Cruisers on a roll

By Denise Montgomery

A ship is like a second home to regular cruisers, writes Denise Montgomery.
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 - regular cruisers say holidaying at sea isn't as expensive as people imagine.
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 - regular cruisers say holidaying at sea isn't as expensive as people imagine.

Carolyn and Mel Edwards are a salt-of-the-earth English couple on their 28th cruise, and second world cruise.

It's their third trip in a year on the Queen Elizabeth, and they've been on the Victoria twice and Queen Mary several times.

They're not really counting any more. Well, Mr Edwards is. The pennies.

"We started on QE2 in 1991," says Mrs Edwards.

"It was going to be a one-off one-only special and we've never stopped since. We fell in love with it, going to New York sold it for us, it was the highlight."

"I used to fly a lot," says Mrs Edwards. "And one year I was at the airport and met the crew of that Swiss Air flight 111 [1998] and it was 'see you, see you next week'. But their plane went into a nosedive and they were all killed. I never flew again. If we hadn't met them we would have just thought 'oh that's horrible' but we remembered their faces."

She says now it's become a good excuse to go by sea.

"For me it's magic."

Mr Edwards says it isn't as expensive as people think.

"Compared to a standard package holiday - when you work out what you get, 24-hour eating, entertainment, travelling to different countries, it doesn't cost any more."

The Daily Programme delivered to passengers' rooms every evening offers options from learning to foil fence, to trivia, short mat bowls, line dancing, art classes, bingo, Pilates and spin classes, and spa seminars.

"We have been on the Queen Mary five or six times now," says Mr Edwards.

"We went to Boston, spent a few weeks there and came back on her, then headed off on a world cruise."

That number makes them "Diamond" passengers with special benefits on Cunard liners. They often book their next trip while still on board for the last.

They keep in touch with their daughter and two teenage grandchildren at every port or through emails.

Originally they used to keep logs of what they've done, but now they don't. Mr Edwards says they take pictures and never look at them.

They have tips for life on board.

"When you are on the ship be careful what you buy because you could end up spending a fortune," advises Mr Edwards.

Don't hire a suit on board - it'll set you back US$100 ($115). Don't forget your binoculars, mobile chargers and plug adapters, and a laptop.

They've made friends on board and say the crew know them and treat them like friends.

"But beware the laundry," advises Mrs Edwards.

"You can spend nearly two hours in there. Some people will take your stuff out if you aren't there! It can be really awful!

"One lady threatened another with an iron," she whispers, leaning forward.

Security was called, the matter was dealt with, the problem, er, ironed out.

You couldn't pay for such drama.

Denise Montgomery cruised as guest of Cunard.

- NZ Herald

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