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Breaking News – A Grand Celebration At Sea

November 29, 2010

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Updates

Many thanks as always for all your comments; it’s great to hear from you. While I’m in a very cold Wiltshire in England, I’m sure many of us would like to be on Queen Mary 2 at the moment while she enjoys her Caribbean season. Queen Elizabeth is currently making inaugural calls in Holland, Belgium and France before heading back to the Canaries while Queen Victoria is heading back to Southampton. Well spotted Heinz and Michael, she will, of course, be heading to Hamburg for her refit (apologies for the typo), and her deputy Captain, Andrew Hall, has promised us some reports during her time in her first Dry Dock.

I’m glad the news of the Royal Wedding being screened on board our Queens has generated so much excitement; it certainly promises to be an amazing day.

I hope our friends in the Unites States enjoyed their Thanksgiving weekend; it’s always a special time of year and of course Turkey and the trimmings were all served on our three Queens to mark the occasion.

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Holiday season and as you know, Cunard always like to celebrate, so it was great to hear that Cunard will be bringing A Grand Celebration at Sea to the 122nd Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, presented by Honda; the globally televised event, considered “America’s New Year’s Parade.”

Cunard has just revealed a rendering of its float, themed A Grand Celebration at Sea, created by award-winning Fiesta Parade Floats in collaboration with renowned artist and float designer Raul Rodriguez.


Marking the first time Cunard has participated in the world-famous parade, A Grand Celebration at Sea will illustrate, flagship Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and of course our new Queen Elizabeth. It will depict the ultimate sense of occasion, including ballroom dancing, a big band orchestra, champagne toasts, and multigenerational families celebrating their dreams and friendships while building memories, all on board the Cunard Queens.

2011 will continue a long standing tradition since the first Tournament of Roses was staged in 1890 by members of Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club, former residents of the East and Midwest, eager to showcase their new home’s mild winter weather.

During the next few years, the festival expanded to include marching bands and motorised floats and soon included ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations and even a race between a camel and an elephant; apparently the elephant won!

In 1902, a football game was added to The Tournament of Roses, and in 1920 the Tournament’s President envisioned a stadium similar to the Yale Bowl, the first great modern football stadium, to be built in Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco area. The new stadium hosted its first New Year’s football game in 1923 and soon earned the nickname “The Rose Bowl.”

The 21st century Rose Parade’s elaborate floats now feature high-tech computerised animation and exotic natural materials from around the world. Although a few floats are still built exclusively by volunteers, most are created by professional float building companies taking up to a year to construct. Millions of viewers around the world watch the Rose Parade, and next year’s will begin at, 8am (PST), (midnight GMT), on Saturday 1 January.

From bow to stern, Cunard’s float will be decorated in floral grandeur, reflecting the line’s classic ocean travel experience. The float will also depict signature hallmarks found on a Cunard liner, including the Grand Lobby staircase and the Queens Room Ballroom. Additionally, an oversized floralgraph of Cunard’s three Queens takes centre stage at the top of the float’s ascending staircases, a fitting reference to the modern fleet and also to the upcoming Cunard Royal Rendezvous on 13 January 2011 in New York Harbour when the three Queens will meet for the first time.

Featuring an eloquent fusion of floral and architectural detail in Cunard’s rich tradition of elegance and grandeur, the float stands at 24 feet high, 18 feet wide and 55 feet in length. It will include a big band orchestra and ballroom dancers to bring to life the Line’s famed Royal Nights Themed Balls, along with theatrical smoke rising from Cunard’s signature black and red funnel.

Peter Shanks, President and Managing Director of Cunard Line told me:

“We are delighted to be part of such a celebrated event like the Rose Parade. This year’s Rose Parade theme of building dreams, friendships and memories, ties perfectly with our legacy and heritage. For more than 170 years sailing the seven seas, the Cunard name has been synonymous with fulfilling aspirations, fostering life-long friendships, and creating memorable experiences for all of our guests.”


