The legendary Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2 on the Hudson River in New York City, October 16, 2008, as she departs for the final time.

10 January, 2013

Bring QE2 Home

Image courtesy of Marc-Antoine Bombail

QE2 has been in the news again.  Mostly bad news, but with a glimmer of hopeful news.  This News of potential scrapping and or sale to Far East buyers hit the newspapers just before Christmas.  Adding legitimacy to this concern are confirmed reports that her current able crew that had been taking care of the ship at considerable expense had been dispensed for a much smaller Chinese crew unfamiliar with the operations of the ship.  A trip to the scrappers could be in her future, but a group of investors in the UK have approached the ships current owners with a viable plan to return the ship to the UK, London specifically.  Word of her imminent demise eventually reached Scottish newspapers as well.  Southampton papers, with obvious QE2 ties picked up the story as well. I posted a link to the article at the Cunard forum in Cruise Critic with the hope of generating some interest, which they shortly picked up on the news and ran an article on their news page

It appears that the main hurdle may be Cunard itself, who reportedly had a 10 year scrapping clause inserted in the sale agreement, a wise decision considering the bad press that was generated when this scrapping rumor was floated out just before Christmas.  Loyal fans, myself included posted comments to the Cunard Facebook page regarding the scrapping rumors.  I politely asked Cunard to comment on the status of the ship.  With all the backlash mounting on their website, Cunard wisely released this:

We have noted the messages of understandable concern with regards to the recent article in the Daily Mail with reference to QE2. We remain in close contact with Dubai and can reassure you that to the very best of our knowledge this story is pure speculation - one of a number of stories and rumours as we have seen over recent months. Our best advice would be to ignore the story.
Best regards,
Cunard Line.

Current news on the fate of the ship can be found here.  Rob Lightbody can take pride in that the website he owns and moderates has consistently reported on actual facts regarding the status of the ship.  Rob reported on the V-Ships crew departure and his rightful concern that this move could be the beginning of the end. 

Rest assured the plan presented by QE2 London is real and is viable.  While I have previously blogged on the viability of returning the ship to the Clyde and Clydebank specifically, permanently berthing QE2 in London makes the most sense for the long term viability of the ship to operate as a hotel, restaurant, museum, or all of the above.  Finally, the UK's Daily Mail, who brought us the original rumor, now has done some more reporting and has reported on QE2 London's plan to bring her home to the UK, but once again, full of inaccuracies and poor reporting.  Keith Hamilton, a reporter from the Daily Echo, whom I believe is a fan of QE2 filed this report on the QE2 London plan.  Maritime Matters detailed report on the London plan included renderings of the ship in its proposed location.
Sure, the naysayers are about, trying their best to poke holes in this plan, but experts quoted in the various news reports state that the ship CAN be brought up the Thames and a suitable site is available, ripe for further economic development.  QE2 fans, contact Cunard and urge them to lend their support to this endevour.  With official Cunard backing, rest assured, this will go along way to healing the wounds when they announced the sale of QE2 to Dubai.  QE2 is a maritime icon, a national treasure, and the world's most famous ship.  It was a shame she was let go to Dubai.  Now is the chance to get her back!

20 September, 2012

On the Slipway, 45 Years Ago

View from the Titan Crane of the location of the slipway of the former John Brown Shipyard.

Forty-five years ago, QE2 was launched into the River Clyde on the very slipway used to construct and
launch the previous Cunard Queens.  It is also about four years ago, when I embarked on a trip of a lifetime, made possible by my employer, Centerbrook Architects, who awarded me a travel grant with the stipulation that I take the trip and report back on a piece of architecture that peaked my interest.  As I am preparing to make my presentation (finally) to the office, I am reminded of my trip to Clydebank, the birthplace of QE2, on this very trip.  So what is the real connection here between QE2 and the subject of my travel grant?  It wasn't until afterwards that I actually discovered several apparent links between the new Parliament Building that I selected as the subject of my travel grant and my favorite ship, QE2.

Cleverly, I had found a way to combine my ocean liner passion with my travel grant.  I would visit Scotland to see the new Parliament Building and use QE2 as my primary mode of transportation to visit Scotland, getting a flavor of the homeland as we visited various ports during our circumnavigation of the UK.   I had been fortunate to find a cabin on the sold out final lap of honor around the UK before her retirement to Dubai and this would be my final trip onboard . Initial plans were to visit the controversal Enric Miralles designed Parliament Building during our port of call at Queensferry.  Not wanting to risk missing seeing the building in case the port call was canceled, I decided to fly into Edinburgh ahead of time, rent a car, drive to my grandfather's hometown of Peterhead for an overnight, and then stop and see the building the following day, assuring myself the abiliity to experience the building inside and outside.  This would prove to be a wise decision since the weather was beautiful on the inital visit and absolutely dreary on the day QE2 anchored in Queensferry.

