The pier-side ceremony, held under uncharacteristically blue skies in Southampton was done in style, with the wine bottle breaking on the first attempt.
Guests seated in a grandstand listened to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, watching video from Cunard’s archives while the Queen toured the ship.
Cunard showed a host of classic footage, including float outs of the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth liners and then cut to footage from the Queen’s visit to the QE2 launch in 1967.
Her Majesty made a bridge visit, talking to the senior officers on the vessel and took the opportunity to blow the ship’s whistle – to the surprise of the crowd. She also took time to view some of the artwork onboard and while being the first to sign the ship’s log.
The massed bands of Coldstream and Scots Guards led the way as the Queen entered the pier-side. In a short speech, Cunard’s Managing Director and President Peter Shanks said that the Queen was the only person that had been at all three Queen Elizabeth christenings, dating back to 1938.
“She has a longer association with Cunard than anyone employed by Cunard,” said Shanks, as he made mention of Cunard’s rich 170-year history. Examples included the original Queen Elizabeth going straight into troop duty during WWII, unfinished, and the QE2 serving in the Falklands War.
Shanks described the new vessel as “quintessentially British with an international appeal”.
For the Queen, the christening marked the fourth time she has been godmother of a ship. The last came in 2004, when she christened the Queen Mary 2, and before that, the QE2 in 1967 and the Caronia in 1947 when she was Princess Elizabeth. She was also present, as already mentioned, at the christening of the original Queen Elizabeth in 1938.
Cunard made a point of telling onboard crew to avoid the pier-side outside decks and balconies of the ship during the ceremony due to security reasons. The line set up a live feed in the theater for crew members to watch the proceedings, along with streaming the feed to all TVs onboard.
The 90,900-ton vessel leaves on her sold-out maiden revenue cruise tomorrow, October 12. Cruise Industry News expects to have photo coverage of the ship leaving Southampton.
Dining options onboard include the Britannia Restaurant, which is the main dining room; The Verandah, an upscale alternative option with Cunard’s celebrity chef, Jean-Marie Zimmerman; Café Carinthia serves light snacks during the day; the Lido, featuring three different options in the evenings; the Golden Lion Pub; and two exclusive restaurants: the Queens Grill and Princess Grill.
Also unique to this Cunard ship is an Apple store on Deck 1, a number of designer shopping options and a very British Game Deck – featuring English Garden Bowling and Croquet.
The ship’s art deco interior design is wrapped around Cunard’s ocean-liner heritage and certain sense of elegance with no shortage of elegant wood finishings and unique artwork .
The Yacht Club pays tribute to the QE2 with a silver ship model and various paintings of that vessel, with the venue turning into a popular disco at night.
More highlights include the Golden Lion Pub on Deck 2, and the Queen’s Room just a few steps away with live music in the evenings.
A two-story library, with a spiral staircase, stores what Cunard said is a 6,000 book collection.
And There is More
Also notable is the fact many in the large media contingent are asking about the possibility of the QE2 going to another operator, or Cunard bringing her back. That vessel, however, is not SOLAS 2010 compliant and has been moored in Dubai for some time for eventual conversion to a floating hotel, much like the original Queen Mary which now resides in Long Beach, California.
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