February 25, 2011
We Are Cunard
Thank you as always for all your great comments and feedback after what has been the most amazing couple of days in Sydney. I know many of you have seen some of the pictures, and we’ll be posting some over the weekend and again next week along with some video, so I’ll only keep you waiting for a couple of more days!
For this Blog we are going back a few days to Queen Elizabeth’s visit to New Zealand last week. This was of course before the devastating earthquake that hit the city of Christchurch. Cunard ships have docked in Lyttelton for many years, and I know how much our guests enjoy visiting Christchurch, so our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected by this terrible tragedy. A few of our readers have asked if our itineraries have changed, Queen Mary 2 will now call into Wellington on Saturday instead of Lyttelton.
Queen Elizabeth received a wonderful welcome when she visited the Bay of Islands, Auckland and Wellington, which I’ll share with you after this week in Cunard’s history for the week of 24 February to 2 March:
|24 February 1925||Carinthia is launched. She was originally going to be Servia, but the name got changed to Carinthia at the launch|
|24 February 2008||QE2 makes her final call to Sydney, Australia 30 years to the day after her maiden call. She meets Queen Victoria on her very first visit to the city.|
|25 February 1905||Caronia (sister ship to the Carmania) begins her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York, and together they are known as “The Pretty sisters” The funnel colours are changed from 1/5th black to 1/4 black. At 19,524 tons, she becomes the largest Cunard ship to be built.|
|25 February 1947||The Parthia is launched at Harland & Wolf Shipyard, Belfast|
|25 February 2010||Queen Mary 2 makes her maiden call at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea|
|26 February 1940||Queen Elizabeth slips out of the John Brown shipyard on the Clyde,and instead of going to Southampton as was the rumour, she left a few days later, without having undergone sea trials, and sets a course straight for New York and then in to service as a troop ship.|
|28 February 1952||HRH The Duke of Windsor sailed from Southampton to New York on Queen Elizabeth.|
|2 March 1950||Caronia transits the Suez Canal for the first time|
A very special event took place when Queen Elizabeth made her maiden visit to the Bay of Islands last week and she looked marvellous anchored in the bay.
The Captain and Officers were invited to take part in an official Powhiri. A Powhiri, which is pronounced Powfiri is a traditional Maori cultural welcome ceremony. It took place at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds which is New Zealand’s most historic site as it is where the nation’s founding document was signed between Maori chiefs and the British Crown in 1840. Interestingly enough that of course was also the year in which Samuel Cunard’s first ship; the Britannia sailed from Liverpool to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The grounds also preserve New Zealand’s first flag, which was in use for just six years.
It was a great day and one of the Officers who attended was Queen Elizabeth’s White Star Trainer, Emma De- Wilde, so I’ll let her take up the story of the day’s events;
White Star Trainer
I had no idea what to expect from the morning’s events, although Princess Grill Maitre D’Hotel, Patu Kerei was able to enlighten me on the way as he had attended a Powhiri before. He lives not too far from the Bay of Islands and was extremely excited as he was meeting his cousin. In this photo Captain Burgess is joined by some of the officers including, Patu, Chief Purser, Jonathan Leavor, Environmental Officer , Peter Hughes and Captain’s Secretary, Nicole Bruce:
On arrival at the grounds we were welcomed by a representative who explained the procedure of the traditional Maori ceremony and the history of the site. The sun was shining and I felt extremely honoured to be part of this special occasion. After taking in the beautiful surroundings, we made our way round to the very impressive carved meeting house known as the Whare Runanga where the Captain was confronted by the warriors and challenged to see if we came in peace or war. The Captain picked up the challenge dart (Rautapu) which is the sign that we come in peace.
Before entering the Whare Runanga we had to remove our shoes and ladies were not permitted to sit on the front row as “the men are known as the protectors”.
The ceremony was spectacular comprising of speeches (Karakia), prayers, songs (Waiata) and rousing war dances (Haka). I even warmed my voice to sing Jerusalem and enjoyed the traditional shaking of hands and pressing of noses (Hongi).
Now it was confirmed that the Captain and his visitors had come in peace, the atmosphere was relaxed and back in the grounds there was an opportunity for conversation and photographs with the warriors. Here I am with some of my colleagues on the day from left to right, Environmental Officer, Peter Hughes, Chief Purser, Jonathan Leavor as well as Julie Hughes and Mathias Theis from the Purser’s Office.
I can honestly say it was the most extraordinary, surreal experience I have witnessed and I thought only ceremonies like that were for the movies. I will cherish the memories of the day and look forward to sharing the history and photographs with friends and family back home.
Thank you Emma for another great report from the day, and yes what an amazing day it was. Two days later Queen Elizabeth docked in New Zealand’s largest city and home to about with one third of the country’s entire population, Auckland. The ship docked right in the centre of the city with its landmark Sky Tower only a few streets away. The view from the ship’s Bridge was incredible.
I was able to take the photo as I was on the Bridge to meet a special guest. I had received a message from Max Johnson, who told me he was an 18 year old studying to be an architect specialising in the design of boats.
He said that he had sketched all the ships that had entered Auckland for the last couple of years and having followed this Blog and Queen Elizabeth’s construction, he had drawn a picture of the three Queen Elizabeths and wanted to donate it to the ship.
That seemed like a great idea so we invited him to come on board to hand the picture over personally. Here he is with Chief Officer Denis Balic and Second Officer Chris Case.
And here’s a close up of his wonderful picture.
After the presentation Thomas Quinones from the Entertainment Staff gave him a tour of the ship and it was great to see how excited Max was to be able to look around the latest addition to the Cunard Fleet.
He wrote to me the day after saying:
“The tour of the Queen Elizabeth gave me an exciting insight into Cunard history and life. The Queen Elizabeth is the most interesting new ship to grace our shores and will be loved by many, certainly me. The tour from Thomas showed me a different side to cruising. That being aboard a Cunard ship, whether a passenger or visitor, you feel a part of something very special; an experience unlike any other. Unlike other ships, a tour aboard QE enables you to feel the 170 years worth of history displayed aboard.”
It was a great pleasure to have him on board and we wish him all the best in his future. Well, that’s it for this Blog but I’ll be back tomorrow with the first pictures of the Sydney Royal Rendezvous. Cheers for now, Alastair