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Cunard’s Queens Welcome 2011 In Style

January 10, 2011

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Updates

Firstly thank you again for all your comments and good wishes, as we celebrated the festive season and are now preparing for our next big event; the first meeting of Cunard’s three Queens in New York on Thursday 13  January. Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria are currently sailing in tandem across the Atlantic to meet Queen Mary 2, and I’ll have some great pictures to show you of that crossing on Thursday, along with the photos of the stunning firework display as we left Southampton last week.

I notice there have been quite a few comments about the Webcams recently, particularly on Queen Elizabeth. As many of you have noticed we have a new-look bridge cam page, along with a ship tracker and itineraries.

I am enclosing a link which will hopefully work for everyone:


I should mention though, that the cameras are fixed so unfortunately we can’t show you the view of Queen Elizabeth from Queen Victoria (and vice versa), while we cross the Atlantic together.

In this blog where we are going back to the New Year’s Eve celebrations on all three Queens, and try and recapture the excitement of the night. The preparations began early, and for us on Queen Elizabeth, with New Year’s Eve on a busy sea, we began the process of blowing up over two thousand balloons at 8.30am. This was a time of tremendous team spirit in the Entertainment Department meaning literarily everyone getting involved:

The job of preparing the nets for the balloon drops in the various venues was undertaken by the Production Staff and here’s Senior Production Manager Chris Knowles working with his team, Jesse McKenzie and Resty Burre, threading the release cord through the netting. One of those things you just have to get right!

Then the big job of loading the balloons into the nets needs a good head for heights in Queen Elizabeth’s two deck high Queens Room as Jesse demonstrates.

The evening itself takes careful planning to ensure there is space for all our guests to enjoy the countdown, so this means using multiple venues. Those venues were inside on Queen Elizabeth as she crossed the rather chilly North Atlantic, while Queen Mary 2 in the Caribbean and Queen Victoria in Madeira were able to offer outside alternatives this year.

Queen Mary 2’s Queens Room looked fantastic as you can see from this photo taken in the last couple of hours of 2010:

Decorating the venues on board our Queens takes considerable time, but the results are worth it, here you can see Queen Mary 2’s G32 nightclub with the balloons in place ready for the big countdown:

With the time differences, Queen Victoria was the first to bring in the New Year, followed by Queen Elizabeth in the mid Atlantic and then Queen Mary 2 in the Caribbean; four hours separating the celebrations.

The main focal point on Queen Victoria was the Pavilion Pool, as Entertainment Director Amanda Reid invited Captain Inger Olsen to begin the countdown, which had to coincide with the firework display in Madeira.  Right on cue as 2011 was welcomed in by the ship’s bell, a large block of ice with a big “0” on it was pushed in to reveal a “1” behind it.

Simultaneously the first firework was released in Madeira harbour in one of the most famous and spectacular displays to usher in the New Year.

Soon the whole harbour was alight with a magnificent show of fireworks with boats of all sizes enjoying the display.

Two hours later on Queen Elizabeth, we assembled in many of the public rooms around the ship as midnight drew closer. The countdown itself took place in front of the magnificent Linley marquetry artwork of the original Queen Elizabeth in the Grand Lobby, which was then broadcast to the other venues’ video screens.

For the inaugural New Year’s Eve on Queen Elizabeth, we thought it would be very fitting to carry out the traditional ringing out the old and ringing in the new using the original bell from QE2. This historic bell usually resides outside the Commodore Club, and getting it to the Grand Lobby was indeed a feat in itself, but managed well, thanks to our Ship’s Services Engineer Michael Robertshaw and his team. It looked great in position and in the last few seconds of 2010 Captain Burgess quoted Lord Alfred Tennyson,

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Then on the stroke of midnight Captain Burgess continued the seafaring tradition of inviting the oldest and youngest crewmembers to ring out the old year and ring in the New Year. I won’t mention their ages but will tell you that Rene Berten, one of our Waiters from Belgium rang out the old year, and then Ryan Tolley, one of our Stage Crew from England, rang in 2011

At that point the tried and tested balloon release system worked perfectly as balloons showered our guests in the Grand Lobby.


At the same time balloons dropped perfectly in the Queens Room, while Queen Elizabeth’s Ice Carvers revealed a beautiful carving of the New Year.

In the Grand Lobby we were lucky enough to have one of our Guest Entertainers, Soprano Philippa Healey, leading us in the traditional Auld Lang Syne

The parties continued in to the wee small hours, and the atmosphere was fantastic everywhere, especially in Queen Elizabeth’s spectacular three deck high Grand Lobby with big band music from Tim Fulker and the Royal Court Theatre Orchestra.


What a great way to bring in 2011 and a big thank you to everyone who worked so hard on all our Queens, to make it so memorable, especially the unsung heroes of the evening; our incredible housekeeping teams who had to clear up after us all in the small hours of the morning.

Thank you as well to Petar Petanac, Queen Elizabeth’s Chief Photographer and his colleagues on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria for the fantastic pictures.

I’ll be back on Thursday with some pictures from Queen Elizabeth’s and Queen Victoria’s tandem crossing, on the day all three Queens meet in New York for the first time. Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria will be docking in Manhattan between approximately 6.30am and 7.00am, while Queen Mary 2 will arrive at her regular berth at Brooklyn at about 6.30am.

Later that evening at about 6.30pm the Cunard Queens will begin to take their positions in formation along the Hudson River.  Then at about 7.00pm there’ll be a magnificent firework display to mark this special moment in Cunard’s history.

