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Queen Elizabeth

The First Pictures From Queen Elizabeth’s Float Out Ceremony

January 7, 2010

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Queen Elizabeth

Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 278 days


I have just returned from Monfalcone, Italy, where the Queen Elizabeth “Float Out” Ceremony took place at the Fincantieri shipyard, and what a day it was. I also enjoyed the opportunity to see the ship, and the staggering progress that has been made, since our last visit in November. It’s now just 10 months to go, and judging from your comments, the excitement is definitely building, so we’ll keep the pictures and reports coming. Despite the cold weather and a bit of rain, we were able to capture this important milestone with some great photos and we also recorded some more video Blogs which we will bring you over the next couple of weeks.


Before we get to those first pictures here’s Cunard’s history, for the week 8 to 14 January:



8 January 1971

QE2 joined in the rescue of some 500 passengers from the burning French Line ship, Antilles, off Mustique Island

8 January 2004

Queen Mary 2 is named by Her Majesty the Queen after 20,000 people had worked with 300,000 parts, 1,000 miles of welding in just 2 years of construction

8 January 2007

Cunard announces the new Commodore of the Cunard Fleet as Bernard Warner

9 January 1972

Several fires break out on Queen Elizabeth while she is in Hong Kong Harbour as a floating university. Arson was suspected but never proven. By the next morning she was on her side, where she stayed for 3 years before sinking.

11 January 1949

Caronia arrives in New York for the first time, via Cherbourg

13 January 2008

Queen Victoria makes her maiden call at New York for the first meeting of three Queens with Queen Mary 2 and QE2.



The “Float Out” ceremony marked the moment that Queen Elizabeth’s hull touched water for the first time. For the event, Cunard’s President and Managing Director, Peter Shanks, was joined by 79-year old Florence (Dennie) Farmer who was guest of honour at the event. Dennie’s husband, Willie Farmer joined Cunard in September 1938 and served as Chief Engineer on both Queen Elizabeth and QE2 until retirement in October 1979. Since her husband’s death Dennie has sailed with Cunard many times and her link to the two previous Queen Elizabeth ships is unparalleled. In recognition of this, Cunard bestowed on Dennie the honour, in Italian tradition, of being ‘Madrina’ to the third Queen Elizabeth.



We arrived quite early so we could have a look at the ship before the VIPs, dignitaries and press arrived; so what is our new Queen looking like:



Yes, what a transformation from the last pictures. Her bow is looking stunning, and how wonderful to see her name on the traditional Cunard livery.



You may notice one key difference to her sister, Queen Victoria, and that’s the new Games Deck. As you may already know, this area will have a special canvas covering, and you can see the support work already in place. This is what the area will look like in October.




In fact you get a great view of the area in this picture and yes they did manage persuade me to go up on another crane to get this photo!



You will see there is a temporary structure on this part of the deck and that was because the first part of the ceremony took place here. It involved the welding of significant coins beneath the mast of Queen Elizabeth for good luck. Three coins were chosen; a half crown dated 1938 (the year the first Queen Elizabeth was launched); a sovereign dated 1967 (the year QE2 was launched) and a sovereign dated 2010 to acknowledge the fact that the new Queen Elizabeth is being floated out in 2010.



After the coin ceremony, the focus moved to the dockside where the ship was blessed, and a bottle of Italian Prosecco was smashed against the hull by our Madrina. The valves of the dry dock were then opened so the ship could meet the water for the first time. I’ll have more pictures and video of the whole event in the next Blog on Monday.


Meanwhile looking around the ship I was able to see some other spaces becoming more recognisable. Here you can see the magnificent vaulted roof of the Garden Lounge and just behind the roof structure you can see the Grills area which has just recently been added.



It may not be easy to imagine this at the moment but this is what it will look like:



One of the other recent additions is the Yacht Club which is where Hemispheres is located on Queen Victoria.



And this is what this will look like in ten months time.



We managed to get back on the quayside just before the other guests arrived. I couldn’t get the whole ship in one photo but this is a great shot showing all the ship’s superstructure now in place.



