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Of Dreams Dashed and Expectations Exceeded

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    Of Dreams Dashed and Expectations Exceeded

    The first week of December 2020 should have seen the Queen Mary 2 hosting, on a westbound crossing of the Atlantic, a very special event: Cunard’s second Literature Festival At Sea comprising such stellar writers and broadcasters as Alexander McCall Smith, Joanne Harris, Ian Rankin and Prue Leith. Unfortunately, due to man’s ongoing disdain for nature allied to questionable oriental practices… Well, I need not elaborate. These times may be a boon for morticians, conspiracy theorists and pizza delivery drivers but as for the rest of us, we tread water until a way out of this morass is found.

    Having had the good fortune to be present at the first Literature Festival At Sea, I thought to publish here some reflections of the voyage in the hope that it may be of interest to ocean-going enthusiasts or, more likely, chronic insomniacs.

    Day 1 - Sunday 10 November 2019

    Tonight the pride of Cunard sails eastbound from New York to Southampton and, to keep passengers entertained over the next seven days, she plays host to the first Literature Festival At Sea: a celebration of the written word comprising lectures, discussions, workshops, theatre and music - and all in the company of world-class talent. I’ve been looking forward to this all year!
    First; however, I have a day to spend in the giant Granny Smith (Gosh! That conjures up all sorts of unintended perverse images!) before this evening’s sailaway and, as the weather is so agreeable - cool, little breeze, partly cloudy and dry - I decide to spend it fulfilling a long-held ambition: to walk across the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge. It’s better crossing into Manhattan from Brooklyn (as almost everyone except yours truly is doing today) so you don’t have to keep stopping to turn round and take photos, but I want to be heading in the direction of my ultimate destination - the Red Hook terminal where the lady Mary is waiting. My 60-minute walk across the iconic landmark is preceded by an exploration of Lower Manhattan taking in many interesting sites such as: the Bowling Green (at the apex of which is Arturo di Modica’s fearsome bronze sculpture, Charging Bull, where pretty girls queue to be photographed stroking the bull’s balls); the historic Federal Hall in Wall Street (where the Continental Congress met in 1765 to draft its Declaration of Rights and Grievances to King George III, for example - No taxation without representation); and, the stark 9/11 memorial pools (where roses are placed “Upon Victims’ Names On Their Birthdates”).
    Now that I’ve crossed the bridge into Brooklyn, how exactly do I get to the ship’s berth? A concierge in a nearby building points out the nearest subway stop, just up the road on High Street. I catch a train to Jay / Metro Tech and, from the nearby Marriott, another concierge hails me a yellow cab - it’s $13 to Red Hook and I give the cabbie a $2 tip.
    Affixed to the chain-link fence by the port entrance is a sign which reads, “October 29, 2012 - On this day Hurricane Sandy brought a storm surge of 5.75 feet to this location as indicated by the red line above.” The line is level with the top of my head!
    The sun starts to set as I watch the burnt orange Staten Island ferries sailing between the Statue of Liberty and Governor’s Island. It’s cold out on deck but the sailaway is picture-perfect with the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, and Lower Manhattan, all lit up.
    Today is Remembrance Sunday and a solemn service is held in the theatre, conducted by the Captain. Sadly, few are in attendance because, I imagine, most have only embarked today and probably weren’t aware of it.
    I relax with a drink and some reading material about the cruise in the Commodore Club where the orchestra leader arrives late for his early evening stint at the piano, apologising profusely - he was in his office drawing up schedules for the musicians, and forgot about his own! He starts his easy-listening set with A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square. The Literature Festival programme lists dozens of events, and speakers include literary luminaries such as Sebastian Faulks and Louis de Bernieres from the UK, and P.J. O’Rourke and Tayari Jones from t’Uther Side of Accrington. I can’t wait.

