Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Shipping Forecast

This is me taking up the baton, or possibly the cudgels, of a friend from the States who has just blogged thirty-odd (some very odd) days at sea as a 'Gentleman Host' on a cruise liner from South Africa to Fort Lauderdale bearing, in Masefield's metre,

a cargo of Old Bags, Face-Lifts,
Deadwood, Bad-Hair and Cheap-Gin Gays.

Check him out at

As my sailing date is almost contiguous with the end of Phil's, I'm setting out with the best of intentions to chronicle the activities aboard the Queen Mary 2 in the Caribbean over Christmas and New Year. Although a paying passenger and without Phil's responsibilities of hosting the professionally difficult at dinner or being a taxi-dancer for geriatric corn-treaders, it could still be grim: I'm dreading the decorations and any forced festive jollity.

Currently the contents of my wardrobe are spread out on the bed, like a patient etherised upon a table (thank you T S Eliot) as I try to determine which of my threads can be successfully combined into 5 x black tie, 4 x semi-formal and 6 x elegant casual dinner outfits, the dragon-encrusted dinner jacket I had made overnight in Singapore in 2004 and which I am amazed to discover I can still wear without popping its buttons, a Venetian mask and enough cufflinks and baubles to barter with the Indians for another Manhattan, sufficient daywear to cover sightseeing, sailing, off-roading and whitewater tubing in various tropical locales where the 90% humidity can reduce a linen shirt to a rag in seconds.

There's fancy dress too: I had to pop out yesterday to buy a rhinestone eypatch for the Buccaneer Ball. I'm sure I'll be less Captain Blood and more like Bette Davis in The Anniversary.

It's further complicated by the fact my trip is preceded by two nights in New York, temperature minus 10 Celsius, and for the first day-and-two-nights aboard, the water surrounding the ship may be quite cold. Whilst I'm not expecting a Titanic-meets-iceberg re-enactment, I also need a warm coat and some jumpers.

Fortunately luggage may not be much of a problem since, despite its current disarray due to the threat of strike action, I'm on British Airways' pioneering new service from London City Airport five minutes from my house, direct to JFK. I am really looking forward to this, they use the smallest Airbus A318 and have installed just 32 sleeper seats instead of the 110 they normally ram inside the tube so there should be ample room for my steamer trunks, portmanteaux and hat boxes.

I fly tomorrow. More from the airport.


  1. Sounds fantastic, wish I was coming with you. I look forward to further reports from on board ship. Have a wonderful time and see you when you get back xx

  2. I look forward to reading it. Have fun! Liam x

  3. Wish I was coming too, havent done cruise ship before.

    Be looking forward to your adventures! x

  4. waiting with baited breath for your next installment. wish i were there. xxoo rhea