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