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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Cunard history: Remembering a legend

This article, written by Michael Gallagher, public relations executive and historian for Cunard Line,
 is part of an ongoing series of key moments in Cunard Line's history

 On 9 January 1972, Seawise University, the former Queen Elizabeth, caught fire and sank in Hong Kong Harbour during her conversion to a floating cruise ship / university. She had left Cunard service in 1968.

Queen Elizabeth was launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (later The Queen Mother) in 1938 and was originally to have entered service in 1940. Queen Elizabeth did not make her passenger maiden voyage until October 1946 and throughout her career The Queen Mother maintained a keen interest in 'her' ship.
Boarding Queen Mary II at Greenock  for the short trip to Queen Elizabeth.
I thought that as well as remembering today's anniversary we would reflect on a happier time - when The Queen, accompanied by Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, boarded Queen Elizabeth for her post-war sea trials in 1946. 

The Royal Train arrived at Greenock and was met by Sir Percy Bates, the Cunard Chairman. He was the man who envisioned that the weekly Atlantic service could be maintained by two ships (instead of three) in 1926 and his dream resulted in Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth - the "two smallest and slowest ships" that could perform the task they would be built for. Queen Mary was the fastest passenger ship in the world from 1937 to 1952 and Queen Elizabeth was the largest passenger ship in the world up until 1996 when she was finally eclipsed by Carnival's Carnival Destiny!
Sir Percy Bates with hand on the rail.
Sadly, Sir Percy passed away on the very eve of Queen Elizabeth's October 1946 Maiden Voyage so he never saw his two ships in actual passenger service together!

Once on board Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Party toured the public rooms and by 1115 hours the ship was heading out to sea. After lunch they were touring the galley while Queen Elizabeth was making 30 knots. Just before 1500 hours The Queen and the Princesses proceeded to the Bridge where Elizabeth and Margaret were given a stopwatch each. They were to time the liner's speed over the traditional measured course.

Queen Elizabeth achieved the first mile in two minutes 1.3 seconds at a speed of 29.71 knots. The next mile was achieved in two minutes 1.0 seconds at a speed of 29.75 knots.

For a time The Queen took the helm of the biggest passenger ship in the world. She changed course four points and steadied the new Cunard flagship and was impressed when told that she had moved a rudder that weighed 140 tons.
Strolling along the Boat Deck.
It was on the third measured mile that Queen Elizabeth achieved exactly 30 knots.
After The Queen had continued her tour of the public rooms and the Princesses had visited the Engine Room (wearing protective coats) Queen Elizabeth was back on the Clyde at 1700 hours and the Royal Party disembarked.
The Queen with Commodore Sir James Bissett

For more information about Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, and to book a voyage, contact your Travel Consultant, call Cunard toll-free at 1-800-728-6273, or go to www.cunard.com
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About Cunard Line
Cunard Line, operator of the luxury ocean liners Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, has long been synonymous with the quest for new discoveries and the epitome of British refinement since the company's first paddle-wheeled steamer, Britannia, crossed the Atlantic in 1840. Cunard voyages bring together like-minded travellers who seek a civilised adventure and relish the Cunard hallmarks of impeccable White Star Service, gourmet dining and world-class entertainment. Today, Cunard offers the only regularly scheduled trans-Atlantic liner service and continues the legacy of world cruising which it began in 1922.

World’s Leading Cruise Lines
Cunard is a proud member of World's Leading Cruise Lines. Our exclusive alliance also includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises and Seabourn. Sharing a passion to please each guest and a commitment to quality and value, World’s Leading Cruise Lines inspires people to discover their best vacation experience. Together, we offer a variety of exciting and enriching cruise vacations to the world's most desirable destinations. Visit us at www.worldsleadingcruiselines.com

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