June 15, 2009
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Mary 2
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 479 days
Before I go in to more detail of Queen Mary 2’s “Voyage of the Vikings”, here’s the breaking news I promised last week. Yes here is the long awaited update on Queen Elizabeth. Well I’m pleased to tell you that the first stage of her construction is coming along well. That’s where the steel that will make up her superstructure is cut and made in to sections. The next milestone is when the keel is laid. This is when the very first section, (or block as it is known), of the superstructure is placed in the dry dock, marking the beginning of the actual construction. I can confirm that the date for this ceremony is going to be the 2nd of July and I’m excited to say I have been invited to this very important event. I’ll be reporting with lots of pictures and hopefully some video as well, so look out for my special posting on Monday July 6th.
Meanwhile it’s all change here on Queen Mary 2. I left the ship in Southampton on Saturday and Ray Rouse returned to take the Entertainment hot seat. Meanwhile John Duffy returned as Hotel Manager while David Stephenson is away for a couple of weeks. Commodore Bernard Warner has also gone on leave while Captain Nick Bates takes the helm.
This week was the first Norwegian voyage of the season for Queen Mary 2, and what a fantastic week it was. It is such a beautiful part of the world, so I thought I would share some pictures with you thanks to the help of some of my colleagues on board. It’s a perfect time of year to go, with the long summer days, although you have to go further north to enjoy what is known as “The Land Of The Midnight Sun”, when the sun never even sets. Having said that it stays light until very late; in fact this stunning picture was taken at 2.30am by our resident DJ, Graham Cracker (well, who else would be up at that time of night!)
Flåm is known as “The little place between the mountains” and is a tiny village with a huge character and incredible fjord views you could gaze upon for hours. Because of the depth of the fjord Queen Mary 2 was able to dock literally in the centre of town but as you can see from another of Graham’s pictures, that’s not exactly difficult.
This destination is a paradise for walkers as you can enjoy a gentle stroll around the village and along the river, or for the more adventurous a long walk is rewarded by so many stunning views you can’t help but keep taking pictures. The first one I took was of Queen Mary 2 dwarfing this little village; no excuses for getting lost here!
I bumped in to our Personnel Manager Brian Lynch and Executive Chef Karl Winkler and set out for what was going to be a short brisk walk. An hour later we were still walking, enjoying the scenery when Brian mentioned he vaguely remembered a track that headed to the top of an amazing plateau which would be well worth the walk. As we headed, more off the beaten track we came to a bridge which looked rather wobbly but we thought what the hec; it looks OK.
It was only at the other end when we saw a sign that red: “Do Not Cross”! Yes only on one end by which time it was too late. The trek was one of those “It’s just over the next hill” types as we climbed higher and higher, with less and less of a track to follow, as previous walkers seemd to have had the sense to turn around. Joking apart it was a fantastic trek, and all credit to Brian we were rewarded with one of the most amazing views from the top.
Meanwhile another and slightly more relaxing way to enjoy this town, is to take a 14 mile journey on one of the world’s steepest railways. It spirals its way through twisting mountain tunnels to Myrdal which is 865 metres above sea level. Flåmsbana (Flaam Railway), was built in order to provide a line of communication between Sognefjorden and the main railway and the views are simply spectacular! Although construction on the line started in 1923, it didn’t officialy open until 1980. You can either take the train both ways, or one way and walk the other or even take your bike and ride up or back. This is a popular crew activity and a few members of the Entertainment Department took the train to the top and cycled back. Their pictures were stunning and for Mel (one of our dance couple) from South Africa, it was paticularly special as it was the first time she had ever touched snow! Here she is in red in a beautiful picture taken with fellow day trippers, all ready for the dramatic descent.
I wish I had the space to post more pictures as Peter Bielek (Sommelier – in the centre of the picture) took some stunning shots. Alas space is running out, but I had to include this one of an amazing old building with yes grass on its roof. I know I live in a Thatched cottage but this is something completely different!
The day was beautiful and after we enjoyed our final view of the village; the biggest building left (that would be us!). However every day on this voyage there have been numerous photo opportunties, as Queen Mary 2 sailed through the many fjords. Here’s another shot courtesy of Graham Cracker later that evening.
Our next port was the city of Stavanger, located on a peninsula on the southwest coast of Norway and the centre of the third largest metropolitan area in the country (after Oslo and Bergen). The city is steeped in history and there is a huge amout to do here from walking to exploring the city’s many museums. There are lots’s of shops and quaint side streets.
Despite it being a big city by Norwegian standards, Queen Mary 2 still dominated the skyline. It’s always lovely to see the amount of interest she generates as well with many locals and other holiday makers coming down to see her.
I was going to tell you about Bergen and Geiranger, but that’ll have to wait for another time I’m afraid as we have run out of space again. Meanwhile I’ll be back on Thursday with a regular weekly update and a special guest Blog from Queen Victoria. Cheers for now, Alastair