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Queen Elizabeth

Nostalgia On Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden Voyage

October 27, 2010

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Queen Elizabeth

Welcome to the final Blog from Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden Voyage, but don’t worry this Blog will continue to follow our new Cunarder throughout her career, along with her sisters of course.

It was such a pleasure to meet so many Bloggers on the Maiden Voyage and thank you for your comments you’ve posted already. I met many guests with a huge amount of Cunard experience and I sat down and chatted with as many as I could, as it was fascinating to hear their stories and experiences.

Amongst those I spoke to were guests who had worked on the Queens such as Steve Saunders, whose job was to raise and lower the Ensign each day on the original Queen Elizabeth. It was a special moment as he was invited to repeat that experience as sunset approached during our stay in Madeira. Before the ceremony he showed me his picture in his original Seaman’s Book, which Captain Wells later signed for him.

It was quite a moment as Third Officer David Johnson invited him to lower the Ensign, as it was 46 years since he had last performed the task.



With the Ensign safely lowered, it had to be folded in the correct way, and retired Seaman Saunders remembered very clearly how that should be done.

Mr Saunders couldn’t have been more proud as he stood for the final pose wearing his original Seaman’s Cap, which he later donated to the Bridge Officers; a generous offer on a wonderful occasion.

I enjoyed looking at some amazing memorabilia including some from Queen Elizabeth’s Transatlantic Crossing on 15 September 1960, shown to me by Mrs Margaret Hummel, who was on the latest Queen Elizabeth celebrating her birthday, 50 years after that memorable voyage. She was on the crossing to New York which was carrying many World Leaders and Ambassadors to the United Nations Conference, and this is just one of the beautiful menus from the First Class Restaurant.

Margaret was just 17 when she crossed with her father, who was a scientist taking up the Hunsker Chair at MIT, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She collected many signatures and kept some remarkable souvenirs from the trip which I found fascinating.

There were so many people with so many memories that we decided to hold a Three Queen Elizabeth’s Meeting, hoping there were some guest on board who had travelled on all three. It was incredible to meet 16 guests who had that claim to fame, so we are going to make it a regular feature on every voyage on Queen Elizabeth. This is the group who were at the meeting that day.

We then thought it would be fun to see if anyone had actually travelled on all six Cunard Queens, and were delighted to hear that in fact three had.

They all had a story to tell such as Michael Campbell, pictured on the left of the photo, who first travelled on Queen Elizabeth in 1947 as a baby. His parents lived in London, but also had a factory in Holland and a summer estate in Newport Rhode Island in the United States.  He showed me a Daily Programme from that period with this entry:

What an amazing way to change the clocks; needless to say it’s a lot simpler these days! Then there was Richard Smith, pictured on the right, who asked me if I knew how many Captains were Masters of both Queen Elizabeth and QE2. He told me that there were just three, and one of them was his father, Captain George E. Smith, who was the last but one Captain on the Queen Elizabeth and the second on QE2.  He has subsequently been on the Maiden Voyages of all three current Queens. Richard is now a retired senior partner of a law firm and lives in Southampton, close to his roots. He has been a regular on QE2 and Queen Mary 2 but says he still feels like a little boy each time he comes on board; what a great story.

The third guest to travel all six Queens was Lesley Melrose who first travelled on Queen Elizabeth in 1951 as a very young girl. She was visiting her Aunt, who was a GI Bride who had settled in New Orleans, though it took another two days by train from New York to get there!  She was on one of the farewell voyages of Queen Elizabeth in 1968, when she returned to America as a student, working as a secretary. She travelled third class and shared a cabin with three other girls who she hadn’t met, with a communal bathroom down the corridor! She remembered how they were allowed on a tour of the first class areas, but this was tightly controlled. Back on the lower decks here she is at dinner meeting new friends. She is the third from the left:

A year later, to celebrate her 21st birthday, Lesley was on QE2 for the Maiden Transatlantic Crossing and she has her original ticket to prove it. Now living in Solihull in the West Midlands, she has had it signed by many Captains who she told me, all ask the same question; how much did she pay?


In case you couldn’t read it, the price was just £129.00 and here she is celebrating the crossing with her mother in the height of 60’s fashion!

There were so many more stories to share, such as previous officers and crew of the Queens, including Robin Oliver who worked in the engine room of Queen Elizabeth on the last crossing to New York in 1968. I’ll post more stories again soon, but I’m going to leave you with one fantastic story that I’ll be dining out on for years. It was a real pleasure to meet Terry Smith.