    Day 2 - Monday 11 November 2019

    The choice of what to eat for breakfast is overwhelming. In the apostrophe-less Kings Court I content myself with: coffee; toast with butter and strawberry compote; Greek yoghurt topped with berry compote, sliced almonds and toasted seeds; and a freshly-made banana, peach and pear smoothie.
    The Royal Court Theatre is packed for the 9.45 lecture by “multimillion-copy best-selling author” Ben McIntyre on The History of the SAS. It’s an enthralling talk about the legendary special forces unit, dreamt up by an oddball convalescing in hospital after his ill-thought-through first parachute jump went wrong, initially populated by a ragtag of fearless psychotics, and championed by Churchill after his hard-drinking, overweight son, Randolph, was allowed to join, what would prove to be, a disastrous adventure in North Africa.
    The barmy and the eccentric, in the villages in and around where he has lived, also proved to be an inspiration to Louis de Bernières in a discussion with other writers about the sense of place in writing. He used to live in Columbia which inspired his Latin American trilogy whilst Victoria Hislop, also on the panel, spends part of each year in her home in Greece.
    There’s a huge queue that seems to stretch twice round the ship and back to Brooklyn patiently waiting in line to sign up for the myriad activities taking place in some of the ship's smaller venues over the next week. I’m not prepared to spend hours waiting in line but will inquire later about what interests me (any of the writing workshops).
    The ship falls silent at 11am to remember the fallen… or should have done. The message hasn’t got through to the staff clattering about in the Carinthia kitchen. I’m on the opposite side of the lounge where everyone is standing, immobile and thoughtful, so I don’t feel it right to walk across and tell the kitchen staff to shut up. In retrospect, I should have.
    The North Atlantic is calm today and it’s wonderful exploring the ship: the beautifully plush, two storey Grand Lobby with its sweeping staircases; the library with its huge collection of books and magazines; the beautiful ballroom with its expansive, wooden dance floor; the immaculately-kept, teak, promenade deck… Everywhere passengers are purposefully striding from venue to venue clutching their festival programmes.
    After lunch, Christopher Bundham plays an elegant classical guitar to a sparse but appreciative audience in the Illuminations theatre where his eclectic concert includes pieces by Albeniz and Toru Takemitsu. In contrast, they’re standing and sitting in the aisles of the (again) packed Royal Court Theatre to listen to political satirist PJ O’Rourke and broadcaster James Naughtie ponder “Another Term for Trump?” O’Rourke’s best line is, “The Democrats believe that nobody can lose to Trump - and the Democrats will find that nobody!” [He was so nearly right!]
    The Carinthia Lounge is packed to the rafters for the show at 7.45, “The Great Singer Songwriters”, given by brother and sister Hal and Lara Cazalet. After the enjoyable and well-received song-fest there’s just enough time to head down to the Royal Court Theatre for the first performance, at 8.45, of tonight’s show, “Appassionata”, featuring the ship’s dance company. How do they remember all the routines?
    A fine, first festival day ends in G32, the nightclub behind the ballroom, where I sit and occasionally dance with a shy, blonde Glaswegian widow who runs a guest house in the beautiful Lake District. Sadly, her husband had been suffering with dementia and died last year at the age of 58.

