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Author Topic: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.  (Read 1788 times)

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Offline Bob C.

Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« on: Oct 12, 2010, 05:42 PM »
Back in '69 and the '70's, before Tweets, Facebook, cell phones, laptops and even recreational walkie-talkies there was QE2's telephone system.  I remember a variety of services offered on the telephone which even included a number one could call to get the time of day - in English, German and French (perhaps there were a few others?).  Thre was also a manned switchboard.  Should you watch National Geographic's "Superliner: Twilight of an Era" you will see it in action and also hear an announcement over the ship's PA system requesting a Mr. Blanchard of cabin 30XX (can't remember the whole number) to contact the telephone exchange.  The telephones were the standard black desktop sets with rotary dials and very intuitive to use along with the ship's phone listings for contacting other cabins and places about the ship, the above mentioned services and even ship to shore calls.

My question is how did these telephones and QE2 telephonic communications change over the years?
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 10:02 AM by Lynda Bradford »

Offline Beardy Rich

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Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #1 on: Oct 12, 2010, 07:11 PM »
Hi Bob, I don't know anything about the telephone system onboard the ship but your post reminded me of the time I was onboard and had to phone home due to a family bereavement. The call was 'patched through' via Portishead Radio in England and I was given a time to be at the radio office to make the call. The radio operator did all the work making the connection, all I needed to do was to give him the phone number in England.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 10:02 AM by Lynda Bradford »
Rich Drayson. Ex Snr Mechanic QE2 1984-1988.

Offline Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #2 on: Oct 12, 2010, 09:49 PM »
Even during the final decade of QE2's service, communications changed hugely.

In 1998, when my Mum was on board for her 75th birthday, I thought it would be a nice idea to send her a congratulatory fax via the QE2's satellite number. What a shock it was to receive my phone bill at the end of the relevant billing period and find that this one fax was far more expensive than all the other telephone calls (including plenty of international ones) combined!

She did get the fax though and was very pleased  :) .

Then there was e-mailing via the Computer Learning Centre, with us typing our messages in Word and then pasting them into the ship's own e-mail programme. I think the replies from the outside world reached us via the ship's e-mail address and were stuffed under our cabin doors.

The problem with typing the messages in Word was that you had to be very careful to go back to Word after sending the e-mail and not only deleting the message but saving the blank page and copying a blank to make sure all was gone. Otherwise, the next user might find the text again... which in one instance meant that I opened the computer to find the rather harrowing message, written by the last user about his father's death...

Next time, we had access to the ordinary internet and could use webmail, which was a huge step forward.

And finally, wifi came in and with it my computerised nights in the Lido... or indeed in my cabin, which was within the Computer Learning Centre's wifi range.

As for the telephone, we never used the cabin telephones except to make contact with each other ("When will you be ready for dinner?"). And we woke up when our neighbours received their telephone calls...

But the mobile phones... Very soon, we were SMSing our family members from every port and finally, in September 2008, sending SMS messages from mid-Atlantic via a web based address to our sister, who used a mobile phone but no e-mails.

The time when we could switch off from what was going on elsewhere, had long passed...
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 10:03 AM by Lynda Bradford »

Offline Bob C.

Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #3 on: Mar 04, 2011, 02:50 PM »
Does anyone know if there was an emergency telephone number?  On the US Navy ships I've been on the number is usually something simple like 3333 and goes straight to the Officer of the Deck on duty on the bridge.

If QE2 had one, and she probably did, it would be in the ship's program and by the telephone itself. 

Anyone recall this? 
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 10:03 AM by Lynda Bradford »

Offline Peter Mugridge

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Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #4 on: Mar 04, 2011, 02:54 PM »
I am sure I remember the "welcome" paperwork in the cabin listing an emergency number but I simply cannot recall what it was!
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 10:03 AM by Lynda Bradford »
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Offline Louis De Sousa

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Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #5 on: Mar 04, 2011, 03:48 PM »
999 is the number
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 10:04 AM by Lynda Bradford »

Offline Bob C.

Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #6 on: Mar 04, 2011, 06:49 PM »
Who picked up the other end of ext 999?  The bridge?  Security? Other?
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 10:04 AM by Lynda Bradford »

Offline Matron

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Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #7 on: Mar 05, 2011, 09:34 AM »
Originally 999 was answered by the bridge, but in the latter years they changed the system to separate out emergency medical calls (911), which were answered by the purser's office.  This coincided with the changing of the medical centre hours from being open and manned 24 hours a day to an on-call system outside of clinic/office hours.  The pursers office had a proforma for dealing with the calls that enabled them to get all the necessary information to pass to the duty nurse when they then paged her/him.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 10:04 AM by Lynda Bradford »
2000-2007

Offline Lynda Bradford

Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2020, 10:12 AM »
I have been sorting out my QE2 memorabilia and found this information sheet from 1997, on sending an email from the ship. 

