Saturday, April 28, 2012

"QUEEN MARY 2" yesterday at Southampton

"QUEEN MARY 2" was back at Southampton yesterday, the end of her 2012 World voyage, the date also marks the beginning of her scheduled Transatlantic crossings. QM2 is the passenger ship of the XXI century, she was born a legend and she will be in a few years time considered one of the most beautiful Ocean Liners ever to existed. She is graceful, immense and beautiful by design. Photos 27.4.2011

The new QUEEN ELIZABETH yesterday in Southampton

Seen here yesterday departing Southampton is the new "QUEEN ELIZAETH" last addition to the CUNARD fleet, after QM2 the ship is the second largest ever built for this Historic Company. The QE was ordered to the Italian FINCANTIERI shipyards in 2007, she was delivered in October of 2010. Despite being advertised by CUNARD as an Ocean Liner, she does not qualify for this category, she doesn't have the heavy plating throughout her hull and the propulsion system is not one for a dedicated liner. "QUEEN ELIZABETH" is approximately 92.000 GRT and has a top speed of 23.7 knots. She is operated by CUNARD cruising all over the World. Photos 27.4.2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"CARPATHIA" the forgotten CUNARDER and her master Captain Rostron

 "CARPATHIA" was launched in 1902, she was tasked to cross the Atlantic not at speed like the LUSITANIA or the MAURETANIA, instead she carried her duties which included transporting Hungarian emigrants to the US from Trieste in Italy at a steady pace of 14 knots. "CARPATHIA" became the unlikeliest of heroes when she came to the rescue of the sinking TITANIC on the night of the 14th of April 1912, she was the first ship to the rescue of the liner. At 00:15 of the 15th of April the ship's wireless operator picked up the signals and immediately woke Captain Rostron. "CARPATHIA" was 58 miles away from the TITANIC so the ship would need 4 hours to cover the distance and get to the TITANIC's rescue. Captain Rostron ordered a change of course and instructed the chief engineer to turn off all the heat and hot water, he also instructed all stokers to shovel coal into the furnaces as fast as they could, soon the ship was travelling at 17 knots way above her maximum speed through very dangerous icy waters.
Captain Rostron was determined that the "CARPATHIA" would arrive fully prepared, lifeboats were readied, slings were made to raise children and injured passengers, dining rooms were transformed in first aid stations, blankets and clothing amassed and the crew was instructed to prepare hot drinks and soup. "CARPATHIA" arrived at the given position at 4 am and ten minutes later the first survivors came aboard, by 8.30 all the 705 rescued were safely on the ship, Captain Rostron decided to go back to New York, from where the ship departed on the 11th of April, Halifax was nearest but this would mean travel through more ice and provisions on board were not enough to reach the Azores. Weeks after the "CARPATHIA"'s arrival at New York survivors presented the Captain and his crew with a Trophy and medals, the following year Captain Rostron received the Congressional Medal of honour in Washington and in 1926 he became Knight Commander.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

SS FRANCE fifty years ago

 Less than two weeks ago I was in France, the hotel I was staying had a magazine called MAG, the official Le Havre tourist magazine, there was a special focus on the connection of the city with the superb SS FRANCE, Le havre was the port of registry for the French Liner since 1962 until 1974, the main reason for the special report was the commemoration of 50 years since the liner departed Le Havre on her maiden voyage to New york, the date was the 3rd of February of 1962. I have decided that I would have once again to write some words about this amazing passenger ship, my favourite of all time I must admit, after a very careful appreciation and as a result of nearly fifty years of reading books, taken thousands of photographs and travelling on board liners and cruise ships and of course sharing this passion with fellow friends and enthusiasts. So this is my tribute to one of the most remarkable liners ever to have sailed the world's oceans and an homage to fifty years since FRANCE started her life. Built by CHANTIERS DE L'ATLANTIQUE at Saint-Nazaire, FRANCE was delivered to COMPAGNIE GENERALE TRANSATLANTIQUE in 1962, she was at 316 meters the longest passenger ship ever built, a record she hold until the construction in the very same shipyard of the new 345 meters QUEEN MARY 2, she was propelled by Parsons turbines and could cruise at 30 knots, she had capacity for just over 2000 passengers in two classes. FRANCE was built with the intention of replacing the ILE DE FRANCE and the LIBERTE, her design and layout were the last word in up-to-date elegance, she was conceived to dazzle the public. It was believed that there was still sufficient demand for such glamour.
By the early 70's more than 90 percent of all passenger traffic across the North Atlantic was by air so the French Line was in trouble despite the sheer quality of the ship. In 1974 was announced that the regular Transatlantic service would be discontinued and SS FRANCE withdrawn, this would put an end to 110 years of regular service, the ship was to make her final crossing from New York on the 18th of October, however on the 17th of September when the ship was approaching her home port of Le Havre part of the crew entered the bridge and took over the ship, she was kept at sea for 11 days, after the supplies running low it was decided to continue the protest ashore but this was the end of FRANCE. She remained seized at Le Havre for five years, she was then bought by NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE, towed to Germany and refitted at LLOYDS WERFT, she was renamed NORWAY and was kept in service until 2004 with several major refits along her new career. SS NORWAY was sold for scrap in 2006, the process of dismantling the ship was completed by late 2008 at Alang in India. FRANCE was for some Historians the last "superliner" built solely with the North Atlantic service in mind, for others she was built with the dual purpose of liner voyages and cruising, she was without question one of the most beautiful liners and cruise ships ever to exist and I have fond memories of seeing her as the FRANCE and later the NORWAY.

