It is probable very few people spotted Queen Mary 2 off the
Otago coast shortly after daybreak last Friday morning.
Having left Akaroa the previous evening, the Cunarder was
leisurely cruising past on a passage taking it south of
Stewart Island before arriving at Fiordland on Saturday.
QM2, as it is dubbed, is currently on a round voyage, world
cruise starting from Southampton. It left there on January
10, and returns on April 26.
On the New Zealand leg of this 106-day voyage, the ship is
circumnavigating the country to mark Captain James Cook's
voyage in HMS Endeavour more than 240 years ago.
Cook was the first European to give names to areas in this
region. When off the coast of Otago on February 25, 1770, he
observed two landmarks on the Otago Peninsula which he named
after Admiral Sir Charles Saunders, Cape Saunders and Mount
A little further south he gave us Saddle Hill, then down the
coast what was changed to Molyneux Harbour, being named after
Endeavour's sailing master Robert Molineux.
The ship left Milford Sound later on Saturday, and is due in
Sydney tomorrow. When it arrives there it will have travelled
31,761.96 nautical miles, or 40,498.33km since leaving
Although it spends much of its time cruising, the ship
continues the Cunard tradition of still operating and
maintaining a passenger liner service across the North
Atlantic between Southampton and New York, but not on such a
regular frequency as in the past.
For that reason QM2 is of stronger construction with much
more steel being used in the superstructure.
The ship had the distinction of being the first Cunarder, and
their first Queen, to be ordered from a shipyard outside the
United Kingdom. It was built in France by the Chantiers de
Atlantique yard at St Nazaire. Completed in December, 2003,
it is the oldest of the three ships in the Cunard fleet, with
the Queen Victoria entering service in 2007 and Queen
Elizabeth in 2010, both built in Italy.
Last Wednesday, Wellington turned on its charm when QM2
followed Celebrity Solstice into port. The latter vessel had
arrived from Akaroa, where the Cunard vessel was headed.
Both vessels have now claimed records for Akaroa Harbour in
recent weeks. On its first visit on December 16, Celebrity
Solstice became the largest and longest visitor to the
harbour at 121,878gt and 317.19m.
These figures have now been surpassed by the 148,258gt,
345.03m long Queen Mary 2, the largest and longest vessel of
its type seen in New Zealand waters. It was last out this way
two years ago and at the last minute had to be diverted from
Lyttelton because of the February 22 earthquake.
The liner is also the largest unit in the Carnival group's
fleet, some of whose Carnival Cruise Line vessels have been
in the news of late.
First a fire in the engine room of Carnival Triumph, saw it
drifting in the Gulf of Mexico without power and sanitation
for four days before it was towed to Mobile, Alabama. The
ship is now back in service.
Nine days ago Carnival Elation was towed into port because of
steering problems, then three days later Carnival Dream was
stranded at the island of St Maarten due to a generator
problem. Since then, Carnival Legend has limped back to Tampa
with an issue over one of its propulsion units.
It would not have been a pleasant trip for about 500
passengers on the 37,914gt 1987-built ferry Oscar Wilde on a
voyage from Ireland last week.
Normally an overnight passage, it was 24 hours late arriving
at Cherbourg last Wednesday because of rough seas.
After five attempts to berth the ship there was another four
hours' delay, with passengers not able to disembark because
the bow would not open. After the hydraulic problem was
rectified passengers were greeted on shore by about half a
metre of snow on the ground.
- Doug Wright