May 10, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 154 days
Many guests who have sailed on board our ships and enjoyed seeing familiar faces amongst our crew, may have wondered what life is like for them in their daily jobs. For one guest recently on Queen Victoria, this curiosity became a reality.
At the Country Fair event which takes place every year on our Queens’ World Voyages, there are numerous activities aiming to raise money for the charities chosen by the ship’s company. One of those events is where guests are invited to buy raffle tickets to become a member of the Entertainment Staff for the day. Believe it or not this proved to be very popular, and the lucky winner was Joanne Brown, a retired schoolteacher from Vero Beach, Florida. After her day, I had a chat with her to see how she got on.
Firstly we chatted about life before becoming a member of the Entertainment Staff. For many years Joanne taught children with special needs, and has three children of her own along with six grand children. Although she is an experienced cruiser, this was her first voyage with Cunard, joining the World Voyage in Fort Lauderdale in January. She told me that her longest voyage before this was just 14 days, so she wasn’t sure how she would enjoy being on board for over a hundred days, but she says she loved every minute and is now a complete convert to Cunard.
Her friend for 60 years, Jane Upchurch had travelled on QE2, and travelling with four other friends she invited Joanne to join them. At the Country Fair she was helping the team sell raffle tickets for the Grand Prize Draw and next to her; Queens Room Vocalist Paul Ritchie was selling raffle tickets to become Entertainment Staff for the day. She told me; “Having been a tour guide conducting orientations, I thought I could do this and as you see I’m not that shy, so I thought it was a great idea. I would get to go behind the scenes and have a chance to do something really different. In the last few years I have been working through my bucket list, and so far I’ve sky dived, zip lined across a gorge, but this was probably the most fun I have had so far and I’ve made so many new friends”
Joanne’s day began receiving her schedule from Assistant Entertainment Director, Amanda Reid.
Finding your way around the guest areas of Queen Victoria is a big enough challenge, but Joanne’s first task was to explore the crew areas of the ship. She told me she found this really fascinating and here she is in one of the galleys with her guide, Entertainment Staff Nico Lansdell and Executive Chef, Bernhard Stumpfel.
Then it was time for Joanne’s first activity and a quiz in the Winter Garden. In preparation for her big day, she had researched her questions before taking on our World Voyage guests, who said that they had really enjoyed the activity with the twist of a fellow guest as Quizmaster.
Having given out prizes to the winners, Joanne headed to the Queens Room and her debut as a Bingo Caller. Under Nico’s guidance she operated the machine and called the numbers.
As prize money was involved she told me she was relieved that it all went smoothly and once the winners had been paid, and the event completed, it was time for lunch. The Entertainment Staff eat in the Officers Mess Room, so Joanne joined some of the team and chatted about her morning over her meal. From left to right, around the table with Joanne is, Simon Maycock, Melonie Jones, Chris Thomas, Amanda Reid and Nico Lansdell.
She said she was very impressed by the welcome she received from the Staff and Officers in the Mess. After lunch Joanne met up with resident DJ, Gary King to find out about her next activity; Darts in the Golden Lion Pub. This was her first experience of the game and as she told me later, it all went very well as you can see from this photo of her in action.
Joanne’s daughter is an anchor for Channel 10 in Miami, so we thought it would be fun to invite her as a guest on the Queen Victoria Live daily TV show with yours truly.
She told me all about her day so far and how delighted she was that everyone amongst the ships company and her fellow guests had accepted her so well in her temporary role. After the filming she told me how much she enjoyed her moment of fame and couldn’t wait to get home and tell her friends about the experience.
During the evening she worked with the Entertainment Staff in welcoming guests to the Royal Court Theatre Box Programme, and then later joined them in the Golden Lion Pub for the evening game show to wrap up her night.
Chatting to her the next day, Joanne told me how much she had enjoyed her day with the highlight being the morning Trivia. She was still being recognised around the ship, with guests asking her about her day. Joanne said; “While I was having my haircut in the salon another guest turned to me and asked “Where do you work on the ship?” I had to explain!”
She was still enjoying her new found fame by the time Queen Victoria reached Southampton, and then Joanne joined Queen Mary 2 to take her back to New York.
I’d like to thank Joanne for being such a great member of the team on the day, and for chatting to me afterwards so I could post this story.
I’ll be back on Thursday with a Blog featuring an amazing celebration for a guest who celebrated his 100th birthday recently on Queen Victoria. Hopefully I’ll also have more news soon from Queen Elizabeth in Italy as well as posts from both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. Thank you again for all your comments and questions. Cheers for now Alastair.