January 4, 2011
We Are Cunard
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