July 19, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 84 days
One of the best parts of our job is having the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, and it’s amazing who you get chatting to. Following guest interest in the new build process for a modern liner, I often present a lecture on board called; The Building of a Queen, which shows through numerous pictures, the whole process from start to finish. At the end of one of my presentations a guest approached me saying how much he had enjoyed it and asked if it would be possible to present the same lecture to his organization. The gentleman concerned was Bill Lawes from the Southampton branch of the World Ship Society.
Since it was founded by a small group of dedicated ship enthusiasts in 1946, the World Ship Society has grown into the largest and most prestigious international organisation dedicated to maritime and naval history. It is known for its extensive list of publications, including, Marine News and the significant library and collection of photographs the organisation maintains for its members and researchers.
Branch meetings, held throughout the world, allow members to share their knowledge, experience, and joy of the shipping and naval industries. As I found out from my visit to the Southampton branch, the membership is diverse and reflects a wide range of maritime and naval interest.
While I was on leave in May, I attended one of their meetings and was delighted present the lecture to the Southampton enthusiasts, who showed tremendous interest in the ship and asked numerous questions, most of which I was able to answer!
Afterwards Bill presented me with a stunning picture of the three Queens on their final meeting on 22 April 2008 in Southampton.
He mentioned that many of the group had never been on a Cunard liner, and asked if there was any chance of arranging a visit. I had a chat with our head office to see if we could, and with their help I was delighted to welcome Bill and ten other members of the Southampton Branch of the World Ship Society on board Queen Victoria a couple of weeks ago. It was a very busy day for me with meetings and other events, so after meeting the group, I asked one of my colleagues to conduct the tour for me, and who better than Thomas Quinones, who met them on the staircase in the Grand Lobby.
Many of you will know Thomas from his many years of service on QE2 conducting his legendary Heritage Trails. He has been on Queen Victoria for two years now, as well as a brief spell recently on Queen Mary 2, and will be part of the inaugural Entertainment Team for the maiden season of Queen Elizabeth.
Judging from their comments, Bill and his group certainly had a great time exploring Queen Victoria and were particularly impressed with Thomas’s knowledge and passion for Queen Victoria and Cunard. John Davidson from Chichester said; “Queen Victoria is a lovely traditional ship with a beautiful ambiance, especially in the Queens Room”. Andrew Hogg told me that the last time he had visited a ship was on the Southern Cross in the 1960’s. He admitted he wasn’t sure about the size of Queen Victoria but upon seeing her interior, was impressed by the classic design of the vessel.
Bill’s wife Doreen added; “It’s nice to see a ship designed to a bygone style. This is especially true for the Royal Court Theatre where you can visualize the grand old musicals and at the same time it gives a great atmosphere to modern shows. I hope Cunard will keep building ships with these traditional interiors”. David Walker, who is currently working on his PhD at Exeter University said; “I was very impressed with the quality of the interior design and the number of items of interest around the ship”.
I was able to meet up with them at the end of the visit and was presented with a special plaque marking the occasion. This was a perfect opportunity for another photo opportunity by Queen Victoria’s iconic Dent Clock in the Royal Arcade.
As the group left they thanked Thomas for a great tour and Cunard for arranging the visit. It was great to see them and as always it’s a great pleasure to show off our Queens to such enthusiastic visitors who will hopefully be able to come back for longer next time.
Thanks again to Bill Lawes for coordinating everything, and for the lovely plaque which will be placed with our other plaques by the entrance to the Commodore Club on deck 10, which mark occasions such as maiden calls to ports and other visitors,
That’s it for now but with just over twelve weeks to the maiden of voyage Queen Elizabeth, I’ll be back on Thursday with a special interview with her Executive Chef. Cheers for now, Alastair.