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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 2, 2006

Gigantic ship draws crowds

Queen Mary 2 photo gallery

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

The view from Punchbowl Street looked like a huge new condo. The 151,400-ton Queen Mary 2 is as tall as a 23-story building, 1,132 feet long and has 17 decks. It carries 2,600 passengers, 1,250 crew.

GREGORY YAMAMOTO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Tight security kept folks from getting close, but these folks found an ideal spot near the Maritime Museum to see the largest and many say the grandest passenger ship ever built.

JEFF WIDENER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Dr. Noni Koch received a phone call from her son, Raja, yesterday letting her know that the Queen Mary 2 had docked in Honolulu Harbor. That brought back memories of 1959, when Koch, afraid to fly, boarded the first Queen Mary in London and met her future husband during the voyage to New York.

At Aloha Tower yesterday, Koch stood with her grandchildren, Taja and Tiana, staring at the massive ship.

"It has awakened my own good memories," said Koch, a gynecologist at The Queen's Medical Center.

Koch was among hundreds of people who gathered throughout the day in areas surrounding Pier 2 to see the largest ocean liner ever built. Because of increased security, bystanders were prevented from getting too close, but the sheer size of the liner made it impossible to miss.

Arriving about an hour later than expected, the Queen Mary 2 pulled into port this morning to be greeted by hula dancers and a group of five volunteers from Aloha Boat Days. But a lack of security clearances prevented all of the members of the group from being there to greet the more than 3,000 passengers and crew members, said Moana Chang, entertainment coordinator with Aloha Boat Days.

However, the security measures don't bother Chang, even if it would have meant more greeters without it. "As long as someone is out there to greet that ship," Chang said.

The Queen Mary 2 was scheduled to leave last night and arrive in Lahaina, Maui, at 8 this morning.

It was difficult for Koch to compare the Queen Mary 2 to its namesake without being aboard, she said. But the striking similarities from outside brought back memories of meeting her husband.

"It was meant to be," Koch said. That's because her husband, Sepp Koch, was told by a French fortune-teller two years before setting sail aboard the Queen Mary that he would meet his future bride aboard the ship, she said.

Koch said her grandchildren are lucky to be able to view a piece of family history.

"My granddaughter said, 'Grandma, if you didn't meet Grandpa on Queen Mary, we wouldn't be here,' " Koch said.

Bill and Joann Decker, a husband and wife visiting from Iowa, were strolling through downtown and saw the Queen Mary 2 peeking through the jungle of buildings.

"We've been here for about an hour and a half" admiring the ship, said Joann Decker, as she dangled her feet off a wall overlooking Pier 2 yesterday afternoon. "It's beautiful. It's stunning," she said.

Bill Decker said it was everything he had ever imagined. "It's definitely the biggest thing I've ever seen," he said.

Edward Rivera, 53, brought his children out to see the ship.

"I saw the Queen Elizabeth when she came in in 1994," said Rivera, of Makiki. "This is bigger."

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.