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Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden Voyage – Part 1

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

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  1. Paula Moseley says:

    Thank you so much for the blogs! I enjoy a great deal reading about the progress of the QE from building to sailing. I am very envious of all the lucky people that are on the maiden voyage and hope very much that one day we will get the chance to sail on her. Having done a transatlantic trip on QM2 over the summer I am addicted to all things Cunard! I love seeing the photos and hearing all the news. Keep up the good work!

  2. Chris & Margaret Rose says:

    Hi Alistair,
    You are certainly having a fantastic maiden voyage.
    As always it is so good to get a first hand account directly from the ship.
    Thanks again.

  3. Elaine Bell says:

    Thank you so much, Alastair, for the great coverage of the QE from her beginnings to now. It’s been wonderful to follow along and feel the excitement build. We are on her second voyage next week, and are really looking forward to it.

    Is there any way that the QE’s location could be added to her web cam as it is for the QV and QM2? I’ve forwarded the web cam site to friends who want to follow along, and it would be nice for them, and for all others who watch, to know exactly where she is or is heading for.

    Thanks, and we’ll see you next week.

    Elaine Bell (and Jack Bush), Haliburton, Ontario, Canada

  4. Stewart & Christine Hague says:

    Hi Alistair.

    Very many thanks for your continued blogs on Queen Elizabeth. They have all been very interesting and kept us all informed.
    Having been on QE2, then Queen Mary 2 and Victoria, we are very much looking forward to joining you on 1st December when QE returns to her maiden voyage trip.
    I am delighted all seems to be going well.
    Keep up the good work.

  5. Hannah Baker says:

    Its been really interesting to follow the maiden voyage you are currently on, it most certainly is keeping my anticpation buliding as we (my husband and two small children) too will join you next week for the Queen Elizabeth’s 2nd cruise, around the Med. We as a family are very keen to see the different touches on the Elizabeth having sailed on the QE2 (my eldest son only being 18 months old at the time) and the Victoria during her maiden season.

    Hannah, Ray, Ben(5 years) and Charlie(20 months)Baker, Berkshire, UK

  6. Shelia says:

    Must say it has been a treat to follow your blog. Just wish I was with you and our friends
    Diane Bensmiller and Bonnie who are sailing with you on QE on the first 3 voyages. We met them
    on the maiden voyage of the QM and despite the fact they live in Vancouver and we live in
    London/Dublin we have kept in touch thanks to emails. Hope to sail on the QE in 2011. keep
    up the good writing and the photographs – some of them are brilliant.

    Regards and the best of luck

    Shelia

  7. Gloria Bullen says:

    Gosh I was going through withdrawal for a while there and so glad you are back “blogging” I hope that the next cruise is just as much fun as this one is and counting the days and hours now until Monday. Not as if I wish your voyage over as I want MY two weeks to go on for ever…. Are you on board for the second trip Alastair? Perhaps we should have a party of our own of those who have responed to your Blogs, just a though. Enjoy and return soon with more pictures and stories please

  8. Patricia Anderson says:

    One favor, if you can. On her webcam it shows the date but no info on WHERE she is like the QM2 and QV webcams do. Is there someone on the bridge who could add that info so everyone can know her whereabouts? Huge thanks! Love every word of your blog and looking forward to the world cruise!!

  9. ellen jones says:

    we are booked on the new qe2 1 december i am so excited….. we are celebration our 4oth wedding anniversary … what a way to celebrate…. especially as we will be with some friends who are also celebrating their 40th anniversary too…. our husbands have known each since they were infant school they are both 65 next year…. a 60 year friendship… not bad ay….. roll on decemberxx

  10. Roger Hallett says:

    Could I add to the request by Elaine Bell of Canada (above) to have the ship’s next destination displayed on the bridge cam images. Having sailed on QM2 twice we have a real affection for her and knowing where she is ‘right now’. Anticipating our Queen Elizabeth voyage in January, friends around the world will want to know where we are ‘right now’. So please update the website with this small extra bit of information and bring QE in line with QV and QM2.

