Special ceremonies at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone shipyard near Trieste were held yesterday (Tuesday 5 January) to mark the float out of Cunard’s newest ship Queen Elizabeth.
Cunard’s President and Managing Director, Peter Shanks, was joined by 79-year old Florence (Dennie) Farmer who was guest of honour at the event. Dennie’s husband, Willie Farmer joined Cunard in September 1938 and served as Chief Engineer on both Queen Elizabeth and QE2 until retirement in October 1979. Since her husband’s death Dennie has sailed with Cunard many times and her link the two previous Queen Elizabeth ships is unparalleled. In recognition of this Cunard has bestowed on Dennie the honour, in Italian tradition, of being ‘Madrina’ to the third Queen Elizabeth.
The first ceremony involved the welding of significant coins beneath the mast of Queen Elizabeth for good luck. Three coins were chosen – a half crown dated 1938 (the year the first Queen Elizabeth was launched); a sovereign dated 1967 (the year QE2 was launched) and a sovereign dated 2010 to acknowledge the fact that the new Queen Elizabeth is being floated out in 2010.
After the coin ceremony, the focus moved to the dockside where the ship was blessed, and a bottle of Italian prossecco smashed against the hull by the Madrina. The valves of the dry dock opened and the ship met the water for the first time.
During the formal ceremony, Peter Shanks said:
“It is only a little over six months since the keel for this great ship was laid. In that short time a solitary block at the bottom of the dry-dock has, as a result of the skill and discipline of the workforce here at Fincantieri, grown into this awe-inspiring vessel.
“Even in her present unfinished state, devoid of the carpets and curtains, furnishings and facilities, paintings and porcelain that we associate with a Cunard luxury liner, she is awesome.
“Of our 170 years of history there has been an ‘Elizabeth’ in the fleet for over 70 and this ship – the second largest Cunarder ever built –will take the name far into the 21st Century”.
Queen Elizabeth will feature many unique Cunard traditions linking her with her sisters Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, and their predecessors, together with all the modern day luxuries Cunard’s guests have come to expect. There will also be features that will give the vessel her own style and personality.
The first Queen Elizabeth was one of Cunard’s greatest ships, and the new Queen Elizabeth will reflect her predecessor in interior grandeur, décor and style, but with a modern twist.
From the outside, her distinctive black and red livery will hint at an experience that differentiates a Cunard liner from a modern-day cruise ship. This will be most evident in the ship’s adherence to liner traditions, with elegant double and triple height public rooms on a grand scale, luxuriously endowed with rich wood panelling, intricate mosaics, hand-woven carpets, gleaming chandeliers, and cool marbles. Art Deco features will pay homage to the original Queen Elizabeth, and will allow the new ship to reflect a more civilized era of travel.
As successor to QE2, the ship will also reflect this great liner through artworks and memorabilia, and its very own ‘Yacht Club’.
Queen Elizabeth will acknowledge to the links that Cunard has enjoyed with royalty and the maritime world over the years with photography, memorabilia and exhibits.
Queen Elizabeth will depart on her Maiden Voyage on Tuesday 12 October 2010. This 13-night celebration will leave from the company’s home port, Southampton, and will call at Vigo, Lisbon, Cadiz, Las Palmas, Santa Cruz de Tenerife (overnight call) and Funchal.
Her Maiden Season will run from October 2010 to January 2011 and include voyages to the Western and Central Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Fares start from just £599 per person for the ‘Gallic Debut’ five-night Party Voyage (ports of call: Amsterdam, Zeebrugge and Le Havre) while the 22-night ‘A Caribbean Welcome’ inaugural Christmas voyage has fares from £2,999 per person and calls at Madeira, Tortola, St Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua and The Azores.
The world’s newest ocean liner will depart Southampton on 5 January 2011 on her 103-night epic Maiden World Voyage, which has just been released for sale. This will see her make 35 maiden calls, including Cunard’s first call ever at Port Denarau (Fiji). In total Queen Elizabeth will call at 38 ports in 23 countries as she makes her way west around the globe with maiden transits of both the Panama and Suez Canals and calls at Los Angeles, Auckland, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and Lisbon. Queen Elizabeth will be in great company as her sisters will be on hand on several occasions during the voyage: she will sail in tandem to New York with Queen Victoria before all three Cunard Queens will meet in New York on 13 January and she will meet with Queen Mary 2 in Sydney 22 February and Civitavecchia on 13 April and Queen Victoria again in Aruba on 19 January. Fares range from £9,999 to £116,499 per person.