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September 25, 2008

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Updates

Firstly, thanks so much for all the viewings and postings – what a great start to the Blog and fantastic to see there is so much interest from guests past, present and hopefully future. Please keep the comments coming in and of course ideas for future subjects. As Graham Lake quite rightly said in his posting (thanks Graham), this Blog is for the whole Cunard family stretching beyond Queen Victoria to our sisters, Queen Mary 2, QE2 and to our new Queen Elizabeth as well as our shore side team in Southampton and you our readers at home.

I know I was going to chat to David Hamilton (Queen Victoria’s Hotel Manager) this week, but realizing it was Queen Victoria’s maiden sailing to the Black Sea, Queen Elizabeth 2’s birthday on the 20th, and Queen Mary 2’s 100th Transatlantic crossing on the 21st, I hope you don’t mind if we leave David until next week. Sorry David!

So, yes this has been an historic week for all three Cunard Queens and as you will probably know, at Cunard we love celebrating milestones.

Thank you to QE2’s Entertainment Director, Warren Smith who told me about the nostalgic atmosphere on QE2 as she celebrated her final Cunard birthday. Warren told me: “It was a wondrous day on the ship’s Autumn Colours Voyage, and on this day 41 years ago a ship slipped down her slipway at 2.28pm on the Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland… A legend was born.”  This was celebrated with a special cover of the Daily Programme.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Also thank you to QE2’s Hotel Manager John Duffy who added:


It was appropriate that QE2 was in St. John, New Brunswick on the 20 September 2008, the 41st Anniversary of the launching, as this section of Canada is where Samuel Cunard came from. Even more appropriate, the following day, QE2 visited the actual birthplace of Samuel Cunard, Halifax, Nova Scotia. He would have been a proud man knowing this icon, QE2, was part of his Cunard Fleet. During the evening we had an excellent turnout for the Anniversary Ball in the Queen’s Room.  Of course the ship was the main feature of novelty dances, and prizes included the Programme Covers from her 40th Anniversary, 20 September 2007, signed by Senior Officers. At each show in the Grand Lounge, the Entertainment Director gave a short message to the audience about the launching 41 years earlier and how QE2, became a legend and the most famous and loved ship of all time.  The reaction of the audience at both shows was tremendous applause and obvious appreciation of the Entertainment Director’s words.”


Warren went on to say that the party continued late into the night with a “Launching Party” in the Yacht Club and it was widely agreed it was a fitting celebration for QE2’s last Cunard birthday, as she will leave the fleet in November for a new life in Dubai.

Meanwhile, 21 September marked another important milestone for Queen Mary 2, as she set sail on her 100th Transatlantic Crossing. Thank you to Commodore Warner for describing the scene as Queen Mary 2 set sail on this historic crossing:-  

“It was a warm autumn afternoon as Queen Mary 2, flagship of the Cunard line, slipped her moorings at the Queen Elizabeth II terminal in Southampton. I was on the Bridge and Chief Engineer Officer Ronnie Keir below in the engine room, she turned short round to port just south of the pier. Crowds had gathered off dock head to wave her farewell and they were saluted by her deep typhoon whistles – one being the original from Queen Mary herself. She sailed serenely down Southampton Water, crowds waved from vantage points ashore close to the River Hamble and the Warsash School of Navigation where Commodore Warner had trained over 40 years ago. Within the hour she had passed the excited crowds gathered off Calshot Castle and saluted Cowes on the Isle of Wight – the yachting capital of the world. Being Sunday evening flotillas of small craft paid tribute to her as she built up speed, taking her 2471 guests and 1270 crew down the Solent and out into the English Channel. Most guests were from the UK (1520) but many were from the USA (600). By 7pm she was up to 24 knots and heading WSW down the English Channel towards the setting sun which had left a spectacular pink horizon and inspiring hopes of fair weather ahead. The Hotel Manager David Stephenson toured the galleys in preparation for the evening dinner and Entertainment Director David Pepper prepared the first nights glittering entertainment. There was an expectant air and tangible ting of excitement vibrating throughout the great liner. By 7am she would be south of Bishop’s Rock off the Scilly Isles and heading out into the North Atlantic at the start of her 100th crossing……………”

