Cunard Line's flagship Queen Mary 2 departing Cherbourg
I am truly delighted and honoured to be able to take this opportunity to personally welcome you to a very special blog post!
I particularly welcome those of you who are keen followers of Dream Designs Colchester, but also welcome those who are new and have only just discovered us.
On Thursday 13th October 2011, my father and I left our home in Colchester to journey to Southampton, before boarding Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 the following day, to spend 2 nights aboard the 151,400 tonne ocean liner.
I have especially divided this blog post up into different sections, in order to make it as easy as possible for you to read about the wonderful time which we had aboard Queen Mary 2!
Within this blog post I hope to give you a detailed insight of the spectacular voyage we had and of course share with you many of the photographs which we took.
QE2 Mile & Anchor
On the morning of Friday 14th October 2011, before boarding Queen Mary 2 my father and I, took the opportunity to explore the City of Southampton and view the anchor of Cunard Line's famous Queen Elizabeth 2.
Recently we were in contact with Cunard Line and spoke about the possibility of meeting with Peter Shanks, President & Managing Director, Cunard Line before boarding Queen Mary 2. Unfortunately in the end we were sadly not given such an opportunity.
A few days before leaving for Southampton, I took a few hours to 'refurbish' an old drawing of Queen Elizabeth 2, which I originally assigned in 2009. I intended to show the drawing to Peter Shanks, President & Managing Director, Cunard Line, after viewing the anchor of Queen Elizabeth 2.
Whilst visiting the City of Southampton to view the anchor of Queen Elizabeth 2, I took the opportunity to have a number of photographs taken, together with my drawing of the much loved Cunarder!
After viewing the anchor and taking time to get some photographs, my father and I made our way to the terminal were Queen Mary 2 was berthed. In port that day was also P&O Cruises' Azura, which my father and I were invited to the Naming Ceremony of in April 2010 by Carol Marlow, Managing Director, P&O Cruises, and also Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Eclipse, which we have not yet had the opportunity to visit.
As nearly always, the main road to the docks in Southampton was quite busy, with lots of traffic. It took us quite a while to finally get to Dock Gate 4, but once through we quickly got to the terminal, where we were directed where to park our car.
Once our car was parked, we entered the QEII terminal, where we were very quickly checked in and passed through security. We then arrived in the embarkation lounge and we decided to get a quick bite to eat before boarding, as we not had much breakfast.
Before long, it was almost time for us to board. We were so very lucky and were on board the ship by noon! At the same time Stephen, our Volunteer @ Sea, also sailing on this voyage, who has priority boarding was still waiting outside his hotel for a taxi.
Upon boarding Queen Mary 2, we made our way immediately to our In-Hull Balcony Stateroom on Deck 5. I must admit, I made a little mistake and started looking for the Stateroom which we have in June 2012 for our Royal Rendezvous voyage! Once I realised my mistake and found the correct Stateroom, we were pleasant surprised.
After finding our stateroom and putting down the luggage which we brought aboard ourselves, we decided to enjoy lunch on Deck 7 in the Kings Court buffet. We then took the chance to take a walk around the ship a little, before setting sail from Southampton later that afternoon.
Southampton Sail Away!
Once we had briefly explored the ship, we headed back to our Stateroom to relax a for a short while, before collecting our life jackets and attending the muster drill. Unfortunately the drill was held later than usual at 16:30 and therefore we missed Celebrity Eclipse sail past!
We quickly walked back to our Stateroom to put down our life jackets and then went back up to the promenade deck on Deck 7 to wait for P&O Cruises' Azura to pass. By this time many other passengers had gathered on the outside decks and their balconies to watch sail away and Azura to pass.
It was quite a spectacular sight to see Azura sail by with plenty of the passenger on board waving to passengers aboard Queen Mary 2. Both of the ships blasted their horns at each other and passengers cheered and whistled as Azura departed Southampton.
After Azura had sailed past Queen Mary 2, we finally began to depart from the berth at the QEII Terminal. By this time the sun was begining to set, which made sailaway even more special with a truly beautiful sunset. You wouldn't think it was October, more like the middle of summer!
We continued to enjoy the spectacular view from the Observation Deck, passing the popular shipspotting point at Calshot, where we have stood so many times as Queen Mary 2 and others ships sail by.
