October 19, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Elizabeth
Welcome to a special Blog from Queen Elizabeth on her Maiden Voyage to the Canaries, retracing QE2’s Maiden Voyage in April 1969. It’s been a great start to our new Queen’s career with wonderful weather so far on our thirteen day voyage.
There are numerous firsts on a Maiden Voyage and it has been so much fun meeting up with so many experienced Cunarders and hearing about their memories of previous Queens. In fact we’ll be having a get-together later in the voyage for guests who have been on all three Elizabeth’s, so that should be fascinating.
I’ve also been meeting many guests who have been following this Blog throughout the new build process, and it’s been wonderful to hear their feedback first hand; thank you so much again for following us, and for your kind comments.
Before I tell you more about what’s been happening on this Maiden Voyage, I just wanted to go back to that unforgettable sail away from Southampton last Tuesday. I was delighted to receive this photo from John Hargreaves, who was kind enough to send it to our head office in Southampton.
I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a stunning picture, which was taken from Calshot Spit, where John Hargreaves said there were hundreds of people watching, filming and photographing the latest addition to the Cunard Fleet.
We were blessed with a smooth crossing of the Bay of Biscay, to reach our first port of call, Vigo. There was a wonderful reception from the Spanish press and media as well as the port authority who had arranged some local entertainment for our guests on the pier.
There are so many reasons to celebrate on a Maiden Voyage and I know many of our guests are enjoying a double celebration with anniversaries and birthdays. One guest was celebrating her 80th birthday and that was our Madrina, Dennie Farmer, who hosted the first cocktail party in the Garden Lounge, and here she is with Captain Chris Wells.
Lisbon is always a favourite port of call for our guests and crew, and sailing under the “25 de Abril” Bridge is always impressive. Here’s Queen Elizabeth at her berth next to the bridge.
The bridge itself a suspension bridge connecting the city of Lisbon, to the municipality of Almada on the left (south) bank of the Tejo river. Because of its similar colouring, it is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and is the 20th largest suspension bridge in the world. I managed to get this great photo of the bridge as we passed under it later that afternoon.
After we left the Spanish port of Cadiz, it was a special night for the new Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company as they performed the premiere of “A Slice Of Saturday Night”. Although it had been previewed in Southampton, this was the first time they had performed the show for a full audience of Cunard guests. The response to the specially adapted original West End show written the Heather Brothers was wonderful, and the full cast of twelve dancers, four singers, five actors and five musicians did a fantastic job to a delighted audience. Here they are in between performances.
The Theatre Boxes were packed that night, but in box number six this was going to be an even more special evening. A few months ago I had been contacted by a travel agent in the United States to see if we could help a gentleman with a special request. It turned out that Jim McCracken, who is the Mayor of Freedom Township in New Jersey, wanted to propose to his girlfriend, Lisa Lehman from Lancaster Pennsylvania, during the voyage.
We of course were delighted to play our part, so I met with Jim to chat about how this could be done. We booked them in to the Verandah Restaurant and then reserved a Theatre Box for them later that evening. Jim told me that they had met at a healthcare conference in New Orleans, when by chance they were partnered up in a group leadership class. They had been told that part of the exercise was to look in each other’s eyes for fifteen seconds. They both told me later that it was definitely love at first sight, so Jim wanted to recreate the moment as part of his proposal.
As the performance in the Theatre came to an end, Jim asked Lisa to look in to his eyes for fifteen seconds at which point he went on one knee asking her to marry him. She told me the next day she just wanted to scream with excitement at that moment; of course she said yes!
I caught up with them over a drink in the Midships Bar the following night, when they told me all about their evening and of course I had to take a photo to mark the occasion!
This was taken on the stairs in the Grand Lobby, and by chance right behind Jim and Lisa is Fifi, the Maitre d’ of the Verandah, who helped make the evening so special for them. They have their first job as a couple this Friday as they have been asked to witness the Renewal of Vows Ceremony, of a couple at their dinner table!
As for the wedding date, they reckon in about a year’s time and needless to say I asked them to stay in touch. So Jim and Lisa, on behalf of us all on Queen Elizabeth, we wish you every happiness and thank you so much for sharing your story with us. And what a great story; the first marriage proposal on board Queen Elizabeth.
There are so many events to talk about, so I’ll be doing this post in two parts, but I do have to mention a special guest speaker who was part of the Cunard Insights Programme for this Maiden Voyage. Sir David Frost and his wife Lady Carina Frost arrived in Cadiz, it was a real pleasure to welcome a man aboard who is without doubt a Broadcasting Icon.
Sir David Frost’s career has been so diverse that he has been described as a “One man conglomerate”. From being the host and co-creator of That Was the Week That Was, he has been the producer of countless television programmes and eight films. In addition to being the author of 17 books he is a lecturer, publisher, impresario and the joint founder of London Weekend Television and TV-am. But most of all he is probably the best known television interviewer in the world.
Sir David’s Nixon Interviews achieved “the largest audience for a news interview in history” (New York Times). Peter Morgan’s play, Frost/Nixon, achieved great success in London and on Broadway, and more recently Ron Howard’s highly-acclaimed motion picture adaptation of Frost/Nixon in 2008 garnered 5 Oscar nominations.
Landmark interviews have always been a feature of Sir David’s remarkable career and among the many world figures he has interviewed are the seven most recent British Prime Ministers, the seven most recent Presidents of the United States as well as other world leaders including Nelson Mandela and President Putin. In all he has conducted over 4,000 interviews with luminaries from all walks of life from Royalty to prominent individuals such as Orson Welles, Tennessee Williams, Noel Coward, Woody Allen, Muhammad Ali and the Beatles.
Sir David has been awarded all the major television awards and in 1993 was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen. In 2005, he was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship, their highest honour.
Yesterday the Royal Court theatre was packed with guests waiting to hear Sir David’s lecture Interviews I Shall Never Forget. It was a real privilege to introduce him and then to hear his insightful and hilarious anecdotes delivered in that unique Sir David Frost style which the audience absolutely loved.
There are too many stories to mention here but one I particularly enjoyed was the one where responding to an audience member’s question about people Sir David hadn’t interviewed, but would have liked to, he recalled the time Sir Dennis Thatcher was accompanying the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher to a Presidential Dinner at the White House. Sir Dennis, who rarely spoke in public, was put on the spot when the first lady, Barbara Bush, spoke (after the President and Mrs Thatcher), to which Sir Dennis was obliged to respond. So apparently he rose to his feet and was heard to say ‘As Julius Caesar said to Cleopatra as he opened the entrance to her tent, “I haven’t come here to talk”’. What a wonderful quote and just one of Sir David’s great stories. Here he is pictured in full flow on the Royal Court Theatre stage;
That’s it for the moment, but I’ve lots more to share with you later in the week. I’ll be back soon, with a great Guest Blog from our flagship, Queen Mary 2 and of course more news from Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden Voyage. Cheers for now, Alastair