If you are planning a cruise and want it to become a conversation piece at a party of the crème de la crème of UAE society, then book yourself on an 85-day around-the-world trip on the Queen Mary 2 (pictured above), or QM2 as she is popularly known.
At Dh600,000, a reservation in the penthouse suite will make it the most expensive cruise in the world. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the company of Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip, former French President Jacques Chirac, singer Rod Stewart or tycoon Donald Trump, as these are exactly the kind of people you are likely to bump into on this ship.
So if you want to be on that ocean liner when it departs from Florida on January 13, 2009, then you must hurry as bookings for this landmark cruise are already being taken.
Neil King, head of international sales at Carnival Corporation, the company that owns the QM2, told Emirates Business: “Bookings for all our cruises take place at least six to 12 months before and the booking for this trip began in September last year.”
If the timing of the world cruise doesn’t fit in with your holiday plans but you still want to have the QM2 experience, don’t be disheartened as you can always book yourself on the ocean liner’s transatlantic cruise.
At Dh138,800 per head for the penthouse suite for a six-day trip from Southampton to New York, this is the most expensive transatlantic cruise in the world. “However, it is likely that you might not be able to book yourself into the penthouse on this trip as there is a waiting list for these suites,” said King.
So what makes these cruises so expensive and high-profile? King has this to say: “These ocean liners are designed to go around the world in rough seas. For this reason they have to have a big hull and a bulbous bow to reduce drag, increase speed, range and fuel efficiency. It can carry 2,620 passengers and 1,263 officers and crew. So it is these design specifications that make it so expensive. It cost Dh3.3 billion to make.”
But surely passengers are not paying just for the design of the ship, what about the facilities? “Of course, we have the best facilities in the world on board the ship,” says King.
The QM2 has 14,164 square metres of exterior deck space, with wind screens to shield passengers from gusts as the ship travels at high speeds. The ship has five swimming pools, four of which are outdoors. One of these is only 2.5cm deep for the use of small children. The fifth pool is indoors on Deck 12, and it is covered with a retractable magrodome.
Contrary to the traditional practice on ocean liners, the main public rooms of the QM2 are on the lowest public decks of the ship, with the passenger cabins stacked above. This allowed for larger rooms to be contained within the stronger hull, as well as for more cabins to have private balconies.
Deck Two, the lowest passenger deck, contains the Royal Court theatre, a planetarium, a casino, a pub and the lower level of the Britannia Restaurant, one of the 15 restaurants aboard the ship. Deck Three holds the upper levels of the planetarium, the Royal Court theatre and the Britannia Restaurant, as well as a small shopping arcade, a Veuve Cliquot champagne bar, the Chart Room, Sir Samuel’s wine bar, the Queen’s Room, and the G32 Nightclub.
The other main public deck is Deck Seven, on which are the Canyon Ranch Spa, Winter Garden, King’s Court, the Queen’s Grill Lounge, and the Queen’s Grill and Princess Grill restaurants for higher-fare passengers.
The public rooms on Deck Eight include the à la carte Todd English restaurant, a library, a book shop and the upper part of the Canyon Ranch Spa. Also on Deck Eight is a large outdoor pool and terrace at the stern.
The King’s Court area on the ship is open 24 hours a day, serving as a buffet restaurant. The overall space is divided into quarters, with each decorated according to the theme of the four alternate dining venues that are “created” each evening through lighting, tableware, and menus: Lotus, which specialises in Asian cuisine, the Carvery, a British-style grille; La Piazza, with Italian food and the Chef's Galley, which offers an interactive experience to food preparation.
From midnight onwards the La Piazza section stays open as a buffet until 6am, when the full space opens again to serve breakfast.
King said: “We are the only ones to have a planetarium at sea. Our suites are bigger and each of our penthouse suites has a butler attached to them who caters to every need and fancy of patrons. We also boast of the biggest hospital with state-of-the art medical facilities at sea and the biggest library.”
Cruise that's fit for a queen