When we had sailed clear of Calshot spit, we made our way to the Britannia Restaurant to enjoy dinner. The appetizer which was salmon and asparagus was not too nice if I'm honest, but the main course of beef ravioli was quite delicious and the desert was gorgeous!
After dinner we walked around the ship a little more, watching the lights on the shore disappear off into the distance behind us as were gently voyaged to Cherbourg. We played a quick game of Shuffleboard on Deck 12 before continuing to walk around the ship.
We then took the chance to explore the shops on board Queen Mary 2 and purcahsed quite a number of gifts, including a number of T-shirts, keyrings, pens and a model of the ship, as well as a number of teddy bears, one for my mother, but also our Volunteers @ Sea, Ernie & Edna who collect a bear from each ship they have been on and kindly brought us one from Aurora last December, when they presented my drawing to Captain David Pembridge on my behalf during their Christmas Caribbean cruise.
In fact, we had already been to the Bookshop earlier that afternoon, I brought a 2012 diary and a pencil profile drawing print of Queen Mary 2 drawn by Simon Fisher.
After visiting the shops we explored the ship more, before making our way back to our Stateroom for a relatively early night, so we would be up to watch us berth alongside Cherbourg the next morning.
Saturday morning we were up by 05:20 to watch Queen Mary 2 berth at the Cruise Terminal in Cherbourg. We could see the shoreline off in the distance and slowly it got closer and closer as we entered the harbor.
At around 06:00 we finally berthed alongside the Cruise Terminal in Cherbourg. We decided to go back to our Stateroom for a while to get an extra few hours sleep!
Cherbourg Day 1
We awoke around 10:00 to beautiful clear blue skies, much like we experienced when departing Southampton the previous evening. Once fully awake, we headed for the Kings Court buffet on Deck 7 to enjoy a late breakfast! You'll soon begin to notice, we didn't stop eating!
When we had finished our tasty breakfast, we took the chance to enjoy the view of Cherbourg from the ship, particularly the Observation Deck, on Deck 11 just under the Navigation Bridge.
We then decided to take a short walk ashore, so made our way to the Grand Lobby on Deck 2, where the gangway was positioned. It was incredible to see Queen Mary 2 from the dock, she looked so very impressive and grand, as always! After a short walk ashore in Cherbrourg we headed back to the ship.
Once back aboard we went back to the Kings Court buffet to get a bite to eat, even though we had only just had breakfast less than 2 hours before. We then returned to our Stateroom to enjoy the view and delightful weather from our very own balcony. Some of the crew were also testing some of the lifeboats and the small rescue craft too, which was good fun to watch.
It was then time for yet more food and we had lunch in the Kings Court buffet again. Once again, very tasty indeed! Steak & chips were on the menu this time! After finishing lunch we took a short watch around the ship to take in the view of Cherbourg and the surrounding area.
We then returned to our Stateroom once again, to rest on our balcony and watch a number of small boats pass. I then took the chance to visit the Children's area, to see if any of my drawings of Queen Mary 2 which have been presented to the ship, were displayed aboard, like they are aboard Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. A member of crew took me into the various rooms, but sadly we did not find the drawing anywhere.
So I then went to Reception in the Grand Lobby on Deck 2, where I asked if it would be possible to speak to the Captain's Secretary and meet with the Master of Queen Mary 2, Captain Kevin Oprey. I also mentioned to the Receptionist that I had met with Commodore Bernard Warner on our previous voyage in November 2010.
The Receptionist, James, was kind enough to phone the Captain's Secretary, but was unable to get an answer. He then asked if I could come back later. As I was about to walk off the Captain's Secretary returned the call. James informed me that she would contact us later that afternoon via our Stateroom telephone.
I then went back to our Stateroom, to inform my father of the details. We then watched a Irish Ferry arrive on the opposite side of the Port from our Stateroom balcony.
After that, we went to meet with our respected Volunteer @ Sea, Stephen, his travelling companion Alan, as well as his mother and two nieces too, who we had arranged to meet in the Grand Lobby on Deck 3 at 16:30. It was nice to meet with them all once again and I took the opportunity to get a photograph taken together with Stephen and Alan, with my recently 'refurbished' drawing of Queen Elizabeth 2.
