An Interview with
Captain Christopher

by Richard H. Wagner


Queen Elizabeth 2

Following Carnival Corporation’s acquisition of P&O and
Princess Cruises in 2003, Cunard Line, which is also a
Carnival subsidiary, was placed under the same management
umbrella as Princess and P&O.  In order to broaden
experience and to create more opportunities for
advancement, the personnel of the three lines were mixed
with Cunard officers commanding Princess and P&O ships
and Princess officers serving on Cunard ships.   A senior
master in the Princess fleet, Captain Rynd was given the
opportunity to command the legendary QUEEN
ELIZABETH 2 in 2006 for part of her world cruise and for
part of her European cruise season.

After having commanded some of the most modern and
largest cruise ships, commanding the nearly-40 year old
ocean liner was like returning to the past. “What myself and
Commodore Bernard Warner have in common is that we
started out on ships of the QE2 era and older, so our times
as more junior officers were spent in such ships.  So it wasn’
t, let’s say, so difficult for us to go back to what we
remember of those ships in the past.”

On QE2, the ship’s officers, especially the captain, still retain
a social role, frequently interacting with passengers.  “After
coming from one ship where you had far less a social role, to
re-engage with people was fun, good to get back to.  As I
say, Commodore Warner and I both began in that
environment so it was a return to what we knew from the
QE2 also differs from the modern cruise ships in that she
does not have all of the marine technology that has been
developed over the last four decades to make ships more
maneuverable.  “She is great in a straight line.  She wasn’t
built for intricate maneuvers.  Again, you need planning and
forethought and a keen eye on what the weather is doing.  
You must hire tugs and get assistance or use your anchor
and the other seamanship methods to ensure that you can
dock her.”

This is not to say that QE2 is technologically obsolete.  “She
has had an awful lot of money put into her to bring her to
quite a high level in the technical spaces - - improving,
cleaning and maintaining that ship so that she not only meets
but exceeds the expectations of the MCA, the British Marine
and Coastguard Agency.  Also, the machinery that she had
put into her originally was put in during an age when they
over-engineered things and built them very solid so you have
gear there that has lasted, will last, for over 40 years.  It is
good solid gear, whether you are talking windlass machinery
or main propulsion motors.  It is all solid, heavy stuff - -
different era technology but well-built.  So, she is in good
shape right now.”

This includes the ship’s nine diesel engines.  When QE2 was
converted from steam turbine propulsion to diesel electric
propulsion in 1986, it was estimated that the engines would
last until 2010.  However, it now appears that these engines
would have been able to continue beyond that date.  The
reason for this lies in the fact that QE2 usually did not
require all of her engines to be online in order to maintain the
speed needed for her itineraries.  As a result, “they were
almost always able to have one or two of the engines out for
overhaul and maintenance. All of these modern ships use
their generators most of the time.  So, in order to take one
out, you have to have a special program.  They also
negotiated a contract at the time she was re-engined with the
engine manufacturers and ever since then they have had one
of the engine manufacturer’s representatives onboard to look
after the overhaul program.”

Along the same lines, QE2’s hull remains in sound
condition.  “Like QUEEN MARY 2, she was built with very
solid, heavy steel plates, so that is on her side, in her favor.  
I’m not aware of any significant deterioration in the hull
given they were so heavy and thick in the first place.”

Queen Mary 2

Following his tour on QE2, Captain Rynd was asked to
relieve Commodore Warner as master of Cunard’s new
superliner QUEEN MARY 2.  QM2 is a true ocean liner, a
status she shares with QE2.  Also, like QE2, many of the old
ocean liner traditions are maintained onboard QM2.  
However, QM2 is much larger and incorporates technology
and amenities that were not available when QE2 was built.  
Consequently, the two ships have developed different
personalities.  “They are both Cunarders, many years apart.  
They both need to be taken for what they are rather than
comparing one with the other.”
“The single word that describes QM2 is ‘magnificent’.   And,
I say that with all sincerity.  She is a magnificent ship.  She is
magnificent in her stateliness, her public areas, her power.  I’
m very fond of her.  She is exciting to handle as well as

From a sailor’s perspective, one aspect of QM2 that is
particularly impressive is her maneuverability.  Unlike
traditional ships, QM2 has no rudder.  Instead, she
maneuvers by turning two of the four propeller pods that pull
the ship through the water.  When she is docking, these two
azimuth pods (often referred to as “azipods”) are used in
conjunction with three powerful bow thrusters.  Not only
does this combination often eliminate the need for tugboat
assistance but it allows the ship to perform intricate
maneuvers and thus dock in ports that other less
maneuverable ships cannot.

For example, in Stavanger, Norway the ship had to dock
bow-on, close to the center of the city, in an area surrounded
by shallow water.  In order to exit the port, QM2 had to pull
away from the pier, back-up until clear of the pier and then
turn 180 degrees essentially in her own length.  “That was a
four point turn there done with a precision that would be
very difficult to replicate by other means.  You have got the
assurance of this tremendous power that you can get from
these azimuth pods.  We were operating with such tight
parameters that we had a tug as insurance if something didn’t
work quite as we wanted it.  Nobody will ever say ‘thank
you’ for not taking a tug if things go wrong, so you take it.”

