Entertainment Aboard Queen Mary 2
Part III - Life on the Ocean Wave
History of Entertainment at SeaWe start with facts for the history buff. Long ago, the passengers just amused themselves. The purser was the one who watched the forms of entertainment that ran the gamut from walking on the Promenade Deck in 1905, the Red Sea Masquerade by Laconia passengers to the largest costumed group ever seen afloat on the Acadian on July 23, 1914.
They also invited each other to tea parties. The purser would organize deck sports like the pillow fight between two men straddling a pole, three and four-legged races, potato and spoon races, cigarette and needle race and dress suitcase races.
But then cruises turned into vacations and so passengers had to be entertained. Some expect top-notch entertainment especially if used to Las Vegas and Broadway Shows which is not really fair to compare these to the ones shown on the ship. Thus came the cruise director and his staff charged with the mission of keeping the passengers happy and content. The cruise director has become the man in charge of what happens in the ship.
Such is the cruise director’s awesome responsibility that he often comes with stellar accomplishments like the cruise director we had for part of the world cruise in the person of Paul O’Louglin. Stellar indeed as you can gather from the following credentials of his.
Paul O’Louglin, Entertainment Director
Paul was born in Dublin, Ireland and spent his childhood in Oxford, England where his family settled. He started his career at sea in 1980 after a fortunate evening that changed his life: the Director of Entertainment for Fred Olsen Line offered him a contract on board the M.V. Blenheim after seeing him perform.
Paul then became an Entertainment Officer for the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company on board the legendary SS Canberra in 1981, and fell in love with life at sea. In 1982, he became an Assistant Cruise Director for Princess Cruises. He was quickly promoted to Cruise Director in 1986 at the age of 24.
His life at sea has brought many unforgettable moments; he was Cruise Director on board the Pacific Princess for the July 7th 1987 celebration of the 150th anniversary of P&O at Greenwich, England. Paul was presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Paul was also honoured to sail with President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush.
He treasures another special moment when he was introduced to Her Royal Highness, Diana, the Princess of Wales at the naming ceremony of the Royal Princess. He has hosted many celebrities and dignitaries as well as sharing a stage with Hollywood legends and entertainers including Ginger Rogers, Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, Artie Shaw, Red Buttons, Ben Vereen, Roberta Flack and Cleo Laine.
He has interviewed John Cleese, James Michener, PD James, Baz Luhrmann, Jane Russell, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Jean Michel Cousteau, Edwina Currie, Ludwig Kennedy and Moira Shearer, Lloyd Bridges, Jonathan Humphrys, ITN’s Michael Nicholson and many more.
He has appeared on numerous radio and television programs over the years. He co-starred as an entertainer in an episode of the American TV show “Love Boat - The Next Wave”. His career has spanned nearly 30 years and he has sailed on 27 different ships, seven of them new builds.
The Entertainment Director’s day consists of around twelve hours of duties commencing recording live TV shows, meeting with the Executive Officers of the ship, contact with corporate office in Southampton, meeting with his managers and staff of over 120 in the Entertainment Department, socializing with guests as host with the Captain at cocktail parties and generally supervising the overall entertainment programme.
Paul is married to Deborah, a former P&O/Princess Senior Nursing Officer. They live with their Shar Pei dog, Harry, in a delightful old fishing town called Whitby on the north East coast of England. He has many interests which include theatre, sport, music, long walks over the North Yorkshire Moors and looking for his ball on numerous golf courses.
One of the proudest moments of his career was his appointment to the magnificent Queen Mary 2 and to become a part of the greatest and most famous shipping line in the world. Paul invites you to enjoy the finest entertainment and hospitality at sea, embrace the fine traditions of a Cunard Line voyage and have some fun!
Entertainment VenuesThe Royal Court Theatre is a lovely entertainment venue with tiered seating for 1094 audience. It shows lavish presentation of performances and hosts cabaret acts and headline entertainers accompanied by a high-class band. RADA, acronym for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, with supplies of actors who perform on the stage and do street theatre performances.
In partnership with the celebrated Julliard School of Music in New York with such graduates as Neil Sedaka and Barry Manilow, Queen Mary 2 had jazz musicians and other musical units perform at the Royal Court Theatre.
At this venue, they have The Illumination which is a multi-purpose show lounge area where the movies, the planetarium shows and the enrichment lectures are held is at this venue. The 473-seat grand cinema also doubles up as a broadcast studio. This especially equipped venue screens 3D movies using RealD projection.
We are not movie goers but at this boat, we went to practically all of them. How can you not resist going when the movie screen is as wide as the widest on shore and complemented by a surround system that is to die for? We laughed though at the audience in their best suits, mostly tuxedos and evening gowns on most nights.
The planetarium, the first full-scale of its kind at sea, has tiered seating rows with reclining seat of plush fabric so comfortable we almost fell asleep. But sitting under a dome (38 feet meter in diameter and almost 20 feet deep forming the setting of the night sky) that lowered to take us out of this world, woke us up.
Allow us to tell you about the Queens Room. It is a lovely room, elegantly decorated with a place for the live orchestra in the front and the well- equipped sound booth in the back. This is where the Black-and-White Balls were held which happened every segment of the world voyage.
At the Black-and-White Ball, bold dress is the best. That is when we went without colour in stirring black and white affairs. It is true, the opposite sides of the spectrum are more striking when they work together. Just put together a frilly white satin blouse with a black velvety long skirt and what have you got? A sum that is greater than the parts. So at each leg of the world cruise, we celebrated that love affair between black and white. Looking marvellous is indeed as easy as black and white.
