Sometimes the English language is just too complicated. Cunard is a very English sort of shipping line (and certainly not a mere cruise line). So of course you’d think that the premium restaurant on board the QM2 would be an English restaurant. And it is: the Todd English Restaurant that overlooks the stern on Deck 8 is a very sophisticated setting for a wide range of excellent meals. Counter-intuitively, its name comes from the eponymous chef who was born in Amarillo, Texas and lives in Boston.
One of the joys of cruising is that meals are free. However, there’s a price to be paid for that in eating what would be regarded in land-based restaurants as ordinary food. Quantity – yes, quality – no. So these days, many cruise lines offer premium restaurants where you pay extra for much better cuisine. The Todd English Restaurant is slightly different in that it has a surcharge per dish rather than per meal. $US18 for my beef tenderloin with oxtail ragu, whipped truffle potatoes and tempura fried French beans was money well spent. And you’ll never hear me lament $US5 for a very good banana crème brulee.
Meanwhile, the coastline of Australia passes by. The last two Australian ports for QM2 are Melbourne on Sunday and Sydney on Wednesday. Then the ship does what it does best and takes off for the world, with Asia then Europe as its next areas to explore. Melbourne is a maiden visit for QM2 and helicopters overhead, boats all over Port Phillip Bay and camera-wielding onlookers lining the foreshores prove that it’s a big event. The Herald-Sun runs a photo of QM2 with the Endeavour on the front page – but sadly it’s one from a helicopter and not my shot of the ships with Sandra in the foreground that I posted here earlier.
The Wednesday visit of QM2 to Sydney is special, too. This will be the ship’s second visit to Sydney within a month but the first time that she’s not at Garden Island but is tied up at the Overseas Passenger Terminal instead. The captain told me that this has required a special buoy to be placed in Campbell Cove for her bow line. The 345-metre, 151,000 tonne ship is the largest ship to tie up there – and, unlike many tax schemes, she just clears the muddy and murky bottom of the harbour. It won’t be a good day for harbour views from Wildfire or Quay restaurants.
Words: David McGonigal