In the golden age of ocean travel, it was all about travelling in style. Sometimes that was more important than the actual destination. The convenience of air travel took over, but those who dream of long days and nights at sea will be delighted to know the Cunard Line has introduced the regal Queen Victoria to their impressive fleet.
She was built by Fincantieri Cantieri Navali SpA at the Marghere Shipyard near Venice at a cost of $580 million. One of the most technically advanced shipbuilders in the world, the company has built over 7000 vessels. The new Queen is 294 metres long, 32.2 metres wide, 54.5 metres high and has a comfortable capacity for 2000 guests who enjoy 12 decks. More than three quarters of the staterooms are outside and most have balconies.
Queen Victoria is the second largest Cunard Liner ever built and she joins her sister ships, the legendary Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2. For the first time in the company's 168-year history, the three Cunard Queens are in service together.
The latest Queen set out on her inaugural world tour from Southampton in the United Kingdom, and Getaway was privileged to board her for an exclusive preview cruise from Fiji to Auckland before making her Australian debut. Captain Paul Wright and his crew of 1000 presented her to Sydneysiders on Saturday at 5.30am as she entered The Heads for an overnight stay at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay.
The ship's first visit to Sydney marked a bitter-sweet occasion. She was joined in Sydney Harbour by the QE2 who is on her farewell journey, surely a sad occasion for the many people who have sailed on her. Queen Elizabeth 2 arrived at 7am on Sunday and berthed at Garden Island before later relocating to the International Passenger Terminal. She has given 40 years of service, travelling the world. She will be retired from active service in late 2008 to become a floating hotel at Palm Jumeirah, Dubai.
The two grand ocean liners passed on either side of Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour on Sunday evening, accompanied by all sorts of small vessels to mark the occasion. The Queens acknowledged their royal presence with a whistle salute which could be heard for 16 kilometres.
Queen Victoria offers the first museum-at-sea with interesting artefacts and memorabilia for browsing, an Internet centre for keeping up-to-date, a conference centre hosting celebrity speakers and an impressively stocked two-storey library. There is a special children's program for very lucky young passengers.
The three-tiered Grand Lobby has a sweeping staircase, marble floors, sculptured balconies and touches of gold.
There is a casino, cigar lounge, chart room, pub, 830 seat theatre complete with box seats, winter garden, shopping arcade, a glass-domed nightclub and a spa and fitness centre. Afternoon tea is served by white-gloved waiters, a café serves specialty teas, coffees and indulgent pastries.
A wide variety of fine dining will suit all tastes. Choose from Queen's Grill, Princess Grill, Britannia Restaurant, Todd English Restaurant, Lido, Golden Lion, The Courtyard, The Grill Lounge, The Grills Terrace and The Grills Upper Terrace.