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Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2 at her best…

March 16, 2011

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Queen Mary 2, Updates

Today we have a guest blog from Peter Shanks, who recently spent time on Queen Mary 2 from Sydney to Auckland during her 2011 World Voyage. Peter shares with us just how special the ship and her experiences are:

 Guest Blog 

Peter Shanks 

President and Managing Director 

Cunard Line

I do so much enjoy spending time on Queen Mary 2. Over recent months understandably many of us at Cunard Line have been nurturing Queen Elizabeth into her new career at sea. Spending time back on Queen Mary 2 has firmly reminded me of just how special she is. I joined in Sydney, and I have already written about the very special service we had on board for Australian Veterans. Leaving Sydney we sailed to New Zealand, spending a day in Wellington and I write this as the sun sets and we will arrive in Auckland in the morning. I have just snapped the view from my balcony;

 
 

 

This leg of the voyage has become especially poignant following the tragic events in Christchurch. We were meant to sail into Christchurch but had to go to Wellington instead. There was a lot of compassion on board for Christchurch and rightly so. Whilst I was discussing with the Hotel Manager how we should start a collection for the Relief Appeal, one of the reception team came into the office to say that a guest was asking how they could donate to the appeal. So we were at one with our guests and we have since been collecting. On arrival into Wellington, and unbeknown to me , our Food and Beverage Team unloaded 5,000 bottles of water, and through the Port Agent arranged for it to be collected by HMS Canterbury to be taken down to Christchurch. I say unbeknown to me – I was aware we were looking at doing something – but the F&B Team know me well enough that they did not have to ask.

What a lovely city Wellington is. It was a Sunday and many people were out on the beautiful harbour front. I took the shuttle bus into town and sat down over a coffee with the local paper and read of the distressing events in Christchurch. I have always admired New Zealanders – I hate to admit it but they are very good at Rugby and for a nation so far away from everywhere – they are very resilient and very successful. As we sailed out of Wellington there was a full rainbow to the port side of Queen Mary 2 – and I had a strange sense of the power of nature, nature that can deliver tragic consequences through earthquakes and at the same time reveal it’s true beauty.

I had two reasons for being on Queen Mary 2 – not that I normally need reasons. Firstly to spend time with our guests and the Ship’s Company and secondly to walk every area of the ship in preparation for the refit we have coming up in November of this year. And over the last few days I have been reminded of many of the special things about Queen Mary 2– and I thought I should share them with you. So, in no particular order, here come of the special things about Queen Mary 2 that I have witnessed over the last few days…

Secret of the Library – Up on deck 8 forward you will find our Bookshop and Library with over 16,000 books in many languages. I came across a delightful Australian couple who had found the secret – four white leather chairs and sofas that have a panoramic view over the bow of Queen Mary 2– they looked so happy , so relaxed  – and told me so – marvellous.

Jazz – Walking past the refurbished Chart Room, a classy jazz quartet playing, dancing, laughter, clink of champagne glasses – a wonderful night out to match any jazz venue.

Hosting the Captain’s Table – I will let you in to a secret. I think the Senior Officers like me to host a table as it gives them a night off – and why not. I had a lovely table, delightful guests from around the world. Not many of us are lucky enough to sit in that seat, with three decks above us, surrounded by guests in black tie having a wonderful dinner. Let’s not forget just how awesome the Britannia Restaurant is on Queen Mary 2. It does not recreate how it used to be on ocean liners of the past – it is how it used to be only much, much better – it is the real thing and no other ship comes close (although her little sisters Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth are pretty cool too).

Lunch in the crew mess – I will always eat in the crew mess once when I visit the ships. Gives me a chance to be seen out and about, ask how things are and of course make sure that our crew are happy with their food. I think they are – there have been some real efforts by Chef and his team recently to add variety. Sometimes I will have the ‘sticky rice and salty beef, or ‘fried chicken’ – but this time I went down the European line and had Cottage Pie – it was fine.

Canyon Ranch – well it was a Sunday so I was allowed some time off. Six times round the deck (two miles) – and then time in the amazing Canyon Ranch indoor pools, Jacuzzis and steam rooms. I find that so relaxing and it is always good to experience just how good the Canyon Ranch Spa is. When you go into the shower, one of the team will rinse out and dry your trunks and when you approach your locker, miraculously a towel is laid out on the floor for you to stand on as you get dried and changed– nice touch.

Boy – are the deck areas in great shape – you see Queen Mary 2 is a proper Ocean Liner. When you walk around all the deck areas – you walk on real teak and you pass brightly painted white steel. Despite now being 7 years old – I would argue the external areas of Queen Mary 2 are in better shape than any ship at sea – and that is a credit to every member of the deck team. I asked Deputy Captain to briefly gather every member of the Deck Team the next morning – along with their supervising officers. I thanked them and shook each of their hands. In doing so I told them they should be proud keeping the most famous ship in the world in such great shape.

