On October 16, 2008, Queen Elizabeth 2 sailed into New York for the last time.
To commemorate this occasion, Cunard Line invited the British Ambassador to
the United States, New York City officials, maritime historians, members of the
press and others who have been connected with QE2 over the years to a "Queen
Elizabeth 2 Farewell to America Celebration" held onboard the ship. The
following is excerpted from the public remarks.
Carol Marlow, President and Managing Director of Cunard, welcomed the
This is the last visit that QE2 will make to New York and also the final visit that
QE2 will make to America so it is doubly important and doubly poignant for us.
This wonderful ship, QE2 - - the best loved ship in the world - - has traveled
nearly 6 million nautical miles. She has circumnavigated the world 25 times and
she has delighted over two and a half million guests. She is still the fastest ship in
the world even though she was built back in 1967 and re-engined in the 1980s.
And, of course, this is her 710th call to New York. She has been a wonderful ship
for us and I am so pleased that you have joined us in paying this great tribute.
It is very fitting that the final call in America for this ship is made in New York.
New York has been a very important port for us at Cunard. We started coming
here back in 1847 when the Hibernia came in. We changed the routing of our very
historic transatlantic voyages from Liverpool - Boston to Liverpool – New York.
And, we have been coming back ever since. So, it really is a wonderful occasion
that we can have here in New York.
The transatlantic crossing itself has been happening with Cunard since 1840. We
have been back and forth between one continent and the other and this journey
has played an important part in the history of our two continents. We have
brought over at Cunard over two and a half million emigrants from the Old World
to the New to start a new life. We have in the 1920s and 30s and in the 50s and
60s - - the Golden Age of Ocean Travel - - we have brought across celebrities,
luminaries, stars of stage and screen, politicians, royalty - - they have all traveled
with us. Of course, during the Second World War, our ships were converted to
troopships and we carried troops to and from the battlefields in Europe.
We are still, I am delighted to say, traveling between our two continents and we
are bringing discerning travelers to and from our great lands. And, of course, QE2
has played her part in the transatlantic history of Cunard from 1969 to 2003. In
2003, she handed over that transatlantic baton when she handed over the flagship
baton to her new sister Queen Mary 2, which continues that tradition. QE2
continued to delight guests on the European trade and on her world cruises and she
does still do the occasion transatlantic. The final one, which she is setting off to do
this evening, is her 808th so she knows the way.
We also made history back here in January this year when we had three Cunard
Queens in New York Harbor for the very first time - - Queen Mary 2, QE2 and
Queen Victoria, our new ship. We were just delighted with how many New
Yorkers came out to watch as our ships progressed one behind the other, saluting
Lady Liberty and they left the harbor to skies that were a little bit grey but to a lot
of fireworks, which was fabulous.
This time we have two Queens here. We have QE2 and we have Queen Mary 2,
our new flagship, which has come over and escorted QE2 on her last transatlantic
voyages. She is based in her new homeport in America in Brooklyn and we are
delighted that she is there and we are delighted to see Marty Markowtiz here, the
Borough President of Brooklyn.
I am also delighted to see so many other familiar faces around the room . . . .
For the last hundred years or so, each generation has taken one ship out of all the
ships of the day to their heart. In the early 20th Century, it was the beautiful,
wonderful, four-funneled Mauretania. She was one of the new floating palaces,
one of the first floating palaces that Cunard ever had. She was the fastest ship
around - - she had the Blue Ribband for some 22 years. When she left Cunard’s
service, she went slowly up the east coast of the United Kingdom to the breaker’s
yard in the Firth of Forth and she was watched by thousands of people that came
out to see her and pay their respects.
The next ship was really Queen Mary, the ship that King George V said was the
"stateliest" of all ships. She had a wonderful life in peacetime and in war serving
her country and was seen and traveled on by many, many millions. When she
finally made her [last] trip, [it was] not to the breaker’s yard but down to Long
Beach, California where she still is today as a hotel ship and a visitor center, she is
admired by generations to come.
This last 40 years, the baton has fallen to QE2. She had become the most
famous ship in the world, she is the best loved ship in the world and she is really
an icon of her age. She is loved all around the world and she has done so many
world cruises and I am delighted that you are here today so that we can pay tribute
to this great ship on her last visit to New York and her last visit to America.
Ms. Marlow then introduced Sir Nigel Sheinwald British Ambassador to the
United States and Her Majesty's Consul General - New York Sir Alan Collins.
Sir Nigel Sheinwald said:
It is great for us to be able to represent the government at this important and
poignant moment. For four decades, this ship has represented something rather
special in our special relationship. It represents I think three things: First of all, the
importance of the human links between Europe and this country and particularly
between the UK and this country. This ships has nurtured a huge number, millions
as you say, of human relationships and has done so over the years with great
Secondly, this ship is a part of our fantastically successful trade relationship.
The trade and investment relationship between the UK and the US is one of the
jewels in the crown of our overall relationship and a very, very part of it is travel
and trade and tourism.
Lastly, that indefinable something which is part of transatlantic life which this
ship expresses and that is something about transatlantic style and character and
policy. I think that you have done that remarkably.
