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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Oct-Nov 2012
Active RetireesTM | 25 Queen Mary II never slips under the radar, as anyone who watched news footage shot by helicopters hovering overhead as she entered Sydney Harbour will attest. Cunard ships, which have been crossing the Atlantic and circling the globe since the line’s foundation in 1840, are the grand dames of the sea and floating publicity machines for cruising. But when the fanfare dies down, is all the fuss justified? After travelling on QM2 on a too- short leg from Melbourne to Sydney, my answer is a resounding ‘yes’. On boarding there’s an immediate feeling of grandeur and opulence, and a sense of wonder as, map in hand, you move from one beautiful room to another discovering all that such a ship has to offer. QM2 is the world’s largest ocean liner, a vessel purposely built to tame the world’s oceans. Her vital statistics are astonishing; 345 metres long and weighing 151,400 tonnes, she stands 62 metres above the waterline, the equivalent of a 28-storey building. That first grand impression is cemented once onboard by the impeccable white-gloved service and the sense of nostalgia from the sweeping staircases and the gallery of photographs of bygone celebrities who have sailed on the great Cunard liners. While today’s modern ships dazzle and amuse with neon and supersonic waterslides, QM2 embraces tradition while delivering the latest in luxury. The wide teak decks are lined with padded deckchairs and monogrammed bathing towels, bottles of Veuve Clicquot sit in gleaming ice-buckets in the Champagne Bar, and afternoon tea of dainty sandwiches and scones is accompanied by the strains of a stringed quartet. Launched in 2004 at a cost of US$800 million, the ship has many superlatives: the largest ballroom at sea, 14 bars and clubs including Churchill’s cigar lounge, four outdoor swimming pools and another in the lavish two-level spa and health club, classic boutiques such as Chanel and Hermes, and even a planetarium Passengers on my short sailing enjoyed the mixture of formality – the chance to dress up for dinner and dance to a big band – and the friendliness of the staff. My companion, who had never been on a cruise in his life, loved the entire experience’s mix of homely comforts and absolute luxury: from striding the corridors filled with fresh flowers and art, and shopping for keepsakes in the Cunard signature shop, to finding his favourite dessert, pumpkin pie, on the lunch menu. The ship herself is looking spick and span following a recent refurbishment: all 1310 staterooms and suites have been refreshed with new carpets, drapes, and bedspreads and, I have to say that, in a career of road-testing some 40 different ships, the QM2 bed was the most comfortable I’ve ever slept in. We didn’t even get around the whole ship. To thoroughly enjoy this magnificent liner, set yourself at least a week to lap up the luxury. •• Food oF Queens The QM2 offers everything from the finest dining to ‘pub grub’ across its 10 dining venues. The majority of passengers enjoy four- course evening meals in the three-tiered Britannia Restaurant, with a stunning art deco staircase at one end and an imposing tapestry of a 1930s-era Cunard ship at the other. Passengers in the magnificent penthouses and duplex apartments can also dine in the exclusive Queens Grill, while those in the junior suites have the Princess Grill all to themselves. These smaller restaurants and their accommodations are rated five-star by Berlitz Guide to Cruising. Regardless of the fare paid, all guests can treat themselves to a superb meal at the celebrity chef restaurant, Todd English. Reservations are required and dining attracts a small charge: around US$6 for entrees and desserts, and about $US16 for mains. Open for al fresco lunches, it also stages the occasional four- course degustation with matching wines. Our mini-banquet, which included a delectable eggplant ravioli with saffron, and pan-roasted sea bass with an exquisite almond romesco, and wines from d’Arenberg Winery, was a snip at AU$75. The decor of red velvet banquette seating, gilt-framed mirrors and art deco light fittings is sumptuous but tasteful, while the white and gold show plates top off the ‘special night’ experience. There’s an immediate feeling of grandeur and opulence, and a sense of wonder as, map in hand, you move from one beautiful room to another. QM2 will return to Australia in March 2013 as part of a 106-night world cruise. w: www.cunardline.com.au
Active Retirees Aug-Sept 2012
Active Retirees Dec-Jan 2013