Queen Mary 2 Southampton to Sydney

Yesterday evening I watched as Cunard’s Queen Victoria passed Lee on the Solent, setting off on her World Cruise. Quickly checking my current Cunard Brochure I saw that she is heading across the Pacific to Sydney via South America, a voyage my wife and I took a few years ago but on Queen Mary 2.

Queen Mary 2’s World Voyage was actually starting from Fort Lauderdale so we and many others  ‘hitched’ a lift across the Atlantic on Queen Victoria to join QM2 at Fort Lauderdale. We left Southampton on 2nd January…

Queen Victoria’s passage to Fort Lauderdale took 11 days with a one day stop in New York. It was the first time we had berthed with a Cunard ship in Manhattan as opposed to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. The Manhattan Cruise Terminal is very central for New York and we made the most of a bitterly cold day taking in a few of New York’s sites…

including one of the Big Apples’ most famous Delis’.

On Queen Victoria we were accommodated in the Queens Grill (Q7 Stateroom 7036) and were particularly well looked after by the Queens Grill team…

…before arriving at Fort Lauderdale on 13 January and berthing across the jetty from Queen Mary 2.

The transfer was exceptionally well organised with absolutely no delay and we were soon settled into our Queens Grill Stateroom (Q4 10024) for the next 45 days.

That evening we bade farewell to Queen Victoria from our new balcony on board Queen Mary 2 as she set off on the next sector of her World Voyage…

…and shortly afterwards we headed out on ours.

On 16 January we called at Grenada where Queen Mary 2 anchored off and we proceeded  ashore by the usual efficient tender service…

We have visited Grenada on many occasions, funnily enough our first visit was also with Cunard: on the Cunard Countess. Once ashore  we headed for Grande Anse Beach

Having spent a relaxing full beach day in Grenada we rejoined Queen Mary 2 and headed south, away from the Caribbean,  out into the Atlantic and followed the South American Coast to our next port of call, Rio de Janeiro...

At Rio de Janeiro we took one of the ship’s all day excursions visiting the major sites including the Statue of Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf Mountain and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema…

The view across Ipanema from Sugar Loaf…

Queen Mary 2 was overnighting in Rio so that evening my wife and I returned to Ipanema by taxi in order to experience the vibrant night life that this lively district has to offer and we weren’t disappointed. What a fun evening we had.

Our next port of call was Montevideo with its iconic Palacio Salvo Building…

Of great interest to historians and retired Royal Naval personnel as ourselves, the Rangefinder from the German Battleship Graf Spee

… made even more famous through the film ‘The Battle of the River Plate’.

That evening was the first special social event exclusively for Grills Guests. We were taken by coach to the historical  winery estate of Jacksonville La Manga on the outskirts of Montevideo…

Here we were treated to a cultural gaucho and tango dance show followed by an amazing BBQ that continued late into the evening…

The lands near the Arroyo Manga, 17 kms outside Montevideo were acquired in 1839 by the English landowner John Jackson. The estate centres around the Chapel of San José del Manga and upon his death, his heirs donated the land to create there an establishment for agricultural education mission. In 1904  parcels of land in the Manga began to form vineyards, a winery was built and wine production commenced a year later at the official First Harvest

The construction of the Chapel of San José del Manga was based on drawings Salesian Argentine architect Ernesto Vespignani.  In 1950 the young Italian artist Lino Dinetto, who had been hired to paint the Cathedral of San José, was also contracted to renovate the Chapel of San José Manga.

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From Montevideo we headed for Cape Horn. One of the joys of sailing on board the Queen Mary 2 is that, as a purpose built Ocean Liner, she can make excellent time on the longer sea legs between ports of call. This was greatly appreciated when circumnavigating South America.

On arrival at Cape Horn the ship carried out a number of manoeuvres, over the course of the morning, to give passengers ample time to experience and view this iconic   southernmost headland on the South American continent.

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From Cape Horn the Queen Mary 2 navigated her way through the Beagle Channel, past Usuaia

…and onwards past the many scenic glaciers, including Francia Glacier

Once in the Pacific Ocean our next port of call was Valparaiso. This is the nearest port to the Chilean capital, Santiago. Due to the distance between the port and Santiago we opted for the ship’s excursion which once again proved excellent value for money…

…which gave me the opportunity to see the Presidential Palace that had featured so prominently in the overthrow of the Marxist Salvadore Allende by General Pinochet…

Continuing northwards along the South American western seaboard our next port of call was that of Callao which serves as the ocean gateway to the capital of Peru, Lima. Here again we took a ship’s excursion into the Lima…

and once again I continued my fascination with Governmental Palaces…

On both the above  excursions lunch was included. This gave the opportunity to experience national dishes in both capitals and the quality of each restaurant chosen by Cunard was very good. I would like to add that it was only on our return to the ship, during a conversation with the Senior Maitre ‘d,  that I discovered that the ship had sent teams of chefs and Maitre ‘ds to the chosen restaurants in order to check their food preparation standards prior to passengers eating in the establishment. Well done Cunard.

From Callao we continued our northern passage, the next visit being to the Mexican city of Acapulco. For Queen Mary 2 Acapulco is a ‘tender’ port but that presented little problem. We had visited Acapulco on a number of previous occasions, done the touristy sites such as La Quebrada, so we spent our day in and around the beach bars of Playa Manzanillo

This area is within easy walking distance of the tender and cruise ship docking area and is frequented more by the local people than tourists. Another great day on the Coronas and Tequilas.

