April 11, 2011
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Guest Stories
Many of you will know Amanda Reid very well from Queen Mary 2 as Social Hostess and Assistant Entertainment Director, and most recently as Entertainment Director on Queen Victoria. But how many of you knew her when she was a dancer on QE2 in the 1980’s?
In an exclusive interview I chatted to Amanda about her amazing Cunard career, and boy have things changed!
Amanda was born in Kent in the UK where she still lives, but has recently moved to a new house just outside Ashord, Kent. Amanda first started classical ballet classes at the age of four and after completing her academic schooling, she studied professional ballet in London for three years. Having passed her Advanced Classical Ballet exam and her teacher’s qualification, Amanda set out on a career of dance, performing in London, Barcelona and Jersey in the Channel Islands, as well as working with an English ballet company.
Amanda’s career at sea began when she joined QE2, where she was Dance Captain for twelve years, during which time she also enjoyed occasionally assisting as Social Hostess. As well as QE2, Amanda also danced on Cunard Countess, Cunard Princess, Vistafjord and Sagafjord where she was the assistant and right hand to singer, dancer and choreographer, Peter Gordeno.
When Peter Gordeno was invited to join another cruise line in 1990, Amanda joined him as Dance Captain until she decided to hang up her dancing shoes to become Social Hostess two years later. It wasn’t long before Amanda felt the tug of her Cunard roots. She returned to the Cunard family by joining Queen Mary 2 in May 2004 as Social Hostess, and within two years she was promoted to the position of Assistant Entertainment Director.
She was delighted to be a part of the Queen Victoria inaugural team, joining the ship at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy. Amanda was promoted to relief Entertainment Director in 2008, and last year, in April 2010, she became the permanent Entertainment Director on Queen Victoria.
I began my interview with Amanda by asking her how she feels after her first year in her role as permanent Entertainment Director:
It’s been a new chapter in my seafaring career with new challenges and responsibilities, and I’m really enjoying running the department, looking at ways of enhancing the Entertainment Programme for our guests.
When you were dancing could you have ever imagined where you would be now?
I was totally dedicated as a dancer and although I knew dancing was a short career, I didn’t really think about the future. I loved what I was doing and that’s where my focus was.
Tell us a bit about your days as a dancer and what it was like working on QE2 in 1980’s
In one sense the atmosphere was not that much different to now, with a tremendous team spirit amongst us working on board welcoming regular guests back time and time again. I worked with many different choreographers over the years so there was always a new challenge. Looking back it was so much fun and I still remember all those costumes, the hairstyles and even the routines!
I have fond memories of those days and I am still in touch with many of the girls, who have gone on to be wives, mothers and Maggie on the left hand side of this next picture, runs her own ballet school in Wales.
It’s great to look back and remember some of the routines that we did from the traditional, to this picture which shows a very modern space-age style:
In those days it was quite different being a dancer as we had so many other duties as well, which today are run by the Entertainment Staff, such as the Bingo, Horseracing and the Daily Tote, as well as socialising with the guests at cocktail parties. Here I am on my first contract with Staff Captain Alan Bennell, and fellow dancers Ruth and Carole.
Could you talk us through some of the changes in the on board Entertainment that you have seen during your career?
The Entertainment on board has become so much more sophisticated and elaborate. We worked in ballrooms without sets or scenery and the lighting was either on or off! I’m still in awe of the beautiful theatres we have on our new Queens. Behind the scenes on Queen Victoria we now have thirteen professional technicians, but back in the 80’s on QE2 it was one of the Cruise Staff who operated the rather basic sound and lights.
As a dancer we had to negotiate microphone cables and as you can see from this 1984 Daily Programme, we had to perform in both the Double Room for the Transatlantic Class passengers, and then later on the same night in the Queens Room for the First Class passengers;
There is so much more choice of activities today on our ships; who’d of thought back then that today we would be offering fencing classes and croquet! The actual theatres are where the main changes have taken place, with magnificent purpose built auditoriums with excellent views, amazing sound and lights and a stage that spans five decks……..we would never have thought that theatres like that could have been built on ships.
Some things haven’t changed such as being a mermaid at the traditional crossing the line ceremony! Here I am in 1989 in a great, but rather impractical, costume meaning I had to be carried in to position!
What have been some of the highlights during your career at sea?
I have been so lucky to meet quite a few members of the Royal Family, including, Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Princess Diana and then more recently at Queen Victoria’s naming, HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. It’s also been fun meeting so many stars and celebrities from Rod Stewart, Carly Simon, Pat Boone and Frankie Vaughan to George Burns, Mickey Rooney and Bob Monkhouse, to name but a few.
What does “We Are Cunard” mean to you?
I really enjoy the prestige of working on the most famous ocean liners in the world and being a part of the fantastic Cunard family.
What is your ideal way of relaxing when you are on leave?
Like many of us at sea, I like to do things that are probably considered by most to be mundane at home, such as driving, cooking and shopping. It’s also a great opportunity to catch up with family and friends as well as taking the time to go to the theatre.
Do you have any unfulfilled dreams?
To be quite honest I am really happy where I am at the moment. I love the business I am in and at heart I’m still a performer. I’m reminded by the lyrics from a Bob Fosse routine which probably best sums up how I feel;
I want be a dancing man, while I can,
I want leave my footsteps on the sands of time
even if I never leave a dime.
I’ll never be a millionaire, but I don’t care.
I’ll be rich as old king midas might have been,
at least until the tide comes in.
let other men build mighty nations and stairways to the sky.
I’ll leave a few creations, to show that I was dancing by.
I want to be free as any bird can be, yes sir-ee.
I want to leave my footsteps on the sands of time.
even if I never leave a dime.
A dancing man with footsteps of rhythm and rhyme.
What is your favourite quote and who said it?
Something that goes hand in hand with the job is always struggling to be slimmer, so I like the anonymous quote; “I would be happy with my weight – if I was eleven feet tall”! Then there is always the fun element of life itself and Bob Monkhouse summed it up beautifully by saying; “Growing old is compulsory but growing up is optional”.
Thank you Amanda for such a fantastic interview, and your candid reflection of your life at sea. I’ll be back on soon with the latest three Cunard Stars and more news from all three of our Queens. Cheers for now, Alastair