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Ship's Company

Queen Mary 2 Ship’s Company Pay Tribute To Captain Bates

October 6, 2010

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Ship's Company

Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 6 days

Firstly thank you so much for all of the continued feedback about the recent Blogs; it’s always great to read your comments and questions. I know many of you are interested in seeing other areas of our new Queen including the guest staterooms, so I’ll have some for you in a special post tomorrow.

There is tremendous excitement in Southampton about the arrival of Queen Elizabeth on Friday morning. Cunard’s new Queen will be docking at around 9.00am at the new Ocean Terminal. For full details you can click on this link for more of the timings of our arrival:


And again to view the Queen Elizabeth webcam click on this link:


The ship will remain at her berth in Southampton until her Maiden Voyage on 12 October when she will leave at approximately 5.00pm.

One of the great things about the Cunard family is the amount of support and good wishes we are receiving from our sister ships, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria as well as our shore side offices in Southampton. I also received a wonderful message from our Flagship to pay tribute to Captain Bates, pictured here on the bridge of Queen Mary 2.

There was a fantastic response to the President’s Blog last week, so I thought I would add this special Guest Blog, which comes from Dragana Prodanovic, who is one of our Voyage Sales Specialists.           



 Dragana Prodanovic             

Voyage Sales Specialist

 Queen Mary 2

Captain Nick Bates recently retired after 44 years at sea with Cunard Line. But where did all these years go? Captain Bates was born and raised in Northern Ireland and inherited love for the sea from his father and grandfather. He is pictured here with his family; he is the one to the right with his chin up, looking regal.


At the age of eleven he bought his first boat that had oars and all, and here he is on one of his earlier craft.

He later on went to navy schools and moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he has been residing ever since.

Captain Bates served on number of Cunard ships throughout his career and after obtaining his “Master’s Ticket” in 1975 he was offered a position on board the luxury liner, QE2. He joined Queen Mary 2 in 2008, where he spent his last days before retiring on Aug 28th, 2010.

Captain Bates will be missed by thousands, including guests and crew members. He has left a lasting impression on everyone who came in to contact with him with his unique charm, friendliness, and great sense of humour.

Captain Bates was a great ambassador for Cunard and is well known the world over, for his alter ego, Patrick O’Shaughnessy, and Patrick’s whimsical sayings. Captain Bates loves collecting old sea stories and sayings and even published a book called “With a Pinch of Salt”, which he would share with guests daily.

Captain Bates is a great sailor, Captain and Master, but best of all, he is caring, considerate, friendly, and to sum it up, a great man.

President and Managing Director of Cunard Line, Peter Shanks, came on board during Captain Bates’ last voyage to wish him farewell, and to thank him for many years of service with Cunard. As you may have seen in the President’s blog last week, the presentation took place during the Cunard World Club Party, where all Diamond, Platinum and Gold members were present, as well as the ship’s Officers.

Hundreds of crew members also presented Captain Bates with gifts at the Crew Mess on his last day. He was so moved that he let his emotions take over, and was speechless and teary eyed for few minutes.

The last evening before departing, Queen Mary 2’s Officers arranged a farewell party for Captain Bates and the Food & Beverage team arranged some beautifully presented and tasty hors d’oeuvres.

The Captain was presented with many gifts along with speeches from officers such as Entertainment Director Paul O’Loughlin.

Throughout the evening Captain Bates’ beautiful wife Kefah was at his side. They were married last year, and one of the reasons for retiring is to be at home with his wife and their 2 children, as they call them, their dog Woody and cat Twiggy.

There were a number of guests who had sailed with Captain Bates for many years, who were also invited, including the designer of Queen Mary 2, Mr Stephen Payne, who gave a speech and presented the Captain with a gift.

Captain also received beautiful handmade gifts including ones from the Carpenters from the Technical Department.

He was also presented with gifts from the deck department

Deputy Captain Robert Camby delivered best wishes from Commodore Bernard Warner, Captain Paul Wright, Captain Chris Wells, Captain Christopher Rynd and Commodore Warwick.

