Saturday, April 7, 2012

Reading in the library of MS Queen Victoria

My bloggy friends who have been reading my blog for a while know that I love ships. I wrote three posts on this in 2010 starting with Recollection: the Sea and me (part 1) which you can read here then part 2 here and part 3 here. This really started when I went to Turkey with my mother when I was 6 years old. We traveled on a ship from Marseille to Istanbul. The voyage took about 10 days because we had to stop in Greece for ship repairs and also because there were torpedoes leftover from World War 2 floating in that area of the Mediterranean Sea – some ships had been hit and had sunk already. I do not remember the name of our ship but I would think that it must have looked like the one below – such as the ship Providence in Marseille pictured in 1946, and a standard cabin.

This was certainly not a cruise ship. Later when going to England from France I would always take the ferry across the Channel rather than fly – I was in a ship, it took longer and it was cheaper. As my three previous posts show I was often near or in a ship. I came to the USA in a German ship, the T/S Hanseatic of the Hamburg Atlantic Line – shown below on a postcard.

Years went by before I boarded a ship again. We visited my daughter in Long Beach one year. She invited us for a New Year brunch on the RMS Queen Mary which has been moored in the port of Long Beach since 1967. This was the highlight of our time in Long Beach for me as this is a beautiful and historic ship – in 1936, on its Maiden Voyage, it was considered one of the grandest ships ever. The brunch included a small tour of some of the areas on the ship which is now a museum – below is a bunk bed in a standard stateroom (pictured behind a glass window.) QM2 is now a hotel with 314 renovated staterooms, but we did not see them.

Another year when we visited Céline in Long Beach, she invited us on the Queen Mary a second time, this time for a Father’s Day lunch. It was a sunny day and I was under that ship’s spell once more.

Click on collage to enlarge, then click on each picture to see better

This revived my longing for taking a voyage on a ship again. When I retired in January 2008 I told my husband that I would really enjoy going on a small cruise. He was not very enthusiastic, but I persisted and found a cruise going to Mexico from Long Beach on the Princess Cruise Line. We had a great time and my husband agreed that he had truly enjoyed this trip. Encouraged, I kept reading all the travel sites on the web to find good cruise deals - and there are many. I found a great 10-day cruise to the Caribbean which was on sale because it left Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the week-end of Thanksgiving 2008. This was on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. It is truly an elegant ship. Below is my husband in front of Queen Mary2 (QM2) in Grenada, the QM2 in the port of St. Kitts and the great QM2 library.

The library on the QM2 is located in the bow of the ship (the front.) I did not have a blog then so I did not take many pictures but you can see, in front of where my husband is seating, on the right in the collage above, that he is facing some large windows. We would sit there and watch the sea and the limitless horizon. We spent many hours in that library. So far we have been on nine cruises. In December 2010 I received an email offer from Cunard for a two-for-one fare for a 14-day cruise to Hawaii from Long Beach on the MS Queen Victoria (QV.) The offer lasted only a few hours but we were able to buy the tickets in time. We left Long Beach in January 2011 and were on the open sea for eight full days. The ship is named for Queen Victoria, the United Kingdom monarch (1819-1901.) Below is MS Queen Victoria, a painting of the ship I photographed on board and Queen Victoria painted by Franz Xavier Hinterhalter (German, 1805-1873.)

The library on the QV is the most beautiful I have ever seen on a ship. It is not just a room filled with books, but a real library. It is two-deck high, trimmed with mahogany and contains a nice selection of more than 6,000 books, periodicals and newspapers. A graceful curved staircase leads from Deck 2 to Deck 3.

The ceiling is luminous as it contains stained glass panels which are lighted and wood-framed.

There are two full-time librarians (one on each level) to help select and find books among the many rows of bookcases full of various books in different languages. Comfortable arm chairs placed in front of large windows or near light fixtures invite guests to sit down and read for a while.

I was intrigued by the library carpet. It is dark green and “autographed” with famous writers’ signatures.

I recognized the signatures of D. H. Lawrence, Robert Browning, Edgar A. Poe and John Keats.

The authors’ signatures were also displayed on the wall with the dates of their birth and death.

The books could be checked out – three books at a time I believe. I was pleased to find on the lower level a large bookcase with a good selection of books written in French such as the one shown on the table below – “Les Biens de ce Monde” by Irène Némirovsky.

If we did not feel like reading in the library or in our stateroom it was easy to find a deck chair as there were very few, if any, people on this deck. Of all the cruises we took only the Cunard ships had deck chairs on the open deck. I don’t think there is anything better than reading an exciting story and looking up, seeing the open sea.

