October 4, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Elizabeth
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 8 days
With just a week to go before her maiden voyage, it’s now official; Cunard Line has taken delivery of Queen Elizabeth; the second largest Cunarder ever built and the third new liner the company has built in six years.
The Handover Ceremony took place last Thursday on board the new 92,400-ton vessel at the Fincantieri Monfalcone shipyard. The event included a speech by Cunard President and Managing Director Peter Shanks.
The signing of the final documents between the Monfalcone Fincantieri Shipyard Director, Mr Cesare De Marco, and the CEO of Carnival UK (Cunard’s parent company), David Dingle, was witnessed by Peter Shanks and the first master of Queen Elizabeth, Captain Chris Wells.
The four Gentlemen then turned their eyes to the ship’s main mast for the official flag changing ceremony:
The Italian flag was ceremonially lowered and the Red Ensign, (the flag of the British Merchant Navy), was raised by Third officer Matthew Wilson, from Troon in Scotland.
What a great sight it is, to see the Cunard House Flag and the Red Ensign flying ship’s mast with the Italian flag flying from the starboard yardarm, as the ship was in and Italian port.
Peter Shanks, proudly holding a Queen Elizabeth key ring, commented after the ceremony:
“This ceremony to mark the completion of the ship, and our acceptance of delivery, is just the first of a number of significant events over the next few weeks – including the ship’s official naming by Her Majesty The Queen in Southampton on Monday 11 October. I’m certain the British will take this truly magnificent ship to their hearts, as they have all the Cunard Queens”.
Following the ceremony Captain Wells went to the bridge to announce to the ship’s company that Queen Elizabeth now belonged to Cunard.
It was quite a moment for all the crew, and you could hear a huge cheer of excitement throughout the ship when the announcement was made. This was also the first time that Cunard’s Engineers and Deck Officers took control of Queen Elizabeth. Preparations were then made by all departments to prepare the ship for departure and here Captain Wells leads the navigation brief with the Deck Officers and Monfalcone Pilot.
As the departure time approached, Captain Wells invited the crew to gather on the open decks to witness the historic moment when the last of the lines were let go for the sail away. Then at just after 3.30pm the Captain manoeuvred Cunard’s new Queen out of her berth, towards the open seas.
I was fortunate enough to be on the bridge for departure as the crew gave a huge cheer for the Fincantieri Shipyard workers gathered on the dock side, followed by the familiar, “We Are Cunard”. We played some great music on the open decks as the crew took a little time out from their busy schedules to be part of the celebration. It was soon time to return to work, and I managed to get some photos of the ship so I could post them today. This is the view from the forward mast looking aft towards the Garden Lounge.
Heading forward the outfitters had just finished laying the Astroturf on the Games Deck and this is the view of the first Bowls Green at sea underneath the canopy.
Heading inside the ship, all areas are very close to completion with just small detailing to be finished, such as linen, plants and stocking the bars etc. The Grand Lobby, with the Linley Artwork as its centrepiece, is looking truly magnificent:
Our Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company, Musicians and Stage Crew have been incredibly busy preparing the shows. At the moment the Royal Court Theatre is being used 24 hours a day, balancing the jobs of staging, lighting and rehearsing the brand new shows. This is how it now looks; how about this for a Theatre:
Now that the protective covering has been removed, you are able to really appreciate all the craftwork and fine detailing all over the ship, such as this stunning entrance to the Grills Lounge on deck 11.
During our eight days over to Southampton our teams will be busy setting up all the dining venues, and we will be fortunate enough to try them out, to ensure everything is ready for our first guests who will be embarking in just a week’s time. One of those venues is the Lido:
All areas of the ship are looking stunning and it’s particularly interesting to see some of the newly created spaces receiving their final touches, such as the elegant Garden Lounge.
A popular venue on both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria is the Commodore Club and the one on Cunard’s latest Queen is also looking wonderful. The decor is warm and inviting with some beautiful artwork of the Cunard Queens.
And finally in this Blog, the nautically themed Yacht Club, named after the popular venue on QE2. This space has come together incredibly fast over the last few days and is now looking fantastic.
That’s it for the moment, but I’ll have more pictures of the other areas of the ship in a few days time along with some guest blogs from Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2. It’s as busy as ever on board with the whole ship’s company working extremely hard to make sure our new Queen is not only looking beautiful when she arrives in Southampton, but that we are all ready to deliver White Star Service to our guests on the Maiden Voyage. I’ll give you more details of our arrival next week and of course you can monitor our progress by watching the Bridge Cam. Cheers for now, Alastair