Scotland's new Parliament Building is not without it's share of controversy.  First, it was not designed by a Scot, but Catalonian architect Enric Miralles.  That alone would anger some Scots, but Enric teamed up with a very respectable local firm of RMJM Edinburgh who would provide the detailing while Miralles provided the vision.  I approached the building without prejudice, but was skeptical whether the team truly captured the spirit of Scotland in this new building.  My preconceived notion, whether right or wrong, was that the building should have looked more like the "other" Parliament building in London.  This building was the complete opposite, with a style difficult to categorize, but loosely defined as modern.

Then there were the cost overuns, a sore subject to many a thrifty Scot, many whom could not justify the 430 million pound cost, of which my tour guide was quick to put into perspective.  More money was spent on a certain soccer, er football stadium in England, the new Wembly Stadium.  That structure was only to play sports and have concerts in and not to symbolize the spirit of an entire liberated Scotland.

 I would end up visiting the building on a sunny afternoon, and then the following morning, when the building was open for guided tours.  Without tipping off anyone in my tour group, nor the tour guide, of my profession, we made our way through the building and I listened to all the comments.  People were initially skeptical and unaware of all of the subtle references and tie-ins to the history of Scotland and it's people.  I walked away with a much deeper understanding of the building, with my preconceived notions of what the building should be completely shattered.  Months later, after staring at the above image of the entrance, it dawned on me that the entry structure was in fact, stylized representations of the various cranes I saw at every port and along the Clyde.  Shipbuilding on the Clyde is an essential chapter in the history of Scotland and here was a subtle nod to it right at the entrance.  The tour guide did not mention this.  Clearly RMJM and Miralles detailing here was an intentional, but there is an even more blatant Clydebank connection that is tied into another controversial feature of the building, the window "curtains."

Staring at you at the foot of Cannongate and the intersection of Horse Wynd and Abbeyhill, the new Parliament is constructed of various smaller scaled structural masses, designed to fit into the the site and not overpower it.  Miralles envisioned the Parliament as growing out of the site and connected to the land as Scotland is a land and not just part of the UK.  Here we see a ship on the slipway, sculpted in concrete, with larger building volumes looming above.  Here we also see one of the buildings most talked about features, the window screens, rendered in thin granite.

Miralles trajecally died before he could see his vision completed.  His wife and partner in his architectural practice, Benedetta Tagliabue, completed his vision.  When pressed for an explanation for the curtains, often referred to derogatorily as "anvils" and literal window dressing, she offered little explanation, revealing that the design is simply that of a window curtain pulled back. Her late husband however, enjoying the use of ambiguous forms with multiple meanings, had previously said he would love the profile to evoke an icon of Scottish culture, the painting of Reverend Walker skating on ice, of which he purportedly had a copy of the Henry Raeburn painting on his desk. I'm not buying that for a minute.

The curtains are cranes!  They represent the cranes as depicted in these near identical photos of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth 2 on the slipway, under construction at the John Brown shipyard.  Mystery solved and a clever reference to shipbuilding on the Clyde.  In fact, the profile does remind me of the Titan Crane, which we visited during our QE2 port call of Greenock, Scotland.  With another picture perfect day, we visited the site of the former John Brown Shipyard and witnessed all that remains of this once great yard and birthplace of the original Cunard Queens.

Here below is the direct comparison of the Queens and the Parliament Building, which was NOT mentioned by the tour guide, but from my own ship based imagination.  I think I am on to something.

Moving on to the interiors, there are interesting column detailing throughout that bears a striking resemblance to the iconic QE2 funnel.  I realize this is a stretch, but is it really?

RMJM clearly has a fondness for QE2 since they recently completed an apartment project in Glasgow, on the River Clyde, with massing strikingly similar to QE2's original funnel design.  In fact, the building has been dubbed the 'QE3' building.  Food for thought.

Hopefully over time, others might see these references and tour guides will tie in QE2, Scotland's finest example of shipbuilding to the new Parliament Building.

