September 17, 2009
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Thanks for all the feedback from my visit to Monfalcone and the New Queen Elizabeth last week. I know from your comments and meeting Bloggers on board that you are enjoying seeing her progress. The good news is that I’ll be posting more pictures and some video next week and will keep you updated regularly. I’m looking forward to going back in November where I’m sure her progress will be equally impressive. There have been a couple of questions asking who is where at the moment so here goes. I will be on Queen Victoria until December when Warren Smith returns from leave and I’ll then be back on for the World Cruise 2010. Meanwhile on Queen Mary 2 Paul O’Loughlin (I’ll be doing a special Blog on our new Entertainment Director over the coming weeks), will go on leave in mid October when Ray Rouse returns.
While I was taking pictures of our new Queen last week, our guests enjoyed a stunning day in Venice. This has to be one of the most impressive cities in the world and, despite the amount of times I’ve been here, I always love it and feel it’s one of those destinations that actually lives up to, and exceeds, your expectations. I’ll come to that and the pictures of that day after “This week in Cunard’s History” for the week, 18th to the 24th September:
September 20 1906
Mauretania is launched. (She was named after a Roman Province, but passengers were unfamiliar with the name, so many simply called her the Maury)
September 20 1967
Job number 736 – Queen Elizabeth 2 is launched and named at Clydebank by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
September 20 2008
QE2 celebrates her final Cunard birthday on her last Transatlantic crossing from New York to Southampton
September 21 2008
Queen Mary 2 makes her 100th Transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York during which time she had logged nearly three-quarters of a million miles. Over that time, more than 229,000 guests and 450 pets crossed the North Atlantic. Also over the 100 crossings 97,000 pounds of lobster was served along with 2,700 pounds of caviar and accompanied by 206,200 bottles of champagne and enough tea to fill nearly five Olympic-sized swimming pools
Our day in Venice began when we took on the pilot at about 7am, and I made my way up to the Bridge to give a commentary on our arrival, passing the Lido and Guidecca on our port side and the main part of the city on the other, including the very dramatic St. Marks Square and the entrance of the Grand Canal. Here are just a couple of photos taken by our on board team of photographers which show how fantastic our views were.
While our guests enjoyed the view, the residents and visitors of Venice were able to admire the beautiful sight of Queen Victoria returning to her birthplace for the first time this year, just 21 months after she left to begin her career. We were also very lucky to have a cameraman, Andrew, on the shore side capturing the moment in this stunning film footage:
Historic moments are something we all know about at Cunard and our visit to Venice that day marked another. Phrases like “It only seems yesterday……..” were abound as I had lunch in the officers mess the day before with Queen Victoria bound Venice for the first time since leaving the Marghera shipyard as Cunard’s newest liner. There are not many who, under two years old, can say that in their short life they have already been around the world twice (literally) having visited 6 continents and over 44 countries and so the list goes on. So it was a nostalgic moment to look ahead to the shipyard in the distance as we turned in to the Stazione Maritima (Venice’s ship terminal). In fact we could just make out the shape of another new ship in the outfitting dock where we had been.
Looking back at those last few days in the yard, there were so many mile stones I could talk about, from seeing the ship for the first time in Trieste after her sea trials, the press visit with the unveiling of the Dent Clock in the Royal Arcade, the crew coming on board and seeing the ship literally coming to life, not to mention the numerous trips to the Panini shop down the road and countless pizzas! However it took a lot to top hearing Captain Wright announce on the morning of the 30th November 2007, that the final paperwork had been completed, and that the ship now belonged to Cunard, which was greeted by an immediate cheer from all the crew around the ship. We all knew we were part of the next stage of Cunard’s history, and there was tremendous pride as we moved away from our outfitting dock, with the shipyard workers taking a quick break to catch the results of their 3 years work, leaving for the last time on that sunny November afternoon. Although we had a huge task ahead of us with the inaugural events just 7 days away followed by the first 2 voyages and the maiden world cruise, this was an opportunity to enjoy the moment and feel part of something very special.
Now we look forward and realise that Cunard will be celebrating again in just over a year’s time to welcome another Queen to the fleet.
Our visit last week was equally sunny, but much warmer, and this time the decks were now full of our guests enjoying what has to be the best place to savour the views of Venice. I know it can be expensive and crowded, but to sit in St. Marks square and soak up the atmosphere, over your 20 euro café latte and miniscule biscotti is worth every penny (for me anyway)! I wonder how many photos were taken by our guests enjoying this magnificent city and equally from tourists admiring the ship which was probably the biggest building in Venice that day!
The sail out was equally impressive as guests on balconies on the port side got to enjoy the views of the “Doges Palace” and the “Bridge Of Sighs” as we played music from Andrea Boccelli, including the classic “Time To Say Goodbye” on the open decks. I defy anyone not to have felt the emotion of the occasion especially as the sunshine that evening was a photographers dream. Our professional team of on board photographers managed to capture some stunning images that I thought we had to share with Bloggers.
So there it was – another great historic day – and I was part of it – again! I’ll be back again on Monday with some film footage of Queen Elizabeth’s progress and lots more along the way. Please keep those questions and comments coming. Cheers – Alastair