Reading this is a reminder of how communication has changed over the past 20 plus years.  Today we accept the ease with which we communication with others from our computers and phones, through text messages, email, Messages, WhatApp etc. How different it was in 1997 when a phone was a only a phone and computers were much more basic.  Note also the cost for sending an email from $5.

I see Isabelle has mentioned the email system in an earlier post but I thought it would be interesting to attach the information sheet. 

I have widened the subject heading from telephone to Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, email etc. to reflect more of what is within the topic. 
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
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Offline Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2020, 10:53 AM »
I have been sorting out some of my correspondence recently, and am saddened to see that so many faxes of the early days (including my Mum's from the QE2) are now so faded as to be illegible, despite having been filed properly and not left to lie around in daylight. I should have re-typed them immediately...

Offline Peter Mugridge

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Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2020, 03:24 PM »
I have been sorting out some of my correspondence recently, and am saddened to see that so many faxes of the early days (including my Mum's from the QE2) are now so faded as to be illegible, despite having been filed properly and not left to lie around in daylight. I should have re-typed them immediately...

That sounds like they were on thermal paper?

They may not be un-recoverable, depending on how far they've gone.  I think I've heard there is a method that can briefly restore them enough to get a picture or copy taken, but I can't remember what it is...
"It is a capital mistake to allow any mechanical object to realise that you are in a hurry!"

Offline cunardqueen

Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2020, 02:03 AM »
And there was also Telex. On my first crossing in 86 l sent a telex from the radio room and also received a telex back, it came in the form of note to contact the purser's office. And if memory serves me right, it was the QE2 in her grey hull headed paper. and just the regular telex.

On the same trip l made a satellite phone call at $12.50 a minute back home. The sound was amazingly clear and aside from the few seconds of silence as we realised we could talk to each other.

In 1988 as we left Southampton the winds nearly blew us aground. The ship's newspaper published a front-page news  story which l thought would be neat to fax home .  I had put the wrong number and after a couple of hours it went through ok.

As far as email in the later years , lm sure QE2 had various email addresses. I was always sending friends  Bon Voyage emails via the business center and they were printing them off, stapling them closed and slipping them under the doors.
On my last couple of cruises it was kinda neat to get Bon Voyage emails under my own cabin door.

On QE2s last night l took time to send The Captain an email wishing him all the best for the next day, he sent a lovely reply. and l also sent one to the business center, thanking them for all they they had printed off and delivered over the past years, and again someone from there responded.

But lets not forget the good old fashioned Royal Mail. From my very first cruise to my last it was always nice to let the family know the address in case they wanted to send a Bon Voyage, or even a birthday  card, They usually took the hint and did send cards. The best one i remember was simply addressed.. Mr Myles Devin. QE2 Southampton.

Sometimes l would send a bottle of fizz with the pax name cabin number , QE2 then c/o Cunard Line and either South Western House or the other address (which l never could remember) Every time it was always delivered safely to the cabin.
On a Med Cruise in 2004 when l was going to hit my 100th night onboard QE2, and wanted to have some fizz for a cabin party , sure enough, packed up some bottles and posted them down. again safely delivered.

On my last set of 3 cruises , The Farewell UK voyage , l was very lucky (Thanks Mr QE2 )  to get my mum dad and sister on board for a visit. They had traveled down to Greenock and came onboard with a suitcase,
As they were waiting on the quayside they got speaking to someone , who saw the suitcase and assumed they were sailing, Mum got speaking to him, he was a reporter from The Daily Mail  and l think told him my whole life story , next thing l know as we are coming alongside lm getting a mobile phone call saying a reporter from The Daily Mail wants to interview me and get some photos with the suitcase.   

The suitcase came on board with some bottles carefully wrapped for future use, and before Dinner l had a Champagne party in my cabin with my family and two ladies from away back in 1988  and Mr QE2 and then we headed away to Dinner, i had spoken to the Maitre D to ask if it would be ok, it would, we had our own table and the quickest service ever , then back to the cabin to get the same suitcase which had been refilled with souvenirs already purchased and they disembarked.             
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

Offline Lynda Bradford

Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2020, 10:15 AM »
Brilliant story not only about the telex and email but about sending the bottles of fizz down to Southampton to be delivered to your cabin.  I especially like the story of an item being sent by Royal Mail, addressed to you at QE2 Southampton. 
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
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Offline June Ingram

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Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2020, 04:12 PM »
Wonderful memories, Myles ! Thanks so much for sharing ! Can you imagine having the address - QE2 Southampton ? Just awesome !  :)
QE2 - the ship for all of time, a ship of timeless beauty !

Offline cunardqueen

Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2020, 05:46 PM »
I was digging round and found the photo album with the telex and as it happens some faxes, the faxes alas have faded away, but the telex still as fresh as the day they were sent  . and that was June 86
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

Offline cunardqueen

Re: Ship's communications: Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2020, 06:13 PM »
And a couple of emails. QE2 had such a nice simple format. but when you study them... they do insist on that damned Princess stuff  tut tut
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!