Cruise News & Reviews
March 25, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson
Maiden voyage of QUEEN MARY 2 to a South Africa port – Durban’s does her proud
Coming out of the the early morning mist, QUEEN MARY 2 approaches her first ever South African port of call, at Durban on Tuesday, 23 March
2010. To welcome the Cunard flagship are five harbour tugs which made liberal use of their water cannons, while a number of small craft paid
homage nearby. Large crowds lined the North Pier, beachfront and other vantage points to witness her arrival and even greater numbers
watched her departure later in the day. Full credit goes to the Port of Durban management for organising a temporary ’handover’ of the north
breakwater to provide the public with convenient access. Later that evening the pier reverted to being a construction site, until the formal
handover on 31 March. Picture by Trevor Jones
It was a day of which Durban can be proud. People turned out in their thousands to welcome the ship and visit vantage points around Durban
Bay simply to gaze in awe and admiration on the largest cruise ship ever to visit Durban and a South African harbour.
It was all made possible by the timeous completion of the harbour widening and deepening project, which has widened the port entrance by a
further 100 metres and deepened the channel to 19m, shallowing to 17m further into the harbour. Not that her draught was a problem – Queen
Mary 2 draws just on 10m but the ship’s width of 41m would have exceeded the old entrance channel limitation of 32m.
Queen Mary 2 alongside the fruit terminal on Durban’s T-Jetty and in glorious sunshine. Picture by Trevor Jones
Queen Mary 2 is on her 2010 World Cruise which has taken the Cunard flagship from New York to Southampton, through the Mediterranean to
Dubai and on to India, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore before visiting Vietnam, Hong Kong and Shanghai and then to Japan. From Yokohama
the ship visited several Pacific island destinations before reaching New Zealand and Australia.
From Fremantle the ship began her crossing of the Indian Ocean for Mauritius, where something like a hundred South African passengers joined
her for the voyage to Durban and Cape Town. Among them is Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on board to deliver several lectures on the future of
South Africa which have been to fully packed theatres on board ship.
Queen Mary 2’s arrival in Durban is her first visit to a South African port and Durban didn’t let the side down. Transnet National Ports Authority
rose to the occasion by making arrangements for a premature opening of a section of the North Pier which enabled the public to greet and bid
farewell to the ship. That they did in their thousands. Other vantage places such as the nearby uShaka Beach also felt the weight of large
numbers of people, while Festival Island and the Wilson’s Wharf waterfront complex saw considerable numbers of visitors. The ship was berthed
alongside berths O and P, next to the fruit terminal, which was about the best position that Queen Mary 2 could have had for onlookers and
Purists may argue that the ship is not the most elegant or beautiful of a long line of Cunard vessels, and they may be right. But Queen Mary 2
has just the same pulling power to attract attention no matter where she sails of any predecessor, and Durban proved this week that South
Africa is no exception. No doubt Cape Town will later today provide exactly the same welcome as the ship arrives for a two-day visit to enable a
segment change. Some 500 South African passengers are joining the ship in Cape Town for the next leg of the journey across the South Atlantic
to the island of St Helena and then on to Rio de Janeiro, before heading back into the Northern Hemisphere to Barbados and Port Everglades
and finally to New York and the completion of this year’s ‘World Cruise’.
Queen Mary 2 will revisit Durban and Cape Town in reverse order in February 2011.
Queen Mary 2 arriving off Durban in the early morning. Picture by Trevor Jones