which was the most popular queen

14th February 2011, 22:33
Ive allway's wondered in their heyday which was the most popular ship. The queen mary or the queen elizebeth? Not just with passengers but with the crew. Ive read loads about the mary but cant seem to find out half as much about the elizabeth.

Jeff Taylor
14th February 2011, 22:48
The Mary was always referred to as a happier and more popular ship, although if pressed most officers and engineers I've spoken to indicated the Eliz was definitely more technically advanced and modern. Having been on both and actually sailed on the Eliz I can also say that I felt she was the more attractive of the two both externally (raked bow, no depressed well deck, internally braced funnels, less cluttered with far fewer ventilators), and internally (lighter, more modern decor, and better internal circulation). Still, the Mary certainly caught the public's eye. One point to keep in mind was that the Mary came out as Cunard's first really new ship since Aquitania in 1914, a symbol of British pride in the depressed times of the mid '30's and took the Blue Riband from the more stylish Normandie, while the Eliz was never fully completed in 1940, had a coat of grey paint slapped on her and fled to NY for conversion as a troop ship. She never had a peacetime passenger nor was fitted out until +/- 1947 by which time she was old news. Also, Cunard never allowed her to take the speed trophy and diminish the Mary. I had the luck to spend some time with her last Captain, Commodore Geoffrey Marr, who had captained virtually all of Cunard's ships from the Aquitania to Caronia, the Saxonia sisters, Mauretainia II, the Mary, etc. He assured me that between hull tweaks and improved boilers she could have beaten Mary's speed records, and extolled her other virtues, not to mention the fact that she had more upgrades over the years, but the "love" factor was never there. In the end, unlike Mary's relative success as an icon in Long Beach (putting aside economics!), she languished in Ft. Lauderdale, broke down disasterously on the way to Hong Kong for conversion to a floating university, and was ultimately torched some say by C.Y.Tung's disgruntled son. Whatever the cause, she came to an undignified end. Chalk it up to timing and bad luck. Always in the shadow of her older sister.

15th February 2011, 11:58
Having sailed for many years as an engineer on the QE, I often asked the question why do we not have the Blue Ribbon and I was always told that our extraction pumps were not capable of extracting the condensate, in other words not big enough. The QE down below was a much better ship to work on than the QM. The QE was a home from home. Towards the end she began to show her age in the boiler rooms, boiler stools just rusting away.

Jeff Taylor
15th February 2011, 15:14
Interesting about the extraction pumps--curious that they would have had less capacity than the Mary's, but you would know. What Marr told me was that it was a PR issue, i.e. why diminish the Mary and if a Cunard ship has the title why waste the fuel to try to top her. Also, given that the Eliz was only eligible from 1947 or so on, and by 1952 had no chance of topping the US she really didn't have much of a window to attempt it. PS: did you know Willie Farmer? I met his widow on QM2 back in 2006 at a party thrown for Ron Warwick when he announced his retirement after the Ft. Lauderdale snafu with a broken pod. Very nice lady.

15th February 2011, 15:29
Did I know Willy, certainly did, luckily when he was watch keeping in either ER or genny room I was not in the same place. He would moan on about anything for 4 hours at a time. He was Cunards champion moaner, he did not look forward to a spot of leave as there was a bigger moaner than him about.

Jeff Taylor
15th February 2011, 16:04
Point taken! I sat with her at a table for 6 during that dinner on QM2, so it was only superficial chit chat. I'm sure it was highly irregular, but Marr actually let me take the helm on QE for a minute or two thanks to a letter of introduction from a major Queen ship passenger I knew, and he arranged for a below decks tour including one of the er's. Wonderful experience, but I couldn't keep a straight course to save my life. Warwick told me he buiried Willie's ashes at sea from QE2.

