October 16, 2008
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Updates
Thank you again for your comments and it’s good to be hearing from some regular bloggers already. Please keep those suggestions coming in and yes Jerry I’ll work on that interview with Captain Paul Wright soon. Also a big thank you to Warren Smith for his blog last week; it was great to hear how “The Grand Lady of the Seas” is still held with so much affection around the British Isles, with fitting tributes wherever she went. Warren has written about the rest of his voyage below including some wonderful comments from some of the crew. Meanwhile it is another emotional time this week, as QE2 completed her final westbound Transatlantic Crossing to New York in Tandem with Queen Mary 2. Before we get to that historic event here’s what happened this week, 9th to 16th October, in Cunard’s History:-
October 9 1967
Captain Read was advised that Caronia was to be sold nearly 18 years after she had been launched by Princess Elizabeth (H.M. Queen) at John Brown’s Shipyard, Clydebank, She was known as the ‘Green Goddess’ because of the colour of her hull.
October 11 1973
QE2 makes her maiden call at Halifax, Nova Scotia.
I actually left Queen Victoria this voyage to go on leave for a couple of months. Yes I know working on a Cunard liner is a great environment to work in, and some may question the need for a break, but it’s always good to be home. So I am writing this from home in Wiltshire, England and believe it or not enjoying the damp Autumn days – well for the moment anyway! However I will still be blogging every week and paying visits to QE2, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria as they come in and out of Southampton as well as preparing for the upcoming World Cruise, so there’ll be lots to tell you about between myself and guest bloggers. Still in the Mediterranean, Queen Victoria is now in the very capable hands of Amanda Reid as Entertainment Director, who many of you will know from Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 and a few years before that as a dancer on QE2, although she’d probably rather me not say how long ago! I’ll be asking her to guest blog soon but in the meantime it’s time to handover to my fellow Entertainment Directors.
TIME TO SAY GOODBYE CONTINUED … Warren Smith, QE2 Entertainment Director
It is Sunday October 5th 2008 and we made our way towards QE2’s birthplace, Greenock in Scotland. The morning seemed like any morning at sea with the usual events, activities and seminars taking place in all the Public Rooms. Lecturing this morning was John Whitworth, former Managing Director of Cunard, who worked at the time of QE2’s ‘Conception to Launching’, which ideally was the name of his talk…
It was 10.30am in the morning as we entered the Clyde Channel… ETA Greenock 12.30pm. The shoreline dotted with admirers who were enjoying the finest of Scottish workmanship as QE2 made her way up the Clyde; in the background you could hear the faint sounds of Scottish pipe music as QE2 was welcomed by a flotilla of boats that proceeded to cheer her up the Clyde. The weather, well, not a typical Scottish day to say the least, was at its very best. ‘The sun does shine on the righteous…’
Soon after our arrival a party atmosphere prevailed over the city of Greenock and throughout that afternoon the crowds still came. Multitudes descending towards Greenock Dock to witness the legend. A pathway to the ship was created and visitors were charged a pound to view QE2 from the quay. Over twenty thousand pounds sterling was raised, all of which donated to a local charity. There is a lot of love for this Grand Old Lady of the Seas, on board and all around the world; evident from the never ending streams of public admirers.
That evening as we sailed the festivities were peaking in anticipation of something special, still with the sounds of Scotland from the shoreline QE2 pushed away from Greenock for the final time. With a long blast from her whistle which was the cue for a dramatic unforgettable twenty five minute fireworks display which lit the Scottish skies above us… ‘Rule Britannia’ playing at this point over our open decks, an emotional moment for everyone on board and ashore… what an honour for us mere mortals to be apart of such a momentous occasion.
Next stop South Queensferry, Scotland… our call for Edinburgh.
Our arrival into South Queensferry was rather different than our previous stop in Greenock, the weather had turned and the rain was coming down clearing periodically… a typical Scottish day… but, none the less once again the boats were out to welcome us as we sailed in to our anchorage, ferries full to the rafters with QE2 admirers and the one road that runs through Queensferry was jammed packed with onlookers as our tenders were coming alongside the pier they were greeted with live Scottish piped music and the smiles of proud locals.
I managed to get a sole piper to join us on board and sail with us to Newcastle. Louise Marshall Millington came highly recommended and with an impressive résumé, she has been entertaining tourists from all over the world playing the bagpipes and she is often referred to as ‘Scotland’s best known Piper’ or ‘Edinburgh’s piper’ in the press. Louise performed at our sail-away on the open deck, to an appreciative audience, her backdrop being a fireboat water display. Later, she closed out the main show-times in the Grand Lounge after the performance by the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers… standing ovations and a great close to the day in Edinburgh.
