April 7, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Mary 2
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 188 days
For this Blog, it’s a great pleasure to go back to Queen Mary 2 and their 2010 World Voyage. Although Cunard’s flagship is now heading up towards the Caribbean from Rio De Janiero, this post looks back over the last few weeks as she left Australia across the Indian Ocean for maiden calls to Mauritius and South Africa. Freda Singleton takes up the story.
Guest Blog – Freda Singleton – Queen Mary 2 Social Hostess
As Queen Mary 2 comes to the last segment of her 2010 World Voyage, the excitement has continued with more fabulous maiden ports of call. With the announcement that in 2012, the ship would be making a circumnavigation of Australia, it was particularly heart-warming to receive such a rapturous welcome to and send off from our first visit to Fremantle. The weather was perfect and it seemed that anything and everything that would float had come out onto the water, and anyone without a floatation device was on the shore-line to see us in and then to wave us farewell.
From there we made a leisurely sail over to the beautiful island of Mauritius, another maiden visit and what a stunning island of natural beauty, with warm welcoming local people! This is a view of the contrasting textures of Mauritius looking towards its almost completely surrounding reef.
And so on to South Africa, for many guests the highlight of the World Voyage, and to our first stop in Durban – a great opportunity for several guests to head north to take a safari and to then rejoin us in Cape Town, the venue for our full World Voyage gala dinner.
A picturesque drive through country plantations, farms and rolling hills took us to the spectacular Vergelegen Wine Estate, built in the early 1700s and listed on South Africa’s National Historic register. As the coaches arrived at the entrance, all the senses were engaged, the sounds of an untamed Africa with a throbbing drum beat, tribal singing and the non-intrusive under-lying calmness of a classical pianist, the perfume of the jasmine flowers, the warmth of an African autumn evening, the sights of native dancing and traditionally dressed warriors – all lined up in greeting.
Through the octangular Rose Garden and on to the historic Manor House, guests were lead by ladies in period costumes to the red carpet walkway on the grand lawns surrounded by prodigious 300-year old, 200 feet tall camphor trees with canopies that spread over 100 feet in diameter, all lit to provide a real sense of being ‘Out of Africa’.
At the entrance to the grand marquee, typical safari style tents equipped with antique lanterns, luggage, tables, chairs and zebra rugs hosted small groups gathering to soak up the mood of the evening and sip on the opulent (and very powerful!) wines.
We were then escorted into the huge, white colonial marquee, stunningly decorated with fabulous hanging chandeliers, elegant damask table linen, fine crystal glasses, cascading wisteria and enormous hydrangea and many more opportunities to savour the sumptuous wines.
After a moving grace by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, reminding us all of how privileged we were to be there, we were treated to a typically African styled meal of Cape and Franschhoeik salmon, Biltong spiced African beef filet and a trio of delicious desserts.
Our featured entertainment for the evening was the outstanding operatic voices of The Gugulethu Tenors, four young lads, not long out of high school with the purest of voices.
And finally, a chance to dance off the evening’s excesses with the fabulous Big Band music of the Johnny Cooper Orchestra, the only group outside of America appointed and licensed to use the music and play under the Glen Miller name. A night to be remembered for a very long time!
Before leaving South Africa, what better way to send us off than with a complete contrast to the typical African style jungle drums, dancing and rhythms of the previous evening, provided by the powerful, soulful drummers and pipers of the Cape Town Highlanders in a concert commemorating their 125th anniversary?
A truly magnificent end to our brief stay in South Africa.
Thank you Freda for another great post; it certainly sounds like you all had an amazing time in South Africa. Before we leave Queen Mary 2 and Cape Town, I received a very interesting message from Captain Bates with a rather unusual event. I’ll let him take up the story:
Guest Blog – Captain Nick Bates – Queen Mary 2
At approximately 0830 hrs on 25 March, shortly after the Queen Mary 2 had berthed alongside in Cape Town, Queen Mary 2’s Chief Security Officer, Grant Williams conducted a security inspection of the berth and immediate facility area. When walking towards the bow with the First Officer Navigator, Simon Westall, from a distance, he noticed an unidentified individual sat nonchalantly on the bulbous bow. There were no US Navy Warships in the port at the time so the idea if him being a lost US Navy “Seal” was discounted although he was similarly attired for clandestine operations, albeit unarmed. His identity was later discovered to be a Mr C Lion, a well known character in the port. Initial attempts to remove him from the bulb by the Navigator shouting “Ssscchhhoooooo!” jumping up and down and waving his arms about, were fruitless and he eventually left of his own accord. The bulb was checked for any suspicious items and other than the remains of a fish carcass, was reported as clear at 0845 hrs. ….all in a day’s work on the Queen of the Seas!!
Thank you Captain Bates, what a great story and picture. We look forward to getting some more news from our big sister soon, but in the meantime I’ll be back tomorrow with a report about a recent special event in London, and on Friday as promised some new pictures from Queen Elizabeth in Italy. Cheers for now Alastair.