There are Gentleman Hosts since there were more single lady seniors aboard. Queen Mary 2 thought of providing a program of gentleman hosts. They hired these over-55 men for their conversational, social and dancing skills to enhance the cruise experience of the single senior ladies.
Cunard Line by the way was the very first ship to introduce this on QE2 in the mid 70’s. We missed this in 1980s when we sailed on QE2 bound for Southampton; perhaps we had only eyes for each other? Ha, ha, ha. Anyway, this program is especially good for the single ladies who love to dance.
The Queens Room (can’t help but wonder what would Lynne Truss, the Queen of Apostrophe who was on board Queen Mary 2, say to this name) features crystal chandeliers, a dramatic high ceiling that’s more than seven metres high, sweeping ocean views and the largest dance floor at sea (7.5 metres by 13 metres).
The Winter Garden is a colonial-style venue next door to the Canyon Ranch Spa. This is exclusively reserved for World Voyagers. In fact when Roger was there on a visit one of the workers told him he should not be there because it is only for world voyagers.
This Winter Garden is reminiscent of the Kew Gardens in London where flowers bloom all year round. With the large waterfall humming along with the piano playing, it is peaceful here and the setting is really for relaxation. Most often there is live music playing and the world voyagers could have their afternoon tea far from the maddening crowd. This is also where we personally met and talked with the speakers of the enrichment program.
There are 14 bars and clubs, can you believe it? There’s an English Pub, Sir Samuel’s (an up-market modern bar, the Chart Room which is a nautically themed cocktail bar as the name implies, and the Veuve Clicquot Campagne Bar. The terrace Bar and the Regatta Bar are both located outdoors.
The Empire Casino has the latest machines, gaming tables and a bar while the Mayfair Shops (5000 square foot in all) consist of eight different stores together with boutiques from Hermes, Chanel and Dunhill.
The G32 Nightclub name comes from the hull number given to the ship by the yard. It is purposefully located away from the guest rooms but is overlooking the stern of the ship. It features state-of-the-art technology and a two-point entrance and mezzanine level.
The Commodore Club is an observation lounge situated on Deck 9 and offers a sweeping ocean view. They have jazz music there every evening, Both the Boardroom and the Cigar Lounge are connected to the Commodore Club.
This Library and Bookshop is the largest library at sea and is a very popular venue. In fact, there was not a day in our 103-day world voyage that we did not either go there or contacted the librarians. It did not come as a surprise for we are addicted to libraries as evidenced by the fact that when we went driving coast-to-coast in the US going west and Canada eastward, we visited every library in various cities and towns. And this library onboard is among the best, with comfortable leather sofas and armchairs so conducive to reading.
The Children’s Area with facilities on Queen Mary 2 are among the best afloat. They have the very latest equipment for the children of all ages in the Play Zone and The Zone. And best of all they have a permanent staff and nursery nurses. In addition they have their own play areas both inside and outside and a pool.
The Health and Fitness Facilities are among the largest and finest afloat. They offer massages, therapeutic bodywork, aromatherapy. There are complete gymnasium, thalassotherapy pool, whirlpool that offer all kinds of treatment in 24 treatment rooms.
There is a €3.5 million art collection on display all over Queen Mary 2. Among them are: the monumental sculptural relief in the Grand Lobby, the huge tapestry in the Britannia Restaurant and a trompe l’oeil painted ceiling in the Winter Garden. Famous artists all over the world were commissioned to produce 300 works of art.
In addition to the large Spa indoor pool, there are four swimming pools outside. One of them can be converted into an indoor pool by a retractable sliding glass roof. On Deck 12, there is a large sunning area with sports bar. The open space on this Deck 12 encompasses 21,097 square feet.
The Sports Facilities include a basketball court, quoits, shuffleboard, a paddle tennis court, deck games, a giant chess board, eight whirlpool tubs (2 variable, 1 indoor, 5 outdoor), a putting green, and two state-of-the-art golf simulators.
Daily Entertainment We Indulged InOn January 15, there was a welcome aboard presentation by the Entertainment Director Ray Rouse at the Royal Court Theatre where the members of the Entertainment Department were introduced. This also featured the comedy and music of John Joseph.
From hereon, we intended to watch all the comedy shows because studies showed those who watch funny videos could boost their brain power. Not only that, we find comedy is a weapon against bad choices in life, for there is nothing like laughter, wonderfully irreverent laughter to make one feel better.
They had Ballroom and Latin dancing at the Queen’s Room where the variety of fashions worn by the women delighted us. We love clothes that give us freedom of movement. Then we saw the movie screening of Sherlock Holmes at Illuminations, starring among others Robert Downey Jr, and Jude Law under the direction of Guy Richie. Hey, is that Madonna’s ex-husband?
Captain Paul Wright welcomed the guests at a cocktail party on January 16. As the clothes paraded around the room, we could sense a quiet sense of cool. Then it was Showtime at the Royal Court Theatre which featured the stunning voice of Annette Wardell while at the Illuminations, they had the movie “The Invention of Lying” with Jennifer Garner among the stars. The movie was shown three times today so there was no way anyone could miss it.
There were a lot of other things going on. At the Golden Lion Pub, they had Russell Holmes performing piano standards, Derek Conlon entertained us at the piano and there was Karaoke later on the evening. Then it was Black and White Ball at the Queen’s Room, hosted by our favorite social hostess ever, Gun Sukwanna.
