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Full Steam Ahead For Queen Victoria’s Latest Star Of The Month

November 1, 2010

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Ship's Company

Welcome to another week of Blogging and again thanks so much for all the comments, it’s turning out to be a record breaking month.

Many of you are commenting about Queen Elizabeth’s Web Cam, and again we are sorry there have been some issues with it. At the moment there are some teething problems and this is because it has a new higher quality picture, at the moment it doesn’t allow us to add the current location. The team are working hard to have this resolved in a few weeks and we will let you know when this is live, so thanks for bearing with us.

I’m glad you liked the picture of Queen Elizabeth’s inaugural crew on the back deck of the ship, but some of you were concerned about who was driving the ship if we were all having our photo taken. Well don’t worry the watch keepers remained on the Bridge and Engine room while the picture was taken, and then by a bit of photography magic by Petar,  they were added in later; well we couldn’t leave anyone out could we!

Now on to news from Queen Victoria and firstly a guest Blog from Anand Ramakrishnan, who is the White Star Trainer:

Guest Blog
Anand Ramakrishnan
White Star Trainer
Queen Victoria


On 25 September in the port of Civitavecchia fifty crew and officers were transferred from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth. There were mixed feelings by the terminal, with the emotion of leaving friends but also the excitement of joining the new Queen, and of course the prospect of seeing her Majesty The Queen. Our Hotel Manager, David Hamilton and Personnel Manager, Aubrey Lee wished them luck before they left the pier to the airport where they boarded a chartered flight to Trieste.

The day after, we docked in Naples on the same day as our flagship, Queen Mary 2. Aubrey came up with a bright idea to get a combined crew tour organised to Pompeii. 48 crewmembers between the two ships went on tour together and the atmosphere was just like going out for a picnic with a big happy family. Friends, who had worked together in the past met up, took tons of photos and of course caught up with the news. The two Queens looked wonderful together.

As we were just a short walk across the pier from Queen Mary 2, I thought it would be a great opportunity for the White Star Academy Trainees on Queen Victoria, to see the company’s flagship from inside. Carola is the Personnel and Training Manager on Queen Mary 2 and she very kindly organised things for us.

As we stepped on board I heard the Oooh’s, Aahhh’s and Wow’s from the trainees. I took them on a tour of the ship and yes, the trainees were very impressed and excited, saying it was a dream come true to be on board the most famous ocean liner in the world. Here we all are by Queen Mary 2’s iconic red funnel and by the artwork featuring our founder, Sir Samuel Cunard:



I am pleased to say the entire group successfully completed their White Star Academy training and are now working on board Queen Victoria. I was very proud to join them in their full uniform at their graduation ceremony with Captain Christopher Rynd and Hotel Manager, David Hamilton.

Thank you Anand for that great story, it’s always great to meet up when ships are together. Speaking of which on 8 November Queen Mary 2 will meet her new sister Queen Elizabeth for the first time in Southampton, so there’s a date for your diaries. Then Queen Elizabeth will meet Queen Victoria on 1 December in Southampton, but the big date for all three to be together for the very first time, is on 13 January 2011 in New York, so you can imagine how exciting that day will be.

Meanwhile on Queen Victoria it was great to hear about the White Star Service Programme and the latest Star of the Month. As regular readers will know is this is the title awarded to just one crew member per ship each month. The award is a result of guest and crew feedback, and then consideration by our on board White Star Committees. Each month we alternate ships, for which “Star” we feature on this Blog, and this month it’s the turn of Queen Victoria.

Sancho Sabolo is presently a Mechanic in the Technical Department, and as with every “Star” his photo is displayed prominently in the ship’s Grand Lobby:

Sancho joined QE2 in 1994 as a utility hand, working in Hotel stores and the galleys. After a few months he had an opportunity to join the Technical Department as an Engine Cleaner working on the Main Engines. He then worked in various positions, Wiper, Plumber, Motorman, Safety Control Room watch keeper, Mechanic, and was finally promoted to Waste Disposal Supervisor on QE2. He joined Queen Victoria in Jan 2009 as a Mechanic and steps up to Chief Mechanic when needed. He is now very experienced and very much involved with engine and auxiliary machinery maintenance, reporting to the Chief Mechanic and 1st Engineer.