Los Angeles was our next port of call and was also the point of a large turnover of passengers. There was just one real visit for us and that was to see, and board, the legendary Queen Mary, berthed at Long Beach and now serving as an hotel and tourist attraction.

We were literally the first passengers off the ship and grabbed the first taxi for the 20 minute  journey…

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*****

We spent some 3 hours exploring Queen Mary and generally having a great time. We then took the Blue line of the local Metro Rapid Transit train to the old historic district of Los Angeles, El Pueblo.

We enjoyed spending a couple of hours wandering around this historic area of old Los Angeles. Touristy  it certainly is but it  has the flavor of Mexico and some very helpful street guides, well worth taking up one of them and getting to know that little bit more of the area and its history. The vibrant colors of the ceramics and woven fabrics, the musical performances and the hot aromas of Mexican Food capped an altogether brilliant day…

Now about that amazing passenger changeover. Amongst others departing that day while we were out and about in Los Angeles were over 800 British nationals. They had been with us since Fort Lauderdale. They were replaced by around 800 Australians and when we returned on board we certainly detected a very different social atmosphere. Quite frankly the ship went into a kind of social overdrive.

Crossing the Pacific Ocean was superb. Balmy weather during the day and lively social evenings into the early hours. as we ploughed on towards Hawaii, our next port of call.

Our morning and early afternoon was spent exploring Waikiki, an area of Hawaii that we had visited on numerous occasions and always thoroughly enjoy, even taking in a few touristy props…

Hawaii was to be the second venue for the ‘Grills Special Social Events’ and we had little idea of what was in store for us until we arrived by coach at the Govenor’s House

…for a reception, tea and cultural afternoon.

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We even time for a spot of croquet on the Govenor’s lawn…

Well my good lady wife did: I found two far more attractive propositions…

The Govenor’s House is not open to the general public and this visit was arranged exclusively by Cunard for Cunard’s guests. An incredibly grand occasion that one I would not have missed for the world.

Our sail away from Hawaii later that evening was also a memorable one, a fitting end to a great visit…

…when I was more than happy to display my purchase of an Hawaiian flag with a fellow Grills guest.

Mahola Hawaii…

More sea days were ahead of us as we steamed towards American Samoa and the island of Pago Pago.

Another of our favourites having visited there on P&O’s Aurora’s world cruise some years prior. There was little secret as to where we would spend our day, Tisa’s Barefoot Bar

http://www.tisasbarefootbar.com/default.aspx

where we spent the morning swimming and snorkelling and the afternoon, well just soaking up the hospitality…

Tisa’s Barefoot Bar is situated a few bays east of Pago Pago on a beach and bay named Alega. It is easily accessed by the local public bus service which will take around 15 -20 minutes. It is very popular with the crews of visiting cruise ships. Some more information and pictures…

http://www.passcal.nmt.edu/~bob/passcal/slise/slise09.htm

Our penultimate port of call was Auckland, New Zealand. Again we had visited this city on a number of occasions however this time we had something special planned. Friends of ours from our Royal naval days were now settled in Auckland so we were taking the opportunity to catch up  little. They lived on the Devonport side of Auckland Harbour which gave us the opportunity to vies Auckland from a different perspective…

That’s Queen Mary 2 berthed in the Auckland background.

Queen Mary 2 had a full day and evening in Auckland which was excellent. It gave us the opportunity to dine with our friends from Devonport and a very nice American couple whom we met in the Queens Grill…

Our final port of call was Sydney though of course the Queen Mary 2 continued on her World Voyage. We berthed at the Woolloomooloo Terminal in Sydney and  disembarked later in the morning…

To our pleasant surprise Cunard had organised a pretty comprehensive coach tour of Sydney and its outlying districts before our eventual transfer to the airport.

(Sydney Harbour entrance looking across to Manley)

(looking down Sydney harbour, QM2 in the distance)

This had been an amazing cruise and apart from visiting a number of ports that are, shall we say, ‘off the beaten track’, it had been a great experience. While transiting the Pacific Ocean the ship had heard the news of the dreadful bush fires in and around Sydney. The Australian contingent on board set about organising many events to raise funds for their country’s disaster appeal. Carol Marlow was on board and donated a Trans Atlantic crossing for two as a prize. One of the great attributes of Cunard lies in its cosmopolitan passenger profiles and that certainly came to the fore on this voyage.

Our adventure wasn’t quite over at Sydney. On receiving our air ticket information we had discovered that we were to fly with British Airways via Bangkok, one of our favourite cities. A small administration fee ensured that we had a 5 day stopover before continuing our journey home.

4 responses to “Queen Mary 2 Southampton to Sydney

  1. Thank you so much for this most interesting review. Hope you and Mrs RS had a healthy and good start into the New Year with hopefully many more nice cruises to come. All the very best for both of you!

  2. Another great blog Richard with some fabulous photos, lovely to see such sunshine in all this miserable weather! We’re off on Qv in June to the Baltic – really looking forward to it. If Mrs SR would like me to send her one of my books for reading on future cruises, please do contact me. Keep up the good work!
    Best
    Lyn

  3. Richard, I have just signed up to follow your blog, they just keep getting better. What is really important is the fact all reports are your own and there is no ‘cut and paste’ from news feeds.

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