Big guns of Aussie sport, music and politics aboard a Cunard favourite Down Under

Michael FerranteThe West Australian
Queen Elizabeth sets sail.
Camera IconQueen Elizabeth sets sail. Credit: Cunard

Luxury British cruise line Cunard has announced a line-up of distinguished Australians in the fields of sport, music and politics as guest speakers for next summer’s season aboard ship Queen Elizabeth.

The 2024-25 summer also marks the ship’s final homeport season Down Under.

Queen Elizabeth sets sail.
Camera IconLuc Longley will be a guest speaker on a Queen Elizabeth voyage later this year. Credit: Cunard

West Aussie basketball legend Luc Longley will be one of the headline speakers of Cunard’s Insights and Enrichment program on Queen Elizabeth as the ship repositions from San Francisco to Sydney, from September 22 to October 18, 2024.

The giant former centre reached the pinnacle of the sport as a key player for Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, including their triple NBA championship dynasty of 1996-98. He was the first Australian to be drafted and play in the NBA, and represented Australia at three Olympic Games for the Boomers and was later appointed as an assistant coach of the national side.

Longley says: “It will be my first voyage on Queen Elizabeth . . . I am excited to share my playing experiences across my whole career with everyone onboard — the highs, the players, the emotions and now the pride I have in the new role I play for the sport of basketball in Australia.”

Australia’s former foreign minister Julie Bishop returns to the ship on the final leg of the 12-night sailing from Fremantle to Sydney in early November. She received standing ovations last season for her stories about her political career and academic and charitable achievements.

Jockey Michelle Payne, who shot to fame after her groundbreaking Melbourne Cup ride on Prince of Penzance in 2015, will be guest speaker on the Queensland sailing in mid-November. The Cup win made Payne the first and only female jockey to win the race that stops a nation, and inspired 2019 film Ride Like A Girl.

Multi ARIA award-winning singer-songwriter Kate Ceberano will perform multiple shows and headline a live Q&A session during the 10-night Queensland voyage. Ceberano’s four-decade career highlights include 11 platinum and eight gold albums, 10 top-10 albums, 15 top-40 singles, four ARIAs and more than 6000 live performances.

Cunard president Katie McAlister says the line’s guest speaker program is a vital component of its onboard experience and next season’s line-up were chosen for their ability to “captivate and enlighten our guests during their voyage with us”.

Cunard announced last November that from 2026 Queen Elizabeth would be operating year-round from North America — the summer in and around Alaska and in the northern winter sailing the Caribbean from Florida.


Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails