March 10, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 215 days
One of the highlights of every Cunard World Voyage is the celebration that is held in honour of those guests enjoying the whole World Voyage. The event is usually months in the making and involves our on board management as well as the shore side team. This year a spectacular venue was found in Melbourne that was perfect for the night; the National Gallery of Victoria.
Since 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria on St. Kilda Road in Melbourne has been displaying art works for the enjoyment of the community and today’s building has recently undergone extensive refurbishment. During the day the gallery is dedicated to showing magnificent international artwork, and this proved to be an ideal backdrop to our international guest list on the night.
We have over 500 full World Voyage guests this year on Queen Victoria, and they began the evening with a wonderful cocktail party on board before they were whisked off on a short luxury coach ride to the venue which was specially lit for the evening.
At the entrance guests were greeted by a traditional welcome performance, by Australia’s Aboriginal dancers, enhanced by the sounds of the didgeridoo. Guests then walked up a specially laid red carpet, to be welcomed by Cunard’s President and Managing Director, Peter Shanks, Captain Paul Wright and Hotel Manager Jacqui Hodgson.
Then as guests entered the magnificent Great Hall, members of the Australian Boys Choir lined the route adding to the sense of occasion. The venue, with its beautiful glazed ceiling, really did look stunning and quite a transformation from what we had seen earlier in the day.
Guests were guided to their seats and were, as is tradition, joined my numerous members of Queen Victoria’s Senior Officers. Every detail in the venues décor had been thoughtfully coordinated and the floral arrangements in particular looked wonderful We are often asked what happens to them after the event and I am happy to tell you that in keeping with tradition, all the flowers from all such events are donated and delivered to cancer units in the region wherever the event is being held. Amongst the arrangements for this year’s World Voyage Dinner, were over 4,000 roses and it was great to receive this message a couple of days later:
On behalf of the clients and staff of the Palliative Care Unit, Broadmeadows Health Service, Northern Health, I would like to thank you for the beautiful floral arrangements delivered to the unit. They have been a much admired and cherished addition to the unit, bringing colour and joy into the lives of our clients and their families. Regards, John Doran, Acting Unit Manager, Palliative Care Unit.
After welcome speeches from Captain Wright and Peter Shanks, I was delighted to introduce the Australian Boys Choir who performed familiar songs from Australia and around the world, from a balcony at the head of the Hall which was then projected on to big screens for everyone to enjoy.
The choir, which formed in 1939, is a performing and training choir, open to all boys with unchanged voices. Entry to the training groups is by selective audition, held three times each year. The Choir, based in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, presents an annual subscription series of formal concerts, as well as other engagements (television, radio and film) and frequent overseas tours. They have also sung before standing U.S Presidents, The Vatican, and Queen Elizabeth during her stay in Australia
As a really lovely touch, after Captain Wright said Grace, the choir boys mingled with very appreciative guests as they started to enjoy an excellent dinner.
Here is the menu for the night which was accompanied by some superb Australian wines chosen specifically to compliment the meal.
After dinner we all enjoyed dancing to a wonderful orchestra and many of the ships company showed off their dancing talents with our guests late into the night!
Then all too soon it was time to head back to Queen Victoria, but there was another surprise as a special White Star Service welcome home had been prepared for our returning guests. Then many headed up to the top decks and continue the party to the sounds of our international band Changez, as Queen Victoria set sail for her next port, Adelaide.
As we discover the Orient on the next stage of our 2010 World Voyage, Queen Mary 2 will soon be heading across the Indian Ocean for maiden calls to Mauritius and South Africa. She’ll be hosting her World Voyage Dinner in Cape Town so I’ll try and get some pictures from that event and post them for you.
I’ll be back for my regular post tomorrow which will feature some new pictures from Queen Elizabeth with a special Video Blog highlighting the Grills. Cheers for now, Alastair