No route is ever the same

2018-10-23

You know, the average person might think that Queen Mary 2’s Transatlantic Crossings must take the same route every time. I mean, why not? It’s all Ocean out there and it would be very difficult to bump into say, Bermuda or some other such island on the way across!

So why is then that I can honestly say that almost none of our routes were identical to others we had previously taken?

The answer is of course, the weather and the effect it has on the actual courses we follow between Southampton and New York. As it is so vital that Queen Mary 2 is never late in arriving at the end of a “Crossing” and due to the fact that an average speed of around 21 to 22 knots all the way across is required to enable that, knowing the expected weather en route is very important indeed.

To assist us in looking ahead and planning the actual route a variety of internet sources are now available. There was certainly nothing like that in Titanic’s day! These free websites are invaluable, but to be certain of the most accurate and detailed forecasts, Cunard Line pays for a personalised forecast for Queen Mary 2 all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, which even includes routing recommendations to avoid the worst of any bad weather which may be forecast for that particular ocean passage.

These weather updates, also via email and the internet of course, are updated several times a day and are the reason that anyone having taken a Crossing with us may have noticed small deviations in our course or even our speed, all designed to avoid any stronger winds or rougher seas which may have been building up in that region of the ocean. The benefits are twofold – a smoother passage for our guests and for the ship itself, we are more efficiently able to maintain the required speed for an on time arrival.

As I mentioned last week we often have Weddings at Sea on board Queen Mary 2 and the other Cunard vessels and a smooth day at sea is exactly what both the Bride and the Groom are invariably hoping for! What a great day it is for all concerned and even these events are in the back of our minds on the Bridge when we are reading the latest wind and sea state forecasts, as we strive for maximum guest satisfaction at all times.

Ah yes, I promised you my favorite wedding story last week so here it is now!!

This occurred on a different type of voyage, namely a Caribbean cruise of around 24 days out of and back to the UK and when I was a newish Captain in command of a lovely older ship by the name of Artemis, one of the P&O Cruises UK vessels.

Now weddings may only take place in international waters, which in other words means well out into the Ocean and not near any coastlines and this particular lovely couple had decided to have their wedding on one of the five days at sea on the way back to the UK after we had visited several Caribbean islands. This would have meant that by their wedding day they were probably at around day number 18 or 19 of their 24 day cruise.

Nothing wrong with that, you might say! However the one thing that most people know about cruises is that you might tend to over indulge in all the fine food which is on offer! So, come the morning of the wedding we were all in our finest uniforms and ready for the big day and..…we got word that the bride could not fit into her dress…!!!!!

I can honestly say that it is the only time in my career that I have heard an emergency announcement put out over all circuits for the ship’s seamstress to attend immediately!!!

But the great thing about ships is that we almost always make things happen with the resources we have on board, because let’s face it – we have to!! Less than an hour later the dress had been let out here and there and the bride was looking suitably resplendent as she walked down the aisle of our wedding chapel and the nuptials were duly carried out without further incident!

I have always thought since that event that the moral of the story is that it may well be best to plan your wedding in the early part of the cruise – because you have in any case a built-in honeymoon to enjoy for the rest of the time you’re on board!

I hope you are enjoying reading my columns as much as I am enjoying writing them and I have many more stories and information snippets lined up for you. Still, if there is anything in particular you would be interested in hearing about from me, then please do get in touch through the website and I’ll be pleased to write about it for you.

Stay safe and well,

Peter Philpott
Captain
Queen Mary 2.

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