Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, that is.
Getting on the road at 5:30 AM is not a new experience, though the older I get the less appealing such starts seem to get. Meeting a ship in port instead of an aircraft arrival at an airport would, however, be a new experience.
Given the the early hour, we plumped for the M25/M3 route down to Southampton. All went well, apart from a particularly odd Garmin routing decision which took us off a perfectly fine M3 onto the Winchester bypass (also fine), only to dump us back on the M3 at the junction with the A34. Odd. Also, for some weird reason, Sally Satnav chose to completely ignore the motorway which heads for the Southampton docks and pile us straight through the built up area. Odd again. Nonetheless, we arrived on the road beside Dock Gates 4 and 5 at about 8:00 AM.
Driving into the port was much calmer than arriving at a busy airport. There were several security guards directing us to the correct area and the short term car park where we could stare up at the Queen Mary 2 in all her regal glory.
Nothing felt busy, nothing felt rushed; all was very calm and peaceful. The curved roof in between the ship and the cars (above) is the terminal. We paid for our parking (£3 for up to 2 hours) and wandered in.
There’s not much to the inside of the terminal, really. The most critical piece of equipment was a Douwe Egberts coffee machine which produced a decent and very necessary espresso. Passengers, all 2650 of ‘em, seem to sort of drift off the ship at irregular intervals and at their leisure, as opposed to the frenetic, massed rush for the door, luggage conveyor belts and arrivals exit adopted by airline travellers. Much more civilized!
Having taken 8 days to cross the northern Atlantic, with a brief stop in Nova Scotia en route, our two passengers sort of drifted off at about 8:30 AM looking very calm and fresh and showing no signs of fatigue or ship lag. We sauntered back the short distance to our waiting car, loaded both our passengers and their luggage, and were back on the road just before 9:00 AM for our return journey.
Just before 9:00 AM constitutes rush hour. Once again, the blasted Garmin logic chose to ignore the purpose built motorway (wherever it is – I’ve never been to Southampton before) and stuffed us back on the very congested commuter roads of Southampton. Odd once again. These stupid devices are supposed to pick up traffic jam details but not for all traffic jams, it seems.
All was well and, following our new experience, we were back just before midday. This ship lark looks like a very pleasant way to travel – if you got the time and the money. 😉