Mick Gayle's QE2 Story
Updated on November 9th, 2009 by Rob Lightbody
My first sighting of QE2 was from a BEA Vickers Vanguard just after midnight on 1 September 1968 on final approach to Glasgow airport, she was illuminated and stole my heart immediately. Later that week I went down the Clyde on the Queen Mary II and was able to take some photos of her.
My aviation career then took over and my next sighting of her was in Funchal Harbour in October 2006. I then decided that I wanted to sail on her, this desire being reinforced by the announcement of her withdrawal from service.
My first sailing on her was on the January 2008 westbound crossing in tandem with the Queen Victoria to New York and Fort Lauderdale under the command of Ian McNaught. This was QE2's longest crossing ever, taking 7 days! The first couple of days had a swell of up to 7 metres, whilst we glided through the seas like a true thoroughbred QV seemed to be bouncing her way along.
My first impression of Cunard was not at all favourable, the check in at Southampton took over 2 hours, however the moment I boarded QE2, that all washed away, my love affair with her intensified!
On this voyage I dined in the Caronia restaurant, wow! Perfection in nearly every respect. Also I was very anti the formal dress code but obviously had to comply, I finished up loving the formality of it all!
One extremely memorable moment was seeing the QV seemingly flying above the clouds as we went through the Newfoundland Flats, thank goodness I had my camera with me.
The cheers as we passed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and sailing up the Hudson past the Manhatten skyline was unforgettable, not the least being buzzed by the NYPD helicopters.
Another highlight was the departure, once again the Manhatten skyline, this time at night and even more buzzing by NYPD helicopters (and Frank Sinatra singing "New York, New York" over the ships speakers!) .
And then the rendezvous of QE2, QV and QM2 line astern by the Statue of Liberty with a fantastic firework display. I stood under the bridge, it rained and boy was it cold, but what an experience!