15th February 2011, 20:23
In my opinion it was definately the Queen Mary, The Queen Elizabeth was a great ship too of course no denying that but she never had the superior finish that existed on the QM because she wasnt fitted out as a passenger ship till after war ended. Both ships did sterling wartime service as troopships and most of the QM prewar classic woodwork & mirrors etc were just boarded up during that period. I was lucky enough to do one of the Queen Marys last Atlantic voyages to New York as passenger and was able to fully appreciate what a great ship she was. Many many years later visited her at Long Beach and was saddened by my visit. I also did a cross channel trip on the QE2 when she was new but in my view she was "plastic-y . I sailed with Cunard for fifteen years.
Stuart H

Jeff Taylor
16th February 2011, 17:47
I've stayed on the Mary a couple of times, and she did look a bit down in the heels last time in 2006 with former first class cabins furnished like a cheap motel. She's recently been taken over by Delaware North Corporation and they put a good deal of money into her, so perhaps there's hope. I doubt if my wife will join me, however, as she can't get to sleep aboard citing ghosts. I can sleep through anything. It's a shame, though, that so few of the original public rooms are routinely available to the hotel guests. That's a big part of the magic of the old girl.

18th February 2011, 00:51
I'd say Johnny Lyness

18th February 2011, 10:38
I sailed on the QUEEN ELIZABETH for ten months in 1963, and on the QUEEN MARY for two months in 1966. I worked in the pursers department and on the MARY our accommodation was in-board cabins at the after end of B-deck which were quite unsaleable to passengers due to excessive vibration. There was no a/c and only a trickle of forced draught came through the louvres. There was no fresh washing water - it was all salt water. By contrast, on the QE we lived on the boat deck, starboard side forward, and although we were cramped, there was at least fresh air and daylight - and fresh washing water.
Creature comforts apart, the QUEEN ELIZABETH was superior in all respects to the MARY as far as actually running the ship went. I have never, never understood all the fuss about the 'charisma' of the MARY. I wonder if anyone remembers that the Crew Purser's office on the QUEEN MARY was actually in the squash-court gallery between the forward and the 2nd funnel. A sweating greaser with a query about his wages had to make his way through the first-class accommodation to talk to the crew purser.
And so it went on. I sailed on about 120 different ships in my time in the Merchant Navy, and the worst experience, without a doubt was the two months I spent on the QUEEN MARY. kingorry.

18th February 2011, 11:56
Sailed on both of them back in the early 60's, for an ER rating there was'nt that much of a difference if I remember correctly,Is there any truth in the rumour doing the rounds at the time, that when one of them was built they had missed out the ER ratings accommodation.

Jeff Taylor
18th February 2011, 14:14
Question for you engineering guys..I've been on both QM and QE, sailed on the QE, and have toured the er's on both. Apart from the vast differences in the boiler plants, were the actual turbines and the er's significantly different on the two? I've read that both were rated at 160,000 hp and to the casual eye the plants looked fairly similar. Appreciate the feedback.

Pat Kennedy
18th February 2011, 19:12
I'd say Johnny Lyness
That was 'Lynas' tell, and not the most popular queen when he was on the Empress of Britain.

Stephen J. Card
20th February 2011, 13:48
So now there are three Cunard Queens. Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. In another fifty years the grandchildren will be asking, "Which one was best?"


Jeff Taylor
20th February 2011, 19:34
In my personal opinion it's mildly heretical to call the current Vista class cruisers Elizabeth and Victoria "Queens". As they are clearly cruise ships and not liners, they could have called them Caronia, Mauretainia, Carmania, Carinthia, etc, etc to differentiate them from QM2, which probably more appropriately deserves the name "Queen". Somehow, though, my opinion wasn't solicited. Strange.

12th April 2011, 20:35
My late dad was on the Queen Elizabeth through the fifties into the sixties when he went to the Carmania. He also sailed with the Caronia and had some trips with the Queen Mary. He never particularly liked the Queen Mary. He always said that the catering crew on that ship were more awkward and, union-wise more militant, than the Queen Elizabeth crew.