A space of our own.

In light of the Covid-19 situation, the recommendations and activities mentioned in this article are for the purpose of possible future cruise vacations. Please always refer to local government health advisories for travel.

A passion for travel and the sea has shaped Diana and Warren Garrett’s lives. The couple who are from Victoria spent more than five decades enjoying ships and boats; from small sailing yachts and narrowboats to ferries, icebreakers, ocean liners, container ships, and, of course, cruise ships.

“We’ve visited all seven continents, every country in Europe, every country in Asia and most of the countries in the Americas, plus Polynesia, Micronesia, Madagascar and more,” says Warren, a retired lecturer. “But our experiences with Cunard stand above and beyond all of these.”

A sense of space.

The Garretts, who love to travel the traditional way, by train and/or boat, have a long history with extended ocean voyages. When their three children were young, they took time off work and out of school to explore Europe, boarding an ocean liner returning from Sydney to Naples.

In the aftermath of World War II, more than a million Europeans migrated to Australia in search of a better life — and, between the 1950s and the 1970s, when flying began to become more affordable, many arrived on purpose-built ocean liners. “Back then, there were lots of ships making the journey from Europe to Australia,” Warren says . “And they’d come back almost empty, so a six-berth cabin for the journey cost us just $600 [equivalent to around $3850 today].” The family spent months discovering Europe, before returning home.

In retirement, the couple took their first Cunard cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2, the largest of Cunard’s “Three Queens”, which is known for its five-story Grand Lobby, spacious decks, and expansive ballroom, the largest at sea. Fortunately, as they had committed to voyage all the way from Valparaíso in Chile to Sydney, they were instantly hooked on the ship.

“It’s just the sense of space,” Warren says. “People do say that if your first Cunard voyage is on the Queen Mary 2 you fall in love with the Queen Mary 2, but if your first voyage is on the Queen Elizabeth or Queen Victoria you fall in love with those.”

A room with a view.

Whether looking out of the window of the Trans-Siberian Express or enjoying life from their balcony, watching the world go by is one of the great joys of travel for the Garretts. Unlike conventional hotel-based travel, Diana enjoys how your room moves with you. “You only have to pack and unpack once,” she says. “It’s very convenient.”

The open space on board is a major part of Cunard’s appeal. “It’s lovely just to walk around the deck, enjoying the space and the views and the interesting people,” Warren says.

Diana, who worked with children with disabilities before she retired, concurs. “On a clear day, it’s wonderful,” she says. “You can see all sorts of things: we’ve seen both whales and flying fish.”

Cruising has enabled the Garretts to enjoy otherwise hard-to-reach destinations, from the desert of Namibia, southern Africa, to Pitcairn Island in the south Pacific. “We were on board the Queen Victoria for her maiden voyage up the Amazon to Manaus,” Warren says. “We got the opportunity to fish for piranhas – we didn’t swim! – and when we arrived in Manaus all the passengers on the ship were treated to a special concert in the opera house in the jungle.”

The couple enjoy waking up to new and exciting views from their balcony: Diana cites the Polynesian island vistas of Bora-Bora and Mo’orea as two of her favorites.

Freedom to choose.

Whether on long international voyages or a shorter trip, such as a journey around Tasmania, the Garretts love to cruise with friends – including ones they’ve made on board. And the range of activities available is a big part of that appeal.

“You have a lot of freedom to do your own thing on a ship,” Diana says. “If you’re on a camper van vacation or a villa vacation with friends, you can end up spending all your time together. On a cruise, you can pick where and when to meet and do your own thing in between.”

Warren adds: “Diana loves to read. She loves the libraries on Cunard.” The Queen Mary 2 has the world’s largest floating library with about 10,000 volumes – “I like to sit on our balcony with a book and watch the world glide by,” Diana says.

Both enjoy the range of lectures available, and the chance to learn about everything from economics to travel and history. Warren values the gym and the bars, while Diana adores Cunard’s theatrical high tea with its procession of waiters and a string quartet.

And the pair, who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on board Cunard, have no intention of letting the pandemic dampen their love of travel. They have booked to cruise from Sydney to Southampton on the Queen Mary 2 in March 2022, with a group of four friends, including two that they met on the ship. “You don’t like to plan too far ahead at our age,” Warren laughs. “But we’re very much looking forward to exploring Wales.”

This article was produced for Cunard by BBC StoryWorks, the commercial content division of BBC Global News.

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