January 21, 2011
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Updates
Thank you again for all your wonderful comments, they are always appreciated. It’s great to hear how many readers were able to watch the excitement of New York from various vantage points around the harbour.
Before we get to the celebrations of Queen Elizabeth making her first call to Florida, I’d like to share some more exciting news worth celebrating.
I have just found out that Cunard has been voted best cruise line for 2011 by cruise passengers, according to a survey released this week. The Cruise Passenger Ratings Survey includes 8,500 new passenger reviews since January 2010, with details on what passengers think about their cruising experience. Cruise passengers were asked to rate operators and their ships in eight different categories, including best cruise line, best ship, best food and best entertainment. It is the third year running that Cunard has topped the list as best cruise line, with Queen Victoria voted as best ship. Queen Victoria was also recognised as having the best food, and best shore excursion.
Maiden calls to ports are always fun and exciting, and of course every port on Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden World will be the first. Last Sunday she made her maiden visit to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She was joined by her sister ship, Queen Victoria, who has been sailing alongside our new Queen ever since they left Southampton together on 5 January. This however was the last time they would be together until next summer so it was a special day. This was the lovely view over the harbour from Queen Elizabeth’s upper decks:
As usual there is a traditional Plaque Exchange ceremony, where the local authorities and guests officially welcome the ship to their port. Welcoming Queen Elizabeth to the port that serves Fort Lauderdale was the honourable Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler, along with travel agents, media and dignitaries. Mayor Seiler said:
“The City of Fort Lauderdale is honored to welcome Queen Elizabeth to Port Everglades. We recognise that the cruise industry is one of greater Fort Lauderdale’s leading economic engines, generating more than $1.3 billion in annual economic activity for our region. Being part of Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden World Voyage is an historic milestone for our city and reaffirms Port Everglades’ position as the world’s top cruise port. We wish her well as she continues her journey, and look forward to welcoming this majestic vessel back to our city on future voyages.”
As the traditional plaques were exchanged, Captain Julian Burgess, Master of Queen Elizabeth, responded by saying:
“We are delighted by the warm welcome we received today by the popular cruise port of Fort Lauderdale, and look forward to the further grand celebrations as our newest Queen continues her inaugural calls on her Maiden World Voyage,”
After a great day in this wonderful port, and welcoming two hundred embarking guests, we all gathered on deck to see a very special Sailaway. Fortunately we had a photographer in a helicopter to capture the moment and certainly the Port Authorities did us proud with fire tugs guiding Queen Elizabeth out from her berth which was located right next to her sister.
Queen Elizabeth then started to make her way past the condominiums at the entrance of the harbour and she certainly looked regal as everyone cheered and waved to the local residents on their balconies.
There is a fantastic Fort Lauderdale tradition where the departing ships are acknowledged by horns, cheers and waving flags from the enthusiastic residents. As our guests also started waving flags, it was great to see British and Cunard flags on many of the balconies giving us a fitting send off.
Then we all looked back, as the sun began to set, to see Queen Victoria start to move away from her berth and then follow us towards the open seas with many well wishers in small crafts to see her off.
As Queen Elizabeth headed to Curacao and Queen Victoria set a course for Bonaire, there was one last opportunity to photograph the sisters together – well for the moment anyway.
What a fantastic picture as both ships continued their voyages and enjoy a few days in the Caribbean before heading through the Panama Canal and then up towards Mexico and America’s west coast.
I’ll be back next week with more news from Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden World Voyage as well as a celebration of all three Queen’s Stars of the month for January. On Monday I also have a special Blog about a fascinating lecturer who was recently part of the Cunard Insights Programme on Queen Elizabeth. Cheers for now, Alastair