The florists conducted a flower walk around the ship and pictured here are a few of the lovely arrangements that we saw and photographed. Photographing flowers aboard presents a whole new set of challenges in lighting and background.

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The big event was the Fashion Parade of Bonnets and Hats. We only had two male entries (husbands forced by their wives to wear something silly). But the women went all out in their creations. Some were very whimsical, others very creative, and some were very professional in design and construction. There were four judges, but only one prize. We wished there would have been more categories, because more than one was worthy of recognition in our judgment. In all there were over 30 participants. We had a good time watching from the sidelines.

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Mary Jane and Barb have not been captured by pirates . . . it’s just that they have not been able to post because of security issues.  They are unable to even get a connection to the outside world through their computers.  They were, however, able to phone today from Pepeete, French Polynesia.  They are doing fine, enjoying themselves even though they were unable to go ashore at Easter Island, Chile and Pitcarin Island because of the weather.

They should be able to post when they reach Auckland, New Zealand around February 6th.


Sister Carolyn

Chocoholics Beware! Temptations onboard Queen Mary 2








Yum Yum Yum


Pirates and Man Overboard: What to Do?

As you are packing for your holiday onboard, you rarely are concerned about your personal safety. Your first thought on the topic may come to you as you attend Life Boat Drill within a few hours of embarkation. You become familiar with your muster station, how to put on your life jacket, and the procedure for abandoning ship, if that rare occasion would arise on your voyage.

Throughout the cruise you are aware of crew drills covering various emergencies such as medical, fire, and electrical. Rarely are the passengers involved in these drills. However, on this voyage we have experienced two different drills, both that involved the passengers.

Two nights ago, as we were eating dinner, we noticed that the ship had slowed down considerably, and seemed to be slowing down even more as the minutes ticked by. After dinner Barb and I went to the Senior Officers cocktail party and once we arrived, it became evident that the Senior Officers were not present at the event. We thought that was odd. Then the public address system came on and the Commodore told us that they feared that someone had fallen overboard.

They could not determine who it was, so the Commodore asked all passengers to return to their cabins for a room check by our stateroom stewards. All the passengers proceeded as requested to their cabins, checking in with the room stewards. In 10 minutes the Commodore came on the loudspeaker and asked that Gilbert Ang please go to his room or call the Pursers Desk. We all felt worried, hoping that this was not going to end in tragedy. Finally, the Commodore came on to say all the passengers had been accounted for, and they were in the process of clearing the crew who then were all accounted for. The entire process from initial notice to final clearance was just about 20 minutes. We all were happy that the outcome was positive, and commented on how efficiently and smoothly the process had been, especially considering there are 2,600 passengers onboard.

Our second drill occurred this morning. As we shall be entering the Gulf of Aden (pirate waters) within 24 hours, the ship is taking precautions for a possible pirate attack. The chances of any such attack are very, very slim; however, the cruise ships take the matter very seriously and Cunard, in particular, has established protocols for just such an attack.

Crew members patrol the decks each evening. There is also a general blackout of all non-essential lighting, including passenger cabins with drapes drawn after sundown. Special pirate deterrent sound equipment (the frequency can break a person’s eardrums) is in place on all open decks.

If pirate activity is detected, then all passengers are directed to go immediately to their cabins. Those with outside cabins are to stand or sit in the hallway outside their cabins. Those with inside cabins are to stay in their cabins with the door closed. That is what we practiced today. The procedures for the crew (other than room stewards) are the same as for passengers. Room stewards stay with passengers in their area of responsibility. We knew it was a drill, but, if there had been an actual threat, we will know what to do. It is, indeed, a reassuring feeling.

Our friendly pirate who lives across the hall from us.



World Cruise Party People

As a special event for the Full World Cruisers aboard the Queen Mary 2, we are invited to a formal dinner off the ship at a spectacular location along the way.  This year the special location was atop the Sky Center in Auckland, New Zealand.

We began with a lively cocktail party hosted by the President of Cunard, Peter Shanks, onboard Queen Mary 2, in the Queens Ballroom.

Carolyn and Mary Jane before the World Cruise Dinner



Our Hilton Head friends JoAnn and Jim Ryan

About 90 minutes into the evening, we were asked to disembark the ship and board buses that would take us to the Sky Center.  We made a quick stop after leaving the port area, and “Captain Cook” entered the bus, attired in period costume, and gave us a history of the discovery of New Zealand.  He also included some details about the Maori’s (Polynesian natives) that inhabited the land when Captain Cook “discovered” it.

Our modern day "Captain Cook"


Current day descendants of the Maori’s met us at the Sky Center, looking very fierce.  They posed with the guests giving their best warrior faces.  From what I understand, these fierce faces and chants work very well for the national soccer team, against rivals from other countries.

Maori Warrior

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Carolyn gets into the act too

When we finally ascended to the banquet hall, we were ushered into a different world.  Because the lighting was very dim, it was difficult to get great pictures, but I hope you can get a sense of the feeling we had being in that lovely décor.

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We were very sorry that sister Barb could not join us for this special event, but her shore excursion did not return until  very late that night, so she chose to see more of the New Zealand countryside.  She left the partying to the rest of us.

Barbara Dempsey enjoying the evening


Mary Jane talking to President of Cunard, Peter Shanks, about blogging

Carolyn and Mary Jane with our new friend Winnie

Barbara Dempsey taking a break from photographing

An Encounter with the Pollywogs at King Neptune’s Court

In the 13th century, ships celebrated crossing the equator or Crossing the Line with an initiation ceremony overseen by King Neptune and his court.  Pollywogs (those who had not crossed the Equator on a previous voyage) were coated with various nasty liquids found in the bilge of the ship, suspended by their ankles, and plunged into the sea.

In the ceremony we observed initiates were coated with spaghetti and colorful substances prepared in the ship’s galley, given the opportunity to kiss a fish, and then encouraged to jumped into the pool.

King Neptune presides over his Court

Getting slathered

All ages participated

Kissing the Fish

Even the females got slathered

Another Pollywog gets initiated

No mercy is shown for this Pollywog

But he still gets up and makes his way to kiss the fish