The year 2008 was going to be an exceptional year for Cunard’s grand tradition which started nearly 85 years ago: Cunard embarked on two historic World Cruises in 2008:
Queen Victoria embarked on her inaugural 105-day World Cruise , a roundtrip from New York called the ‘Pathway to the Explorers’ voyage. Almost every port call was going to be a celebratory maiden call for QV.
Queen Elizabeth 2 embarked on her 26th and last world cruise, a 90-day ‘South America, Pacific & Far East Odyssey’ also dubbed Her Farewell World Cruise, which for the records, was not a complete cirumnavigation.
Both World Cruises offered individual segments for those who wished to explore a specific part of the world or those whose busy schedules rule out an around-the-world journey. It was also possible to swap ships during the voyage.
Queen Victoria’s 2008 Maiden World Cruise featured a total of five Segment Voyages, ranging from 13 to 22 days.
- Tale of Two Coasts – A 17-day voyage from New York to Los Angeles includes stops in Aruba, Costa Rica and Mexico, as well as a Panama Canal Transit.
- Pacific Seas and Sunsets – A 24-day trip from Los Angeles to Sydney, with stops in Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.
- Enchantment of the East – From Sydney to Singapore, this 23-day itinerary includes stops in Australia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand.
- Empires of the Exotic – A 13-day journey from Singapore to Dubai, with stops including Kuala Lumpur, Sri Lanka and Mumbai.
- Cradles of Civilization – Queen Victoria’s final segment is a 22-day voyage from Dubai to Oman and Egypt, through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean with stops in Athens, Naples, Rome, Barcelona and Lisbon, concluding in Southampton.
Likewise, Queen Elizabeth 2’s World Cruise features five Segment Voyages. They range from six to 24 days and include:
- Cape Horn Exploration – A 24-day voyage from New York to Valparaiso, Chile with stops in Barbados, Brazil, Uruguay and the Falkland Islands.
- South Pacific Serenade – From Valparaiso to Sydney, an 18-day sail with stops in Chile, French Polynesia, Tonga and New Zealand.
- Australian Adventure – A 14-day itinerary departing from Sydney with stops in five ports along Australia’s southern coast, continuing on to Singapore.
- Pearls of the Pacific – From Singapore to Los Angeles, this 21-day journey calls in Vietnam, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Japan and Hawaii.
- Panama Canal Discovery – Queen Elizabeth 2’s final segment is a 13-day journey from Los Angeles to New York, featuring stops in Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Jamaica.
There were a couple of highlights on this World Cruise, notably
- The joint departure of QE2 and Queen Victoria from Southampton on January 6, 2008
- The tandem Transatlantic crossing of the two Queens
- The historic Three Queens Royal Rendezvous in New York on January 13, 2008. Royal Rendezvous of 3 Cunard Queens, Queen Mary 2, QE2 and Queen Victoria on her maiden call to New York. Thousands of people lined the shores to see Cunard’s newest liner meet her sisters for the first and only time. Their departing together under a huge fireworks celebration at Statue of Liberty was a magnificent moment for any ocean liner enthusiasts. The rendezvous is very well documented on the 3 Queens DVD .
- The 2nd encounter of QE2 and Queen Victoria in Sydney on February 24, 2008 Sydney was the setting for a momentous meeting of two Queens as Queen Victoria made her first call into the city on 23rd February and was joined by her sister, QE2, on her last visit on 24th February. Thousands of ‘Sydneysiders’ turned out to view the historic meeting of two of the world’s most glamorous ocean liners in Sydney Harbour as QE2 sailed past Queen Victoria and they blew their whistles to mark the end of one era and the beginning of another.
I found a series of video clips documenting the entire QE2 World Cruise 2008 and I will be releasing them over the next couple of days in my video library. They were shot by Paul and Amy who started their World Cruise on the QE2 and transfered later to Queen Victoria. Here are the first 2 clips.