Globetrotter to set sail

ADVENTUROUS Mavis Bensley is to live out the dream she and her late husband had for years, by going on a round-the-world cruise. We will publish weekly reports of her travels starting in January.

By Tracey Sparling

ADVENTUROUS Mavis Bensley is to live out the dream she and her late husband had for years, by going on a round-the-world cruise. We will publish weekly reports of her travels starting in January. TRACEY SPARLING introduces our new columnist.

FROM the chill of Alaska to the heat of Tonga and Tahiti, an Ipswich grandmother is today preparing to sail the high seas.

Retired teacher Mavis Bensley and her late husband Don always harboured a dream of travelling the world. Don who served in the RAF died in 2004, and now at the age of 71, Mavis is determined to make their mutual dream come true at last.

Next month she will board the world's most famous ship the QE2 - which has been the epitome of glamour and style for more than 40 years - in Southampton for its silver jubilee cruise. The 108-night itinerary is a tapestry of colour and cultures, spanning 40 ports in 23 different countries where the next adventure is never more than a few days away.

Mavis is to write a weekly column for The Evening Star about those adventures.

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She said: “Don and I were always going to go on a cruise together, but family circumstances got in the way. We would say 'maybe next year,' and as many people find, it just never happened. So now I'm going on my own.

“I will take Don with me, not in an urn like Fred Elliott! but in a photograph of course. I will also carry a picture of my family, so they will all be going with me in spirit.”

Mavis is looking forward to the sheer luxury of being aboard the QE2, and trying out the activities on board as well as visiting 40 places.

As a well-travelled woman, not every place Mavis visits will be new to her, so in places like New York she will look for new excursions to try. But she said: “I do want to see how Ground Zero has changed since I was last there. I'd like to have a look round Wall Street.

“There are certain things you just have to do in certain places, like if you are going to Japan you have to go to Tokyo, in Hawaii you have to see Pearl Harbour, and in South Africa you have to go up Table Mountain. In other places like Tonga and Tahiti it will be more about finding a nice beach to relax on.”

Another highlight will be sailing through the Panama Canal, as will seeing Japan and sampling its very different culture for the first time.

“I'd love to go on a bullet train,” she said with a twinkle in her eye, “But I fear we won't have long enough there to be able to do that.

“I also want to get off the tourist trail occasionally, to discover the hidden sides of the places, like how local people live, and also meeting fellow passengers as I suspect there will be a few characters among them!”

She added: “I expect there will be many Americans on the cruise and I will interested to see their reaction to Vietnam when we visit.

“I am also interested in seeing how much influence Britain has over the world.”

In Tasmania she will seek out Tasmanian devils and wallabys, and loves wildlife although admits she is bored silly by botanical gardens.

Mavis laughed that her tour will take her to the film hotspots of Hollywood in the US, Bollywood in India and 'Wellywood' in New Zealand.

Mavis is a mother of three and has eight grandchildren - three of whom are in the Co-op Juniors in Ipswich - who wish her well.

She said: “Some people have said I must be crazy to be doing all that on my own. Others say 'good on you'. And that's what I thought, 'just do it.'”

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Mavis's column Globetrotter starts in the Evening Star next month .

The Queen Elizabeth 2, or QE2 as she is commonly known, has been the flagship of the Cunard Line for over 30 years.

QE2 made her maiden voyage in 1969 and is one of the last great Transatlantic liners.

Cruises cost from £10,449 for a single inside cabin, to £132,549 for a grand suite.

At 70,327 tons and 963 feet long with a top speed of 32.5 knots she is also one of the largest and fastest passenger vessels afloat.

She has five restaurants and two cafes, three swimming pools, a pub, nightclub and several bars, 481-seat cinema, casino, shopping promenade, health salon, library, hospital and computer centre - and a branch of Harrod's.

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