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Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth’s First Christmas

January 4, 2011

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Queen Elizabeth, Updates

As this is the first Blog of 2011, I’d like to wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year. It’s an exciting time on board our Queens as we prepare for our World Voyages, with Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria arriving in Southampton tomorrow morning. There’ll be a fireworks display to send our Queens off in style, as they set sail in tandem across the Atlantic to meet Queen Mary 2 in New York on 13 January, in what will certainly be another historic event for Cunard.

In this post I am taking you back to Christmas day on board our latest Cunarder, but before that I wanted to share a special moment with you. Just before Christmas there was a total lunar eclipse in the early hours of 21 December as the full moon set in the northwest horizon. The moon started entering the earth’s shadow at 3.32am local time and by 4.20am the darkened part of the moon seemed to acquire a reddish hue. This is due to red light from the sun filtering through the earth’s atmosphere and reaching the moon. The total phase of the eclipse lasted for about one hour and guests and crew aboard managed to get some great pictures before the clouds came in. This is an amazing compilation photo which was taken by Petar Petanac, Queen Elizabeth’s Chief Photographer, which shows the different phases of the eclipse.

Thanks Petar for that great photo; it was an amazing event to witness. Meanwhile a few days later heads turned back to the skies to see if a special guest was going to visit Queen Elizabeth on Christmas morning. Following the traditional Christmas Eve midnight services, Christmas morning started with early morning services and then the Captain’s Service of Lessons and Carols. The Royal Court Theatre was packed with guests who were in fine voice as members of the ships company read the lessons.  Then everyone headed for the Queens Room to see if the special guest was going to appear, and needless to say some of the younger children were beyond excited as everyone sang Christmas songs to help Santa Clause find his way.

Then we thought we saw something in the distance as we looked up to the funnel;

We weren’t too sure, but then by zooming in on the camera, there was Santa Clause showing us how impressive the Cunard funnel really is.

Fortunately this was all seen in the Queens Room through a link up with our cameras beaming pictures on to the large screen, at which point the gathered guests let out a huge cheer when they realised he was really here.

The question was whether he was going to fit down the funnel, so everyone was relieved to hear the funnel was elasticised so he could make it down safely! The camera tracked our special guest as he found his way around the ship to the Queens Room where he eventually took his seat and started to give gifts to all the youngsters on board.

The youth team did a great job in ensuring every child received a gift and the photographers were on hand to capture the moment. Not wanting to be left out some of the adults also posed for pictures on Santa’s knee. This same scene was also taking place on our other Queens, as you can see from this picture taken on Queen Victoria.

One very special Cunard tradition on Christmas Day is when the officers go to the crew mess rooms and serve Christmas lunch. The Officers on Queen Elizabeth came out in strength to serve on the buffet line to a delighted crew.

The mess rooms had been beautifully decorated including Christmas Crackers on the tables, with each crew member being served drinks. The atmosphere was great as officers also cleared the tables and it was great to see everyone enjoying the festivities. It was a real team effort and here you can see Queen Elizabeth’s Hotel Manager, Jacqui Hodgson taking her turn to clear tables.

Being a British ship we were delighted to be able to broadcast the Queen’s Christmas Day speech in the public rooms, which was followed by a Christmas Concert with Graham Wellard in the Queens Room, and the guests’ chosen movie, (they had voted for the Christmas day movie earlier in the voyage), White Christmas, in the Royal Court Theatre.

Of course food is a major element of the festive season and our galley team had their work cut out with all the extra events such as the Grand Afternoon High Tea. Under the direction of Executive Chef, Nicholas Oldroyd the team created a magnificent display in the middle of the Queens Room.

As usual their artistry was incredible, and for tea alone they made 2,000 mince pies and 24 large (20 inch) Christmas cakes; just look at these beautiful creations.

We then had a special event in the Royal Court Theatre. Earlier in the voyage guests had expressed an interest in forming a Guest Choral Group and before long Nick Wilkes from the Entertainment Staff teamed up with Pianist Dustin Turner and rehearsals began in earnest. The numbers grew and grew and by the time the performance day arrived there were over 90 of them in the choir. The performance began with a fantastic solo by 10 year old William Connellan from Oundle near Peterborough in England.

William, who goes to Laxton Junior School in Oundle, began singing on a cruise when he was just three years old. He sang the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City, and it set the tone for a superb performance by the Choral Group and the audience loved it, giving them a well deserved standing ovation.

That evening, guests were served the full traditional Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings and the statistics are amazing: 135 Suffolk Goose weighing 8lbs each, 1,600 kilos of Black Feathered Norfolk Turkey Breast and 300 kilos of Black Feathered Norfolk Turkey Boned and Rolled Leg Meat. Of course the meal had to include Christmas puddings and our Pastry Team made over 2,100 individual puddings!

The evening finished with a specially produced Christmas Show by one of our Guest Entertainers, Gary Williams, followed by a Christmas Ball and many other events around the ship. The crew from all departments worked incredibly hard as always to make the day special, and it was certainly a fabulous day with a tremendous festive atmosphere amongst our guests and crew.

