Standing on the doorstep of another more gracious, more relaxed and more enjoyable world.
That’s what it feels like to pause on the ‘gang plank’ of the largest ship to visit Australia, Cunard’s flagship Queen Mary 2.
|The Queen Mary 2 at Circular Quay moored at the Overseas Passenger Terminal|
Last time I boarded a ship for a Sydney to Brisbane cruise I got off in Brisbane in my school uniform and arrived via taxi just in time for first class, missing the dreaded daily chapel session (double score).
This time I’m older, wiser and much better travelled but boarding this 345 metre long vessel that is as high as a 23-story building? Well, I’m jumping with excitement!
Joining me on this voyage were bloggers and friends Annabelle Candy (Get in the Hot Spot), Christina Soong (The Hungry Australian) and Lee Mylne (A Glass Half Full).
Once inside I’m not disappointed, there are chandeliers and grand staircases in the six-storey lobby, cinemas and swimming pools and a planetarium. Yes, the Queen Mary 2 has the first ‘at sea’ planetarium, Illusions. The spa has 24 treatment rooms and when you are finished there it’s time for browsing through the eight boutiques to snap up a little Chanel or Hermes or perhaps just a cute tea cosy.
There’s a queen-sized bed with plump cushions and a spacious balcony awaiting me on level six. Next time I’d go for something higher so my balcony view would be unobscured but there’s nothing to complain about when it comes to the spacious ensuite or the two-seater couch in front of the television. Yes, television, complete with a six page guide to the more than 20 channels available.
|The corridors stretch forever.|
|Plenty of room even with a queen-sized bed in the cabin.|
|Cabin balcony on level 6.|
|View from our cabin balcony.|
Cruising from Sydney to Brisbane on a vessel of this size shouldn’t take very long but I’m grateful that despite the having engines that can produce enough thrust to launch a jumbo jet, the journey takes about one and a half days.
We leave Sydney under cover of darkness but nothing the Queen Mary 2 does goes unnoticed and it seems half of Sydney is excitedly waving us goodbye.
When we arrive in Brisbane it’s the same story with television and newspaper crews waiting to hear passenger reaction to the makeshift terminal arrangements. Is it that bad? Realistically it was a painless, although not terribly elegant entry to the port. The biggest disadvantage is having travel such a long distance to the city centre in comparison to the easy access afforded by Sydney’s Circular Quay, however a ship of the Queen Mary 2’s size is never going to make it up the Brisbane River. The wisdom and need for building a flash terminal for an occasional visit is entirely questionable.
|Champagne and caviar with all the right accompaniments in the Champagne Bar, of course!|
During my day and a half on board the Queen Mary 2, I ate at the Kings Court buffet (twice), the Britannica Restaurant, consumed one of the 700 scones served each day at High Tea in the Queen’s Room and enjoyed champagne and caviar in the luxury of the Champagne Bar.
I joined the energetic groups circumnavigating the ship daily on deck seven where 1.9 laps equals one kilometre but unfortunately, probably not one kilo of body weight loss. More punishment at the well-equipped gym might achieve that but my spare time was taken up with a manicure and pedicure in the Canyon Ranch Spar Club. My nail technician was the lovely Natasha from Poland who told me Brisbane is her favourite port of call - thanks Natasha!
|It's a one kilometre stroll around the entire deck on level 7.|
|Promenading on the deck takes on a whole new meaning.|
|Artistic sculptures? These 'deck decorations', often called the Captain's cuff links, are actually spare propeller blades.|
|This is where you can lounge before your spa treatments.|
Highlight of the voyage was dinner at Todd English, named after the Boston celebrity chef who seems to have restaurants around the world. The meal was marked by heightened flavour combinations that were a delight after the more subdued flavours consumed elsewhere on the ship. Dining in this restaurant comes at a small, although extra cost. Appetizers (entrees) are around $7, entrees (mains) around $16 and desserts $5. Wines will cost you though, with the cheapest bottle of white on the list hovering around $120.
|Todd's molten chocolate pudding lived up to every expectation and more. Top dish.|
Best tip: Aim for a cabin on the upper levels with a full view from the balcony and avoid eating at the buffets because there is better food available, you just have to hunt it out.
Bottom line: Not the cheapest way to travel but a rich and luxurious experience, perfect for those like to sit back and enjoy the finer things in life. For cruise cost details see www.cunardline.com.au
Disclaimer: Ed+bK travelled as a guest of Cunard Lines