Seven more sea days before we reach Australia and, from that point on, a succession of Port stops. The Indian Ocean is gentle, blue and hypnotic. There has been no sign of a ship. We have had two lazy days, abandoning our usual practice of being first into breakfast in the formal dining room and, instead, wandering down to Kings Court – the self service restaurant – at about nine. Lots of people who’ve been on the QM2 before are full of praise for Kings Court, which they say, is much improved on its predecessor. We have warmed to it somewhat during these first few weeks, but it can still be rather frantic. There’s no natural flow of people. That said, it would be more ordered if fewer passengers didn’t appear to gripped by panic in case the serveries are about to close.
The quality of food is excellent. There are lots of eggs, fried over easy, sunny side up, poached and in omelettes on every servery. But we always get one of the numerous chefs to cook us fresh eggs and add the usual breakfast things and, in the case of the excellent kedgeree, the less usual.
(Lord) Michael and (Lady) Sandra Howard joined the ship in Mauritius and on Monday, Michael gave the first of his talks on Churchill’s accession to power in 1939. It was excellent and he filled both decks in the Kings Court Theatre. I worked for him for a couple of years in the early nineties and I had intended to try and say hello. But there was no need, he saw us as we left the theatre, having learned that we were onboard and greeted us warmly. On Tuesday, it was Sandra’s turn and she gave an engaging and self deprecating talk about her modelling career, showing us some remarkable photographs of her, with Frank Sinatra, Jack Kennedy and other iconic 60s figures. She was very good. Later on that evening we had drinks with them in the Commodore Club before going to the third of the cocktail parties for full World Cruisers. There was lots of food, lots of champagne, and another viewing of the commerative cake which, we assume, will be cut at some point on the cruise:
The Captain – who might have had a glass of wine or too – made a better and warmer than usual speech:
Later, after a rather good dinner, helped no doubt by the large amount of complimentary wine at the cocktail party, we returned to our room to find the latest in the series of gifts for those of us going all the way to Southampton, rather handsome commemorative Journal from Aspinal’s.
We went to the Theatre on both evenings. On the Monday there was yet another British comedy veteran, John Evans, but one who was very funny about cruising and cruise customers. He went down very well. On Tuesday we went to listen to an entertainer billed as having played the lead in Phantom of the Opera. He had, although not in London or New York, as was implied, but as an understudy on an Australian Tour and in a one off production is Stuttgart. In truth, we thought he was pretty ordinary, but others were much more enthusiastic. The 10.30 crowd in the Theatre may be old but they’re always ready to enjoy themselves…