We then headed for the Kings Court again for yet more food! (This was now our 3rd lunch!) After our 3rd lunch, we went back to our Stateroom, to see if the Captain's Secretary had telephoned us. Surprisingly she had and invited us to visit the bridge. ( I didn't listen to the whole message, as she wanted us to meet her on Stairwell A Deck 12 at 16:50, but when I later listened to the rest of the message she repeated the time as 17:50, for sailaway!)
I was in such a rush and thought it must have been 16:50 my father and I headed for Stairwell A Deck 12, in quite a rush! We then waited for someone to exit or enter the Navigation Bridge and then asked for the Captain's Secretary. She then came out to greet us and invited us into the Navigation Bridge.
Whilst on the Navigation Bridge we were lucky enough to meet with Captain Kevin Oprey who spent quite sometime talking to us and looking through the various photos I had taken from previous events in the proud history of Dream Designs Colchester! We also took the opportunity to get a photograph taken, together with my 'refurbished' drawing of Queen Elizabeth 2 from 2009.
I asked Captain Kevin Oprey if he was aware what might have happened to my drawing of Queen Mary 2 which was presented to the now retired Commodore Bernard Warner in November 2010, during our 2 night voyage aboard. It is believed that he might well have taken the drawing home with him upon his retirement earlier this year.
Cherbourg Sail Away!
After we had visited the bridge and met with Captain Kevin Oprey we went back to our Stateroom to put down the drawing of Queen Elizabeth 2 and the portfolio folder of photos too. It was then time to head for the Observation Deck on Deck 11, to get ready for sail away from Cherbourg at 18:00.
My father and I decided to watch sail away from the Observation Deck, directly under the bridge on Deck 11. Much like our sail away from Southampton the previous day, lots of passengers gathered on their balconies and on the outside decks and the sun was still shinning!
At just after 18:00 the mooring lines were let loose and Queen Mary 2 began to depart the berth. Not only were so many people watching sail away aboard the ship, but hundreds of onlookers were gather on the dockside and surrounding area. Earlier that day we had overheard a number of other passengers saying that this was the last time that Queen Mary 2 would berth in Cherbourg, as Cunard have decided to use La Havre instead. Of course the French has a close connection with Queen Mary 2, as she was construction at the shipyard in St Nazaire.
As we pulled further away from the dock, the security guards on the dock opened the gates and allowed the onlooker to enter the dock, walking alongside as Queen Mary 2 maneuvered slowly out of the tight berth. We then had to turn a full 180 degrees, before heading for the entrance of the harbor wall.
A flotilla of small boats followed us alongside, as we departed from the berth at Cherbourg. As we got closer to the harbor wall entrance, I decided to go down onto the Promenade Deck on Deck 7, so that my father could take a photograph of me from the Observation Deck, some 5 decks above, looking along the side of the ship, to get an impression of the scale and majesty of Queen Mary 2.
I took the port side external glass elevator down from Deck 11 to the Promenade Deck on Deck 7, then walked a little way along so my father could take the photographs. Whilst looking up at the camera, I saw Captain Kevin Oprey and a number of other individuals directly above the Observation Deck on the Navigation Bridge. Whilst my father was taking the photographs, the Captain waved and beckoned me up to the Navigation Bridge. (He didn't realise I was waiting for the photographs to be taken!)
Once my father had taken the photographs, I briskly walked back to the elevator, took it up to Deck 11 and order my father to follow me! We took the stairs up to Deck 12 and waited in the stairwell lobby directly outside the bridge. The Captain then came out the port side door and welcomed us into the Navigation Bridge. Truly incredible!
He allowed us to stay on the Navigation Bridge for quite some time, as we departed Cherbourg. It was absolutely breathtaking! The view was amazing! We spent a while talking to each other about my passion for ships and the various ships I have drawn and visited. We were also introduced to the Captain's two daughters who were aboard Queen Mary 2. It was such an honour and I felt so very privileged. I was quite emotional too, to known I was on the Navigation Bridge of the largest ocean liner ever built and the sail away had been so special too!