  11. Francis Roche says:

    Hi Alistair

    Thank you for the wonderful job you did covering the building of Queen Elizabeth.
    It was trult fascinating to see how the process works and the hundreds of craftsmen
    who contributed along the way. Truly amazing. Look forward to seeing you on the British
    Isles trip next fall. Thank you again for letting us be part of the adventure.

    Frank Roche

  12. Paul Weighill says:

    Hi Alistair
    Would like to add my congrats to you for the continued brilliance of the blog. What did we do before it came along. Just one little ask as Elaine Bell has send in her comment if you could have a word in the ear of the person who’s in charge of the webcam just to let us know where the QE is would be great.
    Its really cool to keep in touch with all thats Cunard and as a past crew member a now passenger and life long fan, it makes the times between trips go a little faster.
    Cheers for now
    Paul Weighill
    P.S. see you on QE for Her first crossing of the North Atlantic in Jan

  13. Kenneth Eden says:

    Hello Alistair
    The blog is wonderful, and it is something that I look forward to reading.

    I was so pleased to see Fifi, albeit at great distance, in the photo at the Grand Lobby. Fifi has taken great care of us on the Queen Mary 2 in the Queens Grill, and it is a pleasure to see her promoted and serving on the new Queen Elizabeth. Fifi is French, and it only fitting that she commands the Verandah! Fifi and I share the same birthday, July 30!

    I noted that Putu, from the Princess Grill of the Victoria, is now with the new Queen Elizabeth as well, as noted in an earlier video featuring the crew.

    Cunard keeps its people, and has for decades, and for good reasons. That sums it up.

    Kenneth Eden

  14. mary murdoch says:

    Hi Alistair.
    Enjoyed the blog, looks like everyone is having a great time. Congratulations to Jim & Lisa. Two great ideas struck me.
    1. A special cocktail party for you bloggers, that is bloggers.
    2. To continue the get together for people who have sailed on all three Queen Elizabeths as my Husband will have done so when we sail on this wonderful ship in December, I am sure he would love this as an ex employee of Cunard. Thanks again, Mary

  15. Pippa Ashley says:

    I too will be onboard next week (25th Oct), the first time I have ever, ever been on a cruise. What a way to start!
    Is it because of security that you are not showing the position on the webcam? I do hope that it will be there next week as my grandsons are going to log in every day to see where Grandma will be!
    Looking forward with great excitement to meeting you all next week,
    Pippa
    x

  16. jackie bailey says:

    Hi Alastair, Thank you very much for saying hello to my friends in stateroom 5100 on your TV show this morning, yes I got another text!. Both Clare and Mick were so shocked and happy to hear the message! thank you. Just one other request, if you can later in the week, could you just ask Clare if she has found the pigeons? It is a little joke we have going on and I will let you know the story, which is really funny! in December when my husband and I meet you again, hopefully you are on board for Christmas and New Year?
    I want to join in with all the other comments thanking you very much for the blog, updates and photos, I dont know what we would do without all your hard work. I look forward to logging on each evening to see if you have any updates, I can see I am not the only one!
    Anyway take care have fun I am looking forward to seeing my friend’s photos next week, so far over 1107 I understand have been taken! all the very best to you and all the crew for all the hard work to make Cunard cruises such a wonderful and memorable experience. Jackie Bailey

  17. Valentin says:

    I am very excited and glad to read about my best friend’s proposal to Lisa! Love you guys!

  18. Chris Frame says:

    Great to hear from you Alastair and to hear how well the maiden voyage is going.

    All the best for the rest of the journey.

    Chris & Rachelle.

  19. Great to meet with you all in Lisbon and just in case you missed the departure from Lisbon into the sunset http://yourlisbonguide.tumblr.com/post/1399318308/qe3-leaves-lisbon-the-new-cruise-liner-queen

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