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Queen Mary 2 Sydney to New York, March 6 to April 25, 2020


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3 minutes ago, hypercafe said:

I just read a article in the NYT about a Costa cruise and the ordeal of the passengers. Sounds like Cunard did a great job by comparison.

What substantive things are you comparing?

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4 minutes ago, d9704011 said:

What substantive things are you comparing?

Keeping the passengers informed, being proactive in skipping ports and getting people home in a safe fashion. They never had to deal with a infect ship.

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5 hours ago, d9704011 said:

What substantive things are you comparing?

 

The Costa Luminosa fiasco should be subject to a maritime inquest.  The captain and Costa did everything wrong.  Dumped off an infected pasenger in the Caymans who subsequently died on the previous leg and then loaded up with passengers including 900 Italians for a transatlantic.  Two days out when they had to debark infected passengers at San Juan, instead of the doing the safe and logical thing, turn around, they continued to Italy!

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Roy,

 

I’ve been following your journey since the first day. While I’m sorry you weren’t able to achieve your goal (ironic that a second virus derailed this trip), I’m genuinely happy to know you arrived safely in Maryland.  
 

Thank you for your diligence in providing an excellent, detailed account of what turned out to be an adventure none of us could have foreseen. My best to you as you rest and no doubt dream of future travel. 

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Day QM2+3, Thursday, March 19, 2020, Perth to Sydney


The Crystal Serenity begins an overnight call in Perth (Fremantle), prematurely ending her world cruise.


It was a cloudy morning but the sun did shine through the clouds about 6:30.


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I headed out for a walk early, walking east until about the time I got to the WACA (Western Australia Cricket Association) stadium.


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On my way back I paused by the pond in the Queens Garden.


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I went down to the buffet about 8:30.  My final Pan Pacific breakfast was bacon and hash browns.


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When I returned to my room there was a message in my spam folder.  It turned out to be my flight.  It was that afternoon at 1:50PM but went only as far as Sydney.  The email said I would be contacted by the hotel about a transfer to the airport but not knowing what to expect I packed up as quickly as possible and caught a cab to the airport.  I was kind of amused by a long line waiting to get into a Cosco near the airport.  According to the taxi driver it was opening day and not necessarily people hoarding supplies.


When I arrived at the airport the checkin line was minimal and I was through quite quickly.  Not knowing what I would have as a baggage allowance I packed each of the roll ons to about 50 pounds.  I put as many heavy things as I could in the collapsible backpack, and what was left over went into the large backpack.  The big backpack would be my carryon bag and the little one my personal item.  Together those two totaled about 12kg.  


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When I reached the counter the two rolling bags were 22 and 23 kg, JUST within the 23kg limit.  However, my ticket only covered one check and I had to go to a sales counter to pay for the second bag before getting my boarding pass.  When I finished that process the line extended well beyond the maze for the checkin counter.


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Security was a breeze and I ended up with almost 3 to kill before the flight.  I bought a muffin for lunch and a can of Pringles for later in the day.  The flight to Perth was a widebody A330.  It was probably only 1/3 full.  A meal was served; I chose beef and rice.  It was close to 9:30 when I collected my luggage.  The representative in Perth suggested I see American once I got to Sydney to see if I had an ongoing reservation but the transfers to the international terminal were closed so I checked my email to see if there was anything new.  I had a reservation for Friday and Cunard suggested I find a hotel and get reimbursed later.  While some airports have direct telephones to hotels Sydney did not so I tried an online search.  It looked like the best choice to be near the airport at a decent price was CKS Airport hotel and it was time to get another taxi.  


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They hadn't quite gotten my reservation yet but it was soon retrieved.  I had a temporary scare when I went to check in as I couldn't find my Australian wallet when I went to give them a credit card for my incidentals.   I was soon on my way to room 121 and a great relief.  I haven't put my wallet in my hip pocket for years but had somehow done so when leaving the taxi.  I did a few things online (including trying but unable to check in for my onward flight) and was in bed about 11.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/ck121.jpg


I will skip ahead a bit here with a bit of financial information.  Cunard has paid for my flights and expenses since leaving the ship and I have a pretty small cash outlay for the trip home.  My TOTAL cash expenses since leaving Perth have been quite a modest $255US, with Cunard picking up in advance my airfare and hotel in Sydney.  Not a bad layout for an unplanned trip almost halfway around the globe.


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As a parting shot there are a number of cruisers somewhat in limbo.  I know there are a few ships still in the Pacific which will not be able to disembark their passengers for at least a few days.  Pacific Princess is in Perth and apparently ready to carry not just their own passengers not flying home but also some from HAL Amsterdam, and Seabourn. I have friends on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner, Crystal Serenity, and Amsterdam whose return I haven't been able to verify.  There are also as I understand it almost 300 passengers on QM2 slowly making their way back to Southampton.  May all be home safe and sound as soon as possible.


Roy

 

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Day QM2+4, Friday, March 20, 2020, Sydney to Dallas and finally home.