Regular coffee fixes – Coffee has moved on so much these days and on the ship Sir Samuels now offers proper coffee – either in a lovely china cup or in my case in a take away cup. No matter which way you take it – it is always served with a smile.

Queens Room – Picture the scene – 1,000 guests in formal dress, champagne all round, canapés and classical music. Commodore Warner introduces his Senior Officers and tells his joke (I have suggested he develops a 2nd joke but the one he has seems to work every time). I was able to say a few words of welcome. As I always do – I asked our guests to applaud our White Star Ship’s Company. I mentioned that we were – for our Ship’s Company – going the wrong way around the world with the clocks going back in time. So far we have lost 18 hours and 18 hours of sleep for our hard working staff. Good for our guests – they responded with warm applause for the staff – and the good news is that now we have reached New Zealand (which by the way is bloody miles from everywhere) – the clocks will start to go back the other way and they will get some extra rest.

It’s Sunday – so let’s go to Church – Commodore led a very nice service and the Theatre was quite full. Our thoughts were with those in New Zealand as we sailed along their shores, I read the lesson and it was a moving occasion – and we always feel better for a little prayer. Going to church on Sunday is something many people do and it’s rather nice to do so on Queen Mary 2 on a Sunday and if you like, you then go on to have a rather nice Sunday lunch – a perfect day.

Standing room only – we have recently started to give computer lessons on how to use Apple Macs, I-Pads and I-Phones. I popped down to see it – and was surprised to see every computer station full and many standing at the back of class. We are going to extend the area used for this. When you think of it – technology can be daunting. So to have the time and ability at sea to go to lessons is a great way of learning. The ship also now has Wifi service and full internet access so once you have mastered it you can try it for real. I wonder just how many emails have been sent that start with the words ‘ I am sending this email from Queen Mary 2 in the Pacific Ocean….’. We are all so used to fast internet access at home and at work we do have to remind guests that as we are in the middle of an ocean and at the mercy of satellites – they need a little more patience than usual.

I had forgotten about Tom Hanks – Well who else would you get to narrate the Planetarium shows. They are a fairly short 20 minutes – but to sit in a full size planetarium whist at sea listening to Tom Hanks tell you about outer space is something that has to be done.

We turned out the lights and – I spotted in the daily program that our Astronomer Lecturer was going to describe the night sky up on deck 13 at 2200 hours. So there were about 200 of us, it was a clear night, we were sailing about 25 miles off the New Zealand coast. The astronomer had a neat little green laser gun. As we waited for the deck lights to go off – we were not sure what we might see. When the lights went off – there was an audible gasp. We often talk of how Cunard delivers unique experiences – well I had happened across one of those moments. The night sky was incredible – I have never seen so many stars. The Milky Way stood out so clearly, we were asked to look at one star and it was clearly a bright red colour – I have never seen the colour of a star before. Then – to some surprise – the astronomer let out a shriek. He had seen a far away galaxy with the naked eye for the first time. We could all see it as a distant cloud – he told us the name which seemed to use every letter in the alphabet at least twice – and his evening was made. I stood back from the gathering – and made a note to remind as many people as I can as to the many special experiences on this fine ship.

Knackered and Proud – On arrival in Auckland, and after taking our 700 plus Full World Voyagers out for a special dinner, my time on Queen Mary 2 was over and ahead of me was a 27 hour journey back to Southampton. I had a really clear idea of what work we need to undertake in our November refit , I had really enjoyed spending time with so many of the ship’s company and of course meeting so many of our guests. But overall I had two overwhelming feelings. The first was one of being ‘knackered’ (British technical term for being rather tired). I had been away for Two weeks, Two Ship Visits, Two Queens in Sydney, Two World Voyage Dinners and One Earthquake. The other feeling was one of pride – pride in everything that the ship’s company on Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2 were doing to look after our guests. And if you would like to experience some of that pride, and some of those special moments – then please do come and sail with us – they happen every day , 365 days a year………….

Best Regards

Peter Shanks

 

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  1. Roger Hallett - Australia says:

    Queen Mary 2 – my favourite ship – sorry, ocean liner! First from Sydney to Southampton, then Fort Lauderdale to Sydney via Cape Horn. What a magnificent way to see spectacular sights around the world. My most memorable moment? Well, the whole day we took to transit from Cape Horn through the Beagle Channel and Magellan Straits to the Pacific Ocean – I will never forget it. My thanks to all the crew on QM2 for continuing to look after our ‘baby’.

