real life

A shaved head, jelly sandals and the QM2.

About to board the QM2 at Sydney Harbour.

 

By ROSIE WATERLAND

“Ronaaaaaaaallllldooooo!”

That was me, wailing – for days – after I disembarked the Queen Mary 2.

Ronaldo was our room’s butler, and I missed him. I was in a post-vacation slump.

All it took was five days on the QM2 to make me feel like I was a lady of leisure gliding across the high seas (and that I could now say things like ‘high seas’). And being back in my apartment, staring at my unmade bed and an empty fridge was a very harsh way to crash back to reality.

Like I said: “Ronaaaaaaaallllldooooo!”

The largest ship to ever visit Australia, the 345-metre-long Queen Mary 2 claims to combine a classic British heritage with a very large dose of nostalgia, opulence and style.

Leaving Sydney Harbour.

And boy do they deliver.

I had never really been interesting in cruising. I wasn’t even sure if ‘cruising’ was the word for it. (Is it?) So when I was told Cunard was sending my little sister Tayla and I on a cruise ship (or in this case, a Liner. The fancy ones are called Liners), I seriously thought it was going to be like The Love Boat (obviously my knowledge of cruising was very cliché).

But this was not The Love Boat. This was like Titanic, without, you know, the ending. (Again, I know, cliché – but how much detail does the average 26-year-old know about liners?)

Being the classiest and most famous ship liner on the planet, I was a tad worried Tayla and I wouldn’t fit in. After all, she’s 19, has half a shaved head and a piercing in her cheek. (I know, I know – I’m hoping she’ll grow out of it too. And no, I have no idea how they got it in her cheek.) And with my floral headbands and jelly sandals, I’m not exactly the epitome of high fashion myself. We made a plan to act like Prue and Trude if we ever felt really out of place.

But I really needn’t have worried.

We were treated like queens as we travelled from Sydney to Adelaide over five glorious days.

The theatre – we saw two amazing shows.

Travelling on the QM2 is like stepping into another time, but managing to keep one foot firmly in all the good parts of the present. Where else can you visit a planetarium (a PLANETARIUM!) in the morning and have changed into a ball gown by nightfall – all within walking distance of your incredible ocean-view room?

And honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that every window you stare out of has a million dollar view of the ocean, you could easily forget you’re on a ship. With several restaurants, bars, a gym, a spa, library, ballroom, nightclub, cinema, casino, theatre (and that’s barely scratching the surface) it feels more like you’re living in a grand city rather than travelling on the high seas (there I go again).

Day one started with champagne on arrival, which we naturally finished while we perused the evening’s itinerary. We decided to do cocktails in one (all) of the several bars followed by dinner and ‘an evening stroll’. There was a party on deck later on to celebrate the fact we were leaving Sydney Harbour, but Tayla and I decided to watch the city lights slowly fade away from our room’s balcony, in the comfort of our P.J’s. This is also when we discovered we could order cocktails to the room. Bliss.

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Day two’s highlights included a show at the planetarium, taking a walk around the outside decks (which, given the QM2’s size, takes longer than you would think), and an incredible dinner at the Fine Dining Todd English Restaurant. Five delicious courses with a different glass of wine for each one? Yes, thanks. I’ve never taken a picture of a meal in my life, but considering I’m now a serious travel writer (serious as in I seriously want to go on more trips), I thought I’d make an exception.

The food! The FOOD!

Day three saw us dock in Melbourne, and rather than go on one of the incredible day-tours Cunard had on offer, Tayla and I decided to hit the shops. Hard. Shopping to us is like an out-of-body experience – we thought it was better faced on our own. (And to be honest, we debated whether or not we wanted to leave the ship at all – that’s how attached we had already become to our new luxurious lifestyles.)

Back in our room and exhausted after a seriously long day, we ordered room service and ate dinner while we got gussied up to head out for more cocktails (and yes, as I’m writing this I’m also noticing the cocktail pattern. There were many cocktails), this time in the Piano Bar, where we threw many a ridiculous request at the very obliging pianist (Beyonce, anyone?).

If I had to pick a favourite day, day four would be it. Having completely adjusted to our new life on the ocean, we suddenly realised that we only had one day left to cram everything in. We pretty much tried to do all the things. We had an incredible continental breakfast, followed by treatments at the spa. We took in an amazing lecture on Titanic at the theatre (well I liked it – Tayla fell asleep…), had high tea in the afternoon and attended a black-tie ball in the evening. We even stopped by the nightclub G-32 (danced for hours, drank more cocktails) before bed.

By the time we got back to our room, we couldn’t believe there was only one more sleep to go. How could we be expected to go back to everyday life after THIS?

THE COCKTAILS!

I don’t think you can. Tayla and I were (no exaggeration) actually almost crying when we stepped off the ship on day five. We could’ve have continued cruising forever. And not just because of the cocktails.

Travelling on the QM2 is truly an experience like no other. It really does take the best parts of British Downton Abbey-ish tradition and makes them accessible to anyone who’s willing to get changed for dinner. And when the dinner is that good (seriously, the food would need an entire post of its own), you’ll gladly change into your finest.

I never thought I would go on a cruise and love it. But Tayla and I have been converted. Like heading to Paris or New York, I really do think that travelling on the QM2 is something everybody should try to do once in their lifetime. This liner may travel the world, but the Queen Mary 2 is a dream destination all of her own.

And not once did we slip into Prue and Trude mode. (Okay, maybe just once. But we’d had – again – a few cocktails.)

 

The Queen Mary 2 will return to sail around the country again in February 2014. For more information and bookings visit www.cunard.com or call 13 24 41.

 Rosie and Tayla travelled as guests of Cunard.

Have you ever been on a cruise?