As 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.
INDEX 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.)
I am sitting in the Air Canada lounge at YVR waiting to board the direct Vancouver- Newark flight. It is a very convenient flight for New York travel . Seven days a week it leaves around 2 from Vancouver and gets in to Newark, New Jersey, 5 hours later at around 10 PM New York time. Then the return flight leaves early - I believe around 7 AM, takes about 6 hours and gets in to Vancouver around 10 AM so I have all day to get my groceries, do my laundry and generally settle in at home.
Since I changed my newspaper subscription from paper to digital I somehow don't spend much time reading the newspapers any more - and I don't check out the horoscope. Pity because maybe I would have been prepared for the "little" glitches that keep popping up. Like Hurricane Earl terrorizing the East Coast of the US - along which I will hopefully be cruising tomorrow.
Like a water leak happening from the penthouse suite down through many floors and possibly into my son's apartment where I am planning to sleep tonight - on an aero bed on the floor!
The key saga...ah yes. So there I was, around 11 PM, having limped back on blistered feet to my cabin, with a newly recharged key card in my hand... and again it would not work. The light kept flashing red. I checked carefully that I was on the correct deck - because I have been known to try to get into a cabin with almost the same number - just on the wrong deck , but I was definitely outside my own cabin. I was tired and annoyed by now.
This has been an unusual voyage from the dancing perspective because of the timing of the days when the ship is at sea. Wendy usually organizes two dance workshops taught by her dance pros in the morning on sea days and most times there is at least one quite early in the voyage. But in the cruise round the British isles, the sea days came at the end. So workshops were scheduled on the days that we sailed between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and from Edinburgh back to Southampton.
We gathered in Club Hemispheres at 9 am for the first workshop taught by Robert, on rhumba.
After a day at sea cruising from Greenock, the Queen Victoria entered the Firth of Forth (don't you love that alliteration?) and headed towards an anchorage near South Queensferry, approximately ten miles north-west of Edinburgh city centre. I was up early and sat out on our balcony enjoying the beauty of the early morning landscapes.
After a full day at sea, tonight was Formal Night with a Victoriana Ball. Again the Queens Room floor was more crowded than usual as people came out looking elegant in evening attire, and joined the throngs on the dance floor.
These pictures will say more than words so here are some of the fabulous members of the DAS group in their evening gowns and tuxes.
Shortly after I wrote my first Dance Cruise Travelblogue, the West Coast Ballroom Dance Cruise, I received a delightfully enthusiastic comment from someone I had never meet. Her name was Peggy, and she commented that she and her husband Harlan were long time cruisers with Dancers at Sea and always had a wonderful time.
When I finally met Peggy in person on the New Year Caribbean Cruise, she was as bubbly and enthusiastic as in her correspondence. Harlan in turn I found to be an equally enthusiastic dancer, and a thoughtful gentleman, who made sure to dance with all the ladies at some time, especially when Peggy was up dancing. This endeared him even more to all of us.
As a medical student in the pre-clinical years when we still got much of the summer off, I travelled on one of the old Union-Castle passenger liners from Cape Town to Southampton. It was the year before I got married,and my fiance was on a year's work assignment in England. He met me at Southampton and we spent several weeks driving around England and Scotland. I still had relatives of my maternal grandmother living in Glasgow, and we drove up to Glasgow to meet them. One of the images that has stayed with me was the beauty of Loch Katrine, a freshwater lake that provides drinking water for the city of Glasgow.
Today the Queen Victoria has sailed up the River Clyde and berthed in Greenock, the port that is approximately 30 miles from Glasgow. This is another maiden call for the Queen Victoria - the newest Cunard ship to sail up the Clyde.
When our group convened to go shore it was larger than usual. There was me, Karen D and Karen R, Gordy, Bill, Raoul, Nancy and Melissa. Raoul worked his usual organizational magic and we hired a van driven by Danny, an affable man who talked just like my late granny used to despite her living for more than 60 years in South Africa.
Together with Danny we figured out an itinerary that would last about three hours. Then someone pointed out that in Scotland they used Scottish pounds not the GBP. So our first stop was at the supermarket Tesco where the group gathered around an ATM. In the meanwhile, I sat and chatted to Danny who regaled me with the story of how he and his wife met in a Tesco store.
They all piled back in the van and off we went.
First stop was Newark Castle, a well preserved Renaissance Castle. According to the local guide it was built in 1597. And still looks amazingly intact. It has a glorious location on the south bank of an estuary of the Clyde.
(With apologies to Jimmy Webb) - by the time I got to Belfast I was waiting... for a massage to ease my dance-sore legs and feet. So I decided to skip going ashore on another grey and overcast day, and opted for a dance lesson with Robert, a Viennese waltz practice dance session with Dean, and later a deep tissue massage in the Cunard Spa.
After breakfast I headed up to Club Hemisphere where Magdalena and Honey were also giving dance lessons. I had a great lesson with Robert despite the small dance floor. Dean who was lounging in one of the comfortable chair, watching the lesson and kibbitzing in his own totally uninimitable style, asked if I would practice some new sequences he had been working on in Viennese waltz so we agreed to meet later in the larger Queens Room.