The large yellow equipment on the side of the ship is used to transport staterooms to the various decks along with other equipment and outfitting materials. Just below the Cunard name was where the second part of the ceremony took place, and a really keen eye may be able to spot the black speck which is the bottle of Prosecco ready to be released. Just one job was left before the event could begin and that was the all important clearing of the dry dock of numerous pieces of equipment including this crane used by the ship yard workers to paint the ship’s hull.




And now for a few words from our President and Managing Director, Peter Shanks, about his experience of the event:


Wow. All of us at Cunard have a growing sense of anticipation and pride in Queen Elizabeth – but to stand today beneath her famous black hull and for the first time to see the words ‘Queen Elizabeth’ on the bow was a wonderful moment for us all. The traditional Italian ‘Float-Out’ Ceremony is a lovely tradition. We had invited a long standing friend of Cunard – Dennie Farmer – to be our ‘Madrina’ for the event. We had quite a day and I thought I would share with you some of my personal highlights.


Bad Weather – The weather everywhere at the moment is a problem. Yesterday it snowed heavily in Trieste, but this morning the weather held off which was a good omen for the day. However, I did invest over the Christmas period in a very grown-up full length coat. Alongside Dennie – me in my new black coat and her in a very apt red coat, hat and gloves were all set. As I write this while flying back to Gatwick this evening – I hear we are expecting a foot of snow at home tomorrow – we have been lucky with our timing.


A warm welcome – The pride that all the workers and management of Fincantieri have in building Queen Elizabeth is marvellous. We were a small group from the office along with some of our key journalist partners. From the minute we arrived at the yard we were made to feel very special. During the ceremony I was asked to give a short speech. I had help in translating a few paragraphs into Italian and I was able to tell the many hundreds of yard workers present that they were as of now ‘Honorary Cunarders’ and to thank them personally for the progress they have made to date. They got the biggest round of applause of the day and deservedly so. In the same way that I often mention that it is the staff on board our ships who deliver our White Star Service – it is the dedication, enthusiasm and pride of the yard workers who build the magic for us to deliver to our guests.


Never saw myself as a welder – Part of the tradition is to weld a coin below the mast of the ship. Well we chose three coins – why not, this ship is at least three times as exciting as any other ship that will launch this year. Dennie went first and was aided by two yard workers in welding the coins into place. I was next – you know it is incredible to play such a part in the history of Cunard Line. Over the next 20-30 years many hundreds of thousands of guests will stop, look and read about the coins – today Dennie and I welded them into place – and welded ourselves into the history of Cunard Line. (I should be honest here and say that I think Dennie made a better welder than I did).



Now that is what I call a bottle smash – I know I should not have worried – after all here we were in a ship yard. But I could not help wondering if the bottle would smash, as Dennie cut the string with a very smart little axe. Words like ‘obliteration’ and ‘smithereens’ come to mind – as one of the pictures show, these Fincantieri boys really know their stuff.



Very Special Atmosphere – Let’s be honest – we were in reality just standing in front of a huge amount of steel. We have all witnessed many of these events. But as the Padre blessed the ship, as the national anthems were played, as the bottle smashed, as the yard workers cheered it was very clear to all of us that this was no simple lump of steel. This was special – this was Cunard, this was Queen Elizabeth and we were all playing a part in a special moment in the life of Queen Elizabeth.


Thank you Dennie – The yard treated Dennie so well during the day. She received a lovely memento of the occasion, a dozen beautiful roses and as we left she was handed an album already full of the photos of the day. I really hope she enjoyed her special day. In fact I know that she did – full of thoughts as to how proud her late husband Willie would have been of her continuing their long association with Cunard Elizabeth’s.



Well I hope that gives you a flavour of the day. Back to work in the morning and back down to earth. We have an awful lot to do to prepare for the introduction of the ship – and her Maiden Voyage on 12 October, a very special day for all of us, not least because it happens to be Columbus day – how cool is that?


