The Road Ahead : February March 2015
KATHY EELY'S LOVE affair with cruises has stretched well over 40 years. From Hawaii to the Mediterranean, the Pacific Islands to Northern Africa and the Middle East, the Brisbane mother of two has visited some of the world's most exotic and desirable holiday destinations via the sun-soaked deck of a cruise ship. But like many lifelong passions, Kathy's seaborne adventures began in the most unexpected way. "I was 25 and living in the United Kingdom when I outlasted my visa," Kathy said. "I had to come home to Brisbane and as I'd flown over, I thought I'd cruise back for something different. "I ended up on a Russian cruise ship called the Shota Rustaveli and I absolutely loved it! We went through the Panama Canal and onshore in Panama; that was a pretty wild place back in those days. "Then we called in at Tahiti and Auckland before cruising into Sydney. The whole trip lasted six weeks and I just loved it. I saw some incredible places, had some unforgettable experiences, and found it so easy to have a really good time." That trip back in 1971 started an affection for cruising that has taken Kathy to places she wouldn't have dreamed of visiting. Now, travel by sea is the former primary school teacher's preferred way to explore the world. "My husband Mark and I cruised from Venice to Barcelona and it was absolutely breathtaking," Kathy said. "Leaving Venice on a cruise ship is one of the best things you can do in your lifetime. DEPARTURE INTERNATIONAL | TRAVEL Leaving Venice on a cruise ship is one of the best things you can do in your lifetime. "We were able to wave to our two daughters who were standing in St Mark's Square." The allure of sailing the seven seas has never been so strong with a record 833,348 Australians setting off aboard ocean liners in 2013, the last year for which figures are available. Queensland held the second largest passenger numbers, with 195,003 holidaymakers boarding ocean liners, accounting for 23.4% of the cruise market. With Queensland one of only two states home to cruise ships all year round, the sight of one of the many grand and opulent ocean liners as they snake their way up the Brisbane River to the Brisbane Cruise Terminal at Portside is awe-inspiring. "You drive into port and there is this massive 19-deck ship sitting there," Kathy said. "I can't explain to you how exciting that is. You just think, 'Wow, that is going to be our home for the next 15 days'." Once aboard, the multitude of options and activities available to passengers is often as extensive as it is surprising. Ardent Brisbane cruiser Dianne Coakes said sea voyages were as much about the journey as they were about the destination. QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB 39 FEB/MAR 2015 THE ROAD AHEAD IMAGES: (LEFT AND ABOVE LEFT) CARNIVAL CRUISE FEATURES CAN INCLUDE AN 'ADULTS ONLY' SERENITY AREA, A WATER PARK AND QUALITY ENTERTAINMENT, (ABOVE) THE GRAND CANAL -- VENICE, (INSET) KATHY EELY ON ONE OF HER MANY CRUISES.
April 1st 2015