The Port of Hamburg plays a significant role for the British cruise line Cunard, for in no other port are the Queens greeted so euphorically. Who can forget the Queen Mary 2’s maiden call in July 2004, when 400,000 spectators turned out to welcome the ship.
That figure was even topped a year later in August 2005, when a half-a-million people witnessed the maritime spectacle. In total the three Queens will be calling at the Hanseatic city 12 times this year, rising to 14 times in 2013. The Queen Mary 2 alone will dock 10 times at the Port of Hamburg, sailing to and from the city on three north European cruises and five transatlantic crossings.
Last Sunday, July 15, Cunard sent two of their Queens along the Elbe simultaneously, once again prompting a multitude of spectators to turn out for the occasion. 250,000 tourists came to see the dual call to port of the two Queens. Boat trips to accompany the event had been sold out for this date months in advance, coach tour companies from all over Germany offered trips to the event and hotels also reported being well-booked for the weekend. The Elbe - the ‘red carpet’ for cruising ships once again did its reputation proud.
All the stops were pulled out for ‘Cunard Queens Day’. For daytime enjoyment, the QM2 Day Village had been erected around the cruise terminal in HafenCity, offering spectators a broad range of culinary delights, including the exclusive ‘Royal Currywurst’ sausage, which passengers are served with on deck when sailing out of Hamburg. The German post office published postcards and a special stamp to mark the event, while free information material and ‘Queen’ merchandising were also on offer. Another real favourite with the public was also restaged – namely the free photo initiative ‘The Queen and I’, in which people are photographed together with the name ‘Queen Mary 2’in front of the ship’s bow, with the photographs then subsequently made available for download from the Internet.
At around 8.40 p.m., the Queen Elizabeth cast off from Altona and headed up the Elbe to HafenCity and the Queen Mary 2. The Queen Elizabeth then laid up next to the Queen Mary 2 providing another opportunity to marvel at the ships together. Next the two ships were outlined against a 15-minute firework display set off from two locations.
At about 9.45 p.m., the two ships took leave of each other and the Queen Elizabeth headed out on her cruise of the Baltic. Around thirty minutes after midnight, the Queen Mary 2 also cast off her lines and set off on her cruise of the Norwegian fjords and Nordkapp, which concludes back at the Hanseatic city on July 25.