Terry told me how he was a lookout on Queen Elizabeth back in 1964. In those days the lookouts were positioned way up in what was called the Crows Nest, with a perfect view over the ocean. It was a lovely clear night which passed without incident. The following morning back in the mess room his colleagues were saying what a great view they had of Queen Mary passing in the middle of the night,  to which Terry replied; “We passed Queen Mary last night?”. Yes it took him a while to admit it, but he fell asleep and missed everything! Another great story; thanks Terry.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a special post about a special new series featuring Cunard’s Culinary Ambassador, Jean Marie Zimmermann, and again next week with news of Queen Victoria’s latest Star. But before I go I wanted to post one more special photo of Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden Voyage. Cunard is always proud of its White Star Service, delivered by the amazing crew on board all our ships. Bringing out a new ship is never a simple task, but the team on Queen Elizabeth have done an incredible job to bring the latest Queen in to service so smoothly.

While the ship was making her way to Southampton at the beginning of the month our Chief Photographer, Petar Pecanac, arranged and took a stunning picture of Queen Elizabeth’s Inaugural crew and we thought we would share this with you on this last Blog of her Maiden Voyage.

Congratulations Petar, on a fantastic picture. I’ll be back tomorrow, in the meantime, cheers for now, Alastair

  1. Chris & Margaret Rose says:

    Hi Alistair,
    What a fantastic photograph of the inaugral crew!
    Thanks again for a fascinating blog.
    Cunard must be so proud of all those passengers who have travelled so many times on all the Queens.

  2. David A. Walker says:

    Leslie Melrose paid 129 pounds for her transatlantic ticket – what would that be in today’s inflated-price world? I’m sure a great deal more than we are asked for a 2010 or ’11 voyage! Just pointing out what a bargain the QM2 is in comparrison.


  3. Andy Vining says:

    Fantastic photograph and some wonderful stories, but who was on The Bridge?

  4. Jeffrey Towns says:

    To all the ship’s company: thank you. From the moment I stepped on board I felt at home. With 80% of the crew from QM2 and Queen Victoria there were so many familiar faces and friends. The ship is beautiful but the soul comes from those on board and everyone went above and beyond the call of duty. The food was amazing especially in the Verandah. I am back in LA and on a diet. The themed nights in the Lido were outstanding as well. The entertainment was great and I don’t see how you could a=have done any better job on any level.

    This was my 20th voyage and it ranks amongst the best.

    Thanks again:


  5. Steven Trembath says:


    Fascinating blog, congratulations. It makes my mouth water as I prepare to come aboard QE on 1 Decvember.

    I think this has been mentioned befroe, is there any chance of getting QE’s position annotated on the BridgeCan, which QV and QM2 manage to do ??

    Best regards,

    Steven Trembath

  6. Thanks for such a wonderful Maiden Voyage. With so many familiar faces on board (and many new ones too) it was like our second home.

    Now with 3 Queens to choose from where shall we go next???

    Good luck and God Bless Queen Elizabeth.

    Darren Coleman, Nick Heald, Diane Heald & Raymond Heald. ( We are Cunard too! )

  7. Carol & John Kaye says:

    Good afternoon Alistair,
    Just want to say thank you for all your \blogs\, my husband and I have not yet been on a cruise, apart from one on the Nile, but have booked for April and thanks to reading your blogs are so excited at the prospect of cruising on the Queen Elisabeth, our friends and family are so envious.

    Looking forward to reading more \blogs\ from you and the chance to buy a few really \posh\ frocks.

    Kindest regards,

    Carol Kaye
    Birstall, Leeds, UK.

  8. Beryl Moss says:

    Many thanks for the great blogs on Queen Elizabeth’s maiden voyage. As usual the content was extremely interesting and the photographs fantastic. Well done Alastair and can’t wait until we are able to be on her next August which seems a long way off but with a cruise on Queen Mary 2 and also Queen Victoria it will make the wait seem a little shorter.

  9. peter hailer says:

    Cunard missed a once in a miden cruise lifetime to make this a very special memory for the passengers. instead it was just an ordinary 13 day cruise.

  10. mary murdoch says:

    Hi Alistair.

    Wonderful blog and pictures. Jeff’s blog sounds good and all these grand stories, so excited about 1st December, it wont be long.mary

  11. Gail Herbert says:

    It’s been great fun reading all the blogs, and I can’t wait for Jan 5th to join the QE to New York. My partner and I are on our way to Las Vegas to get married, and this is going to be just the most fantastic start to what I am sure will be a truly memorable trip. I went on the QE2 to New York in 1986, and I’m certain that the new QE will exceptional. Look forward to meeting you Alastair.