The Crystal Serenity concludes her world cruise in Fremantle.  I have heard that Filipino cruise staff will be taking refuge on board as they will not be permitted to return to their homeland.  The sun set in Dallas at 7:39 although it was cloudy.  QM2 is continuing her voyage as a merchant ship back to Southampton.  As I start this post (9AM EDT, March 23) she has arrived in Mauritius for refueling.    Her next stop according to AIS is Durban.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/qm2now.jpg


While my flight to Sydney had been in Economy, the ongoing itinerary back to Baltimore was in Business Class and my boarding time was 12:55PM.  I did not set an alarm and woke up around 7:30 and went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast about 8, getting sausage and toast.


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The shuttle to the airport was for fee and ran once every 40 minutes.  After breakfast I booked the 10:10 shuttle and took a short walk to a local park which had I think a Cricket wicket.


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With Business Class my baggage allowance had gone from 1 23kg bag to 3 32kg  bags.  I left the rolling bags as they were and put only the things I needed to carry (electronics with li-on batteries and meds) in the medium sized backpack and checked the large backpack (only about 7kg).  Checkin was a breeze and should have gotten me priority the rest of the way to the gate.  Unfortunately, the automated passport control did not like my passport and I had to go to the regular line for a live agent but was still finished pretty quickly, and security was also pretty quick.  Once in the terminal I needed to pass through quite a large business area at the entry to the gates.  Our malls are all shut down, but every business in this area was wide open.


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Qantas had a nice lounge where I still had the better part of 2 hours before it was time for my flight.  As boarding time approached there was an announcement in the terminal that my flight would be delayed "while the aircraft was catered".  Almost immediately after that the screen said "proceed to gate" but it was almost departure time when boarding actually started.  To make matters worse near the end of the process the pilot announced a problem with the aircraft which would require a complete shutdown of the plane and reboot.  Fortunately, the reboot was successful.  Our scheduled departure was 13:40 but it was 14:55 when the plane started moving forward and 3:05 when we left the runway.


The plane was an Airbus A380, I'm quite sure the biggest I have ever flown; 2 full passenger decks, each served by it's own jetway.  Service started off with a dinner about an hour after we left.  I chose a steak entree.


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The seats each extended flat to form a makeshift bed.  The woman next to me who had flown from Perth overnight slept a lot while I got only a bit of sleep and a lot of rest.  There was a little pantry in the galley where I grabbed a bag of chips mid-flight.  A breakfast was served about 90 minutes before we landed, even though it was almost noon in Dallas by that time.  


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/meal2.jpg


Our scheduled arrival was 12:55 but we touched down at 1:30 and exited the plane at 1:55.  My connection to Baltimore was 2:25 and there was no way I could make it.  I have Global Entry but the system did not like my fingerprints and I had to go through Immigration the usual way.  There were no questions but I expect there were thermal sensors and I'm quite sure our passports are scanned at each country even if they are not stamped and I assume the officer could see where I had been recently.  ln any case I was through pretty quickly.  Just before the baggage hall there were a number of ticket jackets taped to the wall arranged by destination city and passenger.  My new boarding pass was probably about the 6th in the line.


The 484 passenger plane was almost full and assuming about 2 bags per person that created a real zoo at the baggage carousel.  There were abundant trolleys and I found my 3 bags in about a half hour.  I had more than enough time as my new flight didn't leave until 8:30.


A first class domestic ticket does not entitle use of a lounge on American. I checked with the Admiral's Club to see if there was a possibility based on my incoming flight.  They thought so but sent me to the Flagship Lounge a couple of gates further down.  They had to scan both my incoming and outgoing boarding passes to get me in the door.  The lounge was not great but was better than trying to hang out in the open area.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/flagship.jpg


I left the lounge about 7:45, needing to go from Terminal D to Terminal B on a little train.  The flight was lightly booked (perhaps 1/3 full) and ran pretty much on time.  We landed at BWI at 12:30 and I had my bags a bit before 1.  There was no problem getting a taxi home and I arrived about 1:25 and was in bed about 1:45.


Sleeping has been unsteady.  I did not sleep much Friday night.  I had a pretty successful grocery shopping day Saturday although things were really strange.  Saturday night I slept until 10:15AM.  Since my church's virtual worship was at 10:30 at the time I was still getting ready for the day and not very attentive for the first 15 minutes or so.  I took walks in my neighborhood both Saturday and Sunday but on Monday it has rained so no exercise so far.  I also did not sleep very long Sunday night.  It may take a while to get control of my body clock back after a 12-hour shift in less than 3 days.


My parting shot will perhaps be a bit long and surprising.  I wanted to end on a positive note and had saved a few photos for a sea day out of Fremantle which never happened.  People often ask what the difference is between a cruise ship and an ocean liner.  Much of the answer is technical like strength of the steel and hull design but I like one graphic.  People often ask about a ship "Can you go out on the bow?".  There are 2 heavy steel doors at the front of the promenade deck that are normally open and lead to an open deck with spare propellor blades that sure looks like the bow:


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/bow1.jpg


Not so fast.  Go all the way to the railing and there's a second long bow that you can't go on.  


