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Imagine a restaurant that can serve 1,100 main courses in 30 minutes. Then imagine the kitchen required to produce those meals in that timeframe. Now put it all at sea where flat surfaces can take on a life of their own and boiling oil isn’t always your friend. This morning we were all offered a tour of the galley of the QM2 Britannia Restaurant and it was very impressive. Of course, the statistics are mind boggling – over 30,000 eggs used each day (and 15 tonnes of meat), 240 staff – 160 chefs and 80 galley hands. But the whole vast area gleamed with industrial efficiency and clinical cleanliness while Karl Winkler, the Executive Chef, took us through the challenges of provisioning and menu creation for this number of guests.

While those who haven’t cruised often ponder how they will fill sea days, those who have done so muse about how there aren’t enough hours in the day. Our galley tour meant we missed the talk by Paul Brunton from the State Library of NSW about the voyages of Matthew Flinders. And we had to rush back to our cabin because we were off Portland and an 11.15am rendezvous with the Endeavour, the square rigger that is a replica of Captain Cook’s vessel. As we drew alongside a helicopter appeared for the inevitable PR shots of the old and new ways of crossing the ocean.

Endeavour from QM2

The comparison could not have been more stark – we thought the sea was very calm until we saw how much the smaller ship was pitching. However they had one advantage over us – armaments – and there must have been hearts other than mine that almost stopped when we had a very loud two-gun salute from directly abeam.

I expect most of the ship’s company of both vessels were struck by the almost inconceivable development in ships over just 200 years. And we think, as we so often do, how heroic those crews from an earlier age must have been to sailing from home for years into uncharted waters and to unknown lands. But now it’s time to check out the Canyon Ranch spa with its acqua-therapy and ice fountain.

Words: David McGonigal