It was a scene reminiscent of our dinner and dancing date at Manhattan’s Rainbow Room. The long gowns brought back cinematic romance allowing the ladies to sweep into the scene in a dramatic fashion. The style we felt was old (pardon us, classic) but fresh, no sucking of the breath just to get into the clothes.
There was a classical matinee performance of the international classical cello and piano duo Evva Mizerska and Selah Perez Villar at the Royal Court Theatre on January 17. The evening performance featured piano entertainer Amy Abler among others. And then there was dancing at the Queen’s Room with plenty of colourful dresses dancing around to vocalist John Labelle’s songs.
The Showtime on January 18 at the Royal Court Theatre featured the vocal magic of Don Bryan, a master ventriloquist, with his side-kick, Newsworthy while the movie was Angels and Demons starring Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor and directed by Ron Howard. We danced at the Queen’s Room where the Royal Event, Buccaneer Ball, was held with strapless frocks stealing the spotlight.
International male vocalist, Paul Emmanuel, was featured along with a tribute to Nat King Cole on January 19. ‘Up in the Air’ starring George Clooney and Jason Bateman was the movie of the day and G32 had an ABBA Extravaganza, bringing us memories of Mama Mia, the only play we saw twice, one in Toronto and the other in Broadway. It was so much fun dancing in the aisles with the cast.
Hit Me with a Hot Note was the featured presentation on January 20 while the movie of the day was ‘The Bank Job’. The Chart Room was where we enjoyed the soothing music of harpist Maria Nikitina and a little later on, The Jazz Club featured the hot and cool Jazz stylings of the Mark Hodgson Trio.
The Showtime on January 21 was the Comedy and Magic of Mark Worgan and the movie was ‘The Blind Side’ starring Sandra Bullock and Kathy Bates. We also danced at the Queen’s Room Royal Event, Neptune’s Ball, where we enjoyed watching the fashion, showing deep V in front and a bare back there. We also enjoyed the special floor show by the internationally acclaimed dance couple Artsiom and Volha.
Paul Emmanuel was featured in the live show on January 22, while the movie was ‘Killers’ starring Ashton Kutcher. At the Queens Room, there were sequence dancing and Ballroom and Latin Dancing, this time in dresses with intense colours. Campbell Simpson performed our favourites at the Commodore Club.
It was Showtime Double Bill at the Royal Court Theater with Comedy Magician Mark Worgan and Master Ventriloquist Don Bryan on January 23 while the movie was ‘The Taking of Pelham 123’ starring Danzel Washington and John Travolta. The Caribbean Band, VIBZ played dance floor favourites at G32.
On January 24, the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers were featured in the live show called ‘Nations United’ while the movie was ‘It’s Complicated’ starring Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin and Rita Wilson. But the highlight of the Evening was the Burns Supper Ceremony at the Queen’s Room.
There we celebrated the birthday of Scotland’s favourite son, Robert Burns. The celebration (The Burns Supper) included Piping in the Haggis, the famous address to a Haggis, the Immortal Memory (a tribute to Burns’ works), followed by the toast to the band, the traditional toast to the lassies and the reply on behalf of the lassies.
A Burns Supper is the celebration of the life and poetry of the unofficial national poet of Scotland whose work includes Tom o’Shanter and the Auld Lang Syne. The suppers are normally held on January 25, his birthday and is known as the Robert Burns Day or Burns Night.
A tropical party was held at the Terrace Bar on January 25, where classic shirt dresses abound and some didn’t miss the chance to try Brazil’s very own legendary cocktail - the Caipirinha! There was ballroom and Latin dancing at the Queen’s Room too (our favourite venue), where some clothes worn showed a taste for decadence and the movie was ‘Class of the Titans’ starring Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson.
Piano Showman David Howarth entertained us playing selections from Bach to Boogie Woogie to Mozart to Mack the Knife in the live show on January 26 while the movie was ’Across the Universe’. We danced at the Queens Room while admiring those wearing casual and cool clothes (more like our style) while at the Winter Garden, we relaxed to the music of harpist Maria Nikitina who also entertained at the Chart Room.
On January 27, James Sherlock, a BBC Fame Academy winning pianist had a classical matinee performance and the live show featured Suzanne Godfrey, a virtuoso instrumentalist while the movie was ‘Public Enemies’ starring Johnny Depp. As well there was music or dancing or both every where in the ship. We saw one wearing a classic Chanel dress that Evelyn wanted for herself because it had pleated skirt and looked so simple and understated.
The show time on January 28 was on the music of Count Basie, Duke of Ellington, etc with the Royal Court Theatre Orchestra under the direction of Joey Mix. The movie was ‘The Cemetery Junction’. There was music and dancing all over the place at the Queens Room where there was a Jersey dress here and a silk charmeuse dress to die for there.
Jeri Sager, Broadway Actress and recording artist, was featured on January 29’s live show while the movie was ‘A Serious Man’ but the highlight of the evening was the Carnival Ball at the Queens Room where we had the option to wear some kind of costume but saw one in a hand-embroidered lace dress, the same one we saw at the dining room earlier. Then the wonderful dance couple Artsiom and Volha had a dance presentation twice!
The live show on January 30 featured the Juggling Duo Double Take and harpist Gerardo Dominguez while the movie was ‘Toy Story 3’ with the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Michael Keaton. Among others, they had the ‘Name That Tune’ Trivia at the Golden Lion Pub.
The show time on January 31 was ‘On the West Side’ featuring the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers. We enjoyed it just as much as the West Side Story we saw on Broadway. Afterwards, we danced the night away at the Royal Event: Big Band Ball in the Queens Room where as usual we indulged in fashion watching. And the winner is - a silk organza dress! Believe it or not, we also took a peek at the movie ‘The Lovely Bones’ starring Susan Sarandon.
