Posts Tagged ‘Cunard’

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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QM2 HAM-001Today, 23 May 2013, Queen Mary 2 arrived in Hamburg at lunch time (13.30 CET to be precise) which was a good opportunity for me to grab some of the live webcam footage. The journey from Cuxhafen to Hamburg at the leisurely pace of approximately 10 knots is a beautiful passage along small towns, ports, greens, marinas and islands in the stream. Sailing up the River Elbe, the ship requires two tugs, one at the stern and the other at the bow.

I will talk about the passage from Cuxhaven to Hamburg in more detail in a separate post, here I am uploading 3 short video clips I grabbed from 3 webcams in Hamburg which provide a superb view of Hamburg’s port.

Webcam AET Partners
ocated at Van-der-Smissen-Strasse 1, Altona Cruise Center
QM2 is passing Altona Cruise Center, Altona Fish Market and Blohm & Voss Docks.

Webcam Empire Riverside Hotel
Overlooking the stretch from Blohm & Voss Dry Docks to Landungsbruecken.

Webcam St Michaelis Kirche (Church)
Distance approximately 1km, takes a few seconds to start.
The footage gives a great impression of the size of the ship compared to her environment. Museum ship Cap San Diego looks like a dwarf against the black hull of QM2.

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Long Beach Rendezvous: Queen Mary meets Queen Elizabeth

Cunarders and ship lovers will gather in Long Beach, California tomorrow, 12 March 2013 for another “Cunard Royal Rendezvous”.  


After Queen Mary 2 (26 Feb 2006) and Queen Victoria 3 Mar 2011), the youngest ship of the Cunard fleet, Queen Elizabeth, and the legendary Queen Mary will make history when they meet for the first time  in Long Beach Harbour.  This is a rare event which will feature traditional whistle salutes between the ships and conclude with a fireworks display. Best viewing will be at the aft of the ship. The public is invited to join the rendezvous and watch the spectacle from aboard Queen Mary.

Adding to the significance of this event, this encounter will be Queen Mary’s first encounter with a Queen Elizabeth since 1967 when Queen Mary, during her final Transatlantic Crossing in Cunard service, passed by the original Queen Elizabeth on the morning of 25 September.

The approximate schedule has been announced as follows:

  • 6.30pm: Queen Elizabeth will sail into Long Beach Harbor
  • 7.30pm: Fireworks display

More information about the event can be found on Queen Mary Hotel’s website.



Everette Hoard, maritime historian on Queen Mary is excited about the opportunity to hold the welcome speech on board Queen Elizabeth which will be broadcasted aboard Queen Mary:

What a fantastic time this fusion of voyages past and present will be for the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Cunard. Those that witness this splendid day in history will undoubtedly carry the Queens in their hearts forever.

Everette was interviewed by KTLA5 ahead of the encounter. To watch the interview click on the photo:


Hopefully there will be more footage following the event. Some of my friends are going to be there for the encounter
and they have been tasked to take photos and videos. For those of us who live too far away to attend, there is a Long Beach webcam for a glimpse of the two ships

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This morning, I learned of the passing of Capt. Robin Woodall, former Captain with Cunard Line and Master of the Queen Elizabeth 2. He died after long illness.

Capt. Woodall started his career with Cunard in 1960 and is best known as a Master of the Queen Elizabeth 2 in the 80s and 90s. Many passengers and crew members remember him as a much-liked and highly respected Master of his ships. He was an imposing figure with an inspirational personality – pure Cunard! I am sure you will join me in sending sincerest condolences and warmest wishes to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with Richard, his son, and Kate, his daughter-in-law.

On a personal note, I am very grateful for his support of the Cunard Queens blog; when asked he didn’t hesitate to take the time to search his archive and write a post about the QE2 Bomb Scare in 1972. You can read his recollection of the event here.

In the previous months Capt. Woodall was campaigning for the Liverpool Daily Post ‘Get on Board’ cruise petition to  make Liverpool a turnaround port.  If you wish to support the petition, see  Daily Post’s special campaign mini-site here

Godspeed you,  Sir. May you rest in peace.



MERSEYSIDE’S most famous mariner, Capt Robin Woodall, is sounding the final siren call for readers to sign the Daily Post’s Get On Board cruise petition.

