Jimmy Magee sails down memory lane with a trip on the Queen Mary 2
A couple of years before the outbreak of World War II I was a baby in New York; the first born to Reese and Paddy Magee. My parents were, like thousands before and thousands after them, contributors to the large Irish emigration.
Rumours of the impending World War must have brought fear to my mother and father, who took the decision to return to Ireland. We sailed home.
I never did return to New York – not by ship anyway, although several times by air, so the circle of life was unjoined until 77 years later, when in 2015 I boarded Queen Mary 2 in Southampton taking on the 3,000 miles North Atlantic route in a Portside Stateroom.
The largest passenger ship ever built, the QM2, is a moving city.
Its length of 345 metres is the same as the height of the Empire State Building in New York City. This massive liner is 45 metres wide and its height at the funnel is over 60 metres.
My voyage took place in the most benign weather; the powerful Atlantic was as placid as a pond, the giant liner never suggested a hint of turbulence.
However, the QM2 was ready with its fabulous extra strength hull, which can withstand the most major of storms.
On board it is a well stocked and well-inhabited set-up − 2,800 is an average passenger boat spread throughout its 17 decks and it towers 200 feet above the waterline, equal to a 23-storey building. The size of this ship can be mind-boggling. Quite simply it is the longest, tallest and widest liner ever built.
If first impressions are important, then the Queen Mary is truly unforgettable. Entering the six-storey grand lobby, with its dramatic staircase, is extraordinary.
You can eat your way to over-indulgence in the many available restaurants and cafes. The Brittania is the centre-piece dining facility, arguably, at 1,347 diners, and is one of the most impressive rooms at sea, the full width of the ship and three stories high.
And there’s more. The Todd English on Desk 8, seats 156.
The King’s Court comfortably packs in 478 diners and then there is L.A.
Pizza (Italian), Lotus (Asian Fusion) and Coriander (Indian).
If you don’t qualify for human resources you are on the right ship – QM2 is the only major passenger luxury that has dog kennels and 12 of man’s best friends were luxuriating on Deck 12.
Want a drink? The Queen Mary has 14 bars, including those that cater for the dancing population with the Queen’s Room, the longest ballroom at sea, which also features the iconic afternoon tea. You can also be served at your swivel-seat in the Royal Court Theatre, 1,094 people see this as a must.
The ship’s library and bookshop is the biggest on the ocean. With 9,000 books, there must be reading for every taste. On display throughout is €3million worth of art.
Want to walk? It’s not quite my thing, but there is no harm observing and I saw plenty of folks stepping out on the Promenade circuit, which is an impressive one third of a mile.
There is hardly time to get fully acquainted with the superb and often exclusive features aboard, but for certain the Planetarium is not to be missed. Of course there are swimming pools, plus a hydrotherapy centre and a spa.
Captain Wells is speaking as I write his name. He tells us that our weather and general conditions is more
Caribbean than North Atlantic. We take his word for it.
It’s warm, it’s calm. In two days we will pass the Statue of Liberty and my mother is on my mind.
I wake up early, 5am early by habit. There is no fog, I have a super view of the Statue of Liberty.
We turn right and grasp the iconic view of Manhattan.
It is the moment I have dreamed about my entire adult life. This is where they left with me only a babe in arms and a journey to Ireland ahead of them.
Queen Mary docks in Brooklyn and 2,765 passengers disembark.
QM2 lived up to its monumental reputation. Accommodation, cuisine, space, a library that satisfies your every paragraph, class stage shows on a double-deck theatre of dreams. One has to be satisfied.
The only thing missing after a week on the North Atlantic? Jet lag, of course, not even a hint of seasickness or any other disorder, imagined or real.
The Queen Mary is a spectacular warrior.
For further information on upcoming intineraries and prices for the Queen Mary 2, check out www.cruiseholidays.ie or call 01-8173558