QM2’s anniversary crossing: Day 1

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The sky is the palest shade of duck-egg blue, sitting above a soft roll of cotton wool clouds on the horizon. Beneath them the grey sea boils angrily, wind-streaked and flecked with white horses.
No wonder. A westerly gale is blowing at a steady 40 knots. Queen Mary 2, on the first full day at sea on her 214th Transatlantic crossing, is heading straight into it.
A message from the bridge announces that for safety reasons the open areas of the forward decks have been closed to passengers.
The weather and the sea want to toss QM2’s massive bulk around like a bath toy. There are moments when they threaten to succeed. The ship shudders and judders as shock waves run through her 1,132-ft length.
Then she steadies herself, gives a little shake of the shoulders, and heads forward at a stately 15.2 knots. Rather too stately, really. She is built to travel at almost double that speed, and would probably ride the seas better if she were going faster.
The economics of the 21st Century dictate that in order to use less fuel, she should take almost seven days to travel from Southampton to New York. By midday she had just passed The Scillies; she could have reached Fastnet in the same amount of time. Her illustrious predecessors could make the same crossing in a little over 4 ½ days in the ’30s and 40s when they were in pursuit of the Blue Riband.
The rest of the world’s cruise fleet would take longer still today, and could not make the journey in anything like the same comfort, or style.
QM2 is a special ship, and this is a special crossing, marking her 10th birthday this year. She was launched by HM The Queen in January 2004 and has had to wait until the completion of her annual world cruise before getting the party started.
Celebrations began in earnest yesterday morning when she was led up Southampton Water by her younger and smaller Cunard sisters. Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth are cruise ships. Queen Mary 2, however, claims to be the only true liner afloat.
HM Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was guest of honour for lunch on board. Every one of the captains who have taken command of the ship during her 10 years afloat was present along with a raft of distinguished guests.
The Duke took a tour of the ship, and asked to visit the laundry and the crew’s pub, the Pig and Whistle. In the Queen’s Room he unveiled a new portrait of the ship, painted under moonlight in New York harbour by Robert Lloyd.
On a regular crossing, QM2 would have slipped her lines and set off at about 6pm. Last night, however, passengers were still partying and having dinner with the ship alongside. It was 9.30 before she reversed out of Ocean Dock and took up position alongside her sisters for a spectacular 10-minute firework display.
After leading them down Southampton Water and the Solent, she turned right for the Atlantic. Next stop, on Friday, New York.

By | 2015-04-10T14:23:24+00:00 10 May 2014|Cruise News, Cruise Ships|1 Comment

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

One Comment

  1. Anthony Nicholas 10 May 2014 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    15.2 knots??

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