Two Queens Hook Up In California

two queensNot even close to what the headline could be misconstrued as, two queens from Cunard Line, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary met for a historic Cunard Royal Rendezvous. What’s significant is that one is now a hotel while the other is a cruise ship. Thousands of travelers from all over the world were on hand for the event and fireworks ensued.

Fans of Cunard Line (called Cunarders) and maritime history buffs lined the shores of Long Beach Harbor for the event as the Goodyear blimp hovered overhead and the two ships exchanged a traditional whistle salute.

The Players
Queen Mary entered service as a passenger vessel in 1936 as the grandest, fastest ocean liner in the world. Sailing through WWII as a troopship, Mart transported as many as 16,000 soldiers at a blazing 30 knots (cruise ships today do 20-something). Queen Mary went back into passenger service after the war until 1967 when she became a “floating hotel,” parked in California ever since. A new Queen Mary 2 honors the original, designed for transatlantic crossings.

Much younger Queen Elizabeth, launched in 2010, is also the new version of a ship previously holding the same name. While capable of transatlantic crossings, this ship lacks the heavy plating on her hull and the propulsion system of Queen Mary 2. Still, the 90,000+ ton ship will carry over 2,500 passengers.

Mary and Elizabeth are two of the three Cunard Line queens. The other sister is Queen Victoria. Cunard Line is a member of the Worlds Leading Cruise Lines, Carnival Corporation-owned cruise lines that include Costa Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn and Carnival Cruise Lines.

The Event
A narrative of the ships’ histories was simulcast on both ships and ashore by Everette Hoard, commodore of Queen Mary who called the two queens, “the most famous ships since Noah’s ark,” in the video below.

This is not the first time Gadling has reported queens hooking up in a historic way. “There Will Be Three Queens In New York Today” told of Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, meeting in New York for the first time in 2011. But that too was not the first meeting of Cunard queens.

“In January 2008, Cunard Line’s first Rendezvous of their three Queens took place. It was quite exciting as it was the first time Cunard had three ships with Queen in the name and all three were together,” said cruise industry expert Stewart Chiron CEO, CruiseGuy.com

Also of historic significance, this is not the first time for a rendezvous between queens named Mary and Elizabeth. The original meeting came during the original Mary’s last transatlantic crossing before being transformed into a hotel.



[Image credit – Cunard Line]

Queens To Meet In London For Big Event

Buckingham Palance big eventThis June 5 is a big event in the UK as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 60 years on the throne. Cunard Line will bring Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations to a close with the first ever Cunard Royal Rendezvous in the fleet’s home port of Southampton, England.

Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth will be brought within close proximity of each other as a fireworks and special effects display will light up the evening sky. Queen Mary 2 will then lead Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria in single file down the Solent, a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England, as all three ships set out on their celebratory Jubilee voyages.

This is not the first time the three Queens of the Cunard fleet have met. In 2011 they met in New York City, but the first meeting of the three queens was in 2008.

“In January 2008, Cunard Line’s first Rendezvous of their three Queens took place. It was quite exciting as it was the first time Cunard had three ships with Queen in the name and all three were together,” said Stewart Chiron CEO of CruiseGuy.com. “It was the last time for many to see Queen Elizabeth 2, as she would depart the fleet later that year.”

Enrichment programming on board the ships will feature lectures by former BBC Royal correspondent Jennie Bond; Professor Herbert Kerrigan QC, one of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II‘s Counsel in Scotland; and ITN royal commentator Robert Jobson.

Also on board will be a rare collection of Royal art, including watercolors by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and lithographs by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Guests sailing on board Cunard ships will enjoy a Commemorative Dinner followed by a Grand Ball. Cunard will also screen live BBC World News coverage of the celebrations across the fleet beginning at 9:00 a.m. (GMT).



[Flickr photo by micamica]

Royal Wedding packages ready to go

Royal Wedding PackagesOn the eve of the wedding of the century, Cunard Line prepared for its own Royal Wedding festivities taking place while sailing during the festivities. Officers and crew of flagship Queen Mary 2 put final celebratory touches on board yesterday in New York as guests embarked for the ship’s first Eastbound Crossing of the 2011 Transatlantic Season.

“We will mark this commemorative occasion in the way expected of Cunard, and it promises to be a right royal event on board all three of our Queens,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “For guests sailing a Transatlantic Crossing, it is an experience like no other, and the Royal Wedding celebrations certainly add to what is already a voyage fit for royalty.”

Guests sailing any one of the three Cunard Queens will enjoy
  • Viewing party of the Royal Wedding live via satellite TV broadcast in the Royal Court Theatre and in all staterooms
  • Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea service featuring Twinings limited edition Royal Wedding Tea
  • A commemorative “Princess Royale” cocktail to mark the occasion
  • A celebration dinner and commemorative menu at each of the restaurants, including a slice of traditional wedding fruitcake
  • A royal champagne toast to Miss Catherine Middleton and HRH Prince William by the ship’s Captain
  • A Royal Wedding Ball with dancing to a big band orchestra in the Queens Room ballroom

Cunard Line goes back a long time with the British Royal Family. It was 1859 when Queen Victoria bestowed the title of Baronet to Samuel Cunard (Cunard Line founder) for his services to the country during the Crimean War. Since then, eight Cunard liners have been named by senior members of the Royal Family – four by Her Majesty The Queen, including the recent October 2010 Royal Naming Ceremony of the Line’s newest ship, Queen Elizabeth.

