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Life On Board

It’s All in a Day’s Work on Board

June 11, 2009

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Life On Board

Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 483 days

One of the great ideas to come out of our Bloggers meetings on board was “A Day in the Life” of our crew members so I’m pleased to present the first; our ship’s Tailor Remedios Esmalde. I’ll come to that in a minute. Meanwhile both ships have been in northern waters this week with Queen Victoria completing her first Baltic voyage of the season, and here on Queen Mary 2 we have been enjoying stunning ports in Norway. I’ll post a blog on that next week. Firstly as usual, here’s “This week in Cunard’s History” for the week of the 12th to the 18th June:

June 14 1995

QE2 Leaves New York for Southampton on her 1,000th voyage.

June 14 2002

Lady Thatcher lunches on board QE2 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Falklands War.

June 15 2008

Queen Victoria makes maiden call at Honningsvag.

June 16 1927

The Laurentic is launched at Harland & Wolf in Belfast and becomes part of the Cunard Fleet in January 1934.

Let me introduce you to Remedios Esmalde, otherwise known as Remy. She is the ship’s Tailor and is the “Star of the Month” on board Queen Mary 2 for May. This monthly award is given in recognition of a crewmember’s commitment to our “White Star” service programme and it’s something of an honour aboard all Cunard ships.

Remy was born in centre of Manilla and now lives in Luzon, which is on the outskirts of Manilla in the Philippines. She lives with with her son, Jervis, 17 years old (currently at college learning computer science, although he is a budding artist) and daughter Samira Fae who is 13 years old. Samira Fae loves dancing and wants to be a star one day, but Remy would like her to think about a regular job and a university education as well – sound familiar?While Remy is away her children are looked after by her sister in law who conveniently lives next door.

Remy learned how to be a seamstress from the age of sixteen in her brother’s dress making shop. She wanted to travel, so decided to move to Dubai where she worked as a waitress before a life at sea beckoned. Remy’s career at sea started as a Bedroom Stewardess in 2001, before joining Queen Mary 2 as a Tailor in May 2004. The job was a dream for Remy as she has always had a passion for seamstressing and now on a daily basis she’s able to enjoy utilising her skills in helping others.

As the ship’s Tailor she reports to the Executive Housekeeper, but works very closely with the Linen Keeper and Laundry Master. I caught up with her at work one day and here she is with Joey the Assistant Linen Keeper.

It’s an early start for Remy as she sets her alarm for 5.00am. This gives her enough time to get ready and have a cup of coffee in the crew mess before starting work at six. In addition to being the Tailor she also helps out in the laundry. Dionisio Elizalde, the Laundry Master oversees a 24 hour operation involving 22 laundry staff, ensuring all the ship’s laundry is processed. Remy’s first job in the morning is helping to prepare the bed linen and towels for guest staterooms. This involves checking and counting everything from bedsheets to putting bundles of fifty face cloths in to trolleys, ready to go the guest areas. This is a job done by a team of 6 Piccalos who take them to the Bedroom Stewards (about 14 per deck) while 10 Assistant Butlers to take them to the suites.

Remy has a quick breakfast normally around 8.00am as the mornings are a very busy place in the laundry. Depending on the day she normally begins her tailoring work around 10am. She works very closely with the Assistant Linen Keeper, Joey whose main job is looking after the laundering of 1,200 crew member’s uniforms; there are crew launderettes for their personal clothes. If any item needs repair or alteration they are passed to Remy. She will also receive items from the Linen Keeper, James who in addition to maintaining stocks of guest and crew linen on board, issues uniform for new crew or those changing positions. He also orders new uniforms for the officers and again any alterations required are taken care of by Remy. When a crew member leaves at the end of their contract, the uniform is handed back to James, and once it is laundered, it is checked for any possible repairs that may be required, as it’s essential that uniforms are immaculate at all times.

Here’s Remy in action, sewing new “Stripes” on to a recently promoted officer’s uniform.

At about Noon Remy goes for lunch and then a break till 3pm.During this time she tends to relax and have a nap if it’s a sea day or go ashore on port days when she loves to go for a meal. She tries to find a Fillipino restaurant if at all possible and many of the larger ports such as Brooklyn and Southampton have them fairly close to where the ship docks. Although she prefers Fillipino food she also likes Chinese and Thai cuisine.

When she returns to work she focuses on guests’ tailoring which could mean anything from replacing zips, to repairing tears to hemming trousers and dresses. Often time is very tight, especially on formal nights when guests prepare for the evening and discover they need Remy’s assistance. There are numerous occasions when her talents have saved the day and nothing is too much trouble for her which is one of the reasons she was nominated for “Star of the Month”.

She has dinner around 7.00pm after which she returns to work briefly before finishing for the day at around 8.00pm. In the evenings she enjoys socialising with friends in the various crew recreation areas, or relaxing in her cabin watching TV before getting to sleep around 10.00pm. All crew have access to the guest TV channels as well as some crew channels, such as Cunard training and information programmes and movies. As there is a large Fillipino community on board there is also a dedicated Fillipino TV channel.

Becoming “Star of the Month” meant a tremendous amount to Remy and she told me on the morning TV show, “Being awarded with this prize gives me a great sense of pride that people have recognised my work”. Here she is being interviewed on the show with our White Star Trainer, Rishi.

Remy’s picture is proudly displayed in the Grand Lobby of Queen Mary 2 and in addition to being recognised by the company, guests and fellow crew members, Remy also won prize money so she decided to buy a lap top computer. She has had hours of fun setting it up and playing the various games that came with it.

At home she loves cooking traditional Fillipino food and looking after the house which she enjoys. Sometimes she meets up with fellow crew members for lunch in Manilla but her main focus is on precious family time.

Although she is far away from her children, after 5 years of working on Queen Mary 2 she is very happy because there is a great atmosphere on board amongst the crew and she can provide for her family at home. She told me that thanks to Cunard teamwork and applying what she has learned in the White Star Academy in the Phillipines as well as on board, she can look after our guests in the best possible White Star way.

My thanks again to Remy for spending her valuable time with me, sharing her story. We’ll bring you another one soon – next time from Queen Victoria. I’ll be back on Monday with some great pictures from Norway. Also some breaking news about Queen Elizabeth and her “Keel Laying Ceremony” in a few weeks time, so watch this space. Cheers for now, Alastair

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  1. Christian Reay says:

    Another great blog as always, I look forward to hearing more news about Queen Elizabeth in the next few weeks. I will be joining Queen Mary 2 as a guest for the first time in about 3 weeks time – though I should stress its not the first time I’ve sailed with Cunard – my first voyage was aboard QE2 back in 2007 – how time flies!

    All the best!

    Christian

  2. Donna Shreiner says:

    What a wonderful story about Remy! I enjoy learning about some of the “behind the scenes” jobs on the ship.

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