Early on the cruise I found paperback books in French on the second level of the QV library. The French books were at the top of the shelf. I asked the librarian if they had a small stool or ladder to reach that shelf – “no, madam” he replied. I would have asked my husband for help but he was on the lower level happily reading a newspaper.

So I went back to the bookshelf. It was hard to catch a book and I took the first one I could reach. It was called “La Femme de Chambre du Titanic” (the Titanic chamber maid) by Didier Decoin. I had not read this book so I checked it out. It was a fiction tale happening around the real story of the Titanic.

I read this book quickly then I wondered if I could find some non-fiction books on the Titanic in the library. There were quite a few. Below on the table in front of my husband you can see a large book I found on this subject.

There really were many books on the story of RMS Titanic. I was surprised until I found out that the White Star Line which had ordered the building of the Olympic, Titanic and Britannic had merged with its competitor Cunard in 1934. After the Great Depression both Cunard and White Star were in financial difficulties. The British Government agreed to help them financially on the condition that they merge into one company. This is the way that Cunard White Star Limited was created. It explained why I had seen a model of the Olympic (sister of the Titanic) in a glass case near the dining room and a picture on the wall of the QV.

So now the RMS Titanic history belongs to Cunard, too. I knew about the sinking of the Titanic (who doesn’t ?) but was not sure about all the details. I gathered a large assortment of books on the Titanic and checked them out, three at a time. During the crossing from Los Angeles to Hawaii I was always with a book on the Titanic, whether on deck, in the library or somewhere else. Below are some of the books I read.

While on the MS Victoria I found myself fascinated by the story of RMS Titanic. I read many books, but I’ll tell you about them next week. Below is a painting by Michel Guyot, French contemporary painter, showing the Titanic at Cherbourg, France, with the tender Nomadic bringing passengers out to the ship. (Photo courtesy Michel Guyot.)


Anonymous said...

Now there is a job I would never have guess existed-librarian for a cruise ship library! I want that job!! I have not yet been able to convince my husband to try a cruise. To him it is just not a trip unless he is driving long distances in a car nearly every day.

DJan said...

I read "A Night to Remember" many years ago that began my love affair with the Titanic story. And then of course the movie... I am sure you must know volumes about the tragedy of the Titanic. I hope you will share your knowledge with me! :-)

Sally Wessely said...

I am just amazed at the library on the ship. What a treat! I have always been fascinated by the Titanic. I can imagine how you must have enjoyed finding all those books. Did you ever get just a little worried by filling your head with such stories while on a ship?

This is Belgium said...

i am just passing by to wish you a happy Easter !

FilipBlog said...

These libraries and cruise ships look very impressive.


Fennie said...

Most interesting and informative, Vagabonde. I never imagined that cruise ships would carry so many books!

With all the interest around the Titanic anniversary I have written a short fictional story based on the premise that the Titanic didn't sink but was saved. Haven't yet found anyone to take it though so it may just appear on a blog or in some writing competition.

Kay Dennison said...

Happy Easter and thank you!!!

What a glorious post!!! The Titanic's lore has always fascinated me!!!!

Sheila said...

Great post as per usual!
I crossed the Atlantic on the Cunard ship Carinthia in November 1966. It was a rough crossing but I really enjoyed it, apart from the fact that I was leaving my beloved country.
Carinthia later became a cruise ship and was finally scrapped about 6 or 7 years ago.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Well, this was fantastic, my dear. I've never taken a cruise and had no idea that some ships--maybe all of them, have Library's....And that one on The Victoria is truly magnigicent! Such a great opportunity to read very unteresting books while being on the Sea....Amazing! Your pictures are just wonderful, my dear.

Jenny Woolf said...

Love the idea of a ship with a proper library. That would encourage me to choose it. Glad you got your tickets in time...
I went on two long sea voyages as a child and I will always remember how much I loved them. Unfortunately I now get very seasick. Perhaps I did then, but I have forgotten, if so. And also I guess I got my sea legs because the voyages lasted several weeks.
Have a wonderful Easter Day!

Lonicera said...

Reading good books in a quiet, comfortable place by a window with a view... sheer bliss. I agree though with one of the comments above - if I was on a ship I would avoid reading about the Titanic!

The Broad said...

That is an incredible and very beautiful library! What a fantastic job those two librarians have!

Arti said...

I've always wondered what's in a cruise ship library. I can't imagine they put so many books about the Titanic in there... and just curious do they even show that movie? But of course, your post as always, is so informative, and quite answered my query (except the movie). I can't wait to read more of your voyages.

Anonymous said...

*** Coucou Vagabonde ! Merci pour cette jolie publication et bon lundi de Pâques ! BISOUS ! ***

Ginnie said...