Mark Adam as Dean Martin was the featured artist at the Royal Court theatre on February 1 while at the movies, we saw ‘Dear John’. There were a lot of other venues for singing and dancing like our favorite, The Queens Room, where there was red-carpet magic dancing around. There was a pretty lady but pretty was not enough for her. Pretty was fine but she was beautiful too and we all know beauty can change the whole world.
The Queens Room has the largest dance floor at sea with stunning décor and can aptly be called a grand ballroom. The Hollywood style bandstand canopy, the two giant chandeliers, the high ceiling and the comfortable armchairs make it our place for dancing and afternoon teas. There were other venues that if you visit them all, you will be exhausted before the night is over (like what happened to us) but then you will have a good night sleep.
There was a double live show on February 2 at the Royal Court Theatre featuring virtuoso instrumentalist Suzanne Godfrey and Broadway actress Jeri Sager. Then it was ‘The Commitments” at the movies and of course singing and dancing all over the place. We are going to miss this at tour’s end, we know.
There was a double live show again on February 3 at the Royal Court Theatre featuring male vocalist Mark Adams and juggling duo Double Take and at the movies, it was ‘Invictus’ starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon directed by Clint Eastwood. In addition, there were a number of bands that provided live music in most of the 14 lounges.
On February 4, the Royal Court Theatre where we have the live shows was dark; Cape Town kept us so busy, we suppose. But there was still entertainment galore everywhere. The movie was ‘Mamma Mia’ starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. There was also music and dancing everywhere where we saw people in chic and cool clothes. One lady we saw had it all though for it’s just not clothes that makes one unforgettable but the hair accessories, make-up and attitude makes one stand above the crowd.
There was a local show featuring Cape Town Highlanders on February 5. The show time at night was a Welcome Aboard Presentation introducing the members of the entertainment department. The movie was ‘All About Steve’ starring Sandra Bullock. And of course all the music and dancing you can have at the different venues, watching people in killer clothes.
Not for us, for with 103 days of world voyage, we had to be satisfied with mix and match outfits. Besides, we feel for loving this world, the least we can do is to go green even in fashion - something to wear again and again. The trouble is we left the timeless black sweater Evelyn brought to this trip in the dining room and never saw it again, despite looking for it high and low.
The live show on February 6 featured the dazzling piano and dynamic vocals of piano showman Chris Hamilton while the movie was ‘Amelia’ starring Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, and Ewan McGregor. Noted: The Golden Lion Pub to broadcast live the NFL Superbowl between Green Bay Packers (slight favourite to win the Vince Lomabardi Trophy for the third time) and six- time winner, the Pittsburgh Steelers, at Cowboy Stadium.
Award-winning Mike Doyle was featured on February 7 live show while ‘The Hurt Locker’ was shown at the movies. It was Rock N Roll Night with DJ Darren at G32. Roger should have participated at the Golden Lion Pub’s Karaoke but he wanted to use only our own machine for that is what he sings on.
The February 8 Showtime in the Royal Court Theatre featured Gary Williams, star of the West End’s Rat Pack and BBC Big Band while the movie was ‘The Bounty Hunter’ starring Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler and Christine Baranski. The highlight of the evening though was the Royal Black and White Ball at the Queens Room, just like Truman Capote‘s exclusive Black and White Ball at New York‘s Plaza Hotel in 1966.
The Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers were the stars of the live show on February 9 called ‘Jazz, Blues and Rock and Roll’ while at the movies, we enjoyed ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The main event was the African Ball at the Queens Room where some, draped in elegance, watched the internationally acclaimed dance couple Artsiom Volha perform a floor show.
There was a classical matinee performance on February 10 featuring the EOS String Quartet and by the evening, it was the dynamic sound of violinist Greg Scott while the movie was ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’ starring Michael Douglas. The Seventies Night at G32 was fun where people played dress-up from ball gowns to shift dresses.
We enjoyed a little night magic at the live show on February 11 featuring Australian master magician Duck Cameron who tried his hardest to take Roger’s watch on the stage. He failed unlike successfully getting others but perhaps, Roger’s (who loves his watch to be timeless and masculine and in addition to his being vigilant) watch has a security thingy attached to it, thanks to Patek Phillip, a testament to its quality workmanship. The movie was fun for it was ‘Sex and the City 2’ starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall.
The Showtime Headline on February 12 was sparkling Irish Diva Sinead Blanchfield while at the movies, they were showing ’Salt’ starring Angelina Jolie. As well the different venues were buzzing with entertainment for the guests. Only on Queen Mary 2 could this happen when movie night is made grand, where the audience is in tuxedos and in clothes cool enough to be noticed.
The live show featured the incredible artistry of the Enchantment Duo while they had ‘Princess Ka’iulani’ at the movies. There was an evening jazz jam at the Chart Room while the featured vocalist at the Queens Room was John Labelle where some who knew how to dress like goddesses danced to his tune. All these happened on February 13.
There was a classical matinee performance of the EOS String Quartet where we listened to soothing classical music on February 14. The live show in the evening was ‘Vanity Fair’ featuring the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers while at the movie, it was appropriately ‘Letters to Juliet’. The formal Valentine’s Ball was at the Queens Room where we danced the night away while we watched most people showing their undeniable sense of style.
