Posted on Wednesday, January 4, 2012 by Shawn Dake
Cunard Line, for the first time in history, has no ships registered in the U.K., having transferred the home port of all three Queens from Southampton to Hamilton, Bermuda. This is, perhaps, in reaction to the newly-implemented U.K. Equality Act, which requires foreign crew to receive the same wages as U.K. nationals. The QUEEN ELIZABETH, while docked in Amsterdam on October 24, became the first Cunard Queen ever to be registered outside Great Britain. The QUEEN VICTORIA followed suit three days later, with the QUEEN MARY 2 making the change December 1st. Officially, the reason given for the switch in registry was so that weddings could be performed on board (as they are on the Bermudian flagged ships of Princess Cruises).
Cunard Line kicked off their year with a spectacular rendezvous of all three Queens in New York City on January 13, 2011. Cunard has had three liners together before, but this was the first time the brand new QUEEN ELIZABETH joined her near-sister QUEEN VICTORIA and the QUEEN MARY 2 for a Royal Rendezvous. Later in the month, Los Angeles hosted two of the ships in two days, with the maiden arrival of the QUEEN ELIZABETH on January 29th and the QUEEN VICTORIA on the 30th. The latter operated a series of four cruises from the West Coast port. On the final departure, March 3rd, the QUEEN VICTORIA sailed into Long Beach harbor for another Royal Rendezvous, this time with the first Cunard Queen, the original QUEEN MARY of 1936.
The QUEEN MARY 2 was off the coast of Japan when the devastating 9.0 earthquake struck that country. The ship had made a call at Osaka the previous day and was heading toward Nagasaki. The port call there was cancelled while the ship remained in deep water off-shore, but managed to pick up 34 passengers who had been on overland tours. The QM2 then proceeded to Xingang, China. An earlier scheduled stop at Christchurch, New Zealand also had to be cancelled due to the earthquake there.
Carnival Corporation was awarded $24 million by a jury in their lawsuit against Rolls Royce over the faulty pod-propulsion system on the QUEEN MARY 2. Carnival had sought $100 million, but said it was pleased with the verdict giving them $16 million for eight counts of fraud and another $8 million for breach of repair warranties.
QUEEN MARY 2 was in the news again in June when the ship failed a CDC sanitation inspection by receiving a score of 84 (the minimum passing grade is 86). It is rare for a newer mega ship to fail and the CDC’s list of infractions was scathing. A retest on July 27th resulted in a passing, but less than stellar score of 92. The ship underwent extensive refurbishment during a three-week dry docking that was completed in December. Most public areas and all 1,310 staterooms were fully renovated at the Blohm + Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.
Cunard Line has a new Commodore for its three-ship fleet. Christopher Rynd, a longtime veteran of P&O, began his passenger career on the 1951-built ORONSAY and joined Cunard in 2005.
In Long Beach, the former Cunard liner QUEEN MARY underwent yet another change in management when the Delaware North Corporation was fired in mid-April. Their replacement is Newport Beach, California-based Evolution Hospitality. It has been a turbulent decade for the rock-enclosed ship that celebrated her 75th birthday in May.
The QUEEN ELIZABETH 2, fleetingly seen in the backdrop of the current “Mission Impossible” film, will be the setting for an exclusive New Year’s Eve party in Dubai, marking the first public event since the ship was retired in 2008. Future plans for the vessel are still undecided amidst deep financial difficulties for Istithmar and their parent company Dubai World.
Special thanks to Tom Rinaldi, Rob Lightbody (www.theqe2story.com)
Next up: Princess