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How to pirate-proof a ship

how to pirate-proof shipsRazor wire, Gurkhas and sonic weapons are being routinely deployed on ships sailing in the pirate-infested waters off the Horn of Africa in an attempt to pirate-proof ships of all kinds. While ships try to go through the Suez Canal, pirate attacks on pretty much anything sailing off East Africa are rising and extra measures are being taken to protect the ships and their passengers.

A 25-nation naval presence is helping but earlier this year the Saga cruise ship Spirit Of Adventure was chased by and eventually outpaced pirates in the Indian Ocean.Shipping companies and cruise lines won’t say exactly what they are doing to deter pirates but Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth has been deploying razor wire to make boarding from the sea all but impossible. A Cunard spokesman told Express.co.uk “When we are in the at-risk area we deploy lookouts all around the ship to ensure that no boats are trying to get close. “On the stern, which is the pirates’ favoured point of access, we have used razor wire. The passengers can see it but it can’t harm them as it is fenced off.”

Cruise ships typically monitor the sea with radar and use speed of their ships and the height of their lower decks to thwart pirates. Sonic weapons are also being used that put out a debilitating sound that turns pirates away as are high-power water hoses to knock pirates back down to water level.

“Our ships are fast and have a lot of people on board – 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew on the Queen Elizabeth – so the chances of pirates even attempting to tackle a ship like that are very low” Cunard said.

Flickr photo by expertinfantry

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The Legacy of Titanic, what we learned in the last 99 years

The Legacy of Titanic
This week marks the 99th anniversary of the sinking of the passenger liner RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. If you have seen the movie, you know the basic story. Four days into a transatlantic crossing, the ship hit an iceberg just before midnight then sank hours later. In one of the deadliest disasters in maritime history, over 1500 people died in the icy water south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Today’s cruise industry exists and operates in many ways as a result of the Titanic tragedy. This week we take a look at the legacy left behind that affects cruise passengers on every sailing of every ship.

Going down this road, safety at sea comes up as a primary topic when thinking of the Titanic.

In the world of travel agents from which I came, “Titanic” is a word avoided almost as much as “torpedoes” and “pirates”. I remember being told when I started “If you say the word “sink” you better be talking about a place to wash out your coffee cup and if you say the word “sunk” you better be talking about basketball.” When asked what he thought would happen to the cruise business if a cruise ship sank today, a cruise line sales manager told me over lunch one day “Oh, we don’t even talk about that.” The mood of that luncheon became somber from that point on.

Those keywords are not what we want to think about. It’s not the pretty picture of a serene cruise vacation that marketers want us to buy into. Cruise lines, sellers of travel and the like, want those images to be as far from our minds as possible. Ninety-nine years puts a lot of time between us and the sinking of the Titanic when 1517 passengers died.

Still, there are people charged to never forget Titanic and make it their job to take lessons learned back then, build upon them and move forward.

It can be as simple as the intensity that today’s cruise ship crew members have during the typical safety drill performed at the beginning of each cruise. This is not a time for joking around and having a frozen cocktail. That came before the safety drill and will resume after. As passengers follow directions during a safety drill, now is the time to practice what to do if faced with the worst possible event at sea.

It can be as complex as set-in-stone rules regarding documentation needed to board a passenger ship. The requirements are strict and systems on board keep track of every passenger coming on or going off a ship. Behind-the-scenes activities performed by everyone from travel agents to embarkation staff at the pier help insure a safe voyage.

It can be as commonplace as a change in the itinerary of a cruise ship due to weather, safety or mechanical concerns. That topic has come up a lot recently as ships from all major cruise lines canceled calls to trouble-spots around the globe. Each year during hurricane season, itineraries are commonly changed to avoid major storms. Not long ago, a major cruise ship lost power and had to be towed back to port.

Cruise liners today are much bigger and better equipped. At 46,328 gross registered tons, Titanic was the largest and most advanced ship of her day. Today’s largest and most advanced ship, Allure of the Seas, is more than four times larger and carries almost twice as many people. Big ships are not nearly as “remarkable” as they were in 1912. Shipyards seem to crank them out as fast as they are ordered. Cruise lines deploy ships all over the planet now without hesitation to move one if an itinerary does not produce the anticipated results. Are today’s cruise lines operating as safely as possible? Is it possible to ever have another Titanic-like event?

Join us tomorrow and the rest of this week as we answer those questions and remember some mistakes made at the time that might have avoided the tragedy altogether.

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Flickr photo by scmikeburton