01 May, 2012

Make it Count

Bravo Carnival!  With some trepidation, I went into this cruise, but with an open mind.  Look for a future post on the ship itself and our cruise experience with Carnival.  Their “Fun Ship” the Miracle worked her magic on us while we cruised onboard for a week in April. We had a fabulous time, completely unwinding, leaving the stresses of work behind.
While we were all aware our cruise would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic prior to taking this cruise, a fact I reminded the family once we had booked the cruise.  Once onboard and into full cruise mode, though, that fact became more of a distant memory as the cruise wore on.  In fact, we forgot about April 15th completely, though for me, who was more thorough immersed in all the Titanic anniversary hype, it did take some time to get out of this mode.  Yet instantly, I would get brought right back to Titanic on our return a week later as we sailed up the Hudson.

For one who has been thoroughly immersed in Titanic mania for more years than I care to mention, there were constant little reminders staring me in the face right at the beginning of the cruise; ones I chose to keep to myself to avoid boring my family who are well versed in my ship obsession and others I’d reveal as I saw fit.   
“New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra was bouncing around in my cranium during the sailaway.  It wasn’t playing on the ship's tannoy, as would be the case on QE2, but only in my head.  There’s this whole mystique of sailing out of Manhattan that truly is something to be experienced. 

This would be the first time we’d actually done this.  We sailed into Manhattan on QE2 back in January of 2008 and now we would be doing a round trip out of the Manhattan cruise ship piers.  Mental note; Miracle was tied up to Pier 88, same pier that the Normandie burned, rolled over and died in during WW2.  Granted it was the opposite side, I think, but it is still the same historic pier.

This is the only way to sail in and out of New York City, as countless other liners have done in the past, including the Carpathia, and all of the great Cunarder’s and other famous liners such as the S.S. United States.  For instance, our QM2 trip last year from Brooklyn was completely anti-climatic and just not the same.  Why, why, why did I wait too long to experience a classic Transatlantic Crossing on QE2, which in our case, included the glorious Manhattan arrival.  Geesh!  I am sounding like a Cunard marketing brochure.

 Of course, any trip to these piers brings back the memories of QE2’s final call and subsequent departure in tandem with Queen Mary 2.  Bittersweet memories for sure.  Look, there's the Miracle next to my beloved ship back in 2008. 

The mandatory lifeboat drill was our first priority after getting to our cabin and exploring the ship for some time.  Yes, we did have enough lifeboats! There would be no need for Rose to count them.  SOLAS regulations, a direct result of Titanic have taken care of that for us.  I swear I caught a glimpse of Thomas Andrews watching over us on deck during the drill.  Yes, we also had a very detailed drill thank you to the latest disaster, Costa Concordia and that showboating Italian captain.  Very impressed!  They took a head count.  It was here I learned we also have an Italian captain, instantly posting this fact to Facebook.  I missed the bit about not using phones or cameras during the drill….oops, my bad.  Friends responded “nice knowing you.” 
Everyone took this drill seriously, really.  Although the girl with the green hair in front of me seemed a bit distracted and disinterested, she too was texting away like mad, probably trying to get her last bit in before we got out of cell phone range.  One takeaway here I’ve never heard mentioned before was the request to always wear shoes throughout the ship to avoid stepping on glass.  Was this in response to Concordia or just practical? Doesn’t much matter as it makes total sense. 

Standing on the boat deck (beautiful real teak decks mind you), listening to a crew member talking while another one stood on a chair demonstrating how to don the life vest, my mind wandered to the scene in Cameron’s Titanic on the boat deck.  You know the scene where you hear the steam venting from the boilers and seeing all the chaos.  One of the officers then asks the women and children to step forward and the noise diminishes for both dramatic and practical effect in the movie.  True Titanic fanatics appreciate this clever device, knowing that the sound of the steam venting of the boilers, needing to be vented since the ship was stopped, was truly deafening and added to the chaos.  Here we were all lined up just like the movie.  The only distracting noise was from the longshoremen on the pier below with their forklifts loading up the ship.   No need for warning shots to be fired by ships officers, though, and the tuxedo clad quartet was nowhere to be found.  They’d have really stuck out too since I think I saw only one tux the entire cruise.  Thanks have to go out to another Facebook friend who warned I would be mistaken for the wait staff if I brought my tux on this cruise.  Sadly, I would not be doing my James Bond impersonation in the Casino this time, but I digress.
My mind further wandered here as they show off all the safety features of the vest.  Yeah, I know how the vest goes on, the whistle (Rose reference again…’Come back!”) and how the strobe thingie works. 

