June 1, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Guest Stories
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 132 days
Thank you for all the continued comments about the Linley Artwork that will be the centrepiece in Queen Elizabeth’s Grand Lobby. In just nineteen weeks to the day, our new Queen will begin her maiden voyage so there’ll be lots more to share with you over the summer as The World Awaits Queen Elizabeth.
I rejoined Queen Victoria yesterday and although it’s a shame to finish my break it’s great to be back amoungst old friends and what a great voyage it’ll be as we head to the Baltic and stunning ports such as Copenhagen, Tallin and St. Petersburg. Today Queen Mary 2 is heading to New York and both Queens will be in Southampton 14 June which is always something to celebrate.
For this Blog I am going back a while to a recent voyage when we were joined by Chris Frame who presented six lectures about the history of the Ocean Liner. His lectures started with the early years of Cunard, the White Star Line, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary and QE2. Chris maintains a popular independent Cunard website www.chriscunard.com, and is currently working on a new book, Queen Victoria: A Photographic Journey, which he is co-authoring with his partner Rachelle Cross.
Guest Blog, Chris Frame – Author and Lecturer
My interest in Ocean Liners stared young. At age 10 I read a book called “Exploring the Titanic” by Robert D. Ballard, and became fascinated with ships. Titanic, Olympic, Lusitania, Mauretania – I knew them all.
At age 11 my parents surprised my sister and I with a 5 night voyage aboard Queen Elizabeth 2 from Auckland to Sydney. I was in my element. From the very first moment I stepped aboard QE2 I was hooked. The ship, her history, the atmosphere aboard, the crew, the service – it was perfect. Here I am at the wheel as acting Captain!
About a decade ago I started “Chris’ QE2 Page” which has since grown to become “Chris’ Cunard Page”. The website has grown and visitors often email me with anything from queries for information, to booking requests!
I sailed aboard Queen Mary 2 for the first time in 2004 during her maiden season. During that voyage I met noted maritime author William H. Miller Jr and we talked as the ship sailed from Rotterdam. My interest and knowledge in Cunard and the history of the Ocean Liner grew, so I added historical information to my website and considered writing a book about QE2.
Rachelle and I decided we’d undertake this project together. I had often wanted to write a QE2 book and Rachelle loves writing, reading and history, so we thought it was a good project to do together.
In 2007 I was aboard Queen Mary 2 during her maiden World Voyage from San Francisco to Sydney. Bill Miller was also aboard and as we caught up, I told him about the book project. Our idea was to create a QE2 photographic tour that guests could take home with them to remind them of the beautiful QE2. Bill was very encouraging and agreed to write our foreword. He also suggested a publisher, for which we are eternally grateful, so when we returned home we worked on completing the QE2 book.
It was nearing completion when, in June 2007, the announcement came that QE2 was to be retired. Although this wouldn’t take place until November 2008 it meant we had to rethink the book and it became more of a photographic tribute, a journey aboard QE2 that could be relived at home.
We were lucky in that we had already booked aboard QE2’s farewell World Voyage and used this opportunity to re-photograph the ship. It was published in mid-2008 as “QE2: A Photographic Journey” and we were so excited that people liked what we had created, it was an enormous thrill.
When we stepped off QE2, I was determined that we would go back before she arrived in Dubai. As you can imagine, it was as if all our Christmas’ had come at once, when I was invited to lecture aboard QE2 during her September 2008 Mediterranean Sojourn voyage. This is how my new career as a maritime lecturer started.
In February 2009 we sailed again aboard Queen Mary 2 as a guest lecturer and completed the second book, “Queen Mary 2: A Photographic Journey”.
We had heard that Queen Victoria had a fantastic atmosphere and were excited to try the latest Cunarder ourselves. Queen Victoria is a stunning ship. She’s large, but still has an intimate ambiance; very “Cunard”.
The Royal Court Theatre is a superb and regal venue, and I felt very proud to stand on that stage and present my lectures. We also loved the Royal Arcade with the classic Victorian clock – a nice touch! One of the most wonderful aspects of QE2 was her heritage (and the Heritage Trail) so I was very pleased to see this tradition continued with Cunardia aboard Queen Victoria.
We had a fantastic table with great companions in the Britannia Restaurant, including our friend Barry Brown, who gives Film History lectures, (we met him in 2009 aboard Queen Mary 2). The food and service was superb, just as one would expect from Cunard.
I was delighted with the response of my lectures and really enjoyed meeting all the people who had connections with Cunard, White Star and shipping. People love to tell me their stories of their time at sea, and both Rachelle and I enjoy hearing these firsthand accounts very much.
My first lecture aboard QE2 was “Number 736” and covered the early history of the ship. After the lecture one gentleman asked me what grade of steel was used to construct the rivets that joined Quarter Deck to One Deck (this is where the steel and aluminium join occurred aboard QE2 and required not only rivets but also a special epoxy resin to stop the two metals corroding).
I had no idea as to the exact grade of steel used, but lucky for me, another man who had worked on those exact rivets during the construction stood beside me, and started answering the question. Afterwards, I asked him to come to all of my talks in case I got any other tough questions! He said he’d be only too happy. If he’s reading this now – thank you! Here I am with Rachelle afterwards at the book signing.
While on Queen Victoria, we managed to photograph the entire ship during our 18 nights aboard for the new book. It meant a lot of walking around the ship in the wee hours to get just the right shots, but we are excited to see them coming in to print.
Thank you Chris for a great Guest Blog, it’s always fascinating to hear experiences from another perspective. You can find out more about Chris and his new book at his newly refreshed website www.chriscunard.com or at www.queenvictoriabook.com. The book is a 120 page colour tribute to Queen Victoria and will be available from July on board, in major book retailers around the world, and this is what it will look like.
I’ll be back on Thursday with the final Blog from the TOGs voyage on Queen Victoria including an Video Blog interview with Sir Terry Wogan himself. I’ll also have some more news about Queen Elizabeth coming soon, as well news from our flagship, Queen Mary 2. Cheers for now Alastair.