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.
Although I have cruised several times on the Queen Mary 2 (and love cruising on this ocean liner) and once on the Queen Victoria, this was my first time on board Cunard's Queen Elizabeth. Once I had checked out my cabin and seen that my luggage was not yet there for me to unpack, I took my camera and went exploring. Very quickly I realized that I liked the smaller, more intimate feel of this ship which has the capacity for 2,092 passengers compared to the maximum passenger capacity of 3090 of her larger sister ship.
The ship is 964 ft long and is the second-biggest Cunard ship, with the Queen Mary 2 (QM2) being the largest at 1132 ft long. Whereas it often takes me till the end of the cruise to figure out where I am on the QM2 (I am a bit directionally and spatially challenged) I felt I could quite quickly figure out my space and directions on the Queen Elizabeth.
The last three days of the cruise came up so quickly it was hard to believe that my marathon of dance lessons and nightly dancing was going to come to an end so soon. I was determined to fit in every last minute of dance practice that I could.
So despite not getting to bed till well after midnight, I was up early on day 4 for an 8:30 lesson in the Wheelhouse Bar. After warming up – and I really needed an intense stretching and limbering up – we started working on movement forward and back across the floor. I understand intellectually what is expected of me but my body just does not do it though I must say that I do sense a huge improvement from even 6 months ago. Each time we come back to the basics in a lesson, I know it’s a little better than the last time but overall I never feel I am at a stage when i can say “Aha! Got it” It drives perfectionistic-me nuts. It is the same working on increasing swing and sway, another concept that I have visited many times before. We also spent time again - yes there is so much “again” – on head position; keeping left, moving my head into promenade and not turning my body away from partner. That’s something that Bernice and Aegide at Vancouver Ballroom spent hours drilling into me when I was working on my International Standard medals. Yet here I am two years later, still not perfect- or even nearly perfect. Guess I must be a slow learner! At least in the realm of physicality.
By Thursday I had succumbed to the desire for really decent coffee and I ended up buying a coffee card for specialty coffees. My first cappuccino on board made a welcome change from the large urn coffee that is served in the buffet. After that indulgence, I was ready for my lesson which was just before the two dance workshops at 10 and 11 respectively.
On a previous cruise I found an incredibly cool site where you can track the progress of your ship. The big red dot is where we are on this day and time.
My day started off well with a dance lesson in the Wheelhouse Bar. I had planned to continue the Dance Boot Camp that began in Vancouver last week by keeping up with lessons most days on this cruise. We set objectives for this week as always at the start of the dance camps. Apart from generally improving my level of dance, my big problem area is that important thing - learning to follow. So that encompasses everything from frame and posture to spatial awareness and learning to wait and not anticipate. It seems to me that it should be sooooo much easier than it is. But I have never been a follower type and it's hard for me to relinquish control.
Check out the picture. See why I have difficulty following?
It was grey and raining when we docked in Ketchikan on day two of the cruise. I had not booked any excursions as I suspected that I would need catch-up time for both sleeping and writing. Several nights of going to bed well after midnight and waking up as usual around 6:30 or 7 am, meant that I had accumulated quite a sleep deficit. I know I do best on 7 to 8 hours sleep a night, and with the energy I had been expending on my dancing, adequate sleep was even more important.
So my plan was to have my dance lesson early at the usual time, and then go ashore for a bit, come back and actually take a nap. But the best-laid plans...
Although I have lived in Vancouver for more than 30 years and often watched the cruise ships leaving our port to journey North, I have never until now, cruised to Alaska. In view of my current determination not to take a cruise unless I get to dance every night, I was really happy to see that this year the dance group with which I have cruised a lot was doing the Inside Passage cruise starting in Vancouver.
So lucky me, instead of a plane ride, I had a short taxi ride to the Vancouver cruise ship terminal and there she was, the Sapphire Princess, ready for me just to walk on board.
With this cruise covering 16 days, and ten of them being sea days, Robert, our dance instructor, had scheduled a series of dance workshops covering the gamut from waltz to west coast swing. Each workshop was supposed to last an hour but several times they were going so well that we ran over time. Because none of our group are beginners and we are all pretty much at a similar level, each session has been really enjoyable and we have been able to pick up new skills in each individual dance, while continuing to focus attention on posture, frame and movement.
Amazingly everyone turned up punctually for the second workshop at 9:30 am, even my cabin mate Linda, who is not known for coming to the dance workshops on these cruises. We joked that after a week of rooming together I might actually “sleep in” to 7 am and take a nap in the afternoon, while she might actually get up in time to attend all the workshops.
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.
The Eclipse was only due to arrive in San Juan around 3 PM so that meant the morning was full of potential on-board activities. The time zone changed to Atlantic time, an hour ahead of Eastern Standard. I really intended to sleep a bit longer anyway, but no luck. We have had our sliding door onto to the verandah open each night so we get lots of fresh air so I wake to the sound of the sea. I took my laptop out onto my “office with a view” and caught up on writing till the coffee arrived at 7 am.
I am actually quite impressed with the wireless internet access on this ship compared to my experience on previous cruise ships. They must have some very powerful routers on board as the wireless access in really good even in the cabin and on the verandah. Hopefully on my next cruises coming up on the Sapphire Princess and the Queen Mary II, they will have improved the strength of their wireless signals too.