Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Tuesday, 18 December 2007


WHAT COULD BE BETTER than a first class transatlantic voyage from Liverpool to New York onboard an old fashioned ocean liner, equipped with lots of cigars and lots of port and well-appointed staterooms? Nothing, so long as it is, in fact, an ocean liner with its stacks and beautiful black and red livery, and not the ghastly white cruise ship with its essentially mass produced hull and abominably high superstructure. As a former naval officer and ship aficionado, I don't take the distinction lightly. Historically, an ocean liner has long graceful lines and is a figure of beauty, especially if it is a flag ship of RMS splendour under the famed Cunard charter and flies the red or blue duster. A cruise ship is not.

The Steam Lion, Sir Samuel Cunard (1787 - 1865), Canadian-born Britisher and founder of Cunard Steamship Lines, must therefore be turning in his grave to witness the latest ship to enter his transatlantic fleet, the MS Queen Victoria. The contrast with RMS Queen Mary 2, or the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, could not be more vividly disappointing. Unlike the QM2 and QE2, the QV is not an ocean liner and therefore does not live up to its glorious and grand predecessors, yet Cunard considers it one of their sea-going monarchs. The QV was royally christened on December 10th by the Duchess of Cornwall, and in regal fashion departed on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on December 12th. But it should never have been maidened a Queen. An ocean liner it is not.

The QM2 is the largest ocean liner ever built. Here she is about to visit her mother ship, the original Queen Mary (consort to George V), now a floating hotel in Los Angeles harbour

QE2's fate is also to become a floating hotel next year in Dubai.

The QE2 was purposely designed in the 1960s to be much smaller than its grand predecessors when airlines surpassed sea-going passenger routes as the primary mode of transatlantic crossing. But the popularity of ocean sailing saw a return to the larger vessels. The QM2 shown above is almost twice the size as her Cunard sister.

The original Queen Elizabeth, named after the Queen Mother, was used as a troopship during the Second World War.

The newly christened Queen Victoria with its abominable wrap-around promenade and enclosed balcony decks. The QV is nothing more than a glorified cruise ship with a black-painted hull. Unfortunately the future MS Queen Elizabeth is to be a larger version of this, and will come into service in 2010.

And here, continuing along the same theme, is the massive cruiser MS Freedom of the Seas (note the similarity above), which just overtook the QM2 as the largest passenger ship ever built.

No long and slender graceful lines here, just a giant floating condo, a massive hulk of a ship out of all proportion to her keel and hull. In my opinion, they shouldn't let this kind of "Love Boat" brutality exit Miami Harbor. But with respect to the new Queen Victoria and the future Queen Elizabeth, what shall we make of the magnificent ocean liner's future?


Kipling said...

I can't see the pictures Beaverbrook! Is that me or the blog? Couldn't agree more about the design of modern cruise ships.

Beaverbrook said...

Bloody Blogger. All my uploaded pics have been corrupted!

Lord Nelson said...

Yes, I much prefer the long slender black and red liveries to the oversized superstructures too. Cunard seems to be buying their Queens on the cheap, no longer willing to fess up the big bucks for an original ocean liner. Much more cost-effective to purchase an assembly line cruise ship.

Lord Best said...

The sad thing is there is a real ocean liner, I'm afaid I cannot recall the name at present, sitting outside of Alang in India waiting to be scrapped. The last surviving ocean liner, yet no one is lifting a finger to save it. There is even a question over whether it is suitable for being scrapped to begin with, the ship contains many tonnes of hazardous materials which the Indian scrapmen are not equipped to remove safely.

Lord Best said...

The ship I mentioned above is the SS France, sadly on December 4th the bow was cut, apparently a ceremonial event before the ship is ripped apart. It makes my blood boil, the last remaining ocean liner consigned to such a fate.

Lord Nelson said...

The SS France is not the last ocean liner. As Beaverbrook alluded to, Cunard's QE2 and QM2 are ocean liners that are still in service. The point is that Cunard has traditionally only operated liners, and so this move with Queen Victoria to a cruise ship design, along with the future Queen Elizabeth, flies in the face of the Cunard name.

Queen Mary 2 is an ocean liner and still quite a new one at that, so it'll be some time before they disappear althogether.

Beaverbrook said...

Yes, the QM2 will be around for some time yet. In my opinion, the QM2 is too big and from a design perspective has stretched the aethetics of the traditional ocean liner to the limit. But it still has the long lines and high freeboard and no wrap-around promenades. Nevertheless, I fear the ocean liner's days are numbered.

James said...

Just to note: the oversized superstructures on most passenger ships today appear as they do because SOLAS regulations now stipulate that lifeboats be a certain, relatively low distance from the water. The QM2 was a special exemption, and though her boats are still lower than would be in a traditional design, it'd still be a good 10 storey drop for any evacuating passenger.

That said, I have to express my similar disappointment with the new 'QV'. She is a cookie-cutter Vista Class ship, and should never have been designated a 'Cunard Queen'. I think Carnival Corp. has decided Cunard ships will henceforth be distinguished by 'Queen' names, dropping the 167 year old tradition of the ship names all having the suffix 'ia'. (QV, of course, overlaps this nicely, being both a 'Queen' and an 'ia' name.) This seems more of a branding tactic to market Cunard as an American vision of what "Britishness" is.

Lord Best said...

You are right of course, I went back and reread the articles about the SS France and some of its claims were not backed up by its own dates. I shouldn't let my passion for preserving our heritage blind me so...

J.K. Baltzersen said...

Now where is that Titanic replica that has been talked about from time to time?

Viscount Feldon said...

I should hope that it won't be a replica in it's construction quality as well!

El Jefe Maximo said...

Is the top illustration of Olympic or Titanic?

Beaverbrook said...

Titanic, which was not a Cunard ocean liner, but a White Star Lines ocean liner. White Star Lines fell into financial trouble during the depression in the 1930s and Cunard acquired its assets. For a time Cunard was called Cunard White Star Lines, but I'm not sure when or why they decided to drop the White Star moniker.

El Jefe Maximo said...

I seem to remember that Queen Mary was originally to be called Queen Victoria but that George V rather cleverly got Cunard to go with Queen Mary, but that may well be legend.