White Star Service logo

Forever Cunard

Three Queens In Southampton – Marvellous…

June 11, 2012


Posted in: Forever Cunard

Hello All

Well the Jubilee weekend across the UK was indeed as marvellous as expected – despite our famous British weather. I am sure many of you will have seen the coverage of the events in London. The River Pageant was remarkable but very wet. To see all those boats on the Thames and the many hundreds of thousands of spectators was a treat – and thank goodness that the Duke of Edinburgh is back to his normal rude health after his short stay in hospital. The concert outside Buckingham Palace was terrific – not least for seeing our old rockers Sir Tom Jones, Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney doing what they do best. The staging, lighting and fireworks that were so impressive were put together by Robbie Williams. That is not Robbie the singer – but the very same Robbie who managed the naming ceremonies of Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth – put simply he is the best in the business and it certainly showed at the Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace.

And so to the Tuesday and our own modest three queens tribute to Her Majesty. Would it finally stop raining – no. Was it a success – yes. We have prepared a short video of the day – but before you watch it let me share how the day went for me.

Up early – at 0500 I was standing on the roof of our building watching our three ships come up Southampton water. When you organise a three queens meeting – this is our fourth – it is always a relief when the ships show up. I remember standing in the freezing cold in New York in 2008 thinking – where on earth is QE2?

At 0615 I was down in Mayflower Park in Southampton – it was amazing to see so many local people so early in the morning. We did live TV and Radio interviews and that was the point when I first saw our very large banner on top of Queen Mary 2 saying ‘Congratulations Ma’am’. It looked terrific and I hope that at some point Her Majesty is shown a picture of that – and our warm tribute to her Jubilee. There was some debate about the banner – but I think it shows that we have a sense of humour and it certainly made an impression.

At 0800 I was having breakfast with our Hotel Manager in the Officers Mess aboard Queen Elizabeth. Well – when you get up that early you can justify bacon and eggs.

Throughout the rest of the day I was able to visit all three ships.  For them it was a busy time – 6,600 guests disembarking and 6,600 embarking – and probably in excess of 20,000 suitcases to be looked after.

Throughout the day I kept wondering if the weather would stay dry enough for the Red Arrows display. By the time it got to 1700 and I was welcoming our VIP and press group onto Queen Elizabeth – we had lost the Red Arrows – they don’t do horizontal rain and wind. So –along with our 6,600 guests on the three ships – we had to settle for a lovely Cunard dinner instead.

The Red Arrows pilots were however keen to come and see Queen Elizabeth and have some supper. They had a busy day as they had flown over Buckingham Palace for Her Majesty earlier that afternoon. When I welcomed them on board the Grand Lobby was packed. I have to own up here to a very corny line – as I asked them to come and join me on the stairs below our wonderful Linley marquetry I asked them to do so in perfect formation, which of course they did. We gave them a lovely supper, they met lots of guests and much to their pleasure we showed them the engine room.

The last part of the day was the gathering of the three queens and the firework tribute to Her Majesty. I had mentioned in a speech to our guests earlier that evening that given the weather they would either hear or see the fireworks. Well – let me tell you – they were the best fireworks I have heard in a long time.

Have a look at our short video of the day;

As the fireworks finished, and we were standing on the top deck of Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 sailed past right in front of us. I have to admit that she is the most special ship in our fleet; in fact I would and could argue that she is the most special ship in the world. That is not because I am any less proud of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth; it is simply because Queen Mary 2 is the most awesome ship afloat. And on this special day it was a reminder that she and her sister were christened by Her Majesty The Queen. I was reminded of the fact that Her Majesty first experienced Cunard when she was just 12 years old. She was present as her mother christened our original Queen Elizabeth in 1938. And now some 74 years later we play our modest part in celebrating her remarkable 60 years on the throne.

Her Majesty The Queen is a remarkable lady – all of us at Cunard are proud to maintain our special relationship with the Royal Family and to be part of their considerable interest in all things maritime. I hope that all of our guests – and our bloggers – enjoyed our three queens tribute. It was the least we could do.

Best Regards


  1. John Titheridge says:

    Why was QM2 not the centre of the celebrations? I would have though she as the more traditional ship & most iconic would have been the flagship…I suppose the clue could be in the name of the ship.

  2. Pam Towart says:

    After watching the Jubilee celebrations on TV here at my home in Florida, the Cunard Three Queens celebration in Southampton was a wonderful conclusion to an entirely fantastic event week! Having been away from the U.K. 34 years I started to feel really homesick but also truly proud of England & all her people for honouring the Queen in such splendid fashion + kudos to Cunard for making it even more special. (And don’t feel too bad about the weather, it was extremely wet & stormy in Florida also).

  3. Paul Bird says:

    Have to agree with John Titheridge, above, I was surprised the flagship was not the centre of things – unless of course it was to do with the name. I was equally surprised also to learn that the Commodore of the fleet was not on board the flagship!
    I do occasionally wonder whether QM2 does not fit in the “Modern Cunard Image” especially as she seems to do so many more short cruises these days than a few years ago, rather than playing to her strengths and being given an itinerary with distances between ports that all other cruise lines would only be able to dream about reachable only due to her better cruising speed.
    Needless to say I was down in Mayflower Park at 5.30am and the sense of occasion was fantastic – perhaps we’ll have better weather the next time the three grand “ladies” meet up in July. Well Done Cunard!!