  2. John Maclean says:

    Peter Shank’s blog was excellent and as astronomers we hope that we are having some astronomy lectures on our voyage from Hong Kong to Southampton starting on Friday!

  3. Pam Towart says:

    I’ve so been enjoying the Queen Mary 2 blogs & agree wholeheartedly she is a wonderful vessel with unique features (friends of mine have sailed on her in the Caribbean)but I really do prefer the smaller cruise ships which is why I will be on Queen Victoria this coming Friday – same wonderful Cunard ambience & commitment but on a scaled down size, perfect combination!

  4. Sarah Nicol says:

    I really enjoy the variety of news,events, places and people mentioned in all Cunard blogs.
    Peter’s latest from around New Zealand, though, was a great mix – from the ‘luxurious’ pleasures of shipboard life, to the compassion of people at sea for fellows on land, to the place of prayer in so many people’s lives, but appreciated particularly in difficult times, to the wonders of the starry sky far out at sea. I felt I was there with you looking up at the stars! Thank-you Peter!

    Sarah.

  5. Chris & Margaret Rose says:

    Hi Alastair,
    We have heard so much from Queen Elizabeth over recent months (rightly so as the newest Queen) but it is good to hear more from QM2.
    Peter Shank’s Blog just shows the “Team” Culture that exists in all the three Queens and indeed throughout Cunard.
    No wonder the White Star Service is legendary!
    Once again many thanks and we will look forward to updates on the QM2 refit in November.
    Very best regards

  6. Judith Sayers says:

    Peters Blog brings back so many memories. We too enjoyed the stargazing, we took binoculars which were very useful.The kindness and generosity of the guests and crew on Qm2 this trip has to be commended. We wish you all a safe journey home, after a holiday which you will remember always.

  7. Brenda Vessey says:

    Hi Peter, really enjoyed your blog, especially about looking at the start on deck 13 and the planaterium. Your balcony looks like an open balcony which is what we are after as we only have a sheltered balcony, can we have yours. We are looking forward to joining the QM2 on 25 March when we are celebrating a belated 50th wedding anniversary and my sister who is travelling with us is celebrating her 70th birthday.

  8. Gavin Tippet - Port Douglas Queensland says:

    Alastair
    Thankyou for so much for the morning TV show, I woke up each morning to you on the 2011 Queen Elizabeth world cruise.
    I am sorry to say that I am getting off in Singapore and I am very sorry that we never got to met.
    I have had an enjoyable cruise from Sydney to Singapore, just wishing I could have stayed on longer.
    Cunard will always have a place in my heart. To all the staff and crew I thankyou for a great and memorable trip that I will treasure for ever. The stateroom I was assigned to, could not have been better, lots THANKYOU,THANKYOU
    If you ever need somewhere to stay when in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia. Look me up.

  9. Michael Stubbs says:

    Nice to see the President’s comments on the Deck Team. Our son is the Marine Supervisor of the Queen Mary 2 and know that he and his team do a first class job, keeping the ship’s appearance immaculate.
    We are very proud of him.
    Michael and Joan Stubbs, Northwich, Cheshire

  10. Fred & Shirley Bernard says:

    Peter writes a great Blog!. Since QM2 is our home away from home, his descriptions of the various sections of the ship bring wonderful memories. Please send our warmest regards to entertainment director Ray Rouse.

  11. Martin says:

    I first had the pleasure of being onboard the steam tug William C Daldy on Auckland harbour to welcome the Queen Mary2 on her maiden arrival in our waters. Naturally I had my camera with me.

    So when I heard, with 2 days notice, that she would be entering my homeport of Wellington I was chuffed and managed to get even better photos of her.

    I hope this will not be the last time she pays us avisit.
    Please don’t leave it too long.

    many thanks

    Martin, Wellington, New Zealand

  12. d. siobhan hamilton says:

