Queen Elizabeth, Cunard’s new ship met the sea for the first time this week with a floating out ceremony at the shipbuilder’s yard in Italy. The floating out ceremony is the name given when the dry dock in which the ship’s exterior is completed is filled with water and then the ship is moved to a wet dock where interior building work will carry on.
Floating out is an auspicious occasion as it is the first time any ship takes to the water. Shipyard workers, along with the media and invited dignitaries watched a traditional coin ceremony to bring the ship good luck. The coins, a 1938 half crown, representing the year the first Queen Elizabeth was launched, a 1967 sovereign, the launch of the QE2 and a 2010 sovereign to commemorate the new ship’s launch were welded under the ship’s mast.
“Of our 170 years of history there has been an ‘Elizabeth’ in the fleet for over 70,” Peter Shanks, Cunard’s president and managing director, informed all who attended “and this ship — the second largest Cunarder ever built — will take the name far into the 21st century.”
In Italian shipyard tradition, a madrina has already been named for Queen Elizabeth. Florence (Dennie) Farmer, a loyal Cunard cruises passenger and widow of the late Willie Farmer who served as chief engineer on both Queen Elizabeth and QE2, has been named as Queen Elizabeth’s ‘madrina’ – godmother. Florence smashed a bottle of Italian sparkling wine against the party pained ship’s hull prior to the values being opened as is the custom at floating out ceremonies.
Many are wondering whether Queen Elizabeth II herself will be asked to officially name the ship, however Cunard Cruises are keeping this close to their chest at present. The Queen Elizabeth is due to be completed in the autumn.