Cunard's Commodore Ronald Warwick retires this month after 36 years with the line -- a milestone that was celebrated at a luncheon onboard Queen Mary 2 this past Monday at the new cruise terminal in Brooklyn.
Cruise Critic contributor Doug Newman attended the event along with journalists, dignitaries and friends Warwick has made during his tenure. Indeed he's a familiar face to many Cunard fans: He joined the company in 1970 as a third officer, and climbed the ranks to make captain of Cunard Princess (now MSC's Rhapsody) in 1986. In 1990, he made history -- he was promoted Master of the Queen Elizabeth 2, following in the footsteps of his father, who had been the first Master of that ship; eventually, Warwick was named Commodore of the entire fleet.
Newman reports that "the event began in QM2's grand ballroom, the Queens Room, with a reception line where guests had the opportunity to shake the Commodore's hand and wish him well in his retirement. Inside the room, stewards circulated with Champagne and hors d'oeuvres.
"After a short while, the Master of Ceremonies, the inimitable maritime historian Bill Miller, took the microphone to welcome the guests to the event before handing it over to John Langley of Halifax, Nova Scotia, President of the Cunard Steamship Society. Cunard's founder, Sir Samuel Cunard, hailed from Halifax -- and with the help of Commodore Warwick, Mr. Langley has led the effort in Halifax to remember this eminent Nova Scotian. One of the fruits of his labors will be a statue of Sir Samuel in Halifax, to be unveiled later this year with Commodore Warwick attending."
Other speakers included John Maxtone-Graham, maritime author; Chris Dougherty, vice president of the Steamship Historical Society of America; and Tom Cassidy, a long-time friend of Warwick and chairman of the SHSA's Long Island chapter, which he announced would make a donation of $1,000 in Warwick's name to the charity of his choice. Yvonne Graham, the deputy borough president of Brooklyn, was also on hand to deliver a proclamation from Borough President Marty Markowitz naming July 24 Commodore Warwick Day in Brooklyn.
Warwick thanked his friends and colleagues, and when asked the question "Will you miss your job?" admitted that while he'll miss the passengers and crew, he won't miss the responsibility. What's next for the Commodore? Warwick said he and his wife Kim will retreat to a cottage in Somerset, England. Cunard President Carol Marlow, however, assured guests they hadn't "seen the last of him," and that he will continue to be involved in the company.
"Lunch consisted of shrimp cocktail; pasta with lobster; a choice of fish, chicken or veal main course; and tiramisu or fruit and sorbet for dessert," Newman tells us. "However, the highlight of the lunch was not the food -- not that it wasn't good -- but the company of friends old and new who had come aboard to wish the Commodore farewell. I wish the best of luck to the Commodore in his retirement and hope to see him soon -- as a passenger!"
QM2 set sail for Warwick's farewell voyage after the luncheon; his official retirement date is July 30, when QM2 arrives in Southampton, and a final tribute luncheon will be held there.