    Day 3 - Tuesday 12 November 2019

    After a cooked breakfast it’s off to the almost-full Illuminations theatre for Behind The Headlines - a daily morning event looking at today’s papers with journalists from the Times, and other guests. Afterwards I inquire at the help desk about the 2-hour writing workshop on Thursday afternoon hosted by Julia Wheeler, a former BBC foreign correspondent. I’m told there’s no availability. Oh dear. Well, if I wasn’t prepared to queue yesterday…
    At 9.45 in the Royal Court Theatre there’s a talk with Tayari Jones, professor of literature and creative writing at Atlanta’s Emory University whose fourth novel, An American Marriage, was published to great acclaim. Her story of a wrongful rape conviction was an Oprah book selection and won the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction. She tells us she always writes her initial drafts on a typewriter - the clacking of the keys and the bell of the carriage return give her the feeling that she’s actually getting work done. She has ten typewriters at the moment and hopes her eleventh will have arrived by the time she gets back home.
    “Is British Politics Broken?” is the subject for discussion at eleven o’clock in the Royal Court Theatre. Unfortunately I’ll never know the answer because it clashes with today’s dance lesson, teaching the Slow Waltz. There are so many at the lesson the class has to be split up. Well, who wouldn’t want to be able to dance around such a gorgeous ballroom at sea? Unfortunately for me it doesn’t go well as I stub my toes repeatedly against the leaden feet of my class partner. I ask Sasha, the dance teacher, for assistance, but he also fails to encourage even a scintilla of rhythmic perambulation.
    Twelve o’clock becomes one o’clock as the clocks are moved forward one hour making this the first of several 23-hour days for our eastbound crossing. After the noonday navigational announcement there is a curiously disappointing, unengaging conversation with Victoria Hislop talking about her latest novel, Those Who Are Loved. Answers to questions from the audience in the Illuminations theatre are long and rambling, given in a prim, soft-voiced monotone. “The Books That Changed Our Lives”, an hour later in the Royal Court Theatre, is a tad more engaging. For Tayari Jones, it was reading the works of Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winning author Toni Morrison.
    Every day in the Grand Lobby there is a book signing and today it’s the turn of Rachel Johnson, Louis de Bernieres and James Naughtie. A varied and plentiful selection of many of the authors’ works is to be found in the bookshop adjoining the library.
    The final literary discussion of the day centres on “The Best Literary Villains”. The audience is encouraged to think of theirs so, whilst the panel of Sebastian Faulks, Victoria Hislop (naturally, hers is Heathcliff), Damian Barr and Times reviewer Peter Kemp give theirs, I try and remember mine: the anti-hero in Patrick Susskind’s astonishing, world-wide best seller, Perfume. [I have to look it up after the cruise - Jean-Baptiste Grenouille.]
    I join a team of three in the Golden Lion for the afternoon pub quiz but 13 out of 20 is four away from the winning score. China is the only other country in the world besides the US that has alligators? Who knew? Upstairs, I scribble diary notes whilst listening to the Brevis Strings trio in the Carinthia Lounge and enjoying an afternoon tea selection of finger sandwiches (brie and cranberry, and egg and cress), a scone with jam and cream and, of course, lashings of tea.
    There’s an excellent atmosphere at tonight’s 70s and 80s party in the Queens Room (which is so full there isn’t any space for the apostrophe) with house band Solutions where many of the glittering literati strut their stuff. At midnight I move to G32 and sit with the six performers from RADA who are putting on a variety of activities and performances during the week. They tell me they’re going to work with Sebastian Faulks to create a P.G. Wodehouse piece for Friday. I’ll look forward to that.

    Day 4 - Wednesday 13 November 2019

    At the help desk I learn that although there no vacancies at all for any of the workshops, I can turn up early on spec for any that interest me in case of a no-show.
    Rather than going to talks such as “The Anthropology of Fashion” or “Books of the Year” I go up to the library and research the origins of Psmith, and read of their first meeting in Mike and Psmith. Sebastian Faulks’ homage to Wodehouse, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, is on sale in the adjacent bookshop. I’m tempted to buy it but the queues for the book signings are always so long.
    Peter Kemp’s lunchtime talk on “The Ghost’s [sic] High Noon - Victorian Ghost Stories” starting with Le Fanu and ending with M.R. James is (pardon the pun) illuminating. The Chief Fiction Reviewer for the Sunday Times says that the genre’s Victorian heyday was probably due to a number of factors: the rise of magazines (ghost stories lend themselves to the short story format), industrial smog, and candlelight (before the advent of electric light). His recommendations for other writers in this genre include Arthur Conan Doyle.
    The Perfect Liars’ Club proves to be the perfect bore. It’s the kind of entertainment that will always be hit and miss, and this was certainly the latter. I left before the big reveal, not caring which one of the four anecdotes presented by Mark Billingham, Damian Barr, Rachel Johnson and Julia Wheeler was, in fact, not fact.
    Now this is something rather special: at three o’clock in the Illuminations theatre there’s a screening of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, introduced by film critic Jason Solomons who announces, “… and we just happen to have the author with us today.” His conversation with Louis de Bernières gives us many insights into the film adaptation with which he says he was generally happy. Penelope Cruz was chosen as the heroine, Pelagia, because the producers couldn’t find a young, Greek actress capable of toning down the traditional, histrionic style of acting. He didn’t interfere with the script but did manage to persuade them (Warning! Spoiler alert!!) not to kill off Captain Corelli’s friend, Captain Gunther Weber, played by David Morrissey. Everyone stays to watch the movie which I’ve never seen. I tear myself away halfway through to go and listen to the author performing in the Carinthia Lounge (I can catch the second half of the film during one of the repeat screenings on in-house Channel 24).
    “Louis de Bernières: Troubador” is a one-hour misery-fest of his own songs, occasionally lightened by dark humour, and topped and tailed by duets with actress and singer Lara Cazalet. Half an hour after the end of the concert the groupies and hangers-on have all gone, except one. Our esteemed jongleur is sitting alone in the Carinthia Lounge with just his guitar and a drink for company (so, technically, not alone?) and I go over to say hello. He tells me he’s travelling by himself because his girlfriend didn’t fancy a 7-night cruise with journalists and writers whining about Brexit, and he’s missing his two children and three cats. When I talk to him about my young lady and her work at Manchester University he becomes very animated, telling me about his family’s connection to the world of nuclear physics. His great grandfather was Arthur Smithells, a noted chemist who taught at Owens College which eventually became part of Victoria, then Manchester, University. Smithells knew Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics who was working at the university at the same time, but he doesn’t know the extent of any collaboration between the two.
    I count how many desserts are set out for the dinner buffet in the Kings Court. Eleven! They include tarte tatin (sadly devoid of any caramelisation), lemon cheesecake, pudding with sauce… and a chiboust tart. No, me neither.
    The RADA guys now look very confident on the dance floor and the ballroom is a brighter (and younger) place when they’re dancing. They attend the dance lessons on board when they can and I imagine it makes them even more well-rounded performers. After midnight they and the gliterati are to be found boogieing in G32 again. It’s a fun way to end the evening.

