September 2010

tuna tartare with quail's eggVox Populi,
755 Boylston Street, Boston.
Ph: (617) 424-8300
On the Autumn East Coast Dance Cruise, our ship, the Queen Mary 2, called in at Boston harbour for a day. After taking one of the Boston Duck tours, a friend and I went shopping. I was hoping to find an elegant black and white dress for one of the formal nights on board.
I do not enjoy shopping but it certainly worked up my appetite so we wandered around to find somewhere for a light lunch.

Me and a Boston DUKWFortunately my friend Carol is a great organizer because left to me, I would probably not see much of the various ports at which we call. Remember for me its the journey!  But thanks to Carol we had a  itinerary planned for this first destination in Boston.

We decided to have an early breakfast in the King's Court buffet, where we met  up with Dorothy and Bruce, and enjoyed a good chat. I was scheduled to have a lesson with Honey at 9:30 so I headed down to G32 where we worked on styling and following. Its those arm movements that get me every time. I think I have to just get less self-conscious and just let my arms move naturally.

Carol and another DUKWAfter the lesson I found Carol waiting in the cabin and we headed ashore. We had booked a Boston Duck Tour and needed to get to the Tour start center at the Prudential Building.We got there a little early and wandered through the shopping center before returning to wait for our tour.

sirloin steak in the Todd English restaurant - minus the risottoThe threat of turbulent seas from Hurricane Earl meant that the cruise itinerary had to be revised. So when I checked into my stateroom, there was a notice saying that the Queen Mary 2 would remain at the Brooklyn Pier till later that night and in the early hours, set sail, so to speak, for Boston. So instead of visiting Newport, we would have an unexpected day at sea.

I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to try a lunch at the Todd English restaurant so I trotted down the corridor to the aft end of the ship and made a reservation for lunch at 12:30 for Carol and myself, and figured I would check with her later.  I had been wanting to check out some of the alternate dining opportunities both on the Queen Victoria and on the QM2 but since with DAS we generally have each evening's dinner as a group, I have been reluctant to seem unsociable and skip out on a meal. So this unplanned day at sea seemed like an ideal time to eat out.

The reason I went on my first dance cruise with Dancers at Sea, the West Coast Ballroom Dancing and Wine-Tasting Cruise, that started my whole craze for dance cruising, was because on the DAS web-site, I noted that Wendy promised a dance host for every three single guests. So at worst, one would be dancing every third dance instead of sitting wistfully on the sidelines watching others on the dance floor.

On the second cruise I took with the DAS group, the four night East Coast Labor Weekend Getaway from New York, I first encountered Dance Hosts from the Queen Mary 2 Dance Host program. A couple of the hosts on that cruise were really excellent dancers and thanks to them, we found that we got to dance more frequently than every third dance. The next three cruises I went on were on two Princess and one Costa ship, none of which had dance hosts and I thought for me, that was a significant lack.

Chef Winkler guides me through the Britannia GalleyAs I mentioned in my earlier post The Queen Mary 2 through a dancer's eyes, what I love about  cruising is not as much the destinations but the journey. And running a close second to the joy of dancing as I journey over the seas, is fine dining at sea. As readers of my Sipping and Supping segment know, I am a committed foodie, and while my home cooking has to be remarkably restrained so I can stay light enough to dance over the seas, I love the chance to indulge in new taste sensations while I travel.

apporaching the Queens Room dance floorAs our dance pro Robert kept emphasizing to get  me moving across the floor, " it's not the destination, it's the journey" - and although he was referring to dance movement, it sums up perfectly my attitude  about my newly acquired passion for cruising. 

Of course it is interesting to visit new places, but honestly, the reason why I  have taken these recent cruises to Asia, the South Pacific, the west and east coasts of N. America, and the Caribbean, is not for the destinations, but for the opportunity to ballroom dance each night along the journey.

That's why I absolutely love the two Cunard liners I have experienced so far, the Queen Victoria and The Queen Mary 2, and why I can't wait to sail on the new Queen Elizabeth, next year. They have the magnificent Queens Room dance floors. The QM2 ballroom is described as the largest ballroom with the largest dance floor at sea, measuring 7.5  by 13 metres or roughly 25 feet wide and 43 feet long (1,075 sq. feet). Although the floor is smaller than one would wish for on land, it is certainly the nicest dance floor I have seen on a ship and several times around the periphery doing a quickstep or Viennese waltz can leave me breathless.

Valerie Mason-John

Rachel Scott: Guest Reviewer

Brown Girl in the Ring
Performer/Playwright: Valerie Mason-John
Director: Linette Smith
Presented by Queenie Productions
at the Vancouver Fringe Festival

Guest review by Rachel Scott

I love the idea of this play: what happens with the black baby descendent of the royal British family suddenly crops up? Inspired by the African-German queen who married George III and the rumors of a black baby offspring to Louis XIV, “Brown Girl in the Ring” has all the makings of a wild ride and hilarious satire.

Rachel Scott: Guest Reviewer

Christopher Domig as SadDirt. Written by Robert Schneider
Directed by David Robinson
Performed by Christopher Domig
Designed by Daniel Domig
Translated by Paul Dvorak
Presented by Dreck Productions and incarNATION
at the Vancouver Fringe Festival

DIRT, presented by Dreck productions and INCARnation at this year's Vancouver Fringe, is the disjointed, emotional portrayal of an Iraqi immigrant's alienation in the West. This one-man show was written Robert Schneider in the 1990's as an expose of the tensions surrounding immigrant Iraqis during the first gulf war. Twenty years later, the story still resonates, as relations between the Arab world and the West remain complex and fraught.

Last year when I took the  East Coast Labour Weekend Dance Cruise on Queen Mary 2, my son Michael joined me on the voyage and we travelled out to Brooklyn together. This time I had to get a cab out to Brooklyn Pier by myself. I had no problem getting a cab within minutes of leaving the apartment building - the cab driver assured me in barely intelligible English that he knew exactly where Pier 12 was - and I had my IPhone GPS on just to make sure we were heading in the right direction.

The Autumn Escape itineraryINDEX to Autumn East Coast Dance Cruise New York to Quebec on QM2

This is a nine night cruise out of Brooklyn, along the US East Coast calling at Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor, up to Halifax, and then along the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City before returning to Brooklyn. Our group will enjoy ballroom dancing each night with dance workshops on sea days - meeting up with old friends and making new ones. As well this is a  tour through the culinary offerings aboard the Queen Mary 2 on this voyage - although obviously reflecting my food favorites.

(Each story posts to the home page in reverse chronological order. The link to each story will appear in the index as it is posted until the travelblogue is complete at which timeit will be reordered so that it may be read in the correct time sequence.)



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