My eyes catch a detail off in the distance of the structure of the pier; look at those exposed rivets of the original frame.  Rivets= Titanic = old! This is one old pier with a lot of history.  I bet most of the passengers on this cruise have no idea how old these piers are and their history.  Seeing the rivets, reminds me of Fenway Park and my Massachusetts roots.  I offer one of my useless facts to my kids; “Did you know that Fenway Park opened the same day Titanic sailed from Southampton in 1912?”  Rolled eyes were the response from mildly amused offspring and spouse.   “You know you are full of useless information, dad!”  Tough crowd I say.
As we sail down the Hudson, I make out the remnants of Pier 54, the pier that Cunard’s Carpathia docked at, delivering the survivors she rescued from Titanic.  Dutifully noted in my brain, but at this point we were all standing on the forward observation deck over the bridge and looking down the Hudson at  the Freedom Tower….oops, 1 World Trade Center, easily the highest structure now on the Manhattan skyline.  There was an eerie sense of quiet as we neared Battery Park.  Lots of New Yorkers on board, mostly solemnly admiring the view.  Lots of picture taking; sounds of beeps from the point and shoot cameras and shutter sounds from the DSLR cameras like my Nikon.  I filled a 4GB graphics card alone here, but came prepared with my backup card in pocket. 

Battery Park and the Winter Garden appeared as an ever present reminder of 9/11, like an open wound.  Seeing the tower proudly rising offers consolation, but every time I pass by this site, memories of that day flood back to the surface.  1 World Trade Center is looking proud and defiant now.  I wish there were two of them.  I guess one is like giving them the middle finger. 

Our first reminder of Titanic occurred on our way to dinner on the first formal night.  That dreaded backdrop of grand staircase and clock appeared again amongst the sea of ships staff photographers angling for our business.  I thought it was tacky on QE2, was aghast to see it still in use on QM2, yet not really too surprised to see it once again on the Miracle.  Despite this, we got our picture taken with this backdrop and we even purchased it.  Picture prices are reasonable and it was a good picture!  Shocking!  You don’t even have to buy the leather-bound holder if you don’t want to.  Cunarders know what I mean there.  Overheard in the gallery area, were complaints about how expensive the pictures were.  Really.  All I said was “they’re half price compared to some other lines.“  No one is twisting your arm to buy them either.

“Meet me at the clock!” then became an overused comic relief statement uttered too many times throughout the cruise.  Obviously, seeing the 3D version of Titanic right before our sailing was having some detrimental impact.  Kelly even did a Rose impression one early morning, goofing around, asking for Jack, while we were standing above the bridge, trying to talk with the 20 knot breeze in our face.  How come they could do that so easily in the movie? 
Actually, there was an area of the ship that had a split stair, that Kelly thought reminded her of the Titanic staircase, but a modern one.  While not prominently featured, it included a water fountain, and also a plaque from the builder, Kvaerner Masa-Yards, now part of the mega shipbuilding conglomerate STX Finland Cruise Oy, builders of the current largest cruise ships in the world for Royal Caribbean; Oasis and Allure of the Seas.  Ultimately, we never decided to meet here and “make it count."
“Make it count!” I’d toast at dinner with my kids, in reference to Jack’s toast in the movie.  Corny, yes, but we were really having a good time!  This is NOT Cunard.  At this point, I was calling this cruise the “anti-Cunard” cruise.  There was actually plenty of life on board here and the ship was still rockin’ after 11PM!  I did not get my feet run over by a octogenarian in a scooter either on this cruise!  No offence to Cunard loyalists, but different ships for different folks here.  Carnival caters better to families, plain and simple.  How many four person cabins will you find on Queen Victoria for instance?   We did not have to fight our way through a sea of scooters, wheelchairs, and walkers to get to our table in the main dining room either, a plus.
I did not make off with the men after dinner to the library to have a cigar and a brandy.  I never did find the equivalent to Queen Mary 2’s Churchill’s on board although the Frankie and Johnnie’s nightclub had that stale cigar/cigarette smell to it, along with some menacing looking ceiling fixtures.  Instead, the kids went off to their kids clubs and we either made our way to see evening’s show or the comedian in the “Punchliners” comedy club.  Is that a veiled reference to ocean liners in the name?  George Lopez is the creative consultant for this program and it appears to be very popular.  Absolutely no mention of Titanic was made by any of the comedians in any of their acts, although the adult shows dived right into much more entertaining steamy topics.  Dentures would have been hitting the floor if these guys were performing on a Cunarder.  That Catskills style comic, though, was somewhat of a bore compared to the Brooklyn born and raised comic who really hit it off with passengers, who all appeared to be from the tri-state area. Yeah, we like our friggin’ comics when they get down n’ dirty.   Lisa Lampanelli would have fit right in.  No topic was off limits, but he never touched on any Titanic humor.  I think he just ran out of time after dealing with “Princess” in the front row, who was apparently having an orgasm every time he looked at her.  You had to be there.  Let’s just say she was more than a handful and leave it at that.