The matinee featured a classical concert with the Dionysus Duo on February 15, and at 5 QM2 had her own version of Dancing With the Stars. Australian triple award winner Jennifer Green sang ‘Strictly Bassey’ at the live show tonight while the featured movie was ‘2012’ starring John Cusack and Amanda Peet. The Royal Event at the ‘Roaring Twenties Ball’ was held at the Queens Room where we saw two women who knew how to drape themselves and look great without wearing something constricted.
There was a double live show on February 16 at The Royal Court Theatre featuring master magician Duck Cameron (This time he succeeded in getting Roger’s tie) & sparkling Irish diva Sinead Blanchfield while the movie was ‘Extraordinary Measures’ starring Harrison Ford and Keri Russell. And of course as usual, music and dancing was all over the place with small musical units providing live music where some impeccably dressed people danced merrily along.
Featured on February 17 at the live show was cello diva, Sarah Jessica Maer who is known to melt the heart and stir the soul and she succeeded doing that to us and so did ‘The Karate Kid’ at the movies starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. The rest of the venues were hopping with lots of dancing and music. There we saw the same girl who looked like she just loved clothes and intuitively knew how to wear them
The live show on February 18 featured ‘Singers and Concert’ while the movie was ‘The Duchess’, starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes. As if we didn’t have enough, a Royal Event ‘The Masked Ball’ was held at the Queens Room. The ladies in ball gowns looked like they were in a famous portrait.
The classical matinee performance on February 19 showcased pianist Campbell Simpson. The live show in the evening was a dance magical transformation spectacular from Las Vegas and the London Palladium Soul Mystique while the movie was ‘The Proposal’ starring Sandra Bullock. The big elegant event was a royal one ’The Big Band Ball’ where the marvellous music of the big band era sure brought back memories. There we saw one wearing a slinky black dress adorned with silk chiffon black rose.
Glenn Amer, an exciting entertainer who combine Liberace’s fingers and Mario Lanza’s voice was featured on February 20’s live show while at the movies, they showed ‘The Men Who Stare at Goats’ starring George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey.
The February 21 live show was a double bill with cello diva Sarah Jessica Maer and piano entertainer Glenn Amer while at the movies we saw ‘Knight and Day’ starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. There was lots of entertainment venues to go to like the G32 where International Band, ‘VIBZ’ played dance floor favourites. Evelyn wore her only Diane Furstenberg who was supposed to be a style barometer. Sh, she didn’t feel stylish at all.
They had a welcome aboard presentation at the Royal Court Theatre on February 23 and at the movies we saw ‘Crazy Heart’ starring Jeff Bridges, a best actor award winner. Among the many other entertainment venues was the Chart Room where the Jazz Club featured The Mark Hodgson Trio. The one who stood above the crowd of dancers was one who wore a plunge neck blouse.
On February 24 the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers went live at the Royal Court Theatre with their rendition of ‘On the West Side’ while the movie was ‘Nowhere Boy’ starring Kristin Scott Thomas. It was Royal Black and White Ball at the Queens Room where the audience in black and white (a back-tied silk dress here and a silk wrap dress there) watched internationally acclaimed dance couple Artsiom and Volha perform a floor show.
International vocalist Cheryl Sinclair was the featured performer at the live show on February 25 and the movie was ‘The Unstoppable’ starring Danzel Washington. There were lots of music and dancing as usual at the different venues. Derek Conlon entertained at the piano at the Golden Lion Pub. It was cool sophistication all over the place.
We enjoyed the variety double bill on February 26 featuring Dutch Juggling Champion Niels Dunker and Francisco Yglesia, former member of ‘Los Paraguaynos’. The movie was ‘Australia’ starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackson and as well there were a lot singing and dancing all over QM2 where attitude is everything. We could get used to this; would miss this when we get home in two month’s time.
The Golden Age of Art Deco through the pages of the famous Vanity Fair Magazine was brought to us in the live show by the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers on February 27. The movie was ‘Get Low’ starring Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek. Star gazing with expert Dan Benedict was fun.
With two tours in Auckland on February 28, you would think, there would not be any entertainment on board. There’s ballroom and Latin dancing at the Queens Room where the clothes were like a fruit punch (lemon-yellow shift dress, a cherry pair of pants here and a tangerine blouse over there, are they already getting ready for spring? We know we’re always late at this sort of thing, but this early? “Avatar“ was the movie of the day.
Ireland’s Ambassador of comedy, Adrian Walsh, was the featured entertainer on March 1 while the movie was ‘Pirate Radio‘. The best event of the evening though was the Big Band Ball held at the Queens Room where the enchantment was a dreamy tulle dress that was dancing around like there was no tomorrow.
The live show on March 2 was ‘Nations United’ that featured the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers while the movie was ‘When in Rome’ starring Kristin Bell. At the Queens Room there was the usual ballroom and latin dancing with the Queens Room Orchestra. There are two orchestras in QM2, can you imagine that? One is at the Royal Court Theatre and another here in the Queens Room where some heavenly creatures made a dramatic entrance.
There was a matinee on March 3 when QM2 presented the Nearly Useful Theatre Company in a Sherlock Holmes Murder Mystery. The evening live show featured the internationally acclaimed instrumentalist Hanna Starosta while the movie was ‘Freakanomics‘. The big event though was the South Pacific Ball at the Queens Room, a colourful event showing among others a peach dress to die for and a blue cocktail dress built for dancing.
The live show on March 4 was the Variety Double Bill on the high energy vocals and fancy footwork of Two on Tap and the master guitarist Matthew Fagan. At the movies, Pierce Brosnan’s ‘Remember Me” was showing. As usual, there were many other entertainment venues like the Sequence Dancing, Neveux with our social hostess Gun at the Queens Room where the fashion this time is more casual showing the minimal look.
