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President’s Blog – Looking Back On A Vintage Year

December 31, 2010

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Updates

Just before I introduce this special President’s Blog, I would like to thank you for all your lovely comments about the Blogs and Vlogs during the year and for logging on as often as you do. It’s been an amazing year with over 134 posts and I would like to take the opportunity to thank our guest Bloggers and those who have been the subjects of some of the fascinating Blogs, for all your help in making it such a great year. Finally big thanks go to my colleagues on board, as well as the hard working team in Southampton, Richard, Matt, Shelley and Lisa for all their support.

Now it’s over to Peter Shanks as he looks back at Cunard in 2010


President’s Blog                           

Peter Shanks

President and Managing Director

Cunard Line

Well that was certainly an eventful year for Cunard Line. It’s always worth a slight pause at this time of year to reflect on the past 12 months and – in no particular order – I thought I would share my reflections with our bloggers.

Lots to do – that was top of mind as I drove down to Southampton for the first day back in the office after New Year last January. A new ship to complete and launch , a trip down under, our largest ever program to confirm and put on sale for 2011 and a sluggish economy that had not really shown us any green shoots.

A Float-Out – It was freezing when we arrived in Monfalcone for the float-out ceremony for Queen Elizabeth in early January. Would the ship float – that was the obvious question. Of course it did and as our Madrina smashed a bottle on the side of the ship and we saw the name ‘Queen Elizabeth’ for the first time I shivered. Not with cold as my wife had rightly persuaded me to buy a black presidential overcoat in the January Sales – no I shivered with emotion as it dawned upon me just how special Queen Elizabeth was going to be, no ordinary name, no ordinary ship.

Australian Welcome – February saw my first ever trip to Sydney to see both Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2. To support the National Breast Cancer Foundation we turned Queen Victoria pink in Sydney Harbour, I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge (you have to do it its fabulous) and both ships were so warmly welcomed by our Australian friends. There is something quite magical about one of our Queens in Sydney, surrounded by thousands of small boats – I can’t wait till our Two Queens event this coming February.

Archbishop Tutu – It was an honour for all of us to meet him as he spent three days with us sailing into Durban and Cape Town. He asked if he and his wife could stay an extra day to attend our World Voyage Dinner at a beautiful vineyard setting just below Table Mountain. He said grace for us at the dinner and I shall never forget the look on the faces of the local South African students who were looking after us at the dinner. We were in the presence of somebody very special. I shall never forget his delightful cheeky laugh and although he has since announced his retirement from public life, he and his family are welcome back on any of our ships whenever they would like.

The only way to cross – Who would have thought that during the Ash Cloud Crisis in Europe we returned to the glory days of old when an Ocean Liner was the only way to cross to New York. During the time the skies were shut we had a planned Queen Mary 2 sailing to New York – well we had a waitlist of 1,800 people. It was a reminder to us all of how special the crossing on Queen Mary 2 is – every cruiser has to do it – hopefully for many 2011 will be their year to cross.

A Presidential Crossing – In late May I travelled on Queen Mary 2 from New York to Southampton. It was a terrific experience. We me a wonderful chap onboard who was 101 years old, I listened to our guest guitarist from the famous Juilliard School of music – he told us that he actually taught George Benson to play the guitar. I lapped the ship each morning – three times round for a mile. I sang with a choir made up of our guests along with our conductor friend Anthony Inglis and his Orchestra. And – a highlight for me – I conducted the orchestra, in the Royal Court Theatre in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. 

I was so impressed by many of the guests I met and it was wonderful to hear how many of them had a link through their family to crossings on our previous Queens. I spent a very motivating day with a group of new staff as they went through the White Star Academy and it was a real pleasure to be at their graduation later in the voyage.

Building Queen Elizabeth was not plain sailing – As we went through the year we had some challenges, some questions as to whether the ambitious build timescales could be achieved, some setbacks, some interesting meetings at the ship yard – but we were all determined to make it. We had certainly prepared the world for her arrival and we knew we had to deliver to the very high expectations of our guests.

And then came 11 October – The naming of Queen Elizabeth by Her Majesty The Queen was a very special day for us all. The sun shone, Her Majesty put everybody at ease, our Ceremony made most present cry and the word I heard most during the day was ‘pride’. Pride in Britain, Pride in Her Majesty and for me, Pride in every member of the ship’s company who had worked so hard to prepare the ship. There are some moving videos on YouTube for anybody who has not yet seen the moment – yes the moment that Her Majesty sat up and giggled with Pride as we reminded her that she was the only person to be present at the naming of our three Elizabeths in 1938, 1967 and 2010.

