February 8, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 251 days
As Queen Mary 2 continues her 2010 World Voyage with visits to Dubai and Singapore, Queen Victoria has just crossed the Equator and the International Dateline – yes this year we didn’t have an 8 February! These were two important occasions which, as usual, Queen Victoria celebrated in style. If you would like to find out more about how we mark such events, you can look at the Blog posted on this subject last year, by clicking on this link:
In this Blog we are going to take you back to Queen Victoria’s maiden call to San Francisco on 27 January, with some great pictures and video of that wonderful day. There are some arrivals you just have to be up for, however early, and coming in to San Francisco, under the Golden Gate Bridge is one of those arrivals, especially when it’s the ship’s first call.
You can see it all on video courtesy of our cameramen who were on board to capture the moment:
As we had over 1,000 guests disembarking and embarking that day, we had to arrive early, so we picked up the pilot at about 6am and 30 minutes later Queen Victoria passed under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. It was a cold and dark morning but it was still a wonderful sight to see the bridge ahead of us, although there are not that many lights on it. The deck of the bridge is approximately 245 feet (75 m) above the water which gave Queen Victoria a clearance of about 32 feet or 9.8m. As we went under, Captain Wright sounded the ship’s whistles and the salute was returned by the Golden Gate Bridge as you’ll hear in the video.
The Golden Gate Bridge spans the Golden Gate which is the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. It was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1937, and has become an internationally recognised symbol of San Francisco and California, despite the fact that since its completion, the span length has been surpassed by eight other bridges.
As we sailed into the bay, with the haunting island of Alcatraz on our port side and the familiar sight of Fisherman’s Wharf on the starboard side, dawn started to break over the city.
San Francisco is a city that never fails to impress, and it has quite a history dating back to 1776 when the Spanish established a fort at the Golden Gate and a mission named for Francis of Assisi on the site. The California Gold Rush in 1848 propelled the city into a period of rapid growth, increasing the population in one year from 1,000 to 25,000, transforming it into the largest city on the West Coast at the time. Despite much of the city being destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt. Today the city is a popular international tourist destination, renowned for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture and its famous landmarks, including the cable cars (America’s only moving national monuments), and Chinatown. This scene typifies the streets of San Francisco with Alcatraz in the background:
By the time the sun came out, the familiar San Francisco mist had lifted and our guests enjoyed a fantastic day in the city exploring the sights. Suzie, one of our on board photographic team was able to take some great pictures, like this one showing her approach to Alcatraz Island.
1.5 miles offshore and often referred to as The Rock, the small island has served as a lighthouse, a military fortification and a military prison, before becoming a federal prison from 1934 until its closure in 1963. Today, the island is a historic site operated by the National Park Service and is open to tours, which guide visitors through all areas of the prison including the cell once occupied by the notorious Al Capone.
The Golden Gate Bridge must be one of the most photographed bridges in the world, and when you see pictures like this you can understand why.
While our guests were ashore, a special reception was held on board Queen Victoria where the honourable Mayor Gavin Newsom, officially welcomed Queen Victoria, her guests, officers and crew to the city. Among the guests were travel agents, media and local dignitaries – including the British Consul-General of San Francisco, Julian Evans. At the event, by official order of proclamation, Mayor Newsom declared the day as “Cunard Queen Victoria Day” in San Francisco.
“The City is proud to welcome Queen Victoria to San Francisco’s waterfront as we so warmly welcomed her sister ship, Queen Mary 2, in 2007. Her arrival creates work for our longshoremen and women and business for our hotels, restaurants and shops,” said Mayor Newsom. “As part of our commitment to create jobs and economic vitality, the City is working diligently to renovate San Francisco’s Pier 27 into an international cruise terminal. We invite Cunard and all the lines to return often to this world-renowned cruise destination,” added Mayor Newsom.
“We are once again delighted by the warm welcome we received today, and it is with great pride that we now add San Francisco to the list of more than 150 different ports visited since Queen Victoria began service two years ago,” replied Captain Paul Wright. “Our maiden call today marks Queen Victoria’s third maiden call on this world voyage and our only U.S. maiden call of the eight in total on this around-the-world-journey,” he added. Here I am with Captain Wright and Mayor Newsom;
It was a great day and on behalf of all of us on Queen Victoria we’d like to thank San Francisco for a great welcome as well as Eric and Kiefer for capturing it all on video. I’ll be back as usual on Thursday with more news from our World Voyages and more news of Queen Elizabeth coming soon. Cheers for now, Alastair
Also welcoming Queen Victoria to the City by the Bay was the CEO and President of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, Joe D’Alessandro; President of the San Francisco Port Commission, Rodney Fong; and the President and CEO of Nautilus International Holding Corporate (parent company of Metro Cruise Services), James Callahan.