February 27, 2014
Posted in: Insights Speakers
In our latest post, Insights Lecturer Chris Frame talks about his time on board Queen Mary 2 as she began her circumnavigation of Australia earlier in February…
Queen Mary 2 is back in Australian waters on her second grand circumnavigation of the island continent. I’ve been on board lecturing about Cunard’s rich maritime history and was able to enjoy some more time on board this unique and special ocean liner.
Queen Mary 2’s uniqueness as the last of the Transatlantic ocean liners means she is instantly famous wherever she visits, and her grand design, which echoes the great liners of the past, makes her very recognisable. In Australia she is even more famous, as she is the largest, longest, widest and tallest passenger ship ever to visit these waters!
The circumnavigation voyage on board Queen Mary 2 departed Fremantle on February 12, right on time on a very sunny Wednesday afternoon. After negotiating the close quarters of the inner harbour, passengers got a view of all the well-wishers on the North and South Mole’s (viewing areas at Fremantle). Once at sea, a course was set to round Rottnest Island and make our way to the open sea.
Drinks were enjoyed on deck as the band played in the warm summer evening. This time was spent meeting new people and re-connecting with old friends who regularly travel on Queen Mary 2’s world cruises.
The ship was full, with many repeat guests. At ten years old, Queen Mary 2 was looking magnificent; everything remains big, bright and sparkly, as if she’s fresh out of Les Chantiers de l’Atlantique where she was built.
This is, of course, thanks to the tireless efforts of her crew and maintenance teams who work behind the scenes to ensure Queen Mary 2 remains the finest ship in service.
Each day at sea started for me with a lecture in Illuminations. A magnificent venue, this is the ships planetarium, but also doubles as a lecture venue. The turn out for lectures was magnificent, with ‘full house’ audiences. It put a smile on my face to see how eager everyone was to learn the history of the Ocean Liner.
An ocean liner is different from a cruise ship – but what is the difference? In one of the lectures I gave on board Queen Mary 2, entitled: “Evolution of the Passenger Ship”, this topic is discussed in depth.
Ocean Liners are designed to undertake line voyage between point A and point B across a large expanse of ocean. In Queen Mary 2’s case, this is the famous Transatlantic Crossing between Southampton and New York. Because of this long voyage in the open sea, ships such as Queen Mary 2 (and QE2 before her) are designed as Ocean Liners and have certain traits. You can see these traits by clicking here.
Suffice to say, Queen Mary 2 exhibits all of the traits of the great Ocean Liners. Because of this she handles the open ocean well, and there was very little movement (no rocking or rolling) on board during the transit of the Great Australian Bight.
Melbourne brought an early morning arrival with the ship berthed in Station Pier. A short tram ride from the city, it’s a beautiful area in Port Phillip Bay with gorgeous views of the city from Queen Mary 2’s aft decks. Shuttle busses, tram services and shore tours were arranged – as they are at all ports.
Back on the ship, days at sea are spent enjoying the many amenities on board.
On this voyage, I enjoyed lunch in the Todd English restaurant (Platinum and Diamond Cunard World Club members are given a complimentary meal here). It was a great experience and the food was not only delicious, but also presented extremely well on special plates.
Back in Illuminations, a unique Queen Mary 2-at-sea experience was offered, where you can see the sky that evening right there from Queen Mary 2’s planetarium. An astronomer was on board to point out the constellations. He told us lots of interesting things, including how to differentiate the ‘Southern Cross’ from the ‘False Cross’, and that the star Betelgeuse is expected to go Super Nova soon (or, it may already have!).
There’s the joy of a Pub Lunch at sea in the Golden Lion on Deck Two. This was a great way to enjoy an afternoon, with live music and tasty pub food. Beer on tap is an added bonus!
For those after a traditional Cunard experience, Afternoon Tea in the Queens Room is a real treat. On Valentines Day special ‘love’ themed cakes were available, while a harpist played and white-gloved waiters offered Twinings Tea, sandwiches and – of course – yummy scones with jam and cream!
Dinner time was a treat. Executive Chef Nicholas Oldroyd and his team dazzled us with delicious masterpieces each evening. As a special treat, a crème brûlée was made for our table, as everyone had a craving that had to be satisfied!
Other ports of call on this epic voyage around Australia include Sydney, Brisbane and Darwin. The ship returns to Fremantle on March 6 before heading to Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney once more.
Being on board Queen Mary 2 is starting to feel, more and more, like returning home. A decade of service has earned the ship a very special place in the hearts of the people who travel with her, as well as those who watch her arrive and depart ports around the world.
Long may she reign!