Ocean cruising on the Queen Elizabeth

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Ocean cruising on the Queen Elizabeth was the topic at the Sunday, May 4, meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC). Roger Fox, Richard Smith, Roy Albiston, Richard Silverberg, Anne Smith, and Gary Hacker shared their memories and photos with their fellow expats. They were among a group of nine PCEC members who took the seven-day cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore with port calls in Vietnam. This 7 day cruise was just one leg of a much larger 122-day cruise.

The Queen Elizabeth, the Cunard Line’s newest luxury liner, came into service in 2010. The ship weighs 92,000 tonnes and is capable of carrying 2,092 passengers.  For more information on the Queen Elizabeth, visit http://www.cunard.com/cruise-ships/queen-elizabeth/.

Not often we have someone 83 years young, let alone a former Chairman, so a small celebration was held & we sang Happy Birthday Richard!Not often we have someone 83 years young, let alone a former Chairman, so a small celebration was held & we sang Happy Birthday Richard!

The price of the seven-day cruise was less than $1,000 per person (based on double occupancy) for an outside cabin with a balcony (usual prices are two or three times as much). Roger Fox is well known for looking for – and finding – good cruises at bargain prices. He periodically sends out information on these bargains by email; a number of PCEC members are on his mailing list.

Social Media co-ordinator Jerry introduces his team, John, Tom and Hawaii Bob.Social Media co-ordinator Jerry introduces his team, John, Tom and Hawaii Bob.

Roger explained that the Queen Elizabeth was built in Italy and assembled piece by piece, similar to Lego building blocks. It took eight months to build and six months to fit. Roger said that everything on the ship was very traditional, from afternoon tea through to the captain’s crisp British accent. Other words that Roger used to describe the Queen Elizabeth were regal, proper, elegant and classical.

MC Richard Silverberg introduces long time PCEC member Roger Fox, to share with fellow members the trip he and a few others made on the QE2, from Hong Kong to Singapore, with stops in Vietnam and Malaysia.MC Richard Silverberg introduces long time PCEC member Roger Fox, to share with fellow members the trip he and a few others made on the QE2, from Hong Kong to Singapore, with stops in Vietnam and Malaysia.

Roger said that he was not all that impressed by the way the Queen Elizabeth looked from the outside, but that when he went aboard and encountered a quartet playing Mozart, and then found champagne waiting in his lovely cabin – well, by then he was enthralled.

All of the presenters said they enjoyed the live music aboard the ship, which ranged from chamber music to jazz to rock and roll. Gary Hacker said that he was particularly taken by an octet – a group of eight musicians from the ship’s bands that joined together at the last minute to do two evenings of impromptu Dixieland music in the Commodore Club – located on Deck 10 with a panoramic view looking forward.  Roger added that the Commodore Club was usually a quiet place to sit, read, enjoy the view; but it seems the musicians from two of the bands decided to get together there to “jam” with a little Dixieland – like Gary, he said he was also taken with this unexpected delight.

PCEC member Gary Hacker at the “Peak” in Hong Kong.PCEC member Gary Hacker at the “Peak” in Hong Kong.

There was plenty of art on the ship, all of it commissioned for the Queen Elisabeth. Roger added that there was great entertainment every night in the theatre. Roger said that the food, being British, was good but not great. Not all the presenters agreed; Anne Smith thought it was “just fine.” Afternoon tea was a three-course affair, with sandwiches, cakes and scones. Passengers got their own small jar of jam to use, which Roger thought was a nice touch.

Outside cabin with balcony on the Queen Elizabeth.Outside cabin with balcony on the Queen Elizabeth.

Roy Albiston mentioned that there was 24-hour room service, and that all the food was included in the price of the ticket.  Richard Smith narrated some photos from the two stops the cruise made in Vietnam. Some of them arrived early in Hong Kong so they could visit the city before boarding the cruise. Roy and Richard Silverberg presented some photos of Hong Kong along with narration. Roy also showed some photos from Singapore where they got off the ship. During the question and answer period, Roger answered one question about how to keep from gaining weight; he said his method is to always take the stairs instead of the elevator, even if that means walking up seven flights. In response to availability of Wi-Fi Internet service, Roger said that it was available but costly at 70 cents US per minute and slower speed because it was via satellite connection.

Members of the Board and others show off the club Polo shirt, featuring the new club logo.Members of the Board and others show off the club Polo shirt, featuring the new club logo.

After the presenters answered several questions from the audience, Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and called on Roy Albiston to conduct the Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya.

For more information on the many activities of the PCEC, visit their website at www.pcecclub.org.