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The Largest Ensign in the World?

June 24, 2011

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Updates

Queen Mary 2 is here in her home port of Southampton today and she will be leaving later this afternoon, heading across the Atlantic to New York. Our guests embarking today will be joined by a rather special group of song writers as part of our Professional Insights series. They will be able to  take part in workshops with Chris Difford, Simon Hanson and John Bentley from Squeeze, Angie Pollock from Lightning Seeds and Geoff Martyn from Travis. They will also have the chance to record their song to CD at the end of the voyage! Our first songwriting voyage on board Queen Mary 2 was a real success and Chris Difford will be sailing on board our flagship several times this year. So, if you’d like to find out more about the songwriting voyages you can click here: www.cunard.com/songwriting

On other news from Queen Mary 2, I received a note from Deputy Captain Dariusz Gozdzik with a very interesting story from her previous Transatlantic Crossing. Darius met Mr Patrick Chisholm of the Isle of Wight, who brought with him a blue ensign from the original Queen Mary, which he bought at auction some time ago.  The flag measures 18 feet in the hoist and 36 feet in the fly, making it overall 72 square yards. He thought that this made it the largest maritime flag in the world.  He spoke of the privilege of wearing the Blue Ensign on Queen Mary stemming from her, and her consort  Queen Elizabeth, troop carrying duties during World War II.

He asked if we could fly it – which we were honoured to do one afternoon in the North Atlantic. It was a great privilege to celebrate its maritime historical credentials in that way. The flag is made of traditional bunting and so, unlike modern flags, flies silently.

So, what do our readers think? At 72 square yards, could this be the largest ensign in the world?

  1. Anthony Jr says:

    Certainly looks it to me, and it is fitting that this Ensign that once graced the stern of the original mary, now honors the stern of the New Mary, and they both are leviathons in their categories, World’s Lrgest Ocean Liner, and World’s Largest Ensign (Probably) :)

  2. Chris & Margaret Rose says:

    Hi Peter,
    What a great blog showing the original blue ensign.
    Best regards

  3. Roger Waterfall says:


    If Cunard are ever short of a songwriter, I heard one last night at the Grassington Festival.
    Edwina Hayes. She has opened concerts for stars such as Nanci Griffiths, who describes her as “The sweetest voice in England”, Jools Holland, Van Morrison and K T Tunstall.
    As for her songwriting, The Guardian review “Haunting honeyed solo songwriter” and Michael Parkinson “a very talented young lady”. More information http://www.edwinahayes.com

    I enjoy your blogs, especially when such historical Cunard artifacts as the ensign feature, fascinating.
    Bunting flies silently, didn’t learn that in my Physics lessons, interesting.

    I mentioned to another Cunard ‘fan’ that I was interested in historical artifacts.
    He had been told that when Cunard moved out of the Liverpool building, there were skips full of everything from labels to model ships. What a shame but I suppose it was impossible to move the contents of such a large building, into the new Southern head office.

  4. David A. Walker says:

    Hello again Peter,

    Patrick’s impressive Blue Ensign has now graced two very impressive ships but its not the world’s largest maritime ensign. Navies during the great days of sail had much smaller ships but flew even larger battle ensigns. They displayed national prides, and had a possibility of being seen through the gun-smoke and fires of battle. For example:
    Royal Navy: 20 x 40 feet, or almost 89 sq. yards.
    Genereux, French Nay: 27 x 52 feet, or 156 sq. yards. But most impressive
    San Ildefonso, Spanish Navy: 32 x 47 feet that’s a very impressive 167 sq. yards, this ensign is held in the National Maritime Museum in London.

    None of these banners are flying however and and Patrick’s ensign graced the stern of QM2 just the other day – impressive.



  5. Anne English says:

    Whats happened to the webcams on the main Cunard site. They appear to be frozen in time!

  6. Gerald says:

    Hello Mr. Peter Shanks,

    I love to read anything about Queen Mary 2, it is so good to know something about Queen Mary 2. I’m wishing to become a guest or a crew someday. Thank you for sharing this blog and open to all.



  7. Beryl Moss says:

    Good Evening Peter I wonder if you have any comments on the unfortunate article in the national press over the weekend regarding Queen Mary 2. I am a dedicated Cunard guest and was amazed to read this.


    Beryl Moss

  8. S. Nicol says:

    Oh dear! I have just looked at the press reports and the CDC report on their website – over 40 items listed requiring attention. Some may simply have been poor recording of food hygiene processes, but some things sound terrible. Like Beryl I am a loyal devotee of Cunard – thanks to the QE2 – but I hope all three ships are tightening up on crew training to avoid a fall in your high standards.

  9. Thomas Bozek says:

    I too read the recent articles on the failure of QM2 to pass the health inspections. I must say as a loyal passenger of QM2 since 2005, having just completed the World Voyage – we have noticed a measurable declind in the standards. Poor quality of food, staff being overworked, even in the Queens Grill – which we always travel, the standards have declined significantly – if Cunard keeps up with the “Carnival” mentality, they will lose their “bread and butter” loyal customers in the the US and UK. It took me 3 weeks to get the staff to put a sign on the water cooler in the gym asking people not to refill used water bottles – which was largly ignored as it was in the Kings Court. The cutbacks in staff lead to lack of enforcement of the rules, which endangers the health and safety of all passengers. It is also appalling to see people in shorts and filp-flops in the theater and public areas on formal nights. The constant discounting of fares just to fill ships are luring customers to Cunard who do not apprreciate and upscale cruise environment – it is too much Carnival and not enough Cunard. This was the opinion of about 90% of those we spoke with – Peter – you alwyas boast about how great Cunard line is – look a little harder – the Queen is worn and dowdy and in need of a significant makeover – we are most disappointed, we are booked again in summer of 2012 – but are becoming more doubtful every day. Sad to see this decline – it is so hard to win back your good reputation once it has slipped! Also – why has the comment section been turned off on the blog since the bad reports of QM2???

  10. Bill Bradbury says:

    Peter, the comments above especially by Thomas Bozac, do need some informed answers. Those of “We Cunarders” who comment on the Cruise Review site regularly try to answer complaints and defend Cunard, roughly on the lines mentioned above. Are corners being cut? Has the menu and food procurement/portions have succumbed to “the accountants”. Is Cunard “morphing” into Carnival and other cheaper lines? As to the QM2 it is in for a refurb this year and not before time as we experienced a number of serious breakdowns last year which appeared to me that the ship was being “flogged to death”. Cunard is always associated with the best but if more people discern little difference or even worse than P & O then that will be our next cruise and at a much cheaper rate. I do suspect that with the Elizabeth arriving probably the “best” of the other two ships have been moved and new staff need training in the “Cunard Way”.
    So let us have it from the “horses mouth” as they say.

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