  12. Clint Devine says:

    We can only echo all the supportive comments that have been made. The ship was delightful, the staff superb and the atmosphere on board exhilerating. Please don’t be put off by those that whinge, they will always be there in the back ground…. that is their role in life!

    Good Luck, God Bless and see you next time and we are also Cunard.

    Clint & Lynda

  13. Peter Holmes says:

    We can hardly wait for November 8
    We love Cunard!!!!

  14. Freda & Bill Cureton says:

    Alistair: Thank you for Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden Voyage Blogs from Day 1 sailaway to the guests’ wonderful stories of their past Queens’ voyages. You did a marvellous job. See you soon.

    Bill & Freda

  15. Sian Lamb says:

    Another brilliant blog as per usual Alistair. Have been following the maiden voyage via bridge cam & blog, congratulations Cunard on a fabulous beginning for your new Queen. 3 weeks & 6 days to my next wonderful voyage (yes i’m counting the days!!) Carol k, am with you regarding the posh frocks!!

  16. Michael Duffy and Clare Woodthorpe says:


    We were both on the maiden voyage of QE and have just watched a delightful documentary on the Discovery Channel (Britain’s Greatest Ships). It was an absolute joy to see the building of \our\ newest Cunarder, and the film actually brought a tear to Clare’s eye as she realised that we had played a small but significant part in the history of Cunard.

    We were mentioned by name during one of your \QE Live\ shows because we were sending text messages to our friends back in the UK… (who are also \frequent fliers\ on Cunard) and they evntually were fed up with them, on account of both the weather and (of course) the ship!

    Clare and I enjoyed our first cruise on the QE2 (2008, penultimate voyage, Med Odyssey) and are now looking forward to our first TA (aboard the QM2)…

    You should be rightly proud of a beautiful new Queen, and we both yearn for the day we can join Her again.

    Kindest regards to all who made it so memorable.

    With Love,

    Michael and Clare.

  17. John Wilson says:

    Thank you Alastair for adding to our excitement about joining you on the Maiden World Cruise next year.
    We feel like children waiting for Christmas. John and Judith Wilson

  18. Ian Howarth says:

    I watched the Discovery episode tonight showing the building and launch of Queen Elizabeth. It looks fantastic and can’t wait for my first voyage. I’m hoping to book for the British Isles trip in September 2011. Travelled on Queen Mary 2 last year around Europe and also dined on Queen Mary in Long Beach 2 years ago. See you soon

    Ian Howarth

  19. Trudy Matthews says:

    Have also just been on the wonderful maiden voyage and loved every minute of it. Ship and crew excellent. However, I would partly agree with Peter Hailer’s comment in that there was nothing on the cruise that was unique as the maiden voyage. There were no fireworks in Southampton, and had it not been for all of the little boats that escorted us out, there would have been no atmosphere at all.
    Secondly, the issue with the memorabilia, or lack of it, was a major bone of contention amongst many guests. Quite frankly, the memorabilia was abysmal and deliberately not made in enough quantity for each guest to have a piece. Plus, it was just baseball caps and t shirts! On Queen Victoria’s maiden voyage, there was beautiful bone china mugs with her name and ‘Maiden Voyage’ with the date on (and in two different styles), the little bear had QV with maiden voyage and the date also on it. There were other items too, very good quality. On Queen Elizabeth – nothing except a few boring caps and t-shirts.
    Considering that everybody paid over the brochure price to be on that maiden voyage, Cunard could surely have made an effort to produce some items worth having? And who decided to make a limited number i.e not enough for everyone? Some rather selfish guests bought multiple items which are now on Ebay! Very poor effort, Cunard.

  20. Sheila Hedderick says:

    Hi Alastair, Great blog, wonderful comments except number 8, i felt sad to read a less than complimentary comment from a passenger, imagine how the crew must feel when they read comments like that. On a brighter note i thought the ship photo was great and would dare to suggest they use that photo on the complimentary post cards that we love to send back home to friends! Sheila

  21. Paul Cunane says:

    Thanks Alastair for a fantastic blogg. I can’t wait until the 14th December… I’ll be able to qualify to attend the ‘all Three Queen Elizabeth meetings’…. ofcouse I was only a nipper in those days ;-)

  22. Kenneth Eden says:

    Marvelous, a job well done. Thank you Alastair.

    I find it heart warming to know that so many crew members have transfered to the new Elizabeth from the Mary and the Victoria. Cunard has always retained crew and staff for many years, and I have delighted in that, to see old friends from cruises past. I even delight in the fact that Cunard also has a good many crew members from other cruise lines that I knew, Home Lines, Royal Viking Line, which are no longer in service.

    We are preparing for a Queen Victoria cruise from LA to Hawaii, and have some other plans in the works.

