Southampton and NYC – Bookends of the Queen Mary 2 voyage.

For this trip, we decided to check out the Queen Mary 2 as transportation, and we booked on the seven-day Transatlantic crossing for our return to the US. My parents had done this trip several years ago and really enjoyed it, we like travelling by ship, and it’s the QM2, so…

In part because of the labor actions impact train travel, one of the strikes was scheduled for the day before the ship was set to sail, we decided to spend some time in Southampton, which was an easy decision because even a quick search brought up plenty to keep us entertained. After all of the historic buildings in London and York, and even after seeing newer neighborhoods in Lancaster built to replace places damaged during World War 2, Southampton definitely brought home just how much bombing the Germans did during the war. There were just enough remnants of the older structures to get a sense of how much was missing.

One place that survived was a medieval merchants home which is tricked out with period furnishings and accessories so you get a really good sense of what life was like for a prosperous family of the time.
This was likely a very good sized and comfortable bed, with bed hangings to keep you warm, but it was a bit cramped even for those of us with a more diminutive stature (so only one of us).
One of the older buildings that survived the relentless bombing of the war. Because Southampton was a major port and the place where the British Spitfire Fighter Planes were manufactured, it was a pretty attractive target.
While out wandering around the city with no set goals, as we often do, a nice man standing outside of the Aviation Museum chatted with us and when he found out we were from Ohio, let us know he was interested in getting to the Air Force Museum in Dayton. Then he encouraged us to visit the museum, which we had been discussing once we figured out what the building was. So, we went and grabbed lunch with the air of people who had plans for the afternoon and returned. And it was very worth it. If you ever find yourself in Southampton, don’t let the small size of the building fool you – there is a whole lot of aviation history in there. Added bonus, they have the police and firefighters museums too. We learned a lot that afternoon.
Like I said, a lot of stuff in that aviation museum, and they made the most of their space and the unique attributes of some of their artifacts. They also had several planes-or at least cockpits-you could get in to!
We also visited the Southampton City Museum. It had a very good exhibit about the Titanic focused primarily on the impact to the city, given that many of the crew were from the area and had families there. The local focus, including showing the perspective of particular crew members ranging from bridge crew to 1st and 3rd class stewards to mechanics in the engine room, gave the sense of a very complete picture of life on board. They also had an area to highlight the inquest and the maritime practices that were changed and standardized in the wake of some of the failures that increased the number of deaths. Of course, this photo has nothing to do with that. It was one of the many late 1800s “games” on display. There were a lot of animatronic games that would have been at theme parks in the Victorian era. Many were elaborate.
The Queen Mary 2 as we approached dock. Our hotel was situated just close enough to where the ship was docked that we couldn’t bring ourselves to hire a cab. And it was pretty cool to walk through a port area where large car carriers, freighters and cruise ships all dock.
While these may look like cool pieces of sculpture, they are actual spare propellor blades for the ship. They are stored on the fore deck and – unless it is too windy – accessible to folks walking around the ship. They were not accessible several days on our journey as we had a lot of wind, and one full day of very heavy fog so it was a bit like sailing in the clouds.
This is about as close as we got to the site of the Titanic. Interesting choice to highlight that site on a ship making a similar journey. Part of the reason we were further north is because taking that “high” route exploits the curvature of the earth to make the journey shorter. The QM2 is an Ocean Liner, not a Cruise Ship, and as such, is designed for these long sea voyages. The ship moved along at a pretty fast clip of about 24 knots, as compared to the cruise ship we took over which kept the pace at no more than 18 knots. Not only were we going faster, the ride was incredibly smooth, even on the days when we had higher swells.
Entering New York City, one of several impressive bridges.
The sunrise as we approached Manhattan Island. It was a very dramatic way to come into port.
The Statue of Liberty.
Another bridge, hey – they don’t have labels!

We also met a friend in New York City. One of my (Lisa’s) friends from my hometown. Another person Facebook has made accessible. While we enjoyed a lovely dinner at a nice NYC restaurant, we figured out he and I had not seen each other since the mid 1980s. Not that anyone eavesdropping on the conversation would think that the way we chattered away. Dan is such a good sport.

5 thoughts on “Southampton and NYC – Bookends of the Queen Mary 2 voyage.”

  1. I believe the bridge are the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge (the huge white one), and John Roebling’s Brooklyn Bridge, a precursor to which spans the Ohio River at Cincinnati. Lovely photos! And, I was surprised at the location of the Titanic. Who knew! 😉

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