My feet hurt. I’ve only been on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 for about three hours and I think I’ve walked a marathon course just having a quick look around. This is a BIG ship – not one of the giant floating cities of some lines but a real ocean liner, just twice the size of the old Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The statistics are impressive: 151,000 tonnes, 345 metres long, 2,620 passengers served by 1,253 crew and facilities spread over 13 decks. Walk twice around Deck 7 and you’ve covered a kilometre.
And, as I’ve found out, by the time you walk around all 13 decks, it’s time to seek out the dedicated Art Deco Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar. First impressions? She’s a very stylish ship. Cunard has a long history of ocean voyaging and it clings to tradition while operating the youngest fleet afloat. The most obvious signs of this lineage are the Princess and Queen’s restaurants and lounges that are excluded to the likes of steerage-travelling Leonardo di Caprio and Britannia-decked me. But the trade-off is classical décor throughout where you expect to see Noel Coward or Jackie Kennedy sweeping down the stairways. And the Britannia Restaurant is hardly steerage – in fact it’s the most elegant space on the ship.
Our cabin, oops stateroom, is nice too – light and airy with lots of space for two people to mill around. But the balcony, while large, has high walls and a slightly industrial feeling of a ship designed to cope with whatever the sea offers, rather than a fair-weather floating resort. While my voyages are more Marx Brothers than British royalty, I find my shoulders straighten and I flick my cuffs when the many British crew bid me welcome or give me directions. I’m gratified to learn that my ship has the largest library at sea, hopefully packed with Jane Austen and Georgette Heyers (I haven’t discovered it yet). And I suspect Sandra is hoping that the largest ballroom at sea is packed with an endless array of Mr Darcys as potential dancing partners.
The recent disturbing events on Costa ships has dented the surging bookings on cruise ships. And I note we’re doing our lifeboat drill before departing Adelaide’s dock. So it’s reassuring to be on a ship where the very lines and construction quality suggest she’s been built to last.
Sadly, we’re only on for a couple of days. Stand by for more tomorrow when we are at sea.
Words: David McGonigal