Maiden Voyage of RMS Queen Mary 2

Isle of Man - Scott #1239b (2008)
Isle of Man – Scott #1239b (2008)

On January 12, 2004, RMS Queen Mary 2 (QM2) set sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the United States, carrying 2,620 passengers. She was under the command of captain Ronald Warwick, who had previously commanded Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2). Warwick is the son of William (Bill) Warwick, who had also been a senior Cunard officer and the first captain of QE2. The ship returned to Southampton late from her maiden voyage after bow doors covering the thrusters failed to shut in Portugal.

Queen Mary 2 is the flagship of Cunard Line, constructed for eventual replacement of the aging Queen Elizabeth 2, the Cunard flagship from 1969 to 2004 and the last major ocean liner built before the construction of Queen Mary 2. QM2 had the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) title conferred on her, as a gesture to Cunard’s history, by Royal Mail when she entered service in 2004 on the Southampton to New York route.  With the retirement of QE2 in 2008, Queen Mary 2 is the only transatlantic ocean liner in line service between Southampton, England and New York City, New York, operating for a part of each year. The ship is also used for cruising, including an annual world cruise.

She was designed in 2003 by a team of British naval architects led by Stephen Payne, and was constructed in France by Chantiers de l’Atlantique. At the time of her construction, Queen Mary 2 held the distinctions of being the longest, at 1,131.99 feet (345.03 meters), and largest, with a gross tonnage of 148,528 GT, passenger ship ever built. She no longer holds this distinction after the construction of Royal Caribbean International’s 154,407 GT Freedom of the Seas in April 2006, but remains the largest ocean liner ever built.

Queen Mary 2 was intended for routine crossings of the Atlantic Ocean, and was therefore designed differently from many other passenger ships. The ship’s final cost was approximately $300,000 US per berth. Expenses were increased by the high quality of materials, and having been designed as an ocean liner, she required 40% more steel than a standard cruise ship. QM2 has a maximum speed of just over 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) and a cruising speed of 26 knots (48 km/h; 30 mph), much faster than a contemporary cruise ship. Instead of the diesel-electric configuration found on many ships, Queen Mary 2 uses integrated electric propulsion to achieve her top speed. Diesel engines, augmented by gas turbines, are used to generate electricity for electric motors for propulsion and for on-board use.

Queen Mary 2 is not a steamship like many of her predecessors, but is powered primarily by four diesel th two additional gas turbines used when extra power is required; this integrated electric propulsion configuration is used to produce the power to drive her four electric propulsion pods as well as powering the ship’s hotel services. The spaces for these prime movers are also split, and controls are also backed up, with the intention of preventing a single failure from disabling the ship.

Like her predecessor Queen Elizabeth 2, she is built for crossing the Atlantic Ocean, though she is regularly used for cruising; in the winter season she cruises from New York to the Caribbean on twelve- or thirteen-day tours. Queen Mary 2‘s 30-knot (56 km/h; 35 mph) open ocean speed sets the ship apart from cruise ships, such as MS Oasis of the Seas, which has a service speed of 22.6 knots (41.9 km/h; 26.0 mph); QM2‘s normal service speed is 26 knots (48 km/h; 30 mph). While the hull of a cruise ship will typically have a block coefficient of 0.73 (1.0 would represent a rectangular block) Queen Mary 2 is more fine-lined, with a block coefficient of 0.61.

Cunard completed a design for a new class of 84,000 GT, 2,000 passenger liners on June 8, 1998, but revised them upon comparing those specifications with Carnival Cruise Line’s 100,000 GT Destiny-class cruise ships and Royal Caribbean International’s 137,276 GT Voyager class.

In December 1998, Cunard released details of Project Queen Mary, the project to develop a liner that would complement Queen Elizabeth 2. Harland and Wolff of Northern Ireland, Aker Kværner of Norway, Fincantieri of Italy, Meyer Werft of Germany, and Chantiers de l’Atlantique of France were invited to bid on the project. The contract was finally signed with Chantiers de l’Atlantique, a subsidiary of Alstom, on November 6, 2000. This was the same yard that built Cunard’s former rivals, the SS Normandie and SS France of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. Due to QM2‘s size and complexity, the shipyard resourced the project at 1.7 to 2 times higher than a typical cruise ship.

