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A Royal Rendezvous – Queen Elizabeth meets Queen Mary at Long Beach

March 22, 2013


Posted in: Special Guests

On 12 March 2013, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary met for the first time in a historical Cunard Royal Rendezvous at Long Beach, California. More than 3000 people watched as the celebration began with a series of whistle salutes between the two ships, before a spectacular fireworks display and fanfare. Everette Hoard, commodore of Queen Mary gave a narrative of the ships’ histories from the bridge of Queen Elizabeth during the event – this is what he read out…

She would also become the fastest ship on the North Atlantic, vying with the French Liner Normandie for speed supremacy and the Blue Riband of the Atlantic.

The Queens were built for the arts of peace, to act as a mighty loom weaving a tapestry of goodwill & understanding between the Old & New Worlds. However, in the grand scheme of things, their biggest contribution and gift to mankind was to deliver a million and a half military personnel around the globe in the Second World War to defend the freedoms we cherish today.

Winston Churchill said “The Queens Mary & Elizabeth challenged the furies of Hitlerism and without their contribution final Victory would have been postponed indefinitely.”

After the war, from 1947 to 1957, the glorious sisters Queen Mary & Queen Elizabeth crisscrossed the North Atlantic on their appointed schedules many times sighting one another in mid ocean. This wonderful oceanic interlude was relished by passengers, captains, and crew alike for there was no finer sight than to witness the largest and most beautiful ships of that era in their natural element splashing the sea aside with a great bone in their teeth like thoroughbred Greyhounds. In the “Glory Days,” the Queens were the gold standard of ocean travel, literally paying for themselves every year.

The last time the two Sisters met was on 25 September 1967, in the small hours of the morning. Queen Mary, Eastbound and charging along at better than 28 knots was on her final transatlantic voyage in the Cunard service. In the cool, starlit, autumn darkness, Commodore Geoffrey Marr stood at attention on his flying bridge of the surging Westbound Queen Elizabeth; Captain Treasure Jones was in the same position on Queen Mary. As the two great Queens quickly closed on each other, the lights were flashed on, scattering the indigo Atlantic night in Cunard red; Porthole pearls were in regal array. Each captain doffed his hat as the mighty Tyfon whistles pierced a fantastic farewell salute.

So, it was the end of an era!

Or so we thought at that time.

The City of Long Beach California, with great fanfare and even an endorsement from Governor Ronald Reagan, purchased Queen Mary with a successful bid of $3.45 million dollars to become a hotel, maritime museum, and place for special events.

Leaving Southampton for the last time on October 31, 1967 with Captain Jones in command, Queen Mary embarked on her last ocean passage, an epic 39 day voyage of 14,500 miles with 1200 passengers onboard. It was called “The Last Great Cruise”.

Queen Mary arrived safely in Long Beach on December 9, 1967 to what must have been the finest reception for any ship in history.

She had an escort of nearly 5000 small craft. Captain Jones commented, “I could never imagine such a reception, I had no idea that so many small craft existed in any one area of the world”.

Photo credit: John Shearer for Invision

I stand here this evening not only with Captain Clark and his Officers who are all master mariners but with our pilot, Captain Mark Coynes of Jacobsen Pilot Services. It was a Pilot of this company that brought the majestic Queen Mary into Long Beach in 1967 as well as put her in her present location in 1971.

Always known as a happy & lucky ship among passenger & crew alike, Queen Mary’s compelling allure is unabated today. This brings to mind the prophesy spoken by well known English physic, Lady Mabel Fortescue-Harrison on the day of her launch in 1934 when she said, “Queen Mary will know her greatest fame & popularity when she never sails another mile or carries another fare paying passenger.” This has proven true as Queen Mary has been visited by countless millions since embarking upon her present role.

As a hotel and place for special events Queen Mary features much of her original décor. Known as “The Ship of Beautiful Woods,” her interiors are bathed in 56 different species of exotic wood veneers sewn from all over the British Empire. There are three award-winning restaurants, the Observation Bar which served as the inspiration for the Commodore’s Club in today’s Cunard fleet, a tea room, and 346 First Class staterooms including posh suites named after the famous travellers that once occupied them.

Possessing an almost tangible magic Queen Mary is said to be more than any other, “a ship with a soul.” Further underscoring the precious bond between Master & Mistress, Captain Jones would say of his beloved ship “She has character; she has personality, she even breathes. But above all else, she is the closest thing to a living being that I have ever commanded.”

Photo credit: John Shearer for Invision

Here we are nearly 77 years after Queen Mary’s maiden voyage and 45 years since Captain Jones sailed her triumphantly into Long Beach. We stand aboard Queen Elizabeth, the youngest Cunarder in the modern fleet, so elegantly appointed with every creature comfort imaginable, and so comfortable to travel in. I can say this first-hand as I have had the privilege to sail in the Queens of today.

