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December 22, 2008

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Updates

Today I watched an old episode of “Keeping Up Appearances”, that great BBC comedy featuring Patricia Routledge as Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced “Bouquet” as she keeps reminding us!), where she sails on QE2 and to her horror discovers her sister and the dreadful husband Onslow, are also on board. The episode called “Sea Fever”, had hilarious consequences as always and yet again reminds us what a stunning ship QE2 is and all of our memories of her.  It’s funny how life is full of coincidences, because as I was watching the television, I opened an E Mail from Carmel who sailed on the farewell voyage on QE2 as the on board Librarian. The library is an essential part of the Cunard tradition with the first library on a ship being created on the “Bothnia” in 1874. It’s a tradition that has continued to Queen Victoria’s two deck library and the largest library at sea on Queen Mary 2, containing over 8,000 books. Carmel is part of a very knowledgeable team who do a great job in looking after our guests and she has written a wonderful poem sharing her thoughts of the last voyage. Knowing how fond everyone is of the legendary QE2 I thought our bloggers would enjoy hearing about her final voyage from another view point.


Meanwhile, I’ll be back on Wednesday with a festive blog with pictures of the celebrations on both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria – both enjoying the season in the Caribbean.



Carmel Rogers – QE2 Librarian

QE2’s Last Voyage to Dubai – 28th November 2008


When I was young I saw the QE2, she was often in the news.

I wondered, in passing, what it must be like, to be in a sailor’s shoes.

Little did I know that I would walk her decks and sail around the world.

How many times I would see her ensign snap and in the wind unfurl.


Seven times around the world in my short 8 year career.

Now the day we have to leave her is drawing awfully near.

The strains of music and the sound of laughter will slowly fade away.

The tinkle of tableware and crystal glasses will be memories of another day.


The ever present heart beat of the great engines will be still at last.

As to her final resting place her ropes will hold her fast.

The world’s oceans will seem empty without their greatest queen.

Her magnificent shape on the horizon will never again be seen.


But we must do her justice and celebrate her reign of so many nautical miles.

All the anniversaries, birthday parties, friendships forged and years of

laughter and of smiles.


Yes many happy memories and lots of anecdotes to tell.

Of the Golden Age of Cruising and how we knew it well.

She will take her place of honour, as the Jewel in the Crown of The Palm.

A resting place fit for our favourite Queen, where she will be kept from harm.


So now we must wait impatiently as three long years go by.

Until she has had her refit and been scrubbed up in Dubai.

I hope she will still resemble the Great Lady we all knew.

In these days that we all made History – guests and crew.


As we sail in with fanfares and fireworks to our very final port.

Sound that whistle one more time. Delivered safe by Ian McNaught!!

This Final Voyage seemed so far away and it proves how much time flew.

She will always sail within our hearts. Long live QE2.

  1. Joy says:

    We were at the final crew show when Carmel, Mistress of Ceremony Extrodinaire, delivered her tribute (above). Not a dry eye in the house. The following day, many passengers and crew asked the one and only Carmel for a copy. She asked for a contribution to Capt McNaught’s fav charity (“never know when you might need a good lifeboat” chanted Carmel), RNLI, Royal National Lifeboat Association, the charity that saves lifes at sea and raised some extra funds for this excellent charity. http://www.rnli.org.uk/ I’m sending a Christmas donation in HONOR OF CARMEL ROGERS. How about others? Long life the soul of QE2.

  2. Rosie Claxton says:

    Thank you so much for this.
    We too have wonderful memories,and like many we are missing having a holiday that was just so special and out-of-the-ordinary to look forward to. No – please don’t suggest that we try the other ships! For a start the great crew that we knew would be out of context!!
    My husband wrote the following soon after we watched QE2 sail down the Solent for the ‘final’ time..

    Sunset for a Queen
    I must go down to the sea again
    To the lonely sea and the sky
    But all I have is a palm tree view
    In the dust of hot Dubai

    And the huge glass towers
    And the boulevard cars
    And dollars twinkling bright
    As tourists throng the golden mall
    In their duty free delight


    I must go back to the sea again
    To the world I’ve travelled wide
    A billion fans all cheering me
    And crews from each far tide

    A national treasure will proudly move
    No time to stand still long
    For the lure of future voyages calls
    And speed is still my song


    I must get back to the sea right now
    But I fear I’m not quite well
    My funnel sits on the hot quayside
    And inside I’m an empty shell

    Somehow I’ve lost my sound and soul
    And the shadows fill my head
    While all the evening desert sky
    Steals my funnel’s empire red

    With apologies to John Masefield

  3. Chris Frame says:

    Hi Alistair and Carmel,

    Thanks for including the QE2 blog – it’s great to hear from Carmel – I’ve known Carmel for many years as the Librarian aboard QE2 and recently saw her during the 2008 Mediterranean Sojourn where I was signing copies of my book QE2: A Photographic Journey.