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/bow2.jpg

But wait, there's more.  Looking closely at the mast in front you don't see the bottom and if you move to the side you can see a 3rd bow"


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/bow3.jpg


That massive bow reinforcement is largely responsible for the way QM2 handles raging Atlantic storms.  I'm sad that I will miss a month of QM2 doing what she was designed so well to do but look forward to my next transatlantic on her.


Roy

 

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4 minutes ago, erewhon said:

Roy,

Pleased to know that you are getting settled at home,  is your foot quite OK now?

Thanks for all your reports and photos.

 

I get an occasional twinge every few days.  (99% better).

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Roy, I hope you are able to get a good night's rest tonight and that your clock is getting readjusted.  I remember one flight back from Bangkok that was over 30 hours and took me three days to get back to being able to sleep a normal night's sleep again.  Flying long haul to the west doesn't seem to bother me as much as flying  East, that really screws up my rhythm for sleeping.  Just glad that you are safely home again.

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3 hours ago, travelnap said:

Roy, how are things in Baltimore? Are you able to get around or have they limited travel a great deal there?  Hope you are getting all rested up from your adventure.

There are worse places but it's not like going back home.  There are no real travel restrictions.  In fact our transit system is still running on a modified basis.  They have cancelled fares and requiring riders to board from the back door, away from the driver, but they are available. 

 

The problem is not being unable to go but having nowhere really to go.  All malls are closed and as of 24 hours ago the governor ordered all non-essential businesses to close.  That very short haircut I got in Sydney may need to last me a while as barber shops were non-essential.  I have been walking in the neighborhood with no real problem staying 6 feet away from others.  A lot of organizations are going to online meetings.

 

I did not go today to pick up my mail today at the UPS store but I hope it will still be open.

 

Roy

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If people don't mind me continuing this thread for a while, QM2 is still on her way to Durban.  She is off AIS range but marine traffic shows a "Passenger vessel:position reported by satellite just south of Madagascar" which pretty much has to be QM2.

 

Roy

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5 hours ago, rafinmd said:

If people don't mind me continuing this thread for a while, QM2 is still on her way to Durban.  She is off AIS range but marine traffic shows a "Passenger vessel:position reported by satellite just south of Madagascar" which pretty much has to be QM2.

 

Roy

Roy, as long as you keep posting I know a lot of us will keep following this thread, so Thank You.

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Today RMS (Random Merchant Ship?) Queen Mary 2 is just beyond the midway point between the tip of Madagascar and Durban.  MSC Orchestra is there now; not sure how long it is staying,  Last night I had the last of my Cunard chocolates.  It was one from last fall.  The chocolates on the world cruise were different, larger cylinders that were wrapped with a twist rather than a seal, and I did not bring any back to the US?

 

Roy

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I've been checking QM2's satellite position and at the moment her course wouldn't actually be taking her to Durban. As of now, she's on course toward a small town named St Lucia in South Africa about 100 miles northeast of Durban, with about 6 hours to go to get there at her current speed. Naturally she could change course toward Durban at any time, so I'll be watching to see where she does end up next.

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18 minutes ago, bluemarble said:

Only a few minutes after my previous post, QM2 altered course to the southwest, now on a direct course toward Durban with an estimated arrival there in about 11 hours.

Do you have full satellite access or you looking at the limited public access I have?

 

Roy

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Just now, rafinmd said:

Do you have full satellite access or you looking at the limited public access I have?

 

Roy

 

On the marinetraffic smartphone app, you can purchase satellite access on a single ship for 24 hours for $0.99, so that's what I've done to follow QM2 today. I've also been following along on the marinetraffic website where the "Passenger vessel Position received by satellite" off the east coast of South Africa is indeed QM2.

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Friday, March 27, 2020, my 11th day off Repatriation Merchant Ship Queen Mary 2 and my 7th day at home.

 

I'm getting a bit concerned about QM2.  As BJLord reported 12 hours ago, she is anchored off shore at Durban.  When she stopped for refueling in Mauritius, there was a tanker alongside her very promptly after dropping the anchor.  This does not appear to be  happening in Durban although there are several tankers sitting within a mile or two.  I hope this gets straightened out relatively quickly and refueling can begin soon. 

 

I also want to go back to my time on Crystal for a moment.  The Serenity has a piano bar.  I haven't really explored that on Cunard but I expect the most parallel program would be either in the Commodore Club or the Golden Lion.  One of their best piano entertainers is home in Chicago and has started a series of "Mark's Quarantine Cabaret".  It's on his public Facebook page and you can listen without being on facebook:

 

https://www.facebook.com/markfarrisentertainer/videos/vb.1438311833101166/680777029327864/?type=2&theater

 

I haven't been doing a parting shot on these post-voyage updates but will do a visual one from one of the comments on Mark's page:

 

eyesight.JPG.54cdc8558657aaccee184918fb9f3c16.JPG

 

Roy

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The bunkering tanker "Bongani" has just left the dock in Durban. Maybe she's headed out to refuel QM2. Will be keeping an eye on that.

 

Edit: False alarm. That tanker is not heading out to sea just yet.

Edited by bluemarble
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