February 3, 2011
We Are Cunard
Thank you again for all your recent comments; January was certainly a busy month of Blogging with some historic moments for Cunard, starting with the magnificent Float at the 122nd Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, which earned Cunard the Queen’s Trophy. Then of course there was the unforgettable Royal Rendezvous in New York and the fabulous welcome and sailaway of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth in Fort Lauderdale. I know one or two of you were wondering when and where the next meeting of the three Queens would take place; well we’ll have to wait and see, but you can rest assured we’ll keep you updated on this Blog.
Thank you as well for the messages for guests who are travelling on board; we’ll certainly pass them on using the Morning TV show and I know a few guests have already been pleasantly surprised by them so far, so feel free to keep them coming!
For this week’s Blog we are going back to another very special event in January; Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden transit of the Panama Canal, but that after this week in Cunard’s history for the week of 3 – 9 February:
|4 February 1945||The Yalta Conference began, where Churchill used the Franconia as his base. The conference, which lasted one week, was held with Roosevelt and Stalin who looked at the post second World War|
|4 February 2007||Queen Mary 2 makes her maiden call to San Francisco|
|5 February 1840||The 1,154-ton paddle steamer Britannia is launched at Robert Duncan’s ship yard, and along with her three near sister ships, Acadia, Caledonia and Columbia, went on to make the Atlantic voyage in 14 days at 8.5 knots and maintain weekly departures from Liverpool.|
|6 February 1924||Aurania is launched in Newcastle and enters service as the second set of triplets of the A Class liner|
|7 February 1925||Alaunia at 14,040 tons, is launched at John Brown’s, Clydebank and enters service on the Canada route|
|9 February 1856||The Persia arrives in New York from Liverpool on her maiden voyage as Cunard’s last but one paddle steamer.|
|9 February 1951||Caronia makes her maiden call to Wellington, New Zealand|
|9 February 1983||QE2 makes her maiden call to Moorea, Tahiti|
In last week’s Panama Canal Blog, I posted some pictures from the ship’s perspective, so now it’s time for Queen Elizabeth to be the star with pictures of her throughout the transit. As the pilot came on board the ship to guide her through the transit, the pilot boat was then allowed to take a team of our photographers with it to photograph the ship from the shore side. My thanks yet again to Chief Photographer Petar Petanac and his team for these fantastic pictures, starting with Queen Elizabeth entering the first Gatun Lock.
And in answer to Judith Sayers question; the “little grey machines at the side of the canal” are in fact called Mules. You can see one in the left of this picture. While the ship moves herself ahead, the Mules help to keep her from touching the sides of the lock, which is a huge job in itself. Here are four more guiding the ship in to the locks, where you suddenly realize the incredible size of our Queen.
In the next picture Queen Elizabeth is being raised using the natural flow of water from one chamber to another, while our guests line the open decks watching this wonder of engineering.
Having passed though the Gatun Lake and the Gaillard Cut, this next picture shows Queen Elizabeth being guided by tugs in to the Pedro Miguel Locks, which begin the process of lowering her back to sea level.
In the background of this tremendous photo you can see the huge amount of construction that is taking place to build the new wider locks that will be ready in 2014. This will enable ships as big as Queen Mary 2 to transit the Canal, so that’ll be another great moment in history to look forward to when she makes her first transit.
Some locks have double gates, and the reason we learned for this is that they are a safety measure so that should a lock gate fail then the backup gate would prevent millions of gallons escaping out of the vast lake. Here you can see both sets in front of her can open now that the set behind Queen Elizabeth are firmly shut.
The final set of locks to bring her back to sea level are called the Miraflores Locks, and this is one of my favourite pictures which shows exactly what a tight squeeze it is for Queen Elizabeth to pass through.
Once we were through the last lock it was time for our photographers to rejoin Queen Elizabeth on the same boat that would take the pilot off. As they approached, the ship was just about to go under the magnificent Bridge of the Americas, so time for one final and stunning photo.
With that we had reached the Pacific Ocean and turned north towards our next port of call, Acapulco in Mexico. Last year we made a time lapse video of Queen Victoria’s transit from on board, so this year as promised we have made a new video which, this time, features Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden Transit from the shore side perspective:
I’m sure you’ll agree that was a fantastic video, and my thanks go to our on board Videographer, Drew Pyper from Goole in East Yorkshire who did a great job.
That’s it for this week but I’ll be back with more pictures from Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden World Voyage as well as other news from around the Cunard Fleet. Thank you again for logging on and all your great comments. Cheers for now, Alastair