December 24, 2008
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Updates
Firstly, I would like to wish you all very best wishes for the Season. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukah or other festivities, I hope it’s a happy time for everyone. Before we get in to how the ships enjoy this special time of year, here is this week in Cunard’s history for the 19th to the 25th December.
December 21 1918
The Carmania becomes one of the first ships to be released by the government after World War 1 and make her first peace time sailing
December 21 1971
QE2 makes her maiden Call Port Everglades, USA
December 22 2003
Queen Mary 2 is handed over to Cunard in a ceremony at the Chantiers De L’Atlantique ship yard in St. Nazaire, France
December 23 1923
Ascania II is launched at the Armstrong Whitworth yard in Newcastle
December 23 1968
QE2 completes her sea trials in the Irish sea following preliminary trials which started a month earlier
Despite much of the world taking a lot of time off at this time of year, it’s always a busy time for those of us at sea, although personally, I will be at home this year, the first for many years so I must admit I’m very much looking forward to it. Of course this time last year we were busy with Queen Victoria on her second voyage on a “Seasonal Getaway” to the Canaries. This year both Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 will be celebrating in the Caribbean. Here’s a great picture of Queen Mary 2 in Bonaire where she’ll be on Christmas Eve.
Planning for this time of year begins with creating an itinerary for the special voyages which will usually mean that the ships are at sea on Christmas Day, to make the most of the festivities. Storing of course continues as always, but with so many businesses closing during the period, our logistics team has to ensure that everything arrives at various destinations around the world in plenty of time. Specialist decorating companies are briefed to create a wonderful atmosphere in the public areas on board. Here’s a great picture of the Grand Lobby on Queen Mary 2 this year.
Once the voyage begins there’ll be a great atmosphere on board with festive music and of course the traditional religious services including a carol service and midnight masses conducted by clergy brought on for the voyage. Hanukah is often celebrated at the same time as Christmas, but the exact dates do vary from year to year. There’ll be a Rabbi on board to light a candle each day on the Menora which is normally by the Pursers desk.
Just before Christmas itself, the food and beverage department will create amazing displays around the ship to compliment the decorations, and I am always amazed by their talents. As you can imagine this takes a lot of time but it looks fantastic and it’s lovely to see the pride they have in their work. I have been sent the pictures from Queen Victoria this year and I’m sure you’ll agree they have done an incredible job.
One of the great traditions on board is the carol singing on Christmas Eve where guests are invited to join the ship’s officers, staff and crew for a good rousing festive sing along with specially prepared carol sheets. It’s always fun and great to see everyone together and fortunately we have the professional singers from our shows to help keep us in tune! Here’s a picture from last year’s singing in the Grand Lobby of Queen Victoria.
This time of year is very special for children and the youth teams on board are very busy looking after our younger guests with extra seasonal activities, the most eagerly awaited though of course is the visit to the ship by Santa Clause himself. He chooses various ways of visiting the ship although the traditional route of the funnel is a bit of a tight squeeze. He has often been spotted coming alongside the ship in a specially lowered lifeboat and there have been rumours of him being parachuted in but I think that’s someone’s imagination getting the better of them! You’ll have to watch the ships’ bridge cams to see how he arrives this year! However he gets there, he normally arrives around lunch time on Christmas day to deliver gifts to the children. On Queen Mary 2 this takes place in the Queen’s Room and on Queen Victoria in the Grand Lobby. While the children collect their presents and have their photo taken with Santa, officers and crew gather to sing more carols and Christmas songs making it a wonderful occasion. I’m sure this is helped by the seasonal eggnog and other refreshments!
Another important part of the day for our British guests is to watch the Queen’s annual Christmas Day speech to the Commonwealth. Once we have established the time difference (it’ll be late morning in the Caribbean), the speech is broadcast on the big screen in Illuminations on Queen Mary 2 and in the Queen’s Room on Queen Victoria.
This year Queen Victoria will be performing a special Christmas Show matinee featuring most of the ship’s Entertainment department and Amanda Reid, (Entertainment Director), has told me the team has been working hard on this special show and it promises to be a fantastic performance. Queen Mary 2 will be having a festive matinee concert which also sounds like a relaxing way to spend Christmas afternoon.
The evening is very special with our guests enjoying a traditional Christmas dinner in the various restaurants around the ship. Yes we do keep the British traditional Christmas crackers and I’m afraid the jokes are not much better than the one’s you’ll be reading around your tables at home but I don’t think it would be Christmas if they were any good! Meanwhile the crew are also being looked after with special meals as well in their mess rooms. The Personnel and Training Managers will also have worked on events and activities for the crew, so that despite being away from their families, which is never easy at this time of year, they do get to enjoy some seasonal cheer.
Well that’s it from me for this year and apart from wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2009 I would like to thank you for reading this blog these last weeks. It’s been great to receive your comments and I look forward to keeping you updated with everything that happens in the Cunard World in the new year. In addition to everything that’s happening on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria (both beginning their second World Cruises in January), there’ll be lots of exciting news about the new Queen Elizabeth as she prepares to enter service in just 21 months time.