Cunardís Queen Elizabeth II
Most recent postings will appear at the top of page.
Our last thoughts on the QE II - †received May 4
(written by Helen)
going to say it even though Iím a little embarrassed to say it but this is
supposed to be more of a personal journal than anything.† Iím proud of myself.† There you go.†
Steve said that it would be a good idea to reflect back on our ship
journey and summarize what we got from it.†
When I think back to our trip from
I donít know if itís just us but we always realize how great a vacation or trip is a few weeks after we get home.† For the past few weeks, since we got off in Malaga, we have been reminiscing about the QE2 and have been talking about all the countries we saw, the people we met, the food we ate, the sights we saw and now we realize how truly amazing that trip really was.† Donít get me wrong, while we were doing it we knew it was great but you donít really get it until itís over and you look back.† We have only been off the ship for just over two weeks and I canít believe that!† It feels like it was months ago.†
remind us of our journey, like tonight in the van we were listening to the
radio and the song ďLand Down UnderĒ came on and it got us talking about
thing I noticed that surprised me beyond belief was that
Just a little side note here because there was one couple we just adored on board and for some reason we didnít get a chance to say a proper good-bye to them when we left the ship.† They were so great with our kids and I say kids because Danika, the princess, got most of the attention on board.
So, letís see what else can I say about how I am feeling right now.† This trip has been like a roller coaster ride.† Some days I feel like this is the best idea in the whole world and I am so very grateful for the opportunity.† Other days I feel like a crazy woman and I look at my kids and I wonder if I am torturing them.† I say this because on occasion they have mentioned the fact that they hate doing this and they just want to get home and eat Kraft Dinner and see their friends.† I have to admit I have days like that too.† Do you know what I miss?† The most simple, ridiculous things from home.† I miss Tony Parsonís voice on the evening news.† I miss walking through Costco.† I miss sitting in front of my T.V. watching a mindless soap opera or reality T.V. show.† I miss driving.† I miss doing my own laundry in my own machine.† I miss having a cell phone.† I heard one the other day and I seriously wondered for a split second what the hell that sound was.†††
What donít I
miss?† Well, Steveís not going to be
happy about this but I donít miss working.†
I donít miss making lunch for Nikolas (for
school, I mean).† I donít even miss
cooking that much but I do miss eating a home cooked meal.†† I love meeting new people and making new
friends but I also miss the comfort of my good friends at home.† I miss talking to my girlfriends about
everything and nothing.† It was so great
to have my sister and her boys come out to
is another story and I havenít quite figured her out.† I know she is still quite young but I have no
idea if any of this is sinking in.†
Sometimes she surprises us and makes some profound statement and other
times I look at her and picture her becoming a very high maintenance, blond
I know thatís just terrible to say but she sometimes acts like she is
twenty.† She puts on an outfit and stands
in front of the mirror and poses.† I donít
remember doing that at that age.† Then in
the next moment she is talking about how sad it is that kittens donít have a
home and she just confuses me.† Just
yesterday Steve said something about being in
Well, I am
sitting here in
What awaits us on our travels?†† Who knowís.† It is May already and this is starting to go very fast.† Everyone says that a year is so long but it really isnít when there is so much to see and so many places to go.† Hopefully we will have a lot more stories to tell and I am hoping that most, if not all, will be good ones.†††
Steveís two cents on the QE II
I am going to start this little message by saying I have no regrets about doing a world cruise. The folks we met (Crew and Passengers) were so interesting and fun.
The thing I canít get over, is how many wonderful people we met. Sure we saw some wonderful place, but the folks we made friends with on that old ship will wipe away any petty problems we encountered.
O.K. maybe we paid too much, maybe our room flooded and we left the ship for a week, maybe the Norwalk virus set a new record on the QE II (102 days and over 650 people infected), maybe our cabins were moldy. Maybe we had enough issues that I could tell you about for the next 5 pages.† I will leave you with just a few.
I made a
mistake early on and made comparisons about the Germans, Americans, and British
and who was the rudest and who was most polite. I can tell you now that it did
not matter where you came from. I did not include Canadians in this little
survey because we are always so polite. Wrong! The most disrespectful thing I
witnessed came from a Canadian couple from
What are my thoughts on the QE II itself;
She should be a floating restaurant!
The best line I heard on what do with the QE II came from a women who was on her 12th QE II world cruise. She said ďthey should take this clunker out to the middle of the ocean and sink herĒ. I have to agree, the ship is done and I donít think you can clean it up after 35 years, and that virus thing would not have been tolerated on any other ship for that long. The other sad thing about spending so long on one ship is you get to know everyone. A dozen people passed away while on the ship.† We thought that was a lot but we were told that it was about average for a cruise like this.
Our kids had
a bit of a tough time adjusting after we got off the ship and I felt quite bad
about it. You see I have always had a passion for traveling and it is not that
easy to do with a small family. I came up with this great plan to travel for
one year and see the world with our kids only to find that we were not that
well prepared. I tried to think of everything that could go wrong, what effect
it would have on our kids and where we would stay. The one thing I forgot to
think about was Helen and myself, and what effect it
would have on us. You canít go to places like
The most important lesson I received in seeing so many parts of the world was just watching my children. Our daughter is too young, but our son has completely changed from the insecure, immature little kid he used to be. Now, I am not saying that is a good thing, but itís just amazing how kids adapt to different environments. Nikolas has no problem talking to people he does not know, something he never would have done before. He has found ways to amuse himself mostly because he has no one to play with that is the same age in over 4 months. That is the toughest part I think, watching Nikolas be homesick and asking when this trip will be ending.
There were a
few other bizarre things that happened like a few people who recognized us on
the other side of the world. One guy walked up to Nikolas
and said he recognized him from the Cruise when we were up in
strange thing we noticed that seems to be consistant
all over the world, is that there is something funny
happening with the weather. We have been traveling over 4 months and have only
seen rain two times. Places we went to that were supposed to be hot said for
some reason it was very cold this year. Like in
All in all I am glad we used the QE II, I think it is not the most economical way to go, but probably the easiest if you are traveling with kids under the age of 10. I am sure I will look back in the coming years and remember all the great times we had while on that old ship. Without kids I would not do it, you could see so much more for a quarter of the price if you just bought an around the world air ticket.
