July 8, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 95 days
Thank you again for all your comments; in fact June was the busiest month for our Blog yet. This is great news and again my thanks to our support team in Southampton, Guest Bloggers and mostly to you for reading it. The excitement is definitely building towards Queen Elizabeth entering service, with lots of announcements coming up. I know you are keen to know who is naming our new Queen, but I’m afraid we don’t have that information yet, but rest assured you’ll read about it first on this Blog!
I was hoping to bring you details of the Queen Elizabeth Entertainment programme on this post, but the final touches are still being added so I hope that will be ready for Tuesday. So for this Blog we go back to Queen Victoria and some sporting legends that have sailed on her recently, but firstly here’s this week in Cunard’s history from 9 to 15 July
July 9 2007
Cunard announces Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria’s 2009 World Cruises.
July 11 2005
Queen Mary 2 carries the first U.S. signed copy of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, from Southampton to New York.
July 13 1904
Caronia (sister ship to the Carmania) is launched and together they are known as “The Pretty sisters” The funnel colours changed from 1/5th black to 1/4 black. At 19,524 tons, she is the largest Cunard ship to be built to date.
July 14 1997
QE2 makes her maiden call at Dun Loaghaire, Ireland.
July 15 2007
Queen Victoria powers herself for the first time.
At Cunard, we are very fortunate that we are able to welcome many celebrities on board our Queens, who come from the world of Film, TV, Politics, Show Business, Literature and Sport. Sometimes they come on board as guests and sometimes they are a part of our wonderful Cunard Insights Lecture Programme. Back in May while Sir Terry Wogan and his TOGs were on board, there was also another guest enjoying the Mediterranean voyage. Queen Victoria’s Assistant Entertainment Director, Ed Moffat, takes up the story.
Assistant Entertainment Director
During the TOGs voyage we were surprised to find out that one of our guests was former British darts champion Cliff Lazarenko.
Nowadays Mr. Lazarenko rarely competes in major darts tournaments, choosing a more relaxed lifestyle, sailing on the Cunard Queens with his wife Christine. Mr. Lazarenko’s career goes back to the 1970s and the days of other well known darts champions such as John Lowe, Eric Bristow and Jockie Wilson. Incidentally, he also made several appearances on the 1980s darts based quiz show, called Bullseye, hosted by Jim Bowen. As well as being a well known comedian and celebrity, Jim Bowen, who as anyone who has sailed on QE2 will know, was also once the leader of one of the fabulous Jazz Trios on board.
As soon as Mr. Lazarenko heard that TOGs were on board raising money for Children In Need, he was very keen to help out. Within a couple of days a 9 Darts Challenge was arranged and advertised in the Daily Programme. There were 17 competitors, including myself and Simon from Entertainment Staff. We soon realized that we should have practiced beforehand! Everyone paid a $5 entry fee, with all proceeds going to Children in Need with over $150 being raised. The player with the highest score out of 9 darts had to chance to play Mr. Lazarenko for the ‘Queen Victoria 9 Dart Challenge’ trophy. Congratulations to the winner, David Fitzpatrick who beat Mr. Lazarenko convincingly.
Mr. Lazarenko was invited to join Janet and John and the rest of the TOGs to make up the celebrity panel for the Blankety Blank game show in the Royal Court Theatre later in the voyage. It was great fun havening Mr. Lazarenko and his wife on board Queen Victoria and we along with many guests enjoyed listening to his fascinating stories about the ‘old days’ of darts. We look forward their return soon.
Thanks Ed for a great post. Meanwhile last voyage on Queen Victoria we welcomed the man whose voice is synonymous with the world of Motor Sport; Murray Walker.
He was travelling with his wife and presented three fantastic lectures, including one on his favourite motor races and of course a fascinating insight to his life and career as a sports commentator.
Murray Walker’s distinctive, enthusiastic commentary style has been a familiar and much loved part of Motor Sport for over 30 years.
Murray Walker’s father was a despatch rider and works motorcyclist for Norton Motorcycle Company who participated in the Isle of Man TT. Murray graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and was commissioned into the Royal Scots Grays. Leaving the army with the rank of Captain, he then began working in advertising, which he didn’t actually fully retire from this until the age of 59, long after he was famed as a commentator. He also briefly competed in motorcycle races himself although as he told me on the morning TV show; “I soon found out I wasn’t as good as I thought I was!”
Murray Walker made his first broadcast at Shelsley Walsh hill climb in 1948. His first regular work was on radio coverage of the Isle of Man TT, and by 1949 he was commentating on races, although it wasn’t until the late 1970s that each Formula 1 race was given extensive coverage on British television. Already becoming a familiar voice with his commentaries during the 1970s, he went full-time for the 1978 season and the rest as they say is history.
He is known and loved for comments in the heat of the moment that could have a humorous interpretation. He was happy for us to chat about some of them on the morning TV show, such as the time when a car arrived for a pit stop during a race, saying “…I’ll stop the startwatch!”
He told me he loves cars but admitted that he’s too practical to spend fortunes of Ferraris or Lamborghinis! Instead he said he is very happy with his Diesel BMW 3 series that’s about a year old. He told me he thought; “Cars are like watches, they are an indication of people’s self perception”.
Of the voyage he said; “The fact that this is my third time on Queen Victoria is an indication of how much I enjoy the ship. I don’t know how your crew are trained, but White Star Service is fantastic. I have never seen a single crew member who isn’t smiling and greeting guests; that makes you feel very special. The food is also simply fantastic, I’m sure I’ve put on some weight! I just love the quality and ambiance of the ship and the fact there’s plenty of space; it never feels crowded”
Murray Walker is still a very busy man who’s looking forward to the British Grand Prix coming soon. He has no intention of retiring, telling me that it’s never been something that he has ever considered. He said that he felt incredibly lucky to have had two careers that he loved and never thought of them as jobs.
While he was on board he also signed his book “The Murray Walker Scrapbook”, and I chatted to one couple just after they had their copy signed.
Tony and Laura, from Basingstoke in England, actually had a great story of their own. They had their honeymoon on Queen Victoria two years ago on a voyage to Norway, so this voyage was a celebration of their 2nd anniversary. The book is for Laura’s father, David, who is a keen follower of motor sport and a big fan of Murray Walker, so Laura was delighted to show off her copy.
I’d like to thank Murray Walker for taking the time to chat to me as well as his fabulous lectures which I know I guests and crew really enjoyed; it was a real pleasure to have him on board.
I am leaving Queen Victoria today to go on leave but will also start working on setting up the Entertainment Department on Queen Elizabeth. This will involve some time in our Southampton offices and a couple of visits to Italy. I’ll of course keep you update with everything that’s going on there as well as more Guest Blogs from Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. Amanda Reid will take over from me today and becomes the resident Entertainment Director on Queen Victoria. It’s actually quite emotional leaving a ship that I have been working on for over two years, but I’m sure I’ll be back again sometime, and with Cunard being a small family, I’ll still get to see the many friends I have made during my time on board.
Meanwhile I’ll be back on Tuesday with the breaking news story about the exciting new Entertainment Programme that will feature on Queen Elizabeth. Cheers for now, Alastair.