I’ll bring you the New Year’s Eve photos from all three Queens next Monday but the next Blog will be on Thursday when I’ll post Deputy Captain Andrew Hall’s final instalment of Queen Victoria’s recent refit in Hamburg. Cheers for now, Alastair

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  1. Chris & Margaret Rose says:

    Happy New Year, Alistair.
    Cunard certainly captured the Christmas Spirit!!
    The pictures are awesome and as always everybody including the Officers and Crew must
    have thoroughly enjoyed the whole Christmas Season.
    The pictures of the eclipse are fantastic!
    Looking forward to meeting you in person when we join Queen Elizabeth in Fort Lauderdale.
    We can’t wait to escape the cold and miserable UK weather!!
    As always, very best regards

  2. Will Williford III says:

    Happy New Year to you, Alistair and to all of the Queen Elizabeth crew. We will be boarding QE in Los Angeles for two segments of the Maiden World Cruise. The Christmas pictures made us feel that we have to book a Christmas cruise next year. They were spectacular. Loved Santa up on the funnel and glad it was made of elastic so he could get down through it. Love all of your Blogs!!!!!!!!!
    Will Williford III

  3. Alex &Barbara Craig says:

    Happy New Year to all at Cunard, we look forward to our cruise in July the Queen Elizabeth looks fantastic, photos are fabulous espescially the eclipse must have been some sight to see especailly since we had lots of snow in Scotland Best wishes

  4. judith appleton says:

    What wonderful pictures and how great the ship looked. We will experience this Xmas 2011. We hope you all enjoy the world cruises. Happy |New Year to you all
    Judith and Bill Appleton

  5. Rob Holloway says:

    Happy New Year
    Great pictures and report on the festivities. Was impressed to hear of your tradition of a Christmas Service and of Lesson and Chorals on the three ships.

    Well Done

  6. Hello Alistair, The festivities looked wonderful and the catering displays were as ever impressive. It was good to see ths staff relaxing too. WAS THAT YOU IN THE SANTA SUITE?

    Ann and Eddy

  7. Elaine Bell says:

    My husband and I have been entertaining the possibility of spending Christmas and the New Year on one of the Cunard ships one year, and this account seals the deal for me! Looks like a wonderful time.

  8. Hi Alastair,
    Thank you for your latest update and all the ones we have viewed since the build commenced . We have arrived in Southampton and are looking forward to our World Cruise .We were last on QE 2 for her final World Cruise. Hope to meet you at some stage and hope that the new Queen will be as good as the old one.
    John Bermingham

  9. Sandra Tomlinson says:

    The ship looks truely amazing Alistair ! Cunard certainly do everything well. We had a fantastic time on the Queen Victoria last Feb (our first Cunard experience)and can’t wait to join the Queen Elizabeth in January 2012 as she sails from Southampton to Brisbane.

    Best wishes to you all.

    Sandra Tomlinson (Queensland – Australia )

  10. Trish Mellor says:

    Happy New Year Alistair! I’ve loved reading your blog about Christmas – we’re now recalling this time last year when we started our first ever world cruise on board Queen Victoria. If this years worldies have half as good a time as we had, they’ll be in for the most impressive time! We’ll be watching with interest and just a little envy! Trish & Mike [still missing your daily conundrum!]

  11. Trish Mellor says:

    Happy New Year Alistair! I’ve just read your super Christmas blog – fantastic! Your worldies will be arriving on board now – and we’re remembering our wonderful journey last year. If this year is just half as good as last, they’ll all be in for the most impressive time. We’ll be watching and reading with interest and just a little envy! Trish & Mike [still missing your daily conundrums!]

  12. Val McGovern says:

    Hi Alastair, We are getting excited about joining the Queen Elizabeth in LA on 29 January. Now we are into 2011 it doesn’t seem long till we are there. Unlike Chris and Margaret Rose we are in the middle of summer here in Western Australia so will be a little sorry to miss out on some of it (as indeed we did last year on the Queen Victoria) but being with Cunard more than makes up for this. See you soon. Val and Tom McGovern for Mandurah, Western Australia

  13. Kenneth Eden says:

    Absolutely wonderful shots, especially those wonderful cakes!

    The Victoria was beautifully decorated, thanks for sharing.

  14. Judith Sayers says:

    Excellent pictures again. What a lovely display of Christmas goodies, and the carols etc must have been wonderful for all there. Looking forward to our trips on Q.Victoria in April, and Q.Elizabeth in July. Happy New Year to all.

  15. Beryl Moss says:

    The eclipse photos are amazing – well done Petar. A Cunard Christmas aboard one of the Queens looks fantastic and it is great to see the tradition of the officers serving the crew. The skill of the chefs is amazing with all the cakes, pastries and much more that they produce. One Christmas we may realise a dream and spend Christmas and New Year aboard one of the Queens. In the meantime all the best to you all for 2011.

  16. Elaine and Robbie LESLIE says:

    Hi Alastair – Couldn’t understand why you were not on my TV this morning when I turned it on! then I realised – I was back home, having left you all yesterday at Southampton after our amazing Christmas and New Year Voyage. Oh how I wish we were back on board with you all.
    Just been reading the blog and it was really great to see all the photo’s attached, as one of the Choir members, even got to see myself.
    Please put some photo’s on of the departure from Southampton if possible and also when the three Queen’s are together in New York – my New Year’s resolution is to track the family around on their voyages until I return on board.
    Best Wishes to you and all the crew who make the experience of being a cunarder just wonderful.

  17. Kenneth Eden says:

    The pic of Santa/Father Christmas in the stack should be used for the next Cunard brochure featuring Holiday cruises. The pic is priceless!!!!!

  18. Dona J Chetelat says:

    Dear Alistar.

    These pictures are so beautiful. Many thanks for sending them to us. We want to know where you are and what you are doing so these messages are so very nice. We are so excited to sail on the Queen Victoria to Hawaii on January 30. We certainly hope to see you one of these days. Have a wonderful 2011. Love, Larree and Dona Chetelat

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