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QUEEN MARY

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An ECHO Souvenir


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HAPPYTOBE

MAJESTIC: An aerial picture of Queen Mary 2 moored in Liverpool alongside the cruise liner terminal near the Pier Head and Liver Building

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T IS a name which conjures up the romance of ocean liner travel at its most prestigious. More than 80 years after the first Queen Mary was conceived in Liverpool, her namesake, Queen Mary 2, made her maiden visit to the city, the original home of her owners, Cunard Line. With repeated long blasts on her whistle, sounding like the bass note on some gigantic organ echoing off the Cunard Building, she boomed out notice of her Mersey debut. I was among hundreds of people

by PETER ELSON Shipping Correspondent sailing out on the Mersey Ferries’ stalwart vessel Snowdrop, on a special excursion to welcome QM2 in Crosby Channel, on the Mersey approaches. We had boarded at Liverpool Pier Head and as many people embarked on Snowdrop’s sister ship Royal Daffodil at the Wirral stages. The Mersey was choppy and running fast with a familiar

mixture of brown waves and white horses. As we approached New Brighton, the cry went up “There she is!” Only it wasn’t. Instead out of the mist came the container ship Atlantic Companion. This ACL freighter is an anorexic 75,000 gross tons compared to the leviathan we were looking for. Then, suddenly, behind Perch Rock Lighthouse, there was the real thing. Looking like a toy boat in profile, purposefully steaming along, was QM2.

Even through the murk, her distinctive black hull, white superstructure, red and black funnel stood out. Ships seem to go slowly, yet before you knew it we were closing in fast with the great liner. Coming towards you, her most striking aspect is the great height. With 13 decks visible and rising 200ft from the waterline to funnel, it is fair to say, she towers above the three decks of the Mersey Ferries . Although Snowdrop and Royal Daffodil bounced around as they

Picture: PETE CARR

crossed the Mersey Bar, QM2 serenely motored forward. Given that QM2 is five years old, she looks in exemplary condition. There is no rust or sign of sloppy maintenance. Even in the Mersey haze she glowed, with the reddy-orange paint of her great funnel radiating warmth like a sun in the greyness. In a remarkable and enduring survival, the venerable Cunard Line is still very much in business. Not only that, but Queen Mary 2, the world’s biggest ocean liner,


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BACKHOME IRON SIDE: Queen Mary 2 passes Crosby

WELCOME MAT: Queen Mary 2 Commodore Bernard Warner, Master RMS Queen Mary 2 at the Liverpool Cruise Terminal Picture: COLIN LANE wears the same livery of black hull and red-orange funnel with black bands and black top as the very first Cunarder. Who could have possibly thought that when the paddle steamer RMS Britannia chugged out of Coburg Dock (now part of Liverpool Marina) for Halifax, Nova Scotia and Boston, Mass, on July 4, 1840, that her colossal successor would sail in the same home waters? However, the development in the intervening 170 years is, unsurprisingly, as vast as the QM2

is tall, wide and high. QM2’s gross tonnage is 148,528, whereas Britannia had a gross tonnage of 1,154; QM2 carries 2,620 passengers and 1,253 officers and crew; Britannia’s capacity was 115 passengers and 82 crew. Commodore Bernard Warner, master of QM2, said: “You could fit RMS Britannia into our Britannia Restaurant onboard. “We shouldn’t forget, though, that Britannia was the very cutting edge of technology for her time. It was Samuel Cunard who came up with

the idea of a scheduled steamship service.” This is also what makes Queen Mary 2 stand apart: she is a giant ocean liner especially designed for the fastest possible transatlantic run by sea, just like the little Britannia was in her own day. What Samuel Cunard could not have envisaged was that descendants of his embryonic ocean liners would one day embark on round Britain pleasure cruises – in October. QM2 left Southampton, homeport

Picture: GAVIN TRAFFORD

ARRIVAL: The Queen Mary 2 sails into the cruise liner terminal on its maiden visit to Liverpool

for her regular transatlantic run to New York, for her first round Britain cruise last Thursday, October 15, for seven nights. Sailing clockwise around the British Isles, she called at South Queensferry in the Firth of Forth, (for Edinburgh) on Saturday, and Greenock, Firth of Clyde (for Glasgow and Loch Lomond) yesterday. Tomorrow she will be in Cobh (for Cork), Thursday in Cherbourg (for Paris) and back in Southampton on Friday. As you can see by the many

Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY

bracketed destinations, Liverpool is unique in being a city port destination in itself. There is no need for transfers, short or lengthy, to reach the place of interest for passengers. It is not as if, say, the ship had to dock in Widnes to visit Liverpool: when this or any liner moors at the landing stage, the city sights are a few 100 yards away. This is Liverpool’s unique selling point which no other British city

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● From Page 2 can match, the gift of this geographical situation. This is why the Liverpool Cruise Liner Terminal has been so important to the city. Forget rows about turnaround (ie staring and ending) cruises; that will be all resolved in time. Without the new landing stage, QM2 would have sailed on past Liverpool Bay. Instead, on this magnificent liner’s fifth birthday, she is filled to capacity and Liverpool is the highlight of the cruise. Nearly 2,600 passengers are onboard, of whom 1,450 are British and 750 are from the US. Some of the latter have even sailed across from New York and after completing this cruise will return on the liner to New York. There are also 130 Canadians, with the rest of the passenger complement topped up by a few Germans and Australians. There were 100 passengers who, courtesy of the Echo Travel Department, disembarked at Liverpool and a further 100 passengers embarked for the second half of the cruise. Commodore Warner said: “It was an historic moment bringing this great ship into Liverpool. “Cunard was founded here in 1838 and stayed in the city until 1967. I’m very proud to bring her here and everyone on board is so excited. “It’s a very nostalgic and wonderful to be back in this greatest Cunard liner. I am sure having now brought Queen Mary here once we will be back many times, as this ship will have a life expectation of 40 to 50 years. “We were tremendously flattered by all the attention we got coming in. There were so many people watching the ship from the riverside.” Was he anxious about bringing such a huge ship up the Mersey and into Liverpool? “I am never nervous about these things. You always have to take time to study what the conditions will be like,” he said. “The Mersey is tricky as there is a large tidal range and the river is very fast flowing. “It was running at about four knots coming in, but we had a 30 knot gale blowing outside last night on the way down from the Clyde, so it could have been far worse today. “This is the greatest ocean liner, but she manoeuvres better than any other, but you turn the ship according to the tide. “Before we came alongside we turned in the river above the berth and just let her gently drift down to the landing stage.” Commodore Warner, a Yorkshireman, said: “Coming to sea was a lifelong dream ever since I first went on the beach as a boy.” He spent much of his early career with P&O, whose cruise line division is now part of the mighty Carnival Corporation empire along with Cunard Line. “As a boy I never could have imagined the privilege of being a commodore on the Cunard flagship,” he said. “But not only is this ship the biggest ocean liner, but she has become incredibly popular. There are fabulous facilities on the ship. “Not only have we got all these restaurants and swimming pools and spas, but there’s also a planetarium. “However, my first responsibility is the safety of the ship and passengers. When I’m not directly involved in those duties, I try and get around the ship as much as possible. “Besides our guests, I try and

PEERLESS: The Queen Mary 2 docks at the cruise liner terminal at Pier Head speak to the crew as much as I can each day. It’s rather like being the mayor of a small city doing the rounds. “Although a new ship, QM2 is a traditional liner, not a cruise ship. The definition of a liner is one on a regular service across the ocean from point A to B. “This ship is built for transatlantic service and we’ve

done 25 return crossings this year. The other difference is that, as a liner, this ship is designed to go much faster. “She has a very streamlined hull to slip gracefully and elegantly through the water, like her predecessor which was a great liner, a ship in a million. “Queen Mary has 40% more steel in her hull than an equivalent sized

cruise liner, which means she is strengthened to cut through the Atlantic waves at speed, in all weathers at all times of the year. “When you are crossing the oceans, you want to be on a proper liner. The ride and stability of this ship, in spite of her height is amazing, even in a large ocean swell.” The commodore, who confesses to

Picture: PAUL HEAPS

be a Leeds United supporter, was relaxed about the effect of QM2’s visit on passengers’ possible allegiances regarding the Liverpool - Lyon match played last night, during the liner’s visit. “We do have some Liverpool football supporters on board, but they are on Cunard and so,

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DOCKING: Queen Mary 2 arrives in the River Mersey Picture: COLIN LANE

HOME: Queen Mary 2 on the River Mersey, with the terraced houses of Birkenhead as a backdrop

HUNGRY FOR MORE: A great view while you’re eating your lunch

Pictures: GAVIN TRAFFORD

Picture: COLIN LANE


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PORTHOLE: A view of the liner through the Old Hall Street porthole Picture: GAVIN TRAFFORD

TOWERING: The Queen Mary 2 dwarfs the riverside office buildings Picture: GAVIN TRAFFORD

