Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cruising in the South Pacific on Cunard Queen Victoria

What’s the difference between a “cruise” and a “crossing” on a ship?
When is a ship a “liner” and when is it a “cruiser”? The two questions are related.

Right now our ship, the Queen Victoria, is cruising on her maiden voyage around the world, going west, the long way around, from New York to Southampton, which will take about 90 days. This is a one-time trip. It’s a cruise, stopping at many ports along the way. In this instance, the ship is not a liner. It’s a cruse ship.

Let’s say a ship makes regularly scheduled trips between New York and Southampton. This is a “crossing” and the ship is then called a “liner”. Draw a line between point A and point B. A line goes between two points. The true liners, such as the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth were expressly designed and built to go between England and America.

The Queen Elizabeth 2 was a hybrid, designed after jet travel became the most popular way to go from America to Europe. The QE2 was designed with the knowledge at Cunard that the ship could not be profitable simply doing transatlantic crossings. It had to make its money as a cruise ship in places like the Caribbean or the Mediterranean.

This was the last major ship built that looked like a transatlantic liner. The later ships, the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria, joined the look-alike ships built to be cruise ships on tranquil seas, not transatlantic ships on the high seas of the North Atlantic. They, like the other ships being built lost their long bows and began to look more like what they are, floating hotels, with balconies for nearly everyone.

Whereas the Queen Elisabeth 2, as its predecessors, was traveling under the slogan “Getting there is half the fun.”, the later ships were in themselves destinations that just happened to make short stops at cities.

On the world cruises, people can embark in Southampton and disembark in Southampton.
They don’t ever have to leave the ship. Some don’t. The ship is the adventure in itself. Being on board became all the fun. We are told that one woman still lives on the QE2 after 14 years.

This change, from transatlantic liners to cruisers, changed the mix of passengers, from business people and professionals going between New York and Southampton as a means of opulent transportation to something to do for the well-heeled elderly and an escape from the workplace for younger people who could spend a week or two drinking Margaritas and watching beautiful sunsets and sunrises, going to shore if they pleased.

Thanks to John G. Langley, Q.C., the chairman of the Cunard Steamship Society, for giving freely of his knowledge to those of us who are just learning about the evolution of ships from sail to coal-burning steamers to diesel electric generators. Had it not been for the successful transition from transatlantic ships for the very rich to cruise ships for the common man, there would be no passenger ships on the seas today.


RogerCH said...

I see that both the Queen Mary and
Queen Victoria will be doing Trans
Atlantic crossings at times and that
they have re-enforced hulls to cope
with the Atlantic despite the fact they were designed for calmer seas.
The Pacific and the Indian Oceans can get fairly wild at times so how do the new generation ships cope?

Emerson Smith said...

The QM2 and QV are made of special steel that allows for a thinner hull plates than the QE2 has, but greater strength. Both the QM2 and QV do very well on the high seas in weather from the designer's and bridge crew's perspective, although the QV has more perceived roll and pitch from the passenger's perspective than the QM2. At maximum speed and with moderate swells or greater, passengers will have more comfort on the QM2 than on the QV. The QE2 is the most exciting at sea, followed by the QV and the most tranquil QM2. Stabilizers can only control roll, leaving pitch at the mercy of the swells and the speed of the ship.

RogerCH said...

Thanks Emerson, most interesting.
What about the P&O ships, are they built the same and basically for seas
other than the Atlantic? Also how about the older Princess ships?