April 14, 2015
Posted in: Forever Cunard
In this blog, Maritime Historian Chris Frame shares stories from this year’s world voyages.
Cunard has had a long connection with Australia.
Cunard ships carried Australians to and from both world wars and rescued servicemen from the battlefield as hospital ships. This service forged a bond between Cunard and the nation that endures to this day.
In happier times, Cunarders have been visiting Australia on world cruises each year since Laconia in 1922, building a strong connection with the country. QE2, Sagafjord and the current Queens have been regular visitors to our shores over the past four decades.
The 175th anniversary of Cunard is a particularly important milestone for the line and its Australian connection, which was celebrated during this years world cruises.
2015 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli landings of World War I. To mark the occasion, the first Cunarder to arrive in Australia this year – Queen Elizabeth – paid tribute to those who lost their lives during the campaign.
A large symbolic “100” sign was installed at the Circular Quay passenger terminal while Queen Elizabeth was alongside in Sydney. During her stay, passengers, crew and Sydneysiders paid their respects by placing poppies onto the sign.
It was then brought aboard the vessel and is being transported to Gallipoli in time for the 100th anniversary of the landings.
In Sydney on 12 March a historic occasion took place when Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 rendezvoused in the harbour. The first time these two Cunard Queens have met in the city, it was the fourth royal rendezvous of the modern Queens in Sydney; the first being the meeting of QE2 and QM2 in 2007.
During this year’s rendezvous people in Sydney had the opportunity to see the two ships at close quarters; QM2 at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay, and Queen Victoria anchored off Athol Buoy near Fort Dennison.
Ashore at the Sydney Opera House, a special event marked the 175th Anniversary of Cunard. Named “One-Seven-Five”, the event saw an unveiling of photographs that showcased the 175 years of Cunard. Photographer James Morgan took the majority of the images, many of which captured the essence of today’s Cunard, over a 175-hour period aboard all three Queens. These joined several historic images from QE2 and the original Queens to complete the collection.
The rendezvous was marked by a special charter cruise aboard the Sydney Ferry James Cook III. Aboard was a group of 100 enthusiasts from the Australian National Maritime Museum. I joined them and gave a two-hour commentary about Cunard, the Queens and the importance of the line’s 175 years of service.
That evening QM2 and Queen Victoria set sail for New Zealand but not before a celebratory fireworks display to end what had been a memorable and historic day. While in New Zealand the two ships met again in Auckland, the first time since World War II that two Cunard Queens had shared that harbour.
QM2 Returns to Australia:
After a fortnight in New Zealand, Cunard’s flagship returned to Sydney to continue her Australian season. Berthed once again at the Overseas Passenger Terminal she embarked 1,900 guests (mainly Australian) for the voyage westward.
The first call was Melbourne. Berthed at Station Pier many passengers caught an iconic Melbourne Tram to the city. It was here that I boarded the ship – I was traveling to give a series of Cunard insights lectures about Cunard’s 175th anniversary.
During this call I escorted two local TV stations around the ship. The interview from Channel Seven Melbourne can be seen here. It’s safe to say the news crew were very impressed with the ship and wished they were sailing away with QM2!
Later that day the ship set sail. A large crowd of Cunard enthusiasts and local Melbourne residents had gathered to see us off. As the sun set QM2 was making her way towards open sea and aboard we were all enjoying the festivities of the on deck sail away party.
The first day at sea was a special one for me as our new book, 175 Years of Cunard was for sale in the ship’s bookshop. Hot off the press, this was the first time we had seen the book in print. 300 advance copies were sent direct to QM2 and it was extremely exciting to see it for sale!
My first lecture in the stunning Illuminations was at 3:30pm. It attracted a full house crowd and covered the early years of Cunard including ships such as Britannia, Carmania, Lusitania and Mauretania.
A book signing at the library and drinks in the Chartroom to celebrate the book launch was a great way to spend the evening, followed by a delicious dinner in the Britannia Restaurant.
Later that evening we all enjoyed a show in the Royal Court Theatre with New Zealand Singer Russell Harrison – his performance was excellent and received a standing ovation from those in the audience.
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The next day saw QM2 docked in Adelaide. She was the biggest of 32 cruise ships to visit Adelaide this season and attracted a lot of attention with large crowds in the port to see the ship.
Again the news crew were very impressed by Queen Mary 2. The tour took in the magnificent grand lobby, Queens Room with the largest ballroom at sea, and the Canyon Ranch Spaclub with it’s impressive thalassotherapy pool.
Once the filming was complete, it was time to check out Adelaide before returning to the ship that evening.
Check back here in the coming weeks to see Part 2 of this blog – Adelaide to Fremantle.