For some passengers the most British element of a QM2 cruise is the dulcet tones of the Commodore giving us the ship’s noonday position. But for the rest of us, the best indicator that the ship is a not-so-tiny slice of Britain is the Golden Lion Pub on Deck 2. It looks like a pub, down to the dartboards and beers on tap but even better it has pub grub. Four of us get together for lunch and the orders range from beer-battered fish and chips (with mushy peas), a curry and rice, bangers and mash and, for the health conscious, a ploughman’s lunch. All were exactly as promised – pub food at its best with no airs and aspirations.

Sadly, there was barely time for a lap of the outer decks before it was time for afternoon tea in the grand Queens Room – take a seat and the best china, excellent tea and great scones with raspberry jam and clotted cream. Perfect. So perhaps it was a mistake to decide that the best way to stay awake after the calorific overload was a cup of strong coffee at Sir Samuel’s (that’s Sam Cunard, the founder). The coffee may not have been as strong as an Italian barista would have delivered but it was good enough.

Fortunately, the crowded Daily Program revealed that Paul Brunton from the State Library of NSW was in the library to answer questions about the diaries and maps of Matthew Flinders. The library is not just well endowed with a wide range of books but it has excellent views forward over the bow. But most of us were crowded on the starboard side to look at Flinders original writings about Australia and to ask the erudite Mr Brunton questions about the exploration of Australia. Even in the few minutes we had the flow of entertaining information was impressive. I left the library with new knowledge that Captains Cook and Bligh had independently given the name ‘Booby Island’

to the same island. I resolved to check when I get home to find out if the predominant bird of the island is the blue-footed or pink-footed variety?

Words: David McGonigal