Here Captain Bates is joined by his secretary Christel Hansen and Chief Officer James Griffiths. They both have worked under Captain Bates’ command for a number of years with James having worked on QE2 and Caronia, and Christel on Caronia.

Later in the evening, Christel presented the Captain with a gift on behalf of all the officers;

As part of the celebrations the Royal Cunard Singers performed a special Irish song………

Captain and his wife Kefah became quite teary eyed listening to the performance.

Back at home Captain Bates is signed up for art classes, so I enjoyed presenting him with an easle, water colours, brushes, sketch pad, and a French beret. Picasso, watch out, a new Master is coming!

On August the 28th, Commodore Warner, Chief Engineer Brian Watling, Deputy Captain Robert Camby, Security Officer Grant Williams, and the Entertainment Director Ray Rouse were on the gangway as Captain and Mrs Bates left the ship.

Commodore Warner, Deputy Captain Robert Camby, and Captain’s Secretary Christel Hansen were the last to bid them farewell.

Captain Bates, thank you for your services to Cunard Line, thank you for making guests welcome and appreciated, and thank you for your humour and Patrick O’Shaughnessy. Thank you for your support to the crew, your leadership, your friendship, and for your incredible energy and your smile. You will be missed as you are missed already.

As mentioned in the story in your book about Toasts at Sea: “Toasts originated in Nelson’s day; to toast to someone or something every day of the week”, so Captain Bates, every Sunday we will toast to an Absent Friend!


We wish you all the best in your future endeavours and in your life at home with your family from the ship’s company of Queen Mary 2 and Cunard Line

Thank you Dragana for such a fabulous tribute to Captain Bates; it’s clear how highly he is thought of from this Blog, the President’s Blog and comments our readers have posted and that he will be very much missed.

That’s it for the moment but I’ll be back tomorrow, with some of the latest pictures from Queen Elizabeth, a new Vlog and news of her Inaugural stay in Southampton – see you there. Cheers for now, Alastair

  1. Brogan Swan says:

    What a wonderful man!! Cunard and us passengers will miss him. One of a kind that Captain. Good luck for the future Nick

  2. Chris & Margaret Rose says:

    Hi Alistair,
    What a great tribute to Captain Bates.
    We were lucky enough to sail across the Atlantic from Southampton
    to New York on QM2 in June 2009,
    and we appreciated meeting him and his lunchtime stories.
    He quite obviously was highly respected and regarded by all his staff.
    Thanks again for a great blog.

  3. Rolan Powell says:

    It has been an honor to sail with Captain Bates! I really love and cherish my autographed book “A Pinch of Salt”
    Have a great retirement and look forward to seeing your artwork oboard QM2 (hint, hint)

  4. Albert Galaburda says:

    Congratulations and best wishes, Captain Bates! You saved us from a hurricane in the North Atlantic, and for that reason my wife and I are here to sail on the QE next month. Thank you.

  5. Susan Tunge says:

    What a wonderful farewell. Good luck with your new life captain Bates.

  6. Marion Burdick says:

    Sailed transAtlantic on QE2. Wonderful experience. Just before dock changed from Hudson River to Brooklyn. (Sob.) Sailed Princess Grill aboard the new Queen Victoria. Got to revisit some places I had previously traveled overland. Loved the cruise thought I’m not a typical cruise passenger. Last year I sailed transAtlantic Queens Grill aboard the QM2. One of my most happy experiences in a long travel history. Loved the ship. Really loved it. Am looking forward to the arrival of the new QE and hope I can sail aboard her as well. Am anxiously awaiting to see the new QE staterooms. Good wishes for a happy maiden voyage.

  7. Thelma says:

    I am sailing from NY on the Qm2 on Oct. 12th. As the Queen Elizabeth leaves Southampton that same day is there a chance we will cross paths, MidAtlantic? I have followed the Queens since my childhood in the Isle of Wight, even when they served their time as war ships. This will be my 4th crossing.

