Sunday, November 12, 2023
HomeCruiseQUEEN MARY 2’s “LITERATURE FESTIVAL AT SEA” ~A Blockbuster for Guide Lovers!...

QUEEN MARY 2’s “LITERATURE FESTIVAL AT SEA” ~A Blockbuster for Guide Lovers! – All Issues Cruise

At Queen Mary 2’s Royal Courtroom Theater, three of my favourite crime fiction novelists–Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham and Mick Herron—are on stage debating the very best TV sleuths. “With out query, it’s Columbo. We are able to all go residence now,” declares Billingham, the stand-up comic-cum-author whose standard Thomas Thorne novels have bought thousands and thousands of copies worldwide. However not so quick: Ian RankinSir Ian Rankin, truly—who, in 1987 created the legendary Inspector John Rebus, counters with Jane Tennison, the hard-drinking detective that Helen Mirren delivered to life in Prime Suspect, whereas Lifeless Lions writer and Crime Author’s Affiliation Gold Dagger Award Winner Mick Herron prefers the dry wit and sharp thoughts of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. No clear winner emerges, however I’m captivated by these masters of crime fiction defending their decisions, stating nuances in every character’s habits that had, till now, escaped me.

This session, “Watching the Detectives,” is my introduction to Queen Mary 2’s Literature Pageant at Sea, an ocean-going celebration of literature, historical past, movie and present occasions organized by The Instances and The Sunday Instances Cheltenham Literature Pageant in partnership with Cunard.


It takes loads to persuade me—a small ship fan—to board a large ocean liner just like the 151,400 grt Queen Mary 2 for a six-night Atlantic crossing in December when tough seas are possible, however the spectacular line-up of novelists, poets, journalists and classicists that may be collaborating within the Literature Pageant at Sea was irresistible.

Dorie and I board Queen Mary 2 at Brooklyn’s Passenger Ship terminal on a wet afternoon and discover ourselves ensconced in a festive wonderland. Christmas lights illuminate every thing in view; garland and ribbon drape wondrously from each rail and banister and picket troopers stand guard in spacious carpeted hallways. Within the majestic Grand Foyer, a tree heavy with colourful ornaments soars up by means of the atrium whereas wreaths and bows adorn…properly…every thing. I’d been so excited in regards to the Literature Pageant at Sea that I had all however forgotten that Christmas is simply across the nook!

Queen Mary 2 isn’t recent from the shipyard. Launched in 2004, the ship was designed particularly as an ocean liner (versus cruise ship) to offer transatlantic service between New York and Southampton, England. As such, she has some distinctive traits, like two indoor swimming pools to dive into throughout inclement climate (together with two out of doors ones) and a partially-sheltered wrap-around promenade deck that permits company to get their “steps” in whereas avoiding the robust Atlantic winds.

Our obstructed-view cabin’s inside is gorgeous and spacious however its balcony is nearly fully enclosed, a die-cut opening in its metal partitions offering the view as we sail throughout the Pond. And, like ocean liners in days of yore, foremost eating is set by every visitor’s cabin class, with these within the loftiest suites assigned to the chi-chi Queens or Princess Grill whereas the remainder—85%–are assigned to the still-lovely-though-less-intimate Britannia Restaurant. Excluding The Verandah Steakhouse ($45 surcharge), or the Asian Bamboo ($25 surcharge), The King’s Courtroom Night Buffet and Pizza and Pasta at The Chef’s Galley are the one various eating experiences.

Nonetheless, followers of even the glitziest newbuilds might be dazzled by Queen Mary 2’s extravagant public areas (together with the grand and elaborate Queens Room—maybe probably the most spectacular ballroom at sea) and overjoyed together with her spaciousness–this 150,000 grt ship’s capability is 2,600, 1000’s lower than ships of a comparable dimension. They’ll be much less dazzled, nonetheless, by the spotty on board wi-fi service.


Queen Mary 2’s Literature Pageant at Sea crossing, we quickly uncover, isn’t a full-ship constitution. The theme, it appears, has attracted about half of the company on board whereas our remaining shipmates had been unaware of the literary focus and booked the crusing merely as a vacation or a option to make their option to London with out jetlag or the chaos that at this time’s air journey is fraught with.