While we at sea for the actual Titanic anniversary, nearing our first port of call, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carnival thankfully did not run the Cameron movie on board, have a Titanic themed diner, or even mention the tsignificance of the day in the daily program.  For that I am grateful.  A very small mention might have been nice, but the ‘Funtimes” ain’t the Daily Programme on a Cunarder. 
"Funtimes" is focuses heavy on the shipboard activities and is completely lacking the typical items I’ve become accustomed to such as detailed information on the ships position, course, and other navigation facts of the day.  Different ships, different “guests”, and different priorities I guess.  Heck, we never got any towel animals on any Cunard cruise!
 So, that night while we slept in our perfectly posh obstructed view cabin (by 1912 standards – we even had our own bathroom!), others were observing more somber remembrances of the occasion off in the North Atlantic.  We slept soundly; knowing our lifeboat would have been easy to jump right into if the need arose.  Yeah, there it is right outside our french doors in the above picture. All kidding aside, this was a great cabin - an outer cabin for the price of an inside unit, with the ability to get some fresh air and take in the sounds of the seas rushing by.  
It wasn’t until seeing the archway of Pier 54, heading back to Pier 88 on April 20th, was I reminded of the significance of that day in history and Titanic began bearing down on us again.  Carpathia would dock at this pier 100 years ago to the day with the Titanic survivors.  Sadly, there was no Bill Miller or Ted Skull narrating our arrival up the Hudson.  I could have filled in......
As we approached Pier 88, I could make out another ship.  It was the Fred Olsen Line’s Balmoral, fresh from her historic transatlantic crossing and rendezvous with the Azamara Journey at the approximate site of the sinking of Titanic.  Passing through customs, the agent made a comment, throwing me off guard a bit, saying I should be getting back on the Balmoral, which was heading back to Southampton.  He noticed my QE2 shirt, worn proudly that day.  I sighed, “Only if she were still sailing.”  Unsolicited, the customs agent then mentions he misses her dearly and all the people he met when she used to dock in Manhattan.  Wow!  Once again, bringing it full circle all back to QE2. 

19 March, 2012

Something Titanic Related Coming to NYC?

Message above was kindly forwarded to me from a coworker, who is from the Belfast area.  I wonder what this celebration of Belfast's maritime history and glimpse of the city's future will be?  Would it possibly be related to Titanic or Harland and Wolff?  The Titanic Quarter redevelopment was in full swing when QE2 visited Belfast for its one and only time in October of 2008. 

Interesting, on the Titanic Quarter's website timeline section, they specifically flag the 2008 visit from New York's "Lord" Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the 2012 opening of their signature Titanic project, no doubt in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the sinking. 

We saw glimpses of the new construction and the remnants of the Harland & Wolff yard, including the graving dock and associated pump house, and the drafting room building, all visible from QE2's berth in the harbor. 

The massive yellow Harland & Wolff cranes dominated the skyline, along with their equally massive building, which has been leased out in recent times to movie studios.

We did a non-Cunard sanctioned shore excursion, a harbor cruise highlighting the history of the harbor.  According to our guide, the boats captain, these cranes were used in the construction of the three Olympic Class ships.  They deserve a better location and some measures of preservation.

We caught a glimpse of the historic building, the "drawing room", of the shipyard, where Titanic and countless other ships were designed. (grey building on the right) with additional yellow Harland & Wolff shipyard cranes in the distance.

Newer waterfront construction was evident along the harborfront.  Not sure what this non-descript building is, but much more dynamic building plans are in the works for the entire site, aptly named the "Titanic Quarter."