Best Regards


Peter Shanks

President and Managing Director – Cunard Line



That’s it I’m afraid for this Blog, but we’ll post some great videos soon, and these will cover the ceremony itself along with interviews with Peter Shanks, our Madrina Dennie Farmer and the Fincantieri Yard Director, Paolo Capobianco along with more interior shots. The first video blog of this event will be posted at the beginning of next week along with more photos. In the meantime I have to start packing as I will be joining Queen Victoria on her 2010 World Voyage in New York on Tuesday. Cheers Alastair

  1. Dave Meineck says:

    Very good write up by you both, As usual very good photos. Now awaiting your Video Shoots.
    Best of luck for the comming year, we are now looking forward to our cruise on the New Queen.
    Dave M.

  2. George Samaklis says:

    Dear sirs, I’m very pround of the new Queen Elizabeth.So diferent of her close sister Queen Victoria, she’s the ship that will finaly fill the gap of QE2 in my heart.QM2 is too big and too perfect for me.I’m looking forward to see her live at Piraeus port in November.God bless you all.

  3. Beryl Moss says:

    As usual very good photos and write ups and look forward to the video shots in the coming blogs. Have a safe journey to New York and enjoy your World Cruise on Queen Victoria.

    Regards Beryl

  4. John & Sheila says:

    Great to see the wonderful photographs of the new Queen Elizabeth. We had our first Cruise on board QE2 in april 2008 and are looking forward to the Maiden Voyage of Queen Elizabeth in October.
    If you don’t want to go to New York or on Queen Victoria, let us know and we’ll go in your place!
    Keep up the Great Blogs.
    John & Sheila.

  5. Andy Hames says:

    Great photos and write up Alstair, We can;t wait till Monday for the video and more pictures.
    We are looking forward to the Maiden voyage so much that we have booked the med trip on her two weeks after we get off her Maiden voyage.

    Regards Andy

  6. Anthony jr says:

    Very beautiful, can’t wait for sea trials! and the naming ceremony! Very exciting indeed! Three cheers for the three Queen Elizabeths!

  7. Richard says:

    Thank you for the pictures. Although I have to say Queen Elizabeth is definitely the “Ugly Duckling” of the fleet. The new structure over the Commodore club for the games deck look very similar to NCL’s famous Epic top. And the stern unfortunately did not stay consistent with the Queen Victoria’s and instead got the ugly Eurodam flat stern. I miss the days when ship design we ascetically pleasing instead of adding as much onto the vista class as possible. At least we have the Queen Mary 2!

  8. Ringom Varisco says:

    Mr. Greener, I cant believe that especially on a Cunard Blog, with so much attention on a cruise ship who takes the same name as one of the greatest,and UNIQUE OCEAN LINER ever to be built, THE QUEEN ELIZABETH of 1938, you have failed to make any mention of the very, very significant date of January 9th (tomorrow) in your Cunard’s History month – January for the 8 to the 14th!! For this was the day back in 1972 in Hong Kong Harbour where the great ship was destroyed by fire. A shame really -but maybe it’s not too late for you to pen it in out of respect for the noble QE?? Still, good luck to QE3.
    Greetings, Ringo Varisco,
    custodian of the RMS Queen Elizabeth Historical Society Collection

  9. Dave Meineck says:

    Cunard have just confirmed that Capt Ian Mc Naught the last Master of the QE2 is leaving Cunard shortly to move to Seabourne, a sister company.
    He will be missed by lots of passengers and crew have met him over the past 22 years.
    We wish him and his family all the best in his new position with Seabourne.
    ps more details ref Ian Mc Naught, on= The QE2 Story and Capt Greybeard web sites. as well as cruise critics.

  10. john roberts says:

    good to see the new queen is coming together now,i think i can see my stateroom for the 25th october,looking foreward to the day.

  11. john bramwell says:

    Another excellent blog, and we can not wait for the video; we will certainly know what she looks like before sailing on her. The 7th of January 2010 will certainly be a day to remember, also our grandson Benjamin was born.

  12. Great article as usual Alastair and thanks for the update.



  13. Stuart Kirkby says:

    Congratulations Alastair on your appointment as Entertainment Director on the new Queen Elizabeth
    My wife and I look forward to meeting you again hopefully on the 2011 World cruise and your selection of entertainers any chance of more of Gironwy Thom we have never laughed so much as his show on Queen Victoria.
    Stuart Kirkby

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