After our magical experience during sail away and time spent on the bridge, we headed for Dinner in the Britannia Restaurant. We were already late as we had been with the Captain for so long. We just had to stop on the Promenade Deck, as the view was dazzlingly beautiful!
We then rushed inside to take the elevator down to the Britannia Restaurant on Deck 3. We were over an hour and 20 minutes late! As we were so late, we were given the main course right away. I must say, it was however quite disappointing and was not very nice at all.
Later that night we explored the ship a little more and decided to take a visit to Illuminations, the on board Planetarium and Cinema. We had missed most of the film, but what we did see was quite entertaining. It was then time to retire to our Stateroom, where we stood on our Balcony watching the lights slowly disappear off inside the distance. Before long, another day was over and it was time for bed, as we wanted to be up early to watch Queen Mary 2 arrive at Ocean Terminal in Southampton
We awoke at approximately 05:20. I immediately when out onto our Stateroom Balcony to see where we were. I could see lights and knew we must be quite close to Southampton.
Once we had awoken a little more, we left our Stateroom and headed for the Observation Deck, which was closed due to high winds, although it was not particularly that windy! Instead, we decided to take a short walk along the Promenade Deck. It was rather chilly, so we went back to our Stateroom to look out from our Balcony.
Amazingly, within the time it took us to walk down two decks to our Stateroom, fog had completely surrounded Queen Mary 2 and began to get worse and worse. We could hear or vessels passing, but could not see a thing! The fog was so intense that we headed back to the Promenade Deck, by which time the fog had worsen further, so much so that we could hardly see the water below! It appeared that we were stationary too. Other vessels as well as Queen Mary 2, blasted their fog horns to make each other aware of their presence as the fog was so thick.
We then took one of the glass external elevators up to Deck 11, to see if the Observation Deck was open. It wasn't! So we came back down, to Deck 7 and went to the other side of the ship to see if we could see anymore. To our great surprise, there was the opposite side of the dock to Ocean Terminal. We then went back to the other side, where we could see Ocean Terminal and Southampton City. Within literally minutes we had got out of the fog. Quite amazing!
We went to see if the Observation Deck was open, thankfully this time it was! We could now see the fog which was unbelievable. It just stopped suddenly, like a wall! I had never seen anything quite like it.
After watching Queen Mary 2 arrival alongside Ocean Terminal, it was time to enjoy breakfast in the Kings Court on Deck 7. Another very tasty typical British breakfast!
It was then time to head back to our Stateroom for the last time, to pack our things and get ready to disembark Queen Mary 2. In all honesty, I was not sad to leave, as I was already slightly home sick. That's not saying I did not enjoy the voyage, it was splendid! I also knew I would be back aboard in June 2012 for the Royal Rendezvous celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen. Of course I'll also be celebrating my 18th Birthday during the voyage too!
We then left our Stateroom and took the elevator down to Deck 3, before making our way to the gangway located in the Grand Lobby on Deck 3. Disembarkation was very straightforward, we took all our own luggage personally. We then left the ship, walked along the gangway, through Ocean Terminal and to the car park to find our car.
It was then time to journey home to Colchester, which took a little less than 3 hours. Our voyage was truly unforgettable, with so many special moments, which we will treasure forever.
I would now like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to a number of individuals. Firstly I would like to thank you personally, for taking the time to read through this very special blog post. I do hope you enjoyed it and that I was able to give you an accurate impression of just what an amazing experience we had during our 2 night voyage aboard my favourite ship, the magnificent Queen Mary 2.
I would also like to thank Reader Offers Ltd, for helping us with the booking of this voyage! I must also extend my thanks to Cunard Line, particularly the crew aboard Queen Mary 2, but especially Captain Kevin Oprey who made our voyage so much more memorable!
Now we have to look forward to the spectacular forthcoming voyage in June 2012, which I am positive will be equally impressive, if not exceed this recent voyage!
My very best of wishes to you all.
President & Managing Director
Dream Designs Colchester
For more information please Contact Us on the following details below
Harry Cotterill, President & Managing Director, Dream Designs Colchester
Harry Cotterill set up his blog when he was just 16-years old, making him one of the youngest cruise bloggers in the world. In later years he became known across the world for his amazing talent of drawing cruise ships!