AT SEA - April 9 †††(received April 10)
(Written by Steve)
Well, here we are, only a few dayís away from getting off this old gal (QE II). We have been traveling on this ship for 3 Ĺ months and have gone around ĺ of the globe. Are we going to miss it? Yes and No.
The passengers are getting so cranky I feel embarrassed to be classified in the same group as some of them, so in that respect we are very ready to go out on our own. Please excuse me for saying this, but some of these folks are down right rude and need a good wake up call.
wake up calls, we were told of a terrorist attack in
So we are
ready to get off the ship, but I think we have lost touch with reality so
getting back to cooking our own meals might take a bit of adjusting. We have
made many friends on this ship so it will be a very sad day when we are sitting
on the dock in
Well, nothing too new onboard, just a few more scraps in the laundry room, and the ship ran out of blueberries. You may laugh about the Blueberries, but there will be a few folks onboard who will be calling there lawyers if they donít get some soon.
At Sea - April 7 (received April 8)
(Written by Steve)
We are in
the Mediterranean and we just passed the city of
I heard some
talk of some folks driving the 3 hours to
At Sea - April the 5th (received April 8)
(Written by Steve)
I will just give you a little info about this little stream we are floating up today.
In 1854 the
French diplomat and engineer Vicomte Ferdinand Marie
de Lesseps succeeded in enlisting the interest of the
Egyptian viceroy Said Pasha in the project. In 1858 La Compagnie
Universelle du Canal
Maritime de Suez (Universal Company of the Maritime Suez Canal) was formed with
authority to cut a canal and to operate it for 99 years, after which ownership
would return to the Egyptian government. The company was originally a private
Egyptian concern, its stock owned chiefly by French and Egyptian interests. In
1875 the British government purchased
Excavation of the canal was begun on April 25, 1859, and the canal was opened to navigation on November 17, 1869. The cost totaled about $100 million. About three times that sum was spent on later repairs and improvements.
armed conflict in June 1967 between
At SEA Mar 30
Somewhere in the
(Written by Steve)
We are still
in the Arabian Sea but we will cross over into the
This ship is stopped a few hundred feet beside us; our doctor and some crew are on it as this picture is being taken.
note: The gent (a Canadian fellow) that was taken off our ship by helicopter
when we were in the
I am trying
to think of some good news to tell you.†
Ah yes, I received an email from our friend Ray OíShea, and he is out of
hospital. In case you donít know, Ray is the Catholic Priest who we used to sit
with at dinner, and he had a heart attack and required 5 bypasses back when we
I have not
been able to get anything out as of news or pictures because the dang internet
is not working right. Our cell phone will not pick up a GPRS signal, so we can
not even use that. I guess when we hit
levels on the ship have apparently peaked again and the crew has been having
special meetings in hopes of stopping it. This
thing happened on Easter morning after the Easter bunny left the ship. The
daily ship paper had reminded everyone that the Easter bunny would be hiding Easter
eggs on the quarter deck of the ship. Early that morning a women from
At SEA April 1,
made an announcement that there was an Iceberg floating off the starboard side
of the ship. When everyone ran out to see it, there was nothing out there but
the water of the
currently right in the middle of the Red Sea, between
that, we are all doing just Jim Dandy, and are ready to get off this old Gal.
Itís hard to believe that in less than 2 weeks, we will be in
At Sea - Mar 25†
here we are, at anchor about 5 miles off the coast of
We are stuck
in something called a Shamal and have just been
advised by the Captain that it appears impossible to make the port today or
tomorrow. It must be bad because there is 600
passengers waiting to get on and 600 getting off and heading to the airport. We
also have a very ill gentleman aboard and in about 15 minutes a helicopter is
going to land on the ship and pick him up. So it appears we will not see
We can tons of ship here, from oil tankers to military vessels
Anyways here we are, sitting out in the Gulf awaiting a helicopter, so Iíll let you know what happens. We have a great cell phone signal, so I will update you if we start to move.†
UPDATE Ė sent @ 10:30 pm March 22 - We just had a daring
helicopter rescue performed in some pretty high winds. A police helicopter came
out and picked up a very ill passenger, and did it flawlessly. We are stuck our
here off the coast of
Received March 22 - "That's right, we are back on board safe and sound. WE LOVED MUMBAI (BOMBAY), and hope to one day return. I just thought we would let you know we made it back alive."
Received March 21
(Written by Steve)
We are not really at sea, we are sitting in the harbour awaiting immigration to check passports and question all the passengers. It is 11:30 am now and we are being told it could take up to 12 hours or until around 10 pm before they allow us to dock. We are excited and terrified all at the same time about Mumbai; itís a very different world here. I am looking at the city right now as it is only half a mile to shore, and it looks beautiful. On our way here there were a couple of military helicopters that would buzz a few hundred feet above the ships deck, and sometimes even hover and wave to us.
There is a destroyer just a few
hundred meters off our starboard side and I heard that security is very tight
when we are here. I was surprised to find out that they send divers under the
ship to see if we picked up any packages, or any other surprises; thatís
comforting thought. We are heading into the
I donít know if there is anything too new on the ship, but hey I have nothing else to do, so Iíll make something up. Here goes.
I donít know the exact numbers, but
it appears quite a few of the passengers are coming down with this stomach
virus again. One of the kids in the kids club was puking her brains out last
night, and you can get it more than once, so we hope Nik
or Dani donít get it again. The ship has been
cleaning this old gal since we left
We have been treated very well by them all, well not all, one gent in the purserís office did not do us any favours, we will get to that later. We consider a lot of the crew our friends and hang out with them in port, and it has been fantastic. The crap these folks (the crew) take from passengers is not like it would be on a 7 day cruise, these world cruisers are a very difficult bunch. I have never seen such disrespect from one person to another in my life. When some fat cat is demanding to only have 1 ice cube in his glass and 2 accidentally fall in, well you would think the waiter dumped it on his lap or something. Yelling and complaining as if it was done on purpose, and this and that, and it happens every single day on the QE II. There are days when I see some poor crew person getting unloaded on and I just want to walk up to the passenger and smack them in the back of the head. I came close to actually doing it, but I had the kids with me, and I donít want Nikolas writing home about that.
We are all doing well and are looking forward to Mumbai, we not really but it will be a site to see. We are prepared for the worst and it will be very difficult to travel with kids, but we will give it a try. We have heard about it from so many people and it sounds terrifying to be honest. We will let you know how we did as soon as we are back and have a connection.