Queen Mary 2 under construction. Photo taken on February 5, 2003.
Queen Mary 2 under construction. Photo taken on February 5, 2003.
Queen Mary 2 under construction. Photo taken in April 2003.
Queen Mary 2 under construction. Photo taken in April 2003.
Queen Mary 2 departing Saint Nazaire for sea trials in September 2003.
Queen Mary 2 departing Saint Nazaire for sea trials in September 2003.

Her keel was laid down on July 4, 2002, in the construction dock at Saint-Nazaire, France, with the hull number G32. Approximately 3,000 craftsmen spent around eight million working hours on the ship, and around 20,000 people were directly or indirectly involved in her design, construction, and fitting out. In total, 300,000 pieces of steel were assembled into 94 “blocks” off the dry dock, which were then stacked and welded together to complete the hull and superstructure. After floating out on March 21, 2003, QM2 was fitted out in the large fitting out basin (“Bassin C”), the first ship to use this huge dry dock since the shipyard built large tankers in the 1970s, such as the MV Gastor. Her sea trials were conducted during September 25-29 and November 7-11, 2003, between Saint-Nazaire and the offshore islands of Île d’Yeu and Belle-Île. The final stages of construction were marred by a fatal accident on November 15, 2003, when a gangway collapsed under a group of shipyard workers and their relatives who had been invited to visit the vessel. In total, 32 people were injured and 16 were killed, after a 49-foot (15-meter) fall into the drydock.

Construction was completed on schedule. Cunard took delivery in Southampton, England, on December 26, 2003. On January 8, 2004, the liner was officially named by Queen Elizabeth II amidst much ceremony in Southampton.

Queen Mary 2’s principal naval architect was Carnival’s in-house designer, Stephen Payne. Payne intended many aspects of the ship’s design to resemble notable aspects of former ocean liners, such as Queen Elizabeth 2 and the ship’s predecessor Queen Mary. These features include the three thick black lines that wrap around either edge of the ship’s bridge screen, and at the stern end of the superstructure, which are to recall the appearance of the crossovers of the forward decks on the first Queen Mary.

Queen Mary 2 has 152,460 square feet (14,164 square meters) of exterior deck space, with wind screens to shield passengers as the ship travels at high speeds. Three of the ship’s four swimming pools are outdoors. One of the pools on Deck 12 is covered with a retractable magrodome. The indoor pool is on Deck 7, in the Canyon Ranch Spa Club.

In common with liners such as RMS Queen Mary, there is a continuous wrap-around promenade deck on Deck 7. The promenade passes behind the bridge screen and allows passengers to completely circumnavigate the deck while protected from the strong winds generated by the ship at speed. One circuit of the promenade is a distance of 2,030 feet (620 m). The flanking promenades are created by the need to step the superstructure in, to allow for space for lifeboats. By SOLAS standards, the lifeboats should have been lower on the ship’s hull (49 feet or 15 meters above the waterline), but for the sake of Queen Mary 2‘s appearance as well as to avoid the danger of large North Atlantic waves damaging the boats in a storm, Payne convinced SOLAS officials to exempt Queen Mary 2 from this requirement, and the boats are 82 feet (25 m) above the waterline.

Queen Mary 2's bulbous bow.
Queen Mary 2’s bulbous bow.
Queen Mary 2's stern, as seen during construction on August 8, 2003.
Queen Mary 2’s stern, as seen during construction on August 8, 2003.
Propulsion pods on Queen Mary 2.
Propulsion pods on Queen Mary 2.

Payne’s initial intent was to make the ship’s stern profile with a spoon shape, similar to that on most previous ocean liners, but the mounting of the propeller pods required a flat transom. The compromise was a Constanzi stern — a combination of the two. The final design was agreed upon, as a Constanzi stern provides the transom required for azimuthal pod propulsors, and provides better seaholding characteristics in a following swell than a standard transom stern. In common with many modern ships, both passenger and cargo, Queen Mary 2 has a bulbous bow to reduce drag and thereby increase speed, range, and fuel efficiency.

