The remastered Queen Mary 2 is your palace-away-from-home.
Remember the first time you saw a really tall building? Or an elephant? When you board the Queen Mary 2 – launched in 2004 and remastered last year – the wonderment on your face is as close as you’ll ever get to looking like your five-year-old self. When you’re not on deck, it’s hard to believe you’re on the water at all – such is the small-city-like scale of the cruising world’s grand dame, one of the biggest ships ever to sail into Australian waters. The height of a 23-storey building above the waterline and two-thirds the length of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Queen Mary 2 has 17 decks and 1360 staterooms, 985 of which have a private balcony.
While the presence of a nightclub and the availability of wi-fi would probably have Queen Mary spinning in her royal vault, the beating heart of this imposing vessel – from the dartboard in the Deck 2 pub to prominent paintings of the late monarch’s descendants – is unmistakeably British. (Was that the pre-voyage safety muster or Edward VIII announcing his abdication?)
We swanned aboard for the Sydney-to-Brisbane leg of Queen Mary 2’s 118-day round-the-world voyage. Here are five reasons to consider a longer stay:
A massive ship doesn’t necessarily mean a whopping big cabin (though, for a lucky few, it can). The higher the deck, it seems, the fancier the accommodation. If you’re not in one of the two Grand Duplex apartments – each 209 square metres – you’re in one of three categories of stateroom: The Grills, Britannia Club and Britannia. The Grills are the largest staterooms and come with an expansive view, a private deck, a butler and exclusive restaurant. Britannia Club staterooms have a balcony, 24-hour complimentary room service and the freedom to eat at a time of your choosing in an exclusive section of the grand Britannia dining room. Britannia rooms are either inside (i.e. no view), ocean-view (no balcony) or balcony rooms. While all cabins have comfy beds, a seating area, a desk and satellite TV, the fact is it’s a ship; the rooms are not huge. As a result of the remastering, the Queen Mary 2 now also has 15 single staterooms.
The food and wine
There are more than 10 dining options on board, including the low-key lunch venue Kings Court that, by night, transforms into four different eateries featuring, variously, Asian, Indian, Italian and American-influenced food. But it’s in the Britannia Restaurant that the Queen Mary 2 really gets its opulence on. The main dining room is three decks high and spans the width of the ship, with a vast curved staircase designed for grand entrances and, latterly, social media posts. Waiters in white jackets glide across the floor, delivering a veritable United Nations of appetisers – would Madam prefer the Pâté de Campagne or Singapore-style chicken satay with stir-fried vegetables? – and mains such as grilled sirloin steak with a Stilton-and-onion tart. And for dessert? Who, in the midst of this British splendour, could resist lemon bread-and-butter pudding with crème anglaise? The Verandah Restaurant, which offers contemporary French cuisine – frog’s legs sucettes, magret of Chalosse duck – takes onboard dining to another level again (and there’s a cover charge).
The ship’s vino catalogue is a wine-list War and Peace: 486 fine drops, including the prized California Screaming Eagle that retails for about $6000 a bottle. The good news is, thanks to a contraption called the Coravin, which uses a needle to extract a portion of wine without compromising the quality of what’s left in the bottle, on the Queen Mary 2 you can now savour such fine wines by the glass.
There are five outdoor swimming pools (one with a retractable glass roof), a gym, golf simulators, a half basketball court, a putting green, deck games, a library, an art gallery, 13 bars and clubs and eight shops, including Chanel, Hermès and Dunhill.
If passengers tire of watching others perform in the Royal Court Theatre, they can put on their dancing shoes and head to the vast and lavish Queens Room, which has a live orchestra, dance classes, swish balls and dancing ’til midnight. (The Queens Room also hosts the Queen Mary 2’s famous high tea – exercise for the pinkie finger.) The ship’s late-night venue, G32, has a DJ, live music and – how do we put this politely? – a sexier vibe.
Illuminations theatrette multitasks as a planetarium, a 3D cinema and a classical music venue.
There are also lectures, art and craft classes, darts competitions, movies, trivia and bingo sessions as well as wine tastings.
Whew! It must be time to relax. The Canyon Ranch boasts 1858 square metres of pampering space spanning two decks and featuring 24 treatment rooms. An offshoot of the United States spa, Canyon Ranch offers, among other things, an aqua therapy pool, Finnish sauna, sensory showers and a whirlpool. Guests can get wrapped, scrubbed, massaged, manicured, pedicured, coiffed and educated about wellness. Healthy Canyon Ranch meal options are offered at the Britannia Restaurant.
Children (and pets!) are not forgotten
Though we saw precious few on our voyage, children are welcome on the Queen Mary 2, with age-appropriate activities and staff dedicated to your children’s entertainment. But what about the fur kids? When it was remastered, the Queen Mary 2 added 10 kennels to its existing 12. Don’t get too excited; dogs are only permitted on the transatlantic route, which explains the installation on their walking deck of a lamp post from Liverpool and a fire hydrant from New York – a wee reminder of the pooch’s home port. Why should humans have all the fun?
SEE ALSO: The Best Cruises for Families