World cruise passengers on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 spent an unexpected day at sea today when their scheduled visit to Port Louis on the island of Mauritius was cancelled because of delays caused by cyclone Funso.
The ship paused offshore just long enough for a launch to be sent out to collect Sir David Frost and his wife, Lady Carina. They had been on board for four days while he regaled passengers with stories from his long broadcasting career, and introduced a special screening of the film Frost/Nixon.
The launch also delivered two important passengers to the ship. Flautist Sir James Galway, who would be performing later in the week, had flown in with his wife, Lady Jeanne.
The lights of the harbour may have been tantalisingly close, but there were no opportunities to go ashore on excursions to see giant Victoria Regia waterlillies in the Pamplemousse Botanical Gardens or rare pink pigeons at the Casela Bird and Nature Park.
With New Zealand-born Commodore Christopher Rynd at the helm, Queen Mary 2 is on a 108-night voyage which left Southampton on January 10 and is not due to return until April 27.
High winds from cyclone Funso – which brought flooding and 26 deaths to Mozambique – led to a 16-hour departure delay after three days in Cape Town, and the ship was a day behind schedule when it arrived in Durban on Sunday.
The day in Mauritius was cancelled in order to ensure the ship can arrive on time in Fremantle, Australia but there are no more ports before then, so passengers will have spent 10 nights at sea until they make their next landfall.
Comedians Adrian Walsh and Mike Doyle will have to pull out all the stops to keep passengers entertained and save the ship’s doctor from being flooded with dozens of cases of cabin fever.
Galway will be performing a classical concert and a Q&A with entertainment director Paul O’Loughlin; Scottish National Ballet founder Harold King will be offering dance classes and talking about one of his former patrons, Princess Diana; and there will be “enrichment talks” from John Dowson, a former mayor of Fremantle, and Judith Fordham, a criminal lawyer and forensic scientist.
The ship will be spending an unprecedented month circumnavigating Australia, making repeat visits to Fremantle, Adelaide and Sydney, and also calling at Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin and Melbourne.
Cunard president Peter Shanks is expecting to be in Sydney when QM2 and Queen Elizabeth are in port together, and is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to climb the Harbour Bridge for the third successive year.