mcnaught.jpgCunard aficionados will be disappointed to learn that Captain Ian McNaught (above left), the last master of the QE2, is leaving the fleet to join Yachts of Seabourn.
Word leaked out this week on website The QE2 Story, and although Cunard have confirmed it is true, the nearest they have come to making an no official statement is a response on their Facebook fan page,
Cunard said: “Yes. Captain McNaught is completing his service with Cunard and will begin service with our sister-company Seabourn at the end of this month. We thank him for his many years of dedicated service to Cunard Line and wish him all the best.”
A spokesman for Seabourn told me the line was “most pleased to welcome Captain Ian McNaught to our seagoing family. Capt. McNaught earned the respect and goodwill of both staff and guests sailing aboard Cunard liners under his command, and we look forward to his taking command of Seabourn Spirit in February of 2010.”
McNaught, 55 and born in Sunderland, joined the QE2 as second officer in 1987, and was appointed staff captain in 1999. He took up his dream job of master in 2002, and in November 2008 he was on the bridge for the ship’s final journey from Southampton to retirement in Dubai.
He later commanded Cunard’s Queen Victoria, but it was a surprise to many that he was not appointed to the line’s newest ship, Queen Elizabeth, which will debut later this year.
Like Cunard, Seabourn is part of Carnival, the biggest cruise company in the world. Their small ships are at the top end of the market, catering for well-heeled travellers. One contributor toCruise Critic commented: “I am sure Captain McNaught will fit in very well at Seabourn, but I can’t afford to follow him.”
Another wrote: “It is a very great shame indeed. In my opinion Cunard has lost its best Captain.Ian McNaught loved QE2, and in word and gesture displayed his deep appreciation for her place in history as the last great transatlantic liner. He and the ship were deeply entwined, and it seemed to me that both were at their best when he was in command.
“Those of us who had the privilege of sailing with Captain McNaught count ourselves lucky, for he cared for his passengers with grace, humour, patience and generosity. Good luck and Godspeed, Ian. Thank you for everything. You will be missed.”