PHOTOS: The Queen Mary 2 returns to Sydney

Photo: James Morgan

The Queen Mary 2 returned to Sydney on the weekend, a decade after Cunard’s flagship first sailed through the heads on her maiden world cruise.

Her arrival was also a reminder of how much as changed in the cruise industry in that time.

In 2007, she was joined by her older sister the QE2, which retired the following year. She was replaced by the 2080-guest Queen Elizabeth in 2009, and that ship joined the Queen Mary 2 in Sydney on the weekend, mooring off Athol Buoy near Taronga Zoo.

Queen Mary 2 berths in Circular Quay while Queen Elizabeth anchors in the Harbour. Photo: James Morgan

And since then, the size of the Australian cruise industry has increased four-fold from 250,000 to more than 1 million, the 345-metre long QM 2 is no longer the world’s biggest cruise ship, overshadowed by two classes in The Royal Caribbean fleet, including the Ovation of the Seas, which is also currently plying local waters.

But after 13 years on the high seas. Cunard’s owners, Carnival, have just given the ship a $AU145 million makeover, adding 50 new staterooms, including the first single staterooms, and increasing the passenger numbers to 2700, as well as a wine cellar and new lounge.

And for those who can’t bear the thought of leaving the family pet behind, there are now 10 new kennels for four-legged passengers and the deck area reserved for dog walking during Transatlantic cruises now features a lamp post for English dogs and fire hydrant for American ones.

QM2 captain Christopher Wells atop the Opera House sails. Photo: James Morgan.

Carnival Australia chairman Ann Sherry credits that visit a decade ago with sparking the industry’s local surge.

“Without question, Queen Mary 2 put cruising on many Australians’ wish lists and helped fuel the industry’s phenomenal growth Down Under,” she said.

Sherry estimates the visit by the two ships injected around $2 million into Sydney’s economy over the weekend.

The QM2 is visiting Australia as part of her 118-night world voyage that spends 23 days in Australian waters including the first short roundtrip cruises from Melbourne and Sydney. The Queen Elizabeth is calling at Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns as part of her 120-night world voyage.

Queen Mary 2 will sail from Sydney tonight at 11.30pm to make her maiden visit to Tasmania as part of a five-night roundtrip cruise.

As a result, Cunard is now cruising longer periods in Australia over the next two years, so expect to see more of the Queens in the coming seasons.

Photo: James Morgan

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