They’ll be taught.

In reality, all they want do is browse the helpful, full-color 35-page Pageant Information they’ll discover on the desk of their cabin to find an in depth checklist of the literary specialists who will enlighten us throughout this voyage and the conversations, readings, discussions, workshops, political and each day information evaluation, guide signings and extra that everybody—whether or not they’ve booked the crossing for the Pageant or not—is welcome to take part in.

There are even movie screenings, just like the 2016 movie Me Earlier than You starring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke, launched by JoJo Moyes, writer of the guide that impressed it, The Instances Crossword Puzzle recommendation, chess classes (due to writer Charles Cumming’s experience on the recreation), style and sweetness recommendation from The Sunday Instances Fashion Editor Laura Atkinson and, in a nod to the season, nightly “Festive Delights,” like Ian Rankin’s supply of John Julius Cooper’s hilarious parody of The Twelve Days of Christmas or a collection of vacation readings from Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.

Whereas big-name authors might have been what lured me to Queen Mary 2’s Literature Pageant at Sea, it’s these periods that zero in on literature’s reflection of at this time’s society that the majority captivate me, periods like “My Literary Heroines” with The Sunday Instances Literary Editor Robbie Millen and guide world greats Lionel Shriver, Alex Clark and JoJo Moyes. This spirited dialogue celebrates feminine characters, just like the relatable Bridget Jones together with her weight points, booze and cigarettes and The Lady with the Dragon Tattoo’s vengeful and offended Lisbeth Salander, who defy the stereotypes of what girls are speculated to be.  Damien Barr, Julia Wheeler and Okechukwu Nzelu give gender identification an analogous remedy with “Queer Tales” and even meals in literature is underneath the highlight when Rachel Johnson, Pamela Paul and Ed Balls dissect “The Biggest Literary Feasts.”

The oh-so British taste of Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 mixed with the British roots of the Cheltenham Pageant, the world’s oldest literature pageant (shaped in 1949), makes this crossing an excellent selection for North American Anglophiles. Among the periods, like “Can You Get to Quantity 10?” (as in Downing Avenue), hosted by Matt Chorley, host of Instances Radio’s Quiz, and novelist/columnist Rachel Johnson (sister of ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson), do have a distinctly British accent, however the usA. is hardly missed, due to expert-driven discussions that monitor the greenback within the globalized world or function political specialists like Ed Balls, ex-Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Labor Social gathering, exploring U.S. politics, “From Main to President.”

Beautifully representing the U.S. literary panorama is Pamela Paul, beforehand Editor of The New York Instances Guide Overview and at the moment a columnist and writer in her personal proper. Along with contributing her highly effective insights throughout periods like “Books of the Yr” and “Books of the Decade,” Ms. Paul, in a stand-alone session, shares a few of her ideas on the world earlier than our on-line world throughout “100 Issues We’ve Misplaced to the Web,” a captivating have a look at the humorous and not-so-funny losses we’ve endured since logging on. And also you thought Rolodexes, put up playing cards and traditional courting have been the one issues we ditched with know-how.


Think about honing your poetry writing expertise with recommendation from UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage or brushing up in your Latin with classicist Dame Mary Beard, as she talks you thru the fundamentals of learn how to learn a Latin poem. You’ll actually need to seize the chance to be taught the artwork of writing a thriller straight from Charles Cumming, best-selling writer of the Thomas Kell sequence or hear Ian Rankin reveal how he develops the plot element, crimson herrings and clues which have triggered the sale of over 30 million copies of his Inspector Rebus books. Battling creating reasonable dialog?  Let award-winning novelist Okechukwy Nzelu present you the way it’s completed.

Now, think about every of those experiences (and others!) in an intimate classroom setting with instruction offered by the grasp him or herself, your questions eagerly welcome.

Maybe probably the most thrilling function of Queen Mary 2’s Literature Pageant at Sea is its sequence of “grasp lessons,” obtainable, amazingly, at no extra cost, although reservations are required. (However even when a category is crammed, pop right down to the suitable ConneXions “classroom” on the scheduled time and also you’ll possible uncover {that a} no-show ends in your admittance).

