After travelling hopefully across the Atlantic, QM2 delivers us to New York

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Robert Louis Stevenson got it right. “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive,” he wrote in El Dorado. He also said “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”
I should have been thinking of those two statements when the alarm woke me at 4.15 am on Friday morning.
It had been set so there was time to drag myself from bed in time for a landmark moment in Queen Mary 2’s Transatlantic crossing.
The Verrazano Narrows Bridge spans the entrance to the harbour, crossing from Brooklyn to Staten Island. Its 228 feet clearance above water level put serious limitations on Stephen Payne’s designs for QM2, forcing him to restrict the height of the funnel, and making him play around with the configuration of the masts.
Captain Kevin Oprey had announced he would be picking up the pilot from the Sandy Hook Pilot Station at around 3.45 and passing under the bridge about 45 minutes later. Hence the alarm call so I could be dressed and on my balcony.
Just one problem. Sunrise was not due until 5.35 am. We were approaching the bridge in complete darkness. It did not show up on the bridgecam beamed onto Channel 40 of the flat screen television in the suite and, making the assumption that we were running behind schedule, I took myself off to the bathroom. When I emerged five minutes later I was greeted by my son, Nick, rubbing his hands together like Uriah Heep and declaring “Right, that’s the bridge done!”
At least I have his photographs to remind me of the moment.
It would also have been good if I had been able to conjure up some colourful prose to describe the sighting of the Statue of Liberty, a little while later, by which time we were out on the upper deck with hundreds of other passengers.
I had been practising. Something along the lines of “the first fingers of a purple dawn pulling back the curtains of darkness to reveal Lady Liberty in all her splendour” seemed appropriate, if rather over the top.
Unfortunately, wrapped up against the chill morning air and the rain shower that had just passed, my fellow passengers and I were greeted by overcast skies and low cloud.
Actually, I have seen the statue before – though it never fails to impress – and what I really wanted to see was my first view of the Freedom Tower, newly-completed replacement for the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.
But like the rest of Manhattan’s Financial District its upper levels were hidden from view and I had to be content with a glimpse of Governor’s Island as Queen Mary 2 was spun round to reverse into her berth at Red Hook, Brooklyn.
All too soon, breakfast was over and the scramble for disembarkation began. Immigration formalities quickly completed, we were on the road, heading for the hotel in Times Square where we would spend our first night in New York.
It would be a couple of days before I got a proper view of the Tower, from the window of my 25th-floor room at the Affinia Manhattan hotel, across the street from Pennsylvania Station and Madison Square Garden.
There’s just one more disappointment to add to the litany; the 9/11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Centre site was officially opened by President Obama the day before I arrived in New York. It will not open to the public, however, until Wednesday – the day I arrive back in the UK.
So I’ll have to come back to New York again soon. Perhaps next time I’ll get to see the Verrazano Narrows Bridge as well.

By | 2014-05-19T08:59:25+00:00 19 May 2014|Cruise destinations, Cruise ships|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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