I LOVE cruise ships, Vagabonde, and share the excitement of them with you. I have been on some BIG ships, through Royal Caribbean, but have also been on the much smaller Hurtigruten line, like you. We will go even smaller next March when we take a 2-for-1 river cruise, through Viking, for 14 days from Amsterdam to Budapest. We are so excited we can hardly stand it.

Years ago, when we lived in Pasadena, we spent a few hours on the QM in LA when my sister Susan visited us. We didn't stop to eat lunch there, however, which would have been fun. The library you showed in QM2 looks out of this world. I never knew such a thing existed.

Kenza said...

Je te souhaite un joyeux lundi de Pâques Vagabonde!
Et merci pour ce délicieux billet, je ne me lasse jamais de tes si beaux récits, si joliment illustrés...

bayou said...

Ca alors! I so enjoyed reading and admiring this blog and its pictures. Our first idea of how to celebrate our wedding was to go on to the QM (the museum ship) and spend some nice days. Eventually, we went to Scotland. Our best friend is a cruise-lover and we agreed that once we will join him on such an adventurous trip. I can smell that mahogany library, you know? I understand why you chose all the books about the Titanic, it seems appropriate on such a ship to do so. Thank you so much for all those lovely pictures and details and happy belated birthday , gros bisous, bayou.

sonia a. mascaro said...

Wow! What a wonderful post!
I've never taken a cruise and it sounds really great.
The library is very beautiful too!

Love your blog, so many interestings things to read and great photos too!

Anonymous said...

I am forever sharing to the WORLD what a great treat you are!

Elaine said...

What a beautiful library! We've only been on one cruise many years ago, and I don't remember a library on it, but it really seems a natural for a cruise ship to have a library. Fun that the only French book you could reach sent you on a quest for all the Titanic books. We visited the Titanic Museum in Branson Missouri. They have some wonderful displays. If you ever get that way you might want to check it out. By the way, I did notice the Fairbanks postcard in your last post. I think I would have been able to pick it out even without the name on it.

Anonymous said...

*** Petit passage chez toi pour te saluer et t'envoyer des GROS BISOUS VAGABONDE !!!!!! ***

claude said...

Bonjour Vagabonde.
Je m'aperçois que j'ai loupé ton anniversaire alors que je l'avais noté sur mon agenda special blog. Je suis nulle.
Tu as bien de la chance de pouvoir faire des croisières. J'en n'aurais bien fait une petit en Méditerranée mais mon Chéri n'est pas fan du tout. Et puis quand on voit se qui s'est passé près de la côte de la Toscane. Naufrage encore plus stupide que celui du Titanic (Croisières Costa, le plus grand et plus beau paquebot de cette compagnie, le Concordia).
La première fois que j'ai vu un naufrage sur écran c'était dans le film "Panique à Bord" avec Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone.
Puis un jour j'ai vu le premier film en NB sur le naufrage du Titanic et depuis je m'intéresse à cette histoire (on en entend beaucoup parler en ce moment à cause du centenaire de ce naufrage). J'ai lu un livre "Renflouez le Titanic". Tu penses bien que j'ai vu le film de James Cameron. Il semblerait que ce naufrage soit la faute du capitaine en second qui était à la manoeuvre et qui n'aurait pas fait la bonne afin d'éviter l'iceberg.
Presque 1500 morts c'est d'une grande tristesse, d'autant que la plupart partait vivre une autre vie dans le nouveau monde.
Je crois t'avoir déjà dit que nous avons vu le Queen Mary II dans le port de Fort de France. Une ville flottante.
Julia et Larry font des croisières aussi : Alaska (brrrrr !) Hawaï et les Antilles.
Tiens ! En parlant de croisière on va en faire une avec eux au mois de juin, sur la Sarthe !!!

livininlb said...

I just ran across the pictures of us on the Queen Mary as I've been unpacking. Great memories. I love how you two explore and utilize the whole ship.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, that library! I might have a hard time ever leaving!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

What bad PR to have a book on the sinking of the Titanic on a cruise ship. That is like a having a magazine on an airline with pictures of 9/11. Certainly not conducive to a stress-free trip. May I suggest some lighter reading.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I took the picture of the Bluebird in my yard about a month ago. He and his mate have made a home in the bluebird house my hubby put up. They were my first bluebird sighting and it is really cool. They look like robbins, but are, of course, blue.

Pondside said...

The library on a cruise ship is one of my favourite places. Early in the morning or in late afternoon I love to take my book and settle into a comfy leather chair for a long, indulgent read. What a library that is in your photos!

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