    Day 5 - Thursday 14 November 2019

    “A Life Of Crime” in the Royal Court Theatre proves to be a captivating talk about best-selling author Mark Billingham’s career. A former stand-up comedian, he certainly knows how to tell a story and keep his audience hooked. Police contacts provide him with good advice, such as how to break news of a death: sit in the car outside the house for five minutes; don’t break out into hysterical laughter…
    They also provide him with a fund of amazing stories. One example concerns the finding of a man's body impaled on railings. The victim’s backpack is searched and his address details are recovered. A policeman goes round to the address, composes himself then rings the doorbell. A woman answers the door.
    “I think you should sit down...”
    She becomes hysterical. A few minutes later her husband arrives home and she becomes even more hysterical.
    “You won’t believe what a terrible day I’ve had - someone stole my backpack…”
    “Sebastian Faulks In Conversation” at eleven o’clock clashes with today’s dance lesson - the ballroom tango which is tricky to learn on a wobbly floor. It’s another opportunity for me to practise the basics but I regret missing the talk. Perhaps it will be broadcast later on the in-house TV.
    Whilst we sit patiently in the Royal Court Theatre, search parties are out for Louis de Bernières who's gone missing. He hadn’t forgotten to move his watch forward. It’s just that he thought he was speaking at three o’clock rather than two o’clock. His earlier writing was inspired by time spent in Columbia whilst Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was inspired by a trip to Cephalonia rather than his usual campervan trip round France which his girlfriend exasperatedly asked him not to do that particular year.
    There’s a writing workshop at 3.15, “Telling Your Own Story: Uncovering the Stories Within” which I’d like to join. I’m first in the queue, half an hour early, in case of no-shows which I’m told there usually are - and so it proves. There are about twenty of us and we work in small groups during the 2-hour workshop telling of experiences inspired by everyday objects (a lemon, a bag…) that Julia Wheeler hands round. The exercises show that everyone has a story to tell, but we are left to our own devices as to what to do once we’ve found our stories.
    I nibble on a plate of peanuts, walnuts and cranberries taken from the dinner buffet whilst watching the last quarter of the UEFA European Championship qualifying match between England and Montenegro in the Golden Lion. It’s an easy win for England. Afterwards I watch the second half of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin in my cabin.
    At midnight it’s heaving in G32. Victoria Hislop and Mark Billingham are chatting at the bar, Louis de Bernières and Sebastian Faulks are boogieing on the dance floor with the Prime Minister’s sister... Oh, What A Night, indeed! The highlight is a group of gay guys dancing to I’m Gonna Be (500 miles). I join the party. It’s a blast! The whole week has been fantastic and it isn’t finished yet! No sir, not by a long way!