Cunard’s renaissance is nothing short of remarkable. At the end of Queen Mary’s sea life, it was thought that the day of the big passenger ship was forever over.  It seems in some ways, history does repeat itself. It certainly has for Cunard, who are again at the forefront of ocean travel.

Cunard now has one of the youngest fleets at sea: the magnificent flagship Queen Mary 2, the stunning Queen Victoria, and this lovely new Queen Elizabeth. These splendid new Queens capture the very essence and character of a bygone era with all the classic décor, pleasing textures and classic Cunard-White Star Service.

Tonight belongs to Queen Mary & Queen Elizabeth, the most sanguine names in the history of mankind & the sea. Both old & new, long may they reign as the supreme expression of ocean travel.

To you, Queen Mary, the “Stateliest Ship now in being,”, we salute you, as you so proudly breast the ebb and flow.

To you, Queen Elizabeth, noble ship of the “Lion’s Cloth”, worthy successor to this beautiful name that is so much a legend of majesty on the Sea, we salute you.

On behalf of The City of Long Beach, Save the Queen, Evolution Hospitality and the entire Ships Company of the R.M.S. Queen Mary we send to Captain Clark, his officers, crew, and passengers, our most heartfelt welcome!!!

As Commodore of Queen Mary, may I send a special “thanks” to Peter Shanks, President of Cunard Line for this wonderful tribute. May you always have following winds to help your ships along.

I say this in the “Spirit of the Brotherhood of the Sea”

Long Live the Queens!!!

Thank you to Everette Hoard for sharing this amazing history with everyone at Long Beach. Here is a special video of the two Queens meeting for the first time…

The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.

  1. Good Afternoon,
    Thank you for sending me the email which I have just read, It is great to see all the ships together at long beach.
    I have sailed on QE2, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth and of course Queen Mary.
    I can personally recommend Cunard for a holiday as it is like going back in time but with all the up to date technology.
    Cruises are a must and really are not that expensive when you consider that everything you can think of is included, except for alcohol which I do not drink anyway. A cruise with Cunard is special from the moment you check in to the end of your holiday. I am disabled and Cunard’s staff are all so helpful. You should be aware you will probably gain weight on the cruise as the food is quite gorgeous. The White Star afternoon tea is a must for everyone, with gentle music playing such as a harp, violin or piano, together with a tea and sandwiches, scones and cakes much like the Ritz or in fact a little better.
    Keep up the good work Cunard.
    All the best for future cruises

  2. Betsy Samson-Andrews says:

    This is wonderful! You could not ask for anyone better to represent The RMS Queen Mary than Everette. His love for Mary and Cunard is unsurpassed!

  3. Rev. Alan Bruce Smith says:

    On my bucket list is a night on the old Queen Mary. My dad sailed on her in spring 1942 with the 1st Armored Division.
    Looking forward to our cruise on the QE in the fall.

  4. Cynthia Mable says:

    Truly fascinating sight! So glad I was able to take part. Great job, Everette!

  5. Beryl Moss says:

    A very interesting blog. Would loved to have been on board to witness the festivities.

  6. judith says:

    Excellent video, interesting to see the Liverpool registration name on Queen Mary. Looking forward to our trip on the Queen Elizabeth on 19th April.

  7. Zachary says:

    This history is truly amazing! These glorious ships meeting it indeed an historic and magnificent event! The classic Queen Mary and the modern Queen Elizabeth bring forth a wonderful look back in time and a window into the future of ocean travel. The two original Queens were an emblem of Transatlantic Travel and were the mightiest ships on the sea. The two ships bear historical names – Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth – and wonderful traditions of the sea! May the Queen Liners always rule the oceans and make their impression on history. Long Live the Queens!

  8. Well said young man! Zachary is just 12 years old. He and his mother have made 4 trips from Rhode Island to visit the Queen Mary in Long Beach within the last 12 months. They will be with QM again in mid April and are anxiously awaiting their first Cunard voyage on Queen Mary 2 in July. Cunard is growing an entire new generation! That is the magic of the Queens.

  9. My wife and myself were celebrating our golden wedding anniversary on this cruise with the meeting of the old and new Queens. What a truely wonderful start to our cruise. As always Cunard really do give their passengers a great show.

    \\\\\\\\\\Many thanks Cunard. Jean & Derek Gammon.

  10. Jorge Rojas-Chacon says:

    I was in Valparaíso, Chile, in november 1967, when the RMS QUEEN MARY called…………

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