Queen Victoria reaches the Azores, with solid Capt. Rynd at the helm

Marcia Levin is sailing on Cunard’s Queen Victoria on a transatlantic cruise.

The ship docked in Punta Delgada in the Azores early this morning. I was here a few years back and while the island and its unusual landscape, hot springs, lakes and mountains are indeed beautiful and interesting, I opted to stay aboard Queen Victoria.

It’s been my home now for a week and two days, and I have grown comfortable. I’ll go ashore in the next three ports, but today it’s laundry (more about laundry later) and catching up on email and reading. At 2 there’s a movie I want to catch and at 4:15 afternoon trivia. Tomorrow, a sea day, is a gym workout day.

Queen Victoria is a great ship, operated by Cunard, a great company with a remarkable 160+year maritime history.

The face of this vessel is Captain Christopher Rynd (which rhymes with wind, of which we’ve had plenty on this crossing.)

Captain Rynd is a native of New Zealand and began his sea career more than 40 years ago. His strong, calm, presence conveys a wonderful sense of confidence to the 2,000 some passengers and another 900 crew. He guided the ship through quite stormy waters and an emergency, yet a boatload of happy, on-holiday passengers left the ship this morning for a day of sightseeing in the Azores. No cares, no woes, Captain Rynd will take care of everything.

That’s been the drill throughout his career which included serving aboard P&O ships and an eight-year stint as reserve officer in the British Royal Navy. Captain Rynd qualified for his Master’s license in 1979 and has commanded the Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Pacific Princess, in addition to the Sapphire Princess. He was appointed to command Queen Elizabeth 2 in 2005 and later, Queen Mary 2.

Captain Rynd was with Queen Victoria throughout her construction and trials before serving as her Master. The captain and his Australian-born wife will be taking leave of the ship later this spring and will return to Queen Mary 2 later this year.

The Rynds enjoy the Cunard lifestyle. “It’s a wonderful feeling of like-minded people who come back to a wonderful hometown,” Captain Rynd says of Queen Victoria.

He says he’s seen many changes in a Master’s responsibilities in his years at sea and points to increased safety and security procedures, company policies and procedure, and budget and health issues. “Life is more complex and detailed now,” he says. “You can’t do ‘seat of the pants’ stuff.”

He talks about the decision to dock in Bermuda when seas where high and the entrance to the harbor narrow. He reports “critical discussions” between the harbor pilot, deputy captain and himself before pulling alongside the purpose-built terminal. It was an amazing effort. While the terminal had taken in similar-sized vessels before,  the captain had discovered and both Ponta Delgada and Lisbon had berths available a day earlier so he could have decided to by-pass that beautiful port.

Yes, the beautiful island of Bermuda was close to being scrapped from this itinerary, but Captain Rynd safely brought us in.

One gets the feeling that will always be the case.

Queen Victoria Dis and Data:

• The rescued osprey is named Albert, the result of a popular vote.

• And a dustup in one of the launderettes yesterday found two women angry because one woman took AND FOLDED another woman’s laundry, left in a washer overnight. The woman whose laundry had been folded was enraged. She pushed the first woman against the wall. The woman who folded received a bloody nose. No good deed, don’t you know?

• Now you know why I did my laundry on a port day.

 

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