The Crossing, Day Six

The final day of our crossing and there is good news: We have coveted a tour of the bridge and, thanks to the celebrity of the friends we are traveling with, all four of us have received an invitationBlack Tie invitation—but, mum’s the word.

This is not an easy ticket and, if words gets out (as it did with the steak tartare), were cooked, most likely by the volcanic glare of some senior officer glareif not from the captain himself.

We are met outside the bridge by the cheery captain’s secretary.  She escorts us onto the bridge and directs us to the port-side station where a young man is waiting.  This is the third officer, aboard the QM2 for only three months and straight from college.  He is all of 23 years old.  Those lithe and youthful hands at the helm of the largest ocean liner in the world—at least for the purposes of our tour (This fact later gives me pause when, in the middle of the night, we are awakened by some alarm.  Is it an emergency?  Macro Ed in a semi-sunk boatShould I don my life-jacket and proceed to my station or merely pass it off as a drill as so many did aboard the Titanic, later coming to regret?  Picturing the handsome face of the impish third officer, I fall back to sleep…).

The bridge is immense and library quiet, with wings on each side affording full port and starboard views the length of the ship.  There are windows on the floor at each side allowing a long look down (13 stories) the hull of the ship to the sea.

There are systems and redundant systems, alarms (yes, I know) and back up alarms, electronic navigation and paper charts—just in case.  The captain saunters by and leans across the console to explain the toggles and dials.  He answers questions, offers wit, raises his bushy eyebrows and chuckles at a comment here and there, as only the British can do so charmingly.

He is proud of this liner, proud to be commanding her, and he has every right to be, for the Queen Mary 2 is the pride of Cunard, if not the entire sea.  Everyone deserves a crossing, at least once, if for no other reason to understand a pace of time that seems to be disappearing: to enjoy time moment by moment.  The endpoint is not THE point.  It is in the passage of time that our lives are found, not in the punctuation mark at the end. 

Maybe trite but, none-the-less, true.