February 22, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 237 days
A highlight of every World Voyage, is visiting Sydney for two days, and this year on Queen Victoria was no exception. In fact, as you saw on Thursday’s Blog, it included a world first with Queen Victoria being the first ever liner being bathed in pink light. I’ll let our President and Managing Director, Peter Shanks, take up the story in a special guest Blog.
Guest Blog – Peter Shanks – President and Managing Director of Cunard Line:
Tickled Pink Down Under in Sydney…………………… and then I climbed the bridge
It was with a real sense of excitement that I set off from Heathrow for Australia last week. I was on my way to Sydney to see our ship Queen Victoria. Excitement changed to a sense of being rather knackered – it really is a very long way and you lose all sense of which day it is and where you are. I flew on the new Qantas Airbus A380 – it’s a terrific aircraft but any aircraft loses its appeal after 22 hours. Nonetheless I arrived safe and sound with two objectives in mind for the visit – to catch up with my friends and colleagues on board Queen Victoria and to give a well deserved shot in the arm for our colleagues in Carnival Australia who are doing so much to grow Cunard’s awareness in the Australian market.
I thought I would share with you three remarkable things I got up to during my short visit.
Turning Queen Victoria Pink – We worked with the National Breast Cancer Foundation to host an event to launch their fund raising efforts for the year ahead. The champion of the foundation here in Australia is Sarah Murdoch, and what a delightful and famous Australian she is. Many of us find ourselves contributing to charities, but very few people are passionate enough to drive and champion a foundation as brilliant and well deserving as Breast Cancer – so hats off to Sarah and her colleagues. Our little bit to help was to offer Queen Victoria for a reception on the aft deck at sundown. It was an awesome setting; on the port side the Opera House and on the starboard side Sydney Harbour Bridge. But being a Cunard event we had to give a twist. So we thought; how about we turn the ship pink to support such a famous ‘Pink’ charity.
Well the pictures speak for themselves. Not only did we turn the ship pink; the resulting media pictures went right around the world.
That gives us so much pleasure – of course it helps to see a Cunard ship a part of such a fabulous event but to help the charity in a small way is jolly satisfying for all of us.
Climbing the Bridge -The next afternoon I had a few hours to spare prior to setting sail for Melbourne. I thought the only view to have of Queen Victoria would be from the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is something I have always wanted to do. Well, I can now recommend to everybody who visits Sydney to climb the bridge if they can. It is the most well organised I have ever seen. They are meticulous in preparation; medical checks, complete kit of overalls, harnesses, headgear, hats and radios. We were a group of 14 strangers from all over the world, but over the course of three hours became friends through the adventure. I tried not to remind myself that I don’t like heights. Once you get up the ladders onto the top structure – it’s a walk in the park and you climb up the beautiful curve of the bridge. It did not take long until we were right at the top, looking down on one of the most beautiful vistas in the world. But today that vista was even more special because below us was Queen Victoria.
OK, so I stand accused of going to any length to gain positive coverage for the Cunard brand, but I have to admit that having a picture of myself and Queen Victoria from the top of Sydney Harbor Bridge is pretty cool. In fact why don’t I lay down a challenge to see if any of our competitor cruise lines can better that? I very much doubt it.
To the real reason for my visit to Queen Victoria – Many of you will know just how special White Star Service is to Cunard Line, our staff and our valued guests. As we sailed from Sydney to Melbourne we launched the new and revitalised White Star Training Program to the ship’s company. Over three presentations during the day, I was able to share our plans face to face with every member of the ship’s company. We are investing in new training programs, new personal development opportunities, as well as awards for ‘Star of the Month’ and ‘Staff Suggestions’. At the end of the presentations we also gave every member of the ship’s company a small gift, to thank them for their incredible efforts in looking after our guests on the World Voyage. Later that day there was another highlight, as we launched the new Cunard Long Service Awards. Along with senior officers, we presented 33 awards to staff who have been with Cunard for more than 20 years. This included stewards, able seamen, waiters and many others. They each received a special White Star Pin, a certificate and an award commensurate with their length of service. The longest serving officer was awarded for over 38 years and 7 months of dedicated service to Cunard Line – how special is that?
So we arrive in Melbourne today which presented another chance to share Queen Victoria with travel agents and media guests. Tonight we have our famous World Voyage Dinner in the National Gallery in Melbourne to those guests travelling right round the world with us. Then it’s back to London for me, suitably knackered (technical term), but immensely proud of the team we have on board.
What was the highlight of my visit? No question, it was seeing the pride and delight on the faces of our staff when they received recognition for their dedicated service to Cunard – good for them.
We will be back in Australia next year with both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth in Sydney on the same day. And to make it special, it will be the 70th anniversary of when Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth met in Sydney in 1941 – I can’t wait…………..
Thank you Peter for this guest Blog and I can say that it’s been a busy, but very exciting time on board Queen Victoria. As we said goodbye to Peter we are now heading, for the very first time, along the southern coast of Australia to Adelaide and then Perth. I’ll post some more pictures and news as we go along. Peter mentioned Queen Victoria’s current longest serving officer, and I’ll be interviewing him in a week or so. He is the Crew Housekeeper. His name is John Davies and he has a fascinating story.
I’ll also be back later in the week with a special announcement about Queen Elizabeth along with some new pictures from her under construction in Italy. It’s going to be another busy week of Blogging! Cheers for now, Alastair