While of a design similar to that of Queen Elizabeth 2, Queen Mary 2‘s funnel has a slightly different shape, because a taller funnel would have made it impossible for the ship to pass under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City at high tide. The final design permits a minimum of 13 feet (4.0 m) of clearance under the bridge.

As Queen Mary 2 is too large to dock in many ports, passengers are ferried to and from the ship in tenders, which can be used as lifeboats in an emergency. These are stored while at sea in davits alongside the lifeboats. To transport passengers to shore the tenders pull up to one of four loading stations, each of which has a large hull door that hydraulically opens outwards to form a boarding platform, complete with railings and decking.

Queen Mary 2 is a post-Panamax ship. As a result, QM2 must circumnavigate South America to cross between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The decision not to constrain her size to transit the Panama Canal was taken as Queen Elizabeth 2 only transited once a year, during the world cruise. Cunard decided to pass up the convenience of the occasional passage in favor of a greater passenger capacity.

As is the case with many modern passenger ships, many of the major public rooms on board Queen Mary 2 are on the lowest public decks of the ship, with the passenger cabins stacked above. This is the opposite of the traditional practice on ocean liners, but the design allowed for larger rooms to be contained within the stronger hull, as well as for more passenger cabins to have private balconies higher up on the ship, where they are less affected by large waves. Payne attempted to create a central axis to the two main public room decks (similar in fashion to the Normandie), but a full vista is broken by various public rooms that span the full beam of the ship. The dining rooms were placed further aft, though not directly at the stern, where the fore-and-aft pitching of the ship is most noticeable, and might cause discomfort to dining passengers.

Queen Mary 2 lowering tenders at Southampton, June 8, 2013.
Queen Mary 2 lowering tenders at Southampton, June 8, 2013.
Queen Mary 2 moored at Trondheim, Norway on June 20, 2007.
Queen Mary 2 moored at Trondheim, Norway on June 20, 2007.
Queen Mary 2 arrives at Greenock, Scotland on May 20, 2015.
Queen Mary 2 arrives at Greenock, Scotland on May 20, 2015.

Deck 2, the lowest passenger deck, contains the Illuminations theatre, cinema and planetarium (the first at sea), Royal Court Theatre, Grand Lobby, Empire Casino, Golden Lion Pub, and the lower level of the Britannia Restaurant. Deck 3 holds the upper levels of Illuminations, the Royal Court theatre and the Britannia Restaurant, as well as a small shopping arcade, Veuve Cliquot champagne bar, the Chart Room, Sir Samuel’s wine bar, the Queen’s Room, and the G32 Nightclub. The other main public deck is Deck 7, on which are the Canyon Ranch Spa, Carinthia Lounge, King’s Court, the Queen’s Grill Lounge, and the Queen’s Grill and Princess Grill restaurants for higher-fare passengers. The public rooms on Deck 8 include the à la carte Verandah Restaurant, an 8,000-volume library (the largest of any cruise ship), a book shop, and the upper part of the Canyon Ranch Spa. Also on Deck 8 is a large outdoor pool and terrace at the stern. The kennels, located aft on starboard side of Deck 12, are available only for transatlantic crossings. They can accommodate up to twelve dogs and cats in six small and six large cages.

The King’s Court area on the ship is open twenty four hours a day, serving as a buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch. The overall space is divided into quarters, with each section decorated according to the theme of the four separate alternate dining venues that are “created” each evening through lighting, tableware, and menus: Lotus, which specializes in Asian cuisine; the Carvery, a British style grille; La Piazza, with Italian food; and the Chef’s Galley, which offers an interactive experience to food preparation.

The passengers’ dining arrangements on board are dictated by the type of accommodation in which they choose to travel. Around 85% of passengers are in Britannia class, and, therefore, dine in the main restaurant. However, passengers can choose to upgrade to either a “junior suite”, and dine in the Princess Grill, or a suite, and dine in the Queens’ Grill. Those in the two latter categories are grouped together by Cunard as “Grill Passengers”, and they are permitted to use the Queens’ Grill Lounge and a private outdoor area on deck 11 with its own whirlpool. This feature is also present on both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. However, all other public areas can be used by all passengers.