The proudest moment of my own year was being able to present my wife to Her Majesty as she toured the ship. It was also very important that so many of the ship’s company were able to see Her Majesty as we walked through the ship – especially to see Her Majesty smile so beautifully.

A step change for Cunard Line – From 11 October we had the youngest fleet in the world of cruising and we now have the widest range of holiday options we have ever been able to offer our guests. The world noticed our launch and we went through a sustained period for the rest of 2010 where our sales were twice that of the previous year and that gives us tremendous confidence as we look ahead to 2011.

So what lies ahead in 2011 – Well when I drive down to Southampton next week to start a new year I am very excited at the year that lies ahead. Three Queens in New York, Two Queens in Sydney and the opportunity to work with and lead a fantastic group of people within Cunard. It is the people in our company – especially the ship’s company on each of our Queens that make Cunard very special. We have many new people in the company now that we have three ships. Our challenge in the year ahead is to make sure we give our valued guests the experience they are expecting.  I will be working my socks off to make sure we keep Cunard every bit as special as our guests expect.

I had a lovely email from a guest this morning. They had just returned from a voyage on Queen Mary 2. It was quite a tough voyage as many had missed flights due to poor weather at UK and US airports, but this couple had taken the time to write to me. In their email they said something remarkable – and something that will remind me and all of us who work for Cunard Line what really matters. They said;

For 50 weeks of the year we are a very ordinary couple living uneventful lives, for 2 weeks Cunard made us feel very special. Thank you Cunard and we are already looking forward to our next cruise’


So as we head towards 2011 our task is simple – to make our guests feel special. I hope that you have had a restful holiday period and on behalf of all of us at Cunard Line may I wish you a healthy, happy and successful 2011.

We hope to see you on board soon!

Best Regards


Peter Shanks

President and Managing Director

Thank you Peter, and yes what an incredible year it has been. I’ll post pictures from Queen Elizabeth’s first Christmas Day on Tuesday and then as promised there’ll be Deputy Captain Andrew Hall’s final instalment of Queen Victoria’s recent refit in Hamburg.

All it leaves me to say is from all of us at We Are Cunard, we wish you a very Happy New Year. Alastair

  1. Chris & Margaret Rose says:

    Hi Alistair,
    It us again!
    What a fantastic blog from Peter Shanks, it certainly has been a fabulous and very special year for him personally and all at Cunard.
    We can certainly endorse the comments regarding feeling so special on one of the Queens.
    To celebrate my 60th in 2009 I fulfilled a lifelong ambition to sail across the Atlantic as my Grandfather had once done on the old Mauretania.
    It erxceeding my wildest dreams and will never be forgotten.
    As I write this I can look at a scale model of the Queen Mary 2 purchased on board to remind me!!
    So to 2011 when my wife and I will join Queen Elizabeth in Florida to sail through the Panama Canal, one of my wife’s lifetime ambitions.
    I am sure we once again will feel very special and look forward to meeting you personally.

    I trust Peter will get his bottle of Australian Wine when he gets to Sydney as we have now, at least, retained the Ashes!!

    Once again a very happy new year to you all.

  2. Louise Hopkins says:

    Just 16 days until I board the Queen Elizabeth in Ft Lauderdale for a trip around the world. I can hardly wait nor believe that I am going to get to do this! A trip of a lifetime and a dream of a lifetime!!! And I don’t think I could be doing it in any better way! Thank you for all you do to make dreams come true!

  3. tony mac says:

    As a collectr of every thing Cunard and a old seadog (Medina/Parthia) i am very proud of the presant Cunardand as President and managing director you must be to.

  4. Happy New Year Alistair, thanks for the ongoing updates. We are in hibernation at the moment but are looking forward to our Summer cruise on the Queeen Victoria. Hope you and all of the crews have a fantastic Christmas and New Year wherever they are in the world. Take care Eddy and Ann

  5. Kenneth Eden says:

    MSNBC, a major relevision network herein the States, an affiliate of NBC, just showed the Cunard float for the Rose Bowl Parade and IT IS GORGEOUS, just like the three ships.

    The parade will be shown in 127 countries, they say worldwide, like it could be 127 countries other than in our world. About 1 billion alone will view it in China.

    Happy New Year Peter, and to Alastair, and all woth Cunard.

  6. Robert - Hunter Valley says:

    It is now Saturday, 1st January, 2011 – 3.30 p.m. Very warm.

    From all in the Hunter Valley, a very rewarding and satisfying New Year to the Chairman and his staff, with especial reference to Alastair and his most obliging Staff.

  7. DORIS says:

    I took my 7th cruise this summer. My room was placed around families with young children, I was awaken every morning at 7am, they stood outside my cabin door having loud conversations. Why do you not have an area on the ship for couples with no children? Yes, I reported this stituation, but it was not resolved until I opened my door, after may mornings of being awaken, and told them, in a loud voice, to wait in their room and not in the hallway. I had previously spoken to adults of the family early in the week, to no avail. I many several reports to the burser’s desk.