  4. Judith Sayers says:

    Great blog Peter. We were on QM2 for the evening sailout. It was a pity we could not see the Red Arrows, but the extra show in the evening made up for it. Keith and the team worked so hard to make it a special time for all. Lots of bunting, the delicious Jubilee dinner on formal night, and the groovy jubilee choir singing all the patriotic songs were just a taste of the atmosphere. Well done everyone, and thankyou for a very special memory. See you in September.

  5. Peter Shanks says:

    Dear John and Paul – we did not really have any one ship as the centre of attention, rather the three ships. We had our main external guests and the press on Queen Elixabeth as you rightly thought – because of the name. Queen Mary 2 remains the flagship of the Cunard Fleet. Commodore Rynd is spending sometime on Queen Elizabeth – as Commodore of the fleet he was keen to spend some time on each of the ships, The Queen Mary 2 remains his home ship – bur we are all delighted that Captain Chris wells is currently on Queen Mary 2 – so it works well all round. I hope that answers your questions. Best Regards. Peter

  6. Richard Conachey says:

    Great blog post Peter! I was also down in Mayflower Park early on the morning of Tuesday June 5th, after flying in from Ireland especially for the 3 Queens, Diamond Jubilee Celebrations (I’m a HUGE fan of Cunard). It was an amazing feeling as I watched ‘The Most Famous Ocean Liners in The World’, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth sail up the Solent to their berths in Southampton with each Queen sounding their whistles as they approached Southampton and passed each other in turn.

    Later on in the day I had the pleasure of meeting some of your amazing employees which made the day, that extra bit special and of course memorable. It was a shame about the weather which caused the Red Arrows’ air display to be cancelled but of course that didn’t dampen my excitement and enjoyment of the historical day. As the day came to an end, the fireworks display was still great to watch (despite the horrible weather and low cloud) and of course the 3 Cunard Queens, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth looked absolutely stunning all lit up as they towered over and departed from their home port Southampton!

    I’d personally like to say a special thank you to you, Peter and everyone at Cunard + all related for making Tuesday, June 5th 2012 such a historically memorable day. It was truly an amazing day and well worth flying over from Ireland for…..I’m really looking forward to seeing what other surprises and events you’ve got planned for the future!

  7. Kenneth Eden says:

    I enjoyed every waking minute watching the superb televisation of the grand Jubilee. Here in the United States there are many Anglofiles, and many that enjoy the Royals.

    We had stiffling hot weather here in Virginia over that long weekend. I also had a nice visit with friends from England who are not “Royalists” as they said, and they did not care to watch the festivities.

    Back in 1976, the Bicetennial year here, I had the grand occasion to come face to face with Her Majesty, as her limo stopped right at my feet, this was in Boston. I also saw the beautiful Royal Yacht Britannia from helicopter via a flight trip over Boston Harbor.

    This was a special weekend, for all in the world to enjoy.

  8. David Blackmore says:

    Dear Mr Shanks, My Jubilee celebrations 07:00 off to see the Thames Pageant, Tuesday 04:00 Calshot Spit to see your 3 Queens arrive about 06:00 to watch QM2 Sail pass Queen Victoria and Elizabeth and berth at Ocean Terminal by now I was soaked right through and didn’t care. 3 cheers for H.M Queen long my she reign and 3 cheers for you good self. I have only ever been fortunate to have a look round QE2 many years ago due to the fact that a company my mother worked for did a lot of the wireing for the internal telephones onboard. But if I ever win the lottery stand by for my booking. Wednesday a lay in then 18:00 to see the Massed Bands of the Royal Marines Beat the Retreat on Horse Guards Parade and I even managed time to see the concert on tv outside Buckingham Palace what a back drop the Palace made. Only we the British can do this. Well done to all concerned. What is Cunard doing for Her Majesty’s 70th?

  9. Vicky says:

    I was on Queen Elizabeth and had a brilliant time despite the weather, after it we are in England and get used to these things, Its a shame about the Red Arrows – Perhaps a reschedule for the 13th July would be in order i believe they are nearby at the Farnborough Airshow so a quick flyby could be possible ?

    It was a special treat for us having Commodore Rynd in command and we especially enjoyed the special Jubilee Dinner & Ball on the 6th


  11. Hello Peter,

    I love reading the we are “Cunard” blogs for news and events of our wonderful “Three Queens” especially when it involves a “First” which Cunard are past master’s of.

    One first, I and I’m sure many “Cunarders” would like in the future it at least one QM2 Transatlantic from the wonderful martime city Liverpool into New York

    Helen Gaskell
    West Lancashire Cunarder.

  12. Heelo Peter,

    To echo Vicky’s note – Perhaps Cunard could ask the Red Arrows to reschedule the “fly past” for the 13th July meeting of the “Three Queen’s” in Southampton?

