Monday, January 18, 2010

Her Majesty the Queen

Some photos from this weekend's trip to the Queen Mary.

In a part of the country that has 274 days of sunshine a year, you might wonder how we always manage to pick the non-sunny days for these excursions. So do we.

Pretty much all the corridors looked as if they ought to have a ghost or a floating candelabra or something at the end.

Our stateroom was about three times bigger and ten times more posh than the one we had on a Royal Caribbean cruise a few years ago. But when you consider how stinking rich the original passengers on the Queen Mary would have been (our tour guide said that a first-class ticket in the 1930s cost $1,000, or roughly the price of a house), it makes sense.

Water options in our shower: hot salt, cold salt, hot fresh and cold fresh. Why anyone would want a hot saltwater shower is beyond me, but people liked strange things in the past.

The supposedly haunted nursery.

Queen Mary herself.

Instruments in the wheelhouse. It was raining during our tour and we got soaked on the way up here, adding to the authentic crossing-the-Atlantic experience.

Our tour guide outside the first-class swimming pool, supposedly the most haunted location on board. I'm not easily frightened, but this was one of the creepiest places I've ever been. I couldn't get a photo inside because there wasn't enough light (they all came out black), but imagine a massive vaulted room the size of a high-school gym, almost completely dark, and full of shadows and echoes and whispers. It was divided into two levels: a second-floor gallery, where we stood looking down, and a lower level with the drained pool sunk deep into its floor. At the opposite end of the room from us were a pair of staircases that came from left and right and merged into one grand central staircase (picture the sort of thing ladies walked down in the old Busby Berkeley films, and you'll have it), and to either side of those were dark openings leading off into unknown territory. Everything smelled of ancient chemicals and saltwater and damp, and you were afraid to raise your voice above a whisper.

The ceiling was tiled with thousands of shimmering milky quartz pieces, which, according to our tour guide, have been identified by psychics as the substance that absorbs spiritual energy and leads to all the haunting. Whether this is true or not, I have no idea, but I can tell you that the place freaked me right the hell out. The guide played the ghost angle up a bit by suddenly stopping his spiel and saying "I thought I just heard something over there," but he really didn't need to, because it was more than spooky enough all on its own. I actually did hear a noise at one point - like a single, hollow clap coming from the far side of the room - but neither he nor anyone else commented on that one. G was nervous and stuck very close to me, but it didn't stop her from recording the whole thing on her flip cam; will have to see if I can upload it to YouTube later.

View from our room's porthole around midnight. The portholes actually opened (I stuck the camera through to take this photo) which seemed really dangerous given the number of drunk people on the ship. They must have lots of insurance.

The same view at dawn. The reason I was awake to take this photo was because I had woken up abruptly at about six a.m. At G's request, I had left a few lights on when we went to bed, and as I was lying there, trying to go back to sleep, all of them abruptly went out, plunging the room into near darkness. I waited, and after about five minutes, the lights came back on, and I got up and went to look out the porthole. The city lights looked so pretty through the soft blue-grey mist that I decided I needed a picture, and here it is. (No, I don't think ghosts turned off the lights. I think the rain and wind outside knocked something offline for a few minutes. It gave me a shock, though.)

Anyway, we checked out around eleven o'clock this morning, bought a few souvenirs in the shops on the Promenade Deck, and then came home. G says she had a great time and is glad she chose this for her birthday - sounds like a success to me!


Melissa said...

I doubt I would have slept through the night. Christopher would have loved it though. Glad you and G had a good time :)

crabbycakes said...

Your baby will remember this night when she's 80 years old, and remember that her mama took her someplace dream-inspiring. Tres cool.