Australia’s decade-long love affair with Queen Mary 2 began on 20 February 2007, when the Cunard flagship sailed into Sydney Harbour for the first time. Our cruise industry was just about to embark on its era of phenomenal growth; just over 250,000 passengers were sailing at the time, a number that has now swollen to 1.2 million Australians.
To celebrate 10 years since Queen Mary 2‘s inaugural visit – as well as the cruise industry expansion and the role of Cunard’s parent company, Carnival Australia, in this growth – media, trade and industry guests, including the CEO of the Port, CLIA, the Navy, tourism organisations and Infrastructure NSW, were invited aboard the legendary ocean liner for a Champagne afternoon tea.
Despite the rainy Sydney day, crowds were milling around the 2691-passenger ship, with her sister, Queen Elizabeth just visible through the fog at Garden Island. Guests, including LATTE, were given a tour of the newly remastered Queen Mary 2 to take in her AU$160 million worth of improvements, including the extensive new and vibrant customised carpets, and the spacious eating areas. Among the highlights were the largest library at sea and the elegance of the double-height Britannia restaurant.
The guests then assembled in the Queen’s Room to enjoy Champagne, delicate pastries, cucumber sandwiches and scones, served with jam and clotted cream (2.5 million scones have been served in the decade since her Sydney debut). The full-beam Queen’s Room is a rarity at sea, encompassing the largest dance floor at sea. Carnival Australia Executive Chairman, Ann Sherry AO, opened the proceedings, comparing the industry of 2007 with the market of today, while David Rousham, Cunard Vice President International Development, highlighted the results of last year’s remastering.
Guests also sipped on a specialty Twinings blend selected for Cunard, Traditional Afternoon, while enjoying a dance showcase from the ship’s professional performers and the music of the live band.
Queen Mary 2 is currently on her 132-night world cruise from New York, returning to Sydney on 2 March before continuing on to Hong Kong.