September 14, 2009
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Elizabeth
Two months after my last visit we have some more pictures of Queen Elizabeth under construction in the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. Last Thursday Queen Victoria made her first call to Venice this year and our guests enjoyed what I believe to be one of the most incredible cities in the world. I will do a full blog on our day there very soon and this will include some great pictures of the city, from the ship, as well as some stunning video footage of her arrival taken by our cameraman who watched Queen Victoria’s dramatic arrival from the shore side.
As we made our final approaches we could just see in the background, the Fincantieri ship yard in Marghera where just over 21 months ago Queen Victoria was completed.
As soon as we arrived, our guests set off to explore this beautiful city, while I started the ninety minute drive down the coast to the small town of Monefalcone to see how our new Queen was taking shape. So donned with a hard hat, I was taken around the yard and was amazed at the amount of ship sections and machinery, literally everywhere, all ready to be assembled and create our new liner. This is one of the boilers that will be in the technical spaces of Queen Elizabeth.
The numerous sections that will comprise the ship are made in to different blocks in various sheds around the yard and then put together to make bigger ones which become so large they are often worked on outside. It is sometimes a challenge to work out which piece is which, but I am fairly confident this block is the aft section of what will be deck 2 of the Britannia Restaurant.
Then as we turned the corner, it was the moment I had been waiting for, since seeing the keel being laid on the 2nd of July. (If you haven’t seen those pictures or video you’ll find them on the 6th, 9th and 13th of July postings.)
To be able to see into the dry dock, where in just a few months Queen Elizabeth will take to the water for the first time, was probably the most exciting part of the day. The progress was staggering as you can see from this photo which is looking aft with the ship’s bow in the foreground.
It gives you a great cross sectional view of her hull before the forward section, including the bulbous bow, is added. The height of the front section here is “A” deck which houses mainly crew areas including crew cabins which arrive in “Pods”, and you can see them covered in white plastic. If you look carefully you can also see the section of the hull which has been painted white, and where this starts is promenade deck 3. I think the open section that goes from “A” deck to deck 2 will eventually be the forward “A” staircase.
Moving along the port side of the ship you could see there are still many sections of the ship’s keel still waiting to be placed. The section on the right hand side of this photo is in its final position ready to be attached to more sections in the middle.
You can see the wire cables holding the last block in place (on the left of the picture), and these will remain there until the welding is complete. And if you look carefully you’ll see on this next photo the narrow gap of a few millimetres, waiting to be welded.
This next picture shows the aft section of the keel where the massive “Azipod” motors and propellers will be attached to underside of the missing section of hull. Also, as you can see, there is still one more small section to add to the very aft of the keel.
Then I was in for a real treat, yes I was actually going to be allowed to board the ship – well what there was of her anyway! I don’t know but my claim to fame may be that I was the first Cunard Employee to do so – who knows!
It was quite a strange feeling walking up the gangway knowing there was only a small part of here, yet realizing that crew will be boarding the ship for the first time in about a year’s time ready to take up their positions to prepare her for the maiden voyage. I entered on the “A” deck gangway and although it was very dark, with just a few lights powered by shore side generators, as I looked aft, I could just about make out to what I think will be the guest entrance to the Medical Centre. (The white doors on the left hand side)
It was an amazing day and I’d like to thank Simona Capraro who looked after us so well in the yard, along with Luca Fornasiero and Carlo Fucile from Fincantieri who were kind enough to give up their valuable time to show us around. The exciting news is that this is just part one of the pictures from this visit; I’ll post part two soon and these will be ones taken from a position I wasn’t sure was going to be possible. I was also accompanied by our cameraman, Andrew, who is currently preparing a video of the visit for this Blog which will also be posted soon.
So please keep logging on, as I have lots more to share with you and of course I’ll try and answer your questions too. I’ll be back on Thursday, if not before, with more news around the fleet. Cheers – Alastair