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Queen Mary 2 - Her Maiden Voyage to New York City

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - April 2004 - www.Littleviews.com ]


SUNDAY, APRIL 25, 2004.

Karen: From the stern, the Queen Mary 2 looked more like an apartment building raising out of the water than a ship. Longer than the dock, and significantly bigger than her older sister, the Queen Elizabeth 2, which you see to her right, she dwarfed everything in sight. Those "little" tug boats you see at her side in the photo below are really quite large.

Queen Mary 2 leaving New York City. Photo by Karen Little. 4/25/04

Alison: Manhattan was a surreal cityscape on Sunday afternoon. The steely afternoon skies made for a cool backdrop on the Hudson where the Queen Mary 2 was docked and the river was fairly quite, matching the mood.

As the day progressed, however, activity picked up. Private boats pushed to get up close to the Queen, harbor patrol boats fended them off, and helicopters protected the air space. Tour ferries (which looked like toy boats next to the hefty Queen) made special charted trips up and down the harbor from 4 PM on. Word on the street was the Queen Mary would depart for England sometime late afternoon with the Queen Elizabeth 2 trailing, so I kept by my window.

Queen Mary 2 leaving New York City. Photo by Karen Little. 4/25/04

Karen: By early evening, everything started to change. Around 6:30 PM, the Harbor Patrol boats cleared out all the pleasure vessels, creating a protective semi-circle around the ocean liners. Stern lights twinkled on top of the otherwise gray waters. I began taking pictures mid-afternoon, emailing selections to friends. Between 7 and 7:30 PM, I sipped wine while writing friends about the changing scene. Just as I clicked "send," I looked out my window, amazed to see that the Queen had already begun to back out of the dock.

Alison: Sporadically, I'd step out onto my terrace, overlooking Boulevard East and the Harbor, to see if the anchors had been hoisted and the ropes untied from the pier. It must have been about 5 PM at this point, and while nothing particular was going on near the Queen, I could see smoke blasting from her stack.

Queen Mary 2 leaving New York City. Photo by Karen Little. 4/25/04

Karen: From about 7:30 to around 8:15 PM, the sights and sounds changed rapidly. The gray day had turned to bright, blue dusk. People filled the Hudson riverbank as well Boulevard East, a picturesque New Jersey street that runs along the Hudson River cliff. I heard the Queen's horn; a beautiful deep, soft, mellow tone. Six Manhattan-streets long, the Queen's body gracefully slid by Midtown on Manhattan's west side.

Alison: At first glance, the Queen stretched out on the Hudson looked like some bizarre movie set. The enormity of the ocean liner was mind-boggling. The dreary weather and lighting from the ship made the scene look very futuristic, something like a set for a Terry Gilliam flick.

Queen Mary 2 leaving New York City. Photo by Karen Little. 4/25/04

Karen: New York is prettiest on bright, blue days. Because it is a coastal town, it is not unusual for the sky to be a misty, pale gray. Under many conditions, however, dusk brings out deep blue hews, with buildings frequently reflecting the sun in shades of pink. Unfortunately, it's difficult to take pictures at dusk, no matter how bright, without special photographic equipment. Luckily for me, the Queen Mary glided down the Hudson River just slow enough to catch by holding my camera steady against a porch railing. Relying on its light meter reading, all the pictures I took were snapped digitally, using a very slow, 1/4th second shutter speed.

Alison: What impressed me most about this event was the number of people who gathered in Weehawken to see the Queen Mary's departure. I never expected this kind of a turnout. I'm not sure if the weather conditions set the tone, or if it was a sense of awe we felt, but the crowd was very still. Even though it was cold, people stayed out long after the Queen Mary 2 had slipped away.

Queen Mary 2 leaving New York City. Photo by Karen Little. 4/25/04

Karen: After the Queen pulled out of her dock, she posed for several minutes directly in front of us, with her bright "Queen Mary 2" sign stating plainly who she was. No Roman numerals for her! That pause left me anticipating her traveling to and by the Empire State Building and wondering whether I could capture it in the ever decreasing light.

Alison: We were witnessing a happy, historical event. There was a somberness in the air, though. Or maybe just a contemplative moment for all of us, as we thought of what lay before us. For many, these views held reminders of 9/11 and the World Trade Center disappearing in flame and smoke. In essence, we were seeing New York again, in a better light. It gave us all a new vision to hold on to.

Queen Mary 2 leaving New York City. Photo by Karen Little. 4/25/04

Karen: The fire-boat water display just south of the Empire State Building reminded me of something you might see on the Nature Channel - it looked like a marine creature that reaches out expansively to attract mates. Its appearance was so happy and spirited as it spouted its greeting that, quite frankly, I fell in love with it.

Alison: Docked at Pier 92, tugboats watched from the side, while the Queen Mary 2 slipped out of her birth. To date, she is the largest passenger cruiser in the world. Traveling with her older sister, Queen Elizabeth 2, they began their return voyage to England, at which point the Queen Elizabeth would be taken out of commission. Tonight, we bid her farewell on her last sojourn across the sea.

Queen Mary 2 leaving New York City. Photo by Karen Little. 4/25/04

Karen: There is a point when shooting photos when I feel like my camera gets between me and the event. At the same time, I felt excited following the movement of the Queen along the Hudson photographically. While I stood stone still on the balcony snapping pictures, people on Boulevard East kept up with the Queen's travels by walking south. On the water, the blue navigational lights on all the smaller boats twinkled like stars that dropped into the water. I continued shooting until darkness, distance and a chill called a halt to my activities. And yes, I did feel a part of the event, even if it was behind a digital camera viewing panel.

Alison: The event really was spectacular. In a time when our senses have been over-saturated and dulled from being assailed by eye-popping graphics and a crude assortment of media-generated visual effects, I find it amazing to have been so moved by the sight of a ship. It makes you wonder how our ancestors must have felt when the Mayflower cruised by. I remember feeling bummed out by my first trip to the Grand Canyon because, perhaps, I had seen too many postcards of it and the real thing just didn't seem all that picture-perfect. For some reason, however, the Queen Mary left me with a lasting impression. It was truly a beautiful sight to behold. And the fact that Manhattan was sitting right behind her made the viewing all the more spectacular.

Queen Mary 2 leaving New York City. Photo by Karen Little. 4/25/04

CREDITS: Article by Karen Little and Alison O'Brien. Photos by Karen Little. Location: Boulevard East in Weehawken, NJ. First published in April 2004. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.

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