The Naming of the Queen

Trip Start Dec 08, 2007
Trip End Dec 12, 2007

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

We woke much too early this morning after having a late night touring more of the ship and dancing in the Queens Room. I loved the Queens room. They arranged it in such a way that there are multiple intimate "rooms" with cozy couches, chairs and tables separated by low wrought iron walls within the space. One could easily host a semi-private party within a space while still enjoying the rest of the room. Being able to view the room from above was really fun. I know in the future one of my favorite past times will be stopping to watch the gowns of the dancers below twirl in intricate rainbows of color.
After a tasty breakfast in the Britannia, James and I worked on putting our videos and pictures together before racing out to find a hot spot to upload it for you all. (The ship's internet is not only $0.50 a minute it is horribly slow for uploading as well.)  As luck would have it, we finished our prepping with only an hour and a half before lunch is the Princess Grill which we certainly didn't want to miss. This eliminated my original plan of walking to the older, interesting part of Southampton where coffeehouses are the gathering spot for the locals and the home of free high-speed WiFi. Our plan was to upload while enjoying the local scene. So, here I was walking in beautiful England, old, quaint and so very interesting - a place I have been wanting to experience for a long time, trying to find a spot within 10 minutes walking distance from the port.
Now, James and I have this pact that we live by when traveling to someplace new. Basically, we never go to or do anything that we could possible go to or do at home. So here we are standing in a plaza forced to go into the first shop we see to ask where we can connect. The shop happened to be a Staples office supply store. A place we regularly frequent for our own office supplies. Our pact had been imposed upon. Their recommendation for internet was a place right across the street. How convenient! Yet, I cringed as I walked through the doors of the establishment and sat down.
But being desperate I had no choice but to connect and do my work. Time was running out. However, although we had completely abolished our pact by entering the said place, it was fast and reliable. When we left with only 10 minutes to get back to the ship, change shoes and get to the PG I breathed a sigh of relief. I had survived a visit to Mc Donald's.
Lunch in the PG was just as wonderful as dinner in the QG was the night before. Excellent service and the food was out of this world. I had salmon with scallops that could not have been more wonderfully done. After lunch we had just enough time to get ready for the naming ceremony which was to be at 3:30pm.
This is when things began to get very interesting for James and I. While waiting in the Grand Lobby to exit the ship with the rest of the 2000 or so people on board we were approached by members of the press who had flown all the way from Hong Kong to attend the event. They wanted our picture for their papers. We complied but wondered why out of all the fabulous looking couples around us they wanted a picture of us. I mean, everyone was dressed to the nines and there were enough feathers and furs in the room to stock a small zoo. The answer? They liked my hat, it was the feathers.
The feathers I had so carefully nursed through three airports and their frantic herding lines they call "Security Measures" (but, as everyone knows is really just a way to amuse the staff by making everyone strip down, de-shoe, unpack and then re-dress, re-shoe and repack all in 34.5 seconds) a hotel stop, a 1 hour bus ride, more security to get onboard and the final hike to the room where they finally got to rest atop the vanity.  I had a very amusing remark by a gentleman who was scrutinizing the feathers sticking out of the laptop case while waiting to go through security. He thought I must have had a nasty run in with a chicken on the way to the airport. I began to doubt my hat choice.
Well, I shouldn't have, the photographers loved it and all three took several pictures. I also received positive comments from a few other people as well. Then, another reporter from Japan came over and took some photos well as another guest whom I caught out of the corner of my eye. This was just the beginning. The gentlemen from Hong Kong must have really liked it though because we noticed them following us around snapping shots here and there. Later that evening during the Gala reception when Cunard was doing their own photo shoot of Jan Swartz (VP of Sales for Princess & Cunard) and I, they came over and took over the shoot for awhile, not realizing who Jan really was until later (boy were they glad they didn't ask her to move out of the pictures!).  Needless to say, it was kind of fun and made the evening just a little more magical. I'm glad I am not a movie star who has to put up with that all the time because you do feel like you have to be smiling perfectly every moment while keeping the tummy properly sucked in.
OK, back to the ceremony. It started late but that did not deter from the momentum that was building as we all filed into the velvet robed warehouse on the docks. Their Royal Highnesses Camilla & Princes Charles entered to a respectful applause and took their seats in one of the private wings that had been built near the stage. The heavy burgundy drapes pulled back to showcase a stage set in the Victorian era and Sir Derek Jacobi regaled us with tales of Cunard's history. This was the start to what would be an excellently choreographed afternoon of wonderful top-notch entertainment. The next act was set to Mediterranean music played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Anthony Inglis and featured wonderful dancers and the famous Katherine Jenkins as soloist. 
At the finale of this act a curtain in the back of the stage parted amidst spectacular fireworks and escalating music showcasing the bow of the Queen Victoria herself. It was electrifying and met by roaring applause!  It was a feeling and a moment that left me breathless. This was followed by the actual naming and then a performance by the Winchester Cathedral Choirs backing up what could very well become the new generation of "The Three Tenors", Alfie Boe, Jon Christos and Gardar Thor Cortes. The second song they sang was Nessun Dorma and it was so beautiful and so moving that it was meet by such thunderous applause even before the end that they had to stop (including the orchestra) until it quieted down before they could continue. The rest of the entertainment was just as wonderful as the beginning featuring accompaniment by The band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Portsmouth and Commando Training Centre Royal Marines and was the start of a terrific evening.

After a Gala Reception in the Grand Lobby we had the dinner in the Britannia. I had the best steak I have eaten in a long time. It was so tender I could have cut it with a fork had it looked as elegant as cutting it properly with fork and knife. After several speeches (The Captain's toast was the best at just two words: "The Queen") and the conclusion of dinner we attended a masquerade ball in the Queens Room. We had met several wonderful couples over the weekend and had a roaring good time. "The last hurrah".
 The weekend had gone by so fast and really we didn't want to ever leave. Hence, again, we didn't retire to our cabin until nearly 2am.
Sleep Count: 5 hours
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