SPRAY: The liner receives a maritime welcome as it enters the Mersey

Picture: COLIN LANE

● From Page 4 naturally, are sophisticated supporters,” said Commodore Warner. “We’ve got a tremendous atmosphere on board because our guests knew we were coming to Liverpool.” There were a few LFC strips being dangled from balconies and one big banner across the rails, but otherwise the football branding was discreet. The Cruise Terminal’s loudspeakers blaring out You’ll Never Walk Alone was balanced by an equally loud rendition of Johnny Todd for Evertonians. Peter Shanks, Cunard Line president and managing director,

said: “It was fabulous to be up on QM2’s bridge and see the Cunard flag flying from the Cunard Building. “I couldn’t believe how many people were watching us come in. We’ve taken QM2 on a lap of honour around Britain. “There has been a sense of excitement on board as we approached Liverpool, which is the highlight of our trip. “We had a lovely day in Greenock, on the Clyde which was our previous port of call. “That was a place also with great Cunard connections as 120 of the line’s ships were built at Clydebank. “I am Scottish myself so that makes me particularly proud. Samuel Cunard got much of his

‘... Today shows achieved in just a

financing from Glasgow shipowners and he was the visionary to whom we owe so much. “But it’s particularly emotional coming into Liverpool as Cunard Line was founded170 years ago here. There is a mutual respect between Cunard and the City of Liverpool.” Aboard Snowdrop, Len Jones, of Aintree, and Frank Kenny, of Maghull, are shipping enthusiasts who had planned this trip for a year. Len worked in the galley of Canadian Pacific’s liner Empress of Britain during 1960, on the Liverpool - Quebec - Montreal service. “We saw the last voyage of the QE2 going out, so we wanted to see the first arrival of QM2. It’s great to

see the biggest liners back in Liverpool,” said Frank. Many people on board Snowdrop were in mobile phone conversations with friends and relatives sailing on QM2. Doris “Tiny” Jones and her husband Peter, from Litherland, were chatting to her brothers Ron and Alan Bunn, who were travelling aboard. Remarkably Alan’s 63rd birthday coincided with QM2’s day in Liverpool. He works in the Royal Liver Building and is a keen ship photographer from his office. “We joked we’d arranged with Cunard especially to have the ship arrive in Liverpool for his birthday,” laughed Doris. “Alan, who’s been on QE2, told me

on the phone that this is a far more exceptional ship.” Christine and Dave Holloway, from Bromborough, were in touch with their friends Paul and Carole Molyneux, from Heswall, who were travelling with Carole’s mother Lydia Wilkinson. The cruise was a 92nd birthday present for Mrs Wilkinson, who had always wanted to try a cruise. “They’re having a brilliant time and everything onboard is terrific,” said Chris. Lilian Piercy, from Tranmere, could not get over the size of the ship and added: “She looks like a great big wonderful floating hotel.” At the Cruise Terminal, Liverpool’s great and good were waiting to go aboard for a


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BUT WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE INSIDE?

IN STEP: The grand ballroom

what we’ve few years’ ceremonial handing over of the city’s coat of arms plaque – a lasting memento that QM2 had actually been here. Liverpool City Council leader Cllr Warren Bradley said: “This plaque for QM2 cements our relationship with Cunard and confirms we’re open for cruise business. “It proves that we can bring the biggest and best ocean liner in the world to Liverpool. “Not long ago this cruise liner terminal was just a dream. Today shows what we have achieved in just a couple of years.” Cllr Gary Millar, Liverpool’s executive member for enterprise and tourism, said: “A visit like this by the world’s premier ocean liner

is a chance to showcase the city. “It is very important in terms not only of prestige but economics to the city. This is real money being invested in the city. Cruising is a business we can build on and expand.” Peter Shanks also had a special message to add to Commodore Warner’s comments for Merseyside: Cunard will be back. “Next year Queen Victoria will be calling at Liverpool on her round Britain cruise and we will certainly call again with Queen Mary.” So this is just the start of a beautiful friendship revived between Liverpool and Cunard.

email

peter.elson@liverpool.com

ON THE UP: The sweeping staircase CHIPS: The onboard casino

LUXURY: The Canyon Ranch spa on the Queen Mary 2

TASTY: The liner’s luxurious Britannia restaurant


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FLYING THE FLAG: The majestic Queen Mary 2 docked in Liverpool Picture: GAVIN TRAFFORD Front page picture: ANDREW TEEBAY

Don’t miss next Tuesday’s ECHO for our FREE, 32-page special The Liverpool Liners commemorating the ships which have graced the River Mersey


Queen Mary 2 - An ECHO Souvenir  

Queen Mary 2 souvenir supplement from her visit to Liverpool

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