    The library and bookshop aboard QE2 were some of the most popular areas aboard – their cosy yet refined, relaxed and elegant atmosphere – and very friendly staff – made these places a pleasure to visit. It’s hard to imagine QE2′s library right now – empty and quiet.

    I hope to one day cross paths with Carmel again perhaps on the QM2 or QV – or maybe QE.

    All the best for a great Christmas and New Year.


  4. Joy says:

    We were there when Carmel, as Mistress of Ceremony for the final Crew Show, presented her poem…not many dry eyes in the house. Capt McNaught was onstage and you could have heard a pin drop as she read her poem. Carmel is one more example of why QE2 was so special. Long live the great memories we all have of life on QE2.

  5. Simon Ward says:

    I have very fond memories of Carmel. I travelled on the QE2 with my partner and three friends at the end of April/beginning of May this year. This was my first ever cruise and has caused me to be become addicted to cruising. One of the reasons for this love affair with cruising and Cunard in particular was Carmel.

    During this particular cruise we celebrated my birthday on the last formal night on board ship and our table for eight had the good fortune to be hosted by Carmel. She was full of fun and smiles and made my evening even more special. She was an excellent ambassador for Cunard and the QE2 in particular and I will always have very fond memories of that evening.

    After dinner we asked her is she would join us at the Masquerade Ball, followed by a drink and a dance at the Yacht Club. This she accepted but told us that it was quite rare to receive such in invitation after hosting a table.

    When I got back to my stateroom at the end of the evening the re was a lovely birthday card from Carmel- such a nice and personal touch. I real lady and a great person.

    Please send our sincere best wishes to Carmel and wish her a Merry Christmas. I gather she was leaving Cunard after the end of the QE2 and we all wonder how she is. Please pass on my e-mail address in case she wants to respond.



  6. Fond memories of any great creation often has an very lasting effect on our minds. While reading this blog on QE2, I remembered the stories that my grandfather used to share with me. He is no longer with me but his memories and the knowledge that he possessed in the field of history will always remain special to me.

  7. Jimmy Christie says:

    I met Carmel on QE2 in 2007 and would also like to thank Alastair for his wonderful work as Cruise Director on QV on Russian Rendezvous II in 2008. Here is a recent poem that I have written as a tribute to QE2:

    What Ship and Where Away?

    The glimmer of a wheelhouse light,
    Passing Spurn through rain and spray,
    Sailing into gathering night,
    What ship are you and where away?

    I am the trawler, Arctic Corsair,
    Out of Hull and northward bound,
    Twenty seven souls on board,
    Away to the White Sea fishing ground,

    Packed with troops, red ensign flying,
    Two great funnels, painted grey,
    Slipping quietly down the Solent,
    What ship are you and where away?

    I am the troopship Empire Orwell,
    Eastward bound for Singapore,
    Carrying a thousand conscripts,
    Off to fight a distant war

    Stovepipe funnel, black with coal dust,
    Steaming southward through Tees Bay,
    Iron hull, streaked red with old rust,
    What ship are you and where away?

    I am the collier, Jarrow Trader
    Down to the Thames I’ll pitch and roll
    Outward from South Shields for Greenwich
    Laden deep with Tyneside coal

    Every inch of canvas flying,
    In the first grey light of day,
    Bone in your teeth, and seaward plying,
    What ship are you and where away?

    I am the barque, The Flying Spindrift
    Sailed from Cornwall yesterday
    Beating westward out of Falmouth
    Down to my marks with china clay

    Tall red funnel, graceful profile
    Racing southwards through Biscay
    Cunard house flag proudly flying
    What ship are you and where away?

    We are the last Atlantic liner
    This voyage is our last goodbye
    Outward from Southampton Water
    Bound for the Persian Gulf … to die.