As the Britannia Restaurant takes up the full width of the ship on two decks, a ‘tween deck, called Deck 3L, was devised to allow passengers to walk from the Grand Lobby to the Queen’s Room without traversing the dining room mid-meal. The deck consists of two corridors that run beneath the upper balcony of the restaurant on Deck 3, and above the main dining area on Deck 2. This is why the balcony of the Britannia has tiers that step up towards the hull. This arrangement is illustrated on the hull where there is a stack of three rows of windows in the area where the main restaurant sits, the two upper and lower most rows illuminate the dining room, while the center row serves Deck 3L. There is a similar arrangement through the Royal Court Theatre. As well, the passages that run on either side of Illuminations on Deck 3 ramp upwards to compensate for the change in deck elevation between the entrance to Illuminations and an elevator bank forward of the room.

Grand Lobby on Queen Mary 2
Grand Lobby on Queen Mary 2
Bronze sculpture by John McKenna on Queen Mary 2.
Bronze sculpture by John McKenna on Queen Mary 2.

More than 5000 commissioned works of art are visible in Queen Mary 2‘s public rooms, corridors, staterooms and lobbies, having been created by 128 artists from sixteen different countries. Two of the most notable pieces are Barbara Broekman’s tapestry, an abstract depiction of an ocean liner, bridge, and New York skyline which spans the full height of the Britannia Restaurant, and the British sculptor John McKenna’s sheet bronze relief mural in the Grand Lobby, a 7-meter square portrait of the ship fabricated in bronze inspired by the Art Deco mural in the main dining room of the original Queen Mary.

In July 2015, Cunard announced plans for a month-long refit of Queen Mary 2 at the Blohm + Voss Shipyard in Germany in late May and June 2016. Major changes include the addition of fifteen individual staterooms, the first on the ship, thirty additional balcony staterooms, and ten more animal kennels.

Queen Mary 2‘s power plant comprises sixteen-cylinder Wärtsilä 16V46CR EnviroEngine marine diesel engines, generating a combined 90,100 hp (67,200 kW) at 514 rpm, and two General Electric LM2500+ gas turbines, which together provide a further 67,000 hp (50,000 kW), all of which is converted into electricity used to power electric motors that drive the propellers. Such an arrangement, known as integrated electric propulsion (IEP), provides for economical cruising at low speed combined with an ability to sustain much higher speeds when required, and has been common in naval vessels for some time. While Queen Mary 2 is the first passenger ship to feature IEP propulsion, the first major passenger vessel to be powered by gas turbines was the Finnish ferry GTS Finnjet in 1977.

Thrust is provided by four Rolls-Royce Mermaid azimuth thruster type podded propulsion units, each featuring one forward-facing low-vibration propeller with separately bolted blades. The forward pair of thrusters is fixed, but the aft pair can swivel through 360°, removing the need for a rudder. The Queen Mary 2 is the first quadruple-propeller passenger ship completed since the SS France in 1961. Queen Mary 2 carries eight spare blades on the foredeck, immediately forward of the bridge screen.

Because Queen Mary 2‘s propulsion machinery is electrically decoupled from her propellers, her propulsion arrangement may arguably be more accurately described as “CODLAG electric” (by analogy with turbo-electric and diesel-electric); however “integrated electric propulsion” is the term of art. The diesel engines and gas turbines drive electric generators, which provide the power to drive four 28,800 hp (21,500 kW) Alstom electrical motors located inside the podded propulsors (and thus entirely outside the vessel’s hull). Unusually, Queen Mary 2‘s gas turbines are not housed along with her diesels in the engine room deep in her hull, but instead are in a soundproofed enclosure directly beneath the funnel. This arrangement allowed the vessel’s designers to supply the oxygen-hungry turbines with air intakes without having to run air ducts the height of the ship, which would have wasted valuable interior space.

The ship has a state-of-the-art navigation system designed by British firm Kelvin Hughes, meeting and exceeding all International Maritime Organization regulations. The system consists of six radar navigation scanners and eight multifunction display units. The system includes the latest generation of Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), allowing for fully paperless navigation and redundancy of operation. Queen Mary 2 is fitted with Kelvin Hughes solid state SharpEye radar scanners.

