VOICE FROM THE BRIDGE
DAY 101 - 22 APRIL 2023 (SHIP'S date)
ENROUTE TO SOUTHAMPTON
Queen Mary 2 World Centenary Voyage
102 days, 31 ports, 18 countries.
THE FINAL DAY
Ellen Frazer-Jameson reporting from Queen Mary 2
CAPTAIN ANDREW HALL
The exclusive interview.
As we complete this fascinating Behind the Scenes series, and near the end of the 2023 Centenary World Voyage, it’s my pleasure to share with you a very special interview.
After meeting up On the Bridge, Captain Andrew Hall agreed to sit down with me and answer questions about QM2 and his own path to taking command as Captain of the world’s only ocean liner sailing today.
Captain Andrew Hall is the Master of Queen Mary 2. He first assumed command in June 2020 and is sailing QM2 to Southampton before handing over the ship to Captain Aseem Hashmi, who will complete the final segment of the World Voyage in New York on 30th April 2023.
Captain Hall is from the South West of England and before he left active service was Deputy Captain on QE2.
Captain Hall began his seagoing career in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, a naval auxiliary fleet owned by the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence. It provides logistical and operational support to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. They are a uniformed civilian branch of the Royal Navy staffed by British merchant seamen.
Captain Hall initially avoided following the family seafaring tradition. His father served for many years in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and it was his long absences at sea and the disruption to family life that persuaded the young Andrew he did not want to be a sailor. He purposely chose a different career path.
In West Devon, the Hall family followed another rural tradition, agriculture. School holidays were spent helping out on his Aunt and Uncle’s farm and on leaving school, Andrew attended Bicton College in Bicton, Budleigh Salterton, Devon, for training in land-based studies, agricultural and countryside management.
Having always had an interest in machinery, operating equipment and transportation, many aspects of the land-based life appealed but having decided a career in farming was not for him, he decided a change in career direction was required.
It was one weekend, following a tourist boat trip around the Dockyard in Plymouth, England, that he first thought: How do you become a Captain? “Having talked about it with Dad, I applied for a Deck Cadetship with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and joined my first ship, the support tanker RFA Tidespring, in 1991.
The RFA delivers worldwide logistical and operational support to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines military operations throughout the world. Following 4 years as a Cadet serving on various auxiliary vessels I qualified as Officer of the Watch and joined, RFA Brambleleaf as a Third Officer in 1995.In 1996, having made the difficult decision to leave the RFA, I joined P&O Cruises - my first passenger ship was the venerable SS Canberra. In the following years I spent much time on the Oriana, Aurora and later Oceana.
Having spent some time with the Princess Cruises fleet, I joined Cunard for the first time in 2005 as Chief Officer onboard Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) shortly after being promoted to Deputy Captain (then known as Staff Captain). It was from QE2 in 2007 I transferred to Queen Victoria to oversee the delivery of the ship, and spent a number of years as her Deputy Captain.”
A return to P&O Cruises as Deputy Captain in Ventura was followed by two years secondment ashore as the company’s Marine and Nautical Manager during which time he was closely involved in the planning and delivery of the Three Queen Liverpool event in 2015.
Promotion to Captain came in 2016, and prior to taking command of Queen Mary 2 in June 2020, Captain Hall had previously been Master of P&O's Ventura, Azura, Aurora and Cunard's Queen Victoria.
Captain Hall stresses that the health, safety and welfare of the guests and ship’s company is his primary responsibility.
Due to the Flag registry of Queen Mary 2 being Bermuda, under Bermudan Law, the Captain of QM2 is able to legally marry couples on board. “It is one of my favourite duties, “ he says. We also conduct renewals of vows and commitment ceremonies. “We ensure the occasion is extra special for the couples and any family and friends who attend. They will certainly not forget a Cunard wedding at sea.”
Captain Hall is married, his wife, Jenny is Swedish; they met on the ski slopes of Italy and have two daughters, Anja, 9 and Clara, 7.
“Modern technology has made communication with home so much easier that even five years ago,” he says. “Also, the length of contracts at sea tends to be much shorter.I will disembark the ship in Southampton at the end of April for a couple of months leave returning to QM2 in late June.”
Queen Mary 2 is the today's only true ocean liner regularly sailing on Transatlantic crossings. Guests and crew have great affection and loyalty for the iconic vessel. At 20 years old, QM2 is expected to continue service for at least another 20 years. In October this year she goes into dry dock for a refit.
“Technical and maintenance work will be carried out, all things you can’t do when the ship is in service,“ Captain Hall explains. “There will be the usual refurbishment and redecorating in many areas, such as replacing carpets and renewing upholstery but much of the work will be behind the scenes, especially below the water line including external painting.”
As we approach the conclusion of the 2023 Centenary World Voyage, I have permission to reveal one of Captain Halls’ childhood ambitions. As a schoolboy he was fascinated by the weather and meteorological forecasts. “My secret ambition,“ he admits, “was to become a television weather presenter on the BBC.”
This will come as little surprise, to guests who know how detailed, the Captain likes to make his daily weather forecasts. The ambition to be an on-air presenter may explain another aspect of his noon-day navigational message.
Captain Hall has a sense of humour and an interest in nautical history: on his navigational broadcast he delivers an anecdote explaining ancient sea-faring expressions and how they fit into the reality of modern transatlantic voyages. Here’s a recent insight he shared. The meaning behind...
Red Sky at Night - Sailor’s Delight : Red Sky in the Morning- Sailor’s Warning
Red sky at night indicates the sun shining through dust – which brings favourable weather conditions. Red sky in morning indicates the sky is filled with water - bringing rain.
Thank you, Captain, for our safe passage.
All of us on QM2 wish you a fair-weather journey ahead.
Happy Sailing... Ellen
* * * * *
Current position of Queen Mary 2: Under way from Sta. Cruz (Tenerife) to Southampton
Departure was 2 d 15 hrs 57 min ago. (at 18:00 h local time)
Arrival will be in 20 hrs 3 min. (at 06:00 h local time)
Traveled distance since Sta. Cruz (Tenerife): 1,180.56 nm (2,186.40 km)
Remaining distance to Southampton: 365.87 nm (677.60 km)
Traveled distance since Cape Town: 5,911.39 nm (10,947.90 km)
Photo of the day (from the archives of JD Schwartz)
Further updates will be posted as soon as we get them from Ellen onboard Queen Mary 2.