Wish us luck
(written by Steve - March 17)
There is really nothing new on this old Gal!
Father OíShea had 5 bypasses, and I am not sure what they call that one, but he is resting and doing well. We spoke to him on the phone the day before his operation and he sounded strong, Nikolas just lit up with joy when he got to talk to Ray, and they had a short heart warming conversation.
Our friends Eric and Ursula had to go
to the hospital too in
A comedian the other night had a few
funny lines about
He said he was unaware that
The virus levels on the ship have spiked once again and many people have been quarantined to their rooms including Nikolas and Danika. Our kids are fine now, but it sure was not a lot of fun when they were both ill, poor kids.
We are now right in the middle of the
Indian Ocean a few hundred kilometers away from
AT SEA - Mar 9 (written by Steve)
Here we are just off the coast of
Our good Friend Ray (Father) OíShea
had a heart Attack and was taken off the ship by ambulance. We had been in our
cabin for a couple of days because the kids were ill, and then tried to make up
for lost time on our last day in port. It was when we returned to the ship just
before it pulled away from the dock when we found out about this terrible news.
We went to dinner that night and sure enough his seat was empty and I can only
tell you that it was a very quiet dinner. Usually we are always yakking about
some current event, or Rayís days when he was a boxer or a magician, but that
night we did little talking and left early. Have you ever met or known someone
who is always positive and can take any conversation and get you to look at the
positive or funny side of it, well that was Father OíShea. Nikolas
just loved this man, he could not sleep the night of
the news, and told me he just canít believe that he may never see Father OíShea
again. I wonít tell Nikolas but, if we get up into
Just so you know,
Ray is in Intensive Care in a
I canít remember talking about religion with Ray, but we certainly got into the politics and geography and he is very educated on those subjects. I personally will really miss Ray as I consider him to be one of my very good friends. I never thought I would be good friends with a Catholic Priest and I am not even sure why I say that. My ignorance for religion made me think a Priest to be very serious with little time for chit chat, kind of like an orthopedic surgeon. Have you ever met an Orthopedic Surgeon? Those folks are dang stuffy and have no bed side manner, thatís kind of what I thought a priest would be like on his days off, I know Priests never get days off, but you know what I am talking about.
The Gal who told us about what happened to Ray is Mary (From Chicago) and Helen ran into her just before dinner. Poor Mary was going on a tour on the same morning that Ray was taken to hospital. Mary was getting on her tour bus and an English chap in front of her had a massive heart attack and collapsed and hit the ground. Mary cleared the manís airway and did CPR for about 20 minutes until help arrived. Poor Mary was really rattled afterwards, but at least she stopped to help when most would only watch. Unfortunately the man passed away, but bystanders said they saw Mary fly into action and she did a heck of a job. Sheís a retired Nurse!
I know this is starting to sound like
a bit of a soap, but a few other things have happened
to people we have told you about, and they all had to get off in
So it was kind of weird pulling out
One more gal, Maria (Danikaís Big sister) also left us and even though that was tough, at least we got to say good bye.
Does this sound like a soap opera or what?
To change subjects, our kids were quite sick when we were in port and still Danika just canít shake what ever this ship sickness is. Nikolas bounced back from the flu but is having a hard time adjusting to life without Father OíShea around.
Helen is doing excellent and talking
about booking her next cruise. NOT! She is more relaxed as the seas have
been quite nice since we left
I am doing just Jim Dandy myself, eating like a mad man and doing quite a bit of nothing. The days at sea really donít turn me on, and I kind of just want to get to the next port as soon as possible. I still like the tea time thing, but have not been able to go in the last week.
I have got lots of emails from friends asking me how my heart thing is going, and I have been feeling dizzy since boarding the ship. I know why everyone is asking because they are thinking, and I wonder too, if it was stress. I have had 2 episodes since we have left, one scary one for me was at dinner on a night when I broke out in a sweat and felt like I was going to pass out. The other was on the tread mill and I have not done that since. The truth about the whole thing is I am not exactly sure what it is, but I have an idea. I went through so much testing before I left, I got to know my body very well. I wore monitors for a few days, had a stress test (which I failed) had an angiogram that showed me my arteries were clear. The consensus from all the specialists I saw was that I have an Electrical problem with my heart. That may be true and I will only find out when I complete all the testing that I was supposed to do before I left. I have my own theory and am trying to diagnose myself right now as I write. (Is that a guy thing or what?)
Well, anyways, I found out some
things about my heart that I did not know. I have a resting heart rate of 38
and my resting Blood pressure is 90/60. The blood pressure surprised me,
as I always remember it being 120/80 and have had it at that level for at least
20 years. Now, for some reason my body has decided it likes a BP of 90/60 and I
think thatís where my dizziness comes from. The Cardiologists I saw down in the
There is something else on this ship
that does not work very well, the Security. There is a real security problem
aboard this ship. I always tell Helen not to worry, but now I am getting a
little worried. When we were in
You see Helen is terrified about
going into the
I have told her many times that the only way you are going to sink this old gal, is if you could get the bomb on board. Well you know what, those guys from the crew (or who ever they were) could have been carrying anything in those boxes, and walked right onto the ship.
Every time you leave and board the ship, you must run your ship Id under a scanner, but itís not that great of a system and can be easily bypassed. Those guys also had Id when they brought those boxes onboard, but you should be as worried about cargo coming onboard as you are the passengers or crew. Anyways, I am getting off topic and will save all my little concerns for the very end when we disembark.
We are not quite sure how to feel
about a couple of our upcoming stops like
Well thatís all for now, I really was just writing to tell you the sad news about Ray OíShea and got carried away with the rest.
(Written by Helen) - received February 22 at 04:30 am
little update on where we are and what we are doing. We are currently on
our way to the Phillipines and are probably crossing
the equator as I write. It is 8pm on Feb. 22 and we have just come from
dinner in the Maurentania Restaurant. It is
formal night every night that we are at sea so we are getting used to wearing
tuxedos and ballgowns every night. Well, Steve
still hates it but he sure looks dapper. We had a good night at dinner as
it was our main waitresses birthday today. We
have become very close to both of our waitresses (I hate to call them that
because they feel like our friends). Angela turned 24 today and she is
I don't want to jinx it BUT, it has been very smooth sailing since we left Exmouth. This is my kind of cruising!!!! You can't even feel a thing. Unfortunately, or should I say ironically, the other night I woke up in the middle of the night and the whole room was spinning. I thought for a minute that I had the dreaded Norwalk Virus but found out that it was probably just sea sickness. Now??? After being on this ship for almost 2 months, I get sea sick now when the ship has never been smoother. The doctor said I may have a bit of an inner ear infection and my equilibrium is not sure what to do. Boy, was I sick. But it only lasted a few hours and then the medication set in and I slept for hours and hours and then I felt better. Now I feel fine but I have a bit of a cold, oh well.