Fresh water aboard Queen Mary 2 is supplied by three seawater desalination plants. The plants, each with a capacity of 170,000 US gallons (630,000 liters) per day, use multiple effect plate (MEP) distillation technology. The plants’ energy is supplied primarily by steam and cooling water from the ship’s gas turbines and diesel engines, or if needed by steam from the ship’s two oil-fired boilers. The traditional multiple-effect distillation technology has been improved for the ship’s plant, so that scaling of plates is reduced, vastly reducing maintenance required. The desalinated water has a very low salt content of less than five parts per million. Average total water production is 290,000 US gallons (1,100,000 liters) per day with a capacity of 500,000 US gallons (1,890,000 liters) so that there is ample spare capacity. The ship could easily be supplied by only two of the three plants. Potable water tanks have a capacity of 1,010,000 US gallons (3,830,000 liters), enough for more than three days of supply.

Queen Mary 2 at St. Nazaire, February 2017.
Queen Mary 2 at St. Nazaire, February 2017.
Queen Mary 2 on June 12, 2015.
Queen Mary 2 on June 12, 2015.
Queen Mary 2 on the North Atlantic.
Queen Mary 2 on the North Atlantic.
Queen Mary 2 at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
Queen Mary 2 at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

If the engines are running on low load (when the ship is running at a slow speed) the engine jacket cooling water temperature is insufficient to heat the seawater to run the desalination plants. In that case steam from oil-fired boilers is used to heat the sea water. This is uneconomical as generating steam is expensive. It may be cheaper, therefore, to buy water in a particular port than to produce it on board. The seawater intakes are located in the hull of the ship. Concentrated salt solution (brine) is discharged to the sea closer to the ship’s stern together with cooling water from the engines. An additional plant was added during the 2016 refit works.

During the 2004 Summer Olympics, Queen Mary 2 sailed to Athens and docked at Piraeus for two weeks for use as a floating hotel, serving the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, French President Jacques Chirac, then United States President George W. Bush, and the United States Olympic men’s basketball team. According to Cunard, Queen Mary 2‘s passengers have also included jazz musician Dave Brubeck and singers Rod Stewart, Carly Simon, and James Taylor.

One 2005 transatlantic crossing saw Queen Mary 2 carrying, in a locked steamer trunk, the first United States copy of J. K. Rowling’s book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, autographed by the author. In a promotional press release for the event, Cunard said that this marked the first time a book had been transported to its international launch aboard an ocean liner.

In January 2006, the ship embarked on a circumnavigation of South America. Upon departure from Fort Lauderdale, one of her propeller pods was damaged when it struck a channel wall, forcing the ship to sail at a reduced speed, which resulted in Commodore Warwick’s decision to skip several calls on its voyage to Rio de Janeiro. Many of her passengers threatened to stage a sit-in protest because of the missed calls, before Cunard offered to refund the voyage costs. Queen Mary 2 continued to operate at a reduced service speed and several itinerary changes were necessary until repairs had been completed after the ship returned to Europe in June, where Queen Mary 2 paid a visit to dry dock and the damaged propeller pod was unseated. In November, Queen Mary 2 was drydocked once more at the Blohm + Voss yard in Hamburg (drydock Elbe 17) for the reinstallation of the repaired propeller pod. At the same time, sprinkler systems were installed in all of the vessel’s balconies to comply with new safety regulations which had come into effect since the MS Star Princess fire. Additionally, both bridge wings were extended by two meters to improve visibility.

After completing the journey around South America, on February 23, 2006, Queen Mary 2 met her namesake, the original RMS Queen Mary, which is permanently docked at Long Beach, California. Escorted by a flotilla of smaller ships, the two Queens exchanged a “whistle salute” which was heard throughout the city of Long Beach.

On January 10, 2007, Queen Mary 2 started her first world cruise, circumnavigating the globe in 81 days. On February 20, she met her fleet-mate, Queen Elizabeth 2, also on her 2007 world cruise, in Sydney harbor. This is the first time two Cunard Queens had been together in Sydney since the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth served as troop ships in 1941.Despite the early arrival time of 5:42 am, the Queen Mary 2‘s presence attracted so many viewers that the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Anzac Bridge were blocked. With 1,600 passengers leaving the ships in Sydney, Cunard estimated the stopovers injected more than $3 million into the local economy.