Sancho comes from Bantayan, Cebu in the Phillippines. He met his wife Sheena, a Bedroom Steward, while he was working on QE2 and they now live in her home town of Zamboanga City. They have two children John aged 12 and six year old Therese.

Speaking to Sancho you can feel his sense of pride in his work, when he says that the best part of his job is engine overhauling.  He told me; “It’s amazing to hear the engine start after overhauling it. One minute you see the parts and then suddenly you hear the engine start and I say to myself ‘yes this is a success!!!”

He explained to me that there was a big difference between the nine QE2 engines, which were nine cylinder B and W “inline” type, and Queen Victoria’s six Wartsila V-type engines. Sancho had to be trained to work on the Wartsila engines and here he is training in the Philippines standing next to an engine liner which is smaller but very similar to the many he overhauls today.

Willy Robinson, Queen Victoria’s Chief Engineer, said Sancho has been very much a “leading light” in the recent complete overhaul of four of the ships Main Engines. The overhaul of each engine occurs every 12,000 hours, and takes between 24 to 26 days to complete. In this photo Sancho is assisting one of the Wartsila Engineers to remove a piston from the engine block.

Willy went on to tell me that Sancho has received glowing attributes and praise from the all travelling Wartsila Engineers, and when his colleagues voted for him as the Star of the Month, they mentioned how cheerful, friendly and hardworking he is. They also admired his strong leadership qualities, so when his name was put forward to the ship’s White Star Committee they also agreed, and here’s Sancho receiving his award.

From left to right are, Captain Christopher Rynd, Sancho, 1st Engineer Thomas Wilkinson, Chief Engineer Willy Robinson and Hotel Manager David Hamilton.

Sancho and his wife are now together on Queen Victoria while Sheena’s mother looks after the children at home, so time together with the family is very precious.

Sancho’s day begins at about 7.00am, and after a cup of ginger tea, he has breakfast with his wife before heading to the engine room. When he gets time off on board, he tries to get off in the ports and maybe have a quick swim, but he and Sheena keep in regular contact with their children. Although he doesn’t claim to be a great player he enjoys practicing on his guitar as well as singing Karaoke and playing darts.

At home he likes riding his motorbike with his son, as well as playing basketball, billiards, going fishing and swimming. Sundays are always special and they begin first thing in the morning by going to Mass with his family.
I asked him what Cunard meant to him and he told me that; “To me it means one big happy family, full of happy memories.  I met my wife on QE2 and we have two wonderful children, so I am very grateful to Cunard”.

He told me he will be spending some of his winnings on a little get together for the Technical Team and buy a new karaoke player, while the rest will be saved. As for the future, his only dream is to provide for his children, so they can develop their own careers. His joy is seeing them grow up and having a happy life together.

Congratulations again Sancho; thanks for taking the time to share your story with us and all the best to you and your family for the future.

I’ll be back on Thursday with some great stories from Queen Elizabeth’s second voyage and then we’ll have a special series of Blogs from Queen Mary 2. More news on that later, so cheers for now, Alastair

  1. Chris & Margaret Rose says:

    Hi Alistair,
    Once again a great blog.
    It is really great to read about the Star of the month,
    especially as Sancho probably does see many of the passengers.
    It is a testament to the great training programme within Cunard.
    Looking forward to hearing more about Queen Elizabeth,
    Very best regards

  2. Charmaine Attwood says:

    This is comments for Queen Elizabeth,
    My partner and I was on the Maiden voyage, will never pay over the odds again for a maiden voyage.
    We thought that it will be fireworks/ streamers or balloons or brilliant farewells from Southampton as well as other countries, apart from the band paying that was it at Southampton. the other countries were the same Cunard had not bothered to arrange anything!!
    Apart from the people following us in their boats at southampton which was brilliant of them, and drivers of vintage cars honking their horn at us in one of the counties, that was about it.
    The ship lovely inside not so pretty outside, some waiting staff not that friendly in the Lido- they need more customer care courses, dining room staff very good, although air conditioning was freezing and made us shiver continuously and our constant complaints were ignored a couple of night ate in the Lido to keep warm. which we did not want to do..
    Apart from that, it was very good, but still has a long way to go to compare with The QE2 service of those brilliant staff.