The kids are
still doing just fine. To put in perspective we told Nikolas
that we may be getting off a few days early in
Life on board had become like home. Today I spent most of the day in the laundry room doing the wash and that can be quite interesting in itself. Everyday there is a fight to get an empty washer or dryer and the tempers can really flare in that room I tell you. I just heard today that two passengers were kicked off the ship for actually fist fighting over a washer. Can you believe that???
fine form with his rumours he is spreading around
that the ship is going to bypass the Suez Canal for security reasons and
instead travel around the Cape Horn in
Right now we
are half way between Bali and
another earthquake in
it for now. We are both excited and a little nervous as we venture into a
part of the world we have never been before.
(written by Steve Feb16)
One minute I am telling you I donít
think I can write anymore at sea stories because there is nothing new to write
about and the next minute I am sending out one of my little stories. I
actually had an interesting day at sea today because Helen, Nikolas
and I went to one of the many lectures they have on the ship everyday. The gent
who we went to see is named Dr. Terry Waite and he is a very successful hostage
negotiator that is responsible for the release of several hostages from
He started the lecture by telling us what a negotiator does, and how he became involved in such a thing. He started with a couple of funny stories about when he was moved a few times and the captures had some trouble with him. Dr. Waite is 6í 7Ē tall and he said every time he got moved they would wrap him in masking tape from head to toe and put him in the trunk of a car. He said on one occasion they tried to get him in a trunk but he would not fit, even with the captures sitting on the top. He heard one of them say ďput him in the fridgeĒ and Dr. Waite replied ďyou canít do that, Iíll suffocate and dieĒ. The captors replied, ď donít worry you wonít be in there for too long, so he was put in the fridge and transported to where very they had to move him. The funny part of this story was when he told us ďI can assure you all that the light does indeed go out when the door closesĒ. One other story he told was when they taped him all up and threw him in a trunk and when he hit the floor of the trunk he felt another body in there. He ripped away some tape from his mouth and said ďthere is not a lot of room in here is thereĒ and the body replied ďuntil you came in, there was plenty of roomĒ. That was the first time he had any kind of contact with anyone in fours years, and also the first time he had ever met a British hostage named John McCarthy. His stories are told with a very gentle humor, as he casually talks about how 5 years of his life was stolen from him. The one thing that I will ask when I get the chance is how was it that his spirit was not broken in those years of captivity. I wonít go into too much detail because he is going to give 2 more talks and I am sure I have lots more to tell you. When we met with Dr. Waite after his talk he surprised me by saying, ďAh, you folks are from CanadaĒ, after only 2 or 3 words had come out of my mouth, I assumed someone must of told him this tidbit, but he said he could tell by my accent.
I get the impression Dr. Waite is a very smart man, and I look forward to hearing him speak in the next few days.
Following his release on 19th
November 1991 he was elected a fellow commoner at Trinity Hall Cambridge
At Sea - February 15
(Written by Steve)
I donít know how many more of these
at sea stories we can write about, because itís the same old, same old on the
ship. We are now 1 Ĺ months into our cruise and the
The family is doing well and we are
all settling in really well after our side trip to
One thing that I am really happy about is that Helen does Nikolasí school work and she does a wonderful job. Nikolas has a short attention span and Helen is quite patient on most days and they somehow seem to get it all done. To be honest, if I was the kid there is no way Iíd do it, so Iím very happy Nikolas and Helen make it happen.
Danika is doing great, she is so spoiled. She beats to a completely different drum than old Nikolas. I love that little girl but she is quite selfish for a little 4 year old, so much sometimes that it really surprises me. The kid is 4 years old and her favorites foods are Jumbo Shrimp and Lobster, and has eaten Escargot and frogs legs. I hope she will change a little, because down the road she is going to make for one expensive wife. I think itís a genetic thing more than a learned thing.
The ship itself is the same as it has always been, I still love the old gal. The food and the service on the QE II are first rate. I am a little sick of eating like this all the time, but the selection of food could not be any better. I am not a big fan of the way some problems with passengers are handled, but it all comes down to the ship being fully booked. They canít move people when their cabins flood or have electrical problems because the ship is so packed, and I think that in itself will be the end of the QE II. The folks on this ship do not tolerate being told ďsorry there is nothing we can do for youĒ; they donít like hearing those words. The crew and staff on this ship are the hardest working and most professional ship employees I have ever seen, and we have been on a Ĺ dozen different lines. I think Cunard is just a banner for Carnival, and they will not only lose all the loyal passengers, but also all their loyal employees. 68% of the passengers that sail on the QE II are return passengers, but many of them are extremely unhappy on this voyage and say they wonít return again. As one nice lady who has been on this ship many times put it, they should take this ship out to sea and sink it. We may never be on another one of Cunards cruises, but I hope that Carnival gets its act together for the crewís sake, because they have such wonderful staff on this ship and they are getting treated very badly. .
So thatís pretty much it for the day at
sea story, and we canít get to
Day at Sea Received February 2 @ 2:56 AM
(Written by Helen - Feb.2)
At 11pm as the QE 2 left
Well, itís actually not that exciting. As weíve mentioned before, the air conditioner in our room starting leaking so they decided to put in a new one. No big deal normally but when they pulled back the carpet in the room, it must have been leaking for awhile because the carpet and underlay and floor were wet and there was some interesting looking black mold growing on the floor. The ship gave us another room, on the THIRD floor and told us that this room would be ready in one day and then they decided to do the air conditioner in our other room right after so both rooms were out of commission. The plan was for the first room to be done and then we could move our stuff into that one while the other room was being done. The only problem was that they put new carpet on top of wet underlay and when Steve brought one of the pursers into our room to discuss what was done he wasnít impressed. Steve got the purser to help him move the bed and then Steve pulled back the new carpet and showed the purser the wet underlay, wet floor , lovely black mold and a nice collection of cigarette butts and used Q-tips. They didnít even clean the area before they put the carpet down and Steve told the guy it was unacceptable. He didnít seem very impressed with all this, more work I guess, and thatís when Steve lost it. Fortunately the women in charge of our deck arrived and she agreed that this was not acceptable. The only problem was that the room needed time to dry with fans and our other room was just painted so we couldnít sleep in either of them. They gave us another room on deck 3 (thatís 4 rooms now) with all of our stuff still in the rooms on deck 5 SOOOO we decided it was time for a roadtrip!!
