It was on October 31st of 2007 that my dream came true for the very first time. I met her at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal shortly after 1pm that afternoon. Traveling from LaGuardia airport to the cruise terminal by taxi, we could see her in the distance dwarfing all the buildings that stood before her. Her presence was dominating. I remember arriving at the terminal and looking up at her; she was beautiful and elegant.
Her name was the RMS Queen Mary 2.
I was 9 years old when I developed an interest in cruising. I recall flipping through a Carnival cruise brochure on my parent’s bed and being fascinated by everything the ships had to offer. It was fun going through the deck plans of each of the ships and visualizing being there; staying in nice staterooms, walking through the corridors to get to where all the entertainment was, and trying all the wonderful food on board the ship. I visualized a lot back then. My family and I never went on a cruise together because my mother is aquaphobic. Even though her fear of water isn’t severe, the idea of cruising and being on a ship surrounded by water never interested her. I, on the other hand, always dreamed of going on a cruise, but I knew very well that I would never have the opportunity to go on one with my family. It was a dream of mine that I, for many years, thought would only ever remain a dream.
In August 2007, my friend Ashley* and I decided we would plan a trip together to celebrate our graduation. Ashley and I were similar in many ways. We were both brought up in strict families that imposed very strict values on us. We loved our families a lot, but it was also evident that we each had issues with our own families, even though we never really discussed those issues in detail. Both Ashley and I wanted to go on a cruise and had never been on one before. So on that one summer day, we decided we were going to fulfill our dream once and for all.
I had heard about the QM2 through my cousin when she took her family on that ship the year before. Through my research I had learned that the QM2 was the largest ocean liner ever built. When the QM2 was constructed, she was the longest, widest, and tallest passenger ship. Since she was a luxury liner, the QM2 had to have all the amenities that would keep her passengers happy, as well as meet the physical demands of traveling through the roughest seas. Documentaries on the QM2 revealed the concept behind building it and the effort that was put into ensuring it had the best specs. Unlike a cruise ship that is intended for travel and pleasure, an ocean liner is designed to transport passengers and cargo for long distances on a timed schedule. Thus, an ocean liner must be built with an extra strong hull to withstand any kind of weather and have a long, tapered bow to cut through the waves.
While looking up cruises for our trip, I came across a very good deal for the QM2. Ashley had heard about the QM2 as well and we both felt that this was the ship we wanted to be on. It was the biggest and most stable ship, with the most advanced technology and the highest standards. As first time cruisers and two girls traveling alone, safety on board the ship was very important to us. We weren’t interested in a “booze cruise.” We understood that this ship was geared for older people and that it wasn’t going to be one of those fun ships, but we were interested in meeting some older people whom we felt had more wisdom to share with us. Our first cruise was going to be the best that it could possibly be. So in a matter of 10 hours, we made the decision and booked the cruise on the QM2.
Everything was set. Our flight was booked from Toronto to New York. We had a map to get us from the airport to the cruise terminal. A cabin was reserved for us on the most magnificent ship in the world. For days I visualized seeing the ship in person for the first time. I visualized walking around on the promenade deck, looking out at the vast ocean. It was going to be a once in a lifetime experience. And indeed it almost was. If only you knew that I also visualized jumping off the ship once we got to the middle of the ocean.
( * name has been changed )