Queen Victoria Naming Ceremony

| December 10, 2007
Cunard's newest liner is officially named by Camilla with Prince Charles at her side in the U.K. this morning.

Monday, December 10, 2007 marks the date for the official naming ceremony for the newest Cunard Ship, Queen Victoria. The ceremony was completed just an hour ago here in Southampton, England. To utter the famous words for British naming ceremonies, was Camilla, wife of Prince Charles, who stood at her side:

click on pictures below for larger images:

Lad with Flag   John Heald with Anita-vacation Potter, and Johns wife   End of the Ceremony
QV Captain with his Wife   Princess' Julie Benson with Peter Greenberg   Ladies in Hats! Uf & Mrs Tukel
Video of the Ceremony: The three tenors and the unvailing of the ship Video of the Ceremony: Camilla and Charles say Goodbye to the Crowd. Photo Gallery. See the complete Photo Gallery for this article.

But first, the Anglican priest gave a version of the common Anglican prayer...

"They that go down to the sea in ships; That do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep."

Then, Camilla, with Prince Charles by her side, floated to the microphone in her daiphanous chiffon gown and said,

"I name this ship Queen Victoria, may God bless all who sail upon her."

And with that the Princess of Cornwall pulled the lever to send the traditional bottle of champagne crashing onto the bow of the ship.

click on pictures below for larger images:

QV from the outside in the crisp UK air   Library Staircase   Harpist in Atrium

The bow of the actual ship could be seen through the back curtain of the stage which was a full-sized transparent window. The ship's bow was festooned in colored lights. Once the champage broke she had streamers flowing from her, as well as streamers falling from the cieling of the auditorium over the audience.

The champagne was a magnum of Cunard Line's signature champagne, Veuve Clicquot. When the bottle that was actually launched against the ship did not break, another bottle was broken by someone hiding on the bow of the ship. Though the original bottle dangled in mid air, the effect still the same. Liquid ran out of it down the side of the ship, the ship's deep horn bellowed, streamers and balloons filled the air, and the crowd roared with applause.

Video of the Ceremony: The three tenors and the unveiling of the ship Video of the Ceremony: Camilla and Charles say Goodbye to the Crowd. Photo Gallery. See the complete Photo Gallery for this article.

The ceremony itself was held outside beneath a large, temporary auditorium but fully enclosed auditorium with seats on risers for excellent viewing. The weather did cooperate with no rain, and although the wind was crisply invigorating inside the audorium the temperature was perfect.

The show itself was magnificent with the London Philharmonic playing music to accompany first the lovely Katherine Jenkins in singing Carmen, Bizet. And After the naming ceremony came three tenors; Alfie Boe, Jon Christos and Gardar Thor Cortes who sang Rule Britannia among other inspiring pieces.

Camilla, Charles, and Micky Arison coninued to watch the entire event from seat on the right side of the stage. At the end of the ceremony, the entire crowd was asked to stand as the Royals left the room.

British Tradition for Naming Ships In Britain, it is a longstanding tradition to ask members of the Royal Family to christen ships, especially for Cunard Line. HRH Queen Elizabeth herself performed the honors for the Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 (1969) and the Queen Mary 2, christened in 2004. Cunard ships are considered to be "liners" rather than cruise ships, and no cruise ship that I know of has been christened by royalty.

The person christening a ship in modern times is almost always female, but prior to 1875 they were usually men of Royal derivation, and had usually served in the naval forces. Today, the ladies who preside over the ceremony are thereafter referred to as the "godmother" of the ship, although the British prefer not to use that tradition.

Naming Ceremony Events The official calendar for events aboard the ship for naming ceremony reads like this:

Sunday 9 December Evening:

6:00 PM: Cocktail Reception
Elegant Casual Dinner
Evening Entertainment throughout the ship

Monday 10 December:

6:00 - 8:30: Full Breakfast
10-11:00: Morning Coffee with Live Jazz
12:00: Luncheon in the Dining Room
2:30: All Guests to disembark and take their seats at the naming ceremony
3:15: All Guests must be seated
3:30-4:30: Queen Victoria Naming Ceremony
4:30: Guests re-embark the Queen Victoria
6:30 pm: Gala Cocktail Reception
8:00 pm: Gala Dinner
10:00 pm: Entertainment throughout the ship

Note the way in which the vessel is called "the ship" before the naming ceremony, and then referred to as "Queen Victoria" after the ceremony.