    Day 6 - Friday 15 November 2019

    At 10.30 in the Royal Court Theatre it’s “P.J. O’Rourke In Conversation”. He’s interviewed by Mariella Frostrup who, unfortunately, seems to be under the impression that the event is Mariella Frostrup In Conversation. When the celebrated satirist is allowed to speak, he is amusing and engaging. Commenting on social media he asks, “Whose idea was it to allow all the idiots on the planet to communicate freely with all the other idiots on the planet?”
    The captain, as part of the noonday navigational update, gives a dissertation on sea cucumbers which live four and a half thousand feet down, breathe through their anu ses [Note: I had to split up the 'bottom' word otherwise the website’s software would have *** it out!], regenerate some of their body parts and ingest nutrients via tentacles foraging through the mud. His first officer, Ashley, then gives us the usual positional update as we sail through this, “… seething mass of sea cucumbers.”
    “P.G. Wodehouse: All At Sea” plays to a more-packed-than-I’ve-ever-seen-it-before Royal Court Theatre. James Naughtie (played by James Naughtie) interviews PG Wodehouse (played by Sebastian Faulks) about his life, interspersed with songs and sketches from his works performed by two of his step-great grandchildren, Hal and Lara Cazalet, and also Gina Bellman with the players from RADA, accompanied by Musical Director Jeff Hughes at the piano. It’s a terrific revue with the Captain’s walk-on part receiving the loudest cheer.
    Whilst pondering what to have for a late lunch I get my bottom pinched by one of the dance regulars as I’m gazing at the glazed salmon. I have a small portion with steamed vegetables and oily curly fries followed by tea and apple cake. The latter is marked “low sugar” but I think Cunard’s low sugar is everybody else’s normal sugar. Afterwards I go up to the bookshop to buy a copy of Louis de Berneiere’s most recent work out in paperback - Labels and Other Stories.
    I’m in the Carinthia Lounge having grabbed myself a good seat for the poetry reading event at four o’clock, except it’s in the Illuminations theatre! Louis de Bernières and Victoria Hislop are reading a selection of their work to a small audience - which is more than their pallid attempts at metrical structure deserve. There’s no harmony nor melody; no rhythm nor rhyme nor reason. Each reading is just a sequence of clipped clauses creating neither drama nor emotion. I should have stayed in the lounge. Keeping my thoughts to myself, I ask Louis if he’d sign my copy of his Labels.
    There’s a terrific atmosphere in the ballroom for the Roaring Twenties Ball where the highlight of the wonderful evening is the costume parade around the Queens Room. Many of the passengers, the women particularly, have gone to town with their extravagant hats, boas and flapper dresses.
    After a midnight snack of samosas, dahl and rice I head to G32 but am side-tracked by music coming from the Golden Lion. It’s Karaoke Night and the pub is packed, but I manage to find a seat in one of the leather armchairs by the window, chatting with Tristan from T’ronto who’s joining his girlfriend in Belgium. His two elderly dogs are up in the kennels - it cost him $1000 for each to bring them along. Victoria Hislop joins in the conga, Mark Billingham and Jason Solomons sing Rhinestone Cowboy and all the celebrities join in with classics such as Sweet Home Alabama, Amarillo and Suspicious Minds. Another superb day ends with another superb night!

    Day 7 - Saturday 16 November 2019

    Ben McIntyre’s marvellous 11am lecture, delivered to a standing-room-only, utterly-enthralled audience in the Royal Court Theatre, tells the fantastical tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the KGB colonel and British secret agent who was eventually betrayed by the CIA and Aldrich Ames. MI6 didn’t authorise publication of his book, but neither did they try to prevent it and, indeed, allowed McIntyre to meet with the idealist spy.
    At noon the clocks are moved forward one hour for the last time to align us to UK time. The latter part of the Captain’s midday update is actually given by comedian Mike Doyle with even the first officer chuckling as he tries to gives the subsequent positional update. It seems this special cruise has been remarkably successful with everyone in high spirits.
    I’m too late to watch the auctioning of the navigational map in the lobby (apparently it sold for $1000 which goes to a worthy cause - The Prince’s Trust) but in good time to hear the guests’ choir perform several sea-related hymns and songs to an appreciative audience in and around the Grand Lobby.
    Literary heroines is the subject of the 2pm event in the Royal Court Theatre where Rachel Johnson, Gina Bellman, Ella Berthoud, Mariella Frostrup and Julia Wheeler discuss theirs. I’m not persuaded by the reading from Nora Ephron’s Heartburn and her panegyric on mashed potatoes. A potato ricer? Heavy cream? Melted butter? No! No!! No!!! That’s all wrong. Just add a splash of full-cream milk (or 96% fat-free milk, as I prefer to call it), a little English mustard and a sprinkling of thinly-chopped chives, and then simply mash with a fork. The classical concert given afterwards by Christopher Bundham is disappointing: etudes should be left to etudiants practising en privé, methinks.
    Many are in attendance for one of the highlights of a Cunard cruise - the afternoon tea dance where white-gloved waiters serve finger sandwiches, cakes and pastries with tea and coffee whilst dancers (including your correspondent) sashay around the dance floor to the music of the live orchestra.
    There’s more music up in the Carinthia Lounge which is packed for “Lounge Lizards”, the final musical performance from the Cazalet siblings. For the finale, the audience is divided into three for a musical round: one group sings When The Saints Go Marching In, another sings Swing Low Sweet Chariot and the rest sings She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain. With minimal rehearsal and maximal concentration it works splendidly.
    Tonight’s show in the Royal Court Theatre features Philippa Healey who has a fine voice, and Mike Doyle who also has a fine voice. The latter tells us he’s in a happy mood because he’s just been paid. If he’s paid by the joke there couldn’t have been much in his pay packet - he’s a master of the interminable, unfunny, shaggy dog story. I think he should stick to singing.
    In need of a cup of tea and a biscuit (a drink really is too wet without one) I stumble on the gliterati in the Carinthia Lounge at a private function.
    “They’re probably telling each other how wonderful they are,” I overhear one woman telling another.
    I manage to get my suitcase and garment bag out by midnight and reward myself with a final midnight snack - sweet and sour fish, vegetable noodles and vegetable spring rolls followed by coffee and cheesecake. As I scribble my diary notes a large group of Russians floods into the Kings Court from I-know-not-where (apart from Russia - obviously).
    Is everybody tucked up in bed now? Not a bit of it. The gliterati are partying hard down in G32 where it’s almost a private party so I keep my distance. They have provided an unforgettable week and I for one can’t wait for the next Literary Festival At Sea. It’s been beyond wonderful - and I’ve only managed to attend a fraction of the many events on board!
    Last edited by JakTar, Lytham; 16th December 2020, 03:56 PM.

