Home' CruisePassenger : Cruise Passenger 55 Contents 38 www.cruisepassenger.com.au
-- a dinner/dance, and the highlight of the
QM2's transatlantic journey -- the rush to
get gowns and tuxedos pressed caused a
meltdown in the ship's laundry.
And on the day of the ball, long
queues formed outside the hairdressing
salon as customers waited to be coiffured,
preened and polished. Those who gathered
for pre-dinner drinks at the Veuve Clicquot
Champagne Bar were treated to a catwalk
parade of elegant ball gowns from
5pm. Lacroix, darling? You bet. Dior?
And don't imagine the preening and
parading is confined to women. There
were plenty of males in expensive tuxedos
with diamond cufflinks and bling hanging
out, louche-like, at the bars and salons.
Jeeves had done his work well! It is all
part of the cruising ritual. If there is one good
reason to spend so much on a journey that
a Boeing 747 can turn around in a day, it is
to be seen in all your finery. Where else
can you wear a diamond tiara and not be
There is a lot of rivalry. Haute couture on
the high seas is yet another venue for the old
national battles of European nations.
The German contingent takes line
honours for the most impressive and grand
ball gowns, painstakingly matched with
appropriate bling, gloves and fans.
The lady from Berlin in a flowing orange
organza gown with a train and matching
shawl was a case in point.
There was an Italian -- we like to think
she was a countess -- in a midnight-blue
ensemble. The fitted full-length bejewelled
outfit was dazzling and she looked amazing
in a slim-fitting dress. Silver, satin, three-
quarter-length gloves completed the look.
And she was loving it.
Another of those wafting like a cloud
across what the cruise line says is "the largest
ballroom on the seas" wore a yellow jewelled
bustier and a fitted long skirt that was slit at
The ballroom was as exquisitely dressed
for the occasion as any of its occupants, with
candelabras and flower arrangements on
This was about as far from a schoolies
cruise as you could get. And to be fair, Cunard
warns the unwary that the formalities are
what sets its ships apart.
"Queen Mary 2 plays to a certain audience,"
its brochure explains. "People whose lives
are diverse and experiences wide and who
expect a certain level of sophistication on
their evenings out. Glamour, of course, but
Let's hope, if you want to stand on the
shoreline, black-tie will be optional.
Ten years on, and the debate over QM2's
formality goes on. Last year, Cunard sparked
accusations it was "dumbing down" the line
when it had the temerity to change its evening-
wear options from "formal", "semi-formal" and
"elegant casual" to the simpler "formal" and
"informal". There are now just three formal
nights a week on transatlantic voyages and
two during Mediterranean and Scandinavian
cruises. Those who do not want to dress up are
restricted to the bu et restaurants and Winter
Garden and Garden Lounge bars.
The website for the world's largest
ocean liner, Queen Mary 2, contains a
curious Q&A. It's probably designed
to alleviate the anxiety of first-timers and
Lotto winners, concerned they may commit
the ultimate fashion faux pas and be made to
walk the plank.
Etiquette is crucially important on a
cruise ship like the Queen Mary. Personal
butlers ply their trade in the first-class cabins,
while professors from Oxford lecture on
the restoration of English country house
fireplaces down below.
One question frequently asked, the liner's
cyber world brochure suggests, is: Do I have
to dress for dinner every evening?
Those anticipating the usual politically
correct platitudes -- a polite assurance that
jeans and a T-shirt will, on occasion, be
acceptable -- are in for a bit of a shock.
"One of the joys of cruising with Cunard
is the glamour of evenings," our cyber-space
agony aunt trills.
"In keeping with the high standards of
elegance aboard, it is suggested that you dress
for dinner as you would for a fine restaurant.
"There will be formal nights announced,
and dress suggestions will be listed each day
in the ship's daily program.
"Evening attire will be specified as one of
the following: Formal: Tuxedo (alternatively
a dark suit) for men. Evening gowns or other
formal attire for women. Informal: Jacket and
tie for men. Cocktail dress, dressy pants-suit,
or similar for women. Casual: For men, slacks
and a sweater or shirt. For women, skirts or
slacks with a sweater or blouse."
Welcome to the world of formal cruising.
No dress-down Fridays. No board shorts.
This is no drill. It's a world where Bertie
Wooster and his "man" Jeeves would have felt
right at home.
And in truth, that's the way its well-heeled
passengers -- some of whom pay as much
as $60,000 for a 15-week round trip from
Southampton -- like it.
Take the gala ball we attended during
the vessel's inaugural voyage from New York.
We knew things were getting serious when
we discovered the beauty salon was booked
out two weeks before the ship cast off at
Southampton. A quick shampoo and set?
Forget it. A manicure, pedicure or facial? No
way. Seasoned seafarers had hit the phones
long before embarkation.
In the week leading up to the gala event
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES A DECADE MAKE?
NOT MUCH, IT SEEMS
There are certain things
you just don't do in the
presence of this Queen,
as Cruise Passenger publisher
PETER LYNCH discovered
when he joined the ship for
its rst transatlantic voyage
10 years ago.
QUEEN MARY 2 WHAT WE SAID 10 YEARS AGO
Links Archive Cruise Passenger 56 Cruise Passenger Sample Navigation Previous Page Next Page