Queen Mary 2 approaches the original RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California on February 23, 2006
Queen Mary 2 approaches the original RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California on February 23, 2006

Meeting of Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2.
Meeting of Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2.
Queen Mary 2 enters San Francisco Bay in 2007.
Queen Mary 2 enters San Francisco Bay in 2007.

In July 2007 the National Geographic Channel broadcast an episode of the documentary series Megastructures about Queen Mary 2. The vessel also featured in the pilot episode of the documentary TV series Mighty Ships.

Queen Mary 2 met the other serving Cunard liners Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth 2 on January 13, 2008, near the Statue of Liberty in New York City harbor, with a celebratory fireworks display; Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Victoria made a tandem crossing of the Atlantic for the meeting. This marked the first time three Cunard Queens have been present in the same location. Cunard stated this would be the last time these three ships would ever meet, due to Queen Elizabeth 2′s impending retirement from service in late 2008. However this would prove not to be the case, as the three Queens met in Southampton on April 22, 2008. Queen Mary 2 rendezvoused with Queen Elizabeth 2 in Dubai on Saturday March 21, 2009, after the latter ship’s retirement, while both ships were berthed at Port Rashid. With the withdrawal of QE2 from Cunard’s fleet and its docking in Dubai, Queen Mary 2 became the only ocean liner left in active passenger service.

On August 3, 2007, three men were stopped by police while escorting and piloting a replica of the first American combat submarine within 200 feet (61 m) of Queen Mary 2, then docked at the cruise ship terminal in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The replica was created by New York artist Philip “Duke” Riley and two out-of-town residents, one of whom claimed to be a descendant of David Bushnell, who had invented it. The Coast Guard issued Riley a citation for having an unsafe vessel, and for violating the security zone around Queen Mary 2.

In October 2009, Queen Mary 2 celebrated her fifth year in service with an 8-night voyage around the British Isles. The voyage included maiden visits to Greenock and Liverpool.

The ship has rendezvoused with ocean rowing teams in the middle of the Atlantic. On July 30, 2010, she met up with Artemis Investments, whose rowing crew were Don Lennox, Livar Nysted, Ray Carroll, Leven Brown. Carroll had been a former engineer and was patched through via marine VHF radio and QM2‘s tannoy system to speak to the captain and crew. On September 26, 2013, Queen Mary 2 resupplied solo-rower Mylène Paquette and her vessel Hermel with a replacement satellite phone, drogue anchor and groceries. QM2 changed her course by 20 degrees and only added 14 miles to the overall distance of the crossing.

On September 23, 2010, an incident occurred in Queen Mary 2‘s aft harmonic filter room. This resulted in the shutdown of all four propulsion motors and a loss of electrical power throughout the ship. Within an hour, the ship’s main generators were restarted and it was able to resume passage. The later investigations finding revealed that an explosion was caused by electrical arcing within the aft harmonic filter igniting leaked dielectric fluid vapor.

Queen Mary 2 arriving at my home of Phuket, Thailand. Photo taken by Mark Jochim on February 10, 2015.

Queen Mary 2 visits my home of Phuket, Thailand on February 10, 2015.

Queen Mary 2 visits my home of Phuket, Thailand on February 10, 2015.

Queen Mary 2 visits my home of Phuket, Thailand, on February 10, 2015.
Queen Mary 2 visited my home of Phuket, Thailand, on February 10, 2015 (one of several visits). However, she is too large to be accommodated at the usual cruise ship port at Makham Bay on the east side of the island so she set anchor off of Patong Bay on the west coast of Phuket, to the surprise of most.

The Rolls-Royce Mermaid propulsor pods fitted to QM2 have proven to be prone to failure. The failures had been so frequent and extensive that Carnival Corp. (USA), by way of its Cunard Line division, took Rolls-Royce Corp. (UK) to court in the United States in January 2009. The former placed claim that the Mermaid pod propulsion systems fitted to Cunard Line’s flagship Queen Mary 2 are inherently defective in design. Cunard contends that Rolls Royce knew about the design deficiencies and deliberately conspired to mislead, deceive and defraud in the course of winning the contract. The Achilles’ heel of the design has been the motors’ massive thrust bearings, which have continued to show a tendency to fail even after numerous attempts at redesign. In January 2011, Carnival Corporation was awarded US$24 million (approx. UK£15 million at the time of verdict) by the United States court due to the repeated failure of the propulsors.