    I’ve sailed Cunard since 1969, and love it.

  23. Sarah Morris says:

    What a wonderful picture of the crew on the maiden voyage. But if they were all out on deck… who was driving the ship?

  24. John & Sheila Laurence says:

    Thank you to EVERYONE aboard Queen Elizabeth for the most wonderful two weeks imaginable!
    We spent the first three days pinching ourselves to be sure the Maiden Voyage had actually arrived and we were indeed a part of it . . .
    We were suitably impressed by the service and the food, which was first class.
    We made some wonderful friends and hope to keep in touch swopping photos of our “Dream Trip”.
    We were thrilled to find Twinings Cranberry, Raspberry and Elderflower Fruit Infusion “Tea” aboard Queen Elizabeth. With a Caffeine Allergy, Sheila had struggled with the choice of hot beverages on both QE2 and Queen Victoria.
    Special thanks to you, Alistair. Firstly, for the blogs which made the months leading up to the Maiden Voyage very special. Secondly, for finding us seats at the front of the Royal Court Theatre for the show “A Slice of Saturday Night”, thus ensuring we were led onto the stage to be part of “Eric’s Okey Kokey”!
    We were a little disappointed that we were unable to secure a souvenir T-shirt or Cap with “Queen Elizabeth Maiden Voyage” embroidered on it, but we were so pleased with the limited edition medallions and beautiful book Cunard presented us with.
    Finally, may we thank Captain Wells and all the Cunard Crew whose friendly and professional welcome helped to make this truly “The Voyage of a Lifetime”
    Thank you all.
    John and Sheila.

  25. Glenys Graham says:

    Hello everyone on the QE, I expect the ship is amazing. I would love to see the ship myself and believe she will be in Cartagena next week sometime. Can someone please confirm this, Iam on our own yacht in the marina. I am planning to go on holiday next year sometime and considering a cruise, being a bowler myself the bowling green quite appeals to me.
    Is there anyway I could see onboard? If so who do I contact?

  26. Thank you Alastair for letting us know about the Discovery channel’s documentary. It was wonderful, but just made us more homesick for our beautiful Queen!! The icing on the cake was almost the last shot, it was a lovely close shot of us both coming onboard with suitably excited faces!! We have had lots of calls from friends asking had we seen it, just shows how much interest there is in your beautiful new Queen.
    Thank you again Cunard. see you in January!

  27. Sarah Morris says:

    The Queen Elizabeth bridge webcam still doesn’t say where in the world she is! I love checking out the 3 Queens on the website but don’t know where she is. Can this be fixed please?

  28. Ellen K Steeves says:

    Thank you so much for the blog!
    I check the web cam daily. I have never been on a cruise, but I would imagine I would be the only one spending my entire day at the bow, watching the world go by!

  29. James and Moira Fergie says:

    Hi Alastair

    We did view the Discovery Channel’s documentary on the Queen Elizabeth’s build. Allowing that we were kept up to date with snippets on your blog it was enthralling and exciting to watch it all come together. Viewing her arrival at Southampton on the 8th October (my husband’s birthday) my present paled into insignificance slightly. We are both looking forward excitedly to boarding her on 1st December. Having seen all the hype etc it makes us very proud indeed to be part of the Cunard family.

    James and Moira Fergie

  30. h hill says:

    Hi-enjoy all the news about “Queen Elizabeth” keep it coming!-just a small observation :- the(Bridge) Web cam for Queen Elizabeth only shows “picture” of the location of the ship, but, doesn’t actually say where it is?- but both (position and photo) seem to be showing on Queen Victoria and QE2.
    many thanks.

  31. Lesley Melrose says:

    Hi Alistair

    Thank you for your time and effort in arranging the “Three and Six Queens” get together. Most interesting to meet other long time Cunard travellers. Bryan and I thought we were very privileged to have been on Queen Elizabeth’s maiden voyage and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was a pleasure to meet you and our compliments to the officers and crew who made every effort to make our trip memorable.

    Kind regards

  32. Rory Harper says:

    Hi Alistair

    what a wonderful picture.

    was so nice to be on the Queen Elizabeth for her second ever vouage

    was really nice to meet you to

    Kind regards

    Rory Harper

  33. Tony Ennew says:

    Hello Alistair

    I have really enjoyed reading the blogs particularly because I and my father both served on the original Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary (and various other Cunarders and White Star Line ships). My wife and I have travelled on QM2 and QE2 and are now looking forward very much to joining the new ‘Lizzie’on 14th December for the Festive Debut cruise. As with other ex Cunard crew I have many happy memories of my seafaring days, this voyage will be the icing on the cake.

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