Monday, March 16th, 2020
Time to Say Goodbye
When we woke up this morning it was hard to believe that this was the last day for us in our cabin which has become our little home over the past few weeks.
Of course it did look different. Gone is the map, the magnets, the shower caddies, the bathroom shelves, the over the door shoe hanger, and all of the little things that made it feel so right. No more champagne in the fridge, and I had to eat my Cadbury’s Easter egg in one sitting before breakfast as I knew it wouldn’t travel well.
Gone also were our suitcases. That turned out to be a problem.
Brian realized that I had been a wee bit miffed last night, and being the nice man he is, he offered to take me out to lunch at a waterfront seafood restaurant in Fremantle, and then we could visit the Maritime Museum. This all sounded really good and I was singing away in the shower feeling that things really could be all right.
As I emerged from the shower I knew something was wrong. Brian was looking very concerned. He also wasn’t wearing a shirt. It turned out that he had packed all of his shirts in our suitcases, which were now off the ship, and waiting to be collected in the terminal baggage hall.
Now the final night of a cruise has had its issues previously. Once Brian packed my cruise card so I couldn’t get off the ship. Alas, a quick trip to the Purser’s Office produced another card, so I could disembark. Then the following year when we disembarked in Cape Town I ended up packing all of my shoes in a suitcase, and so had to leave the ship barefoot. This was also not a problem; there are plenty of shoe stores in Cape Town.
Then on the Fjords trip with Ruth when I tried to open our cabin door to put out the suitcases, the door handle fell off in my hand and we were trapped in the room. No way of leaving the cabin. We would be unable to leave the ship. How cool is that? However, a quick visit from a very nice maintenance man resulted in a functional door once more. Out into the corridor went our luggage. No excuse to stay on board now.
The way to solve the shirt issue involved me going off the ship, finding the suitcase, and retrieving a shirt. Then we could go out for lunch. I could smell the grilled prawns already.
I went down to the gangway and had my cruise card scanned. The security officer asked me if I really wanted to go off the ship. I looked quizzically at him and replied in the affirmative, after all I was at the gangway, card in hand, heading in the general direction of off the ship.
He then let me know that if I left the ship I would not be able to return. I explained my purpose of wanting to leave briefly, and told him a rather longwinded version of the packed shirts saga. He was not moved. I said that Brian would need to leave the ship with no shirt on. Now I think he looks rather good without a shirt on, but somehow it just doesn’t fit the Cunard dress code ideals. He refused to budge.
I demanded that they open the shop briefly so I could buy a T-shirt for him. I was told very firmly that this would be illegal. I clearly was not going to prevail, so I returned to the cabin pondering how Brian was going to spend the day shirtless on the ship.
Luckily when I returned to the cabin Brian was wearing a shirt. He had put one aside to change into during our layover in Brisbane tomorrow. Phew, crisis averted.
Well the issue of not being able to go ashore was annoying, but we decided to make the most of our last hours on the ship. Of course I had packed our swimsuits, so swimming was out of the question. However, the Commodore Club was calling, so we spent the morning there. Brian still had a lot of work to do.
The residential cruise ship, The World, was docked in front of us, so I sat reading and trying to work out whether if we had the money would it be better to live in a condo on The World, or in a Q1 on Queen Mary 2. Tough decision, but luckily I don’t have to make it.
The onboard spending statement that was delivered to our cabin actually belonged to someone else, so I returned to the cabin to see if our statement had now been delivered. It hadn’t but our cabin steward was there. He had been the grateful recipient of 7 weeks of soft drinks and snacks. I was very tearful saying goodbye to him, and then he started crying too. I thought it was because he was concerned about his job security and was missing his family, but no. It was because he felt so bad for all of us having to get off the ship. The crew on Queen Mary 2 are such wonderful people, they really are part of what I will miss about the ship.
I then went down to the purser’s office to get another our spending statement There was a long queue, but I was in no hurry so I joined the queue and got chatting to the people around me. Then the chief purser announced that everyone should have a letter with their travel arrangements in their cabins, but if they don’t, they needed to come to the Purser’s Office immediately.
I continued in the queue and things were moving along slowly when suddenly we were surrounded by a mass of shouting humanity. It seems that many passengers hadn’t received their letters, and they were annoyed. Despite their anger they did calm down and formed a queue behind us.
