瑪麗皇后 II 號 （上）／李明熙
一直認為郵輪不是我們杯茶，主要因為每站的上岸時間太少，太走馬看花，未看清楚就要離開。唯獨有兩條航線，我們覺得非坐郵輪不可，一條是阿拉斯加線 —— 海洋生物及冰川，在船上看得比岸上多；另一條是歷史悠久的橫渡大西洋線，沒有岸上觀光，單純地把郵輪當作交通工具，每一刻都在享受郵輪的奢華。
我們坐 Cunard 的 Queen Mary 2 由紐約出發，在大西洋航行 8 日 7 夜到英國修咸頓，對背包客的我們來說，Dress Code 是一項挑戰。7 晚中有 3 晚是正裝晚宴，即是要穿「踢死兔」打煲呔，其餘 4 晚雖不用打呔，但亦要穿西裝出席。Queen Mary 2 對晚宴的 Dress Code 特別嚴謹，晚上 6 時後在船上任何地方都不能穿短褲踢拖，客人都非常享受這個傳統規則，每晚打扮得花枝招展地穿梭飯局和舞池。
為了隆重其事，我特別在香港訂造了兩套禮服，Kim 亦在美國準備了 7 條晚裝長裙，單單這些晚宴用的衣服已塞滿了一個手提行李，所以我們在抵達修咸頓後，便把它們全部寄回家。郵輪上有 White Star Service，可以把行李寄存或速遞至世界各地，為回程的客人及長途旅者省卻麻煩。
Fancy a cup of tea？Queen Mary 2 上另一個傳統是 3 點半的下午茶時間。Queen’s Room 的英式下午茶有現場古典音樂伴奏，侍應托著不同的糕點走來，看到喜愛的就向侍應微笑點頭，我最愛 Scone 鬆餅配上一杯紅茶的組合。傳統英式下午茶沒有咖啡，想喝咖啡的，可以到 Sir Samuel’s 點 Godiva Tea Set，雖要額外收費，但 10 多美元有一件蛋糕加一份 Scone，兩粒朱古力及一杯 illy 咖啡，絕對超值。
Same New York, Different View／Kimberlogic
This time visiting New York City turned out to be much different than any other trips we have had to the city. We stayed with friends in Astoria, Queens instead of a hotel in busy, touristy midtown Manhattan. Astoria is still close to everything, just a quick subway ride away, but the feeling of staying in a little neighbourhood changed the way we look at this enormous metropolis.
We woke up early each morning before our hosts and were able to walk a few blocks to a classic New York City diner. During the days we ventured into Manhattan, but returned in the evening for dinner back in our friendly neighbourhood. Since we had already seen all of the tourist sites over years, we decided to take it easy and live like a local New York City resident.
We hit up Chinatown for a Dim Sum lunch at Nom Wah Tea Parlor since it had been a few weeks since we left Hong Kong. The restaurant is one of the oldest in Chinatown and one of the best Dim Sum places in the USA. Ming Hay said from the looks of the place, it wasn’t always a Dim Sum spot, but probably a bakery. Thankfully for the internet, we looked up his prediction and found out that he was correct; it started as a bakery back in the 1920’s. The rest of Chinatown reminded me of Hong Kong as well since there is such a big Canton population. The only major difference is that the streets are wider and Kam Wo Tea comes in singly sealed plastic packages instead of cubes wrapped in paper.
On our last day in New York, we had a short walk through Brooklyn on our way to the cruise terminal where the Queen Mary 2 was waiting for us to board. If the name of the ship was not written high up on the side, I would have assumed I was just looking at another building in Brooklyn. Queen Mary 2’s massive size is just astounding, she makes all of the other vessels look like small fishing boats.
We were able to board the ship after just a few short minutes of checking in and we found our bags were already waiting for us in our room. Upon entering our room, we were taken back by the luxury of the ship and the fact that we were actually on board the QM2 (the complimentary bottle of champagne chilling on our coffee table was a nice touch too!).
We poured glasses of champagne and headed up to the disembark party happening on the promenade that circles the entire ship. We were very lucky to have a warm, bright sunny day, so we could see the entire New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty as we calmly sailed out of the harbour. It was an amazing feeling sailing away from the United States, I have only left this country on a plane before this trip. I kept thinking how incredible it must have been for my ancestors when they sailed into this harbour from Europe and saw the Statue of Liberty greeting them to this new, exciting and terrifying land of opportunity.