Sophistication, elegance and old-world charm are just a few ways to describe the royal experience the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner offers her passengers.
A floating entertainment centre for well-heeled elderly travellers – complete with mortuary in case of death – is another, as was seen when the stately Cunard liner docked in the Port Elizabeth harbour for the day on Sunday.
With 13 decks, an indoor swimming pool with a retractable ceiling, two outdoor swimming pools, a sports deck with a short tennis court, golf net and two shuffle boards, the liner also boasts the world’s largest sea library, with about 80 000 books.
She also houses the only mortuary on sea, which has space for eight corpses, kennels for dogs and cats and – among the more popular public facilities – a casino, art gallery and two theatres.
One of the theatres, Illuminations, has 480 seats and is the world’s only 3D theatre on sea that offers a planetarium which allows passengers the chance to view the stars and offers a virtual ride into outer space.
The 345m vessel arrived in the harbour after 4am and set sail for Mauritius last night with about 3 000 passengers on board.
They had paid on average £40 000 (about R676 000) for a round-the-world trip.
Entertainment host David Picton, who has been working on board the vessel for four years, said in the first seven days of the four-month trip around the world from Southampton to New York City, 74 000 eggs were consumed.
“The planning process was a bit of a logistical nightmare but there is enough food to last forever on this ship. We are much like a floating island – we even make our own fresh water from the salt water.”
When the vessel travelled across the Atlantic Ocean, it often sailed over the wreck of the Titanic.
Thankfully, however, the liner was sturdy enough to withstand any rough sea conditions, he said.
“On a liner the ceilings are higher than on a cruise ship and the corridors are wider, which gives a sense of space.
“Apparently there was a storm on Saturday night but you would not feel it on board because we have eight stabilisers, so in any weather conditions our passengers would have a good sleep.”