Archive for the ‘Cunard Past Fleet’ Category

In the light of Queen Mary’s upcoming 80th birthday in Long Beach, California, CBS News America showed a short broadcast about Queen Mary called ‘A Salute to the Queen Mary’ together with an article on their website, which you can read here as well.

Fortunately for those who do not live in the States, the film has been published on YouTube:

CBS News Article September 21, 2014

he “Salute to a Queen” was once a newsreel staple . . . the queen in question being the fabled ocean liner “Queen Mary.” Long since retired, her many voyages still deserve a salute. Tracy Smith does the honors:

September 26, 1934: launch day for the pride of the British commercial fleet.

In the depths of the Great Depression, she was a symbol of hope.

The Queen Mary set a new standard for elegance, and was a favorite among the A-List: Bob Hope, Fred Astaire, Clark Gable.

She was the last word in comfort and style, and capable of crossing the Atlantic in record time.

And at the dawn of World War II, the Mary’s speed would, in a way, become a weapon.

Historian Everette Hoard, the Queen Mary’s Honorary Commodore, said, “Her top speed is about 32.5 knots.”

Compared to a surfaced U-Boat, whose speed would be 13-14 knots, or 8 knots submerged. “The Queen Mary was even faster than the torpedoes themselves, which traveled along about 25 knots,” said Hoard.

And so the world’s largest ocean liner became the world’s largest troop ship.

Bigger than the Titanic and faster than any German submarine, the Queen Mary was just the thing the Allies needed to take American soldiers to Europe. On one trip alone, she carried more than 16,600 troops — a record that stands to this day.

Every other week, the Queen — clad in drab gray war paint — would haul an average of 15,000 American GIs to Europe.

“It was very, very cramped,” said Hoard. “The men ate in two shifts down in the Grand Salon. A ham-slicing machine worked 24 hours a day trying to keep up with the demand for ham and eggs. Eggs were boiled in 55-gallon drums, with steam jetted up from the boiler rooms.”

The passage took about seven days, after which the Queen would head back to New York, and do it all again.

The Nazis were not amused. Adolf Hitler offered $250,000 to any submarine captain who could sink her . . . but she outran them all.

“Every U-Boat commander in the German navy would like to have sunk the Queen Mary,” said Hoard.

But, he said, she was never even fired upon.

In the buildup to D-Day, the Queen Mary carried nearly half a million GIs to Great Britain, among them Army Private Arnie Boots.

Like so many GIs far from home, Boots met an English girl, and promptly married her.

June Allen was 16 when she married Boots shortly before he shipped out for D-Day.

Smith asked, “And what was it about this guy?”

“I don’t know. There was two million GIs stationed at Cheltenham during the war. And you know, you’d see so many, but there was just something about Arnie,” she replied.

She wouldn’t see him again . . . that is, not until after the war ended, and the U.S. Army started shipping around 60,000 British war brides to their new lives in America.

June and her young son came to the U.S. aboard the Queen Mary.

“I was only 18 years old, and I had never been on a ship,” she said. “And I had never seen a ship that size in my life. I got out of the bus and I looked up, up, up and up. It took my breath away! I couldn’t believe the size of it.”

And instead of the cramped quarters their husbands endured, the war brides who came over on the Mary sailed in high style.

Allen said it was “a little scary,” but also exciting for the young woman to go to a new country. “Plus, being on the greatest ship in the world. It was so thrilling.”

For June, the voyage was an absolute dream. The reunion with her husband — not so much.

“I had never seen him out of uniform, and I didn’t know him,” she told Smith. “I thought, ‘Is that him?’ I’d been married to the man almost three years, and I didn’t recognize him. I thought, ‘Is that Arnie? Or isn’t it?’ That’s what wartime does.”

They settled in Indiana, and as you might guess, life in the U.S. took some adjustment.

“He was kind of a stranger to me when I first came over here, to be honest about it,” Allen said. “We were married 37 years. And like all marriages, it has its ups and downs. We didn’t have the happiest marriage in the world. We were kind of opposites in so many ways, ’cause we never got the chance to know each other that well.”

Her late husband is now just a memory. So, too, the Golden Age of ocean liners.

By the 1960s, jet aircraft had all but replaced ships for transatlantic travel, and in 1967 — with great reluctance — the Queen Mary was taken on her final voyage by Captain John Treasure Jones.

“In the older days the only way of getting around the world was to go by sea,” Capt. Jones said at the time. “But now you hop in these damn wind machines and you can go anywhere in no time almost.”

The city of Long Beach, Calif., bought the Queen Mary for $3.5 million, and on December 9, 1967, she tied up there for good — after having crossed the Atlantic 1,001 times.

Today, the Queen Mary is a floating hotel and museum.

But, for a ship that hasn’t sailed in nearly 50 years, she still has the power to move.

When asked what the ship means to her, June Allen replied, “It’s like me, it’s gotten old. But the ship is beautiful. I’m getting old, but the ship is still beautiful!”