  8. Hi Alastair & fellow Cunarders

    Happy memories and nice words there, particularly from Carmel and Rosie. Carmel, I wish you well in whatever you do and should you be speaking with Jayne then please do say Hi (I often ribbed her about the ‘Monarches’ print!).

    Well, I have finally managed to complete my review of the final farewell to Southampton as seen through my eyes, and if anyone’s interested then they can read this by visiting my blogsite:


    I hope you had a great Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you all!


  9. Ann Uttley says:

    What lovely tributes to a grand lady QE2…I hope she can read them for herself!

    Meanwhile heres another little ditty….just for her.

    Happy New Year

    Life Begins at Forty
    So I have been told
    But it seems my Cunard Owners
    Now think that I’m too old

    I thought I’d get a makeover
    A little nip n tuck
    As you see I didn’t get it
    No such bloomin luck

    My cruising days are over
    No more atlantic run
    No more cocktail parties
    O the laughter and the fun

    I’ve got to take retirement
    I’m sailing to the sun
    Nobody told me
    My sailing days were done

    I was born in Scotland
    On the bonnie banks o’ Clyde
    When I went down that slipway
    My heart swelled up with pride

    I only had one funnel
    I looked a wee bit odd
    But then you must remember
    I was a swinging 60′s mod

    I’ve sailed around the world now
    6 million miles or so
    But now at 41yrs old
    I’m told I’ve got to go

    I loved the north atlantic
    When I was sailing fast
    No other ship could beat me
    They were always last

    My house was in Southampton
    A berth down by the Solent
    Where my big final departure
    Was a very special moment

    Now it’s time to say goodbye
    You can’t know how I feel
    I’ve to go to endless sunshine
    Where my skin will burn and peel

    I sailed into Dubai today
    The Sultans yacht was here
    But now they’ve left me all alone
    And my heart is filled with fear

    My engines now lie silent
    The command from Captain Mac
    But I know he really wanted to
    Turn round and take me back!

    I’ve now got brand new Owners
    I think they’re called Nakheel
    But they don’t speak my language
    So they don’t know how I feel

    They say I’m going to dry dock
    For a year or two
    Are they going to hurt me
    What are they going to do

    Have you seen the papers
    There’s been a bit of trouble
    I heard a rumour yesterday
    They’re cutting off my funnel!

    Now I am so far away
    On this foreign eastern shore
    I want to go back home now
    But they don’t want me any more

    I want to live FOREVER
    To sail the ocean blue
    So we can be together
    Such is my love for you

    So will you come and see me
    On this Palm where I can dream
    But will YOU always remember
    That I was once a Queen

    Southampton got my anchor
    They all want to have a part
    But whats for Bonnie Scotland
    It’s there I left my heart

  10. Carolyn Maxwell says:

    I have some photos of Devo the Wonderdog on the QE2′s last ever Transatlantic crossing (16-22 Oct 08). Devo had the privilege of being the only dog on that cruise and was much loved by both passengers and crew. You can email me if you’d like a copy of the photos.

    It was also great to see Gunn on that cruise too after meeting her on the QV New York-LA world cruise leg.

  11. Graham White, Past passenger & Guest lecturer. says:

    Happy New Year Alastair and thanks to you and Cunard for this website and to Carol Marlow for the excellent souvenir booklet about QE2. Someone in Cunard has certainly been coming up with some brilliant ideas.
    It was great to read the poetic tributes and I, as an ex-seafarer and passenger will miss her as much as any BUT there is some really good news for you all out there.
    In September I sailed as the Port Lecturer on Queen Victoria and let me tell you all this; Those folk at Cunard with their new ideas have done it again. They have transformed the ‘Carnival’ hull of QV into a truely worthy sucessor to QE2. Inside she is a beautiful, elegant ship with all the style and class of QE2 plus much more. From her retaurents to the Royal court Theatre and the gorgeous ball-room. Add to this the service and care which was even better than QE2.
    Believe me friends, Queen Victoria is an experiance not to be missed and I just cannot wait to sail on her again.
    Just one short story. I declined Alastairs kind invitation to speak to the passengers on deck as we sailed into Venice, as I felt that I really could not do it justice. I am SO glad that I did. Alastair arranged for some really wonderful music on deck and as we ALL watched our arrival, on deck, listening to Andrea Bocelli singing ‘Time to say Good-Bye’, there was not a dry eye to be seen. It made this majical experiance into a truely memorable one which I tell everyone about. Thank you Alastair, and please keep up the good work.
    Sincerely, Graham.

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