The Showtime on March 5 was ‘Hit Me With a Hot Note’ featuring the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers. As they said, it was a show with a song for everyone. The movie was ‘Green Zone’ which we did not enjoy. We expected more from Matt Damon.
West End Star Vocalist, David Shannon, was the featured performer at the live show on March 6 while the movie was ’Amadeus’. Gun had the sequence dancing new vogue at the Queen’s room and there was ’The Marriage Game Show with the entertainment staff at The Golden Lion Pub.
The variety double bill in the live show on March 7 featured the incredible violin virtuoso Hanna Starosta and Ireland’s ambassador of comedy, Adrian Walsh while the movie was ‘The Social Network’ for which we did not stay long for although we’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In, that’s how far we would go on the social network.
The live show on March 8 featured virtuoso on the dulcimer Pingxin Xu and the Song and Dance Duo ‘Two on Tap’. The movie was ‘Angel’ based on the novel by Elizabeth Taylor. But the big event was the Madam Butterfly Ball at the Queens Room where the accessories were at centre stage. On top of all these, there was also a Tap Dancing Workshop.
The Royal Court Theatre live show on March 9, featured West End star vocalist David Shannon and master guitarist Matthew Fagan while the movie was ‘Eat Pray Love’ starring Julia Roberts. We have not mentioned the Empire Casino yet where they have $2000 Snowball jackpot Bingo, Texas Hold ‘Em no limit cash game and the Three Card Poker Promotion. They have traditional gaming tables and slot machines that are high-tech.
Due to the fact that this is QM2’s maiden call to Osaka on March 10, a show of local performers was featured with a speech by Kunio Miramatsu, Osaka’s mayor and a traditional puppet show. The movie was ‘Secretariat’ and as usual the different venues had a lot of entertainment for the guests in sumptuous clothes that looked easy on the eyes.
There was a classical matinee performance on March 11 that featured pianist Campbell Simpson who has been with QM2 since the start. Multi-instrumentalist Kenny Martyn was featured in the live show while the movie was ‘PS I Love You” starring Hilary Swank. They also had a Wildcard Black Jack Tournament and the $2100 Snowball Jackpot Bingo at the Empire Casino.
On March 12, there was supposed to be a welcome ceremony and dance performance by local performers followed by the traditional Dragon Dance with the Mayor of Nagasaki to welcome us personally, but the earthquake prevented all these from happening. The movie though went on as usual ‘The Open Road’ starring Jeff Bridges, Justin Timberlake and Mary Steenburgen as well as the live show on ‘Jazz, Blues & Rock’n’ Roll’. They also had $5 Fun 21 among other things at the casino.
It was a variety double bill at the Royal Court Theatre on March 13 featuring Australia’s Doctor of Comedy, Scott Williams, and a touch of class from Scotland’s Premier Singing Sensation Kaitlin Carr while at the movies, we enjoyed Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Inception’.
There was no live show on March 14 but ‘Morning Glory’ was showing at the movies. Harrison Ford, Rachel McAdam, and Patrick Wilson were featured in this movie. At the Empire Casino, in addition to the regular events, one instant scratch card could win $1000.00.
In the afternoon of March 15 the presentation at the Royal Court Theatre was ‘Stars in Their Eyes’. Members of the ship company performed as their favourite celebrity singer in order to win your votes and take the coveted prize. The event was organized to raise funds for the World Voyage Charities.
The live show featured ‘4EVER’ (the four distinct voices and one unique sound) while the movie was ‘Taken’ starring Liam Neeson. But the pearl of the evening was the Roaring 20s Ball where we watched romantic pieces like the champagne tulle dress with a red bow dancing the night away. They also had a $2400 Snowball Jackpot Bingo at the Empire Casino.
The show time on March 16 was the Big Band and Beyond where we celebrated the music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and many more with the Royal Court Theatre Orchestra under the direction of Joey Mix while the movie was ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. The Empire Casino was closed, darn it, for we felt so lucky that night!
Scotland’s premier singing sensation Kaitlin Carr was featured on March 17’s live show along with multi-instrumentalist Kenny Martyn and Vocal Group 4Ever. At the movies, ‘Commitments’ was showing. In addition it was St. Patrick’s Party Night at the Queens Room where a green tafetta dress stole the show.
There was music and dancing all over the place on March 18 where the show and tell on clothes did all the work. DJ Nico played the hits at G32 while Russell Holmes and Derek Conlon entertained at the piano at the Golden Lion Pub. At the Illuminations, ‘RED’ (Retired Extremely Dangerous) was showing starring Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman.
The Royal Court Theatre was closed on March 19 and rightly so because people were busy in Hong Kong but there was the movie ‘Date Night’ starring Tina Fey. There were also all kinds of music and dancing at the different venues and at the casino, only the stay-and-play slot machines were open.
The live show on March 20 was Four Hands, One Piano with Worbey & Farrel - Katzenjamer while social hostess Gun started the Black and White Ball at the Queens Room where black-and-white pictures of sleek haute couture were the order of the night. Then as if that was not enough, the movie was ‘Lake View Terrace’ starring Samuel Jackson. They also had complimentary gaming lessons at the Empire Casino.
The fast humour and variety skills of Goronwy Thom was featured at the Royal Court theatre on March 21 while at the movies, ‘Moon‘ was showing. Empire Casino had a $5 Wheel of Madness Blackjack which is just a regular one with an optional side wager to receive up to $2500 just for getting a simple blackjack.
