December 31, 2008
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Updates
This will be quite a quick blog this week amongst all the seasonal celebrations, which I hope you are enjoying wherever you are during this festive time of year.
I could be accused, quite justifiably, of using the word historic rather a lot. Today, Cunard has one of the youngest fleets in the industry, with Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria and soon to come the new Queen Elizabeth, but we are still very proud of our history and the traditions that our modern liners inherit today. I say this because this particular week is one of some major cornerstones, as we look at Cunard’s history for the week 26th December to the 1st of January:
December 26 2003
Queen Mary 2 arrives in Southampton for the first time
December 27 1930
John Brown Yard Manager, Donald Skifflington, ceremoniously hammered home the first rivet on the new Queen Mary
December 28 1989
QE2 makes her maiden Call at the port of Yokohama for Tokyo, Japan
December 30 1964
The contract to build QE2 was signed. The deal between Cunard and John Brown Shipyard was to build a ship known at that time as Q4
January 1 1934
Cunard merges with rival White Star.
The merger on the first of January 1934, with our then rival White Star, was carefully negotiated following a repayable loan from the British government of £4.5million to help build Queen Mary. It also included a promise of a further £5million loan, to help build her sister, Queen Elizabeth. In addition to the Cunard ships, it also meant that three White Star ships would join the new enlarged fleet with the Olympic as the first to transfer. The second was The Majestic II, which had quite a history, as it was originally the Hamburg Amerika Lines Bismarck, launched in 1914 and was given to White Star as compensation for the loss of the Britannic in 1916. The Georgic was the third of the three ships inherited by Cunard and although the ships are long gone the name of White Star has continued to this day with Cunard’s famed “White Star Service”.
2003 saw Queen Mary 2 arrive in Southampton, and none of us will ever forget the images of her coming to her home port for the first time. She is a truly incredible ship and there is something magical about her that captivates crowds wherever she goes. I will always remember the first time I saw the masses of people lining the Elbe as she came in to Hamburg, and they still do five years later. Apart from being maintained to an exceptional high standard she has changed very little in her relatively short life, a testament to the work of her designers. Having said that many of you have been asking about the recent refit in Germany and although most of the work was behind the scenes there were some upgrades with the furnishings including the Chart Room which I have a couple of pictures of.
I’d also like to thank Freda Singleton for sending in a couple of festive photos from Queen Mary 2’s celebrations. Firstly not wishing to be out done by the Christmas display I shared with you on last week’s blog from Queen Victoria, here is a picture of their Ginger Bread House created by their talented team of chefs.
And here’s a picture of some of the Entertainment Team on board for the festive voyage with hopefully a few familiar faces. You may be wondering why there are so many pale pink and pale blue polo shirts, well they are the expanded Youth team looking after the increased numbers of youngsters on for the voyage.
Queen Victoria has completed her first year in service and it’s wonderful to see how popular she is already. It has been particularly enjoyable to meet quite a few guests on board, who have already sailed on her over three times – it would be interesting to learn who has completed the most voyages on her so far! Now we are all very pleased to welcome many of our fellow crew members from QE2 including of course Captain McNaught. I know the current voyage is welcoming many guests from QE2 for the first time and I look forward to meeting many more on the World Cruise.
Speaking of QE2, of course we were all sad to see her leave the fleet, but it was great to witness the incredible celebration of her career, as literally thousands of people paid tribute to her as she visited regular ports of call for the last time. The comments from Carmel’s poem, I think, says it all and shows the sheer affection for the ship and those who served on her. Although she is now preparing for the next stage of her life in Dubai, I will do my best to keep you fully informed of her transformation and I have a feeling that guests on future World Cruises will be making pilgrimages when they visit for many years to come.
As we look forward to 2009 all eyes will be focusing towards Italy and the construction of the next Cunard Queen; Queen Elizabeth. I expect some news fairly soon and will be getting regular reports from Fincantieri’s Monfalcone shipyard on her progress with lots of photos – so watch this space!
In the meantime after 18 weeks of blogging, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you all so much for logging on and being involved in the “We Are Cunard” blog. I’d also like to thank Shelley who does so much work with the blog, as well as those who have helped me with interviews and guidance. I look forward to hearing from you even more in 2009, and of course your ideas and questions are always welcome. I enjoy reading them and I know they often discuss subjects other bloggers are interested in as well.
I’ll be back next week as usual to celebrate the New Year with a special interview with a member of the ships company that guests always ask about. I’ll be interviewing Queen Victoria’s Principal Medical Officer, Peter Hawthorne which promises to be quite enlightening.
Meanwhile I’ll be re-joining Queen Victoria on 12th January so if you are on the world cruise and read this blog – please do come and introduce yourself – I may even buy you a drink!