March 10, 2006

A Royal Meeting of Past and Present

Thursday, March 09, 2006
By James Longton
Queen Mary and Queen Mary 2 rendezvous in Long Beach for the first time.
LONG BEACH - Thousands of people lined Long Beach's marinas, breakwalls and seaside parks to witness a once-in-a-lifetime historic event as the RMS Queen Mary greeted her namesake, the cruise ship Queen Mary 2, for the very first time.
The bright sun and calm sea provided a perfect day for the elegant yet massive oceanliner to make a port call inside the harbor for what turned out to be a royal public event of spectacular proportions.
From the grand view high atop the Hyatt hotel, speeches were given and proclamations made as trumpeters set the stage for the escalating excitement. Performers in period dress mingled with politicians, dignitaries and honored guests while sharing colorful stories of life aboard the original Queen Mary in the 1930s. All the while, reporters and cameramen jockeyed for positions along the rooftop railings, each determined to get the best shots and the best stories for that Thursday's evening TV news.
"It's a very special honor to be here as part of this important moment in maritime history," said Cunard Capt. David Christie, a keynote speaker of the event. "It's not every day that one gets to witness a port of call with such historical significance and tradition."
On the ground, excitement began to surge through the crowds as a squadron of skywriters wrote huge messages of reception to the approaching vessel. Mumbles of excitement were heard as "Welcome Queen Mary 2" and "Hail to the Queens" appeared in cloudlike letters across the clear blue sky. Anticipation of Queen Mary 2'ss arrival was heightened as three skydivers gave notice that she had entered the port. The first jumper trailed a long, colorful banner and white smoke and was followed closely by the others, one displaying the American flag and the other Union Jack.
Upon passing through Queen's Gate, the magnificent Queen Mary 2 maneuvered into the calm waters of the harbor where she was welcomed by a flotilla of hundreds. Ships, yachts and vessels of all shapes and sizes escorted her toward her predecessor while fireboats sprayed a continuous majestic fountain, all contributing to this truly spectacular sight.
As she pulled into position, Queen Mary2 "called out" her arrival to her sistership with a whistle salute that was heard for miles, and Queen Mary replied in kind with deep reverberating tones to the delight of all spectators. The initial calls from Queen Mary 2 were familiar to some, as she is rigged with one of the original steam whistles from Queen Mary.

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