Home' CruisePassenger : Cruise Passenger 55 Contents 34 www.cruisepassenger.com.au
Wherever she goes, she attracts
crowds of loyal fans. She is a
media darling. Fashions and
fads come and go, but for 10 years Queen
Mary 2 has regularly topped the world's
popularity polls and, as she celebrates her
10th anniversary, the grande dame of cruising
shows every sign of reigning supreme for at
least another 10 years.
So what is it about this ship that captures
the imagination of so many passengers?
(That would be more than 1.3 million of them
since her launch in 2004.) For a start, there's
her impressive size: she is 345 metres long,
which means that, if stood on her stern, she
would be about 40 metres taller than the tip
of Sydney Tower. She is the only transatlantic
liner in operation today, and the first to be
built since Queen Elizabeth 2. She was the
biggest passenger ship when she launched in
2004 and, although that title has been taken
by Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, QM2
remains the fastest: her maximum speed is
just over 30 knots (56 km/h) and her cruising
speed is 26 knots (48 km/h).
Perhaps the key to QM2's appeal is her
sense of tradition and historic one-offs. She
boasts the largest ballroom and library at sea;
the first planetarium on a ship; the grand,
two-tier Britannia dining room; she has
travelled 1.5 million nautical miles since 2004;
and has transported more than 2,000 dogs
across the Atlantic.
QM2's Captain Kevin Oprey has been at
the helm for three years -- a boyhood dream
that he still can't quite believe has come
true. He says the ship was built to uphold the
Cunard tradition, which goes back 175 years,
and agrees that there is an incredible number
of people who have "enormous passion for,
and in-depth knowledge of, our ship".
"She is the only liner in service -- there are
many great cruise and resort ships at sea, for
example Royal Caribbean's Oasis class -- but
this ship is iconic in what she does," he says.
"She was built as an ocean liner and follows
the great tradition of all the great liners
During a generous hour or so of
conversation with Captain Oprey on the
ship's huge bridge, he says: "You really see the
best of her on transatlantic crossings, how
she handles the weather."
He goes on to describe the pretty stiff
weather conditions he experienced on his
first voyage as captain.
"We were coming out of Quebec and
the pilot said the weather was getting 'a bit
bad out there'. It is a long pilotage, about 12
hours, and halfway through, conditions got
worse -- to the extent that three other ships
sailing with us turned back.
"We had to make a decision about
whether to go back or carry on and, being
fairly new to the ship, I thought this was
what she was built for. We had a transatlantic
schedule to keep and had to get to New York,
so we decided to continue.
"The next morning the sea was
completely white. We were doing 23 knots
when winds of 110 miles per hour hit
us, yet the ship heeled just two degrees
In true understated British style, Captain
Oprey tells how he then reduced the ship's
speed to 21 knots and he and the officers on
the bridge "sat back and enjoyed the ride".
As well as the day-to-day running of the
ship, Captain Oprey carries out a considerable
number of ceremonial duties. On this
voyage, QM2's second circumnavigation
of Australia, he has met with passengers
such as the Thornleys from South Australia,
who have clocked up 800 sea days with
Cunard. Transatlantic crossings usually
involve attending three formal dinners,
five cocktail parties, and conducting two
or three weddings.
"I love meeting people from all walks of
life and hearing their stories," he says. "You
never know who is going to be at your table
on any given night."
One special person Captain Oprey is
looking forward to meeting is the Duke of
Edinburgh, who will be on board QM2 on
May 9 for the royal rendezvous of all three
Cunard Queens in Southampton. Of course,
the Duke accompanied his wife when she
named the ship 10 years ago and many crew
members who still work on the ship today
remember the occasion with pride.
Butler Roger Leonen was actually on
board the ship while she was still in the
shipyard in France, helping to put furniture
in place. "There were no lifts in operation so
QUEEN MARY 2 REVIEW
'If stood on her stern, QM2 would be about 40 metres
taller than the tip of Sydney Tower.'
At your service... QM2 crew members
A top-of-the-range Grill Suite
Links Archive Cruise Passenger 56 Cruise Passenger Sample Navigation Previous Page Next Page