July 15, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 88 days
It’s certainly been another busy week and a very special one for this Blog, as we mark the 200th post. It’s certainly something to celebrate and only possible through the help of the team in Southampton, Guest Bloggers and of course you, our readers who gave us our busiest month to date in June, so a huge thank you to everyone.
On to this week, and another big thank you for all your comments and questions, I’ll try and get back to you as soon as I can. One question that I can answer straight away may also be of interest other readers. Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden World Voyage leaving Southampton 5 January will be in tandem with her sister Queen Victoria. By the way they will also alternate sides so for those guests with a balcony are guaranteed a good view of the sister ship for half of the crossing! All three Queens will meet in a spectacular event on 13 January in New York, before Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria arrive in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday the 16 January.So lots of celebrating ahead with some great photo opportunities and I’ll have more information about Queen Elizabeth soon along with some more videos at the end of the month after my next visit to the shipyard in Italy.
With our new Queen joining the fleet, it does mean that our Fleet Personnel department in Southampton have been very busy recruiting new staff ready to deliver Cunard’s legendary White Star Service on her expanding fleet. That’s a huge task, only matched by the training that takes place afterwards to ensure those exacting standards are maintained on all three of our Queens. This week’s Blog features guest blogger, Dominique Damerell, who is the White Star Trainer on Queen Victoria and she’ll tell you more about herself and the Academy she runs; that’s after this week in Cunard’s history from 16 to 22 July.
July 16 2009
Queen Victoria makes her maiden call to Flamm, Norway
July 17 1840
The Britannia arrives in Halifax Nova Scotia completing her maiden 14 day voyage from Liverpool (3 days ahead of schedule)
July 18 1840
The Britannia arrives in Boston for the first time
July 18 1951
Caronia II makes her maiden call to Bergen, Norway
July 20 2009
Peter Shanks is named as the new President and Managing Director of Cunard Line
July 22 1990
QE2 completes her fastest eastbound Atlantic crossing in four days, 6 hours and 57 minutes, at a speed of 30.16 knots
Bringing a new ship in to service presents some unique challenges and one of them is dealing with the dramatic increase in staff required to continue to deliver White Star Service to our guests on all three Queens.
Maintaining those standards is something we all feel passionate about, but the job of ensuring our new Cunarders are matching their colleagues’ exceptional level of service, belongs to our White Star trainers on Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and soon Queen Elizabeth. Following from one of our reader’s questions I thought you may be interested to get a feel of who our trainers are and the superb job they do on board our Queens. Dominique Damerell, who is the White Star Trainer on Queen Victoria, was kind enough to find some time in her very busy schedule to take up that challenge, so here she is:
White Star Trainer, Queen Victoria
My inception to the hospitality industry started at the age of 13. I have always genuinely enjoyed serving guests and in particular, the art of serving food. To do this successfully I believe that you really have to regard hospitality as a calling. It is a challenging industry in which to build a career, yet also one of the most rewarding.
I come from a family of chefs and hospitality gurus, and my upbringing in Johannesburg, South Africa is not only enhanced by a keenly developed work ethic, but also with a determined attitude to succeed and to make the most out of my chosen career path. I have often commented to our guests that it is essential we love our work and are passionate about what we do. There is no greater regret than wasting our working lives on a career or job we do not love doing.
My decision to change hospitality operations and start on the ships came about in 2005. Like the students I train today, I remember being a part of the White Star Academy on Queen Mary 2 as if it were yesterday. The White Star Academy is an integral part of a crew member’s first two weeks on board, as joining any ship for the first time can be a daunting experience.
I have progressed up the ladder steadily, using each contract to work to the best of my ability and to attend as much training as possible. Fortunately Cunard always offer a choice of training courses, and I ensure that I partake in as many as I can during each contract. I have always enjoyed getting as much out of a contract as possible and believe that what you put in is ultimately what you get out of any experience.
Cunard recruits internationally and to date I have trained service personnel from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Great Britain, South Africa, Germany, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Romania, the Philippines, India, Serbia, and Croatia. Following the fantastic efforts of our recruitment specialists shore side, I have been fortunate enough to be responsible for the continuation of the successful candidate to become professional Cunard service personnel, from the foundation built in our Academy.
The White Star Academy is a well established programme and my colleague Rishi Chadha has many years of experience running the academy on Queen May 2 as her White Star Trainer, now both ships are conducting back to back White Star Academies with brand new trainees embarking everytime the ships are in their homeport, Southampton. This is part of the important preparation for the much anticipated launch of Queen Elizabeth. Many experienced crew from our current fleet are destined to be a part of the elite start up team for the launch of our youngest Cunarder, so we started preparing our increased manning well in advance, and I must admit I am honoured to be a part of this exciting project. It has been both a pleasure and privilege not only to welcome aboard our new joiners but also to watch them embody Cunard White Star Service, our unique signature brand of service.
Although all our new crew members will be trained professionals in their area of expertise, it’s important they understand the Cunard way. The White Star Academy is an internal induction training programme that covers both elements of Guest Service combined with Skill and Product Specific knowledge training. The Academy is crucial to the successful integration into ship life and here are some students in one of my classes.
The Academy has been designed to educate and instil pride and passion in all new Hotel Crew within Cunard providing a lively and interactive platform during which all trainees are encouraged to participate with enthusiasm and individual contribution. I’m always impressed by their positivity and commitment which is astounding. We each bring something special to Cunard and I plan my training sessions around getting the best out of our newly joined crew and this involves a lot of hard work, but a lot of laughs as well.
Each trainee brings something special and unique to the Cunard family and I try to ensure that they don’t lose sight of this. I merely guide them in the direction of White Star service, provide them with the tools to do this and help them see the sequence and logic of professional service, the Cunard way, the White Star Way.
Success in the Academy is not guaranteed and there are three exams that need to be passed before graduating. It’s a wonderful feeling to reach that graduation day and I can assure you that it is hard work reaching that point. Here are my latest team on their graduation day, while Queen Victoria was in Norway.
To be a part of Cunard is like being a part of a close knit family. Our family is one which is very special and we will do our utmost to make our new trainees feel welcome and to support and assist them in all aspects of their professional growth and personal development. Working at sea involves a commitment I have rarely seen anywhere else, so as experienced crew members, we welcome our newly joined crew members with respect and a desire to help and support. After all we have all been there ourselves.
In life, hard work, perseverance and consistency will certainly pay off in the end. I am a veritable example of this and so too are many of my colleagues. I confidently promise my trainees an exciting future with Cunard. I like to think the White Star Academy serves as a reminder to this and to the legacy that will always be Cunard. After all WE ARE CUNARD.
Thank you Dominique – what a great Guest Blog. I’m sure our readers will agree that it gives a fascinating insight to how our new crewmembers begin their Cunard Careers. I’ll be back on Monday with a post featuring a recent visit to Queen Victoria and then on Thursday a special interview with Queen Elizabeth’s Executive Chef. Cheers for now, Alastair.