Tuesday, 27 March 2012

QE2 Voyages (1999 - 2003)

Each year from 1999 to 2003 I sailed aboard QE2 on sectors of her annual world cruise. On my first cruise aboard her I was taken by the style of the ship and the history that seemed to be imbued in her ambience. The most startling thing for me at the time was the predominence of the elderly. At least that made me feel young, if relatively poor. I was also interested in seeing and meeting some of the passengers from social milieus that I'd never encountered until then. It was also interesting to see the large number of regulars, mostly from US and UK who took the entire world cruise, year after year. At the other end of the financial scale, there were numerous little old English 'churchmouse' ladies who took cupboard-size indoor cabins at a rock-bottom price and who presumably spent little on board. Sadly, by 2003, I felt the ship was trading too much on her name and that her time had come. The service on board was patchy, varying between good and very poor, the food was average and the housekeeping and maintenance were of a poor standard.However, I was very glad of the cruises I had aboard her. She was truly a significant part of maritime history.

1999 - Papeete to Melbourne

QE2 at Papeete 29th. January 1999, just prior to my embarking.

My very comfortable, old-fashioned C2 grade cabin on One Deck.
The Sun Deck.
The Boat Deck.
Liferaft drill for the crew.

The One Deck pool.
The Pavillion - pool bar and grill.
Tendering ashore at Nuku'alofa.

The Caronia restaurant.
One of my table waiters - Steffi from Germany.

The Crystal Bar - the bartender wasn't surly (as he looks), I just caught him by surprise.
The Queens Room - ballroom.
Me in much younger days.

Norwegian Star already alongside in Auckland. She was to become another favourite ship of mine when I cruised on her 3 times later that year.
Passengers and their guests during a bridge visit in Auckland. In those days passengers could invite guests on board

The view from the Auckland Sky Tower.
Sailing the next afternoon. Crystal Symphony alongside.
The Chart Room Bar.
The gallery outside the Chart Room Bar.
The Yacht Club (nightclub).
Friends of mine aboard.
At Circular Quay, Sydney.
Arriving at Melbourne on February 11th. 1999. The pilot bringing the ship in was my good friend Captain Charles Griffiths. (Photo from The Age newspaper).

 2000 - Auckland to Cairns

QE2 at Auckland, 7th. February 2000.
On this cruise I was fortunate to be upgraded to this Q2 grade, Queens Grill cabin.

The cabin came with this full bathroom and dressing room.
The Queens Grill Restaurant - the highest grade on the ship.
The Queens Grill Lounge and bar.

Me in my new tux.
At Lyttelton.

While at Lyttelton, an acquaintance of one of my on board friends took us for a tour of the area in his classic Rolls Royce.
My table mates (from US, UK and Monte Carlo).

The length and camber of the ship can be appreciated in this photo of the Three Deck alleyway.
In Milford Sound.

After we left Milford Sound we encountered some very rough seas, for which the west coast of the southern end of New Zealand's South Island is notorious.

I disembarked the ship by catamaran from the ship at anchor off Yorkey's Knob near Cairns.

 2001 - Fremantle to Hong Kong

QE2 in Melbourne on 13th. February prior to my embarking in Fremantle on the 18th. On this day, Regal Princess and Silver Cloud were also berthed at Station Pier.

Silver Cloud at Inner East Station Pier.

One Deck pool area with Regal Princess in the background.

On this cruise I was upgraded, again, this time to a Queens Grill QG grade cabin. While the cabin was very comfortable and I was certainly thankful for the upgrade, I would hardly have rated the cabin as Ultra Deluxe (as described in the brochures). The cabin was not large, had only one porthole and had a bar fridge stuck in the middle of the room. Had I paid the brochure rate of over $1500 per day for this cabin I would have been far from happy.

The ship at anchor off Padang Bay.
Tendering ashore by ship's lifeboats.

The wharf at Padang Bay.

Lunching in the Britannia Grill restaurant with my friends Barbara and Frank from New York.
Alongside at Manila.
The crew gangway at Manila.
Until 9/11 ruined so much, when in Manila the many Filipinos in the crew could invite their families aboard the ship for the day. The bridge was also open for the visitors. Other (non-Filipino) crew members covered the Filipino's duties so they could spend the day with their families. I was very impressed with the pastoral care exhibited by the ship's staff from the Captain down.
The view from the starboard bridge wing.

Just prior to sailing.
The view of the ship from a train in Kobe.

Early afternoon arrival at Hong Kong.
Superstar Leo alongside the Ocean Terminal as we berthed.
The bridge team as the ship sailed from Hong Kong.

My room at the Shangri La Hotel, Hong Kong.
I flew home from Hong Kong to Melbourne (via Adelaide) on this Cathay Pacific 747.
 2002 - Auckland to Melbourne

My very comfortable C1 grade cabin on Two Deck.

Regal Princess about to sail from Auckland, taken from QE2 as she sailed, 7th. February, 2002. I arrived in Auckland aboard Regal Princess that morning before transferring to QE2 that afternoon.
QE2 at Port Chalmers.
The recently refurbished Queens Room.
Afternoon tea in the Queens Room.
The refurbished Midships Lobby.

In Milford Sound.

One of my on board friends, Barbara.
The recently refurbished Caronia Restaurant.

My friend Bettye with our table waitress and Maitre D' David Thompson.

The Sydney pilot boarding.
Approaching Circular Quay, stern first.

The Chart Room bar.
This piano used to be aboard the original Queen Mary.

Back in Melbourne on 16th. February, 2002.
2003 - Melbourne to Darwin

QE2 arriving at Melbourne, 10th. February, 2003.
My Three Deck C2 cabin, while roomy enough, was rather dated and shabby.

The Yacht Club - many a late night was spent here.

A model of Cunard's first ship, Britannia, outside the Yacht Club.
A painting and a model of the first Mauretenia on Quarter Deck, outside the Caronia Restaurant.

QE2 at Sydney on 13th. February.

The Britannia Grill, my favourite.
The Princess Grill.
The recently refurbished Queens Grill restaurant and lounge.

The view from the bridge at Fisherman's Island container terminal, Brisbane.
On the flight home from Darwin to Melbourne.

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