October 21st Sat: Embark New York on the QM2.
Meet the staff and guests at the 5: 30 PM cocktail party. This group was one of the largest I have encountered on Dancers at Sea – 47 in total with 9 male pros and hosts and two female dance hosts. The male instructors were Robert Cooper, Andre Gosselin and Matthew Gann, and hosts Chris Bookwalter, Jorge Doctolero, Dale Moreth, Richard Conti and two new hosts (new to DAS), Peter and Lior. Amber was the female pro and Carrie the other female host. I knew a few of the guests from previous cruises but not too many.
October 22nd Sunday Newport, Rhode Island (Formal Black and White Ball)
October 23rd Monday, Boston, Massachusetts. In the afternoon I went to see Salmon Fishing in Yemen in the Illuminations Planetarium theatre behind the Royal Court Theatre on deck 2. It's movie that I had wanted to see for ages, and I enjoyed it a lot. I had actually not previously found time to go movie watching on board the QM2. Better than some of the cinemas back home.
On my second day in Athens I woke to another warm and sunny day. Highs were predicted to be around 24ºC. The first task on my mind was to find the local Post Office and buy stamps for the postcards that I planned to mail to my grand-children. I gave them a map of the places that the cruise will take us to and hopefully getting the picture postcards will mean something to my grand-daughter, who has studied the continents and the various countries and their capitals.Today is the day of the big transit strike so I was curious to see what difference this made in the traffic through these narrow streets.
As I exited the hotel ready to walk in the direction of the square where the Post Office was located, the first thing i noticed was about thirty policemen on the opposite side of the road. They were just milling around and it did not look as if anything serious was happening but I wondered.
Cochin or Kochi, is a port city in the Arabian Sea, on the west coast of India in the state of Kerala. The name Kochi translates to "small lagoon" in Mayalam. Mayalam is the local language in Kerala, derived from Sanskrit and Tamil and is one of 22 official languages of India. It is one of the 85 related Dravidian languages, spoken by 215 million people. Amazing what one learns when going on a ballroom dance cruise!
Anyway I signed up for an excursion that featured two highlights - the Chinese Fishing Nets of Cochin, and an introductory demonstration of Kathakali (the classical dance drama of Kerala) and Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala. Check out the links below to my four YouTube videos of these highlights.
Between Hong Kong and Dubai, the QM2 docked at five ports. The first, Phu My in Vietnam, was the port for Ho Chi Minh city. Next was Laem Chabang, the port for Bangkok, and that was followed by a stop in Singapore where there was a major turnover of guests departing or boarding the ship. Between Singapore and Dubai there were only two stops on the 9 night segment; Phuket in Thailand and Cochin, India. On my previous South East Asia cruise, two of the ports of call were in Vietnam. While I really enjoyed the visit to Na Trang, a sleepy looking fishing village on the south centre region of Vietnam I was less enchanted with the visit to Ho Chi Min city (Saigon), the port of call on this current voyage, so on this cruise I decided to stay on board when in Phu My.
With 10 days out of 16 at sea, we will have plenty of dance workshops. The first dance workshop was scheduled for 9:30 in the G32 Disco just behind the Queens Room Ballroom.
All 8 of us were there for the workshop, and Robert had also invited Horst, (one of the QM2 dance hosts, who is also a frequent DAS host) to join us. So for the first time in any of these workshops I have ever been at, there was a dance partner for each of the women. No complicated rotations were needed. It was great.
I don't know whether the information on the poster is still current but according to that write up, the QM 2 measured along the water is the world's largest ship. That is probably why they can have that great ballroom, the Queen's Room. Walking along the corridor from one end to the other certainly feels like quite a hike. Luckily our cabin is situated aft, so all the REALLY important places like the Britannia Restaurant and the ballroom are right below us. No hiking needed.Any way, excited as I was about the prospect of dancing nightly on it I was too tired to think about it by the time I got on board. As anticipated I was quite jet-lagged after the flight. Although one leaves Toronto at 10 am EST and arrives in Hong Kong at 1:30 PM of the following day, theoretically having slept though the night, the reality is that the fifteen hour flight ends at 1 AM Eastern time. At least that is what the time is for your body’s internal clock. So I would have normally been asleep for only 2 hours. I had indulged in a glass of wine with my meal and felt drowsy for all of twenty minutes but though I tried to sleep – it was to no avail.
When I first heard about the Dancers at Sea (DAS) dance cruise from Hong Kong to Dubai, I thought 16 nights was longer than I wanted to be away for. I had also cruised from Hong Kong, to Thailand and Vietnam, when I did the Asia Cruise two years earlier, and had little desire to revisit the two ports on that part of the itinerary. So I decided to take the option of the 9 nights Singapore to Dubai leg. The dates fitted in nicely with my visit to Toronto to see Rhinoceros, the absurdist play my daughter was directing at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. So I was going to return to Vancouver for three days and then fly to Singapore to board the QM2.
When I learned at the last minute that the dance group for the Hong Kong to Singapore leg was unexpectedly very small – therefore there would be much more dance opportunities than usual - and I realized I could fly direct Toronto to Hong Kong instead of taking four additional flights, it took me about three seconds to decide to be spontaneous, blow my budget and my schedule and sign up for the whole 16 night segment.
This travelblogue will follow my journey on a 16 night cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2 from Hong Kong to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
As well as a culinary diary of the QM2 cuisine, and the dance, theatrical and other experiences, I will be hopefully keeping up with the blogging A to Z Challenge, a thirty day writing challenge in which the task is to write a daily blog dealing each day sequentially with a topic sequentially through the alphabet. In my Challenge Blog I will focus on the themes of cruising, dance, and food, but from an informational approach rather than narrative.
You can follow my attempt to meet this challenge while dancing, dining, writing my travelblogue and dancing some more, at AtJillsReviews. The Travelblogue is to be found at Dancing to Dubai.
Halifax has a special importance for me as it was our entry point to Canada almost 40 years ago when we immigrated with our three young children from South Africa. Our original intent had been to land as far east as we could and then take a couple of weeks and drive the trans-Canada highway to Vancouver. This cross-Canada journey had been an adventure that my husband had wanted to do as a boy. Where this idea came from I have no idea but at last here was the opportunity for him to do it.
From a practical perspective, when we found out that there was no direct flight to St. Johns, Newfoundland but there was one to Halifax, it was a no-brainer to decide that Halifax would have to do and we would have to complete the Nova Scotia- eastwards part of the highway travel at a later date. So it was Halifax we flew into and there that we officially became landed immigrants to our new country. We spent a few days there, drove out to Peggy's Cove; bought a VW Camper to drive cross country. Got to Fredericton and the engine packed up. Not good. We spent several days - unplanned - in Fredericton waiting for parts.