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Cunard Celebrates The First Star Of The Year

March 10, 2011

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Ship's Company

As regular readers of this Blog know, we like to feature our Stars of the Month. This is the title awarded to just one crew member per ship each month following guest and crew feedback, and then consideration by our on board White Star Committees. A new initiative was introduced this year whereby all the Stars from the previous year would be considered for the title of Star of the Year. There was tremendous excitement as each ship put forward their candidate from the previous twelve months, and recently the company announced Cunard’s first Star of the Year, and I’ll tell you more about that after this week in Cunard’s history for the week of 10 to 16 March:

11 March 1921 Antonia is launched and is the first of six ships to begin with the letter A, because they were A Class liners.
11 March 1950 Caronia makes her maiden call to Palermo Italy – one of only two calls she ever made there
11 March 2007 Queen Mary 2 makes her maiden call to Dubai, UAE
15 March 2007 Cunard announces Queen Victoria’s first summer voyages
15 March 2008 Queen Victoria makes her maiden call at Laem Chabang for Bangkok
16 March 2007 Queen Mary 2 makes her maiden transit of the Suez Canal


I’m delighted to announce that out of all the candidates from our three ships, Mary Ann Austria on Queen Mary 2, has been awarded the title of Star of the Year for 2010. Here she is proudly holding her certificate. 


Mary Ann is from the Philippines and joined Cunard in September 2008 as a Housekeeping Utility, but was soon promoted to the position of Housekeeping Clerk. Mary Anne clearly impressed the management of Queen Mary 2, because during her second contract she became a Receptionist in the Purser’s Office. 

Before joining Cunard, Mary Ann worked for a prestigious hotel in Manila, where she worked her way up through the ranks. She started as a 3rd Cook before becoming a Switchboard Operator, and then eventually the Front Desk Supervisor. 

When the hotel closed she decided to join her husband, Joven, who had been working at sea since 2005. They have two sons, 13 year old Jomar and 7 year old Jan Benedict. 


Mary Ann was first nominated as Star of the Month, in August 2010, and this was her nomination by her colleagues in the Purser’s Office: 

Although Mary Ann has only worked with our team for a short while, she has already made a very positive impression. Her guest interaction is fabulous and she’s a committed, positive and energetic person. She’s eager to assist all guests and never hesitates to assist her colleagues. No task is ever too much for her, and she never says no to any guest request, and we feel she a valuable asset to Cunard

Here she is receiving her Star of the Month award last August, when Peter Shanks was also on board to present it with Captain Nick Bates, Chief Purser, Chantal Mooiman, and Executive Housekeeper, Colin Watson 


The Purser’s Desk is a very important part of the smooth running of a ship, and as you can probably imagine it requires a lot of hard work and patience. Mary Ann told me she normally starts at around 7:00am, and feels that the most important part of her job is greeting every guest with a smile, and then dealing with whatever query they have as best as she can. 

In her spare time, Mary Ann calls home as often as possible and said she loves going ashore and finding a Chinese Restaurant. When at home, time with her children is exceptionally valuable so she spends as much time with them as possible, and she also enjoys playing Badminton and Volleyball with them. 

I asked her how she found out about the award and she said: “My supervisor advised me that she had some good news for me. She informed me about the Star of the Year award and I couldn’t express my happiness. I hugged her and as soon as I had a break I called home to tell my family the good news. They were very proud of me and can’t wait to see me in March” 

She added that for her ‘We are Cunard’ means “That we are working as a team with the same goal to provide best service to our guests.” As for the future Mary Ann says she would like to continue to provide for her children and give them the best education possible for their future, and the cash reward she received as part of her prize, will help towards her new house for the family. 

David Stephenson, Queen Mary 2’s Hotel Manager, asked Mary Ann to join the White Star Meeting to present her with a bouquet of flowers from the Shipboard Committee, and to thank her on behalf of the Committee for all her hard work.  He takes up the story in this Guest Blog: 


 Guest Blog 

 David Stephenson 

 Hotel Manager 

 Queen Mary 2 



While Peter Shanks was onboard Queen Mary 2 for the World Voyage dinner, he used the occasion to make time to present Mary Ann Austria with her certificate as the Star of the Year 

Since learning of her award Mary Ann has had a busy time. Firstly the shipboard White Star Committee informed her of the accolade and presented her with a bouquet of flowers at the Ship’s White Star meeting. Here she is with Captain Paul Wright, Ruud Jansen, Chief Purser and myself: 


Then a few days later Mary Anne received her cash award at the ship’s monthly presentation ceremony and now finally the icing on the cake, to receive a certificate from the President and Managing Director.  


