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Insights Speakers

An All-American Astronaut Lectures on Queen Victoria

April 23, 2009

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Insights Speakers

Welcome to this week’s special Blog as Queen Victoria completed her 2nd World Cruise and met up with her big sister, Queen Mary 2 in Southampton, on 20 April. Thank you for all the messages regarding the circumnavigation coverage of both ships, it’s been great to hear how many of you have been following our journey. I’ll be posting the last chapter of this amazing World Cruise on Monday.

In the meantime for this week’s Blog it’s a great pleasure to introduce you to one of our Cunard Insight’s Lecturers. Walter Cunningham belongs to a unique club of only about 400 members and membership isn’t just a matter of paying your subscription and signing on the dotted line. Yes, this club is exclusively for those who have travelled in to space so it does feel very special to meet one of these rare individuals. This week he has been kind enough to write our Guest Blog, but before that here’s “This week in Cunard’s History” for the week of the 24th to the 30th of April.

April 25 2004

Historic Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing of QE2 in tandem with Queen Mary 2. This marks QE2’s last westbound Transatlantic Crossing as Cunard’s flagship. Both RMS Queen Mary 2 and QE2 meet in new York – the first time that two Cunard Queens have been berthed in the port since March 1940.

April 28 1969

QE2 makes her maiden call at Lisbon, Portugal

April 29 1987

Diana, Princess of Wales, makes her first visit to QE2

Now to this week’s Guest Blog. How do you begin a conversation with a man who has been into space and which question would you ask first? . It’s always fascinating to meet lecturers with such different backgrounds and a wide variety of subjects to talk about, but an Astronaut – well that takes some beating. .

Walter Cunningham is best known as America’s second civ­ilian Astro­naut. In 1967, he was a member of the backup crew for Apollo 1 when the prime crew was killed in a fire on the pad. After serving on the fire investigation board, Cunningham was assigned to the first manned flight of the Apollo Pro­gram to land a man on the Moon. In 1968, he orbited the earth 163 times as the pilot of Apollo 7. Following the Apollo 7 mission, he became Chief of the Skylab Astro­nauts, where he was responsible for the design, development and integration of sys­tems for the lar­gest spacecraft, manned or unmanned, ever placed in orbit. He is a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot with the rank of Colo­nel and 4,500 hours pilot time. He has graduate degrees from UCLA in physics and the Harvard Graduate School of Business. If this isn’t enough Walter Cunningham is also a successful businessman, entre­preneur, venture capitalist, lectur­er, author of The All-Ameri­can Boys, and host of a radio talk show.

In his lectures Walter Cunningham takes his audience on a unique tour of our planet from an astronaut’s unique perspective, covering the Earth’s natural features, man-made wonders, icebergs, glaciers, environmental scars, and weather phenomena. He also discusses his personal view of what he calls “Man’s Greatest Adventure”, as well as the space race between the Russians and the Americans. Here is his Blog: –

Guest Blog – Astronaut – Walter Cunningham

What ocean going traveller isn’t familiar with the name Cunard? When you have the opportunity to travel on Queen Mary 2 or Queen Victoria, Cunard becomes more than just a great name in the industry. It becomes a personal experience, and what an experience it is. Dot and I have just returned from our third trip with Cunard in the last three years. This time it was the Sydney to Nagasaki segment of Queen Victoria’s 2009 World Cruise, with some interesting stops in New Guinea and The Marianas Islands.

Even on a great and beautiful ship, the experience is tied to the people you meet and the places you see. As a speaker, you are always looking for a great audience and that was the case on the Queen Victoria. It was nice to share my career in space with such an enthusiastic audience.

Queen Victoria’s Royal Court Theatre is one of the most beautiful Theatres I have had the good fortune to speak in. It is big and beautiful, yet close and intimate. Not too many places ashore share these characteristics.

I was flattered when Caroline Mathieson and Julia Young first contacted me about doing the world cruise on Queen Victoria. And Alastair, thank you for making my lectures so convenient. This blog is an opportunity to thank my fellow guests for what they contributed to our enjoyment.

I enjoy sharing man’s greatest adventure with others, and the audiences on Cunard are especially receptive. The Q and A sessions are lively and they usually continue after leaving the theatre, especially after I have been talking about life elsewhere in the universe. They must have enjoyed what they heard, because they sold out my book, The All-American Boys.

One of the places where we discussed my lectures was, surprisingly, at the workout area in the morning. The spa area was a good place to catch on any questions that had not been answered, although it did slow down my regular workout routine. I did enjoy going to these fascinating ports and here is a picture of me with the volcano in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea in the background.

Anyone wanting more information on yours truly, can obtain it at my website: www.waltercunningham.com .

Thank you very much Walter, It was great as always to have you on board and I hope we’ll see you again soon. Well that’s it for now but I’ll be back on Monday with my final report from Queen Victoria’s World Cruise. Cheers – Alastair

  1. Jerry Nuovo says:

    Alastair, Since the Queen Victoria will be doing cruises to Hawaii in February,2011 I would like to dedicate this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNbQ1X8MjeI Regards,Jerry from New Jersey,USA

  2. Margaret Tayler says:

    Hi Alistair
    Having been on the final leg of QV’s Maiden World Cruise last year I have thoroughly enjoyed reliving the experience via your Blog. Now looking forward to my August Cruise to St Petersburg and already booked for Hawaii in 2011.

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