And to others who sailed on her (or wish they had), the Queen Mary is not so much a ship as a shrine.

“The Queen Mary, being like any small town or city — children were born on board, and people have passed away, especially during the ravages of the Second World War,” said historian Everette Hoard. “It’s truly hallowed ground, she is.”

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Image courtesy Marc-Antoine Bombail

In the recent weeks, new speculations about QE2’s future arose, triggered by an article in the Daily Mail about the alleged sale to a Chinese investor and the possibility of her being scrapped in China. The rumour was further fuelled by the departure of V-Ship’s crew who maintained the ship since her arrival in Dubai 4 years ago and their replacement by a smaller Chinese crew.  The Daily Mail article spread quickly as other newspapers copied the article and various ship lover online discussion boards became busy with enthusiasts bemoaning the possibility that the liner could be scrapped and saying the ship should be returned to the UK.

In a rather unusual move for Cunard, the company issued a dementi on their Facebook site whereas  Istithmar, the owner of QE2 was unavailable for comments as usual.

Cunard Facebook Post 24 December 2012:

We have noted the messages of understandable concern with regards to the recent article in the Daily Mail with reference to QE2. We remain in close contact with Dubai and can reassure you that to the very best of our knowledge this story is pure speculation – one of a number of stories and rumours as we have seen over recent months. Our best advice would be to ignore the story.

Best regards,

Cunard Line

In the meantime a British Consortium presented Dubai with plans to bring the QE2 to London. Apparently the bid has been rejected by the owners, however, the campaign to bring her home to the UK has gathered momentum in form of a petition to the UK Government to support the efforts to save the QE2.

If you are a UK resident and wish to support the petition, you can do so by going to the e-petition website and completing the form. The e-petition will close on 07/04/2013 at 10:15 UK time.  Click here for the e-petition. Only UK residents can sign, however, any support to spread the word is highly welcome.  Note added 12 Jan 2013: The e-petition this post was originally referring to was taken down because it didn’t meet requirements apparently. I updated this post with the link to another e-petition.

For more information on the current situation of the QE2 in Dubai and the plans for bringing her to London, I recommend the following two sites:

The QE2 Story Forum: Click here for the most recent updates and discussion on QE2 London
Maritime Matters: QE2 in London 2013

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A new video has been added to them the Cunard Queens video collection: An 11 min. long promotional video of the Cunard Princess, which is very 80s. And yes, the young chap is Captain Robin Woodall.

Click on the logo below to watch the video.

The MS Cunard Princess was built in 1975 by the Burmeister & Wain shipyard in Copenhagen, Denmark for Cunard Line as MS Cunard Conquest. In 1977 she was fitted by Navali Mechaniche Affini n Italy and was renamed MS Cunard Princess. In 1995 Cunard sold the ship to Star Lauro Cruises (now MSC Cruises) who briefly retained her as MS Rhapsody, and later as MS MSC Rhapsody. Last year she was sold to Mano Maritime and is now operating as MS Golden Iris. A quick spin around Wikipedia reveals the following:

1977-1995: Cunard Princess

Like her sister ship Cunard Countess, at delivery Cunard Princess appeared in the traditional red/black Cunard funnel colours, complimenting a white hull and superstructure. In addition, a red decorative stripe was painted between the hull and the superstructure.

Cunard Princess set on her first cruise from New York to the Caribbean in March 1977, joining her elder sister MS Cunard Countess in the Caribbean cruise service.  At the time the Cunard Princess was registered in Southampton, but in 1980 she was moved to the Bahamian registry, with Nassau as her homeport. Later during her career with Cunard the ship started cruising around Europe, while the Cunard Countess remained in Caribbean service.

During the Gulf War the Cunard Princess was chartered to the United States Armed Forces Recreation Center as a recreational facility for troops involved in the conflict.The ship arrived in Bahrain on 24 December 1990. Initially the plan was to operate the ship on three-day cruises around the Persian Gulf, but for economical reasons she was instead permanently moored in Bahrain instead. Following the end of her service in the Gulf War, the ship was docked at Valletta, Malta on 23 September 1991. She re-entered normal service with Cunard on 19 October 1991.In 1993 the Cunard Princess was moved to the fleet of Cunard’s newly created mid-market subsidiary Cunard Crown Cruises, joining her sister Cunard Countess and three ships chartered from EffJohn. Cunard Crown Cruises proved to be short-lived and in 1995 the Cunard Princess was chartered to StarLauro Cruises, who were in need of a replacement for their MS Achille Lauro that had sunk following a fire in 1994. Initially the Cunard Princess kept her older name in StarLauro service.

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I am looking for an old film BBC produced some time in 1964 or around that time. It is called “Captain of the Mauretania “ and follows a voyage on board the Cunard liner from start to finish. It features Captain Treasure Jones. I know for sure that several VHS copied existed, one was in possession of the Captain  who used to show it in the 80s at his home. Does anyone have a copy of this film or know sources that might be of assistance. Please leave a comment or contact 3queensgirl@gmail.com.

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