The ship arrived in
So far, we are really happy with our decision. Our hotel is beautiful and spacious! Tomorrow we will head out and see this beautiful city that reminds us very much of home.
Hopefully this doesnít sound too negative. As we watched the ship sail away we were quite sad as we have become quite attached to our ďhomeĒ especially some of the passengers and crew we have befriended onboard.
As we sit here in our hotel we look outside and canít quite believe we have made it ďdown underĒ. We are so far from home and we have come such a long way itís almost hard for us to even comprehend. Itís the first time I can honestly say that I could live here. Mind you, it could be because it reminds me so much of home. We called home today and it was so great to hear everyoneís voice. Only 11 more months to go!!!
Father O'Shea & Our Family
Day at Sea Received February 2 @ 2:56 AM
(Written by Steve - Jan 31)
Itís is amazing what a day can do, we
are completely different than we were yesterday. Helen is lying in bed because
she is feeling sick to her stomach, I hope it is not
We made some new friends in Moorea when we stayed at the Sheraton, in fact we met on the truck to the beach. We had lunch with them today and it was a blast, the kids just love these folks. Mel is always laughing and chasing Nikolas around and Ann knows exactly how to push all of Daniís buttons. It was quite fun, but Helen was off, but she trooped through it. We headed back to the room and thatís when Helen took her gravol and went to sleep. The kids are at the kids club and I am writing this from tea time (I know but I canít miss my tea).
AT SEA - Received February 2 @ 2:56 AM
(Written by Steve - Jan 31)
It is 12:30 am and I am writing this from one of the new super rooms on deck 3. Well, new temporary room. I awoke yesterday morning about 4 am to find my bed completely soaking wet, my first fear was that I had had a bad dream. My second fear was the boat was sinking and I was too late to get out us all out. Thankfully it was only the air conditioning unit. It had sprung a leak and I was soaking wet from ????????? I am sure all the Freon evaporated, well I am not sure, but itís too late now to worry about it. The ship had to move 2 of us up 2 decks to this wonderful room, only I canít sleep in it, hence this story.
The latest news aboard the QE II is, we are in another full outbreak of the wonderful
Apart from that, we are
That day in Moorea
was very magical and maybe I canít sleep because I canít stop thinking about
it. We will one day return to that same Hotel on the same
January 30 - (received 5:20 pm)
We are somewhere
between Samoa and
See ya for now,. we miss you all
We will be
Steve, Helen, Nikolas and Danika
AT SEA (Written by Steve, January 23 ) - received January 27 @ 4:11 pm
It was on this day in the middle of
the South Pacific that I realized I am on one of the greatest adventures of my
life. Well maybe I just realized how wonderful it was to sit on the deck and
look at the mild seas and drink a Mai Tai. I know back in B.C. the
Listen to what my day has been like, compared to what it was.
Today the most stressful thing I did
was try and figure out what to order for breakfast, then
I took the kids to their little club upstairs while I worked out in the gym.
Then Helen and I took dance lessons, thatís right you
heard me, I was doing the box step, and chasse with a group of 65 year olds and
enjoying every minute of it. I know I am starting to scare myself, but thatís what I did today! I can hear Jack (the fire Captain
People on this ship all claim to love the days at sea, well they are not for us, I like this old ship, but not that much. I keep telling Helen to just think of this ship as our means to get to all these great ports. I donít know who I am trying to convince more, her or myself. We were both super disappointed that Kona had been cancelled. You should have seen the look on Helenís face, it was a cross between get me the he!! off this ship and I think I am going to cry. That means we will have been at sea 4 days, one day in port, then 5 days two days at port, and then another 4 days at sea. No question, that the next two weeks will be the most trying part of the trip.
So whatís new on this ship you ask?
Well nothing too much, that dancing news was a major tidbit in my little world.
I keep meeting new interesting people everyday and that has made this trip the
most enjoyable, next to seeing Helen finally having a good day. We have met
Like I said, everyday we meet at least one new person, and everyday that brings a new tip, a new story and a new outlook on life. The most interesting people to talk to (even though they canít talk to you very much) are the people who work on this ship. You see this ship is like no other, because it goes to every part of the world at least once a year. So everyone who works here wants to see the world and they take a job on this ship hoping to see all these wonderful ports. The only problem is, they never get a full day off. I am not kidding some of these folks that work here will only get a full day off if the ship is in dry dock or the once a year World Cruise starts in Southampton, England. They take a job as a server or cleaner and donít get to leave when we get to port, because the passengers donít always leave. Did you know that some passengers never leave the ship to go into port, never! They love this ship so much, they just stay on it and they could care less where it goes, they just want to eat, drink and ride around. Bizarre eh? Anyways I feel sorry for some of the folks working here because they obviously had no idea how much work they would be doing, and how hard it would be. And if you have ever been on any cruise, you know those folks work super hard for very little pay. I donít have many complaints about this old ship, but like any cruise ship, I donít see why they would not give these folks a day off here and there. It must cost the cruise lines way more to train all new staff after 4 months than it would to try and make the good employees happy and give them a day off. We really like chatting with the staff and crew, and even though some are very careful of what they say, we still manage to have great conversations.
Jan 24, 2005
Today we crossed the Equator and the ship has this big celebration to welcome the first timers who have never been across before. It is a lot of fun and they line everyone up and make you kiss a fish and then dump spaghetti or ketchup all over you and push you in the pool. The pool could be served as a soup by the time they are finished, and they will have to drain and clean it. They call you a Ďpollywogí before this initiation and a shellback when you have completed it. We were supposed to sign up but we forgot so we spent the day just watching. It looked like a lot of fun and we will do it right when we cross again on our way up in a month.
