The Queen

By Miranda Lin

The Queen Mary 2. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

There must be a manual for how to dress on a cruise because as the passengers of the Queen Mary 2 arrived at Pier 12 of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, they seemed to all be in uniform: navy double-breasted blazers for the gentlemen, silk animal-print scarves for the ladies and dainty leather hand luggage for all.

The Queen Mary itself is unsurprisingly regal. She dominates the New York skyline, dwarfing all the surrounding warehouse buildings and reducing even the Statue of Liberty to mere backdrop. Guests lounging on the balconies looked like tiny freckles on the Queen’s otherwise pristine red-white-and-black exterior.

The ship was scheduled to leave at 2 in the afternoon, but by noon there was already a clamor of cars in front of the terminal. Three men clutching walkie-talkies were stationed along the road to direct traffic. They managed to stave off any impatient honking, but the line continued to grow longer and longer.

When guests finally arrived at the curb, they were greeted by a team of burly but cheerful porters. “Good afternoon, let me take your luggage,” cried one porter in a neon yellow vest. “You just head straight over to the check-in table to your left. Tipping is optional.” A man sporting freshly creased khakis and a carefully groomed goatee stepped out from his limousine.

“You’ll take good care of this won’t you?” he said, patting a large leather trunk plastered with stickers from other exotic destinations.

“Oh yessir,” cooed the porter in a lilting tone that almost hid his thick New York accent. “You don’t worry about a thing.” The passenger plucked a $20 bill from his coat pocket and strolled away. The porter turned to his younger colleague, “Tag the bag,” and hurried over to the next Lincoln town car that had pulled up.

Inside the terminal, the NYPD K-9 Unit had arrived and was roaming the passenger waiting area. A brown and white polka-dot dog weaved in between guests, nosing through a couple’s carry-on and pawing at a trolley stacked high with suitcases. Then the sniff dog spotted her: a shriveled old woman wearing a tangle of pearls and wrapped in a floor-length fur coat that seemed to crush her with its weight. The canine dashed towards her, seizing upon her oversized Louis Vuitton tote bag before she even had time to let out a gasp of horror. The attending officer rushed over and asked to inspect the lady’s baggage. Only a faint murmur of assent could escape her thinly painted lips. A bottle of Chanel No. 2. A pack of Davidoff cigarillos. Some silk animal-print scarves. A romance novel with a heavily worn spine.

“You’re all clear, ma’am. Thanks for your cooperation,” said the officer. “Have a safe trip.”

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