What better way is there for a newbie ballroom dance addict to spend the Labor Day Weekend than dancing the nights away in the largest ballroom afloat with Dancers at Sea? As the smiling faces in the picture taken on the Black and White Formal night photograph attest to, there were many great minds that thought alike on this question.
A mere three months ago the only idea I had of dancing on cruise ships was the little bit I had read about dance hosts that were hired on some of the transatlantic crossing ocean liners. I imagined a few men in jackets or tuxedos being mobbed by hordes of women that wanted to dance with them. Certainly I had no idea that there was an organization that organized groups of dancers to travel together, with professional teachers and hosts at a guaranteed ratio of 1 host for every 3 single guests.
Intrigued by the concept I ventured out for my first dance cruise - a 7 night West Coast Ballroom Dancing Cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver, my home town. I had such fun that when I heard about a four night cruise from New York to Saint John and back, I couldn't resist signing up. For starters it was an excuse to visit my son in New York (New York, New York: Part I), get him to join me on the cruise, and then spend time seeing some theatre before returning to Vancouver - (New York, New York, Part II and Part III.)
Before I decided to take the cruise I did my homework, reading up on the ship from within the Cunard website. The Cunard line call the Queen Mary 2, the "grandest liner ever built." The ship can carry 2592 guests in "elegant accommodation". We booked a cabin with a small balcony. I thought that was pretty elegant since on my first cruise I only had a porthole.
Some other information from the Cunard site told me that in January 2004 the Queen Mary 2 took her maiden voyage from Southamptom, England, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Her crew complement is listed as 1253, almost a 1:2 ratio of staff to guests. At 1132 feet in length the QM2 is only 117 feet shorter than the height of the Empire State Building.
But what is most important to me are the dance floors. I found mention of the G32 disco- "contemporary music with a DJ and live band," and then reading further, the Queen's Ballroom is declared by Cunard to be the "largest ballroom ever to sail the seas." And from the picture it certainly seemed that way.
The night before we were due to take the cruise I managed to get a ticket to see Burn The Floor. This incredibly energetic ballroom and Latin dance spectacular got me so fired up I could not wait to get on board and dance for hours each night.
On Friday, September 4th, 2009, we left downtown Manhattan around 2 pm by cab to go to the cruise-ship terminal at Brooklyn. The boarding procedure went like clockwork. These people are obviously used to getting 2500 people off and another 2500 on to the ship within a few hours but it is actually still quite amazing when one thinks of the logistics involved.
In spite of a line-up it took us less than half an hour to get through the immigration and boarding procedures, and find our way to our cabin. The cabin was small and compact but well laid out and it was great to be able to go out onto the small balcony and let fresh air into the cabin.
We knew that our cases would take a while to reach us so we set off to explore the ship and our surroundings. We found the spa where both of us hoped to have at least one massage. We also checked out the Golden Lion Pub where we were to meet for the 5:30 "get to know your fellow dancers."