The worlds favourite ocean liner, the magnificent Queen Mary 2, was docked at the Cape Town Cruise Terminal for a couple of days, and I was lucky enough to enjoy a tour and lunch onboard.
Purpose built to do the trans-Atlantic crossing, the Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 has a deeper reinforced hull to help her cut through rougher weather at great speed. Unlike the cruise liners who spend most of their time at a leisurely pace on the Mediterranean or Caribbean seas, this beauty can be tough, and is able to push forward at a speed of over 30 knots, making it possible to travel from South Hampton to New York in just 5 days.
Her square shaped stern gives better hydrodynamic efficiency, says Steven Payne, the ship’s designer. Her lifeboats are high above the water line, so even a rogue wave can’t hurt them. And he shaped her bridge to protect passenger decks. The balconies are so high up that they are certainly not vulnerable – protected forward by the superstructure front, within the hull. And most of all besides the technical genius that she is, the QM2 is built for comfort and style.
After 14 years at sea, this magnificent ocean liner recently took a 90 days break in Germany for some essential remastering and upgrades. Taking cognisance of guest’s feedback, the changes included the additional of more single rooms, a fresh look at colour and refurb of the state rooms and restaurants.
The refurbishment, which is the biggest makeover Cunard has witnessed in its 176 year history, cost in the region of £90 million, and included the addition of 6000 pieces of new furniture and 4000 pieces of art to the cruise ship’s rooms. It is said that 5200 men and women worked over a million hours to overhaul her machinery, refresh the exterior of the ship and transform her reception rooms, dining areas and cabins.
One of the recently remastered states rooms. The natural light capturing the naval blues and white couches, inspired nooks enhanced by modernistic lighting. You’d want to spend much time here, cocktail or coffee in hand, watching the ocean go by.
Passages are lined with lush red swivel chairs to take in the views from.
The Grand Lobby with it’s centre flower piece and symmetrical staircases, is where tours are booked and the Purser’s office is found.
More opulence, as one walks from one lounge to the next.
In her Queens Room is the largest dance floor at sea. Illuminations is a luxury 3D cinema, there’s a planetarium and a classical music venue and if you fancy a little shopping, there are some fine boutiques centred around the ship’s magnificent Grand Lobby, which provide a range of products from tempting souvenirs and gifts to exquisite jewellery and designer clothing.
The first planetarium at sea.
The Art Gallery to appease any art collector.
There are walls of painting of famous fold who have take journeys on the Queen Mary 2, and its as though their spirits still live on in the lounges and on the dance floors.
The library is found at the helm and offers natural light and comfy reading chairs next to the windows, with views towards the ocean and is home to 10000 books.
One of the five swimming pools onboard.
About the Queen Mary 2.
The winter garden has been magnificently transformed into the Carinthia Lounge room. There’s a sherry bar with one bottle that dates from 1875, to some current brands and vintages. 1310 luxurious staterooms comprise standard cabins, penthouses and deluxe apartments complete with butler and concierge services and, in some instances, private elevators and gyms.
There’s a 1000 seater state-of-the-art theatre, the largest library at sea with 10 000 books, a 360-degree promenade deck, casino, traditional British pub, ballroom, nightclub, art gallery, five swimming pools and a 3D cinema that morphs into the first at-sea planetarium, making for no shortage of leisure options.
Eleven restaurants have 150 chefs showcasing 343 wine labels, and offering passengers menus that range from healthy to hearty, light to haute cuisine and an English high tea. The smoke their own meat, bake their own bread and from a supplier point of view are very meticulous. Fresh produce, wine, meat and flowers arrived whilst they were in Cape Town, enough to see the guests through to Sydney. The kitchen caters for all dietary requirements, from halaal to vegetarian.
A full time florist onboard and a team of 30 assistants sees to the fresh flower bouquets on each table, in each cabin, lobby and lounge. There is no class grading on the QM2 and the public areas are accessible to all guests, whether you’s in a small cabin or a suite.
The ship also has a very impressive green policy and allows nothing but a limited amount of finely processed food waste to go overboard. All else is sorted and collected, for disposal each time they arrive on shore. Including grey water. They process their own drinking water too.
A look at the remastering.
All 172 Grills suites have received a comprehensive restyling and have been reconfigured to maximise space. The Grills dining experience has been elevated and the two Grill restaurants have been redesigned to offer more table size options and space.
The King’s Court buffet has been redesigned to create a more open and central buffet area. The Carinthia Lounge – QM2’s Winter Garden – is now unrecognisable as it has been reconfigured into a refined, airy and versatile new venue. The Verandah replaces the Todd English restaurant.
Exactly 80 years after the first Cunard Verandah Grill went to sea on Queen Mary, the latest incarnation of The Verandah concept is now available on board Queen Mary 2 and offers contemporary premium French cuisine.
The Queen Mary 2 fun facts.
– She is four football fields in length – a total of 345 metres
– She is equal to the height of a 23-storey building with 17 decks that tower 200 feet above the waterline
– She covers an area of 3.5 acres
– Her whistle is audible for ten miles
– Her speed of 29.5 knots is double the speed of a Caribbean cruise ship and nearly three times the speed of a blue whale
– She’s constructed from some 300,000 pieces of steel; her hull is made up of 94 steel blocks and weighs 50,000 tons (more than a school of 330 blue whales). The QM2 gross weight is 151,400 tons.
– She carries 343 different wines on board with annual wine sales estimated at around 230 000 bottles.
– In total over one year, passengers will consume 38,000 lbs of smoked salmon, 346,000 gallons of fruit juice, 249,000 lbs of potatoes and 420,000 packets of breakfast cereal. Excluding wine, the QM2 serves 1.5 million drinks per annum.
– There are 1310 staterooms in total of which 955 (73%) cabins feature balconies.
– The maximum capacity is 3090 passengers, with a staff 1290 staff members, which explains the high level of detail that those on board experience.
A voyage on the Queen Mary 2 is certain to create unforgettable memories. This particular cruise journey continues onwards to Port Elizabeth, Mauritius, Reunion and culminates in Australia in April. This will be the first stop on her world cruise following her remastering.
Don’t be thinking that a trip onboard is out of your reach, a 7 day cruise can cost as little as R30000pp all inclusive. Or you could save up for the 118 around the world life altering experience. Packages include an onboard spend for meals and drink, and you can top up if needed.
This route has them sweeping over the Indian Ocean on a 16-night cruise. After Cape Town, the QM2 will pause for the game reserves of Port Elizabeth before touching down in Reunion, with its rugged, volcanic interior – then on to beach-fringed Mauritius. Eight days later, historic Fremantle will welcome them to Australia. Here’s a look at pricing should you hope for a similar experience.
Thank you to Wired Communications for the invitation to join you for a tour and delicious lunch onboard