October 7, 2008
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Ship's Company
We started our final lap of the British Isles with QE2 full to capacity and a feeling of sadness and excitement all at the same time… Captain Ian McNaught at the helm and everyone poised for a Legendary, Elegant and Memorable Voyage… Our first stop Cherbourg, France…
This was not to be, the weather was against us and the Captain made the decision to press on to Cobh, Ireland for an overnight… an overnight to be enjoyed by both guests and crew alike…As usual there was plenty happening onboard during the first couple of days such as seminars in the Yacht Club and dance classes in the Queens Room. Maritime Historian William Miller’s Lecture captivated a packed house in the theatre and as always Carol Marlow’s talk on ‘Queen Victoria and a Year in the Life of Our Cunard Queens’ was fascinating.
We arrived into Cobh at around 3pm with crowds of people welcoming us as we came alongside… The gangways were jam packed as guests proceeded ashore to enjoy the sights and sounds of Ireland… What a sail out! Everywhere you looked, people lined the shoreline and every vantage point to say a final farewell to QE2…
The next day we arrived in Liverpool, England and everyone was anticipating a spectacular day there… and it was… the Celebratory QE2 Concert at Liverpool’s magnificent Anglican Cathedral was unbelievable. What a venue… the cathedral is one of the largest in the world and just an absolute splendour, and yes it takes your breath away…Nearly two thousand in attendance and there was not a dry eye in the house, the service was deeply touching, with performances by The Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra combined with the Liverpool Cathedral Choir, Natasha Marsh and Jon Christos who where absolutely impressive to say the least… Time to Say Goodbye left a lump in everyone’s throat… and what a sight when the Band of the Welsh Guards marched up the isle and Natasha broke into Jerusalem…
A 39 foot ‘Paying Off’ Pennant, the largest in Cunard history, 1 foot for every year the QE2 has been in service was presented to the Lord Mayor of Liverpool…The tributes paid to QE2 included one by Dame Beryl Bainbridge in which she talked about the progress of time and how things we love change and move on. Amongst others, QE2’s former Captain Robin Woodall, Carol Marlow and Captain Ian McNaught each delivered wonderfully moving tributes to QE2 and a resounding rendition of Rule Britannia with plenty of passion and flag waving perfectly rounded off a truly unforgettable event…Take a look at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7651948.stm to see for yourself some clips from this wonderful occasion.
When QE2 started to untie from the berth for her sail-away there were spectacular fireworks which lit up the Liverpool sky and soon after the Beatles Tribute Band kicked off at the Funnel Bar… It was not so much a final farewell but, a celebration of what Liverpool means to Cunard and to QE2…As we moved away from the berth QE2 sounded her whistle to let everyone know who has the best baritone in the industry, prickling the hairs on your arms… What a finish to a very special day!
Belfast was yet another fabulous sail in with a flotilla of boats escorting us in, we came along side at around 2pm… Once again the locals where out to welcome QE2 despite the poor weather…On the crossing to Belfast HMS Ark Royal paid a surprise visit and came alongside to pay her respects and just before arriving the Red Arrows gave us an amazing display with their death defying stunts to an excited and captivated crowd from the QE2’s aft decks.
That morning Commodore Ronald Warwick’s lecture in the theatre ‘The QE2 Story’ was standing room only… He is a well loved Captain with crew and guests alike…In the evening the Local Show ‘Gaels Afloat’ dazzled the guests in the Grand Lounge with audience participation, Irish dance, music and lots of good ole’ Irish humour… The old favorite ‘Danny Boy’ was definitely a crowd pleaser…The Beatle’s Tribute Band performed after the Local Show, and oh my goodness I have never seen the Queens Room so alive with the rhythms and sounds of ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘Hello Goodbye…’ and all those Beatles favorites… very reminiscent of a bygone era…
Richard Curtis, Cunard’s Head of Marketing was on QE2 for her call into Greenock and was kind enough to give me a few words on the arrival:
As we made our way to Greenock on Saturday morning we were treated with one of those perfect (and very rare) autumn days – chilly and fresh but not a cloud in the sky! Sailing towards the approach of the Clyde we were first greeted by type 42 frigate HMS Manchester who made a graceful sweep around us and the followed closely behind, occasionally speeding up and drawing level.
Over the next hour she was joined by more and more boats, every one packed full with admirers of QE2′s beauty and grace and to cheer and wave their best wishes.
As we got closer to Greenock the flotilla swelled further to several hundreds and included craft of every shape and size including speed boats, pleasure cruisers, yachts, jet skis and several Scottish Isles ferries specially chartered for the day.
On the banks of the Clyde every conceivable space was taken by rapturous admirers franticly waving and cheering. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7651286.stm for a video of her arriving in Greenock.
Finally at 12 noon as we approached her berth QE2 sounded her whistle and was answered by a cacophony of every conceivable pitch.
Such a special moment that sent many thousand shivers down the spines of all fortunate enough to be there, and which will always be remembered as one of those very special and unique Cunard moments.
After a resounding send off from Greenock with many thousands of QE2’s fans and admirers enjoying yet another spectacular firework we headed on our way towards Edinburgh and Newcastle which I will tell you more about in a few days time. Also, thank you to Richard Curtis for supplying these pictures of QE2 on this wonderful voyage!