Historic Tandem Voyage Aboard the Queen Mary 2

Michael Binkley and his wife, Michelle were invited aboard Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 ocean liner in 2004 for her historic maiden eastbound voyage in tandem with the Queen Elizabeth 2.

michael binkley sculptor sculpture vancouver canada cunard line queen mary 2 new york usa southampton england

This was the maiden eastbound trans Atlantic crossing of the QM2 and the final crossing of the Queen Elizabeth 2 before she passed the baton to the QM2. Queen Mary 2 is an ocean liner, not a cruise ship. The difference is that she is built entirely of steel, as opposed to cruise ships that have superstructures of aluminum. QM2 is designed to cross The Line between Europe and North America and can safely travel a 30 knots through 40 foot waves that the North Atlantic Ocean can serve up. Cunard is the only company still offering this time-honoured mode of transport across The Line. QM2 was built in St. Nazaire, France and christened by HRH Queen Elizabeth II in Southampton, England.

Left is the QM2 backing out of Pier 54 in New York harbour, with QE2 waiting behind. Look carefully to see the retired Concorde jet plane on a barge in the right of the photo. Right, the Binkleys on deck for the champagne send-off party as the QM2 moves down the Hudson River and  slips past the Empire State Building (behind Michelle’s head).

michael binkley sculptor sculpture vancouver canada cunard line queen mary 2 new york usa southampton england

All the passengers watched as fireboats made fountains, fireworks exploded above the Statue of Liberty and hundreds of private yachts escorted the two ocean liners out of New York harbour. It was a cold, drizzly evening, but it did not dampen anyone’s spirits.

Michelle is unpacking in their state room. Binkleys’ staff quarters were near the bow of the ship and they had only a porthole to see out of, but Cunard still gave them a full picture window!

michael binkley sculptor sculpture vancouver canada cunard line queen mary 2 new york usa southampton england

The QE2 was always a few miles off QM2’s starboard or port. This is her outside the Binkley’s stateroom porthole.

On deck, a piper announced the half-way point of the crossing. The crossing’s first day at sea was rough, with 30 foot waves, but on the second morning, the passengers awoke to a glassy smooth ocean. It was unusual for the Binkleys to be in such calm water, but no land in sight in any direction.

michael binkley sculptor sculpture vancouver canada cunard line queen mary 2 new york usa southampton england

michael binkley sculptor sculpture vancouver canada cunard line queen mary 2 new york usa southampton england

michael binkley sculptor sculpture vancouver canada cunard line queen mary 2 new york usa southampton england

When not working during the days, the Binkleys enjoyed the many amenities on board and met some very interesting people from all over the world. With seven days at sea, Cunard insures there is plenty to do. The vessel is large enough so that one can be amongst a crowd, or fine a secluded corner – all with over 2,500 fellow passengers.

Michael and Michelle were finally able to see Binkley’s “Sea Shells” in situs beside the thelassotherapy pool in the Canyon Ranch SpaClub. They look so much better here than they did in the artist’s Vancouver studio before they were packed up and shipped to France to be installed.

A favourite spot for a cocktail before dinner in the Britannia Dining Room was Veuve Clicquiot Champagne Bar. Executive Chef Todd English has a signature restaurant on board and Michelle is waiting for a table in the restaurant lobby.

Last is a classic photo of deck chairs, life ring and the QE2 in the background. This could easily be from the 1920’s.

Michael is the only artist representing Canada in the QM2’s multi-million dollar international art collection on board.

See Michael’s QM2 Sea Shells sculptures

Michael Binkley