  3. Pam Towart says:

    It’s great to see more news from Queen Victoria – I’m looking forward to being on QV in March 2011 for the Panama Canal voyage, thanks Alastair.

  4. Kenneth Eden says:

    What a nice story on Sancho. It is nice to share memories of crew and staff, and to hear about their families as well. Cunard has so many loyal crew and staff members.

    Alastair, years ago cunard had a motto on travel posters etc “getting there is half the fun” – I think a new slogan for Cunard Line might be: CUNARD Nobody does it better!

  5. Beryl Moss says:

    Congratulations to Sancho on being Star of the Month. The 8th November is definitely in my diary as we will be joining Queen Mary 2 for the short cruise to Cherbourg and am very exited at seeing Queen Elizabeth again.

  6. Sarah Nicol says:

    Congratulations to Sancho! It is interesting to meet some of the crew who are behind the scenes. It must be hard to be separated from your children for long periods at a time, but thanks for sharing your happy times together! I love your dream = to provide for your children. All the best for the future for your whole family.
    from the Nicol family.

  7. R Guy says:

    Attwood makes various complaints then finishes “apart from that the maiden cruise was very good.” Why is there always someone who has to spoil such occasions!! Q E 2 which she praises is now ancient out of operation so why harp on about her? It really is pathetic. The other comments were all positive and well worth reading. Make sure she doesn’t join you on another maiden cruise whenever that happens!!!

  8. Tom Morgan and Ken Youngert says:

    Enjoyed meeting you at Oxfords in Soton and on board. The maiden voyage was really grand, although I too missed fireworks, but since we departed ports mostly in the daylight, that is understandable. We are going to be on board the Queen Elizabeth for the 13th of January departure from NY and are looking forward to the fireworks then. Thanks for the update on the QE web cam that I spoke to you about on board (I also sent an e-mail to Cunard here in the USA). In the meantime, I will be content with tracking the ship via a copy of the itinerary. Finally, re the comment about the QM2 being the “most famous ocean liner in the world”, I stil say that, for now, that title still remains with the QE2.

    All best. Looking forward to seeing you in January.

  9. Mary Bentley says:

    Hello Alistair. I have really enjoyed reading your blog over the past few weeks. Since the naming and maiden voyage of Queen Elizabeth I am now getting very excited about our trip in January for the 103 night world cruise. The holiday was booked well over a year ago and so has always seemed like a distant dream, but now is only a couple of months away.

    I am celebrating my retirement after working 37 years as a nurse in the NHS, and will be travelling with my husband Ben. This journey is taking a very similer route to the one he travelled on in 1977 on the royal yacht during the Queens siver jubilee year when he was a young RN sailor. It will therefore be a very special holiday for us both.

    Thankyou for giving us this insight to wet our appetite.

  10. Freddie Paynter says:

    Thanks for these great updates, Alastair.

    I would just like to know when will the rest of Queen Elizabeth’s virtual tour be up and running as I’m keen to see more of her public rooms and staterooms.

    Freddie Paynter.

  11. Olly owl says:

    Ask me what I thought about the maiden voyage More to follow.


  13. Olly owl says:

    Olly owl says the maiden voyage was fantastic.The service was excellent.The food was very good especially in the Veranda resturant.(whitch was superb).Nicholas Oldroyd was his usual efficient and charming self. The galley tour was a bonus and a success, all his fans from previous cruises appreciated it.

    more to come
    watch this space

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