We want the Government to overturn EU restrictions on Liverpool Pier Head terminal which ban turnaround cruises (ie, starting and finishing) at the world famous landmark. The Daily Post’s Get On Board petition, already signed by more than 2,000 people and also backed by the Chancellor, George Osborne, MP, will be presented to the Government on Monday. It will be given in person at the Palace of Westminster to transport minister Mike Penning, MP, who is due to visit Merseyside soon. On his trip, Mr Penning will meet Liverpool City Council leader  Joe Anderson, who is a keen advocate for removing the turnaround ban.

Capt Woodall brought the Cunard flagship QE2 into Liverpool in 1990, to celebrate the company’s 150th anniversary.

I am backing the Daily Post’s Get On Board wholeheartedly, said Capt Woodall, of Hoylake.

It will bring shipping back to the Mersey in a way we have not seen for 40 years. Liverpool Cruise Terminal has proved that we can handle the biggest liners, like Queen Mary 2, on day visits.

The next logical step is to develop the port again as a major point of departure and return for cruises.

There is no point offering Langton Dock Terminal, as some cruise lines don’t want to go into the docks. Also, many cruise liners are too big to fit through Langton lock to reach that terminal.

This is why the new Cruise Terminal landing stage at Pier Head, the most famous place to get on a ship, must be permitted to handle turnarounds.

It is essential that we are allowed to develop again as the leading passenger port for northern England and Scotland.

Having cruise liners based in Liverpool will be good for Merseyside and the jobs it can bring.

These ships will need everything from replenishing stores to maintenance by Cammell Laird and a host of other engineering companies.

Capt Woodall started his seagoing career in Cunard cargo ships and switched to its passenger ships in 1960. He first served on RMS Sylvania, as junior third officer, on Liverpool –North America services.

It would be fantastic to see a Cunard liner leave Liverpool Pier Head once more on a transatlantic crossing. But that won’t happen unless this Daily Post campaign succeeds, which is why I’m giving it my fullest support, he said.

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I added a new video to my library which I’d like to share: Queen Mary 2’s departure from Hamburg on May 8, 2011 around 18.30 hours.

She visited during the annual Hamburg Hafengeburtstag (Hamburg Port Anniversary) which always draws hundreds of thousands of visitors. Every year, the Hamburg Harbour is honoured with a big birthday party which lasts over 3 days. Big cruise ships, frigates and steamboats can be admired during the days of the Hafengeburtstag and Queen Mary 2 is always the biggest attraction.

Sail away weather was perfect:  Sunshine – blue sky and a light breeze – thousands of onlookers lined they shores to see the ‘Mighty Queen’ make her out of the harbour towards the sea.

It’s a professional video by C)neworkz  shot from a plane, thus offering a splendid bird’s eye view of Hamburg and Queen Mary 2. It’s not a view you often get to see.

I was among the spectators too, positioned with my own camera at the stern of the paddle steamer ‘Louisiana’ which is visible in the video. On occasions like this I prefer the paddle steamer to the little barges simply because of the elevated stern which gives a much better view of the QM2. Still, you feel like David looking up at Goliath…

This year, Hamburg will be celebrating from May 11-13, 2012 and Queen Mary 2 will be in port on Sunday, May 13. For more information in German go to this link, for information in English click here.

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One of the most famous call signs in maritime history ceased to exist today:

Call sign GBTT.

Following Cunard’s announcement to re-flag their fleet and re-register the three Queens in Bermuda, QUEEN ELIZABETH was the first to change registry and subsequently call sign and flag: The new call sign is ZCEF2. Eventually the port of registry on the stern will change from Southampton to Hamilton.

Call sign GBTT is firmly associated with Cunard’s longstanding tradition to register their ships in England. No less than 3 Cunard Queens carried the call sign. GBTT was originally used for RMS Queen Mary. After her withdrawal the call sign was transferred to QE2, and following the liner’s demise in 2008 it was ‘bestowed’ on Cunard’s most recent ship, Queen Elizabeth who only got to carry it for one year.

  • Queen Mary: 1936 – 1967
  • Queen Elizabeth 2: 1967 – 2009
  • Queen Elizabeth: 2010 – 2011 


Queen Elizabeth leaving Southampton 23 October 2011 – displaying Southampton on her stern. This will soon be replaced by Hamilton. Photo courtesy Christian Reay, Southampton

GBTT has been in Cunard history for 75 years. Today is marking the end of an era, as her 2 sister ships will follow suit over the next few weeks:  QUEEN VICTORIA on October 27, 2011 and QUEEN MARY 2 on December 1st, 2011.