  8. Pam Towart says:

    What a truly wonderful & amazing gentleman! I’m sure I would have enjoyed the honour of meeting him but I see he has his own website so that colleagues & fans can stay in touch & I urge anyone who has not done so, to check it out…

  9. Hello Alistair,

    please give our best wishes to Captain Bates and his wife.
    We had a fantastic time onbard QM2 back in january 2009 (QM2 Carribean Calypso). On our anniversary we received a very special gift from Captain Bates. It has a very special place in our house! I`m sure he remembers us when reading this comment.

  10. Gloria Bullen says:

    Sorry to say I only sailed once with him as Captain of the QM2. However thanks to his sense of humour and great warmth as a mam He and that cruise will stay with me as long as I have good memories

  11. Jeff Towns says:

    This blog was especially well done for a man who really deserves it. All the best to him and his family. Jeff

  12. Angela Alaimo says:

    Wonderful story and pictures, Dragana. We will miss Captain Bates and wish him and his family all the best. He was always lots of fun to sail with–the noon announcements were something not to be missed.

  13. Alex &Barbara Craig says:

    Sailed twice with Captain Bates Transatlantic 2009 and to Norway this year loved his humour noon announcment especially, have a wonderful retirement Captain

  14. Sheila Hedderick says:

    We have enjoyed sailing with Commodore ‘Captain’ Warwick as he was then, Captain Rynd, Captain Wright, and of course Captain Bates THE man with a great sense of humour, his lunchtime tales were looked forward to! I am sure the next captain we sail with will be excellent too…sheila


  16. Judith Sayers says:

    A lovely man,sailed with him twice, we enjoyed his quips, a traditional sailor, we will miss him.Good luck in your retirement Captain.

  17. nigel lewis says:

    sailed 3 times with captain bates a rearly great bloke done all my crusing on the qe2 , i am very happy to get back with cunard line , the queen mary 2 has got great deals for singles ,
    wishing you all the best and looking forward to voyage on queen mary 2

    vet best wishes

    nigel lewis

  18. Can I just say a very big and emotional thanks to Dragana and everyone who has taken the time to write comments to a really nice blog.
    Retirement is good and Kefah and I are enjoying spending time together with our “Family” I do miss the people and all of the guests and crew it has been my pleasure to sail with over the years – thank you all.


  19. Dearest Captain & Mrs Bates,
    Selfishly, I write this with a tear in my eye, but with much gratitude I smile and say “Contulations, Captain”. I pray you enjoy your much deserved retirement. Please know that the thousands of passengers you brought safely to port are smiling with me.
    I have sailed transatlanticly (new word?) 5 times. QM2 final Southampton/NYC fabulous crossing, once on the beautiful QV and three times with you.
    You are what every “Capain” strives for…a warm, funny, dignified, tough, when needed and handsome leader.
    One of my favorite memories was on the S/NYC crossing Nov 11-17 2009. Friday Nov 13, you emaied the crew and told them to take their sea-sick pills around 12PM as the seas were going to get bumpy…
    About 12:01 the bumps started, progressing into 35-40′ waves. OH WHAT FUN!! After 24ish hours you had guided us safely thru the storm. You comented later those were the roughest seas you had taken QM2 thru.
    May you see only Rainbows ahead!!
    Rosemary Maechtle

  20. Meant “QE2″ fabulous final crossing, not QM2…………sorry

  21. Lloyd and Myrna Baetz says:

    My husband and I along with our wonderful friends, Elva and Oscar Scheuneman, sailed from Dubai to Southampton in March of 2009. We enjoyed Captain Bates warm and friendly manner. This was always evident. We especially enjoyed his leadership during the church services. We used to listen for his noon jokes that always brought a smile to everyone that heard it. At breakfast one morning Captain Bates announced that the currency had changed over night and the new currency would now be the Pizza dollars. This was hiliarious as it was April fools day. Our friends, the Scheunemans, were 84 and 89 at the time of sailing and were celebrating 59 years of marriage. We had a wonderful time and knew that we were in good hands with Captain Bates.

  22. Ken Seward says:

    We sailed with Captain Bates for three weeks in October 2009, and with his humour and approachability helped to make a great voyage even more special.

  23. Julie and Maddie Sayner says:

    What an absolute gentleman.. we were with you on your last cruise spoke many times, met your beautiful wife,May you have a long and very happy retirement.

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