Nagasaki proved to be my favorite stop during the cruise forseveral reasons, starting with the fact we had a generous 12 full hours, and the QM2 was able to dock immediately adjacent to the city center at Nagasaki’s International Cruise Ship Terminal (and an efficient streetcar public transportation system made the walkable, delightful city even more manageable). I started my day there with the “Nagasaki Memorial Tour,” which kicked off at the sobering Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.
Afterward, I decided to explore the city on my own. First, I checked 9 Monsters on my iPhone. It’s a Japanese gay app that does instant EnglishJapanese chat translation, so you can connect with someone who doesn’t speak a word of English and vice-versa. I also looked up a few local delicacies, including what proved to be a ridiculously delicious lemon tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen at a shop called Always(5-22Yorozuyamachi). Thin slices of lemon covered the layers of pork, noodles and succulent broth underneath, and imparted a bright citrus element that cut through and balanced the tonkatsu richness.
While waiting for a seat at Always, I struck up a conversation with a clique of ramen-loving American expat millennials (two North Carolina-bred English teachers based nearby, and a visiting friend) who recommended Fuku NoYu (451-23 Iwamimachi. Tel: +81-95-833-1126.), an onsen (Japanese bath complex) situated atop a hillside park with utterly gorgeous sunset views of the sparkling city from its steaming, indoor and outdoor heated waters.
Since the QM2 was so convenient to access from the city center, I was able to gobble down a selection of conveyor line sushi, recommended by a local Japanese gay via 9 Monsters, who declined to meet but was polite enough to offer up several local faves for dinner before I headed back to the ship on foot.
In Busan, I spent part of the day exploring small art galleries in the Jung-dong district and luxuriated in the slick, modern jjimjilbang Korean spa (it’s very similar to an onsen) at Spa Land Centrum City, located within an upscale shopping mall. I ain’t gonna lie—I love Spa Land partly for the eye candy (mandatory nudity), and partly for the insane number of themed, co-ed concept saunas set at varying temperatures, from literally snow-cold to broiling. I also met with a queer resident who took me to a very local restaurant for an unpretentious lunch and street market tteok-bokki (ricecakes).
Although I ultimately disembarked in Shanghai, excursions for QM2 passengers with lengthier itineraries range from an all-day, 9 ½-hour “Best of Shanghai” or “Shanghai Old and New” to a more intimate, interactive “Live Like A Local” inclusive of food market tour with hands-on cooking workshop, calligraphy lesson, and tea in the home of a local family. The Queen Mary 2 embarks on its 108-night, 25-country 2019 World Cruise in January, while sibling vessel Queen Victoria is doing an equally whopping 107-night, 24-country voyage this year. It’s fair to say that either would suffice for my updated bucket list!