Mary Ann was quick to impress Peter Shanks with her warm smile, and her obvious pride in being nominated by her colleagues. 

Mary Ann has worked on Queen Mary 2 for three years and has made good progress in that time progressing to her current position of Receptionist in the Purser’s Office. She impressed the Shipboard Committee who nominated her for her cheerful disposition and her genuine desire to give all the guests she serves the “Best Possible Experience” and judging by the numbers of White Star Cards she receives, she is not only meeting that objective but exceeding it!  

Oh and by the way – In case you are wondering?  The Picture in the background is the Franconia by Stephen Card. 


Thank you David for that great Guest Blog, and of course congratulations again to Mary Ann, for winning such a prestigious award.  I’ll be back tomorrow with another Blog from Queen Victoria and news from her America’s Season from Guest Bloggers,  and then on Monday more news from Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden World Voyage with pictures from her overnight in Hong Kong. Cheers for now, Alastair 

  1. Jeff Towns says:

    I have never met her, but her smile and the picture of her with her family speaks volumes. I can easily see why she was nominated and won. Congratulations, and i will look for you next time I am on to congratulate you in person. All the very best.

  2. Rob Holloway says:

    Well done to Mary Ann and to the Cunard team for creating this award and encouraging its employees to particpate. Facors like these foster the hopes and ambitions of staff to motivate themselves and stay with Cunard in their employment. In the end run, all of us benefit as passengers, crew and staff.

  3. Sarah Nicol says:

    Congratulations to Mary Ann!
    Thinking of all on board QM2 in particular as I hear of the tsunami in the seas around Japan.
    I trust all is well with you, and as in New Zealand I am sure Cunard will do what they can to help.
    Thinking of you.


  4. Paula Moseley says:

    News of the earthquake is just coming through here in the UK. Thinking about everyone in japan at this time, but also to all on board QM2 as she sails close-by. I pray that the risk of tsunami does not affect you. Take care.

  5. Judith Sayers says:

    Well done Mary Ann. Its lovely to see the staff rewarded in this way. On a different topic, the tsunami,in Japan, I hope it is not too bouncy at sea for you all, will you have to re-route? Have a safe journey.

  6. Chris & Margaret Rose says:

    Hi Alistair,
    What amarvellous award for Mary Ann Austria.
    Not only to win the White Star award last August on QM2 but
    to be awarded the Star of the Year across all thre Queens is a fabulous
    It is also very fitting that Peter Shankswas on board both times to present her with the awards.
    This just goes to prove the great “teamwork” and ethics within Cunard on all three ships.
    Many congratulatios Mary Ann

  7. Margaret Tayler says:

    Hi Alistair

    Could you use tomorrow’s Blog to confirm all are okay on the Queens. Currently watching the news of the Earthquake in Japan & the Tsaunami which is spreading around the Pacific Ocean. Whilst on the recent Hawaiian cruise on QV the local Hawaiian people were saying they had been told their volcano could erupt at any time, which it did last weekend.

    I’m sure our good wishes and concerns go to all those affected.

  8. Ellen Steeves says:

    Has anyone heard how the Queen Mary 2 has made out with the earthquake?

  9. Beryl Moss says:

    Again reinterating some of the above comments hoping all are safe on both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth as they continue their world cruises. Well done Mary Ann on your award.

  10. Christina says:

    I’m very worried also due to my cousin is working on Queen Mary2.
    Is there any news about them? :(

  11. Maya Gomez says:

    For the latest information on the QM2 after the earthquake in Japan, you can check out the Cunard Line twitter page: http://twitter.com/cunardline. Latest tweet reports all is well on board.

  12. Christina says:

    News from Facebook!!!!:
    “Queen Mary 2 is en route to Nagasaki, all guests and crew on board are safe. The ship has limited internet access due to Japanese laws, we will keep this page up to date with any information we receive.”

    May God bless you all! Take care!

  13. Debra Dows says:

    Very worried about my daughter currently working on QM2.

    Hope everyone is safe.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the people of Japan x

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