Queen Victoria is a community of about 3000 people, about 2000 passengers and 1000 crew. About the same size as my village of Blackheath.
Here the ethic mix is far more diverse than Blackheath, passengers about 700 from the US, 400 or so from the UK, 200 or so from Australia and fewer from Canada, Germany, and many other countries.
The commodore comes from New Zealand, the second in command from Yorkshire, many of the senior catering staff from India, stewards from the Philippines, Central and South America and Eastern Europe.
After 3 weeks I recognise some people as I walk around the ship. As in any community I recognise those who frequent the same coffee area, bar and deck. I also become familar with those who work in these areas as I do in Blackheath.
Both passengers and crew are chatty and I have had some fascinating glimpses into different lives.
The Dutch woman in the sauna said when her husband wished to moved from the Caribbean back to Holland she agreed as long as they had a world cruise each year to escape the European winter.
My dinner companions met on a cruise some years ago and now go on cruises together but separately, but do not meet in the UK between cruises. Both come from long marriages but their spouses have died. Patrick turned 90 as we crossed the Tasman Sea and Rose is more my age.
The couple from Lubeck have children and grandchildren in both New Zealand and Germany so spend alternate Christmases in each country. They travel between by Cunard or relocation ships rather than fly if they can.
Helen and Charles were head teachers in South Africa but encouraged their children to live out of South Africa where their status and opportunity wasn’t determined by their colour. Helen and Charles now live in New Zealand where they have a daughter. They saved for 3 years for this trip from Auckland to Los Angles and then on to Vancouver.
Sandra from Iowa, a very smart dresser in her early sixties, said she goes on cruises as she feels safe as she travels alone. She went on to say how it was not safe to go out alone in Italy and changed her next cruise so as to avoid Denmark after the recent terrorist attack.
Betsy from Atlanta goes on cruises so she can dance. I sat next to her at lunch and she gave me a set of tips on what I must do to increase my chances of being asked to dance. This was generous as the more ladies decreases her chances of dancing.
Helen went to Canada from the UK as a ‘£10 pom’. We were talking about 3 year olds being the same everywhere when she said her Mother had not liked boys and suggested that Helen’s son should be sent to boarding school. He wasn’t. She then went on to tell me how he was diagnosed with leukaemia at age 10 and died at 20. The social worker told her his death would cause the end of her marriage. She was travelling with her husband of 52 years. She has little time for social workers.
On Easter Sunday an extremely elegant woman from Montreal joined me for coffee. She spoke English with a distinctive Quebec accent and said she spent her winters in Florida where 60% of those in her condominium in Florida were from Quebec and they spoke French which caused some comment from the locals.
She then asked me about Muslims in Australia as she had seen a report of the Reclaim March in Sydney. She was very fearful of Muslims, cited all the same fears of introduction of Sharia law, not learning or speaking English, asking for separate lunch rooms in schools, wearing burkas etc. It could have been a conversation as with any who attended the Reclaim march and she had little real information, and a great deal of fear.
I was welcomed into a trivia group by 4 Australians from Brisbane. Laurie and Robyn are sisters who were with Laurie’s husband Alan and their aunt Maidra an elegant 91 year old with an amazing wardrobe.
Some names have been changed.