This was our view of the yard as we approached.  Here we see the Sampson and Goliath famous twin gantry cranes in the distance.  It is not widely known, but Harland & Wolff were initially considered for the construction of Cunard's replacement of QE2, Queen Mary 2.  These cranes, with an 840 ton lifting capacity would have been used in her construction.  Ultimately, they were not competitive with other yards and lost out to Chantiers de l'Atlantique in Saint Nazaire, France, making Queen Mary 2 the first Queen not built in the UK.  One has to wonder if the British government could have stepped in and offered some sort of assistance, similar to what they did with the previous Queens, to make the deal to build the next Cunarder in the UK more financially attractive.  The contract surely would have reinvigorated the entire area and I suspect the ship would be even more endeared in the UK, perhaps reinvigorating some sense of national pride.  Sadly this was not to be. 

Fortunately, the shipyard has been experiencing a resurgence, with renewed focus on renewable energy technology of wind and wave power as well as their offshore oil platform renewal and rehabilitation programs.  For ship enthusiasts, though, this pales in comparison to a much smaller project, but with far more significance.  Harland & Wolff have undertaken the restoration of the SS Nomadic, the last surviving White Star ship, who's significance is directly related to Titanic

This little ship served as a tender to the Olympic and Titanic when the ship anchored in the port of Cherbourg, France.  During our trip to Belfast in 2008, we saw the ship out of the water awaiting restoration in a fenced in area not far from where she was originally constructed in 1911.  She had been rescued from the River Seine in Paris, where she had sat semi-neglected after her career as a floating restaurant ended with the closing of the restaurant.  Read more about SS Nomadic's restoration here.

From the Titanic Quarter website:  In an area steeped in history, Titanic Belfast (opening spring 2012) forms a central part of the development of Titanic Quarter. The state-of-the-art building, designed by leading international architects and designers, will include a ‘Titanic Experience' exhibition, an ‘immersive theatre' diving underwater to explore the wreck, a Titanic-themed banqueting suite and a community arts facility for local exhibitions, performances and conferences.

The project will also include the restoration of the Titanic and Olympic slipways, the Thompson Dock and Harland & Wolff's former Headquarters building.

Here is a rendering of the "signature" building scheduled to open in 2012, the Titanic Belfast.  As part of the development, the Harland & Wolf headquarters building (the drawing room) will be restored and integrated into the redevelopment of the site.  Now the question is what will be unveiled during the event on May 2nd in New York City? Stay tuned.

All development images courtesy of

09 March, 2012

Love Boat Final Episode

The former Pacific Princess, made famous as the cruise ship featured in the TV series "Love Boat" has been reported sold to a Turkish company specializing in shipbreaking.  The ship has been tied up in Genoa, Italy since 2009, when it was seized by the Italian Coast Guard for non-payment of a shipyard bill.  Previous attempts to sell the ship were unsuccessful and now it looks like she's been sold for scrap;  a sad end to the ship that without a doubt, was instrumental in the rapid expansion of the cruise industry in the 80's.  More information on the ship's history can be found here.  She was built in 1971, almost as old as QE2 and she served Princess well for most of her time in service.

While I cannot credit the TV show for sparking my interests in ship, I watched "Love Boat" as a teenager religiously.  There was something about seeing the ship in the opening credits, with the bow shots of the Pacific Princess slicing through the water, and then from above, with the ship at speed with smoke from her funnel that always intrigued me.  Sure, now that I see some of the clips, the show was a bit cheesy, but I recall they would cast a wide variety of the current stars as passengers so it was always fun to watch, and  for that matter, also dream of taking a cruise one day.  For instance, the clip above shows that one of the "Brady Bunch" girls was "onboard" for that cruise....err episode.  And then there was the Marcia episode.....I'm sure I watched that one.  Yeah, I watched the "Brady Bunch" alot, and it had nothing to do with the dad, Mike Brady, being an Architect.  Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.

Check out this website that lists each and every episode and the guest cast. 
Admittedly, I also had a thing for Julie, your ever cheerful cruise director.  She had that Dorothy Hamill (USA Olympic gold medal figure skater from my childhood)  hair style going on for a while that was all the rage.  Funny thing, I've never had a cruise director on any of our cruises even remotely resembling her. They've all been men.  Well, Max, on the Costa Magica was along with his wife, who was also on the cruise staff  played the Julie part well, so that is as close as it gets for me.  Cunard's had a fine staff of cruise directors in our experience.  I believe we've had Ray Rouse both on QE2 and most recently on QM2, but the "Julie" type remains elusive.

