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