You can track the ship on Vesseltracker.

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Queen of the Seas 

Hearts will glow, with admiration,
When our new liner leaves the quay,
And the name, loved by the nation,
Will give her charm and dignity,
British labour gave its skill,
And it’s giving me a thrill,
Cause I’ve booked my trip forthe USA,
So when I go over the sea,
The Queen Mary takes me.
I’m happy and gay,
Cause I’m sailing away,
I’ve booked my trip for the USA,
On the finest ship in the world,
The Queen Mary, how’d you like to come with me?
The ship is all British, it’s wonderful too,
The ship is manned by a British crew,
So when I go over the sea,
The Queen Mary takes me,
There’ll be fun galore,
And people I adore,
That’s why I’m happy and gay,
Cause I’m sailing away,
On the finest ship in the world,~
The Queen Mary, Queen of the Sea.


Horatio Nicholls (aka. Lawrence Wright) certainly struck the right cords when he wrote the lyrics and composed the music for RMS Queen Mary’s Maiden Voyage in 1936. I wished I had a complete copy of this song.

You can listen to some of the words in this video clip of Queen Mary’s Christening: Doesn’t the song get you into the mood to pack your bags, step aboard, wave a flag, throw a garland into the big crowd onshore, listen to the band playing, all the while tug boats slowly move Hers Truly out of her berth; to embark on her maiden voyage, with the three massive one-ton whistles blasting the air and proudly flying the Cunard White Star flag?

The maiden voyage was sold out long in advance and included many celebrities. Even stowaways were caught during the crossing; one of them was Rohama Lee, daughter of Ida Siegel, founder of the first women’s Zionist group in Canada.

The ocean liner was filled with 2,000 expectant passengers and about 1,200 crew members. When she sailed out of Southampton on 27 May 1936, she was commanded by Sir Edgar T. Britten.

Click here to view Queen Mary leaving Southampton.


Her arrival in New York was a triumphant affair.

The Americans gave her a fantastic welcome, air planes flew overhead; one plane dropped thousands of white carnations on her decks. Admiring crowds watched her make her way to her berth as bands played her in and many paid a dollar to charity to see round her.


More original photos of the maiden voyage can be viewed on Flickr.


Queen Mary’s crossing time was 5 days, 5 hours, 13 minutes.

May 27, 1936:
Departs Southampton at 4:33pm, arrives in Cherbourg, France at 8:47pm and departs at 12:39am the following morning.

June 1, 1936:
Arrivals at Manhattan Pier 90, New York at 4:20pm.


On arrival in New York, each crew member received a pocket-sized  Bible containing the New Testament; I am very lucky to own a copy in mint condition:


Atlantic crossings always bring with them the pleasure of fine dining, and to meet the demands of a hungry and exclusive crowd, careful planning is required by the food and beverage managers  to make sure stocks are not running out before the arrival at destination. For the maiden voyage this was no different task, huge quantities of food were carried,  to list just a few: 

  • Fresh Meat: 50,000 lbs
  • Sausages: 2,000 lbs
  • Bacon and Ham: 9,000 lbs
  • Poultry: 20,000 lbs
  • Fresh Fish: 17,000 lbs
  • Vegetables: 50,000 lbs
  • Fruit: 30,000 lbs
  • Butter and Lard: 10,000 lbs
  • Eggs: 50,000
  • Ice Cream: 6,000 quarts
  • Potatoes: 50,000 lbs
  • Flour: 35,000 lbs
  • Wine: 14,500 bottles
  • Beer: 20,000 bottles
  • Keg Beer: 6,000 gallons
  • Cigars: 500
  • Cigarettes: 25,000 packets
  • General Stores: 200,000 lbs

On her arrival in New York where a special dinner was held onboard while docked in New York on June 3, 1936. Although there is no mention of attendees, the diners were probably city and steamship V.I.P.S. Imagine sitting down in the glorious First Class Dining Room and being served this:

  • Caviar de Beluga
  • Consommé Queen Mary
  • Homard Thermidor
  • Filet de Boeuf Pique Madere
  • Peches Elizabeth and Corbeille de Fruit

The drinks trolleys carried some fine spirits:

  • Pale Dry Royal Amontillado
  • Clos Vougeot 1923
  • Piper Heidsieck (1923)
  • Hines’ V.V.S.O.P. 

