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.
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