Queen Victoria leaves Southampton
on her Maiden Voyage.
The Cunard lion really does roar again,” proclaimed Cunard Line
president and managing director, Carol Marlow, at the grand
inauguration of Cunard’s new Queen Victoria in Southampton,
England, last month. The gathered crowd was there for a glimpse of
the newest member of the Cunard family and the royal family. It’s
safe to say that the pageantry didn’t disappoint.
The naming ceremony began with a fanfare of trumpets from the
Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. The audience (including those
of us from the colonies) sprang to their feet as Prince Charles and
the ship’s godmother the Duchess of Cornwall entered accompanied by
the strains of “God Save the Queen.” After the royal arrival, the
Emcee, British actor Sir Derek Jacobi, portrayed time-traveling
scientist Phileas Fogg, who recounted the history of the
British-founded company. From Samuel Cunard’s early days to the
line’s present incarnation at the pinnacle of the luxury
ocean-crossing business, Jacobi kept the audience entertained.
Cunard’s president Carol Marlow
(left) with Prince Charles
and the Dutchess of Cornwall.
Afterward, a lavish production number from the opera “Carmen” was
preformed by England’s singing sensation Katherine Jenkins, with
music provided by none other then the London Philharmonic. The
musical number culminated with the unveiling of the ship’s moniker
and a barrage of fireworks fit for a queen or at least a duchess.
Once the smoke had cleared a parade of choir singers from the
Winchester Cathedral streamed down the aisles and on to the stage
as the Lord Bishop of Winchester preformed the ship’s blessing.
Then the ship’s captain invited the Duchess of Cornwall to perform
“I name this ship Queen Victoria, may God bless her and all who
sail on her,” exclaimed the Duchess and she pressed the button
releasing the magnum of Veuve Clicquot champagne which sadly did
This glitch was corrected by an engineer who quickly broke
another bottle over the side. The fluke went largely unnoticed
under the rain of confetti that fell from the ceiling.
But the pomp and circumstance did not stop there. The audience
was then treated to a performance by tenors Alfie Boe, Jon Christos
and Gardar Thor Cortes. The trio performed a very fitting holiday
classic: “I Saw Three Ships” (accompanied by images of the
three-ship Cunard Line fleet). A sing-along ensued, with the
audience waving small Union Jacks and singing “Rule Britannia.”
The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines
performed at the naming ceremony.
That night the festivities continued on the ship with an elegant
feast in the main dinning hall and a masquerade ball in the Queen’s
The next morning, the Queen Victoria was off on its 10-night
maiden voyage to Northern Europe.
Mediterranean itineraries will highlight the Queen Victoria’s
2008 schedule. A variety of cruises will depart from Rome,
Barcelona, Venice, Athens and Southampton.
“In Queen Victoria’s inaugural year, we’ve planned a compelling
around-the-world schedule that affords travelers an opportunity to
experience the next generation of Cunard style, complete with
festive welcomes in every port,” said Marlow.
I felt lucky to have had an advance preview.
Gross Tonnage: 90,000
Length: 964.5 feet
Width: 106 feet
Draft : 25.9 feet
Height: 179 feet
Guest Capacity: 2,014
Guest Decks: 12
86 percent of staterooms are outside
71 percent of staterooms feature balconies
Fun Facts: Guests staying in the 127 deluxe
Queens and Princess Grill suites will be able to enjoy a
“members-only” atmosphere with key-card elevator floor access and
The 800-seat Royal Court Theatre features a cruising first:
private viewing boxes on the upper level and a dedicated lounge
area where guests can enjoy a pre-show cocktail.
Book worms will be pleased to find the ship’s well-stocked
two-story library with nearly 6,000 books and two full-time
librarians and sporting its own unique spiral staircase.