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QUEEN MARY 2
CUNARD

An Interview with
Captain Christopher
Rynd
*

by Richard H. Wagner




*In April 2011, Captain Rynd was
appointed Commodore of the Cunard
fleet.
Captain Christopher Rynd’s career has paralleled the
development of the modern cruise industry.  During some
37 years at sea he has commanded many of the key vessels
of this period, accumulating a vast knowledge of the sea, the
ships and the industry.

The Princess Years

Born in New Zealand and raised in such far-flung locales as
Sri Lanka, Singapore, Samoa, and Fiji in the South Pacific,
Captain Rynd began his career at sea in 1970 and after
completing his cadetship joined the ORONSAY of
Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company
(“P&O”).  P&O is a venerable British line that was built
upon transporting passengers from Britain to India and
Australia.  Rynd’s early days were spent on P&O ships
doing the Australia run and the occasional cruise.

 
In 1974, P&O purchased Princess Cruises, a small company
that had begun in 1965 operating cruises on the West Coast,
primarily from Los Angles to Mexico and Alaska.    Princess
had a one-ship fleet at the time consisting of the ISLAND
PRINCESS, which it leased from Flagship Cruises.  But, the
19,000-ton ISLAND PRINCESS was a new ship, built in
Germany only a few years before.  P&O purchased
ISLAND PRINCESS as well as her sister ship PACIFIC
PRINCESS (formerly SEA VENTURE) for Princess.  It
also contributed another new ship, P&O’s SPIRIT OF
LONDON, which had originally been built for Norwegian
Caribbean Line.  As a result, Princess had a state-of-the-art
fleet.

Captain Rynd, who would later command PACIFIC
PRINCESS recalls that these ships “were the first generation
of specialized cruise ships.  Prior to that, [cruise ships] were
liners that had been converted.  This first generation,
without all the hold space, without all the cargo gear, was far
more efficient.  They were beautiful little ships in that time.  
They were considered medium sized ships, holding about
660 passengers, if memory serves.  The crew complement,
again about half that, 330 or more.”

“They were very special days in that early time of cruising.  
You felt like pioneers.  When we were first going to Alaska,
the roads were unpaved, there were one or two other ships
in port on a busy day, you visited the glaciers, you stopped
amongst the whales, you did so with fewer restrictions but
the ships were smaller and there were far fewer of them.  
Alaska was glorious.  We went down to Cabo San Lucus,
Mexico.  At the time, there were a few burros there, a single
hotel, half a dozen dwellings and that was it.  The old Cabo
San Lucas was a delight.  Having gone back there in recent
times, you just see this sprawling metropolis that has grown
up as a result, I suppose, of the its popularity.”

In 1975, Princess was approached by a television producer
about using its ships as the setting for a weekly series.  
Fortunately, Princess decided that it could live with the
inconveniences associated with filming a series on an
operational ship and agreed.  The series was, of course, The
Love Boat and it ran for a decade, making Princess Cruises
a household name and jump-starting the cruise industry.  “It
introduced to people the idea that cruising was possible for
ordinary people, not just for the rich and famous.”  

In those early days, however, some of the traditions that had
been part of life on the old liners still remained.    “All the
officers used to dine at passenger tables.  It was expected,
almost an obligation, that you did so except for fairly
extreme circumstances.  That was all the officers, second
officers, third engineers, and so on, all had a passenger table,
dined with the passengers and invited the passengers to the
cabin for drinks before dinner and things of that nature.”

Over the years, this type of interaction between officers and
passengers faded away on cruise ships.  “Ships started
getting a lot bigger with a lot more people.  The idea of
greeting people at cocktail parties on the big ships is just
logistically impossible.  So, the hotel side and the
entertainment side became more and more specialized and
larger.  The idea that deck and technical officers were so
involved with hosting became de-emphasized at the same
time.  There was also more and more emphasis on their
professional duties in an increasingly complex technical
environment in which the officers worked.  I think what
really phased it out was anytime dining.  Much of what
enables officers to host tables depends upon the passenger
being assigned to the first or second seating dinner, having
an assigned table and going to that place at the assigned time
whereas many modern travelers want a holiday as they
might ashore, which means that they want a less structured
lifestyle.”

