October 14, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Elizabeth
As Queen Mary 2 heads back to Southampton on her Transatlantic Crossing and Queen Victoria enjoys the Southern Mediterranean, what an incredible few days we have had on board Queen Elizabeth, as we celebrated the huge build up towards her naming and then the sail away on her Maiden Voyage.
Thank you again for all the comments on the Blog and in person. I have met so many of you while we were in Southampton and now on board, and I’m delighted to hear how much you have been enjoying all the Blogs we’ve posted.
As you saw in Peter Shanks’, Cunard’s President and Managing Director, Blog yesterday, it was a remarkable day on Monday when her majesty named Cunard’s newest Queen. I’ll share some more pictures of that day and our amazing sail away in a moment, after this day in Cunard’s history for the week, 8 to 14 October:
|9 October 1967||Captain “Pip” Read was advised that Caronia was to be sold.|
|10 October 2007||Cunard announces the building of the new 92,000 ton Queen Elizabeth to enter service in the Autumn of 2010.|
|11 October 1973||QE2 makes her maiden call at Halifax, Nova Scotia|
It’s incredible to think that just over three years ago Cunard announced that Queen Elizabeth was to be constructed and here we are on our way to our first port of call on our Maiden Voyage
Today we crossed the Bay of Biscay and just like our time in Southampton, we have been blessed with fantastic weather.
Going back to the naming day, it was such a privilege to be able to see the Queen on board and looking so radiant. For me to be introduced to her by the Royal Box, as she watched the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company rehearse Twelfth Night, was a moment I’ll never forget. She seemed amazed by the Royal Court Theatre and showed a lot of interest in how it was managed, staying longer than we had expected.
She was then escorted down the grand staircase in the Royal Arcade, by Peter Shanks and Captain Wells, where she admired the new Dent Clock.
Not only were our distinguished guests enjoying the tour on big screens in the main auditorium by the ship, but the residents of Southampton were also able to enjoy it on giant screens erected throughout the city, including this one at Guildhall Square.
They had a double sided screen to accommodate the crowds, so thank you to Craig from Southampton City Council who was kind enough to send me this photo of the live screening. Her Majesty was greeted throughout the ship by an enthusiastic cheering crew, especially in the Grand Lobby, where she looked at the stunning marquetry piece of artwork, created by her nephew, Lord Linley.
Before long we were all in the auditorium waiting for her Majesty to say those all important words, as the bottle waited to be released.
As Peter said yesterday, the bottle was indeed obliterated as the ship blew her horns and confetti cannons shot streamers out over the bow of Queen Elizabeth to a massive cheer on board, in the auditorium, and no doubt all over the world.
With the formal part of the ceremony over we all went back on board to prepare for the Gala Evening, and it was so good to see the ship literally alive with guests; a moment we had waited to enjoy for a long time.
As our Naming Ceremony guests left the following morning, the ship’s company worked tirelessly as always to ensure we were ready for our very first guests to arrive shortly before noon. It’s quite something to be the very first guests to board a ship on her maiden voyage, and here you can see Captain Wells and our White Star Bellboys welcoming Ms Erma Klindt and Dr Doris Lorz, both from the United States and well travelled Cunarders. In fact Dr Lorz will be our most travelled guest on this voyage, and I’ll tell you more about that next week.
By 4.30pm, we had completed our safety drill with all 1,957 guests aboard, and Captain Wells prepared Queen Elizabeth for her Maiden Voyage. It was a very emotional moment for everyone as guests lined the decks with Union Jacks listening to the wonderful music, provided on the quayside by the Prince of Wales Regiment Band.
The music choice was excellent; I particularly enjoyed One Moment In Time as a poignant salute to our new Queen’s departure. Then at just after 5.00pm on a beautiful autumn day, Captain Wells ordered that the last of the lines were let go, and Queen Elizabeth moved gently away from her berth.
It was great to see all our guests celebrating on the open decks with the band still playing and numerous people in the terminal building and on the quayside itself. As Queen Elizabeth moved further away we started some great music on the open decks which included, Jerusalem, Pomp and Circumstance as well as Rule Britannia and Fantasia Of British Sea Songs. We were also joined by a flotilla of small boats all blasting their whistles.
Walking along the decks it was like a big family reunion constantly bumping in to guests who I had sailed with many times before. It was also a great opportunity to chat to many guests who had been following the Blog. I was delighted to see amongst all the Union Jacks, the St. Pirin’s flag (Cornwall’s national flag), waved by fellow Cornishmen, who were quick to tell me they had been following the Blog for the last eighteen months. Peter and Margaret Housegood from St. Kew in Cornwall were also celebrating their 42nd Wedding Anniversary.
More and more craft joined us as we sailed up the Solent, including the Isle of Wight ferry, which had been chartered for the occasion.
I then went to the other side of the ship to see even more pleasure boats, and cruisers joining us with every inch of deck space filled with cheering onlookers enjoying seeing Southampton’s newest ship leave for the first time.
It was such a moving sail away between the rousing music, the escorting flotilla and meeting up with old friends. It was so good to bump in to Dennie Farmer again, as I hadn’t seen her since she became Queen Elizabeth’s Madrina back in January.
If you didn’t catch the story at the time you can click on this link:
Denny told me that she found the whole occasion simply overwhelmingly wonderful. Then as the sun began to set, it was time to get ready for the first evening meal on board and our brand new Welcome Aboard show, but it was so beautiful up on deck I had to take just one more photo:
We will be in our first port of Vigo, Spain when you read this, but throughout the voyage I’ll make sure I bring you lots more news as well as news from our two sisters next week. Thanks again so much for all your comments and for reading the Blog. Cheers for now, Alastair