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Back in The Mediterranean

April 16, 2009

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Updates

Queen Victoria is now back in the Mediterranean and since my last Blog we have celebrated Easter on board as well as Passover for our Jewish Guests. This week is a bit of a mixed bag and includes a message from Captain McNaught. We also have some great pictures for you including a stunning sunset over Istanbul as our guests enjoyed a Deck BBQ.

Before we get to this week’s guest Blog, here’s “This week in Cunard’s History” for the week of the 17th to the 23rd of April.

April 17 1921

The Albania II is launched as the first new build for Cunard after the first world war though her keel was laid in 1914

April 18 1969

Cunard formally accepts delivery of QE2

April 21 1921

Laconia II is launched and enters service the next year

April 22 1969

QE2 Mini Maiden voyage to Las Palmas

On board Queen Victoria, we are well and truly in the Mediterranean now and the weather has been great and quite warm. This is a very special time of year, and the 8th of April, 92 of our Jewish guests enjoyed a wonderful Passover Seder conducted by Rabbi Bloom. This traditional event, of specially prepared food combined with prayers and songs and was enjoyed by everyone. Yet again congratulations go to the Food and Beverage department for doing such a great job. In fact talking of our Chefs, they had a busy week, as we also celebrated Easter last week which meant lots of chocolate – and I mean lots! On Good Friday we were treated to traditional Hot Cross Buns for breakfast which were delicious. That morning, guests were also greeted by a wonderful display in the Grand Lobby, which the team had created overnight.

Although guests weren’t invited to tuck in, the chocolate was real and on Easter Sunday itself a separate table offering special biscuits and chocolate eggs was available for those who had room after all the Hot Cross Buns!

It was lovely to be back in Istanbul; such a great city and fortunately just the right temperature. The day was stunning and we celebrated in the evening with another World Cruise tradition of the deck BBQ party, where yet again our talented Chefs, under the guidance of Benny Stumphel and Nick Oldroyd, did a fantastic job with great food and decorating the lido deck with palms and special carvings.

The Sailaway from Istanbul is always beautiful as you leave this bustling harbour, but this time it was particularly stunning and I joined many guests out on deck to take some photos of a beautiful sunset over the old city. Alas there isn’t space for all the pictures I took, but I do love this one of the sun setting behind the iconic Hagia Sofia, which has been a Church, Mosque and since 1935 a museum.

This last leg of the world cruise has again played host to more great lecturers taking part in the Cunard Insights Programme. It’s always a pleasure to welcome back Carol Thatcher (daughter of Baroness Margaret Thatcher and the late Sir Dennis), who delivered two very entertaining lectures to a packed Royal Court theatre, on her amazing life before, during and after her mother’s residency of number ten Downing Street as British Prime Minister.

Carol has also kindly agreed to be a guest Blogger so look out for that in the coming weeks. Amoungst our other lecturers this leg we have enjoyed subjects including maritime design, Roman, Greek and Turkish history, life as a Military Social Aide in the White house and Astronomy. Speaking of Astronomy it was great to see Francisco Diego, from the Royal Astronomical Society, back on board. He has an amazing passion of his subject which he delivers with contagious enthusiasm. In addition to his lectures we were able to arrange for some late night star gazing where guests were invited to the upper decks of the ship to hear about the stars and look through a special telescope. Again we’ll try and get an article about Francisco and the Royal Astronomical Society soon, but in the meantime we thought you may be interested in this photo of the moon taken by Francisco using a regular camera pressed up against the eyepiece of the telescope – incredible!

Meanwhile I would like to thank Christian Reay, who was asking after Captain Ian McNaught. As readers will be aware Captain McNaught took over command of Queen Victoria when Captain Paul Wright went on leave in March. Of course it was quite a transition from the Farewell Voyage of QE2 to join Queen Victoria so Christian was asking how Captain McNaught was settling in. I will be interviewing Captain McNaught in a few weeks, but for the moment, he was kind enough to write a quick paragraph for the Blog:-

Quick Guest Blog – Captain McNaught

Well, here we are coming quickly towards the end of Queen Victoria’s 2009 World Cruise, and I have been here as Captain from Singapore, and coming here from the oldest ship in the fleet, QE2, which will always have a special place in my heart, to the newest, has been an exciting time and a big learning curve for me.What has really struck me since I arrived here though is how settled and happy this ship is, and after only one year of service that is a real credit to the ship’s company who have been here since the beginning.All of this makes me feel very much at home, I am surrounded by familiar faces from QE2 and Queen Mary 2, both amongst the ship’s company and within our guests, and of course, with the recent announcement of Queen Elizabeth, we have lots to look forward to within the Cunard family and I am just pleased and proud to play my small part in the ongoing Cunard story. After all ‘We Are Cunard!’

Thank you very much Captain, and I look forward to a more in depth interview in a few weeks. Well that’s it for now but I’ll be back next week when Queen Victoria marks the end of her second World Cruise by returning to Southampton, which will be her homeport for the rest of the year. We’ll reflect on the World Cruise in a special Blog with comments from guests, officers and crew. Cheers for now – Alastair

  1. Chris says:

    Hi Alastair!
    I was just woundering that you said that Southampton will be Queen Victoria’s Homeport for the rest of the year. Is her homeport changing?, Thanks!

  2. Jack Bush says:

    Thanks for all the blog postings, Alistair. It’s great for us Cunarders who aren’t sailing with you (at the moment; we just booked a second cruise for 2010). Will you be leaving for a break when you get to Southampton?

  3. Christian Reay says:

    Thank You Alistair for your update with regards to Captain McNaught. I had the pleasure of meeting the Captain when he was in command of QE2 the westbound transatlantic crossing which marked the begenning of the 25th World Cruise in 2007.

    This for me was indeed part of an unforgettable experience of sailing on QE2 for the first time having followed this great liner with much interest from an early age – so to sail on her as an early 18th birthday gift was well and truely the icing on the cake. The one item which I have from this voyage is a print called ‘WINTER SUNSET’ by the maritime artist James A. Flood, which depicts QE2 departing Miama in November 1997, was signed by Captain McNaught.

    Is there any chance that he could take over command of Cunard’s flagship Queen Mary 2?

    All the best!


  4. Jenny Grimm says:

    I was reading this article (my husband and I were on the boat from Dubai to Southampton) and my husband and I had a wonderful time on board and on the various tours.

    We attended the sail away party from Istanbul and I got a pretty nice shot of the sunset also that I would like to share with you. Just click on the link below to see it. You can also see a lot of the other pictures I took if you go to the provided website link above.


    Thank you

    Jenny Grimm

  5. Chris Frame says:

    Thanks Alistair for another wonderful update and it is fantastic to hear Captain McNaught’s thoughts of Queen Victoria.

    I’ve also been able to recently add the new Queen Elizabeth to my website with help from the Southampton office:


    Have a safe homeward journey and all the best,


  6. Hi Chris

    In response to your question re QV’s homeport, she is due to return to the Med next year for the Autumn season, sailing from Venice, Civitavecchia and Barcelona from September through to end November 2010 I believe. Her home port will of course remain as Southampton, where she is currently due to return early December.



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