    A fascinating account of a wonderful (and so far) unique holiday.

    Many thanks for taking the time to let us wander across the Atlantic with you.




      It sounds like you had a wonderful time. We adore Mike Doyle by the way, very funny and a fabulous singer.

      Take care and stay well. Helen😃


        As one who loves books, it does sound wonderful but interesting replies to the same review on CC would indicate not all passengers appreciated the literary takeover of the ship. If what the responder says is accurate, if I had been a non literary passenger, I wouldn't have been a happy camper.


        • JakTar, Lytham
          JakTar, Lytham commented
          Editing a comment
          Hello Mrs M,
          Because what the responder said was mostly inaccurate, I posted the following reply -
          I agree with your comment about the Planetarium. (Having cruised previously with Cunard I hadn't noticed it was closed that week.) Cunard definitely should have found time during at least one of the days to allow passengers to enjoy an amazing voyage through the solar system.
          I disagree with your other comments though:
          1) Re. "no alternative entertainment"
          Outside of the Planetarium being closed, all the traditional day and night activities of a Transatlantic voyage (arts and crafts, dance classes, quizzes, shows, lectures, talks, music, theatre, films, bridge and whist, quizzes, solos events, etc.) were on as usual.
          2) Re. "it had not been announced as a Literature Festival at Sea crossing"
          The event (imagine how long it must take to plan) was heavily advertised in the press and on Cunard's website more than 12 months in advance. As I stated at the beginning, I'd been looking forward to the event all year.
          3) Re. "many talks or programmes were not available unless you had signed up"
          Signing up was only required (and only available on board) for literary events held in small rooms such as Connexions. There was no pre-booking for all the traditional activities of a Transatlantic voyage. Similarly, there was no pre-booking for any of the events in the Royal Court and Illuminations theatres (literary or otherwise).

        Originally posted by Mrs M View Post
        As one who loves books, it does sound wonderful but interesting replies to the same review on CC would indicate not all passengers appreciated the literary takeover of the ship. If what the responder says is accurate, if I had been a non literary passenger, I wouldn't have been a happy camper.
        I hadn’t thought of it that way Mrs M. Admittedly I enjoy reading, but I also enjoy other activities so this cruise might not have appealed to me in the long run.

        Take care and stay well. Helen 🙄


          Not being familiar with the comments, rather than posts, I’m replying to Jack Tar, here.

          Thanks for clarifying and for the record, I would LOVE to have been on that cruise. It sounds my idea of heaven.

          However, having been on a ship over twenty years ago, which unknown to us had taken a very large block ( a couple of hundred people which seemed like a thousand) booking from a very noisy group of people, I can understand the annoyance from anyone who had booked the trip before the theme had been announced.
          Book after the theme was announced and so in full knowledge, caveat emptor. Before hand, I have some sympathy.


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