October 8, 2010 – I had the date penciled in my calendar many weeks ago:
Queen Elizabeth Arrival Southampton!
After a long wait, the new Cunarder, already dubbed QEIII, was finally going to arrive in Southampton after completion of her very first voyage from the Fincantieri shipyard in Trieste, Italy through the Mediterranean Sea to England. As I don’t live far I planned to make the trip to the port to watch her coming in.
Much had been said and speculated in the weeks before her first appearance in the new home port, and not all reports about her exterior design were favourable. Despite some negative ‘pre-reviews’ about her Vista class style I was very excited about the new QE because in my opinion any new ship is exciting and good news: It is an indication of continuous growth in an industry that is providing work for many people. In the 80s I was a crew member serving on the QE2. Although I have left many years ago, I am very much attached to that important and extraordinary part of my life; I stay in touch with fellow crew members and take great interest in what is happening with Cunard and in the cruise industry. Therefore I wasn’t going to miss this big day. I made contact with two former QE2 crew members, Sean and Kenny, and we agreed to get together in Southampton.
Queen Elizabeth was scheduled to arrive in the early morning hours and dock around 9am. This meant a short night and an early start for me. I woke excitedly at 3.00am this morning and looked at the latest news on the QE’s position and contacted Sean via Facebook to let him know I would be leaving for Southampton at 4.00am.
With copious amounts of coffee from my pre-made up flask on the way and a short toilet/petrol break I arrived at the gates of the Royal Victoria Park on the East Southampton water at approx 5.30am.
I took position together with a lonely camera team, who were setting up their gear in anticipation of some great footage. Agreeable it was still very early but the best spots are taken quickly, so I was ready to defend my spot while waiting for my friends.
A hazy morning just added to the tension of the crowd as we strained to get the first glimpse. She peered through the mist about 7.00am and there was a sharp intake of breath from the now 30 or so people in our small viewing area.
Slowly peering through the mist: The new Queen Elizabeth
The fog did not lift until much later which unfortunately did not allow for clear photo shots, besides I was too excited to watch the ship sail past and take in the atmosphere. I took a short video which I posted on Youtube:
Cunard’s Newest Cruise Liner “The Queen Elizabeth” sails into Southampton Waters at about 7.30am on the 8th October 2010. Video taken from The Royal Victoria Park.
The QE sounded her horn while making her way into port and she was greeted enthusiastically by a large crowd who gathered along the quays and in the parks. She did a bit of parading up and down in front of Mayflower Park before she docked at the Cruise Terminal.
View from the Royal Victoria Park.
It was a great atmosphere throughout the morning amongst the enthusiasts, some who had traveled from Europe and the USA for the event. As I think we were the only ex-QE2 crew members we were given a lot of attention by some of the crowd and had plenty of volunteers to take our group photo.
Ex QE2 crew members Kenny, Steven and Sean.
Around 10am it was time to leave and get ready for work, a long day was lying ahead of me, accompanied with many more cups of coffee to keep me awake, but it was worth it.
It was a historic moment for Cunard and the cruise enthusiasts and Sean, Kevin and I happy to be part of it.
I very much enjoyed the opportunity to catch up on the latest news and gossips and to relive some of the great moments we had onboard QE2. We were proud to service on such a grand ocean liner and I am sure the new crew that has or will shortly be boarding Queen Elizabeth will feel the same pride as they become a part of a distinguished cruise line company and their ships.
I wish Queen Elizabeth and her crew all the best, a successful Maiden Season and Godspeed to anyone sailing on her.