And thanks to Queen Mary 2’s Entertainment Director, David Pepper who added “Today, Queen Mary 2 is celebrating her 100th Transatlantic crossing, but our first crossing was in April 2004 and we had the world media waiting in New York with all the major television networks waiting to board as we went alongside in our dock in Manhattan. Ninety nine crossings later we, as a ships company have grown in character and now have a loyal following of regular guests with our Cunard World Club parties growing larger on every crossing. We have maintained the Cunard traditions ensuring we are indeed legendary, elegant and of course memorable. So many ports have taken us to their hearts with literally thousands witnessing our arrivals and departures, and I know we all feel a sense of pride being part of this exceptional crew of the flagship of the Cunard Fleet; Queen Mary 2”


Here are some fascinating statistics for Queen Mary 2’s first 100 crossings which I’m sure you’ll find interesting:


  • More than 229,000 guests crossing the North Atlantic
  • 450 pets crossing the North Atlantic
  • 97,000 pounds of lobster serverd
  • 2,700 pounds of caviar served
  • 206,200 bottles of champagne served
  • Enough tea to fill nearly five Olympic-sized swimming pools


Queen Mary 2 has welcomed many notable guests, including HM Queen Elizabeth II, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Noor, Former President George Bush, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Hillary Clinton, Uma Thurman, John Cleese, Richard Dreyfuss, Carly Simon, Rod Stewart, Tina Brown and Harold Evans, Donald Trump, and Dame Shirley Bassey.


For us on Queen Victoria, we send greetings from the Black Sea, where Queen Victoria is sailing for the first time. Having been through the Dardanelles (North West Turkey), a site of so much history, we spent a night in Istanbul (more about the interesting belly dancer next time……but needless to say the front row of the Royal Court Theatre was completely full!) We then transited the Bosphorus straits with just 10 meters clearance under the Bosphorus Bridge, connecting Europe and Asia. Odessa is our first port of call in the Ukraine and it’s always great to make a maiden call at a port, as we all (guests and crew); feel that sense of anticipation in discovering somewhere new. At the Captain’s Cocktail parties, Captain Wright tasked me to find out why it is called the Black Sea. There are a few likely reasons but the most popular, is that apparently it can be pretty stormy in winter, (hopefully not in October!) and it’s thought that the name was given to it by sailors and pirates who were struck by its dark appearance when the sky turned leaden with storm clouds. The ancient Greeks called it as the Scythian Sea, after the tribes who held its shores at the time. It’s said that shipwrecked sailors could generally expect no mercy from the Scythians, who plundered the wrecks and made wine goblets out of sailors’ skulls. I’m hoping our welcome will be somewhat warmer! The Greeks also called it Pontos Axenos – the inhospitable sea – until they settled in Crimea, after which they apparently changed their minds and called it Pontos Euxenos: the hospitable sea. An interesting idea when according to holiday brochures you can even find naturist beaches along its coastline. Mind you I won’t be heading there, as beaches like these are usually occupied by the exact people who shouldn’t be baring all. Anyway I’ll tell you more about Odessa and Yalta next week when yes I will be chatting to Hotel Manager David Hamilton who recently joined Queen Victoria from QE2.


Meanwhile thank you again for reading what turned out to be quite a long blog this time, and thanks of course to the contributors from our sister ships to the Blog this week, I’ll be back next Thursday, so thanks again for logging on and I look forward to hearing from you.