    Hello QM2 crew and Peter,
    Just de-barked in HKK after 19 days from Aukland on my first cruise. I had done no research beforehand…other than pics in the brochure about what sounded like a ‘nice’ ship with good lineage, on which to be initiated into cruising. I was accompanied by an 80+ close friend with restricted mobility, for whom we did acquire a QM2 wheelchair once on board.
    Well guys and gals, you have now committed me to at least another 3 years of weekly toil and mental exactitude…I need to stay working to feed a new soon-to-be addiction…Cruising. We were in what the airlines call ‘cattle class’ (internal cabin on Deck5) which is nothing of the sort of you’re aboard HRCM (Her Royal Cruising Majesty)QM2. Our room was spacious (eg the wardrobes!)well equipped, WITH adjustable aircon and so well located forward which suited my companion’s needs perfectly. No probs storing the folded up w/chair nightly at the end of a bed. Our steward Victoria was delightful and accomodating. My favourite haunts …dare I say them for fear of crowds??? were the Commodore and the Winter Garden…and yes also the Library. Occasionally I struggled to locate my friend in the “Coles Cafeteria”, (as we irreverent Aussies dubbed the open buffet areas which were truely v much more like a David Jones venue) as I was used to looking across heads to locate her very white locks. At a little shy of 60 myself, I think I contributed to lowering the average age of the cruisers, so I had to start my days by making mental note of what my friend was wearing for the day in anticipation of reconnecting for coffee. We also made use of the games areas along the sides of the RCT where I introduced her to and we engaged in several Rummikub battles! Sorry to those quiet jigsaw users for our occasional squeals of rebuke to each other.
    Yes the food was awful….awfully good that is, but any weight increase is purely self inflicted…the QM2 gym rivals my small one on land for equipment. However, God being the man he is, only put 24hrs in a day (give or take depending on direction of travel), and trying to fit in a gym visit with eating x3+, lecture/lessons x1 or 3, plus reading, plus meeting up with others plus shopping plus movie, plus dancing……… and clearly a restorative nanna-nap, actually getting to the gym is questionable. We were particularly impressed with the care taken by crew re embarking and disembarking for shore trips and the generally slick coach to dock arrangements. Again there were glitches at times, but I suspect these were more the result of local red tape where we were, than due to anything Cunard had done. (A bit of payback from the East to the West perhaps??)
    Yes there were a few whingers on board…the buffet food, too many people, pushy people, lengthy waits for shore excursions (that’s when folks self-identify as either a 1M (with either Money or Manners) or a 2M (Money plus Manners)…. and we did see a couple of areas for improvement which we listed on our feedback forms, but overall we had a most enjoyable trip, met some lovely people with interesting and inspiring tales to tell and while my friend is a seasoned cruiser, you have all certainly won us over. I think tho, I may have discovered a particular way to cruise that most suits me…. the Cunard way.
    Thanks to all crew involved in keeping the QM2 functioning so well….now I must get back to work and to saving till I see you again.
    Cheers, Siobhan

  13. Maiden Travellers says:

    QM2 has worked her magic. The legend now lives with us too.

  14. Maiden Travellers says:

    Wow ! Have never voyaged or blogged before and here I am !
    Boarded in a Fremantle blur, hot, crowded,unsure… Is this for us ?
    We first saw QM2 in 2010 when she sailed into Freo, we were up at dawn to watch ” the turn ” Missed it because there was no parking to be found, viewed her from atop the railway bridge, noticed that she dominated the skyscape whilst having an early morning coffee and thought ” what must it be like to be on board ? ”
    Family members had sailed out, we farewelled them from a terminal festooned in streamers, had exhausted ourselves trying to get ours to land on board and watched as they disappeared out through Freo heads. Would it be like that for us ?
    Well the terminal had not changed, nor had the throng of excited onlookers, but this time we were among those who crossed the gangway and ” stayed aboard “. Gone were the days when we could visit before sail away, and I did particularly miss the streamers. QM2 then became a parade up and down quiet carpeted stairs, through galleries of art and memorabilia to join lines of similarly silent Aussies in the Queen’s Room. It was impossible to process the setting, the decor, the sense of history or to get a real sense of what was just beginning. Efficiency in uniforms dominated our focus and we stole glimpses of what was to become our home for weeks ahead all the time thinking ” this can’t possibly be on a ship “

  15. Maiden Travellers says:

    Thinking of all on QM2 during the black out, look after each other and keep smiling you are well looked after.

  16. Maiden Travellers says:

    Bugs ! You say “Yuk” ! Life on board QM2 disconnected me from my usual observations of nature. I realised that other than those in Gavin’s lectures, the world of insects was not easily observable. I’m not a fanatic who loves all things crawly and indeed it is inappropriate for such beings to board the vessel. I did notice the moths who boarded and fluttered the deck after our Guam sailaway, they presumably were wafted out to sea as we gained speed. A lonely ant walked along my balcony rail after Na Trang and I did ask him how he got there and told him it was doubtful he would make it home. :) Oh and a fly in our cabin from Auckland and a solitary mozzie the entire voyage. Did not have to wear Rid
    ( Yay )
    But what was really special – as we were sailing into Singapore ( 2 hours from docking ) a beautiful butterfly fluttered at my eye level for a time as I watched over the balcony rail. It almost seemed to be welcoming us to it’s home.

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