Classical pianist Ray Alston performed at the matinee on March 22 while the live show was The Art Of Steal featuring Bob Arno. The Royal Event at the Queens Room was the ‘Big Band Ball’ where evening dressing became overdressed when the key is to keep things simple but we all enjoyed the special presentation of the internationally acclaimed dance couple on board. The movie was ‘127 Hours.’
There was a local show on Thai Classical Dance at 5 on March 23 and then the live show on Fireworks on Four Strings featured Violinist Chris Watkins and the night was not over yet for we had to catch a peek at the movie ‘Revolutionary Road’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Then we just had to attend the Party Night at the Queens Room where the women were not at all afraid to appear a bit glittery.
Bob Arno was featured again on the art of stealing on March 24, this time at a matinee while the live show at night was a tribute to Motown by the Royal Cunard singers and dancers followed by the lady with the voice. At the movies, ‘The Code’ was showing, starring Antonio Banderas and Morgan Freeman.
On March 25, the live show featured an evening classical concert from the Eos String Quartet while the movie was ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: the Voyage of the Dawn Treader’. As well there was singing and dancing all over the place with duos and solo entertainers providing live music. One would never run out of things to do here.
A variety double bill entertained the guests on March 26 featuring the Fireworks on Four Strings with Chris Watkins and Eve Sherratt, the lady with the voice. Gun hosted the Oriental Ball where it was time to shine in lovely clothes and as if that was not enough, Jennifer Lopez starred in tonight’s movie, ‘The Back-Up Plan’.
Kenny Smiles was featured in the live show on March 27 as well as “The Mad Welshman” Comedy and Songs while the movie was Robinhood starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. In addition to the Poker night at the Empire Casino, they had a Caribbean Stud Poker Promotion.
The live show on March 28 “Viva Italia” was awesome and it featured the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers while the movie was ’The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett which we missed because of the live show.
On March 29, classical pianist Ray Alston had a Chopin recital with an introductory insight into this gentle and harmonious genius at the matinee while the live show was an evening of songs from the shows with Robert Meadmore. ‘Black Swan’ was the movie starring Natalie Portman.
It was the Beatles Celebration at the live show’s ‘From the Cavern to the Rooftops’ on March 30 while the movie was ’Love Happens’ starring Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart and Martin Sheen. There was also a sing along with Derek Conlon and countless other entertainments all over the boat with a parade of interesting clothes from long sleeved mini shifts to all the way down to adorable clean lined print dresses.
Award-winning Paul Dabek was featured in an evening of magic and illusion on March 31 while at the Queens Room there was a live extravaganza that took us through some of the most exciting hand-clapping Beattles Songs. We played dress-up at this event and saw the movie ‘Edge of Darkness’ starring Mel Gibson.
The show time on April 1 at the Royal Court Theatre is a spectacular production show called Apassionata featuring the Royal Cunard singers and dancers. The big event at the Queens Room was the Night of the Raj Ball where the ladies traded their casual outfits for elaborate costumes and party dresses. The movie was ‘Twilight 3 Escape’.
On April 2, Commander Chris Lade presented the Royal Navy - A Snapshot of Current Operations including anti-Piracy in the Indian Ocean. The live show was a double variety bill that featured the award-winning magician Paul Dabek and star west end vocalist Robert Meadmore. The movie was ‘Made in Dagenham’.
Donny Ray Evins with his tribute to Nat King Cole was featured in the live show at the Royal Court Theatre on April 3 while at the movies, ‘The Informant’ was showing starring Matt Damon. There was also a lot of singing and dancing all over the place with adornment on clothes doing all the work. What do we know though. After all, we are not fashion-know-it-all.
April 4 found us enjoying the night at the opera with Opera Interludes and it was Black and White Ball at the Queens Room. This is the last black and white ball, so glad for we were running out of clothes. We never did mind for we could easily glam up the basic pieces. At the movies, ‘The Wrestler’ was showing starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei.
There was a classical matinee performance by Campbell Simpson who entertained us in his unique style for selections of ragtime, boogie and stride on April 5. The evening show featured Jon Courtenay on ‘The Piano, the Comedy, the Show.’ ‘The Next Three Days’ was showing at the movies starring Liam Neeson and Russell Crowe.
The show time on April 6 featured Opera Interludes which is the final performance of Pera Soiree. And it was the Mariners Ball at the Queens Room where beautiful accessories made it easy to brighten up any ensemble while at the movies, ‘Burlesque’ was showing, starring Cher and Christina Aguilera.
There was a double bill on April 7 featuring a tribute to authentic soul with Donny Ray Evins and the Piano, the Comedy. the Show of Jon Courtenay. The movie was ‘Chariots of Fire’ which was more interesting on this its 30th anniversary (not only because it’s an Oscar award winning film including Best Picture but also because the film celebrates the human spirit, making it in the top 10 of all time British film greats). Not only that, for the director, Hugh Hudson was on board and shared insights on directing and producing films.
On April 8, the Royal Cunard Singers were featured in the live show with the combined talents of the Queen Mary 2 musicians comprised with contemporary songs, classic standards and original musical arrangements of such songs by Stephen Sondheim, Neil Sedaka, Dusty Springfield and many more. The movie was ‘The Boys are Back’ starring Clive Owen.
It was the same show at the Royal Court Theatre on April 9, but the movie was ‘Ondine’ starring Colin Farrell. They also had a sing along with Derek Conlon at the Golden Lion Pub. And of course, as always, there was music and dancing all over the place where dressing up was not a problem if you‘ve done your due diligence.