Monday, April 16, 2012

M V "SAGA PEARL II" in Liverpool today

 SAGA PEARL II was built in 1981 by Howaldt Swerke-Deutsche Werft at Kiel as the ASTORIA. the ship was ordered by HADAG CRUISE LINES, she was built to a high standard all those years ago. In 2009 the ship was acquired by SAGA CRUISES and renamed "SAGA PEARL II", before entering service she underwent a three month refit at Swansea Dry Dock in the UK, she was ready for her first cruise with the new operator in March of 2010

"SAGA PEARL II" is 18.591 GRT, normally cruises at 20 knots and has capacity for 600 passengers. Photos of the ship today at Liverpool

Sunday, April 15, 2012

M V "MARCO POLO" in Liverpool today on a TITANIC-themed cruise

 The cruise ship M.V. "MARCO POLO" visited Liverpool today on a TITANIC-themed voyage. Passengers have witnessed the rededication of the city's monument evocative to the tragedy. The Merseyside Maritime Museum opened one hour earlier in order to allow visitors to an exclusive tour of the Museum and to hear a lecture by Maritime Expert Alan Scarth.
Alan's book "TITANIC AND LIVERPOOL" provided basis for the "TITANIC THE UNTOLD STORY" exhibition now showing at the Museum. After "BALMORAL" the "MARCO POLO" is the second cruise ship to have visited the city of Liverpool in April on a very appropriate TITANIC-Themed voyage, today exactly 100 years since the TITANIC booked a place in History. Once again the weather was kind to the many visitors attending different events connected with the date

"MARCO POLO" was built in 1965 as the ALEXANDR PUSHKIN for the Soviet Union's BALTIC SHIPPING CO. The ship today is 22080 GRT, cruises at 19 knots and has capacity for about 800 passengers. This beautiful former liner is now owned by GLOBAL MARITIME and is on charter to the UK based company, CRUISE AND MARITIME VOYAGES.

Since the weather was so enjoyable, I have made a decision to take a cruise on the "ROYAL IRIS OF THE MERSEY" and experience some memorable close-up views of this enchanting ship, what a joy it was to board the historic Ferry, share some words with fellow enthusiasts and of course to photograph the ship

Photos taken today from on board the MERSEY FERRIES vessel  "ROYAL IRIS OF THE MERSEY"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"BALMORAL" at Liverpool today

The FRED OLSEN Cruise Ship "BALMORAL" visited Liverpool today, it's the first passenger ship visiting this historic city this year. "BALMORAL" was built in 1988 as the CROWN ODISSEY, she entered service with FRED OLSEN in 2008 after been lengthened by 30 meters, she is 43.375 GRT, she looked splendid, here's some photos taken today during the visit with Liverpool bathed in beautiful Springtime sunshine. "BALMORAL" at berth seen from a different, more intimate perspective, one of the highlights of the Liverpool call was the organised visit to the TITANIC "the untold story" exhibition taking place at the Maritime Museum, a must of a visit. Despite being lengthened the ship still retains an attractive profile

Monday, April 2, 2012

SEACITY MUSEUM at Southampton

The SEACITY MUSEUM opens in Southampton on the 10th of April. The museum explores and celebrates the connection of the city's people with the sea, an exhibition known as "Southampton-Gateway to the World".
The second permanent display is entitled "Southampton Titanic Story" which includes an interactive model of the ship, 549 people that lost their lives on the tragedy were from Southampton so the museum remembers and prepares to mark a century since TITANIC sank. A special exhibition "Titanic the legend" will also run until 2013 which examines the effect on ship design following the ship's sinking. For all other details and information, please visit Image above taken from the museum's website

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The new TITANIC BELFAST exhibition is now open

TITANIC BELFAST, the world's largest TITANIC visitor experience is now open to the public. The new exhibition is housed in an iconic state-of-the-art six floor building and extending over nine galleries. It tells the story of the TITANIC from the conception in the early 1900's, her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and place in history. This unmissable experience is located in the heart of Belfast, right beside the historic site of the ship's construction, the famous HARLAND AND WOLFF legendary Shipyard. For more information please visit the official website Images included taken from the TITANIC BELFAST website

The unsinkable "TITANIC"

April 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of  RMS "TITANIC". The ship was order nr 401 at the famous Belfast Shipyard HARLAND AND WOLFF. The ship of dreams was believed to be unsinkable  because of the revolutionary design of the bulkheads, she was the most advanced engineering project produced by men. TITANIC was lost on her maiden voyage with the loss of 1503 people, the sinking of the largest ship in the world at the time, made her the most best-known liner of all time and certainly the most talked about passenger ship in history.
TITANIC collided with an iceberg on the night of the 14th of April 1912 apparently ignoring the warnings of  unusual amounts of ice and icebergs drifting south on that particular year. To this day controversy surrounds the circumstances of this collision, there were accusations of negligence by the Captain and some of his officers, accusations against the Chairman of the White Star Line for insisting that the ship was kept at 21 knots, considered to be excessive for the circumstances despite warnings of icebergs on the ships route, but the most glaring aspect of the tragedy was the lack of lifeboats on board TITANIC. In those calm seas the majority of people would have been saved, had there been sufficient lifeboats for passengers and crew

Shock waves travelled around the world with the news of the sinking, there were few corners on earth not affected by the accident. If it's possible to say that any good came out of the sinking of the TITANIC, was that the rules for safety at sea were overhauled and amended, among these a complete set of new legislation requiring that every registered sea-going ship should carry enough lifeboats for everyone on board

All images in this post from my private collection