Famous visitor on first port call

An inside look of the Queen Mary 2. Photos: Nikki South. See more photos below.

There’s a difference between the Queen Mary 2 and the bevy of other cruise ships calling at the Port of Tauranga as part of the current season.

The Queen Mary is the only actual passenger liner designed for actually working the trans-Atlantic passenger service from Southampton to New York.

There are differences in size and shape, all tracked back to that purpose. She’s intended to make seven day Atlantic crossings in all weathers, at not slow from her cruising speed of 25 knots, which in car driver terms is just over

Captain Peter Philpott views the Cunard flagship as the most prestigious ship in the world.

”She’s recognised all around the world I think as the most prestigious ship around, a genuine ocean liner probably the only genuine ocean liner with scheduled trans-Atlantic crossings left.

“She’s built for trans-Atlantic crossings in any weather. She will maintain her schedule between Southampton and New York despite what the Atlantic throws at her. So she was built and designed for that; very strong, very deep draught ship, with extensive power and very comfortable in rough seas.”

The Pacific Ocean has been kind so far say Peter, and the New Zealand coast very kind.

“She’s even better when it’s calm.”

He was last in Tauranga in 2009 on the Pacific Sun, but started his career at sea on bulk carriers and tankers.

“If you said I would have ended up captain of the Queen Mary 2, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

The Queen Mary 2 is currently on a 120 day world tour, with about 300 of the 2,555 passengers on board staying for the duration.

Port of Tauranga CEO Mark Cairns and Queen Mary 2 Captain Peter Philpott. Photo: Nikki South.

The Queen Mary 2 is draws more water than the boxy shaped cruise ships that make up the bulk of the passenger carriers, and is longer in the bow. She needs 10 meters of water in which to float, which is too deep for the normal passenger ship berths at the north end of the wharf.

Early planning was to berth the ship further down the wharf but Port of Tauranga CEO Mark Cairns says a customer graciously agreed to move and she is alongside for her first Tauranga port call at the No 3 berth which has a maximum permitted draught of 12m.

Media were invited to a small on board ceremony which takes place on ships making a first port call – the swapping of the plaques by Port of Tauranga CEO Mark Cairns and the ships master Peter Philpott.

The ceremony took place at a bar overlooking the ship’s stern, giving the shoreside party an opportunity to appreciate the what the 345m length means when you have to walk most of it from the gangway near the bow along corridors that seem to run the length of the ship. Photographer Nikki South’s pedometer recorded 5.5km of walking during the brief ship tour following the ceremony.

From the longitudinal corridors the media party took a lift up eight levels and exited to the art deco luxury of the Cunard flagship’s public spaces.

It’s a style Cunard owns and the there are other nods to the line’s history with the art in the stairwells the lifts, and the public lounges. The designs for the 234,000m2 of carpets were taken from the Original Queen Mary. They are renewed every five years.

The Queen Mary 2 has the largest library afloat, and keeps a cigar lounge, the Churchill Lounge near the bow with the cigars on display in the humidor, and a selection of cognac - and a grumpy faced sculpture of the man himself in a corner.

Here are more than ten restaurants and cafes with a separate galley for each restaurant, each with their own chef, and a galley for the crew.

The Queen Mary 2 is scheduled to depart for the Bay of Islands at 6pm.


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