The key is getting a piece that when adding something to it changes everything. One day you add a sleek pair of boots that lace up. Another day dress it up with a jacket. You can also mix it up with an elegant bag or jewellery.
The Voice of an Angel, Philippa Healy, was featured in the live show on April 10, while the movie was ‘The Taking of Pelham 123’ starring Danzel Washington and John Travolta. There was of course a lot of music and dancing galore all around the ship where we saw one who wore a dress that wows, a real knockout.
On April 11, there was a classical matinee performance by the Duo Crusell in a concert called ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ featuring a show from a night of ballet to the frenetic folk dances of Romania. The live show at night was ‘Crazy in Love’ and the movie was ‘The Company Men’. There was also a Big Band Ball at the Queens Room.
On April 12, there was a special presentation on the Clearance Diving - The Royal Navy's Underwater Bomb Disposal Capability and on Bond Girls are Forever by Maryam D'Abo, star of the Living Daylights. The Flamenco Dance Troupe showed their stuff while at the Queens Room, the Egyptian Ball was held where the designs on clothes turned up the heat. The movie was 'The Tempest' starring Helen Mirren.
‘Viva Italia’ was the live show on April 13, a glorious tribute to the sights, sounds and tastes of Italy while the movie was ‘The Invention of Lying’ starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner and Jonah Hill. In addition, there was a classical evening performance on Romantic Miniatures.
April 14 found us enjoying the showtime featured singer, comedian and impressionist Allan Stewart while the movie was ‘Fair Game’ starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. As well there’s music and dancing all over the place where some ladies got noticed in timeless look, even when they’re in their 70s. Of course there were the Empire Casino offerings.
Comedy juggler Pete Matthews was featured in the live show on April 15 along with a repeat performance of the special tribute to Sting. The movie was ‘The Tourist’ starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Karaoke, sequence dancing, ballroom and Latin dancing, Dixieland melodies, name it, they got it including the clothes that go with any event like the verdant shades and cashmere capes we saw.
We enjoyed the Duo Crusell concert entitled ‘We Got Rhythm’ on April 16. Nicola Loud, a virtuoso instrumentalist, was the featured performer in tonight’s live show while the movie was ’My Life So Far’ starring Colin Firth and directed by Hugh Hudson who was on board to introduce the film and he answered questions on it. And it was ABBA Night at the Queens Room. Ah, we don’t want to talk about it, but the clothes said it all for they required no rehearsals.
At 1:30 on April 17, we were encouraged to sing our hearts out in a Groovy Choir while the show time was the spectacular Apassionata. At the Queens Room the Royal Ascot Ball was held after QM2 version of ’Dancing with the Stars’. The movie was ’The King’s Speech’ which we enjoyed very much.
International television and recording artist Stuart Gillies was featured in the live show called ‘From Broadway to B…’ on April 18. The movie was ‘Flying By’ starring Billy Ray Cyrus and Heather Locklear. As usual, there were a lot of offerings in the different venues with bold and vibrant clothes dancing around but for us the true sign of style is understatement. A cop out? Not!
On April 19, Hannah Kuipers, a harpist, was at the Grand Lobby entertaining the guests during the cocktail hour. There was a Welcome Aboard Show presented by Entertainment Director Paul O’Loughlin. This was followed by Nick Lewin: Comedy that Amazes. The movie was ‘Morning Glory’ starring Harrison Ford.
The Royal Cunard singers and dancers paid a glorious tribute to the sounds, sights and taste of Italy again on April 20. The movie was ‘True Grit’ starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. And at the Queens Room, the Big Band Ball was held where we saw ensembles that exquisitely turned to a polished look.
International classical guitarist, Sam Piha presented pieces by Baliardo, Tarrega and Morel during the matinee on April 21 while the live show at night featured ‘The Rat Pack and Company”. It was Black and White Ball at the Queens Room where the black and white sophistication mixed with rock and roll insurgency.
RADA presented ‘Canterbury Tales’ on April 22. It’s on the six pilgrims on their way to Canterbury, regaling themselves with silly but sometimes interesting stories. They had a story telling competition to while away the dreariness of their journey and making the audience to judge the winner.
The matinee on April 23 was an afternoon of classical music with the String Quartet. Musical sensation and multi-instrumentalist, Samantha Jay was featured in the live show along with the Royal Cunard’s Singers and Dancers tribute to Motowm. The movie was ‘Salt’ starring Angelina Jolie.
For the matinee, international classical guitarist Sam Piha entertained us with his performance that included Bernstein, Ibert, Vivaldi and Bizet. The live show on April 24 was the spectacular Apassionata. Afterwards, a Royal Ascot Ball was held at the Queens Room where the clothes work together with the accessories like magic.
The RADA matinee performance on April 25 was on Much Ado About Nothing while the Nick Lewin of the Comedy That Amazes along with instrumentalist Samantha Jay were featured. The movie was ‘The Bounty Hunter’ starring Jennifer Aniston, Gerald Butler and Christine Baranski.
As you can see, Queen Mary 2 has organized quite a mixture of entertainment to cater to the toughest audience. They had puppeteers, illusionists, comedians, and TV shows wannabes. All in all including the bands (where on earth can you find two orchestra bands in one ship?) provided high-class entertainment.
How did we keep up with this schedule? Well, a daily program which is really a mini newspaper arrived at our stateroom every night. It listed all the activities the following day which of course we had to plan how we could cover as much we could. Many times we had to divide to conquer, split that is, to take in as many of the offerings as we could.