Itís funny how I was thinking of my
pals back at SFD because after lunch I check the web page and emails everyday
to see whatís up. And there was an email telling me that 3
Well to finish, we crossed the
Equator toady and that was very cool. We hope to get into Tahiti early so we
can get over to
A TYPICAL DAY AT SEA
(Written by Helen, January 20)
As we boarded the ship in
I know I joked about where our cabins were located on the ship and how I explained that we kept going down more and more stairs until the stairway was so narrow you could only fit one person at a time. Well, it has become a common joke within the ship as well. When we talk to people and we find out where they are, we have come to understand that we are called the Ďsteerageí and that in the olden days, the people who stayed at the level we are staying (Deck 5) were the fourth class citizens, the immigrants and they were segregated to the bottom floors of the ship. It really does remind me of the movie The Titanic and I have to say I had a few sleepless nights wondering if we would be able to make it to safety if there was an emergency on the ship. Movies like The Titanic are not good for my imagination. On decks 5,6,7 and 8 there are water tight doors that are to be closed if there ever was a problem with the ship. I made Steve show me that we most definitely would be able to Ďescapeí from our floor if they were to close. He promised me that we wouldnít be locked in and that yes, there are enough life rafts for everyone, even us poor souls in the bottom of the boat.
Even though we live in the 21st century now, you still feel a definite social division amongst the passengers. Deck 3,4, and 5 passengers eat at a different restaurant than Deck 2 and 1 passengers. If you have a room near the top of the boat you dine in The Queenís Grill and it is very fancy and you are served with white gloved service. We met someone who dines there, yes itís amazing she actually talked to us, and she said she hated it because it was filled with a bunch of stuffed shirts (her quote) and nobody talks to anyone and it is very serious and very boring. In our restaurant, the service is still fantastic (not white gloved) and everyone talks to each other at different tables and itís a lot of fun. That lady we talk to actually asked to be down-graded.
We have quite a little routine going on board when we are at sea, and we are at sea A LOT. If I have one complaint itís that we should have more stops but Steve says that being at port costs them more money and people donít spend money on the ship when we are at port. Oh well.
We wake up usually between 7:30-8am
and while we get dressed we decide if we are going to have breakfast in The
Lido, which is the buffet, or The Maurentania, which
is a sit down breakfast with full service. Like weíve said before the
food has been amazing regardless of where we eat. After breakfast we head
back to the rooms and Nikolas does his school
work. Good thing we brought work books for him because he hasnít been
able to get on line for his internet work. He tries to get out of it
everyday with various excuses but ultimately he does his work and we are very
proud of him. While Nikolas does his work Danika does her LeapFrog or we
have found a great way for her to learn her letters. There is a section
on the ship where they have board games and we take the Scrabble game and make
lots of three letter words and she has to read them or create them. She
likes it because itís a Ďgameí. Often when Nikolas
is doing his work we take Danika to the Kidís
Club. The Kidís Club is a room on one of the top floors and itís called
the Nursery. There are 3-4 Nursery Nurses working up there and they have
tons of crafts and toys and games and movies and the kidís love it up
there. The club is open from 9am-noon, 2pm-5pm and 7pm-10pm
everyday. It is very convenient and the kidís just love going even when
there are no kidís up there except them. The jaunt from
While I sit with Nikolas as he does his work Steve usually runs down to Deck 7 and goes to the gym. When he comes back, I usually go too. The gym is even farther down the ship then our rooms and it must sit over some engine room because when you lie on the floor it is very warm. There is also a pool down there and the kids are allowed in that pool but I find it very dark and dingy down there. There are no windows and there are lots of noises from the ship. You can actually hear the roar of the ocean as it hits the ship and that sound is a little unnerving. They have a weight room, bikes, treadmills, and elliptical trainers. They also have classes every morning but Iíve only made it to one so far. We really try hard to go to the gym pretty much everyday because we are eating WAY TOO MUCH!!!!!
Before we know it, lunch is here and
again we decide which restaurant to go to. The Maurentania
is a little fancier so if we donít feel like getting dressed up we head to The Lido.
Both kids go to the Kidís Club at 2pm and that gives them a break from us and
vice versa. We usually look at the daily programme
onboard and I have gone to a few classes. There are all sorts of things
to do so we walk around and find our spot at The Chartroom, which is a
bar. We usually find a table by a big window and order the drink special
of the day. Everyday they have a tropical drink special and we sit there
and eat nuts and drink and talk about what weíve done and what the plan is for
the next day. It is usually very relaxing, except for the trip from
Anyways, Iíve gone off course so back
to the typical day at sea. There is a large library on board that is
stocked with all sorts of books, both fiction and non-fiction. They have
a childrenís section and they have lots of magazines and a selection of newspapers
There is a big table in one corner of
the ship that holds the thousands of pieces of a puzzle. As people walk
by they put a few pieces in place and once we were in
There are lots of activities to do on board that we havenít done yet. They have bingo everyday, trivia contests, dance lessons, religious ceremonies, tours, painting classes, art auctions (no, Steve wonít let me near them). They have a large theatre and everyday they show a different movie. A few nights ago we all went and watched Shrek 2. The best activity of them all though, is Tea Time. Oh so British. At 4pm everyday in the Queenís Room they serve this delicious tea (real English tea) with little triangular sandwiches with the crusts cut off and an amazing selection of desserts, the scones are the best! Steve and I go everyday from 4-5pm before we pick up the kids from the Club. They usually have a pianist or a harpist playing and it is very relaxing and apparently quite the tradition.
When we pick up the kids we head back to the rooms and we all shower and get ready for dinner. We always go to the Maurentania for dinner and it doesnít matter if the dress code is formal or informal the men have to wear a tie and jacket. Steve was busted tonight because he wasnít wearing his jacket. They quietly intercepted him on the way to our table and recommended that he go back and get his jacket on.
Our waiters are both women. One
Dinner usually consists of an appetizer, a soup, a salad and an entre. Weíve had lobster, prime rib, Chinese food, pasta and itís all been fantastic. Never mind the desserts! On top of the desserts they bring around a huge tray filled with chocolates and cookies and chocolate covered strawberries and even though I always say Iím not going to have some I always cheat and take a cookie or something. I am going to be 200lbs when this cruise is done. Steve and I usually have a glass of wine with dinner and our sommelier opens a bottle and we can have it every night until itís done. That works out really well because then we donít have to drink the whole bottle and one bottle can last us up to 4 nights.
