The Queen Mary 2


Early Saturday morning the Queen Mary 2 berthed at the new $52 million, 182,000-square-foot cruise-ship terminal in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The 23-story-tall ship. which is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall, dwarfed the low-rise residential and industrial neighborhood, and residents biked, walked and jogged on the sunny day to stare and snap pictures of the ocean liner.

The QM2 is the largest passenger liner ever built, according to Cunard, the company that operates it, and the Red Hook cruise-ship terminal is now the largest ship terminal in New York City, capable of berthing the extra-large ships Manhattan’s West Side terminal cannot. It’s expected to bring in $200 milllion in port charges through 2017.

The ship makes a striking backdrop.

Mayor Bloomberg made pithy remarks at the formal ceremony and Borough President Marty Markowitz was self-deprecating and slightly embarrassing. He apparently likes Brooklyn. Who’d a thunk it?

The Brooklyn side of the East River waterfront,
looking north beyond the Atlantic Basin.

The QM2 will be departing from Red Hook for Southampton, England, nine more times this year. It’s technically a passenger liner, not a cruise ship, as its main task is its trans-Atlantic, six-day run to England. But it will make periodic cruises to the Caribbean, South America, Los Angeles, Hawaii and the Mediterranean.

Governors Island, from the top deck of the QM2,
with Manhattan in the background.

The press was allowed onboard after the Mayor, the Brooklyn Borough President and officials from the Economic Development Corporation and Cunard made speeches against the backdrop of the Leviathan ship. Views of Governors Island and south Brookyln were unmatched.

Red Hook, as seen from the top deck of the QM2.

The Captain of the QM2 gazes down on the lost colonies.

We asked the captain about piracy, of course–what were the procedures if attacked? Is it that common for a passenger ship to be attacked? (Piracy is more prevalent today than it has ever been. Yaargh!).

He told us that Somalia and Malaysia are currently very dangerous, but assured us that his ship is equipped to protect its cargo, passengers and crew; he wouldn’t elaborate further.

Where’s Jule and Gopher, damn it?

Inside, the ship had more Las Vegas casino vibe than Titanic-style decadence. We felt nostalgic when we smelled the stale cigarette smoke inside, reminding us of an edgier, less-healthy New York City (when a cruise ship is edgier than N.Y.C., you know it’s over).

Decks upon decks overwhelmed us and we were nearly lost. We had thoughts of stowing away–something that didn’t seem that difficult, given the size of the ship–but we couldn’t take lightly our responsibility to you, dear reader, to blog about this momentous day.

If you’re interested, the next time the ship will be leaving Red Hook is April 29. It’s running $36,229 for the Grand Duplex accommodations , but for the more budget-concious among us, the third- and fourth-class guest fares (where the Irish are forced to stay, eventually drowning when the iceberg hits) start at $499.

It doesn’t get more glamorous than this.

-Matthew Grace The Queen Mary 2