Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Princess for a Princess!

This article, written by Michael Gallagher, public relations executive and historian for Cunard Line, is part of an ongoing series of key moments in Cunard Line's history

After Cunard Countess had entered service in 1976, Cunard Line looked forward to the introduction of her sister, Cunard Conquest, in March 1977. But when Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco consented to name Cunard Conquest, the company changed the name of the ship to Cunard Princess.

A Princess for a Princess.

The $60 million Cunard Princess would make Cunard American history, as her naming in New York was the first event of its kind in that city and the first of a Cunard ship actually in America itself!

Princess Grace and assembled guests arrived in New York for the scheduled christening, but there was just one problem: Cunard Princess was caught up in a ferocious Atlantic storm and arrived 63 hours late for her big event. The Princess and her 18-year-old son Prince Albert waited for her, and on 30 March 1977 the outdoor ceremonies took place from the deck of a Circle Line excursion boat moored between the terminal and the 17,586-ton ship.

It would take several attempts for Princess Grace to break the christening bottle of champagne. When she eventually did, the contents splattered all over her white straw hat and peach-coloured wool coat – and some of the assembled paparazzi.

Princess Grace is about to christen Cunard Princess
Here we go ,,,

Looking good ...
No, not quite!

Again ...

Smash and splatter!

Later that day, Princess Grace joined 400 other guests on an overnight cruise aboard Cunard Princess. When asked why she came all the way from Monaco for the naming, she replied, “Because I was very flattered to be asked – wouldn’t you do it, if you were asked to christen a lovely ship?” New York City Mayor Abraham Beame, who attended the ceremony, claimed that the Cunard Princess would be "a great boat to stow away on."

A jubilant Cunard even went as far as to claim that the Cunard Princess would be the last new cruise ship ever built! The cost of fuel had risen to unheard of levels and the supply of cruise berths had reached saturation point.

Conquest becomes Princess
Close inspection of the ship's hull reveals how crudely the name had been
changed from Conquest to Princess. Notice the "Q" behind the "N."
Cunard returned to New York for the naming of Cunard Crown Dynasty at Pier 88 on 16 July 1993 by former First Lady Betty Ford who was accompanied by her husband, former President Gerald R. Ford.

As for the earlier naming of Cunard Countess, Janet Armstrong, wife of former American astronaut Neil Armstrong, made Cunard history when she became the first American to name a Cunard ship. That ceremony took place in San Juan.

Cunard Countess awaiting christening in San Juan