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Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2’s Around The British Isles Voyage – Part 1 – A Spectacular Lap Of Honour

October 20, 2009

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Queen Mary 2

 This is a truly a very special Blog as it marks the 100th posting as Queen Mary 2 makes an historic Around The British Isles Voyage. Before I pass over to Peter Shanks (President and Managing Director of Cunard Line), I would like to say a big thank you for everyone’s support over the last 100 postings, including Richard, Matt and Shelley, but most of all to you for logging on and sharing your comments; here’s to the next 100! Now it’s a great pleasure to pass over to Peter on Queen Mary 2


I write this from Queen Mary 2. We are just leaving Greenock, with many thousands of people waving goodbye to what has been a spectacular day. Just twenty minutes ago – I pushed the hallowed red button on the bridge to sound our famous whistle and that in turn triggered an awesome firework display to celebrate the occasion. As we left – we heard the sounds of thousands of people singing ‘Happy Birthday’ from the shore – a very emotional, spontaneous and fitting tribute from the people of Scotland celebrating the 5th Birthday of the finest ocean liner in the world.


Today – Queen Mary 2 sailed up the Clyde towards Glasgow for the very first time. Over 120 Cunarders were built in this part of Scotland –  including Lusitania, Aquitania, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, QE2 and our first ever ship Britannia over 170 years ago this year. We were all bursting with pride – our crew, our guests – all of us making history together as the largest ship ever to sail up the Clyde. And yes – we were welcomed by Scottish Pipers.


It was also a special moment for me personally as I am a proud Scotsman myself – born in Glasgow. Our lap of honour started in Southampton and over the last few days we have experienced;


·         A voyage up the East Coast of England coming close to some famous towns and beaches as we did so. We said a warm hello to Whitby, to Scarborough and Sunderland. You know the coast of the UK is actually very beautiful and the sun shone.

·         As we came into Whitby – Commodore sounded the ship’s whistle in tribute to a friend of his who sadly passed away earlier this year and who had been very active in the Royal National Lifeboat Institution – it is really marvellous when Cunard can play a small and humble part in recognition of things like this.

·         The day in Edinburgh was indeed spectacular with the ship anchored just off the famous bridge – a wonderful sight.

·         We travelled right around the top of Scotland yesterday, through the Pentland Firth, past Scapa Flow, past Old Man of Hoy – this coastline is rarely seen and to see it all the way round was a real treat for all of our guests.

·         Lesley Garret – a delightful and famous British opera singer, performed two concerts to a packed  Royal Court Theatre

·         I was able to deliver a presentation to guests on the forthcoming Queen Elizabeth to a packed theatre. The response was very warm and there is a real sense of anticipation for our next Liner.


On board we have 2,600 guests of which over 1,500 are our very loyal and valued Cunard World Club Members. Last night in the Queens Room we were able to thank them for their valued support – it was a real pleasure for us all to see so many familiar faces. I was also able to ask them in turn to give a warm round of applause for the people who lie behind the success of everything we do at Cunard Line – our valued ship’s company.


Well – that is all for now. Tomorrow is the big day – we take Queen Mary 2 up the Mersey into Liverpool for the very first time.  As though today on the Clyde was not exciting enough – to take Queen Mary 2 to Liverpool, where Cunard Line was founded 170 years ago should be very special indeed. I will of course let you know how we get on. We will also post some of the marvellous pictures of events over the next few days.


I just wanted to share with you the excitement and pride of today. More to come tomorrow I am sure. Since I started writing this – I have heard our ship’s whistle sound 9 more times – with the last one being to say goodbye to the famous Waverley Steamship as she escorted us back down the Clyde – packed with what I hope are hundreds of very happy Scots. We certainly made our mark today……………………….. Thank you Scotland – we will be back!


Best Regards – Peter Shanks

President and Managing Director – Cunard Line


Thank you Peter, this sounds like an amazing voyage so we look forward to hearing more from you soon. In the meantime I’ll be back on Thursday with the interview with Sir Terry Wogan. Cheers – Alastair

  1. Gail Roberts says:

    Thanks to Mr. Shanks, for sharing his thoughts and itinerary as the QM2 visited so many historic places in Scotland. I could almost picture it all. Looking forward to seeing the pictures in the next blog! Thank you, Alastair, so much, for keeping us old Cunarders up to date on all the wonderful happenings at Cunard.

  2. Robert E. Lagassa, Capt, USN(Ret) says:

    We are going to make our first circumnavigation this winter on QUEEN VICTORIA and QUEEN MARY 2. We wanted you to know we have sailed on CUNARD ships since 1983 and we greatly appreciate what you are doing to restore the great era of ocean voyaging. As a mariner, I appreciate the combination of technology and splendor of CUNARD ships. Thank you so very much!

