(Written at Sea in the Atlantic, about Queen Mary 2)
We had a nice flight from Minneapolis to New York on Saturday, June 16th, and upon arriving at Kennedy Airport, I called for our driver and we were picked up by private limo and taken to our hotel for the evening at the Hilton New York. After checking-in to our hotel room, we set out to find some dinner and walk around New York a bit. Oddly enough, out of the numerous times I have been to New York, I had never ventured into Central Park, so we made a special effort to walk into this amazing oasis of trees and rocks smack in the middle of an incredibly busy city. While looking for someplace to eat, we came across a Todd English restaurant next to The Plaza. Todd English is a chef that has certainly made his mark over the years. Both Terri and I had met him and I recently had Todd English on my talk show, Cruising Authority. Additionally, Todd English has a restaurant onboard the Queen Mary 2. This restaurant in New York, however; was very eclectic with numerous food stations and many different styles of foods like an Italian area, deli, and some others. It was a little confusing walking around this restaurant, but we were finally seated and ordered something simple, a baked Mac & Cheese with pork.
Our next stop was Times Square. Even at 9:00pm this spot in New York is lit-up brighter than anything we've seen in Las Vegas with giant digital billboards and signs. There were some Chinese protestors chanting and singing against the human rights issues in China. We made a visit to the Hershey store fro some chocolate and then headed back to the Hilton.
Ok, June 17th happened to be Father's Day, and what an incredible day it was as we had some breakfast in the hotel and then boarded the bus for our embarkation on Queen Mary 2. As we went over one of the bridges to Brooklyn, we got our first glimpse of the graceful QM2 waiting for our arrival. Everyone in the bus got very excited when they saw the ship for the first time. It really is something special when you see this ship in-person for the first time. Photos do not do justice, because the QM2 has that bigger-than-life appearance to her. I was excited too, although this was not the first time I saw the ship, I couldn't help but smile, knowing that my wife and I were about to embark on a classic trans-Atlantic voyage about a regal ship, the Queen Mary 2. Seeing this ship has certain meaning to different people, but for me, for my entire adult life and much of my childhood, I have studied the history of the original Queen Mary which is now permanently docked in Long Beach, California, and I have followed the QM2's design, construction and launch eight years ago, so for me this ship has enormous meaning.
We went through security and were routed into a special VIP line for Grill passengers. The QM2 is one of the few ships in the world today that maintains somewhat of a "class" system. The "class" is determined by which dinning room you eat in and there are three basic choices; The Britannia Restaurant, Princess Grill and Queens Grill. The Britannia Restaurant is where the majority of passengers dine, weather in first or second seating. I love the decor of this restaurant because it is such a regal and elegant room harkening back to the days of the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Then their are the Grill Restaurants which only have one seating, and cater to a very upscale demographic. For the quintessential luxury experience, by far the Grills accommodations and dinning offer the finest at sea. My wife gasped as we entered our suite and saw the basket of fruit and chocolate dipped strawberries, not to mention the beautiful room that we will call home for the next seven days. Our room, number 10032, has a bathroom with a tub, a walk-in closet, a mini-bar area, vanity and desk, a large Queen-size bed and sitting area and a large private veranda. It's a very comfortable room, and we are looking forward to relaxing in this suite all week.
Our departure from New York was beautiful, the weather was perfect and at about 5:45pm we pulled away from the Brooklyn dock and headed out into the Hudson. I took many pictures as we passed under the Verrazano Bridge, then we changed our clothes and went to dinner in the Princess Grill. Our first night onboard QM2 was picture perfect. I was a little tired because of all the anticipation of boarding this great ship. After dinner we walked around a bit and called it a night.