Even for those like me not particularly enthralled by the great behemoths of the sea, one cannot help but be impressed by the Queen Mary 2.
Just 10 years old and already extensively remodelled just these last few months, the QM2 has re-emerged as the pre-eminent ocean liner, a category of vessel she owns as the newest, fastest and largest such vessel.
Conceived in the late 1990s as the massive US Carnival Corporation took ownership of this iconic British brand, the concept withstood the ructions of the GFC to emerge in 2004 as the then largest (at nearly 150,000 gross tons) passenger vessel ever built.
Many CP readers will recall her tumultuous arrival into Sydney in February 2007 when just about everything that floated on the harbour was there to meet her.
Now she returns to the world’s most desirable cruise port, Sydney, as part of a 120-day world cruise from Southampton.
She arrives at full capacity with even the extra 50 cabins added full to the brim. Of the near 2,700 passengers aboard, half that number are Australians clamouring for the rare berths available as she sails between our coastal ports.
Chatting to passengers at dinner, at the bar, in the theatre queue and on the tender, it’s clear many are Cunard débutantes such as myself and my octogenarian mother and without exception, all are delighted with experience, however short.
“We took into account a great deal of feedback over the first 10 years before we committed the more than $40 million to her remastering,” said David Rousham, VP International Business Development, as he took our small group on a ship tour. “Balancing the desires of the Australian, British and American markets was something we wanted to get right.”
While 50 per cent of guests are Australian on these sailings, we only make up 10 per cent of the global market, the same as Germany, but behind the Brits (50 per cent) and Americans (30 per cent). Even so, the many new amenities take into account our peculiar needs and wants. The kennels are empty, but the bars are full and the completely reworked Kings Court buffet dining space is now larger and reconfigured for better customer traffic flow.
Personally, I think the remodelled Queens Room is a magnificent space. Part ballroom, part tea room, it’s impeccably finished in a faux art deco and most regal in tone with various Majesties, including the Queen Mary herself, casting her eye over proceedings.
HOW TO WIN
Carnival will mark the arrival of the two Queens with a Royal Rendezvous photo competition and you could win two tickets aboard QM2.
So if you have an eye for a good photo, park yourself in a vantage point and take the best photograph of Queen Mary 2 berthed at Circular Quay, Queen Elizabeth at Athol Buoy or both Queens.
Post the image on your personal Instagram or Twitter account with the hashtag #CunardinSydney to enter the competition.
The person who takes the best image will win a two-night cruise on QM2 from Melbourne to Sydney in a balcony stateroom on 22 February 2018 as well as a $600 Visa card credit towards flight costs.
As an extra prop, a QM2 bellboy will be in East Circular Quay opposite the ship between 10am and 4pm on Saturday.
The Queen Mary 2 arrived first in Sydney’s harbour on a rain-swept morning. The Queen Elizabeth came in shortly afterwards, anchoring at Athol Buoy near Taronga Zoo.
While the rain and timing meant no Royal Rendezvous this morning, the ships will pass tonight when Queen Mary 2 sets off for Tassie and passes her sister. Queen Elizabeth will the move to the Overseas Passenger TerminalSydney H
QM2 returns to Sydney after a $145 million remastering which saw the addition of new restaurants, lounges and 50 new staterooms.