After dinner we most often take the
kidís back to the Kidís Club (because they beg us to go) and Steve and I will
take in the nightly show or go to the casino. The casino has been a bit
of a problem for us as we really enjoy going and seem to meet up with the same
fun people every night but we donít win anything. No matter what we play
by the end of the night we always lose the few dollars we start with and we
watch other people walking away with hundreds of dollars in winnings. The
only thing that takes my mind off the rocking of the boat is the casino so
unfortunately for Steve the trip from
So thatís about it for our days at sea. The days seem to fly by and I canít believe itís getting close to the end of January already. On the other hand it feels like weíve been gone forever and today Danika just burst into tears and said she missed her friends and her Nana. It broke my heart but I told her that we will see them all soon and I had to stop myself from telling her that I missed everybody too.
Everybody is asleep again except me
so I will sign off as we spend our last night at sea before we dock in
(Written by Steve, January 20)
Well it appears we have been
given our clean bill of health again on the ship. Yesterday the restaurant
allowed you to pick your own food, and touch the plates again. The story we
heard was that 5% of the crew and around over 40 passengers had the
Well its 10:30 and we are about 1900
miles off the
There is not a whole lot to tell you about this week, except for the storm we are currently in, Norwalk Virus and that we have been eating our face off. We planned this trip a long time ago and I tried to think of all the many problems we might come across so we could better prepare ourselves for when they happened. I thought I had covered almost everything, but now that we have been away for almost 3 week some things are coming to a head. It appears that Nikolas and Danika are getting quite used to having people serve them and eating these fancy meals seem to be all of a normal day. One of the funny things that happens when we have to put our best duds on, Nikolas thinks he is so cool. Now if you do not know Nikolas, imagine a 9 year old that weighs 105 lbs and is 5 feet 1 inches tall, with size 9 (Mens) shoes. Thatís right, the kids got flippers that are almost the same size as mine, and Helen canít wear his shoes because they are too big. Anyways when he puts his Tuxedo on he thinks he is the man, so cool. The only problem is he is not very coordinated, when he walks imagine a cross between Shaq OíNeal and Liberace, he just canít handle that body. He lumbers down the hall with all this confidence that he is all grown up because he is wearing a Tux and itís very funny. The other part about the kids is, they are getting a little harder to handle and get tired out during the day very easily. They have both been sick so we are hoping that was part of the problem and it will get easier not harder. On the homework front, it is becoming quite difficult, and if Helen was not so patient, I canít see it happening. Math and writing stories are easy for Nikolas, but Spelling and grammar are very trying. He is doing it though and I so glad, because there is no way I would be able to do it if I was his age, no way. You want to know what the best educational thing we brought was? A Leap Frog book for Danika.
Well we pull into
Talk to you later,
Night at Sea
January 12, 2005
(Written by Steve - received January 15)
We had a very fun day today and a
very interesting night. This trip so far has been about meeting people and it
seems that everyday we meet someone who touches us, or makes us feel happy
about living. Some of the come backs you hear from the older folks are very
funny and itís a pleasure to sit down and listen to the real chatty ones. It
always make me miss my dad back home, because he loves
to talk and I have been thinking about him a lot lately. I always say to
everyone I pass ďHowís it goingĒ or ďhow ya doingĒ
and I get replies like the one from a 70-75 year old gent ď
as best as I canĒ. Or I was getting in the elevator and this man about
90 was slowly making his way out, and I mean really slowly. When he got across that 3 feet of elevator carpet and in the hall, he paused as
if he was totally exhausted and then he turned and looked right at me, as if he
wanted me to say something, so I did! I said ďWell how are you doing
todayĒ and as the door closed and the elevator left without me, he put his hand
on my shoulder and said in the most serious voice I have ever heard, ďSon,
everyday I wake up is a good dayĒ. I will never forget that come back, and the
way he said it. It made me think that this guy must
think about dieing every night before he goes to bed, geez
thatís so sad. O.K. even though I am not the religious type, I now really miss talking with father OíShea right now. The party of 8
women who took his spot are from
THE BIG BLACKJACK TOURNEY
I looked at the qualifying totals and someone was already at 5600 dollars and the last person had 4000 dollars. So I would need to win over 4000 just to get into the best of 7 final. I told Helen that we have to try, and we should both pay the entry fee and see if we can get in. Helen said no way, but if I wanted to enter I could. So letís get right to the good part and not bore you with all the gory details. I now have a total of 1000 dollars and only 3 hands left, so I would have to bet it all on the next 2 hands and then some on the last to get in. I bet all 1000 on the next hand and got a jack and a ten to 20, the dealer got 18. Now I had 2000 and I bet it all on the next hand. I had a queen and a 6 for 16, and I did not hit it and the dealer busted, so I now have 4000 dollars in chips. O.K. hereís the deal, who would have thought I would have a chance to be the leader in the finals if I could only win one more hand. I had no choice but to bet it all and try for $8000. There was going to be people coming in after us to qualify and I was sure the 5600 top total was going to go up, and the 4000 bottom total was also going to go up so I bet it all on the next hand, thatís right 4000 dollars in chips on one hand. My theory was I had just hit 3 in a row, so why not 4. I would have the top score and get the first deal in the finals, and if I lost, well then I would be like the hundred or so other folks that tried today and lost. So here is how it went down with 4000 dollars in chips on one hand. My first card was a 9 and my second was a 7 for 16, dealer was showing a 10. So with 8000 or nothing on the line, I said hit me and the dealer gave me a Jack. Busted!!!
Oh well, no lesson learned for me, I just now had to try and get Helen to try.
After some prodding and nagging, she gave in an entered. I will go straight to the good part, so you can skip the boring stuff again. She has a stack of about 900 and only three hands to go. Of course I told her to bet it all and she did. And yes she won with two face cards, and now had what looked to be just over 2000 in chips. I told her she would have to bet it all if she wanted to go for the final jackpot, and she wanted to, but was terrified. Because I am such an expert at losing money I calmed her down and the next thing you know she has it all on the table for the final handÖ..
Her first card was an 8, and a 10 for the final card, the dealer shows an ace with no blackjack. The dealer has 5 or 15 and then takes a 10 to bust. Helen wins and gets into the final 7. The only problem was that I am not very good at math, and what I thought was 900 dollars in chips three hands ago, was actually 1500 dollars. So by betting it all three times in a row, gave her a grand total of $6000 dollars in casino money. Thatís not real money you know, didnít I mention that this was not real money? Oh sorry, you see you paid $20 dollars to get in and got 1000 dollars in chips to play with. You thought this was real money, what do ya think we are crazy or something? The jackpot for the finalist was $500 dollars, so thatís why we were betting our little fake money like some crazy gambler, so we could try and win the $500 jackpot.
