September 28, 2009
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
It’s always great to profile our crew members who win the prestigious “Star of the Month Award”, which is part of Cunard’s White Star Programme. As many of you will know, the “Star of the Month” title is awarded to just one crew member per ship each month as a result of guest and crew feedback and then consideration by our on board White Star Committee. A framed photograph acknowledging their achievement is displayed in the Grand Lobby of each ship, and here is this month’s star on Queen Victoria; Able Seaman Antonio Solomon
As an AB Seaman Antonio’s work on board is to carry out maintenance of the ship which includes de-rusting, painting, washing, mooring and anchoring of the ship. During tender operations he acts as Bowman on the tenders, and this includes tying up the tender and helping guests to move safely on and off. He is also currently studying the work of the Quartermaster, so he is prepared when the opportunity arises for further promotion.
Antonio was born and brought up in Bataan which is north of Philippines capital Manila and is the fifth of six children. Bataan is known for the island of Corregidor and the Mount Samat dead march, which took place after the fall of Bataan, and is mentioned in numerous history books as the place where the allied forces claimed victory which freed the Philippines from Japanese occupation.
Antonio told me he knew from a very young age that he wanted to travel the world, and as he says “ideally for free!” He considered a career in the aeronautics industry, but eventually decided to study Marine Transportation at the university in his home city, where he graduated with a Bsc.
Antonio says his career so far has exceeded his expectations. He began his career at sea on cargo ships in 1998, and then spent a brief period at home working in the family business. During this time he also met his wife Mary Jane and they married in 2002.
He joined Cunard as an OS, (Ordinary Seaman), in the summer of 2008, and after a couple of months was promoted to AB, (Able Seaman). He is very proud to have become Queen Victoria’s Star of the Month and here he is accepting his award from Captain Ian McNaught, with Staff Captain Hamish Sunter and Hotel Manager Jacqui Hodgson.
On receiving the award Antonio said “I would like to thank everyone who supported and trusted in me since I came to Cunard”.
Antonio has a very early start each day when he gets up at 4am. After a shower and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, he likes to say a little prayer and then prepare himself for the day’s jobs. His morning routines begin at 5am, which involves cleaning and drying the open decks after the night wash down, so the ship will be ready for guests as they wake up in the morning. Then after breakfast and if the ship is arriving in port, he assists with mooring the ship. Otherwise he reports to the Marine Supervisor who will give him a morning job order.
At over six foot tall, Antonio told me “People often ask me why I am so big as they think my size is unusual for someone from the Philippines. I tell them that I have a bloodline from my mother’s side which has a Spanish lineage”. He went on to tell me that “People are often surprised seeing me up a ladder and squeezing my prominent figure through a 1 foot by 1 foot hatch, cleaning the oil from the galley uptake vents which we do once a month”.
In his spare time on a sea day he likes to relax and spend time with his co-workers as well as watching movies, TV and listening to music. On port days he enjoys seeing what he calls “The wonders of the world” for free. When he is at home and not travelling the world he particularly enjoys driving different vehicles.
In addition to becoming “Star of the Month”, Antonio has also just received some wonderful news from home. On his birthday, August the 22nd, he found out that his wife Mary Jane had given birth to their first child, a healthy baby girl.
Along with the “Star of the Month” award comes a cash prize which Antonio says will go straight towards his daughters’ future
At the moment Antonio and his wife and daughter share a house with other members of his family so it is his dream to eventually build his own house for his wife and new family to live in. And his other dream………well, one day be Captain of a vessel. That’s a great dream and I’d like to thank Antonio for taking the time to talk to me and of course, wish him and his family all the best for the future.
That’s it for this Blog but I look forward to being back with you on Thursday for the regular update on the week, including more news around the fleet. Next Monday I’ll have pictures from Queen Victoria’s maiden calls to Boston, Quebec and the home of Cunard Line’s founder, Samuel Cunard. Cheers for now – Alastair