Liner with majesty of a city

By John Roughan

Apart from the Prime Minister and a few others invited for lunch, non-passengers will not be allowed on board Queen Mary 2 during its stay in Auckland today. So let me smuggle you inside.

The gangway enters low on the hull and security checks are made just inside.

Past those, you'll soon emerge in a high circular lobby of a hotel. An ocean liner is a hotel and an electric power station and a water desalination plant among other things. This is a self-contained town, population 4000.

Twin staircases rise from the lobby and glass-fronted lifts ascend through the ceiling. You can see a mall of brand-name boutiques on the second floor but we are not going up there.

Come along the main hall, past the English pub on the left and the casino opposite.

The hall stops at the main dining room, a cavernous place straddling the width of the ship on two levels. It can seat all 2600 passengers in two sittings.

Now come back to the lobby and go forward into the bow. Here is the theatre where musicals and drama are performed by a travelling company. Come further forward and find the "planetarium", or a cinematic version of one.

On the way, notice the seats at windows near the water level. At sea it is wonderful to watch the bow wave from here.

You'd suppose the best parts of the ship are high in the superstructure but it is not so. Some of the most pleasant, and most of the entertainments, are down in the hull, close to the water. The rest are on the main deck or the deck above.

There's not much reason to go higher unless it is to read in the library, which has a bow view, or to be pummelled and pampered in the jacuzzi, or enjoy the view ahead from a lounge up there.

Inside all four wide stairways link all 13 passenger decks.

Don't let any of this suggest you will quickly get your bearings in here. There's a plan of the ship on every stairway landing but after a week I'm convinced the monster is designed to keep us guessing.

Passengers searching for some venue or other admit they've been on board for the five weeks of the world voyage so far. We have been happily, sedately, all at sea.

* John Roughan travelled on the Queen Mary 2 as a guest of Cunard.

Cadet brings royal girl home to parents

When the Queen Mary 2 glides into the Port of Auckland this morning, a young officer cadet will have his proudest moment.

Audi Teveswill be on the bridge when it berths in his hometown. The 20-year-old from Bucklands Beach has been training on the Cunard liners since November and has drawn the 4am-8am watch.

If he is not at the helm he will be close to it. Cadet mariners learn their skills at the elbow of watch officers.

"It's going to be great," he said. "Auckland's my home and there could be nothing to beat being there when we bring in the ... most prestigious ocean liner in the world. It's like being part of history."

Audi - "named after the car" - said his family, including sisters Porsche and Ghia and older brother Daimler, intended to watch the arrival and his mates had "better be there".

Audi went to Macleans College and the Auckland Maritime School, where he was offered sea experience by Cunard's parent company.

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