Now the show ran for a long time, ten years, maybe too long.  My interest in the show was clearly waning, though, by the time they tried to spice things up by introducing captain's daughter to the plot line.  They also had trouble with the real Julie and had to replace her.  The show was never the same.

Back to the captain, Captain Merrill Stubing, played by Gavin MacLeod of  "Mary Tyler Moore" TV sitcom fame.  I have to admit, it was pretty cool to see our last name, by no means a popular name, on the TV screen.  Hey, maybe I would be a ship's captain one day....It was only recently that I learned that he isn't really a true MacLeod of Scottish heritage at all, but American Indian! Indians go bald? Oh the humanity!  He thought it would make a cool stage name.

Now my interest in ships, Clydebuilt ships actually, goes back farther in time, to that Irwin Allen blockbuster "Poseidon Adventure."  I'll never forget seeing the opening credits and recognizing her instantly as the Queen Mary, probably since I had spent many hours at the kitchen table recently painting and gluing up the Revell model of her.  That insane childhood obsession with Queen Mary is another blogworthy topic that continues to this day.  Recently, we played the "Poseidon Adventure " DVD, on New Year's Eve actually, to coincide with a friend's overnight stay onboard her in Long Beach that very night.  Happy to report....she did not sink that night.

19 February, 2012

The Shape of Things to Come, Part 3

I continue with my analysis and admiration of  rear ends......of ships.

Costa Magica, as seen from the stern while we docked in Nassau, Bahamas in April 2007, shows off her prop pockets.  Honestly, this feature completely escaped me on our first cruise on her.  I had noticed what I thought was a weird wavy waterline the previous year when we had been onboard for a Caribbean cruise.  From the tender ride heading into port, I thought they had perhaps adjusted the waterline since the majority of the time while steaming, there would be water off the props, perhaps in that pattern.  I got a chance to see the stern up close in Nassau and my initial impression was very wrong.  These were propeller "pockets" for her conventional shaft propulsion.  As compared to a later stretched version of this same hull design in the Costa Concordia, the Italians gave the newer ships a small "spoiler" or stern flap.

Source of this photo is unknown, taken from my files collected off the internet, so I cannot credit anyone.  Fincantieri, the builders of both Magica and Concordia, have updated the stern design with this appendage.  What is not visible is whether this appendage was literally added on or whether more plating modifications were done to fair in the transition.  Perhaps the pockets were eliminated.  Photos of Concordia on her side now do not offer any further information as this part of the hull is fully submerged.  In time, when more of her damage is documented, I hope to add additional information to this post.

Costa Magica stern is shown above with the highly angular surface planes typical of this often used Carnival hull design. I have to admit, the more I viewed the ship, the more I came to more than tolerate the appearance.  From someone accustomed to the more graceful sterns of Queen Elizabeth 2 and her predecessors, this was a big step.

Looking at this profile now again, seveal years later, the design does strike me as very Italian, in the Alfa Romeo Milano or 154 style.  One could even say that it is done in the latest Cadillac style of folded planes used in their popular car designs. Some like it, others hate the look.

For Costa Concordia, it looks like the designers just tacked on a small spoiler to gain a little speed and efficency, like automotive designers do.  Maybe Captain Schettino liked to view it as such, since we all keep hearing that he drove the ship like she was a Ferrari!

Luck would have it that the retro Disney Wonder was berthed adjacent to the Magica and offered a sharp contrast in stern designs.  What a beautiful ship she was, and that opinion has nothing to do with my bias for dark hull colored ships!

Disney Wonder in Nassau, Bahamas, April 2007

I absolutely love the lines of the Disney ships, including the new Disney Dream that has recently joined the fleet.  Here we see a modern interpretation of classic Art Deco/Streamline Moderne design, flawlessly executed in typical Disney style.  Now this ship, and her near identical twin, the Disney Magic, were built by Fincantieri, so the yard does know how to do curved plating opposed to all the flat plane surfaces on the Costa ships.  Interesting, the new Disney Dream was not built by Fincantieri, but by the the German yard of Meyer Werft, the builders of the Celebrity Solstice class ships; the ships with the exaggerated duckbill stern appendages previously referenced in Part 2 of this subject post.  Both the new Disney ships and the Solstice class ships are high on my wish list to cruise on.  In the meantime, I'll continue with my arse end admiring....of ships.