  3. Mick Thompson says:

    Sounds fantastic. We became addicted to the Queen Victoria in June on a two week Med cruise and can’t wait to go back on board for our 10th wedding anniversary in December…

  4. elaine jones (c/o) says:

    I would like to write a personal letter to Mr. Shanks about round Britain cruises. How can I be sure he will read it, and where should I send it?

  5. I Have Just seen the Q M 2 arrive in Liverpool , What a Sight ,although the weather was not Great The welcome she got on the Arrival at the Pier Head was Fantastic, thousands greeting her on both Sides of the Mersey, Even the CUNARD house Flag Flying on top of the CUNARD BUILDING the Home of Cunard, not Southampton, Lets hope it is the Start of Things to Come, Thanking you all for a great Sight. Jim Ex Cunard, P& O . and Blue Funnel. (Retired after 50 years at Sea)

  6. Steve Williams says:

    We have just returned from the Round Britain cruise on QM2 and I can endorse the comments made by Mr Peter Shanks.

    It was a really memorable event, made particularly special by the welcome we were affrded by the local people gathered at each port. Greenock was special but Liverpool was magnificent and one could sense the genuine pride and the feeling of association amongst the local community, who turned out in large numbers.

    Another fantastic entertainment was providec by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra plus two outstanding singers, who performed a Promenade concert in the Royal Court Theatre. This was themed to relate to the 5th Birthday and to the history of Cunard and was expertly achieved and they rightly received an ovation.

    They were followed later in the evening by a superb Beatles Tribute band who played in the Queen Anne Ballroom. They not only sounded like the Beatles but had an uncanny look of them as well.

    Yes, all in all an excellent cruise and the unique experience of a week on the world’s only genuine liner, was as usual an absolute delight. The weather could have been a little kinder but that did not dampen the wonderful time had by all who had the privalege to be present on such a mementous cruise.

  7. judith appleton says:

    What a wonderful round Britain voyage. It exceeded expectations. We became “cruisers”last year and can’y wait to get back on board. We truly loved the concert from the Liverpool Philharmonic and the to go on deck and see the fireworks and send off was just stupendous.The atmosphere on this wonderful liner need sto be experienced to be believed. Thanks again Cunard

  8. At the end of September, I commented that Queen Victoria cancelled her Newport, R.I. stop due 27th September. I had attributed this to the very foul, near zero visibility weather and extremely choppy sea conditions — significant since Newport is an anchor port. However, it turns out the reason the ship bypassed Newport was because of mechanical difficulties with its Azipod. In fact, she didn’t leave N.Y. until 6 AM on the 27th.

  9. Tony Cannon says:

    …and the QM2 sailed past the old stomping ground of one of Cunard Line’s founders, George Burns of Wemyss Bay, and his son John Burns (later Cunard Chairman and 1st Baron Inverclyde) of Wemyss Bay, approx 8 miles downriver from Greenock. Inverclyde Council is the present name for the Local Authority covering the towns of Greenock, Gourock, Port Glasgow and surrounding villages).

    Living in Wemyss Bay and Skelmorlie, I often took my children and their friends to play in the grounds of the demolished Burns’ home at Castle Wemyss in Wemyss Bay near the Clyde shoreline, which was the Burns’ home for many years, and which site is now a new upmarket housing estate, all traces of the former castle which hosted many celebrities and world leaders of the day, having long gone.

    Quite fitting in many ways, as I work for Denholm Barwil Ltd., the company which provides Cunard Port Agency services at Greenock and other UK ports…so I too (with my wife and daughter) had a good day onboard QM2 at Greenock, albeit in working mode (for me at least!)
    Denholm has been involved with ship agency, shipowning and ship management in various phases since 1866 and the Head Office is still in Glasgow!

    A G & J Burns timetable, 1921.

    Two merchants, the brothers James (1789-1871) and George Burns (1795-1890), laid the foundations for the firm as early as 1821 when they introduced a passenger steamer service between Glasgow and Ayr. They introduced services to Liverpool and Belfast in 1824, and in 1830 became partners with David and Charles McIver in the City of Glasgow Steam Packet Co running passenger and mail services between Glasgow, Liverpool, Belfast and Londonderry. In 1839 George Burns was co-founder with Samuel Cunard and David MacIver of the firm that became the Cunard Steam Ship Co and which won the lucrative contract to carry the transatlantic mail.

    The firm, originally J & G Burns, became G & J in 1842. George’s son John, 1st Baron Inverclyde (1829-1901) became chairman of Cunard and sole partner in G & J Burns. The company was acquired by Coast Lines in 1919 at the same time as Laird Lines, and the two subsidiaries were amalgamated in 1922 to form Burns & Laird.

  10. Lady Vivien Kinch-Jameson says:

    This was our first trip on the QM2 and not our last. We have just booked for the Med in September on her. The trip was fantastic and the ship and more importantly the serive was beyond my wildest imaginings – fabUlous. Thank you to every one for making our first voyage so enjoyable.Liverpool will live in our memories forever. Would have been nice to see the Commodore doing the rounds – just once!!!!!!!!!!!

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