Anyways our lady friends came to cheer Helen on, but she lost early in the first three hands. She did not get one winning hand and itís pretty tough when the dealer gets 21 in the first three hands of a seven hand final. Even though it was not real money it was still a weird feeling to put 3 or 4 thousand dollars worth of chips on one hand. Well back to the room with our hopes of being the blackjack champs and 500 bucks richer down the drain.
Oh well, good night.
Day 5 at Sea, written by Steve - received January 11, 2005
We slept in today because I am
in charge of getting everyone up and I couldnít get up myself. I did not get to
sleep till about 2 and we lost an hour because we crossed a time line, so
getting up at 8am was not happening. The horn has been blasting and the alarms
have been going on and off all morning because of the rough seas we are in. We
traveled 423 nautical miles from Ft. Lauderdale so far and the depth under the
keel is 3450 meters, the wind outside is 40 knots and the waters are rough. The
time right now is 12 noon, and we are 150 nautical miles south of
Our Port Hole Covered in Water - Day 7
I just read Helens story and laughed at the part about coming down to our room for the first time. She is telling the truth about the staircase, it was barely wide enough to get your shoulder through. I myself was thinking we were headed for the engine room. The travel agent, who we used to book this cruise for us, did very little right. She did however book us on deck 5 without our O.K. She told us she wanted to make sure we got confirmed on this ship and we could cancel if we needed too, but at least we were booked. I wanted to take the rooms on deck 3, because they were priced lower and closer to the all the action. By the time our travel agent got back to us, all the cabins on that level were gone and she could only put us on the waiting list for deck 3. That was a blessing, because I was up on deck 3 this morning and the movement seemed twice as bad. So here we all are lying on our beds in our cabin waiting for the ship to stop rocking and rolling. We canít wait to set foot on land tomorrow.
Day 4 at Sea, written by Steve - received January 11, 2005
So far, so good for
me. I have had a
wonderful conversation with someone everyday about their travels around the
world. Many people on this ship have been on this trip as many as 10 times. We
spoke to some people today that are getting off the ship and going to the Hyatt
Hope everyone is doing well,
Written by Helen:
Yes, I have emerged from my deep depths of depression and fear. Wow, I just read what Steve wrote and I had to come on and explain that I am not that bad!!! Yes, it took me a few days to get over the shock of this ďwonderfulĒ ship. I have to be careful because Steve says I am way too critical, BUT, this ship is very old, it creaks and moans, it stinks like the sewer system and the average age of the passengers on board is about 95 (I am exaggerating only slightly).
When we first got on the ship and we were being escorted to our rooms my heart started beating faster and faster as we made our way down the dark dingy staircases into the bowels of the boat. Iím telling you, we just kept going down and down and down and the staircase was getting narrower and darker until we finally reached the lowest level you can stay on and the smell was not pleasant. Our rooms are tiny but the way they are situated makes it very convenient. That was positive, right? The doors to our rooms face each other and are about 3 feet apart. The cool thing is that there is a door we can close in this hallway that closes our two rooms off from the rest of the rooms in that hallway. That way we leave both doors open and are able to walk from room to room without worrying about anyone seeing us in our underwear/pajamas. Having two bathrooms has been great too.
I am being unfair to this amazing vessel. It is so full of character and history that itís hard not to like it. What it lacks in glitz and glitter is made up ten fold in class and ambience. As you walk through the ship the memorabilia and the pictures of past passengers are fascinating. Obviously this ship is special because the majority of the people on it are all repeat customers.
The food is also amazing. The
dinners are the finest fine dining weíve ever had. The crew is also very
attentive and they are truly from all over the world. Our crew at dinner
I am really slowly starting to relax
a little but for some reason I canít fall asleep at night. Iím usually up
(all by myself) until 2 or 3am. The cruise itself has been very smooth
except for tonight but even tonight this ocean liner really does seem to cut
through the swells better then the other big beautiful comfortable cruise
ships. I find myself listening to all the creaks and groans and I was a
little nervous because someone told us that during the cruise from Southampton
Most importantly, the kids have settled in very nicely and they are having a really good time at the Kidís Club. Itís on everyday at 9-12, 2-5pm and 7-10pm so they have some breaks from us and vice versa.
We went to the beach in
Well, thatís it for now. Hopefully when I write again I will have settled in completely and no, Iím not ready to come home like Steve says, I think Iím just a little spoiled.
Day 2 at Sea, written by Steve - received January 11, 2005
We got a late start today, because of the lack of sleep. We headed out for last
call for breakfast, and it was very good and I overloaded myself because the
kids took more than they could eat, and I felt guilty wasting it. After that we
got Nikolas doing his homework (math, spelling and
his journal) and thanks to Helen, it went really well. Danika
of course wanted to do homework just like her big brother, so we put her to
work doing a spelling workbook for kindergarten kids. I have walked the ship
and got lost many times, but every nook and corner has something new to look
at. Itís really a wonderful old cruiser, and it cuts through the big swells
like butter, Helen might not agree with that.. I
thought I would go for a work out after lunch to try and stay in shape but a
couple of minutes nearly killed me. I seemed to have the same problem every
time I bring my heart rate up, some kind of indigestion and a lightheaded
spell. So letís just say, I wonít be doing any more aerobic workouts on this
trip. I have just been feeling pretty good over the last few days and thought
it was all behind me, but I guess not. On an eating note, we have had two
dinners now, and just like any cruise, you get spoiled rotten. I should have no
problem putting on a few pounds on this leg of the journey. I sit right next to
Father Ray OíShea, a Catholic Priest who has a parish in
Day 1 at Sea, written by Steve - received January 5
Well we boarded
the Queen E II in
I have not been able to send anything through the email on the ship yet, so I will continue to send it out through my cell phone as a text message. The ship is set up so you can only view the web and connect to Yahoo and Hotmail. The ships computers have had their disk drives, USB ports and floppy drives disconnected. They donít want anyone bringing any viruses into their systems, so I will have to send out our update with our Palm device. So if you are emailing us, please be patient, we will get back to you ASAP.