April 22nd, 2023
Well mostly at sea, with a little bit of Southampton thrown in
This is the last day for the majority of passengers on the ship. You can feel it in the air. There is a definite sense of melancholy. This has been their home since January, and although they are excited to see family and pets again, they really seem reluctant to leave. Yes there have been ups and downs on the world voyage, but the general feeling is that it has been the most amazing experience, and they have mixed feelings about leaving their floating home.
In the corridors, in the dining room, by the lifts, in the bars, people are hugging each other goodbye, with promises to stay in touch. Then they are facing the daunting task of packing.
On the last day of a cruise there are always a couple of suitcases in the corridors outside the staterooms waiting to be taken down to the storage area in the bowels of the ship, but today there are 8 or more cases piled up on each other outside each stateroom, making walking up and down the corridors quite a perilous occupation. I do hope we don’t have to evacuate; it would be impossible to negotiate the corridors in a hurry.
Stephen Payne gave his final talk. It was on the Union Castle Line, and their sailings from Cape Town to the UK. Like we are currently doing. As always with his talks, Illuminations was packed.
Union Castle has played a large part in my childhood with my mother’s dislike of flying, and my Dad needing to go from East Africa to England to study, or go on home leave. As always it was a great talk, and brought back fond memories, as well as a sense of loss that those ships where my memories sprung to life, are no longer with us.
I went to craft class to say goodbye to my fellow crafters who are disembarking tomorrow. They need extra suitcases for all of the projects they have completed since January. I am happy with my few projects. I discovered that the pin cushion I am making isn’t a pin cushion at all. This is good as I don’t know anyone who needs a pin cushion for a gift.
It was another rainy afternoon, so we decided to spend the time in the Commodore Club, watching us inching our way up the coast of France. For days we hadn’t seen any ships near us, except of course Queen Victoria, now we seem to be surrounded by container ships and tankers. We had a great view of the ships around us, it was the perfect place to be.
Stephen Payne came over to chat with us, and we had a wonderful time talking about his career and future plans. He really is such an interesting man, and a fabulous speaker. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend this time talking with him. I am glad I got over my nerves about making contact with him.
We had our last predinner drinks with our South African friends in the Commodore Club, as we watched Queen Mary 2 slowly make her way towards Southampton. It was a cloudy, misty evening, but we could just make out familiar landmarks.
For many of the people around us it was a farewell dinner, so we said our goodbyes, so pleased that we still have another 7 days on board. Yay!
During dinner the lights kept on flickering. I jokingly said to Brian, “oh oh, I hope the electrical system isn’t going to fail on us, and Captain Hall will wake us up tomorrow telling us to all get off the ship”. Stephen Payne made more references to the Poseidon, and we continued with our meal.
Since we had been back cruising again once things resumed after the COVID break ,we were pleased to see that the napkin waving and parade of chefs had been discontinued. I think it’s a great idea to acknowledge the chefs, but the napkin waving always struck me as being quite unhygienic. Well, it’s back again – clapping and napkin waving and all.
The Bluejays were playing in the Queens Room tonight, so we joined the throngs on the dance floor. For many, it was the last night on the cruise, and they were making the most of it. So were the Bluejays and we danced the night away until after midnight.
This was the end of the world voyage for many, it has been wonderful sharing the ship with them for the past 16 days. There really has been something wonderful about our time on board so far, and I went to bed grateful that our suitcases didn’t have to join the few remaining bags gracing the corridor.
Looking out of our balcony I could see the lights of the dockside car parks. Yes, we really are in Southampton