QUEEN MARY 2 makes an
unexpected return to
Manhattan's Passenger Ship
For more photos of QM2
For a photo essay on QM2
and Queen Victoria in
Southampton 22 April 2010
Background When Queen Mary 2 entered service in 2004,
she used Pier 92 in Manhattan as the western terminus for her
transatlantic crossings. Pier 92 is one of three piers originally built
to serve the first ocean liners that were over 1000 feet in length - -
the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth and the Normandie.
Later, the piers were extensively refurbished and combined
together to form the New York Passenger Ship Terminal.
Throughout her reign as flagship of the Cunard Line Queen
Elizabeth 2 docked at the Passenger Ship Terminal, most often at
Pier 90. Indeed, she docked there prior to her last transatlantic
(Right) QM2 leaving from Pier 92 on her first eastbound
transatlantic crossing in 2004.
In order to dock at the Passenger Ship Terminal a ship must
sail up the Hudson River (called the "North River" at this point)
from the tip of Manhattan to midtown Manhattan. As she does,
passengers are treated to the a spectacular view of the Manhattan
skyline. Furthermore, when they arrive, the passengers are in
mid-town near to most of the City's world-famous sites.
However, using the Passenger Ship Terminal also has its
drawbacks. A ship must make a difficult 90 degree turn across
the river's strong current in order to enter the relatively narrow
slips between the three piers and collisions with the piers do
occur. Also, since the time these piers were built, the methods for
loading and unloading passenger ships have changed
considerably. Today, there is much more use of mechanical
devices and vehicles such as forklifts, which need an open space
to operate. While Pier 88 has been modified so that it now has an
apron around its perimeter, the sides of Piers 90 and 92 are
completely enclosed up to the water's edge.
For Queen Mary 2, there is the additional problem that she is
longer than the piers and so her stern sticks out beyond the end of
(Left) QM2 rounding the corner of Pier 92 in July 2004.
Accordingly, QM2 moved her New York base of operations to
the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in 2006. Commodore Bernard
Warner summed up the reasons for the move in an interview a few
months later. "The Brooklyn Terminal is a first class facility for
people boarding and leaving the ship whereas in Manhattan, it
certainly was not. It is also an easier area for the ship to berth. We
don't need to use tugs as often as we did in Manhattan. I mean to
get into those slots in Manhattan, one did need to use tugs. They
have produced a very fine facility [in Brooklyn] for us. It is a
proper terminal for the ship, which is important."
Accordingly, except for one occasion when another ship was using
the Brooklyn Terminal and QM2 had to use the Port Liberty
Terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey, QM2's New York home has
been in Brooklyn.
(Right) QM2 at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal shortly after it
The ship received word that several passengers had been
delayed due to problems in the Channel Tunnel and the decision
was made to wait for them past the scheduled sailing time. As a
result, the passengers onboard QM2 were treated to a parade of
ships sailing past QM2, each saluting the Cunarder with their
horns and being saluted in return.
(Above) P&O Cruises' Ventura. (Left) Royal Caribbean's Independence
of the Seas. (Below) Oceana, also of P&O Cruises.
Just after QM2 left her berth and had turned around, Commodore
Warner announced that a passenger was ill and that the ship would
return to the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal to meet an ambulance.
QM2 then proceeded down Southampton Water and out to sea.
On 21 May 2010, Queen Mary 2 docked at Pier 90 in Manhattan.
While many ships dock at Pier 90, what was remarkable about QM2
doing so was not the fact that it was unscheduled and brought about by
an unforeseen chain of circumstances but that it resulted in QM2
retracing the exact route taken by her illustrious predecessors.
The 15 May 2010 Crossing
On the morning of 15 May 2010, QM2 arrived in
Southampton from Hamburg, Germany. It was a busy day in
the port with three other large passenger ships in port. P&O
Cruises' Ventura was at the new Ocean Terminal. As a result,
QM2 docked at the older Queen Elizabeth II Terminal, which
was for many years the eastern terminus of QE2's transatlantic
(Left) QM2 at the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal on 15 May 2010.
A Change of Plans While QM2 was making her way across the Atlantic, an accident occurred at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal
while Caribbean Princess was docking during high winds. The accident damaged the Terminal's gangways, thus precluding QM2 from
using the Terminal. Consequently, the Commodore announced that QM2 would dock at Pier 90 in Manhattan. Thus, QM2 was
re-tracing the route taken so often by QE2, i.e., sailing from the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal in Southampton to Pier 90 in Manhattan
QM2 arrived in New York when it was still dark. In the early hours just before dawn, very few lights were on in Manhattan's tall buildings. As the ship moved into
the harbor, the first light of morning brought with it a red glow that silhouetted the buildings.
As the light grew brighter, QM2 entered the North River. Passengers lined the open decks.
(Right) A sailor raises the Cunard house flag on
(Below) The World Financial Center, which is in front
of the site of the World Trade Center.
(Right) The familiar outline of the Empire State Building
dominates the midtown skyline.
(Below) For many years, QE2 had a special relationship
with British Airways Concorde. Now one of the
Concordes is an exhibit at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space
Museum on Pier 86, not far from QE2's New York home.
Now for the tricky part - - making the 90 degree turn into the Passenger Ship Terminal. Go too fast and you collide with the
end of the slip. Go too slow and the river's current pushes the side of the ship into the pier.
(Above) Mission accomplished as QM2 comes to rest next to Pier 90.
(Right) Even with the bow close to the end of the slip, QM2's stern projects
beyond the pier.
One tugboat takes a rest after the docking is completed while another group of tugs bring up a bunker barge with fuel for QM2's next
Cruise photo essay - Queen Mary 2 - Cunard - QM2 in Manhattan