The menu has a sketch of the ship on the cover and one of the Statue of Liberty inside.

If you like to read more about dining  board the luxury liner, I recommend his very interesting post on http://shipspeak.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/dining-in-1936/.

Cunard has a long tradition of giving passengers a selection of souvenir gifts of the voyage; it is still done on the World Voyages and on cruises of special occasions. Ship memorabilia have ever been so popular, and hardly any passenger leaves ship without buying a trinket or other item that serve as a memory of the time aboard. During the maiden voyage, some of them took matters into their own hand and carried away various items that were not fixed and easy to hide in their luggage. It is reported that every ashtray aboard disappeared. The 2.5 million worth of gold bullions Queen Mary was carrying across the Atlantic however safely made it to New York.

One item that was highly sought after were first day covers: Post cards or envelopes carrying the date stamp of the occasion. Many letters actually show the date of May 26, posted by the sender in time so it would make it on the ship for its first journey across the Atlantic. The enthusiasm of the passengers meant that £1,200 worth of stamps were bought in the first three days, with one old lady writing over 100 postcards before departing from Southampton. Nor surprise the crew was struggling with the 6,000 mail bags the Queen carried to New York.

First cover letter dated May 27, 1936

First cover letter dated May 26, 1936

Post card stating S.S. Queen Mary instead of R.M.S. Queen Mary


Other items passengers could obtain in the onboard shops was china ware and glasses. One only has to look at the photo below to realise that not much has changed: Collectors go after all sorts of nick and Kitch and onboard shops make sure they never run out of the popular items. The photo shows a maiden voyage teapot which sold for 3,800 US $.  The rare teapot was made by the Midwinter Company, Burslem. On the bottom of the teapot under the glaze information is printed about the builder, launch date, test run date, maiden voyage date, passengers, crew and weight. The smokestacks function as handles for the lid while the glaze is hand painted. It incorporates on of the repeating designs on Queen Mary, the waves. You can find the wave pattern  in many places  on the ship and it is also engraved on the glassware. On today’s Mary, you find it woven into the pattern of the curtains and bedspreads used in the staterooms.


Below MC Turner painting was commissioned by Cunard. It has been reproduced numerous times on postcards, menu covers and in publications, and it is one of my favourite paintings of Queen Mary. When you compare it with a photograph of her sea-trials you can easily see why: Look at the spray from the  bow of the Queen and how it cuts through the waves. It’s a display of her speed and power.

 Queen Mary at sea trials in May 1936


Some of my favourite collectibles from her Maiden Voyage are shown below:

Illustrated London News was published on May 23rd 1936 just before the liner made her first voyage across the Atlantic. Within the pages there are diagrams of the ship in section and in detail; the history of Atlantic travel; pictures of the complementary facets of art and comfort which were united in the ship’ s accommodation and facilities; statistical details and the usual ‘amazing comparisons’. As a double page colour spread photograph of the ship at sea.

The souvenir booklet about the Radio Room is in remarkable condition and contains many photographs, facts and useful information about the radio room and its purpose.

Another wonderful booklet is this one about the cabin accommodations onboard. Again, many photos that show the original interior of the staterooms. The cover shows the wave pattern I mentioned above.

A booklet specifically about the Maiden Voyage:



To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Maiden Voyage, there will be a string of celebrations and activities including a fireworks display on Queen Mary  in Long Beach the weekend of May 27th. If you happen to be in the area, you might want to put on your tux or evening dress and join the General Manager’s Reception, Commemorative  Celebration and the Captain’s Dinner Buffet. It is recommended to make reservations, check out Queen Mary’s website for details.


If you are a shipnut like me but on the wrong side of the big pond this weekend, do it like I will do on Friday: Pop a bottle of champagne, sit back on your sofa and enjoy this wonderful film of the Maiden Voyage

The film was made  by Charles Chislett, the Bank Manager of Williams Deacons in Rotherham (later the Royal Bank of Scotland). The film runs 33 mins, is in black and white and a silent movie.

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