QM2’s ability to travel much faster than cruise ships
combined with the stability of her design also results in a
more comfortable ride for passengers.  Captain Rynd
illustrated this by describing how he dealt with one Atlantic
storm the ship encountered.  “We made quite a bold
alteration of course in advance of that low pressure.  We
knew there was a developing low but it was only 12 or 16
hours beforehand that it was upgraded to a storm and that is
when we put in the avoidance strategy.  If we had known
when leaving England, we would have taken a different
course from the very beginning, of course.  So, that added
about 106 extra miles to our passage, quite a lot, but I’m
sure worthwhile for several reasons.  One is passengers pay
for a more comfortable ride.  [Two,] if you back strike right
through it, you are using extra fuel just to maintain your
speed.  So, by avoiding it, you maintain your speed, use less
fuel, and you keep your passengers happier.   [Three,] you
keep spas and salons and other revenue sources open as

“We went up to the north, the idea being that we would take
that wind on the beam rather than right ahead.  For
passenger liners, that is often the most comfortable way to
take heavy weather.  Pitching is the motion that gives the
most discomfort to passengers and slows the ship down the
most.  Taking it on the beam, the force of the wind steadies
the ship, the accommodations are like a stay sail and you
have your stabilizers and you minimize the rolling effect.”

North Atlantic storms frequently cover vast areas and it was
not possible to completely avoid the storm in question.  It
was a force nine gale with gusts up to force 10.  (The scale
only goes up to force 12).  Furthermore, in theory, such high
winds should have more of an effect on a ship as tall as
QM2 than on a ship with a lower silhouette.   
“Meteorological theory is that you measure wind speed at ten
meters above the water.  Well, that is below Deck Seven.  
[QM2 has 13 decks].  The higher the wind gets above the
sea surface, it loses friction and the wind increases so where
our anemometer is up on top of the mast, the wind will be
five or ten knots higher than it is forecast to be or reported to
be at its theoretic level.  [Each balcony] is a little sail in
itself.  So, rather than the flat hull alone taking the force of
the wind, the balconies actually capture the wind.”

Nonetheless, the storm had little effect on the passengers.  
Captain Rynd noted how large groups of passengers sat by
the viewing windows on the promenades on Decks Two and
Three “watching that roaring sea going by the windows.  We
were doing 25 knots at the time and it was just mesmerizing
to watch that rough sea going by as we moved along.”
In addition, despite the storm and the alteration of course,
the ship arrived in New York on schedule.  “When [naval
architect] Stephen Payne and the others were at the design
stage, they did all that tank testing in the Netherlands and
computer simulations during which they ran the design for
QM2 through the worst storms of the previous five years
and saw what that would do to her speed.  She was always
able to catch up afterwards with the propulsion plant that
they put on this ship.  So, if you encounter one bad storm
system, we will always get there on time was what they were

“One of the wonderful things about this propulsion plant is
that you have got both diesel engines and gas turbines.  You
can make a very acceptable speed just on the diesels.  Then,
you add the turbines for the extra speed or when you need to
take diesels out for overhaul and maintenance.”

These qualities also serve to give QM2 a competitive
advantage not just on transatlantic crossings but when she is
competing head-to-head with modern cruise ships.  “Our
program out of New York this winter will be two days down
to the Caribbean from wintry New York.  Two days later in
the tropics.  So, her speed and size are being used to
advantage to make her distinctively different from other
ships competing in the same market.  Her speed and her sea
worthiness, I should say, because there we are doing cruising
out of New York in the winter, past [stormy Cape] Hatteras,
and south and yet, this has got to be the most comfortable
ship carrying passengers in the world today in any sort of
weather.  So, that difference is being used to advantage.”

Queen Victoria

Captain Rynd’s next assignment will be to play a key role in
the formative stages of Cunard’s new ship QUEEN
VICTORIA, scheduled to go into service in December
2007.  “Paul Wright, of course, is the nominated captain
there and I will be relieving him.  I’ve closely followed her
construction, she will be the very essence of a Cunard ship.  
There has been a lot of thought and design into creating the
great ocean liner concept onboard.  She also comes with a lot
of what is learned from the cruise ship industry, in terms of
amenities, layout, what works well in providing people with
that type of holiday.  She provides a liner experience - - she
is not built for the transatlantic but she will be providing very
much a Cunard product for people who love what Cunard

QUEEN VICTORIA was not designed as a running mate for
QM2 in the sense that the QUEEN MARY and the QUEEN
ELIZABETH operated a transatlantic shuttle service in the
1950s and 1960s.  “She will be more destination orientated.  
She is doing Baltic, Mediterranean, Atlantic Islands, and
round the world voyages.  She will be able to go to St.
Petersberg and other interesting ports that a ship of QM2’s
size and draft cannot easily go.  They will be complementary
ships, I should think.”

“The new QUEEN VICTORIA is being built by Fincantieri
and you may have heard the comment that this will be better
than any other ship that they built in that yard in the last ten
years, in their words.  The quality of the interior will all be of
a very high level.”

Captain Rynd was present when the new ship first went to
sea in the late summer for her sea trials. “She performed
very well on trials meeting or exceeding the requirements for
maneuvering, speed, vibration levels and all the technical
equipment and system tests that can only be carried out at
sea with everything operating.”

“Although built on a Vista hull pattern she is longer, stronger,
has an extra deck to accommodate the ‘Grills’ area and has
been completely redesigned on the inside so you could not
call her a sister ship of the Holland America ships of that
class.  She will be a Cunarder true to her legacy with all the
signature rooms and facilities”

THE CUNARD YEARS ...... This Page

Captain Rynd was present for
QUEEN VICTORIA's sea trials.
(Photo: Cunard).
ABOVE: QM2 in Stavanger,
BELOW: Captain Rynd
begins a four-point turn which
turned QM2 180 degrees in a very
confined area.
And we have more photos, articles
and information about:



Cruise ship interview - - Cunard - - Queen Mary 2 - - Captain Christopher Rynd (now Commodore Christopher Rynd)








Commodore Rynd discusses
the Queen Victoria in more
detail in a separate interview.

Commodore Rynd discusses the
role of commodore in another