Cunard’s youngest liner, the magnificent Queen Elizabeth, on her maiden visit to Adelaide.
Royalty rocked into Adelaide last week, in the impressive shape of Cunard’s youngest liner, the Queen Elizabeth, on her maiden visit to Adelaide. While 2016 marks Queen Elizabeth’s fifth visit to Australia , this is her first South Australian call and one that makes sense, given that almost half of the Australian wine served on board comes from right here.
This visit last week is the first of two historic Cunard visits to South Australia this season, with Queen Victoria set to make the cruise line’s first call to Kangaroo Island next month on March 4. The Cunard flagship, Queen Mary 2, is scheduled to make her first visit to Kangaroo Island in 2017, making it pretty clear that South Australia, with our stunning landscapes, exceptional food and celebrated wine regions, is well and truly part of the global cruise map.
I spent several hours on a tour of this magnificent ship – most of it slack-jawed with awe at the impressive dimensions, beautiful spaces and astonishing attention to detail. While I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a week on a cruise liner once before, that really hadn’t prepared me for the kind of luxury and splendour which are Cunard’s hallmarks.
The 90,900-tonne Queen Elizabeth is 294 metres long and the second largest of the Cunard line. Launched in 2010, the ship features 1,074 staterooms, more than 700 of which have private balconies, with six main suites. She has more than 10 restaurants and cafés, a games deck featuring croquet, paddle tennis and bowls, a leaded glass-decorated library which holds 6,000 books, the two-storey Queen’s Room ballroom and a 800-seat, three-decked Royal Court Theatre featuring private boxes.
Under the control of Captain Inger Klein Thorhauge of the Farro Islands, the ship carries more than 2,000 guests, a large contingent of which are Australians. Contrary to popular notions of cruising, Captain Thorhauge commented on the fact that a discernibly growing number of younger people were attracted to this kind of travel – and given the facilities, I can certainly see why.
Keeping this many people fed and watered is no mean feat either and one that falls under the purview of Food and Beverage Manager Jeff Morgan. According to Jeff, the ship operates a 21-day menu cycle which is tweaked according to the regions the ship travels in. They have a 24 hour kitchen with 200 brigades and 140 chefs. All the wines are chosen in Cunard’s Southampton by their wine selection team and are under the care of the 21 sommeliers onboard ship.
Between them, the Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 will make a total of 18 calls to Australian ports this current season, with the Queen Victoria making an eight-night round trip from Sydney, visiting Hobart and Melbourne and dropping in on Kangaroo Island.
It wasn’t until I was on board that I discovered that it was possible to get a berth on board the Queen Elizabeth to travel from Adelaide to Melbourne. The two night cruise was offered for a very reasonable price and one I would have gladly paid for a taste of what must be a truly exceptional experience. I’ll be keeping an eye open for just such an opportunity next time round!