  8. Joseph Kyle says:

    Enjoyed the post and feel even a very loyal Carnival Cruiser should try out on a Cunard cruise. It is a shame my platinum standing has no bearing and I would have to cruise Cunard as a 1st time cruiser.

  9. Kenneth Eden says:

    Just saw the float minutes ago, and it was gorgeous. Very cleverly a mini version of the Queens Room, applicable to all three Cunard ships, complete with one chandelier, all covered in florals and such, even bell boys in Cunardia red,, and pill box hats, paraded about the float, and dancers were on the “Queens Room” dance floor, a floor of crushed and set in walnut shells.

    Incidently, the float won the QUEENS TROPHY – how fitting!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Kevin says:

    I wish I could say I am impressed by Cunard and Mr. Shanks but I am not. A President who seems to still be finding his own footing in a Carnival brand that is for all intensive purposes being governed by the Carnival accountants. And while that might not be a bad thing I suggest he look at the feedback on various forums and read the questionable level of satisfaction at the Cunard brand. Expectations and the product delivered are missing each other.

  11. Pam Towart says:

    Thank you Mr. Shanks for your very timely & interesting news update, (not withstanding the lovely photos!). Following the blogs for several months in 2010 I am always impressed by the pride you take in your job & your pride in Cunard which is very encouraging for those of us anticipating upcoming voyages.

  12. Barney Simonsen says:

    Congratulations on your Rose Parage float. It was well done and appropriately won the Queen’s
    Award! We will see you in two weeks aboard the Queen Elizabeth when we board in New York.


  13. Don Wilson says:

    Enjoyed your blog entry. It sounds like a neat ship, my best wishes for a New Year from Dallas, TX.


  14. Jeff Towns says:

    What’s up with “Deputy” Captain and “Deputy” Engineer? I prefer the good old “Staff.”

  15. Judith Sayers says:

    I can echo that couples comments about being made to feel special. In addition it is lovely to be able to know that when you dress up for an evening, everyone else will be doing so too. Much better than making the effort at home and getting to the function to find that others are dressed in T shirts and jeans, and you feel overdressed!(Even in elegant casual!!)We met a couple on our last cruise who said they had switched to Cunard because another cruise line had down-graded the dress code.Keep up the standards, and that way we will always feel special. Happy New Year to all, see you soon.

  16. Daryl Cooper says:

    Happy New Year Alistair and happy days on the first of many world cruises aboard “Queen Elizabeth”. Regretably after almost 3 months of sailing the “I.T.” department STILL haven’t got the “Bridge Cam” on”Queen Elizabeth” functioning. As I posted a month ago if the other “Cunarders” have “got it” why not the new one. Have they not heard of cut & paste.I have now gone to Live Ships Map where I can source the 3 Queens. Hope it is all fixed by Sydney February 22! Catch up with you in Sydney!

  17. Louise Cooper says:

    Hi Daryl
    The Queen Elizabeth cam is working! There are new maps too so you can track the itineraries :) Try refreshing the page or deleting cookies?

  18. Daryl Cooper says:

    Hi Alistair, I do not want to get into a “slagging match” with an interesrted “bloger” in this instance Louise Cooper, no relation,and this will be my last comment on the matter but her comments of 5/1/2011@ 6.10 pm are incorrdect andI continue to assert the “bridge-cam” on “Queen Elizabeth is NOT working/functioning in the same manner as it is on the other 2 “Queens”. today at 10:30 a.m. Queensland time, which would be 0:30 U.K time when I checked on the position of the 3 “queens’ this was the result:
    qm2 @ 20:34 6/1/11 “alongside @ St.thomas,with clear picture in daylight.
    qv @ 10:53 6/1/11 “at sea bound for new york” clear daylight picture
    qe @ 20:32:27 6/1/11 absolutely no location details given nor any map markers and an almost black picture yet it is supposed to be travelling in tandem with “Queen Victoria”.
    I rest my case that the Queen Elizabeth bridge cam is not functioning like the other “Queens”! even with “Cookies” removed and refresh button operating. No further comment!

  19. Richard says:

    Hi! we watched you go past us from the isles of scilly on our AIS and out of interest I’ve checked the webcams a few time each day, Cams are working fine as long as you hit the reload button each time, also Queen Mary 2 seems to turn of the cam when she’s docked? its a shame, it would be nice to see whats going on around her.
    P.s a live cam would be nice, like this one http://scillywebcam3.viewnetcam.com/CgiStart?page=Single&Language=0

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