The float sounds stunning when you hear more about it. Thousands of red Black Magic roses, purple phalaenopsis orchid sprays, green cymbidium orchids and hypericum, and white Casablanca lilies will border the length of the float, along with more than 45,000 red Opium roses that will carpet the steps and floors. Layers of black onion seed and crisp white sweet rice will be used to adorn the distinctive shape of Cunard’s elongated bow, while shimmering deep brown flax seed will replicate the rich texture of hand-polished mahogany woods throughout the architectural features. Water waves showcased by white roses, dendrobium orchids and phalaenopsis orchids will sweep over oceans of light and dark blue iris, delphinium and hydrangea blossoms.

Fiesta Parade Floats based in Irwindale, California, is the leading, award-winning float-builder in the Tournament of Roses Parade, having designed and built 17 consecutive Sweepstakes Trophy winners. Fiesta is also considered the leader in both floral technology and floral application throughout the float and floral industries, led by Jim Hynd, vice president and floral director, surpassing all other builders in the field of computerised and hydraulic animation.

Raul Rodriguez, a third generation native of Los Angeles, is an artist and conceptual designer of international acclaim. He is considered the premier designer for the Rose Parade and has won more awards than any other designer in the history of the parade and this photo was taken when the announcement was made recently;


On the top row is the 93rd Rose Queen Evanne Friedmann and her Court, and on the bottom row from left to right are, Tim Estes, president, Fiesta Parade Floats; Brian O’Connor & Jackie Chase, Cunard Line and Jeffrey L. Throop, president of the 2011 Tournament of Roses. Here’s a great Vlog, which tells you more:

In the coming weeks, the building and decorating progress of Cunard’s A Grand Celebration at Sea, Rose Parade float can be followed on our facebook page, www.facebook.com/cunard.

You can also visit www.cunard.com/rendezvous to see planned festivities and viewing locations for the Cunard Royal Rendezvous celebration in New York.

I’ll be back on Thursday with more news from around the Cunard fleet as well as guest Blogs and Queen Elizabeth’s very first Star of the Month. Cheers for now, Alastair

  1. Chris & Margaret Rose says:

    Hi Alistair,
    Another great blog.
    The Rose Parade sounds fantastic!

    Can we assume that there will be much photographic evidence on the 13th January
    for the New York rendezvous?
    Will there be a vlog of the departure fireworks?
    As we will be on board Queen Elizabeth from 16th January we will look forweard to seeing photographs first hand!!
    Enjoy your well earned break,
    As always, very best regards

  2. Barbara, Christchurch. says:

    “A Grand Celebration At Sea ” is surely going to be a winning float, as it shows the elegance of the Cunard Ships. Wonderful !

  3. Kenneth Eden says:

    Alastair, a very nice insight to the making of the Cunard float.

    I cannnot wait to see the floral adornments to the float, as I anxiously await the floats entry and its “sai;ing” on New Years Day.

  4. Beryl Moss says:

    Hope you are enjoying your break albeit a very cold one. This is a very interesting blog and look forward to seeing further progress on the float as it takes shape. I am sure it will look magnificent.

  5. Carol kane says:

    Hi Alistair if the float is Half as good as the drawing it will be fantsastic. but one expects nothing but the best from Cunard. looking forward to sailing on QE feb. Also please put destination on QE cam.

  6. Chris McDonald says:

    Hi Alistair, another chance for me to post to your blog. Now, here’s an idea; how about a ‘Madrina’ to ‘launch’ Cunard’s ‘Grand Celebration at Sea’ before, or at, the Rose Parade? I would be more than happy to accept an invitation to ‘escort’ the chosen lady, should you be gracious enough to fly me to the U.S. from the antipodes (well, I did think of it first)! Ah well, I shall have to console myself with the expectation of joining QE on part of here inaugural world voyage in March. Looking forward to more posts. Ciao.

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