Three Queens drew 1.3 million to the Mersey

Latest estimates put the number of spectators crowding the banks of the Mersey to see Cunard’s spectacular Three Queens event on Monday at an astonishing 1.3 million.

The throng certainly looked impressive from my viewpoint on board flagship Queen Mary 2 as we headed to the mouth of the river to greet Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, and then followed them to the Pier Head.

Thousands swarmed across the beaches at Crosby and New Brighton, and they were scores deep in front of Liverpool’s Three Graces – the Liver Building, Cunard Building, and Port Authority HQ – and across the other […]

What makes Queen Mary 2 the centre of attention everywhere?

Once in a generation, perhaps a little more often, a means of transport gains iconic status, attracting public affection and admiring crowds wherever it goes.

In the steam age, there was the Flying Scotsman, and speed record-holder Mallard. In the jet age, it was Concorde in the air, and Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth 2 at sea.

Both are now gone. A few surviving examples of Concorde remain on display in museums around the world, and QE2 languishes in Dubai unsure as to whether its future will be as a floating hotel or on the scrapheap.

Today’s transport icon is its successor, Queen […]

Stronger and longer: the QM2 difference

There were a few more reminders yesterday that Queen Mary 2 is not just a cruise ship but an ocean liner. Captain Christopher Wells made the point forcefully throughout his address to passengers at the Gala 175 Welcome Cocktail Party.

Apologising for the fact we had felt some movement as the ship encountered near gale-force winds between Land’s End and the Irish coast, he blamed the fact that we were “pootling along” at a mere 13 knots. The ship is designed to make twice that speed on Transatlantic crossings in far worse weather.

Capt Wells made several semi-apologetic references to the […]

On board QM2 for Cunard’s Salute to Liverpool

“Welcome to the world’s only true ocean liner” – came the announcement over Queen Mary 2’s public address. Not, surprisingly, from Captain Christopher Wells but from Entertainment Director Joanna Haley.

I boarded the ship in Southampton yesterday (Sunday) for a 10-day voyage whose highlight comes next Bank Holiday weekend when all three Cunard Queens will be together in the Mersey to pay tribute to the city that was originally the company’s home.

On the way there, QM2 will be visiting Cobh – the last port of call for Titanic – Dublin, and Greenock on the Clyde – where many of Cunard’s […]

Why those extra cruise charges are creeping up

Intense competition between mainstream operators continues to keep fares down and ensure that cruises offer some of the best holiday value available.

It also encourages operators to find new ways to increase revenue. In the case of Norwegian Cruise Line , whose Norwegian Epic is now based year-round in the Mediterranean, that has resulted in a charge being made for room service.

The fee of up to $7.95 per order was introduced at the beginning of April on Breakaway and Getaway and to the rest of the fleet from the beginning of May.

So far, so good – nobody is forced to […]

New ships, and a name-change, on the way for Thomson Cruises

The Thomson name may disappear from Britain’s travel agencies to be replaced by the name (and smile logo) of German parent company TUI – and the change is going to have a significant effect on Thomson Cruises.

Two ships which carry almost 2,000 passengers each are likely to be transferred to the UK fleet where they will join the similar-sized Thomson Discovery. They will probably replace older, smaller ships such as the Thomson Spirit and Thomson Celebration.

Mein Schiff 1, built in 1996 as Galaxy, and Mein Schiff 2, the 1997-built former Mercury, were both originally with Celebrity Cruises. Discovery is […]

Tor Hagen “in a hurry” to build a fleet of 10 Viking Oceans cruise ships

Viking Star, the first ocean-going ship to sail under the Viking Cruises flag, will not be officially christened until next weekend, but already the company’s president, Tor Hagen, is looking forward to operating a fleet of 10 identical vessels.

That’s despite a setback that means he will be launching only one new ship next year instead of the two originally planned.

Speaking during a tour of Viking Star in the Mediterranean, he blamed construction delays affecting Holland America’s Koningsdam at a Fincantieri shipyard in Italy for the postponement of Viking Sky.

“We will have to accept that because Koningsdam has been hugely […]

Funnel vision for Cunard 175 captains

The Masters of Cunard’s three ships gathered together by the funnel of flagship Queen Mary 2 this morning ahead of the spectacular sailaway to mark the start of the celebrations for Cunard’s 175th anniversary year.

The Three Queens – Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 – returned from their World Cruises today, arriving in Southampton in the early morning. After a rare opportunity for the three Captains to meet up together on the same vessel, the masters will take command of their respective ships and for the first time the fleet will sail […]

Southampton cruise terminals upgraded

Southampton’s Mayflower Cruise Terminal has been reopened following a £6 million pound refurbishment that will enable it to cater for some of the largest cruise vessels afloat, long into the future.

The terminal, one of four in the port, now features a remodelled open plan interior, with expanded security, check-in and passenger reception areas.

The increased number of cruise ships visiting Southampton, and the fact that most new ships are larger and carry more passengers, means P&O Cruises, Cunard and other brands of the Carnival Group,are expecting passenger volumes through Southampton to increase by 25 per cent over the next two years.

Steven […]

Cunard passengers in moving Anzac Day tribute

Almost 500 Australians and New Zealanders took part in a memorial service on the decks of Cunard Lines’ Queen Elizabeth this morning as the ship sailed the waters off the Gallipoli Peninsula.

They were joined by hundreds of other passengers marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the eight-month First World War campaign that cost more than 140,000 lives.

Crew and guests laid wreaths in the water in remembrance of the soldiers who died. A six-foot high poppy wall floral tribute, shaped as ‘100’ to mark the Anzac centenary, formed the centrepiece for the ceremony. The wall was filled with […]