January 29, 2009
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Hello from a very busy Queen Victoria. This week we have been heading north visiting Guatemala and Mexico and on board we have been celebrating Burns Night and Australia Day. But before I tell you all about that, here’s “This week in Cunard’s History” for the week of the 30th January to the 5th February.
2008 January 30
Queen Victoria makes maiden call at Los Angeles
1945 February 4
The beginning of the Yalta Conference where Churchill used the Franconia as his base. The conference, which lasted 1 week, was held with Roosevelt and Stalin who looked at the post world war 2 world
1975 February 5
Queen Elizabeth 2 makes her maiden call to Mombassa, Kenya
Our first port of call after our Panama Canal transit was Puerto Quetzal. Of course the first bit of fun was trying to find out exactly how to pronounce this port’s name and no-one I spoke to had been here before. Anyway it turns out to be “Ketzarl” so now you know! Many of our guests went to La Antigua which is a city in the central highlands famous for its well-preserved Spanish Mudeja influenced Baroque architecture as well as a number of spectacular ruins of colonial churches. In 1965 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and according to our guests was very impressive. Unfortunately like many of us, I only had time to explore the port area itself which serves the nearby, and somewhat less developed town of San Jose. They had done a great job with stalls and cafes in the port area and it gave everyone their first opportunity to practice their bargaining skills with the locals. Some I might add were more successful than others, with wooden musical instruments being very popular, especially the small wooden flutes which I’m sure will become gifts for many at home. Neil, our Audio Engineer in the Royal Court Theatre was delighted with his purchase acquired for $15, until he discovered I had bought exactly the same one for just $5! Mind you he wasn’t alone – it appeared at the show that night that numerous guests had bought the very same instruments for prices varying from $5 to $20. It’s all part of the fun and knowing the upcoming ports it’s just the beginning.
After two days at sea we reached Mexican waters and the very popular resort of Puerto Vallarta situated on the Pacific Ocean’s Bahía de Banderas. It’s a great place and I have to thank Shiva, the ship’s printer for this great photo taken from his parasailing trip.
It’s a large town named after Ignacio Vallarta, a former governor of Jalisco, and has a population of over 180,000. It’s proximity to the Bay of Banderas, the agricultural valley of the Ameca River, and the important mining centres in the Sierra have given the town a more interesting past than most Mexican tourist destinations. Puerto Vallarta was a thriving Mexican village long before it became an international tourist destination and the old town area has a lot of charm despite the modern hotels and beaches just a few hundred yards away. For us it was an opportunity to get back to negotiating for sombreros, ponchos and Mexican blankets. I might add this was so we could decorate the Winter Garden for the deck party that night, rather than for personal use!
Our second Mexican port was Cabo San Lucas which is one of my favourite ports of call. It’s a city at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula with a population of over 60,000. Mind you it’s changed a lot since I first came here ten years ago, having expanded dramatically. It is quickly becoming a high-end holiday destination with a number of resorts and timeshare clubs appearing along the coast. It also has a claim to fame as the location used for the 2004 movie Troy which starred Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger. Despite its expansion the port is still too shallow for us to dock so we tendered in the bay but that provided this stunning shot taken by one of our on board photographers.
The stunning rock formation is adjacent to what is known as lover’s beach and is well worth a visit by water taxi from the harbor; mind you don’t go there for privacy, it’s a very popular spot!
Before we got to Los Angeles on Tuesday we had some celebrating to do. Firstly the evening of the 25th marked Burns night, so after guests had the opportunity to try Haggis for dinner in the restaurants, we marked the occasion in the Queens Room with a Burns Night Ball. Guests had spent some of the previous days learning some Scottish dancing and it was fantastic to see them perform dances including ”Strip The Willow” for fellow guests. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of a large Haggis and the famous “Ode” which was read by one of our Third Engineers, Stewart Crawford, from Inverkeithing in Fife. He did a great job and his reward of course was the opportunity to propose the toast with a very nice malt whisky. Meanwhile many of our Indian crew members were celebrating India Republic day as we prepared for our next guest party.
The 26th of January is Australia day, and with about 100 Australian guests it was the perfect excuse for yet another celebration. This time we invited guests to join us in the Winter Garden, decorated with Australian Flags and yellow and green balloons, for a celebration including Aussie “Tucker” and music to mark the occasion. We knew from last year that it was going to be a great evening and I’d like to thank Neville and Judy King (draped in the Australian flag!), from Lismore, New South Wales for giving me this photo.
That’s about it for this week but thank you again for logging on and your comments – keep them coming. I’ll be back next week with news of our Pacific Crossing to Hawaii (I know what you’re thinking – tough for some!). Meanwhile I’m hoping to get some news from Queen Mary 2 as she progressing with her World Cruise and watch this space for updates on the new Queen Elizabeth. Cheers for now, Alastair