August 13, 2009
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Insights Speakers
One of the many traditions Cunard likes to maintain is the game of Bridge. Every sea day on both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria you’ll see guests enjoying classes and games and I am often asked more about the game and those wonderful lecturers who make it all happen. Rosemary Boden (who I am sure many of you know), has been kind enough to answer my questions, but before we get to her interview here’s some other news.
We will be showing the Sir Terry Wogan interview, where he chats to me about the TOGs voyage next May, very soon and I’ll be going to Italy in the next 10 days to bring you more eagerly awaited news on the progress of Queen Elizabeth so that’ll be posted soon as well along with any other news as soon as I get it.
Meanwhile here’s “This week in Cunard’s History” for the week, 14th to the 20th August:
August 18 2008 Queen Victoria makes her maiden call at Istanbul, Turkey
August 20 1990 QE2 Provides assistance to accommodation rig ‘West Gamma’ adrift in the North Sea
August 20 2007 Queen Victoria begins her first set of sea trials.
Now to our special interview; it was a real delight to work with Rosemary Boden on this year’s Queen Victoria World Cruise. She is a certified Bridge Director and Silver Life Master who has won several ribbons at regional events. She has directed at the club level for several years and is an accomplished teacher and presenter. Rosemary plays with several different partners each week, and is familiar with Standard American, the Two -over-One system and the ACOL system. She usually competes at all three National ACBL tournaments and has played in both the Spingold and Vanderbilt events. Rosemary is comfortable teaching large groups and she also works with smaller, more personal groups of three or more players. Previously, Rosemary was a principal in a highly successful computer consulting company, although she began her career as a teacher. Here she is in her favourite place on board Queen Victoria – the Card Room!
Rosemary was born in England, educated in New Zealand, and has worked in both London and New York. She now lives in Florida where, in addition to bridge, she enjoys logic problems, needlepoint, travel and entertaining.
How did you hear about becoming a Bridge Lecturer on board ships?
Back in 2003 I sailed on QE2, Sydney to Hong Kong, a fabulous segment of the World Cruise. I was already teaching and directing back home in New Jersey where I owned a small bridge club with a business partner. The Bridge Directors on QE2 at that time, Judy and Dee, were grateful for a little help I provided and suggested I might enjoy sailing as a Bridge Director myself. I followed up and started directing and teaching at sea later that year.
Please could you describe what is actually involved with being a Bridge Lecturer?
Well, my job really begins at home. As soon as I am booked on a voyage I make a plan, setting out the bridge program for each day the ship will be at sea. I am usually asked to provide two lectures each morning, one for beginners and one for more experienced players. On a short voyage I prepare a series of lessons which can “stand alone” and will be of interest for any level of player using any standard bridge system. For the World Cruise, when many bridge players are on board for 100 days or more, I don’t want to bore guests by repeating material so I come on board with more than 60 unique lesson topics, one for every sea day. I DO repeat the “Beginner Program” but so far there have been no complaints!
Each lesson lasts about 45 minutes to an hour and of course there are always guests staying after the session with extra questions. I come on board with literally thousands of handouts, one handout for each group per day. I’ve learned to number the handouts as guests are always coming and asking for the ones they missed – or lost. After lunch, people arrive much earlier than the program states in order to secure their favourite table for the afternoon game. At about 2 hours, it is a little shorter than games on land but at sea it works out so that guests are finished in time for Cunard’s special afternoon tea – ah…those scones with jam and cream.
To many of us, Bridge seems a very complex game that would be hard to learn. How would you reassure readers of the Blog that it’s actually not too difficult and definitely worth giving a go on their next voyage?
Well, we are teaching bridge to 9 year olds in After School Programs so how difficult can it be for grown-ups? The modern approach to Bridge for Beginners is to make it fun and easy. Guests are surprised to find that they play their first bridge hand at their very first lesson on board.
How often do you like to be at sea?
If it were not for my family at home, I would be content to be at sea 52 weeks a year. As I have two gorgeous little grandsons and lots of other family members I limit my travel to about six months each year.
What is the most enjoyable part of your role on board?
I enjoy the entire experience, meeting new people, visiting exotic ports, delicious meals, so it is difficult to say which is best. However, I think it is the sense of fulfillment I get when guests come up to me, and say that I, and Bridge, have changed their life. That sounds over the top, but it has happened many times.
What is the most frequent question you get asked – and what the answer?
I think the question is “How do I get better (at bridge)”. The answer is “Play, play, play and you WILL get better”. Most guests who learn on board can go home and play bridge for the rest of their lives without ever learning another thing – and have a great deal of fun. Some, like me, become addicted to learning and improving and it becomes a lifelong task which we embrace. I just competed in the US National Tournament in Washington DC. Hundreds of people showed up every day to compete, attend lectures, buy books and watch the crème de la crème – the Tiger Woods of the Bridge World – play on a huge VU-GRAPH with a commentary.
Please could you tell us something about being a Bridge Lecturer that would surprise us?
One does not have to be a World Class Bridge Player to be able to teach the game well. In fact, many of the leading bridge players of the day prefer to play rather than stand and talk to novices. I remember how I felt when I was a beginner, truly ignorant and stupid, so I try to make everyone feel capable and competent.
Where has been your favourite destination so far?
That’s a tough one because there have been so many amazing ports of call. Visiting the Taj Mahal in 2006 was so much more than I anticipated – the sheer size of the grounds and the gates, and the marble, and the heat and the crowds. I really love Thailand and here I am on a Cunard shore excursion in Pattaya, though I’m pretty sure the tiger was sedated!
This year, visiting Petra, it was such a surprise even though I knew what to expect. It was the realization of a fifty-year old dream.
Where would you like to go in the world that you haven’t been to yet?
I have been more fortunate than many, having completed four World Cruises on Cunard ships. I have seen the ports or “Gateways” to many wonderful places, but there are many places “inside” those countries that I have never visited. I’d like to see the Great Wall of China while my knees can still get me up those steps. And I want to visit all the Norwegian fjords. I grew up in New Zealand and visited many of South Island’s magnificent fjords, walking to them before there were roads in some cases. I’d like to visit Nepal and Bhutan – but I don’t think Cunard goes there!
What would be your favourite golden nugget of advice to Guests coming on a voyage for the first time?
A cruise gives you the luxury of doing as little or as much as you wish. My best advice though, is to use the time to learn something new, possibly bridge, which can become a lifelong passion long after your voyage is over – new friends, new places to go, and you need never be lonely.
Do you have any unfulfilled dreams?
I have always been ambitious and consequently, however well one has done in life, one always strives for more. My current dream is to be invited to join Queen Elizabeth as the Bridge Director for her first World Cruise in 2011. Is the Card Room big enough?
What is your favourite quote and who said it?
“Look you, the stars shine still”. This is a quote from The Duchess of Malfi, a Revenge Tragedy by John Webster, which I studied as part of my degree at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. My interpretation of this quote is that no matter what problems we have, the stars go on shining and we can too.
My thanks again to Rosemary for a fascinating interview; maybe she will have converted a few to give Bridge a go on their next voyage. Meanwhile I’ll be back soon with news of Queen Mary 2’s Star of the month for August and a special interview with Cunard’s new President and Managing Director, Peter Shanks. Cheers and thanks as always for logging on. Alastair