Cheers for now- Alastair

  1. Jerry Nuovo says:

    Dear Mr. Alastair Greener, I am glad that I have found your blog website.I live in New Jersey,USA and I have been aboard the QE2 9 times and QM2 4 times.Next April I am going back aboard the QM2 to do another back to back transatlantic crossing and in a few years time I would like to do the Panama Canal segment of the Queen Victoria’s World Cruise.I do also look forward to the construction of the new Queen Elizabeth in 2010.Though it is sad to see the retirement of the beloved QE2 in about 2 months time.I do look forward to your report next week. Regards,Jerry

  2. kazzie says:

    Hello Alastair

    Great to see you blogging from the QV!

    Actually, I wonder if you can help… I was on the QV world cruise and attended your interesting lecture about the building of the QV. Anyway, I’m sort of making a scrapbook about the cruise and would be very grateful if I could ‘nick’ a few of the photos you used to support your lecture (any way to access them?)?

    I thought the ship was lovely! I’m off to try out the QE2 in a couple of weeks – final TA.

    All the best with the house renovations… we could share notes!



  3. Jerry Nuovo says:

    I decided to post a youtube link to this song dedicated to us Cunard Line passengers as we eagerly await our next voyage aboard QM2,QE2,Queen Victoria and might as well also add the new Queen Elizabeth even though she does not enter service until 2010.Here is the link to that song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_0_oDt0Wq8&feature=related I hope the passengers at Princess Cruise Line do not get angry at me for borrowing their song Regards,Jerry

  4. Jerry Nuovo says:

    I found this youtube link that is a TV commercial for Princess Cruise Line that is funny.I think that the Cunard Line should use the same kind of TV commercial to urge potential passengers to forget the airlines and take a transatlantic crossing and or cruise aboard the QM2,QE2 and Queen Victoria.Here is the link to that Princess TV commercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSOdXpndCIo And honestly I have never been aboard a Princess Ship because I am very loyal to the Cunard Line.Regards,Jerry

  5. Quoting Alastair… “as you will probably know, at Cunard we love celebrating milestones”

    Well, there are some more milestones coming up. December 18th 2008 will be the Diamond Anniversary of the RMS Caronia – the “Green Goddess” – departure from Glasgow on her commissioning run to Southampton. And 04 January 2009 will be the 60th anniversary of her maiden voyage departure. It would be good to hear that the first ship built by Cunard especially for cruising will be celebrated in some way.

    Any former “Green Goddess” crew may like to know that regular gatherings are held in Romsey – details of which can be found on the Caronia Timeline Web Site

    Steve (Peter S.)
    Caronia Timeline Webmaster

  6. Paul Weighill says:

    Hi Alastair
    I usually log on to the Cunard web sit to keep in touch with all things Cunard about once a week and thanks so much for this blog. As a past QE2 crew member (of 10 years in the 80′s) and now hoping to celebrate my Platinum cruise with Cunard in 2009 its great to be able to keek in touch with the ships, reading the blog is like almost being onboard. Talking of celebrations I am privillaged to be travelling, with other members of my familly, onboard QE2 on her fairwell voyage to Dubai and was wondering if you know of any other former crew members who might be traveling. This is sure to be a celebration to beat all celebrations one that I was never going to miss.
    Thanks again for the blog.


  7. Anne Dexter says:

    Hi Alastair,

    Last time we met you were in charge of ‘Entertainment’ on board the QM2, and your parent’s were on board. Remember ‘us’ little eh’s in laws from Bude? We are looking forward to sailing again next year 09 as Platinum members on board either the Vicotoria or indeed our favourite ship the Queen Mary 2, where last time we had the pleasure of having dinner with Captain Christopher Rynd. It was like stepping back on board and the feeling of ‘ back again at last’ We took our grand-daughter Rebecca for a Transatlantic crossing and she loved it, she met a lot of the crew and explained that you went to school with her dad..enough said she did give you a glowing report from what her dad can remember.

    Good luck Alastair and keep up the Blogging.

  8. Anita & Morris Krakower says:

    Alastair…..Looking forward to Victoria 2010 World Cruise..please tell me the drawer situation has been totally corrected? Will you be on? Hope to see you either on Victoria or Elizabeth (we are planning both in 2010)

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