Two years after the first Cunard Royal Rendezvous on the same date Queen Mary 2 met up with Queen Victoria and the then brand-new MS Queen Elizabeth for another Royal Rendezvous in New York City on January 13, 2011. Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth made a tandem crossing of the Atlantic for the event. All three ships met in front of the statue of Liberty at 6:45 pm for Grucci fireworks. The Empire State Building was lit up in red to mark the event.

A small fire broke out in the gas turbine engine room (located high on the ship behind the Queen Mary 2 sign) on the evening of October 5, 2011. The fire was started in one of the ship’s gas turbines. No injuries were reported, and crew on board the ship managed to safely extinguish the fire On October 19, 2011, Queen Mary 2 had her registry changed to Hamilton, Bermuda, from her previous home port of Southampton, to allow the ship to host on-board weddings. This marked the first time in its 171-year history that Cunard has not had a ship registered within the UK. Bermuda is a member of the Red Ensign Group and the ship continues to fly the undefaced Red Ensign rather than the Bermuda Red Ensign.

On January 10, 2012, the ship embarked on a three-month world cruise from Southampton, travelling south and then east around Africa, a first ever circumnavigation of Australia, to Japan, then back to Southampton along the south coastline of Eurasia and through the Suez Canal.

On June 5, 2012, the three Queens met again, but this time in Southampton to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. On July 6, 2013, Queen Mary 2 departed New York en route to Southampton on her 200th transatlantic voyage. On board speakers were Stephen Payne OBE — the ship’s designer — and presenter and newsreader Nick Owen, who presented talks about the ship’s design.

Queen Mary 2 at Cape Town, South Africa, in 2011.
Queen Mary 2 at Cape Town, South Africa, in 2011.
Size comparison of Queen Mary 2 and the original RMS Queen Mary.
Size comparison of Queen Mary 2 and the original RMS Queen Mary.

On May 6, 2014, all three Queens met up for the first time in Lisbon, Portugal. The three ships sailed abreast of each other from Lisbon to Southampton. On May 9, 2014, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria led Queen Mary 2 up the Southampton channel where they docked in formation at the QEII terminal and performed a birthday salute to Queen Mary 2. The anniversary included a tour of the ship by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.

On May 25, 2015, all three Queens met, once again, at Liverpool, in order to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the shipping line. After arriving at Liverpool the previous day, Queen Mary 2 made a brief excursion to the entrance of the River Mersey to welcome her two fleetmates into port in the early afternoon. The three Cunarders then sailed, in formation, towards Liverpool. The ships spent several hours together, before the departure of Queen Mary 2 to Saint Peter Port, Guernsey.

On July 2, 2015, Queen Mary 2 began a 175th Anniversary Crossing in Southampton. She sailed first to Liverpool, leaving that city after a fireworks display on July 4, the actual anniversary date of Cunard’s first transatlantic voyage. Queen Mary 2 followed the route of the original ship Britannia, calling first at Halifax, Nova Scotia. After a day there, she headed first upriver into the harbor, using her bow thrusters and swivel-pod motors to negotiate the tight turnaround to come back down close to the cityfront. A 21-gun salute and bagpipe band honored the ship.

From Halifax, the ship sailed to Boston and was there for a full day at the cruise terminal. Boston was the terminus of the original crossing in 1840. In the evening, the captain backed the ship out of the slip and continued backing up all the way to the Maritime History Museum, where a fireworks display was presented before Queen Mary 2 sailed away. After a night and day at sea, the vessel entered New York Harbor early the morning of July 14 and docked at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Later in the evening the vessel sailed to the lower harbor, between the Statue of Liberty and the Battery, for the Forever Cunard Queen Mary 2 Light Show.

