Queen Elizabeth Day 3: A Queen in Sydney

Cunard President Peter Shanks

It doesn’t matter how many times I sail into Sydney, the sight of the harbour’s glistening lights as the liner eases her way through the heads is ever breathtaking.

My blaring alarm made way for an almost eery silence as my fellow passengers took to their balconies and the open decks to behold the beauty of one of the most glorious harbours in the world.

With many people bidding adieu to the Queen in Sydney, there was almost a solemness about the occasion, an unspoken acknowledgement that, for many, their segment of the world cruise was nearing an end.

My Aunty and I waved at the people who had waited at Circular Quay to welcome our ship before tucking ourselves back up in bed…after all, we still had another full day and night to enjoy!

Now I may be cruising with the Queen but I had morning tea with the President…of Cunard that is.

Peter Shanks was in town for dinner with the 700 world voyage passengers at Sydney Town Hall that evening and had arranged to meet with media in the ‘Commodore Club’.

Located on deck ten, the ‘Commodore Club’ is a quiet lounge overlooking the front of the ship that celebrates Cunard and its extensive maritime history with lavish furnishings and beautiful artwork.

I was especially looking forward to the opportunity to thank Mr Shanks personally for what had been a very memorable first-time experience and was also keen to have a chat to him about his ever-popular blog!

Something I always admire is the passion that comes across in blogs written by those high up in companies. There is a certain je ne sais quoi about the writing style that truly endears the blogger to you no matter how senior they may be, when normally you may only have access to PR driven press releases and statements.

The suit and tie forgotten, Mr Shanks displays his ‘real’ self on ‘We Are Cunard’ both through his words and the polo shirt clad image of Mr Shanks and his dog, which, as it turns out generates a lot of comments!

Interested to find out if the older demographic that Cunard is known for have taken to the blog as much as the younger generation has for other cruise lines, I’m delighted to find out that they have!

Mr Shanks gushed about how much he enjoys sharing his Cunard experiences with passengers and let me in on the fact that he is quite often approached on sailings by those wanting to discuss the topics he has written about.

“It not only brings Cunard to life but also brings modernity to the brand. Our readers feel like they are part of a community,” Mr Shanks shared with me.

Returning to my cabin, it was a tad odd to be overlooking a cruise terminal rather than an endless expanse of ocean, but a sparkling Sydney summer day awaited me and I knew where I want to be celebrating it…aft pool ahoy!

With most passengers out exploring my beautiful city, my new found friends and I have virtually exclusive access to the pool and we while away the hours talking about life, love…and whether we should try the ‘Lido Grill’ rather than the ‘Lido Buffet’ for lunch.

Decision made, I tucked into a scrumptious burger washed down by a muddled Mai Tai. Calories were farthest from mind…I was too busy focussing on the spa treatment I had booked in that afternoon!

Heading to the ‘Royal Spa’ on deck ten, I was taken through to a waiting area that seems more like an oasis with cushioned lounges, an array of tea and windows overlooking what would have been a spectacular view had we not been in port!

My therapist, Sarah, guided me through essential oil filled hallways to the treatment room where she explained the blissful plans she had in store for me over the next two hours.

Choosing to experience the ‘Elemis Absolute Spa Ritual’, I lay back, exhaled and prepared myself for a one hour facial and one hour massage. It was going to be tough but someone had to take one for the team and I’m sure my aunty would have just hated this!

Sarah was a phenomenal therapist…someone who not only knew the product inside out, but her execution was just perfect as well.

The amount of times I have been disappointed with a massage because they haven’t properly understood my desire for firmness were forgotten as this massage goddess kneaded away the aches and pains generated from transporting my ridiculously heavy luggage for the past few weeks!

Was it possible to get more relaxed? It seemed it was because the Elemis facial Sarah had in store for me took my skin and I to a semi meditative state I hadn’t thought accessible with the amount of things on my ever growing ‘to do’ list!

The Tri Enzyme Facial revealed smooth, tight and heavenly illuminous skin that was so flawless it seemed like I was wearing make up!

I floated back to my cabin geared up for the exciting plans I had scheduled in for the rest of the evening…drifting off into a blissful sleep was going to have to wait until much, much later!

The fabulous ‘Aussie Boys’ were the guest entertainers on this segment and, having sailed with them aboard two other ships in the past three months alone, I knew that my fellow passengers and I were in for a treat!

Andrew, Lyndon and Zac make up the trio who put their stylish stamp on Aussie classics including “True Blue” and “Waltzing Matilda” with some Kylie and Farnsy thrown in for good measure.

Their charm, charisma and talent exuded from the stage and the crowd was very quickly tapping their toes and singing along to songs that transported us through the years and made me really proud to be an Australian.

With their flawless harmonies echoing in my mind, my aunty and I headed to ‘The Verandah’ to experience French cuisine at its best.

The intimate specialty restaurant is conveniently located on Deck Two by the atrium and bookings are recommended to avoid disappointment.

With appetizers averaging at USD$6 and entrees (a.k.a mains) priced at an average of USD$18 the value is incredible for this calibre of fine dining.

Escorted to our table by the window, Helen and I need not be overwhelmed by the extensive menu in front of us with our waiter guiding us through her suggestions and our sommelier pairing wines accordingly.

Dining on garlic drizzled escargot I could have been sitting in a charming French restaurant in Paris…in my mind though, there was nowhere I would rather be than sitting right there in ‘The Verandah’ aboard the most regal liner I had ever sailed upon, the ever-charming Queen Elizabeth.

Originally written by Natalie Aroyan for e-Travel Blackboard

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