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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 January 2008, 01:12 GMT
'Our special moments on QE2'

By Stephanie Busari
BBC News

As the legendary QE2 sails away on her final world cruise, one man tells of his family's extraordinary connection with the world's most famous passenger ship.

The QE2 at Southampton
The QE2 has crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times
For Sam Warwick the QE2 will always hold treasured memories.

His grandfather William Warwick was its first captain when the ship entered service 40 years ago.

And his father, Ron, made history when he took over the helm in 1990 - the first time a father and son have commanded the same Cunard liner.

Sam's sister Rebecca got married aboard the QE2 in a ceremony performed by her father. It is thought to have been the first legal marriage carried out by a Cunard master on board any of the company's ships.

"My sister had been due to get married to her fiance aboard the QE2 in the port of New York in October 2001," Sam, 39, explains.

"They had arranged for a priest to come and perform the ceremony. Unfortunately, because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks the ship was diverted to Boston and the priest was not licensed to perform weddings in the state of Massachusetts."

Special permission

Wedding plans had to be hastily re-arranged as Captain Warwick researched the rules of matrimony for Massachusetts on the internet.

Captain Ron Warwick and his daughter Rebecca
Captain Warwick performed his daughter's marriage on the QE2
He discovered that he could get special permission from the Governor of the State to perform the ceremony himself.

"When he contacted the Governor's office he was told that the application would be considered but it would take six to eight weeks to process.

"After explaining who he was and the reason for the request at short notice, the Governor's aide agreed to give the necessary document immediately.

"In the end, I walked my sister up the aisle and gave her away. It was a very special moment," Sam says.

Seasick

Sadly, Sam, an IT consultant, did not inherit his dad and grandfather's sea legs.

I got so caught up watching bananas being loaded on to a conveyor belt that everyone thought I had got lost
Sam Warwick

"It's the number one question everyone asks me," he laughs.

"I never went to sea but it's definitely a big part of my life. I was seven or eight when my parents separated and I always associated that with my dad being away at sea so much.

"But one of my main passions is scuba diving, so there's definitely a connection to the sea."

He may not have worked on the QE2 but Sam makes up for it by running a meticulously researched website dedicated to the ocean liner.

Ron Warwick and son Sam
Sam and his father with a picture of his grandfather William Warwick
The 70,000-tonne vessel was sold last year and will now spend the rest of her days moored to a pier at the Palm Jumeirah development - the world's largest man-made island - off the coast of Dubai.

Sam remembers his first voyage as a seven-year-old on the QE2 "vividly".

"It was in 1975, a transatlantic trip to New York and it took five days each way," he says.

"In all the trips I went on, I probably remember more about that one as it was the first time I went aboard.

Hurricane

"I had always seen it at shore as a young child waving my dad away, so to actually be on it was absolutely fantastic. I didn't get seasick at all.

"I explored all over it and got so caught up watching bananas being loaded on to a conveyor belt that I caused a panic because everyone thought I had got lost," he recalls.

Sam Warwick and Captain Warwick
Sam and his father, Captain Warwick, aboard the QE2 in 1984
In all, Sam has sailed on the QE2 around 20 times, but one of the most memorable occasions was being on the ship when it was hit by a 90-foot wave during a hurricane in 1995.

But it was for all the wrong reasons.

"My dad always tells the story to embarrass me because while he was at the helm battling the waves at 2am, I was downstairs in the ship's nightclub, dancing away! Luckily no one was hurt."

The QE2 is not the only ship that is special to the Warwick family. In 2002, Captain Warwick was asked to take command of the Queen Mary 2, the largest passenger ship ever built.

QE2 FACTS
963 feet long
Carries 1,900 passengers and 1,000 crew
Top speed 32.5 knots
And as if to complete a family tradition, his granddaughter Beth, now 3, was christened on the QM2 and the ship's bell was used as a font, with a stand built specially by the ship's carpenter.

The QE2 will make her final voyage to Dubai in November this year and Sam and his dad hope to be on board as she sails for the last time.

"She means so much to me and my family," he says.

SEE ALSO
QE2 departs on final world trip
06 Jan 08 |  Hampshire
QE2 set to become floating hotel
18 Jun 07 |  Business
New liner arrives in Southampton
07 Dec 07 |  Hampshire

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