In 1988, P&O acquired Sitmar (the name was short for
Societa ItalianaTransporti Maittima, S.p.A), which had also
been competing in the West Coast cruise market.  P&O
folded the Sitmar operation into Princess Cruises.  As part of
this acquisition, Princess gained the FAIRSKY (46,314 gross
tons), which Princess renamed SKY PRINCESS (later
PACIFIC SKY).  Captain Rynd’s career at Princess also
included commanding this vessel.   “I believe she was the
last steam turbine ship ever built.  She was launched in 1984
and she was started nearly two years before that.  French
built.  That was a wonderful experience in the sense that I
felt part of history just being there.  Steam turbine ship, very
rare these days, very smooth propulsion, of course, but a
whole different way of approaching maneuvers and handling
her as compared to a diesel electric which is the modern idea
of propulsion configuration.”

With turbines, there is “far less power astern, maybe one
third.  They also take time to get those revolutions on - -
going ahead, slow them down, stop them, go astern and so
forth.  So, they responded less quickly to maneuvers than
the modern ships.”  

In addition, SKY PRINCESS “was built as older traditional
ships were with a single rudder and two fixed screws.  That
is not a maneuverable combination.  We were cruising the
South Pacific islands with no pilots and no tugs.  She
presented some challenges which required good foresight
and a keen eye on what the weather was doing to enable her
safely.”

“Also, you always had to be mindful of the enormous up-
take of cooling water and the consequences when you got
into shallow water.  The steam condensers required vast
quantities of water.  What happened if you were coming into
a remote Pacific island anchorage in a strong wind?  You
had to keep that ship on track, on course and this required
speed to maintain steerage way until the ship would get to
where you wanted to anchor and then needed to go astern
with full power.  All the shells and matter from the bottom
would get sucked up into the condensers.  The engineers
didn’t like you for that because they would have to pull all
the sea life out of their condensers. So, you had to handle
her gently from that sense.”

Sitmar also had a series of ships on order when it was
acquired by P&O.  Two of these were the CROWN
PRINCESS (now OCEAN VILLAGE TWO) and REGAL
PRINCESS (soon to be renamed PACIFIC DAWN for
P&O Australia).  These two ships, completed in the early
1990s, were approximately 70,000 gross tons, 811 feet long
and 103 feet wide.  In addition to being larger than most
cruise ships of the era, they featured a radical new silhouette
that looked more like an airplane fuselage or a dolphin than a
traditional ship.  REGAL PRINCESS was another of
Captain Rynd’s commands.  “REGAL PRINCESS was one
of those next generation passenger ships or cruise ships.  
But, again, single rudder, twin screw, a little more
maneuverable but not an awful lot more.  A very nice ship,
although not every ones’ idea of design.  Renzo Piano
designed the outside.  She is not everyone’s taste but inside
she is beautiful, she is lovely.”

Captain Rynd brought the new PACIFIC PRINCESS into
service for Princess in 2002.  This ship is 30,277 tons and
was one of eight nearly identical ships built for Renaissance
Cruises, which had gone out of business.  “She was one of
the R-boats and they were real sweeties.  The interior is
beautiful in the classic sense, sort of an English country
house sort of décor inside and decoration like the original
PACIFIC PRINCESS. Again, a small complement, 660
passengers, half that in crew.”

The top-of-the-line ships in the Princess fleet are the Grand-
class ships.  In 1998, the lead ship in this class GRAND
PRINCESS dazzled the industry with her enormous size
(108,000 tons) and her radical for the time design.  That
design has proved so popular and successful that Princess
has continued to build Grand-class ships ever since.  In
2004, Captain Rynd took command of the new SAPPHIRE
PRINCESS. “The GRAND PRINCESS was the first of the
series and I should think that in each successive ship they
have thought about how they did it and put it together and
improved on that where they could.  So, these two
[SAPPHIRE and sister DIAMOND PRINCESS] had the
benefit of their pedigree but also the benefit of their
construction in a Japanese yard [Mitsubishi Heavy
Industries] which would appear to be very good indeed.     
They were built extremely well.   If you consider the way
Japanese build cars, the same with ships, they were
wonderfully well put together, well-tested and delivered
clean, tested, functional.  Very well-handled and a very
beautiful ship.”  
                                                            
(continued)
Captain Christopher Rynd
THE PRINCESS YEARS ..... This page

THE CUNARD YEARS ......
Page 2



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THE CUNARD YEARS
One of Captain Rynd's early
commands was the original Love
Boat, PACIFIC PRINCESS.
As a result of the Sitmar
acquisition, Princess obtained the
futuristic-looking CROWN
PRINCESS (above) and REGAL
PRINCESS (soon to be renamed
PACIFIC DAWN).  Captain Rynd
commanded REGAL PRINCESS
(below).
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