Im­pres­sions of cruise ship cul­ture

Valley Journal Advertiser - - OPINION - Wendy El­liott

I could be aboard the Queen Mary 2 this week sailing from Brook­lyn, New York to Southamp­ton, Eng­land. The jour­ney, over seven nights, would have cost $1,100 for an in­te­rior state­room.

Not that I was se­ri­ously tempted let me tell you, but I was cu­ri­ous af­ter en­joy­ing lunch aboard the largest ocean liner ever built. She was docked re­cently in Hal­i­fax.

While wait­ing to pass through strict se­cu­rity be­fore board­ing, one of the 2,675 pas­sen­gers head­ing out on a day trip joked, “leave us some food.”

Our first im­pres­sion was the el­e­gance those trav­el­ers had de­parted.

While we were sip­ping mi­mosas, Cap­tain Chris Wells wel­comed us to the flag­ship of the Cu­nard line for a Cana­dian Mar­itime Her­itage Foun­da­tion event. Sa­muel Cu­nard was a Cana­dian, born in Hal­i­fax, who had ves­sels cross­ing the At­lantic in 1840. Un­doubted her­itage.

The orig­i­nal Queen Mary be­gan her voy­ages in 1936. Her suc­ces­sor, which went into ser­vice in 2004, re­placed the Queen Eliz­a­beth 2 when she re­tired in 2008. She has 14 decks and tow­ered over Pier 21.

We toured some of Queen Mary 2’s fa­cil­i­ties. They in­clude 15 restau­rants and bars, five swim­ming pools, a casino, a ball­room, and a theatre, which dou­bles as the first plan­e­tar­ium at sea.

There were fresh flow­ers ev­ery­where and many vis­ual ref­er­ences to Bri­tish roy­alty. Live mu­sic is not un­usual. We lis­tened to a jazz trio be­fore the speeches and learned the danc­ing floor is the largest aboard any ves­sel.

Ob­vi­ously an ocean liner with a float­ing art gallery at­tracts the lux­ury class, but the pas­sen­gers who re­mained on board did not ap­pear snobby. The av­er­age age is over 70. The more voy­ages one un­der­takes the cheaper the pric­ing is.

Our tour guide ex­plained that 75,000 eggs are re­quired for a seven-day voy­age. He also told us the Queen Mary 2 can “turn on a six­pence.” She has four sta­bi­liz­ers while most cruise boats only have two. So I would prob­a­bly get less sea sick aboard her.

The liner was in­tended for rou­tine cross­ings of the At­lantic Ocean, so she was de­signed dif­fer­ently from many other pas­sen­ger ships.

Ex­penses were in­creased by the high qual­ity of ma­te­ri­als and as an ocean liner, she re­quired 40 per cent more steel than a stan­dard cruise ship. The Queen Mary 2 is pow­ered pri­mar­ily by four diesel en­gines, with two ad­di­tional gas tur­bines for ex­tra power.

I was de­lighted to learn there is one deck on board that houses pets. An in­for­ma­tion panel harken­ing back to the orig­i­nal Queen Mary had illustrations of ponies and rac­coons, as well as the usual spoiled dogs and cats.

There’s an­other deck that in­cludes an ac­tual morgue. Our guide said the Queen Mary 2 com­monly has three deaths on board each year.

When con­ceiv­ing the liner, her de­sign­ers aimed to re­duce the ship’s im­pact on the environment by im­prov­ing fuel ef­fi­ciency and through bet­ter man­age­ment of waste. Four­teen years later, ac­cord­ing to Cu­nard, the ship ex­ceeds some re­quire­ments of the In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion for the Pre­ven­tion of Pol­lu­tion From Ships, but it’s hardly per­fect en­vi­ron­men­tally.

Ev­ery year, mil­lions of peo­ple take cruise va­ca­tions on gi­gan­tic float­ing play­grounds, but most trav­el­ers do not re­al­ize that tak­ing a cruise is more harm­ful to the environment and hu­man health than many other forms of travel.

There is a Cruise Ship Re­port Card that al­lows va­ca­tion­ers to de­cide which cruise to board based on a cruise line’s en­vi­ron­men­tal and hu­man health im­pacts. The Cu­nard Line as a whole comes in sec­ond.

There was an un­doubted glam­our to be­ing aboard the Queen Mary 2. I felt some priv­i­lege be­ing able to visit, but the lure of a trans At­lantic voy­age just isn’t there for me.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.