Meet Ben Lyons, QM2's Chief Officer

| July 11, 2008

We interviewed Ben Lyons, at 29 years old and a U.S. citizen, one of youngest chief officers ever hired by Cunard.

Q: What is your favorite itinerary?

A: We are on it. Crossings are my favorite thing to do, partly because it is the traditional role for which ocean liners were invented. It is also cool that we get to really open up the engines and see what this amazing ship can do.

Another Slide from Ben's Lecture: The QM2 Bridge in High Seas   And Here's Another Slide he uses to Show the History of Ocean Liners   And Here's a Shot of Ben's Boss, the Captain of the QM2

Q: Queen Mary 2 can do over 30 knots at top speed. That is about 35% faster than any traditional cruise ship. Do you ever get her up there?

A: Yes, we do during these crossings, but not all the time. In the old days of liner crossings the goal was always to get the ship across the ocean as quickly as possible. You only announced the departure time and you arrived whenever you arrived, the faster the crossing the better. Obviously, these days we have schedules and we want to arrive in New York at 6:00 a.m. on the sixth morning. People have planes to catch and there are docking fees, for example. However, when you think about comfort of the passengers, every crossing is different. If you have high seas you need to put out the stabilizers and slow it down. But then at night when everyone is safely in bed you will open her up and make up for lost time -- the perfect example of making it the best trip possible for the human beings who are our living cargo on board.

Q: What other itineraries do you like?

A: The Norwegian Fjords are really fun. To navigate them is like threading the needle, as they are deep but very narrow in some places.

Q: And where do you see your future?

A: I could see myself staying on this ship for 10 years. I have a girlfriend who also works on the ship as a social hostess. (On vacation at the time of the interview). I still do some writing, and I still take cruises on my vacations.

Q: What ships do you sail on during your personal time? Are you checking out the competition?

A: No, actually I have fallen for small adventure vessels. I like small ships that go to interesting destinations. But I still prefer working on this kind of ship.

Q: And after 10 years, what then?

A: Ultimately, I would like to be shoreside in Marine Operations. I would like to be designing ships and their systems.

Q: Let's get some inside information. How do you feel about the new Cunard Queen Victoria?

A: Even though she isn't truly built like the ocean liner that Queen Mary 2 is, I was favorably impressed. She has a strengthened hull, which was lengthened by eleven meters over the traditional Vista-class cruise ship. She handles surprisingly well and can take the rough water better than most cruise ships. She has superior speed and stability, and it is her displacement that actually makes the difference.

Q: And what about Queen Mary 2?

A: It's a great ship, but what I love is the passengers' reaction to her. The Brits love the ship, probably more than the Americans, but the Germans are obsessed with it. We have drawn huge crowds wherever we went, but in Germany the crowds were almost fanatic.

Q: How many cruises have you done on her now?

A: I'm not sure, but I know I have done 25 transatlantic crossings and a world cruise.

Q: That's a good start. Good luck to you, Ben.

A: Thank you, and "Hi" to all the CruiseMates readers.

Continue Article >> Meet Ben Lyons, QM2's Chief Officer (Part 1)

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