So, over the past four decades, this ship has been a very visible, distinctive,
inextricable part of transatlantic life. Although I have never set foot on the ship
before, it is an instantly recognizable part of that relationship. We will all miss the
ship but I think it is very appropriate that it is going out to a market and a country
which is incredibly important to both of us, to the United Arab Emirates. As an
emerging market and a partner and an ally of both the United States and the United
Kingdom, I’m sure she’ll find a very happy second home.
Captain Ian McNaught, Master of QE2, spoke next.
After all those facts and figures from Carol Marlow, I am just happy to be able
to say that I played a very small part in this ship’s tremendous history. I have
been here now for over half of the ship’s life and it has been a great honor, in fact
a boyhood ambition realized, to finally end up as master of this fine vessel.
Today, is a little bit of an occasion which is full of mixed emotions. Arriving in
New York is always a fantastic experience, especially in the company of
Commodore Warner and Queen Mary 2. But, as we leave tonight, there will be a
few tears, I’m sure, shed both on the shore and inside the ship as we leave this
great port for the last time.
We have had many adventures here in the Port of New York and one of them
concerns a visit we did here several years ago during the July the Fourth
celebrations when President Clinton very kindly gave us a sail past. After the day
at anchor we came up to the berth here at Pier 90, expecting the slip to be empty.
There is not a lot of space when you are attempting to fit something this big in one
of these slips. As we turned the corner, there were two warships parked in our
spot. So, we had to quickly move across to the other side. However, we did
manage - - how should I say - - to lean on one of the warships as we were coming
At the time, I was Staff Captain. Captain Paul Wright was here and he very
quickly delegated me to go and apologize to the other two ships. The British guy
was all right on HMS Manchester. He offered me a stiff gin and tonic and said:
“Don’t worry about it.”
The Japanese ship where life is a little more formal perhaps was a different
story. I was shown to a waiting room and the Japanese admiral would call on me
when he was ready. I just sat there absolutely terrified for about ten minutes.
Then the door finally opened and I was ushered in. He bowed gentlemanly-like
and said: “Welcome aboard my ship.”
I said, “I do apologize, sir, for the slight mishap this morning.”
“Think nothing of it, Staff Captain. It was a pleasure to be kissed by a queen.”
Some of you may have noticed that we are flying a special flag today - - our
paying off pennant. This is a flag that a ship flies in the final days of her service to
mark the years of service. We have a paying off pennant flying from the mast that
is 39 feet long, that is one foot for every year of service. I have actually had six of
these pennants made and we are presenting them to places which are very special
to the heart of QE2 and to Cunard Line. The first pennant was presented to the
port of Halifax where Samuel Cunard was born. The next pennant went to the
City of Liverpool in England last week which was where our head office was for
over 100 years. Then the next pennant went to the City of Glasgow where the
ship, of course, was built. This next pennant is going to be present to the Port of
New York where, as Carol says, we have been coming now for many, many years.
Captain McNaught then presented the New York Paying Off Pennant to Mr.
Grover Sanschagrin a retired berthing pilot who not only brought QE2 into New
York many times but also beginning in 1943 piloted all of the great Atlantic
liners including the earlier Cunard Queens in and out of the piers of Manhattan.
Commodore Bernard Warner took the floor.
I have just popped over from Brooklyn where we moored Queen Mary 2 this
morning. I have to say that I came into port with Captain Ian McNaught this
morning. We have enjoyed a fabulous crossing of the North Atlantic. We had
some lovely weather all the way across - - just a little bit of a pitching motion as
we started out. The ships were very close to each other all the way across. Just
last evening we moved to within about a third of a mile of each other and we gave
Queen Elizabeth 2 three rousing cheers and she gave them back to us. I think that
was a great moment.
I am very pleased to be a part of these celebrations here today and to be aboard
what has been the most famous ship in the world for the past 40 years. She has
been held in affection by millions and millions of people all over the world. She
has captivated countless generations of travelers over many, many years. And
indeed, we are proud of her for her outstanding and heroic achievements during
the Falklands campaign of 1982.
She has resolutely carried the North Atlantic mantle for all of this time bringing
the Atlantic traditions back to life with splendor and unmistakable glamour.
Thanks to Queen Elizabeth 2, the Cunard brand goes hand in hand with luxury
I have to say ladies and gentlemen that although Queen Elizabeth 2 is retiring and
we are all here to celebrate that moment here today, Cunard Line goes on. In
actual fact, when QE2 eventually leaves us, we will have the youngest fleet in the
industry - - Queen Mary 2 is not quite five years old and Queen Victoria, of
course, is only 10 months old already being very successful all around the world.
But, the greatest news is, I think, is that in 2010, a new Queen Elizabeth will be
with us, named after RMS Queen Elizabeth, which was, of course, named after
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who was the consort of King George VI. So,
that I think is the great news for the company. The future here is very bright.
Above and below: QE2 at her traditional New
York home, Pier 90 of the Manhattan Passenger
Above: A paying off pennant flies from QE2's mast.
Above: Carol Marlow, President of Cunard, addrssing
the attendees at the Farewell Celebration in QE2's
Yacht Club. Below left to right: British Consul General
- New York Sir Alan Collins, Ms. Marlow, British
Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald.
Right: Captain Ian
McNaught of QE2.
an incident where
QE2 had "kissed" a
berthed at the
McNaught presents a
paying off pennant to
Below: Tom Spina,
Director of Cruise
Operations New York
Corporation, presents a
plaque to QE2 "for all
she has done for us in the
City of New York."