It’s no surprise that our Literature Pageant at Sea was crammed not solely with voracious readers, however writers hoping to be taught what it takes to pen a profitable novel!


Theme cruises may be iffy. Throughout some, like a “Trend & Fashion” cruise I did years in the past which featured a grand whole of two theme-related occasions with one in every of them (an tour to the designer retailers exterior of Florence, Italy) cancelled as a result of lack of participation, a visitor can barely discover associated occasions. Different theme cruises, notably full-ship charters like some rock music cruises, are full of occasions however poor planning typically ends in lengthy strains and ready occasions and, typically, refused admittance when the theater turns into crammed to capability.

Queen Mary 2’s Literature Pageant at Sea’s group was flawless!  The Royal Courtroom Theater, with its 1,000-guest capability, was chosen because the venue for the extra standard periods, whereas the two-level, 493-seat Illuminations proved very best for the extra intimate ones. No strains, no ready, attendees have been invited to enter the theater and choose their seats at leisure. Need to be up entrance?  Enter the theater early. It was so simple as that.

And, to my delight, I discovered no overlap between periods I used to be desirous to see, eliminating the necessity to agonize over whether or not I’d attend a “dialog” with the hilarious Girls Detective Company writer Alexander McCall Smith or one with The Nice British Bake-Off’s Prue Leith. Attempt that aboard a rock music theme cruise!

Even guide signings with the most well-liked authors have been dealt with beautifully. Whereas strains did type, eager consideration was paid to maneuver the gang alongside. “Does anybody have one thing for Mark Billingham or Pamela Paul to signal?” I heard a Pageant member ask as she surveyed the queue. Clutching the copy of Billingham’s Their Little Secret that I picked up at Queen Mary 2’s well-stocked bookstore on deck 8, I raised my hand and was instantly ushered up entrance to Billingham who, together with Paul, had hit a break of their book-signing motion.


Usually throughout Queen Mary 2’s Literature Pageant at Sea, easy crusing and calm seas made me overlook I used to be aboard a ship crusing in the direction of Southampton in December. In reality, I’ve felt extra movement crusing the Med through the summer season!

However, because the solar units and Pageant occasions conclude for the day, we’re again aboard ship as Queen Mary 2 places on her personal present. For some, it’s within the guise of company’ allegiance to basic cruising, pulling out all stops to stick to the instructed gown for the 2 gala evenings on board: Crimson & Gold Gala Night time and a Roaring 20s Gala Night the place, sure, many women don flapper clothes and ornamental headbands. These accustomed to the decidedly informal gown of at this time’s cruises might be shocked—and perhaps even delighted—to see tuxedo-clad gents and girls draped in sequins and pearls however, relaxation assured, extra relaxed apparel is simply as welcome.

After dinner, Queen Mary 2’s leisure begins: a people duo at The Golden Lion Pub, jazz at The Chart Room, classical music on the Commodore Membership, a giant band within the Queens Room or dancing to 60s and 70s hits at G32, the place you simply would possibly share the dance flooring with a number of of your favourite bestselling authors.

After all, you would merely retire to your cabin after dinner and curl up with a great guide. And aboard Queen Mary 2’s Literature Pageant at Sea, there’s a good chance that you just’ll be capable to focus on that guide the next day…with the very one that wrote it.

Cowl picture: Moderator Dharshini David leads authors Mark Billingham, Ian Rankin and Mick Herron in a debate of the very best TV Sleuths.

7 Night time – Literature Pageant At Sea – Southampton.. Queen Mary 2 (

(Queen Mary 2’s 2023 Literature Pageant at Sea will sail from Southampton to New York November 19th to 26th. Confirmed audio system to this point embrace the next: Lynda La Plante, Anthony Beevor, Literary Agent Luigi Bonomi, former Dwelling Secretary and writer Alan Johnson, Alan Titchmarsh, Daniel Finkelstein, Clare Waterproof coat, Val McDermid, Kate Mossie, Richard Osman, Anna Murphy, and Hashi Mohamed. Extra audio system might be introduced.)




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