There are also quite a few other surprises as well while we are in New York and we’ll have reports on this Blog next week. Cheers for now, Alastair

  1. Chris & Margaret Rose says:

    Hi Alistair,
    Thanks again for agreat blog describing the fantastic celebrations on all the three Queens to see in the New Year.
    We were actually at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham at a New Year’s Eve Concert conducted by Anthony Inglis who I know is a good friend to Cunard!
    He gave a number of good “plugs” for Cunard!!
    Looking forward to all the pictures of the tandem sailing and the celebrations in Manhattan.
    See you next Sunday,
    Very best regards

  2. tony mac says:


  3. Gary Tolley says:

    Thank you Alistair for another wonderful blog.
    We have heard so much about the daily life and routines behind the scenes on the Queen Elizabeth since Ryan returned home to Malvern, Worcestershire after his four month tour-of-duty aboard the Queen Elizabeth. Indeed both Vivien and I are really quite impressed of what we have heard about Cunard and we can see why Cunard is well loved by its staff and its guests. I think everyone who is associated with Cunard and the wonderful ships in the fleet, will agree that it is a well-loved and respected company.
    Of course Vivien, myself and the immediate family are immensely proud that Ryan was chosen to “Ring In The New Year” on the Queen Elizabeth and from the photographs shown on this blog, it is clear that everyone had a right old “Hoot-an’-Nanny” – wonderful… simply wonderful.
    Happy New Year to you and all aboard the Queens. Enjoy the “Meet of Queens” in New York and World Cruise ahead of that. God speed….

  4. mary murdoch says:

    Hi Alistair and the gang

    What a wonderful blog, the pictures are great and that must have been wonderful haveing QE2′s bell in the grand lobby to bring in 2011 quite emotional I would think. All the best to you all for 2011. Oh by the way can you thank Freda for us . We met at the three Queens get together on the 1st of Dec cruise and she very kindly took Bob’s discharge book from the 1960′s and captain Chris Wells signed and stamped it with the Queen Elizabeths stamp. Thanks again Mary and Bob Murdoch.

  5. Beryl Moss says:

    Once again a fantastic blog with great photographcs of New Years Eve on board all the Queens. Well done to everyone who made it so memorable for all the guests on board.

  6. Robert Guy says:

    At this late stage, who’s idea was it to invite Lord & Lady Prescott on the cruise and why did the audience have to listen to his “speeches”?

  7. Brenda Vessey says:

    A Happy New Year to you Alistair and thankyou for showing the New Year festivities on the Queens, it looked fantastic and can’t wait to join the QM2 on 25th March.

  8. Sue Adcock says:

    What wonderful photos of the New Year celebrations. Can’t wait to see the photos of the 3 Queens in New York! My husband Alan and friend Terry are on board the Queen Elizabeth, so it will be great for them to see the photos when they come home next Monday. Thank you

  9. The new web cam and map showing the position is a fantanstic idea. Just over 400 hours before I join all you lovely people in Los Angeles and continue to Fremantle. I love my OLDE/TYME/NEW VOGUE(ENGLISH NEW SEQUENCE) dancing. Please let us have some 3/4 time,16 bars (JAZZ WALTZ/OLDE TYME WALTZ) dance music and less jam sessions and latin music. We all know how well the musicans play so lets have some fantastic waltz music for the guests that enjoy nice dance music to have a lovely (opposite sex) person in their arms. (Partner is not the correct word as we ALL do not have a partner).
    No I did not spell olde/tyme wrong, as that is the way it is spelt in Australia.
    Alastair, I love your tie. Do not change as that is your distinguishable point and I will try and match up with your tie.
    Marek Holden Brisbane Australia

  10. Tony Ennew says:

    Hi Alistair

    A great blog of the memorable evening on board QE. We thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle in the Grand Lobby and congratulate the ships company who worked so hard to make it all happen. The later three Elizabeths meeting was interesting despite the interruption that you will no doubt recall! Happy New Year to you and all the hard workers.

    Tony Ennew

  11. Kenneth Eden says:

    Alastair, as we all seem to say, lovely blog! Actually, if somebody placed a few of these photos in front of my eyes without my knowing these were Cunard,I would instantly know they were taken at a Cunard gala, one just knows.

    Dance partner, is just that. The term has been used for decades. Ever hear of Fred Astair and his dance partner, Ginger Rogers? It never was “Fred Astair and his opposite sex dancer, Ginger Rogers”.

    We will have Rona Barrett as guest lecturer during our Hawaiian Islands cruise. I know she will have some dirt to toss from Hollywood!!

  12. Kenneth Eden says:

    The web cam is working fine on my end of the cable – yoou amaze and delight with this blog, everyday it gets better and full of wonderful sights

  13. Richard says:

    the lights of Queen Victoria can just be seen ahead off the starboard bow of Queen Elizabeth at night.

  14. Sarah Morris says:

    I just love the new GPS tracking map next to the bridge webcams! I am following their progress into New York tomorrow. Wish I was there!

  15. Kenneth Eden says:

    This is for Marek Holden

    It is entirely possible that Cunard may have dance hosts on board your cruise and then you would have somebody to dance with!!

  16. Martyn & Diana Glover says:

    Hi Alastair,

    We were thrilled last night to watch the Queen Elizabeth sail out of Los Angeles (San Pedro) as we sat drinking our wine beside a fire pit at the Ports ‘o Call Restaurant, everyone on the patio understood our excitement when we explained that we were fortunate to be on her maiden voyage. She was magnificent as she sailed past and everyone agreed that she far out shown the other 2 other ships that sailed ahead of her. We wished we are on board. We are looking forward to boarding the Queen Victoria on Feb 17th for a cruise to Hawaii.

    We wish everyone on the Queen Elizabeth a safe and happy sailing on her maiden world cruise.

    Martyn & Diana Glover

    Martyn & Diana Glover

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