July 6, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Elizabeth
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 97 days
How perfect, as we celebrate our 170th anniversary of Britannia’s maiden voyage, that we now look forward to our new Queen, joining the fleet in just over 3 month’s time.
Cunard’s President and Managing Director, Peter Shanks visited the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy last week, and I’m delighted to say that he has written a special President’s Blog featuring the latest pictures of our new Queen. Peter takes up the story.
President and Managing Director
I spent one day last week in the ship yard and walked what felt like every inch of our new liner – it’s very exciting as her dramatic interiors begin to take shape. As I toured our new Queen I had a sense of excitement and a sense of pride. She is going to be absolutely beautiful. What follows are some pictures I took myself on the Blackberry and of course at this stage it is very much work in progress. They are not the most professional pictures – but I thought I would share each area as I saw it and give a sense of what is to come.
Remember – it’s a shipyard construction site – as we approached the ship you can see that all the balconies are finished but protected, you can see our famous name on the side of the ship, and up top you can see the covering for our new Games Deck.
And here we are at the Games Deck. Right in front of me you can see the space for the ‘English Garden Bowls Court’. It’s a first for us and a first at sea. It’s a really popular sport these days and very English! We hope to track down the current world champion to come and be amongst the first to try it out. Around the front of the area you can see the glass panels – it’s going to be a wonderful vista and on sea days enough breeze to make this a very relaxing area. Up above you can see the structure being prepared for the canvas canopy. The whole area will be reminiscent of how sport was played in the early years of the 20th century – garden bowls, croquet, paddle tennis, fencing, cups of tea, fresh lemonade and surrounded by beautiful art deco pieces from that area. How British – How special – What fun.
Some months back we shared a lovely picture of the name ‘Elizabeth’ being welded to the stern. Well, here is the first picture of her famous name atop the ship. As I took the picture I thought ‘How unique. What’s in a name? Well this is a very special name and one that is very close to our hearts and to our history at Cunard Line. I can’t wait to see it lit up as we sail into the Manhattan Skyline on 13 January next year as all three of our liners meet up for the very first time.
Here we are in the Garden Lounge. It’s very different to Queen Victoria, with a marvelous glass roof, reminiscent of Kew Gardens in London. You can see the workman adding the wood lattice. You can also see the beautiful art deco balustrade. It is here we plan to introduce our new Champagne Tea Service in the afternoons and in the evening to hold intimate supper parties with dancing under the stars.
Yes we did take some understandable criticism for not having enough drawers on Queen Victoria when she first came out – and yes some said she was ‘The Queen without drawers’. Well just to reassure everybody, Queen Elizabeth has plenty of drawers. In addition to the drawers in the bedside cabinets, the desk and within the wardrobes – we have also added some extra under-bed drawers for those longer voyages. So having also added many thousands of drawers to her sister Queen Victoria we need not worry any more.
All the scaffolding is down in the Queens Room. Here you can see the volume and height of this iconic room. Now the work is beginning to add the magic and create the most beautiful Ballroom at sea. Bottom left you can see the space where the ornate wood will be added to create one of the largest Ballroom dance floors at sea. Top left you can see the space where our beautiful and classic art deco chandelier will be installed. On the far walls you can see the space for our detailed glass panels that will add charm and warmth to the room. Fun to think that in less than four months, this room will be filled with guests enjoying one of our famous Ascot Balls, or full of guests enjoying our famous afternoon tea service.
Just next door to the Queens Room is the Royal Arcade. This picture won’t impress David Bailey – but again you can get a sense of the wonderful height of the spaces. At the top of the picture you can see the space for one of our chandeliers, and around the space you can see the spaces being prepared that will form our shops. This was taken from the top of the sweeping stairs and just behind where we will have a fantastic Dent Clock as the centre piece of the Royal Arcade.
So here I am in The Royal Court Theatre. I can’t tell you how special this room is going to be. On the left you can see the stage area. It’s not often something you will see – but look at just how much space there is on the stage and behind the stage. We will be announcing something very special about our Entertainment plans this week. Above me on the right you can see some of the theatre boxes taking shape. They are going to be a wow. Have dinner , be met at your table after dessert , be escorted up to a private room at the top of the theatre for coffee and chocolates and then – just before the show starts – be taken down to your private box to be welcomed by a chilled bottle of Veuve Cliquot. The best bit is as you arrive in your box – 800 guests look up to see just how special and famous you are. A night at the theatre, a wonderful show – and you get to feel like royalty as well – bloody marvelous.
I feel the need to say a few words about the craftsmen who are working so diligently to create the magic of Queen Elizabeth. Here are two shots I took of them working their magic. On the left, the marble entrance to the Britannia Restaurant is being laid. It has to be exact in every way and here is excellence at work. On the right – some finishing touches being made to the ceiling of the Queens Room. If you look carefully at the pillars behind this chap (don’t know what the Italian for ‘chap’ is), you can see that the pillars are now wrapped in protective cladding and tape. As every piece, every area is completed it is immediately covered up to protect it. That is part of the miracle of modern ship-building – you don’t see the finished ship until the very last moment, when everything that has been covered to protect it, is revealed. The last few weeks and days of delivering a ship are therefore very inspiring as all the hard work, dedication and skill of chaps like these two is revealed. They take great pride in what they are creating. The day I was on the ship – there were almost 2,000 workers on board – 2,000 creators of what will be one of the most beautiful and certainly one of the most famous ocean liners in the world.
Here we are in the Grand Lobby. They have finished much of this area – you can see that the railings on the stairs are finished – but covered – so you will have to wait to see just how beautiful they are. In the centre at the top of the stairs you can see the space for the David Linley centre piece. That is currently being crafted by Linley’s woodworking team in England – I can’t wait to see it as it will be one of the most awesome sights ever seen on a Cunard liner.
That’s all for now. We will keep everybody update on progress. I hope my brief blog has helped to share some of the excitement and anticipation of building a modern ocean liner.
Best Regards, Peter Shanks
Thank you so much for that Peter; it really helps us see what tremendous progress is being made in these final three months before her delivery. I’m also delighted to announce that I will be returning to Monfalcone at the end of the month with our film crew so we can capture the latest developments in a series of new Video Blogs. Peter mentioned that we have some breaking news about the Entertainment Programme on Queen Elizabeth and I’m excited to say this will be posted soon. It’s an area very close to my heart, for obvious reasons, so I can’t wait to share it with you. Cheers for now, Alastair.