Mary was all ours for a day

By Rebecca Lewis

While the well-heeled passengers of the world's largest passenger liner Queen Mary 2 headed off on day trips or a spot of shopping in the sunshine, one passenger dashed home to mow her lawns.

First-time cruiser Fay Newby, of Torbay, left the liner's 2600 passengers to explore the City of Sails and instead spent the day doing domestic chores.

"I was just keen to come home and cut the grass and catch up with neighbours before returning to the ship for our sumptuous dinner."

After a month on board living in the lap of luxury, Newby, who is cruising on the Queen Mary 2 with her husband, said she wanted to pop home "for a bit of a catch up and a tidy up" before rejoining the ship and heading for Sydney, the liner's next stop on its 80-day maiden world voyage.

Watching from the deck as the 151,400-tonne Cunard liner slid into Rangitoto Channel at dawn yesterday morning, Newby said she was proud to come home and see the welcome Auckland turned on, with both sides of the waterfront lined with people, and North Head and Mt Victoria covered with sightseers. A flotilla of boats of all sizes, including the steam tug the William C Daldy and two former America's Cup yachts, set sail before dawn to meet and greet the $1.1 billion cruise ship. Several helicopters and small planes kept watch overhead.

Ahead was the tugboat Tamaki which fired two huge water spouts across the Queen Mary 2's bows as the massive ship made its way slowly up the channel.

As the ship approached North Head it sounded its horn to the several thousand people who had been there since before dawn to witness the arrival.

Proud too was New Zealand-born captain Christopher Rynd, on the ship's massive bridge as it entered the harbour.

Auckland was "best dressed" in welcoming in "the greatest ocean liner in the world", he said.

"It was a great thrill coming down the Waitemata this morning. Very proud, very proud."

Rynd commands a ship that has 2000 bathrooms, 3000 telephones, 2500km of electrical cable and is the biggest but one in the world. It is too high to sail under the Auckland Harbour Bridge and could not berth at the international cruise liner terminal at Princes Wharf because of its length.

Instead, some of the world's wealthiest passengers disembarked at the less-than glamorous Jellicoe container wharf and were bussed into town.

Those remaining on board may have been startled to see a two-storey house float past the giant ship's stern on a barge on its way to a new site. The house was being moved from Waiheke Island to the Waitemata Rowing Club in Henderson Creek.

After less than 18 hours in our waters, the luxury liner sailed late last night accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display and headed for Sydney, where she will dock with her 70,000-tonne sister ship, Queen Elizabeth 2 on Tuesday.

With her household chores completed, Fay Newby said she could not wait to rejoin the Queen Mary 2.

"I used to think the fun was all in the anticipation but I can't wait to see what everyone thought of Auckland.

"It's just been unreal. I feel like I've been elevated to fairyland for a while, and I've never been so proud to be an Aucklander."

- HERALD ON SUNDAY, additional reporting NZPA

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