The gentleman I had been talking with decided to see how big the queue was, and returned to inform me that it stretched from the Grand Lobby past the pub, down to the Britannia dining room, through the art gallery and almost to the Queens Room. Wow, that’s a lot of people. He estimated that at least 350 people had not received their letters. Not good. I was very thankful that we had booked our own flights.
Finally I was able to get the printout of our statement. Having budgeted very carefully for the OBC to last until April 11th in Southampton, there was a significant amount of “non refundable” credit left. The shops were closed so I couldn’t even buy some jewellery or a new handbag. Quite annoying I thought. Maybe they will reimburse us eventually. It will certainly be worth an email.
With my desire for fish, we headed to the Golden Lion so I could indulge in fish and chips for lunch. I’m sure the fish must be frozen, but it always tastes fresh to me, and I really enjoy it. Brian had a plowman’s, and as usual complained about the way they have the pate in a jar. I think it looks stylish, but he says the jar severely impedes his ability to obtain the pate. I still think it looks stylish.
We spent our final afternoon relaxing on board. I was feeling bad that we hadn’t had the chance to say goodbye to the friends and crew who had made this voyage so wonderful. They had all suddenly disappeared. Even Deirdre was nowhere to be found.
We finally disembarked at 3:30 PM. The walkway from the gangway to the terminal was lined by crewmembers – cabin stewards, waiters, officers, barmen, medical staff, even the executive chef. Well of course, down came those wretched tears again, this time they were really hard to control. I had 2 thoughts going through my mind. How pathetic is this, and thank goodness I packed my mascara. As we got to the end of the line there was Captain Hashmi. He really is my hero – he has had the most difficult time getting us here, and he still has to get the ship back to Southampton. I would have loved to give him a big hug, but in the time of coronavirus I just gave him a tearful wave and headed into the terminal building.
We had been told that there would be porters and trolleys for our luggage. Well there was one very harassed porter and not a trolley in sight. It looked like we would have to negotiate getting the 4 suitcases, 3 carry on bags, my large handbag and Brian’s briefcase on to the bus by ourselves.
We quickly went through Australian border patrol and exited the terminal to join the seething mass of bewildered, encumbered, passengers also trying to move with all of their luggage and find the airport bus queue.
All rather challenging. An hour later a couple of buses had been by, but we weren’t moving much in the queue. It really was chaotic, and no one seemed to be in charge. Finally we were able to get onto a bus, and we waved goodbye to our ship and headed off to the airport.
The drive took about 45 minutes through very pretty suburbs and small lakes and our driver was very chatty telling us all about the history of Perth and the surrounding area.
At the airport there were plenty of trolleys (but you had to pay for them) and because it was now 6:30 we were able to check in for our flight and head to the airport lounge as I was very hungry already as it had been over 3 hours since I had last eaten.
The lounge was full of QM2 folks – I was beginning to wonder if we were the only people traveling in the whole world. I did at least get to say goodbye to those people, but I was still feeling sad that our sudden departure had not given us time to really say proper goodbyes, and have final drinks in the Commodore Club.
I checked my computer and then realized how lucky we were. There were tales of people arriving at the airport with Qantas confirmation numbers only to be told that they didn’t have tickets and there were no seats available, arriving at the hotel Cunard had reserved for them only to be told that there were no rooms available, people were still waiting in hotels to find out if they had ongoing plane reservations. What a horrible way to end a world voyage. And whilst all of this was going on, Queen Mary 2 let go her moorings and sailed off into the night with her few remaining passengers. She was no longer classed as a cruise ship, now she was a merchant vessel with only limited services on board.
When we finally boarded that plane that was to start the long journey home we were offered a choice of water, strawberry juice or guava juice to drink. What? No Veuve Clicquot? What were they thinking?
Alas, our Queen of Three Eras voyage is really over. However, we do have a ride home and we are fit and healthy. We didn’t get to go “all the way round”, but we did get to go around Australia, and that was fantastic. We met really lovely people and I discovered that I could actually be a bus escort despite 30 years of feeling that I was a failure at this.
I don’t think we will ever be able to do such a long trip again, but we have our memories, and we have each other, and Brian has a new T-shirt, so he didn’t have to be shirtless on the plane. So really all is well with my world, I am indeed blessed.