January 15, 2014
Posted in: Insights Speakers
In our latest blog post, Maritime Historian & Author, and Cunard Insights Lecture, Chris Frame looks back on the first 10 years of Queen Mary 2, as we celebrate her 10th Anniversary…
Last week marked the 10th anniversary of Queen Mary 2’s introduction into Cunard Line service. The 151,400 gross ton liner marked the occasion with a call to Southampton; where her fleet mate Queen Elizabeth met her. The occasion was completed with a dramatic fireworks display.
Now on her annual world cruise, the beloved Queen Mary 2 is sailing into her second decade. But why is she so famous? Here are five reasons why Queen Mary 2 really is the most magnificent and special ship currently in service.
Reason One: QM2 is the ship that no one thought they would build:
Queen Mary 2 is a true Ocean Liner, built to the same high specifications as many of the world’s most well known vessels. Famous names such as Aquitania, Majestic, Queen Mary and QE2, were all true Ocean Liners.
An Ocean Liner is different from a cruise ship. Rather than being built to sail from port to port, Ocean Liners are built to undertake direct line voyages from point A to point B across a large expanse of ocean. In Cunard’s case, this was the North Atlantic Ocean, one of the most unpredictable oceans in the world.
As a result Ocean Liners are built to be faster and stronger than cruise ships.
By 1969, when QE2 came into service for Cunard, the era of the Ocean Liner was drawing to a close. Eclipsed by the jet aircraft, cruise lines turned to full time cruising. But Cunard endured, maintaining the ever popular QE2 on the Transatlantic Crossing.
Everyone thought the QE2 was the last of the great Ocean Liners. Then, in 1998 Carnival Corporation acquired Cunard, and announced their plans to build Queen Mary 2. The world watched in awe as the plans for this ship came together. The promise was for the longest, tallest, widest and most expensive passenger ship ever built! And Cunard was true to their promise. The first Ocean Liner built in over 30 years became a reality, despite what the critics said!
Reason Two: She’s the only ship of her kind:
That’s right; QM2 is the only true Transatlantic liner currently in service. For this reason, there are certain elements about the ship that make her unique.
Firstly, you’ll notice she has a very long bow compared to cruise ships. This is to help protect the superstructure from the ferocity of the Atlantic weather. There is a large ‘breakwater’ on the bow, designed to deflect waves away from the ship and its design is borrowed from the legendary Ocean Liner Normandie. In fact, Queen Mary 2 was built at the same French shipyard that built Normandie!
Queen Mary 2 is also a very fast ship. Her mix of diesel electric engines and gas turbines allow her to achieve a top speed of 28.5 knots. This makes her the fastest passenger ship in service today.
This speed means that even if she has to slow down during bad weather, she can make up time and get to her destination on schedule. There are very few late arrivals when sailing aboard Queen Mary 2!
One other thing to note is she is a very stable and secure ship. Her steel hull plating is considerably thicker than a regular cruise ship, while she has been specifically built for a stable ride, even in the worst weather. If you’re going to be in an Atlantic storm aboard any passenger ship, Queen Mary 2 is the one you want to be on!
Reason Three: The rich and famous love an Ocean Liner:
Throughout history, the rich and famous have loved an ocean voyage aboard Cunard’s Ocean Liners. In the 1920’s and 1930’s it was famous politicians, stage actors and royalty. Throughout the 1950’s it was Hollywood stars.
The same is true today. In fact, the allure of Queen Mary 2 started early when, in 2004, she was chartered for use as a hotel ship during the Athens Olympic Games. Here, she played host to the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and former US President George H. Bush!
Queen Mary 2 has also attracted a host of other prominent people throughout her first decade of service. Some, such as Archbishop Desmund Tutu have even participated in the world class enrichment programme aboard the ship!
And what else would guests expect when sailing on this great vessel? After all, she was named by HM. Queen Elizabeth II and carries the name of Mary of Teck (Queen consort to King George V)!
Reason Four: She offers experiences no other ship can:
From the very start, Queen Mary 2 was designed to be a unique ship and to offer once in a lifetime experiences to guests travelling aboard. This forms part of the design of the ship.
For example, she is the only passenger ship afloat that has a seagoing Planetarium – Illuminations. Here, guests can travel through space and time and learn new things about our universe.
As a true Ocean Liner, after dinner dancing is a tradition upheld aboard Queen Mary 2. To this end, the ship has the world’s largest seagoing dance floor in the Queens Room. Situated under two giant chandilers, this elegant space is the perfect venue to dance the night away. During the day, novices can learn to dance thanks to the assistance of onboard dance instructors.
Her “grand halls” on Deck 2 and Deck 3 are reminiscent of the grand saloons of Ocean Liners from a bygone era, while the ship was the first ever passenger liner to offer a seagoing version of the Canyon Ranch Spaclub.
And then there’s the WOW factor that this ship offers. She’s huge! At 151,400 gross registered tons, Queen Mary 2 is one of the largest passenger ships afloat, and certainly the largest Ocean Liner ever built. With her black hull, white superstructure and the trademark Cunard funnel, she certainly turns heads!
If you’re sailing on Queen Mary 2, chances are you’ll see a crowd of people gathering to view the ship as she arrives and departs ports around the world. Memorable occasions include her 2004 maiden arrival into Hamburg, where over 1million people came to see the ship – while in 2007, when Queen Mary 2 met QE2 in Sydney Harbour, over 2million people flocked to the city to view the two Cunarders together. The event left Sydney in a standstill with commuters unable to return home for hours!
Reason 5: The Commodore and the Crew:
Queen Mary 2 has been the flagship of the Cunard fleet since April 2004 when the ‘Boston Cup’ (a 2.5ft tall solid silver cup originally crafted as a thank you from the City of Boston to Sir Samuel Cunard) was symbolically transferred from QE2 to Queen Mary 2 while the two ships were alongside in Southampton.
As flagship, and as the largest liner Cunard has ever owned, Queen Mary 2 holds a special place in the Cunard fleet. Her crew and officers are extremely proud to serve aboard this great ship, and as a guest, you can see this pride everywhere.
From the genuine ‘good morning’ you get from your Stateroom Steward when you wake up, and Commodore Christopher Rynd’s noon-report, and regular walks around the ship to meet and greet passengers, right through to the silver service offered at Dinner, Cunard’s ‘White Star’ service shines aboard the Queen Mary 2. You really do feel like you’re part of something special.
To the future:
As Queen Mary 2 makes her way around the world, she leaves behind her a fantastic decade. In the past ten years, she’s made over 200 transatlantic crossings, offered unique and wonderful itineraries and created history on more than one occasion.
2014 will see her operating an extended season in Australia, while in 2015; she will play a central role in Cunard Line’s 175th anniversary celebrations. The future is bright for this great Queen!
Happy Anniversary Queen Mary 2! Thank you for the memories!
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