February 27, 2011
We Are Cunard
Corporate Communications Manager
Australia is a very important market for Cunard Line but we now have an even better idea of just how deep and abiding that bond is following the historic Royal Rendezvous in Sydney of Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth on February 22-23.
The dual visit of Cunard Line’s flagship and the maiden visit to Sydney of Queen Elizabeth on her inaugural World Voyage recalled an earlier Royal Rendezvous when the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth met in Sydney on April 9, 1941.
Our Sydney visit was very busy farewelling our Australian guests and welcoming many more on board along with the customary visits by travel agents and media conferences.
We also had a major charity event on board Queen Elizabeth for The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, an holistic cancer treatment centre being established in memory of a revered Australian doctor.
Over at Queen Mary 2, preparations were being made for a moving remembrance service and lunch being held the following day in honour of ‘Australia’s Finest Generation’, which recalled the earlier Royal Rendezvous.
Around 50 former Australian soldiers and airmen now aged in their eighties and nineties, who sailed to war on the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, came on board Queen Mary 2 for the service and lunch in their honour.
Queen Mary visited Sydney 13 times during the war and Queen Elizabeth was there on nine separate occasions to carry military personnel to the Middle East and Singapore. The ships became known as the ‘grey ghosts’ because of their dull grey wartime paintwork
Many of the veterans who came onboard Queen Mary 2 this week sailed from Sydney following the earlier Royal Rendezvous in April 1941. We also welcomed a special guest – a 92 year old Australian air hero who returned from the war known as the ‘man who saved Queen Mary’.
Cyril Burcher, a former Royal Australian Air Force pilot was decorated for an encounter in the North Atlantic when he saved Queen Mary from being attacked by a U-boat while he was flying on escort duty on June 12, 1943, here he is with Peter Shanks:
As we discovered during the recent Royal Rendezvous in Sydney, thousands of Australian families have a strong emotional bond with ships of Cunard Line, both past and present, because of the historic events that were commemorated as part of the visit by Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth.
Cunard Line President and Managing Director, Peter Shanks, said at the remembrance service that it was now possible to reflect on the human cost on all sides of a conflict that no one would want to see repeated.
Thank you for a great guest blog David, we will have more updates and photos from the events in Sydney from our President and Managing Director Peter Shanks next week.