We arrived at the Tyne Heads early in the morning and there they were, crowds lining the shoreline once again. This ship QE2 is 41 years old and still pulls in the crowd like no other. Again, fireworks saluted our sail-away. We sailed at 10pm promptly and I was on the Port Bridge wing with Soprano Annette Wardell who was going to do an impromptu song ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ over the address system. It was a rather brisk evening and Annette arrived in a stunning gold dress, ready to perform as if she was at the Royal Albert Hall. The breeze on the Bridge Wing was cutting and Captain McNaught offered her a large blue jacket, which she accepted.
As the ship slipped off the dock and the Captain blew her B flat horn, which ricocheted off everything and back, the crowds went absolutely wild on the quay side, wow, what a feeling… very moving, literally… the deck below me shook to the sound of the ships horn as the hairs raised on my neck. Next, the sound of Annette’s voice over the entire open decks, it was ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ to Newcastle and I think there were not only tears in my eyes but, definitely Captain McNaught’s, as this is his home port and absolutely nothing that can match sailing in and out of your home port.
The fireworks began behind the aft decks where Guests had the best view. Not only did we have the organised fireworks but as we sailed down the Tyne, locals were setting some off as their own personal final farewell! There where people standing everywhere and the Captains wife Susan McNaught, Annette Wardell, the Bridge Team and myself had a wonderful view as we all watched the crowds waving and cheering us down the Tyne, they seemed close enough to touch… I noticed as we curled around towards the heads there where bands positioned at various locations along that final stretch which created a festive atmosphere, it was just another spectacular sight as we left the heads and headed for open sea and just when we though it was all over another crescendo of fireworks arced behind us as the sounds, crowds and lights of Newcastle faded in our wake as we steamed away.
Below I have attached comments from the Ship’s Company on what QE2’s final British lap of honour meant to them…
- Master QE2, Captain Ian McNaught – Throughout the entire Round Britain Voyage, I was thrilled to see the crowds that came to see our arrivals and departures. Despite her 40 years I am deeply touched by the special place this great ship has in the hearts of the British people.
- John E. Duffy, Hotel Manager, 1981-2008 – It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have been Hotel Manager of this wonderful ship since 1981. The ship may be going but, the memories will last forever
- Paul J. Yeoman, Chief Engineer QE2 – As we approach the final chapter of an epic adventure, I am proud to have played a small part in Maritime history by serving as Chief Engineer on such a special ship as QE2.
- Jason Heskins, Food and Beverage Manager – What a fitting voyage to undertake in the final days of the ocean going life of QE2. A chance for the ship and her company to say goodbye to the ports that have been a part of her life and a chance for the people of the United Kingdom to bid a fond farewell to an icon that has a place in the hearts of everyone, not just those who have had the privilege of sailing on her.
- Roz Price Evans, Executive House Keeper – The round Britain Voyage tugged at every emotion possible, from pride, to joy, to sadness, stress & relief… you name it we had it.. I am glad to be part of QE2’s family. From a true Cunarder.
- Lisa Fanning, Assistant Cruise Director – This Round Britain Voyage demonstrated that QE2 is undoubtedly the fastest, most famous and most loved merchant ship in the world – a legacy she has maintained during her entire 41 years afloat. A part of history that I am very fortunate to have witnessed…
- Dr. Timothy D. Berlyn, Baby Doc QE2 – Our QE2 brought the sun, gathered a cloud, said goodbye under the blessing of a rainbow… and left a legacy.
- Dan Deedigan, Public Rooms Manager – It was a Fantastic Experience to be present for this Final Round Britain trip. I was very proud to be the last Public Rooms Manager on this Lap of Honor and to be Continuing 40 years of Excellence on QE2.
- Gary Burgess, Chief Cashier – A fabulous farewell to the British Isles from the Best and Most Famous Ocean Liner of them all. Never to be forgotten.”
- Karen Scott, Assistant Tour Manager – Greenock had the best welcome and farewell to QE2 – it was just fantastic.
- Zak Brockman, 3rd Officer, QE2 Bridge – It is hard to describe the feeling. You are on the Bridge, or Mooring Station, for an arrival or a departure, and there are thousands of people waiting to see the ship, to hear her whistle blast one last time, and to wave goodbye. To think of all those people who braved the cold (and at times wet!), to see her final sail-ways is overwhelming. It gives me a huge sense of pride to think I was part of it and have sailed on board the British Merchant Navy’s finest ship.
- Brian Young, Casino Manager – The last British Isles Voyage reiterated how much QE2 is adored by the country, the reception in all the ports was just awesome, I especially enjoyed South Queensferry (Edinburgh) and Newcastle as I have lived in both for almost my entire life.
- Susan Smith, Receptionist Purser Office – The British Isles Voyage was just fantastic, it showed just what QE2 means to so many people, what a wonderful way to say goodbye…