April 19, 2011
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Updates
So why the title of this blog? Well as many of you will know, I am going on leave today as Queen Elizabeth returns to Southampton, marking the end of her Maiden World Voyage. But as guests and crew on board are aware, I am actually moving on and beginning a new chapter in my career, so today also marks the end of my time with Cunard and at sea. It has not been an easy decision, but after a career of sixteen years, I felt it was time to do something different. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on ships and it is without doubt a great life. But in my years at sea, the last five years with Cunard have definitely been the most special, and I will always consider it a privilege to have served on all four Cunard Queens.
As I write this, Queen Elizabeth is crossing a remarkably smooth Bay of Biscay, and I’m feeling quite emotional leaving behind what has been a wonderful life at sea, as well as some incredible friendships with both guests and colleagues. I’ve worked with so many talented and truly professional people, and looking back over the years you start to appreciate what a fantastic industry we are in and yes - you bet I’ll miss it.
What will I be doing? Well I’m certainly not in a position to retire quite yet! I came to sea from a background of acting and presenting and after a rest for a while; I am hoping to work in broadcasting.
Although I won’t be here, the blog will continue and on Thursday Cunard will post a new look blog, but to find out more you’ll have to wait until Thursday. It’s been an honour to host the blog for the last two and a half years and a pleasure to work with the team in Southampton. It’s been thrilling to see the following grow and now 300 blogs later it’s great to look back at all those stories and recount the wonderful people I’ve met along the way.
But before I leave, I have a final blog for you, celebrating some of the latest news from Queen Elizabeth’s World Voyage. Last week we held Queen Elizabeth’s first Country Fayre continuing the Cunard tradition. For those of you unfamiliar with the event, it is somewhat similar to an English Village Fete – but without the rain!
The Queens Room is converted in to a decorated room with stalls and people dress for the occasion; we even had our very own Pearly King and Queen. Harry Caldwell from the Isle of Man and Katie Ferro from Brisbane looked great as they helped us raise money for our World Voyage charities.
In fact it was Harry’s wife Irene who made the wonderful outfits, as well as the costumes for our Morris men, Geoff Care from Brentwood, Essex, Frank Hagland from North Mymms in Hertfordshire, and Brian Townsend from Weston Super Mare
The ship’s navigational simulator was also brought down and guests had the opportunity to be taught by First Officer Karl Shepherd and Third Officer Alastair Stamp, how to drive the ship, with varying degrees of success. Here they are teaching Queen Elizabeth’s Madrina, Dennie Farmer who told me later how she enjoyed being at the controls of the ship!
Amongst the attractions were the Human Fruit Machine, Chop the Carrot, Bottle Stall, Tombola, Guess the Weight of the Cake and many more including our very own Gypsy Rose, otherwise known as Helen Durkin!
What a great day it was and thanks to all the contributors, helpers and staff, lead by Freda Singleton and Thomas Quinones, the event raised nearly $5,000. It was one of the many events over the World Voyage and I’m pleased to announce that between all the charity events over the World Voyage our guests and crew raised nearly $40,000 which is fantastic. Yet again our thanks go to all those who have contributed money and time for some great causes.
Meanwhile there has been another World Voyage tradition that has been continued on Queen Elizabeth, and I’m delighted to introduce one of our Guests, who is on the World Voyage, to be a Guest Blogger:
For just over 10 years many World Voyage guests have become Ducklings. It all started on board QE2 in 2001 when Terry Waite and a few of his travelling companions decided that they should form an exclusive group that promotes having a good time, and from that day on many guests have been invited to become Ducklings.
Darwin, Australia was where it began when Terry was by himself ashore and met a fellow female passenger and enquired if she had seen any life in that part of the world, it turned out that she was an Australian and from that time on the Ducklings were born and became social friends. This social friendship has endured to this day as many of the first Ducklings have returned to be on the Maiden World Voyage on Queen Elizabeth today in 2011.
The name of the Ducklings came about by Terry and Valerie’s friends who had increased by that time were following Terry like little ducks, and a lady called Pam from Washington DC stated; “they are following Terry like little ducklings” when they were going ashore for another outing. The name stuck and since then the format of becoming a Ducklings has changed. Now the Ducklings have regular parties on World Voyages, some in staterooms on QE2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth and now mosty in public rooms such as on Queen Elizabeth’s Yacht Club and Hemispheres on Queen Victoria. The party groups sometime exceed 200 and each one has had entertainment that is sourced from guests with some added extras from the Ship’s staff.
Assisting others has been the priority of all Ducklings, whether it was in a time of need or just to have a good time off the ship a simple Quack Quack is the call of friendship.
Terry now called the Commander in Chief is assisted by Wing Commanders including James, Brian and myself, Will. On the present Queen Elizabeth World Voyage, many more have passed the initiation, culminating with Captain Christopher Wells becoming the 1000th Duckling in March 2011.
Captain Wells joins many other Captains including Captains Burgess, Wright, Bates, Wren, McNaught, and an Honourable Ducklings membership was recently bestowed to Commodore Warner on Queen Mary 2. Others to mention are Carol Marlow former CEO, and Peter Shanks the current CEO as well as many Deputy Captains, Chief Engineers, Hotel Managers, Entertainment Directors and other members of the three ship’s Senior Staff.
At the most recent Duckling party Captain Wells, Entertainment Director, Alastair Greener, Chief Engineer Colin Black and Deputy Captain Hamish Sunter gave all a rousing rendition of We’ll Meet Again.
What a finale to end the last Duckling party of the 2011 world cruise on Queen Elizabeth.
Thank you so much Will, for such a great blog and it was another great evening on the World Voyage showing the tremendous atmosphere on board. I hope you’ve started a trend and this will be the first of many blogs from our guests.
Now as promised some pictures from another Royal Rendezvous; this time when Queen Elizabeth met Queen Mary 2 in Civitavecchia, Italy and on this third meeting she got as close as she could, to her big sister;
What a lovely sight, but then I went as high as I could to get some views of our flagship from her new sister;
It’s funny but 103 days does fly by when you are enjoying yourself, and for our 780 guests who have completed the entire circumnavigation, it certainly has been a voyage of a lifetime. Memories are precious and I know we will all remember the experience for the rest of our lives; especially when it is a Maiden World Voyage. We gathered our Full World Voyage guests together for a special photo.
As I come to sign off on my final blog I am looking for the right words to express my feelings as I write my last paragraph. It’s a combination of sadness at leaving one life behind, and the fear, as well as the excitement of a new one around the corner. It’s difficult to describe our lives at sea because it is such a different lifestyle to anything else, but there is a unique camaraderie that I will definitely miss. I am often asked; “Which is your favourite ship?”, and that’s quite a question when you have worked on fifteen different ships. Although the Cunard Queens have definitely been the most special, I always tell people exactly what I feel; it’s the people on board that make a ship. This means the guests we have looked after over the years and the crew members who I now consider friends.
What makes Cunard so special is something you often hear people talking about on board, and that is the wonderful close knit family that exists between us and I know I have made many new lifelong friends. It’s impossible to mention everyone who has meant so much to me during my time with Cunard, but I would like to say thank you to the many who have inspired and supported me. One of those great friends is Amanda Reid and I wish her the very best as she takes over from me today.
I know that I will always be a Cunarder and maybe someday I’ll be back, but in the meantime thank you all for your kind comments and support since we started the blog. I am so grateful for all the wonderful support from Richard, Matt, Shelley, Lisa and Laura back in Southampton. They are now getting ready for a new look blog which is being launched on Thursday so make sure you log on then – I know I will! For now all I can say is, I will always be proud to say We Are Cunard. Cheers, Alastair