In June 2017, the ship came to the rescue of another sailor, a former Royal Marine Mervyn Wheatley who had got into difficulties whilst taking part in a trans-Atlantic race. The British and Canadian coastguards coordinated a long-range rescue. The rescue involved a Royal Air Force Hercules aircraft after they detected Wheatley’s distress beacon.

Carried aboard Queen Mary 2 is the Boston Cup. Sometimes referred to as The Britannia Cup, this artifact was created for Sir Samuel Cunard in Boston, United States, to commemorate the arrival of his first vessel RMS Britannia. Cunard had selected Boston as the American port for his Atlantic service, which resulted in a strong connection between Boston and the Cunard Line. It is believed that the cup was presented to Sir Samuel Cunard sometime in 1840; however, for much of its life it was missing. It was discovered in an antique shop in 1967 and returned to Cunard, where it was placed aboard Queen Elizabeth 2. In 2004, when QM2 became the flagship, the Boston Cup was placed aboard QM2. It is in a glass case, aft of the Chart Room lounge.

When designing Queen Mary 2, the designers aimed to reduce the ship’s impact on the environment by improving fuel efficiency and through better management of waste, not only to reduce fuel costs, but also to increase the service life of the ship, as it was predicted that tighter environmental regulations would be implemented while the ship was in service. Initial targets included the reuse of treated wastewater for non-potable uses and zero discharge of solid waste into the sea. For economic and other reasons, as well as to reduce energy consumption from incineration, some of these measures were not implemented. Queen Mary 2‘s environmental performance nevertheless is an improvement from that of many older ships, as well as international standards on waste.

According to Cunard, the ship exceeds some requirements of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships (MARPOL 73/78) of the International Maritime Organization. It discharges waste into the sea only in areas more than 12 nmi (14 mi) from any coast, even though MARPOL allows discharge of treated organic waste and treated bilge water closer to the shore. Discharges of potentially harmful substances, in particular the residual oil content of treated bilge water and air emissions, are monitored regularly to ensure compliance with environmental standards. In areas where air pollution from sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, is a concern, the ship switches to low-sulfur fuel to minimize air pollution.

According to the carbon offset company Climate Care, passenger ships release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per passenger mile than long haul flights. Cunard attempted to reduce the carbon footprint of Queen Mary 2 by improving engine efficiency and reducing friction while the ship is in motion. In November 2008, the ship was given a refit in Hamburg, part of which involved the repainting of the hull in paint which is designed to reduce drag and improve fuel economy. According to Blohm + Voss, her 2016 refit included the installation of “scrubbers” and exhaust gas filters to reduce emissions.

Cunard Line has philatelicly promoted its Queens since at least the mid-1960s with covers  marking the launch of what became the Queen Elizabeth 2 and the final voyages of Queen Mary in 1967 and Queen Elizabeth the following year. The maiden voyages and world cruises of the QE2 were similarly commemorated (as were her final voyages in 2008); in fact, the first stamp to portray the liner was released nearly five months prior to her maiden voyage. Queen Mary 2, it seems,  has been even more prevalent on stamps — the first being released by France on December 12, 1993 (Scott #2988).

Cover bearing France #2988 (2003), postmarked at a philatelic society meeting in Pornichet on March 27, 2004.
Cover bearing France #2988 (2003), postmarked at a philatelic society meeting in Pornichet on March 27, 2004.
Isle of Man - Scott #1239 (2008): First Day Cover
Isle of Man – Scott #1239 (2008): First Day Cover
Isle of Man - Scott #1239 (2008): First Day Cover (rear)
Isle of Man – Scott #1239 (2008): First Day Cover (rear)

On January 13, 2008, the fourth anniversary of the start of Queen Mary 2‘s maiden voyage and the date that the liner met Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Victoria in New York harbor, the Isle of Man issued a souvenir sheet containing three £1 stamps portraying one each of these Cunard Queens. The Scott catalogue lists the souvenir sheet as #1239 with each single given a minor letter. Thus, Queen Mary 2 on the middle stamp is Scott #1239b. Each stamp was also released in sheets containing 10 stamps and 10 labels (Scott #1239e is the QM2 sheet). The souvenir sheet and stamps were printed by lithography and perforated 14×13¼.

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