Queen visits our Islands
By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Loren Moreno
The ship dwarfing other vessels and buildings at Aloha Tower today is the Queen Mary 2 — the largest, tallest, longest ocean liner ever built and the grandest to dock in Honolulu Harbor.
When the queen pulls into port this morning, she will no doubt be greeted by the "oohs" and "ahhs" of passers-by, considering she is six times longer than the Aloha Tower is tall. That's what happened when the Queen Mary 2 arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday — 25,000 people showed up to watch the vessel come in, said Jackie Matthews, spokeswoman for Cunard Liners.
"We're seeing thousands of people turn out just to watch the ship, just to see it close up," she said. "People are just continually awed by the sight of the ship."
Queen Mary 2's arrival on O'ahu marks the end of the first leg of the British ship's inaugural voyage through the Pacific Ocean to Hawai'i. Following the ship's stop in Honolulu, it will continue on tomorrow to Lahaina and Kona before heading back to the West Coast.
Less than a week ago, it rendezvoused in Long Beach, Calif., for the first time with its retired predecessor, the Queen Mary, which was launched in 1936 and went on to be known as the "Queen of the Ocean."
"During the '30s '40s and '50s, going on a Cunard ship across the Atlantic was really one of the things to do and one of the places to be seen," Matthews said.
And it still is. Queen Mary 2's voyage to Hawai'i is sold out, Matthews said, with passengers paying anywhere from about $1,300 to $31,000 for a six-day cruise aboard the floating resort. The ship features 1,310 staterooms, a casino, a planetarium, a theater and more than nine dining facilities.
The ship will be the third liner to dock in the newly renovated Pier 2 cruise terminal at Honolulu Harbor, said Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. The 158,000-square-foot terminal can accommodate up to 2,500 passengers — about the same as Queen Mary 2's passenger capacity.
No special arrangements were needed for the ship, Matthews said. The ship is so agile that it can dock without the aid of tug boats.
In April 2004, Queen Mary 2 set out for its maiden voyage from England to New York. In its nearly two years at sea, the ship has cruised the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, waters off New England and Canada and just last week, the West Coast, where it met its namesake docked.
The original Queen Mary is now a floating hotel and museum in Long Beach. But if a local mystery bidder back in 1967 had had his or her way, the Queen Mary would be docked here. According to local news reports then, the mysterious Hawai'i bidder offered to pay $3 million for the ship and considered using it as a floating hotel off Waikiki.
Following the Queen Mary 2's voyage to Hawai'i, it will embark on a 38-day cruise around South America, and in January it is expected to sail around the world — in 80 days, no less — for the first time.
Reach Loren Moreno at firstname.lastname@example.org.