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

17 October, 2009

The Final Time - October 16, 2008

Despite leaving early and carving up the road, as I turned down the Henry Hudson Parkway, I could see the iconic funnel all lit up in the distance.  My heart dropped since I missed her final early morning arrival to the Manhattan pier.  Captain McNaught got her tied up at the pier a bit early, probably to guarantee a timely departure this afternoon.  With all the security measures in place, I could not park on the upper deck as I had done the past two times I had visited the pier to see the ship.  I ended up in a parking area across the street, which would later prove costly.

After watching the ship's passengers disembark through the terminal, many of whom I had seen either on my one and only January 2008 crossing or on the Farewell to the UK trip, Myles finally appeared carrying the extremely heavy bag.  After a brief chat with Matthew (kindlychap), we decided to take the subway down and ditch the bag in my car.  The car, unfortunately by now had been put up in a rack and I had to "tip" the attendant twenty bucks to get the car down and allow me to add the heavy bag that Myles walked off the ship for me. For that I will be eternally grateful since I now have a small assortment of tableware that we use occasionally for special occasions. In addition, Myles brought me my QE2 life ring which would have been very difficult to take on the plane home.

For me, this would be my very first subway adventure, ever, in New York, but I did not tell Myles that at the time.  We headed towards a subway station for a ride downtown to the South Street Seaport for a gathering of QE2 loyalists at the Sequoia Restaurant on the water, with a view of Queen Mary 2 in the distance.  As we emerged from the subway, we were basically at Ground Zero, which was a bit eery.  Both Myles and I had never seen the site and we managed to get a glimpse into the vast hole of the twin towers and saw the new construction beginning.

The Sequoia group meeting was nice, meeting up with Margaret and Frank from our UK trip, seeing Doug Newman and his dad from the January 2008 Crossing, and finally meeting Babette, from fame and the most knowledgeable Cunard travel agent around. (I have since used her to secure cabins on the maiden QE3 tandem January Crossing with Queen Victoria in 2011)  The QE2 Memories book was carried by Myles for others to sign who were not going back on the final crossing.  Ryan and I had already signed it onboard.  I also met Margaret and Frank's daughter Alex and her husband James, who had their son with them.  They were all heading home on Queen Mary 2 for the best view of QE2's final crossing.  On an interestly side note, Alex and james had flown over a few days early and drove to Essex to take the steam train one day and visited Mystic Seaport the next day.  They were amazed home nice the area and the Connecticut River was and were shocked to hear just how close they were to my house in Haddam during the steam train ride.

Time absolutely flew by with spirited chat about various Cunard ships and QE'2 eventual fate in Dubai.  In what appeared to be short order, Myles and I had to head off back to the pier.  For Myles, he was returning home on QE2 and for me, I was going to see the final departure from a World Ship Society sponsored harbor cruise.  On this cruise, I would meet up with QE2 fellow passenger and friend Ed, who also introduced me to a few other passengers who I was familiar with from my postings on  On this cruise, would be writer and ocean liner enthusiast Ted Scull, who did a bit of narration on this cruise for us QE2 nutters, and also writer and ocean liner enthusiast Bill Miller, who was on our UK trip.  Both held lextures onboard QE2 and I attended them all and bought their books.  HINT...I see me doing the lexture/book thing in my future.  Bill Miller recognized me from our UK trip and we chatted a bit as we all saw QE2 sail off into the distance. 

Simply stunning, with every passenger on deck for the historic sailaway and final farewell to New York.

The sun tried to come out as she backed out of the pier and was swung around with the Moran tugs, which which have assisted her into the Manhattan and Red Hook piers so many times over the years. Magnificant...stunning...memorable...historic...these words were repeated often as we viewed the ship brilliantly all lit up.  I have to wonder if the cabin stewards had orders to open every deadlight and turn on lights in every cabin.  The ship was ablaze in lights.  I will never forget how magnificant she looked.  Theer was also a sense of pride that she was after all the finest exaple of shipbuilding on the Clyde, proudly built in my ancestrial home of Scotland.

Most of us on the ferry were up top in the open air, soaking it all in with all our senses, despite it being downright chilly.  Sitting next to Bill Miller and listening him speak, I could almost here a chapter being written for an upcoming book on QE2. Unfortunately, it was all over so quickly. Surprisingly there were no fireworks, but there was a nice fireboat display.  Finally there was the the gut wrenching horn salute as she passed the Queen Mary 2 to lead the way out of the harbor for the final time.

Goodbye QE2.  She left New York harbor at the top of her game.  Not bad for a 40 year old ship with hard Atlantic service.  As Captain McNaught told us numerous times, the world will never see the likes of her ever again.  She is the last of her breed.  Three cheers for QE2!

No comments:

Post a Comment