There were several events today to mark this special occasion, and the ship itself was the star of the show up until the Royals appeared for the first time just in time to perform their duties.

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the beautiful Queens Room   Queens Grill   Princess Grill

I was in Venice to visit the ship just two months ago as it was still under construction in the shipyard. To see it today in its full splendor is not only a treat, it is a wonder that so much work could be completed in such a short period of time. Rooms were little more than shells with wires sticking out of walls where sconces now appear. The walls themselves were unfinished lightweight sheets of building material held in place by aluminum studs, and all of the floors were bare of carpet or hardwood planks. There was no furniture at all. See that article here: http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/feature/VictoriaPart1-102207.cfm

Today, the Queens Room is regaled with live jazz to accompany the tea, scones with lemon curd and coffee. The restaurants are set in their finery of Wedgwood bone china, Waterford Crystal, sterling silverware and Fili d' Oro Italian linens. The Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar is abuzz with people toasting, and the theater boxes in the Royal Court Theater are pre-reserved for the British society patrons planning to attend tonight's special celebrations.

At last we are able to see the beautifully decorated Queens Grill Grand and Master Suites, Penthouses and Queens Suites. They range in size from 508 to 2,121-square feet and each features a sofa and a generously sized balcony. In addition, Grand Suites include a large dining table and nautically inspired artwork.

These Queens Grill accommodations include butler service with butlers trained to the exacting standards of the International Guild of Professional Butlers; who stand ready to assist with unpacking and packing (using tissue paper between folds to ensure a flawless finish). Passengers in these suites will watch their butlers uncork the requisite bottle of French Champagne on departure.

All Queens Grill suites include fresh flower arrangements, fruit baskets, personalized Cunard stationery, bath salts, a manicure kit, umbrella and binoculars. The grandest Queens Grill accommodations (Q1-Q4) take luxury to the next level with in-room DVD players and a library of films.

click on pictures below for larger images:

String quartet plays in central atrium   Entrance to the private Queens Lounge   Signage assures exclusivity of Queen's Lounge

The Princess Grill accommodations include the P1-P4 stateroom suites that range in size from 335 to 513-square feet and feature spacious private balconies. Those embarking for the inaugural voyage in these suites enjoy a bon voyage bottle of sparkling wine and sugar-iced strawberries, as well as a fresh fruit basket and a fresh orchid in each stateroom.

All together there are accommodations for 142 people in the Queen's Grill suites and 132 in the Princess Grill suites.

The rest of the passengers (including myself) are in standard staterooms, ours for but two nights as we preview the ship and celebrate her naming ceremony. I will be returning home tomorrow morning, having arrived just yesterday, but when you get an invitation asking for your presence with British Royalty, how can you refuse?

Queen Victoria's Inaugural Voyage Queen Victoria is doing something once considered highly unusual, but has become far more popular in recent years. Her Maiden Voyage, commencing to a splendid fireworks display, at 5:00 pm on Tuesday December 11, will be to the crisply climated Scandinavian countries for a pre-Christmas cruise in the land of Santa himself. The Queen will sail as far north as Oslo, Norway, visiting Rotterdam, Copenhagen (a very popular holiday season destination in this part of the world), Oslo, Hamburg and Bruges, Belgium.

The following cruise, commencing December 21st and roundtrip Southampton, heads south to Spain, Lisbon, spending Christmas Day at sea, and finally Madeira and the Canary Islands for several days before returning to England.

World Cruise After these two shakedown cruises within relatively safe distance to home, the Queen's third cruise is a grand 106-day world cruise. It begins with a transatlantic crossing directly to New York City, through the Panama Canal to Los Angeles, Hawaii, the South Pacific, Asia, India, Dubai, Egypt, through the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean and back home again.

As soon as I return home I will have a more complete report for you about the interior of this beautiful new Queen with plenty of pictures.

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