    What a nice treat for all – especially as our family will be on QE sailing to the Baltic for our son Peter’s pre 18th birthday celebration!

    Helen Gaskell
    West Lancashire Cunarder

  13. kevin says:

    I enjoyed the day very much and am now on the Qm2 to New York,can you please answer me something?
    Bass ale has been served on the Cunard fleet for over 15 years that i have been going and to my horror is now no longer available and been replaced with Bodingtons.
    All i will say is my bar bill will be so much cheaper now.
    Not a happy passenger along with many others i have discused it with.
    please reistate Bass ale it wa the only pale ale ou sold.
    Hope you listen.

  14. Peter Shanks says:

    Kevin – thank you for the question on the beer we serve in The Golden Lion. We now offer a fine Draft British Bitter by the name of Boddingtons – and we do still offer Bass as a bottled beer. In addition, we have added another fine English beer by the name of ‘Old Speckled Hen’ which we hope will appeal to Real Ale lovers. The reason we moved away from Bass as a draft beer is that their distributors were no longer able to supply it to us in the UK. So – we still have good range of excellent British Real Ale – along with a wide range of lager and bottled beers. I hope that explains our ‘Beer Strategy’ – and the wide choice we have. Cheers! Peter

  15. kevin says:

    Thnk you for the reply and that does explain it but all the bar staff have told me they no longer carry Bass on draught, bottles or cans.
    If they still did bottles that would be great but they have all assured me they dont.(a great shame)
    Maybe its something you could find out as i know they can re stock Bass in bottles while we are in New York and we return on the 6th July.
    Again i thank you for getting back to me

  16. Mrs B Tobin says:

    Un fortunately we the passengers on the Queen Victoria not only missed the fireworks or their bangs but saw coloured clouds were not happy after standing in the rain on top deck waiting with good humour for the fireworks to begin, when the Queen Mary not only sailed up to us but passed us obscurring the view completely, what a wash out. I can accept the red arrows couldnt fly pass but surely the Queen Mary could have stopped half way to our mid ships and give everyone some view of what was happenning. A very disappointing start to our cruise which we had been looking forward to with great excitement because of the special Jubilee celebrations. Not happy.

  17. Janice says:

    I was on Queen Victoria and believe me Queen Mary 2 was the center of attention. Certainly for all on our ship we would have liked to see the fireworks if she was not in our way. I am not sure why publicity was more important than the paying passengers….Also considering our ship should have been where QE was as well….
    However I have to say that travelling all the way from Australia to be part of it all, we enjoyed the atmosphere, music and what fireworks we could see. The cruise was fantastic and sunny, with Captain Philpott being a lovely captain.

  18. Mrs T Rapley says:

    We were on board the Queen Elizabeth sailing in for the formation and thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle. However, some of our fellow Queens Grill guests felt that the onboard Jubilee celebrations were extremely poor considering the name of the ship we were sailing on! To this end, we were roused into action and held a Street Party in the Queens Grill – which was attended by the Commodore and his wife – this somewhat made up for the lack of official celebratory offerings! Thanks Rachel et al for your superb efforts and decorations!

  19. Elizabeth Spark says:

    Cunard rocks and what else is there to say!

  20. Brenda Thorne says:

    So much hyp about the day and contrary to what is said above not everyone had a spectacular day. Long queues in embarkation, getting wet having to walk outside in the rain to the gangways and then more queues. Suitcases arriving wet and to top it all, we were on the Queen Victoria, the QM2 parked hereself right in front of us and we did not see the fireworks except for a few that went high enough to be seen above the funnel on QM2. No compensation for missing the most important part of the day. Sorry Cunard but bad marks – “need to do better”.

  21. angela edmonds says:

    dear peter we went with our cruise agent as his guests along with his family members and selected fellow cruisers to see the 3 queens . we were lucky enough to be in the restaurant right where it was all happening, and have to say as the queen mary 2 rounded the corner of the harbour to join the other 2 queens it really was an awesome sight. we had pole position for the fireworks, incidentally amazing and the sailaway. we have been on the qe2 and the qm2 both lovely ships, albeit sad to see qe2 consigned to dubai, we saw her there and she looked sad! we will beback on qm2 soon in the meantime, well done cunard you did it again!!!

  22. angela edmonds says:

    dear peter we were treated to the cunard events by our cruise agent and were not disappointed. we arrived lunchtime and joined in the festivities in the harbour along with everybody else, the rain didnt deter us at all and it didnt even matter about the red arrows as we have seen them before, although i appreciate those that have not seen them would have been disappointed. later we went to a thai restaurant right on the waterfront in pole position. after our meal we went outside onto the balcony and saw the queen mary 2 sail past us to join the waiting queens for the sailaway a very impressive site. the fireworks were amazing, well done cunard. am looking forward to our next cruise on queen mary 2, she is our favourite. we always went on the qeen elizabeth 2 who in her day was beautiful, we went on her final cruise and have since been to dubai, she is immaculate still but looks so sad there on her own! well done cunard a lovely day.

Leave a Comment