Captain Wells is here to give us an update from Queen Mary 2 which is currently at anchor in Babbacombe, Devon…

Six months have passed since Queen Mary 2 returned to the UK from her terminated Round World Voyage, and the majority of her ship’s company were repatriated leaving a skeleton crew on board. So what’s been happening since?

Keeping everyone on board healthy & happy

Following the initial challenges with arranging repatriation for non-essential crew, the priority has been keeping those remaining on board healthy, and Covid-19 off the ship. This has been achieved by minimising contact between the ship’s company and the world outside through strict quarantine measures for all new joiners, and by preventing ship’s company from coming into contact with those outside via restricted shore leave.

Many people may actually not realise that in normal Transatlantic service, in the summer, we have six days at sea, followed by a turnround port, followed by another six days at sea, followed by another turnround port etc. During this time about 80% of the ship’s company don’t get an opportunity to go ashore.

Although shore leave is restricted at the moment, there have been compensations; all the ship’s company have moved into single occupancy Guest staterooms with balconies, and communication with friends and family has been eased by the provision of free Wi-Fi.

All the ship’s company dine together in the Guest facilities of King’s Court which provides a social environment. We also relax together in the Carinthia Lounge in which we have darts, table football, a weekly quiz night and a huge TV with PlayStation connected. We also have Sunday Service for those that wish to attend.

Maintenance and compliance

So what has the skeleton crew being doing for the past six months? There are about 120 crew remaining on board, with Deck and Technical teams at 50% strength, and a very small Hotel team on board primarily to cater for the Maritime teams. All the usual safety and routine checks and inspections continue, as we maintain the ship to its passenger ship safety certification, and ensure compliance with all of our health, environmental, safety, and security (HESS) protocols.

Meanwhile, the Deck teams are concentrating maintenance efforts in areas which are normally difficult to access when Guests are present. Guest balconies are getting lots of attention, as are lifeboat davits on the promenade deck. Progress is slow and steady as the workforce is much reduced.

The Technical teams, in addition to routine maintenance, have taken the opportunity to replace lots of pipe work.

With no Guests on board, we can have a water shutdown every day if needed, so the plumbers have been very busy. Meanwhile, with almost 2,000 unoccupied cabins, we need to mobilise 50% of the ship’s company from the Captain down,to flush all the showers, basins and toilets once per week to keep them bug-free.

Most of the larger Guest areas are closed down, with furniture wrapped in protective sheeting, lights turned down, and ventilation reduced. It’s quite spooky walking around some of these areas, with nobody else around.

As a result of the ventilation and lighting reductions around the ship, our hotel electrical load is reduced by almost 50%.

Meanwhile, outside on the underwater hull, weeds are growing unchecked as Queen Mary 2 spends up to four weeks stationary, lying to an anchor. When we then go to sea for our monthly call to Southampton, the drag of the weeds reduces our speed by two knots.


What’s next?

So what lies ahead? Our refit has been pushed back by four months, to bring it closer to the time of our return to service. We look forward to seeing the ship in the dry-dock, and all that weed being removed, as well as a shiny coat of paint applied. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to monitor and protect the health of the ship’s company with daily temperature checks to prevent Covid-19 from coming aboard. We’ll also continue to maintain and protect our ship, which is our home for so many months of each year.

And of course we will continue to enjoy Exec Chef Nick’s homemade cheesecake!

Keep an eye out in two week’s time for our next update!

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