November 4, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Elizabeth
Welcome back to Queen Elizabeth and her second voyage, making her first visits to ports in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile her sister Queen Victoria is currently in the eastern Mediterranean, while Queen Mary 2 is heading back to Southampton from New York. In fact on Monday, Cunard will be celebrating the first time Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth are in the port of Southampton together, so another day in our history to enjoy.
It’s been a great second voyage for Queen Elizabeth, and I’ll tell you more, after this week in Cunard’s history for the week 29th of October to the 4th of November.
|October||29||1970||QE2 offers medical assistance to the ‘Cerinthus’ in the Atlantic|
|October||30||1947||Caronia is launched at John Brown Shipyard, Clydebank. She becomes known as the ‘Green Goddess’ because of the colour of her hull.|
|November||1||1921||Andania is launched|
|November||2||2003||Queen Mary 2 undertakes her second set of sea trials and achieves a speed of 30 knots.|
There have been so many stories on this second voyage that it’s hard to keep the news to one post. It’s always great to begin with romance and I met a wonderful young couple called Miles and Lisa Willshire, on the first couple of days of the voyage as we headed to Barcelona.
Over a coffee they told me they were from Bishopstoke near Southampton, and were married at Romsey Abbey in Hampshire, the day before joining Queen Elizabeth on her second voyage. It was exactly a year after Miles proposed to Lisa and here they are on their wedding day.
21 year old Miles met Lisa at Portsmouth University, when having seen Miles at her lectures she looked him up on Facebook and they told me it was love at first sight for both of them. Miles is a Public Affairs executive, while Lisa works in IT recruitment and what made this story really special was when Miles told me about his parents.
They first met whilst Mr Wilshire was working for Cunard in Southampton, and he was interviewing new candidates to work for the company. For their honeymoon in 1986 they chose something special; QE2.
So when it came to Miles’ and Lisa’s choice of Honeymoon they thought it would be wonderful to choose Queen Elizabeth, 24 years after Miles’ parents took their honeymoon aboard QE2; What a great story and we wish Miles and Lisa all the best in their future together.
The second port of call on this voyage was Monte Carlo, which is always a very popular port, especially now a new pier has been built. It was a very windy day and Captain Chris Wells and Deputy Captain Hamish Sunter and the Bridge Team did an amazing job bring Queen Elizabeth alongside, as there were very high winds that day. Our Chief Photographer, Petar Pecanac was invited to join some guests in a helicopter where he was able to get this incredible photo of Queen Elizabeth dominating the famous harbour.
Thanks again Petar for another great shot. The end of October brings Halloween and for us it’s any excuse to celebrate, and our Culinary team get the opportunity to show their talents with creative displays around the ship.
Meanwhile that evening the Entertainment Staff led the Halloween Party in the Queens Room, and really went to town on their costumes.
In case you are wondering who they all are, from left to right, Laura Leach, Helen Eatough, Thomas Quinones, Marc Wilkinson and Nick Wilkes. Marc and Nick are still trying to get the fake blood off – three days later! On the dance floor they performed a special dance routine and were joined by our professional dance couple Artsiom and Volha,
They did a great job and our guests had a fantastic if not slightly spooky night!
It’s always wonderful to welcome guest lecturers to our Cunard Insights Programme and this voyage we were delighted to be joined by Lord Michael Howard.
Lord Howard is a very familar name in Britain as the Conservative Party Leader between 2003 and 2005. His career began when was called to the Bar, and 1982 he became a QC. In the 1983 general election he was elected Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe. He rose quickly through the ranks, holding important Ministerial jobs before joining the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Employment, then Secretary of State for the Environment and in 1993, Home Secretary
Lord Howard retired from the House of Commons at the 2010 General Election, and in July this year he took his seat in the House of Lords as Lord Howard of Lympne. He was joined on this voyage by his wife Lady Sandra Howard who is a novelist, and guests enjoyed meeting her at a specail booksigning.
Lord Howard’s lecture focussed on the five critical days of Winston Churchill’s leadership in 1940, when as Prime Minister he led the War Cabinet through the most important decisions of the second World War. It was a fascinating talk with quotes from journals and papers of the time.
He then invited guests to ask questions, and even an experienced politician as Lord Howard, couldn’t have predicted the variety of topics that were covered from the current British Coalition, to Europe to Anne Widecombe’s performance in Strictly Come Dancing!
He was kind enough to allow me to interview him later in the day on television, and we talked about his love of football, especially Liverpool as well as his keen interest in history. He also told me about his first voyage on Queen Elizabeth when he went to work in New York for, of all companies, Lord, Day and Lord who were Cunard’s Lawyers in the Cunard Building at 25 Broadway. He returned on Queen Mary and fondly recalls those journeys, especially passing the Statue of Liberty for the first time. He was a pleasure to meet and we look forward to seeing them both on board again in the future.
Later in the day we held our second Three Queen Elizabeths meeting where all guests who had sailed on all three Elizabeth’s were invited to chat about their experiences and show off some of their memorabilia. This voyage we had fourteen guests.
Again we had so many fascinating people to talk to including three guests who had travelled on all six Queens.
There was also a tremendous amount of memorabilia to look at such as this remarkable record of the crew on board when Queen Elizabeth slipped out of the Clyde in 1940 and instead of heading to Southampton, the Captain opened orders ordering Queen Elizabeth to sail straight to New York. On board that remarkable crossing, on what was called the Grey Ghost, was Mrs. Margaret Ridenour’s father and she showed me a copy of that historic manifest.
As most of you know Queen Elizabeth was amongst many Cunard ships and other merchant vessels that distinguished themselves during the Second World War as troop ships. Mr. Royston Bunt from Buckinghamshire travelled to the United States for flying training in 1943 on board Queen Elizabeth, and this is one of the board newspapers from that crossing.
Then there was Mrs Jill Fackerell from Surrey who showed me letters her father had written to her as he took a crossing in February 1946 where he talks about the G.I. Brides. It’s a fascinating piece of history complete with drawings in his letters describing the accommodation on Queen Elizabeth:
In the letter he goes on to explain to his young daughter that G.I. stood for General Issue. According to him this was the official American Army term when drawing stores, and an American Soldier was apparently included in that category!
It was also great to meet an amazing gentleman, Mr. Fred Kerly from Somerset, who began his career at sea in 1958 as a Trimmer, which he told me, was a job involving moving ballast from one side of the ship to the other.
He had kept a lot of his paperwork including his pay slips. When he worked on the Scythia in 1958, the ship was going from Southampton on her last journey of her career to be broken up at Rosyth. A sad occasion which, as you can see on his payslip was called Run Money, and for the three days he was paid £8.99 after deductions!
This was his Seaman’s Book back in 1958 complete with photo and finger prints.
We could have chatted for hours as there’s always so much history at these events. Thank you to all those who shared their stories and memorabilia with us; I’m looking forward to the next one.
Our last story of this voyage is the graduation of our very first White Star Academy on Queen Elizabeth while she is in service. Continual training is the cornerstone of Cunard’s White Star Service, so I was delighted to be sent this photo of the first graduates, along with Senior Hotel Officers and White Star Trainer Rishi Chada.
That’s it for the moment from Queen Elizabeth. We will be back in Southampton on Monday with Queen Mary 2 and our next Blog will be coming from Cunard’s Flagship, with news from this latest and final eastbound transatlantic crossing of this year as Queen Mary 2 will be heading for her Caribbean season when she leaves on Monday.
Cheers for now, Alastair