Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Dispatch, QM2: View from the bridge

By Donna Tunney
DonnaTunney-QUEENMARY2-200x115Travel Weekly's Donna Tunney is aboard the Queen Mary 2 for a transatlantic cruise. Her fifth dispatch follows. Click to read her first,secondthird and fourth dispatches.

You think you've got fuel-cost problems?

The Queen Mary 2 gets 29 feet to the gallon at full speed — about 39 mph. It’s one of the reasons why this 2,600-passenger ocean liner takes six days to cross the Atlantic — going slower saves some fuel, so the ship’s average speed is closer to 23 mph.

But the longer voyage also provides flexibility for the liner to maneuver away from bad weather when necessary, said Capt. Paul Wright.

During a tour of the bridge on the fourth day of our transatlantic sailing from New York, the amiable Wright described how the design of the ship is tailor-made for North Atlantic crossings.

"See the extended length of the bow," he said, pointing from one of the bridge windows. "You won't see that long bow on other ships. And this liner is deep — 10 meters of it is under the water, and with the reinforced steel hull, it sits much heavier in the water. This ship can battle through any kind of weather."

Fog and the potential for heavy weather are his biggest challenges, he said, but it's more a matter of "managing" the variables.

QueenMary2-Captain-DTSome passengers, said the captain, like to encounter bad weather while sailing aboard the Queen Mary 2 while others worry about icebergs.

"With our radar these days, there’s no cause to worry about that," he said. "It's funny that some ships, like the ones that sail Alaska, go looking for ice and we do all we can to avoid it."

A map on the bridge shows the nearest iceberg locations — more than 300 miles north of the Queen Mary 2's course to Southampton.

Wright has been sailing the seas for a long time, serving on container and cargo ships, ferries and hovercraft before joining Cunard Line in 1980. He was named captain of the Queen Victoria when it entered service in 2007 and was assigned to the Queen Mary 2 last fall.

He lives in a "sleepy" Cornwall village in southwest England when he's not on the high seas.