Must-see TV might be gone for the summer, but last night's Britannia Ball aboard the Queen Mary 2 was 20,000 leagues headier and more surreal than any Scrubs rerun. A New York City Opera–BAM benefit on the world's biggest, most magnificent cruise ship, the gala was attended by stars — okay, admittedly sort of B-list stars — like Chevy Chase, Cynthia Nixon, Jill Hennessy, Carson Kressley, Lost's Michael Emerson, and Patti LuPone, who performed torch songs in between cocktails and dinner in the ship's Off Broadway–size theater. But the biggest star was the ship: almost incomprehensibly tall, long, and fancy, with dozens of restaurants and bar, six pools, a Canyon Ranch Spa, a planetarium (a planetarium!), and a mini-mall of luxe stores like Hermès, Chopard, and H. Stern. "I think I could shop my way through QM2," Carson Kressley said over a cocktail.
Chevy Chase — a disarmingly sweet Chevy Chase — was so stoked to check out the colossal boat that he skipped LuPone's show altogether for a private tour. "Don’t you think it’s going to be incredible?" he asked on the red carpet. "I’ve never been on anything like it. That’s really why I came. I suppose I should really say I’m here for the philanthropic stuff. But you know." Over dinner in the suitably massive Britannia Restaurant, LuPone unwound from her performance by regaling her tablemates with stories of sailors, her own cruising adventures, and American Idol. ("It bugs the shit out of me," she said.) Then we all loaded shuttle buses back to Manhattan. After Champagne, foie gras, and a Tony-winning diva, hailing a cab at the Red Hook piers just won't do. —Justin Ravitz