May 6, 2011
We Are Cunard
Life seems to be getting back to normal here in England – with Easter, Bank Holidays and the Royal Wedding we have had so many days off work we don’t know if it’s the weekend or midweek. We have also had marvellous sunshine here for at least two weeks – that’s probably the summer done now. I am keen to involve more Cunarders in our Blog activity and today we have one of our Officers from Queen Victoria who recently interviewed our new Commodore Christopher Rynd. First up though – I wanted to share with you a fairly typical and interesting day in the life of a Cunard President………..
Pods at Heathrow….and a marvellous day on Queen Mary 2 in Hamburg
I mentioned that I was flying over to Hamburg earlier this week to spend the day on board Queen Mary 2 – it was a very good day and more of that in a minute. First, for those of our guests and bloggers who use Heathrow Terminal 5 – I wanted to share with you my first ‘Pod’ experience – and give you some useful advice. What on earth is a ‘Pod’ I hear you say. Well ever since they opened T5 – they have been preparing a driver-less Pod system to transport you to and from the T5 Business car park and T5 itself. They have had a lot of problems in getting it ready and I was looking forward to the day when they would be ready – and when I arrived at the car park at 0600 on Wednesday – it was working for the first time. So I parked and jumped out of the car ready for a new 21st century travel experience. This is what it looks like;
So in I get , the door closes , and a ‘Voice of God’ says – ‘We are now departing for Terminal 5′. Nothing happened. Then the same voice said ‘Any second now’. I smiled and sat in the motionless pod. Then ‘There will be a short delay’ – then we were off. It is electronic, does not drive on rails but more as a small car would – takes you up over the road and delivers you into the terminal. Actually it was impressive. As you travel, you are informed on a small screen that the pod has zero carbon emissions, needs half the power of the equivalent bus journey and will save over 50,000 bus journeys a year. This is good stuff, it was only 0610 and I was doing my bit for the environment.
Arriving in Hamburg and seeing Queen Mary 2 in the river in the heart of the city is always a great sight. I was there to announce our 2012 Cunard German programme and brochure. I was taken aback by the press reception up in The Atlantic Room on the ship – we had 36 journalists and 4 TV stations. We have a true love affair between Queen Mary 2 and Hamburg. The highlight of our news was not only that next year we would have all three of our ships visiting Germany, a wider range of voyages including departures from Hamburg and Kiel – but that on the 15th July next year we will have a Royal Rendezvous with both Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2 on the river in Hamburg for one of those very special occasions – Sehr Gut ! The reaction was tremendous and it’s another Cunard event for us all to look forward to – we expect many of our regular guests to book those voyages.
The day got even better when Paul, our Entertainment Director, took me down to Illuminations for a preview of our new 3D film performance. Wow – I have to admit I have not been to the cinema recently to watch a 3D film. On went the special Cunard glasses and I was amazed at the quality and the experience. First I saw a preview of Toy Story 3, then a snippet from the full theatre production of ‘Lord of the Dance’. It was as though we were watching it live – the perspective is incredible. Our plans are to show these, along with ‘Alice in Wonderland’ ‘Carmen’ and the new ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ through this summer. We already have our much admired Planetarium in Illuminations – but this will provide our guests with another unique experience.
I had time to catch up with Captain Paul Wright and with Hotel manager John Duffy. The recent Transatlantic voyage had gone very well – but as ever John was working on ways to improve our guest experience further. He has a wonderful way with the team on board – as does Paul Wright and we are fortunate to have their unequalled experience. It was only a brief visit, but I managed to say hello personally to around 30 of our crew and that – as always – was the part of the day I enjoyed the most. So I left the ship enthused – but wishing I was staying for longer.
So a good day – but then I landed back at Terminal 5 and set off to get in the ‘Pod’ back to the car. Problem – where was the entrance to the Pod? I could not see any signs anywhere. I went to level zero where the bus would normally have been before the world of Pods. No bus – they have been replaced by the Pod – and no signs. So I went up to level five where departures are – no sign of any pod and no sign of any signs. Tired, wanting to be at home – my idea of fun was not a one man tour of T5. Eventually, I found a man in a yellow jacket and asked him where the Pods are – I said ‘I can’t find them as there are no signs’. He responded with the wonderful line of ‘Ah yes Sir – we have not put up any signage yet’. Marvellous I thought – millions of pounds in building the Pods – but nobody thought of putting a sign up to tell you where they are.
So – to all of our guests and bloggers who may find themselves looking for the Pods I can let you into a well kept secret. When you arrive at T5, follow the exit signs to the car parks. Take the lift to the 2nd floor, as you come out of the lift (elevator for our North American friends), turn right and continue as far as you go and there you will discover ……a Pod !
Onto our interview with Commodore Rynd ;
Guest Computer Services Manager
Shortly after his appointment as Commodore for Cunard Line, I was able to sit down and talk with Commodore Christopher Rynd. He shares his insights of forty years of sea with all of us. Captain Rynd was born in New Zealand and grew up in Singapore, Sri Lanka, and in the islands of Fiji and Samoa of the tropical South Pacific.
When did you start working at sea?
My first day at sea was March 2, 1970 at the age of 17. It was horrible, the ship was small and we were in very rough seas. I could clearly smell oil and rust on the ship, and the ship’s movements were extreme. It was a very foreign environment.
Which ranks have you held?
I started off as a Junior 3rd officer, as in those days, we had Junior, Middle, and Senior 3rd officers on board. I have worked all of the ranks from Junior 3rd up to 1st, then Safety Officer, Deputy Captain, and Captain.
Which Cunard ships have you worked on?
I joined Cunard in 2005 when I took command of Queen Elizabeth 2, I have also served on both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. I took Queen Mary 2 on her Maiden World Voyage and attended Queen Victoria during her construction and sea trials and later proudly served as her master.
What is the biggest change now compared to when you started?
The biggest change is with electronic navigation, GPS, and Electronic Charts. It is much, much easier and safer now than in the pre-electronic age.
What additional duties do you have as Commodore?
I will be showing the flag at various events for Cunard, and helping maintain tradition and standards. My goal is to set the ultimate example not just for my ship, but for all of Cunard.
What does “We are Cunard” mean to you?
It means that all of us identify with the brand, and that while we have strong British signatures, we cater to guests of all nationalities. When any of us are at our position, we truly are in the spotlight, and we must exemplify the legendary tradition and excellence Cunard stands for.
What do you do when you are on leave?
I enjoy the domestic life for about two weeks. After that, I want to be outside–enjoying the natural environment for my recreation.
What advice would you give to new staff members at Cunard?
The most important thing is attitude, and our service credos illustrate what you can do with the right attitude.
What would you like to tell our guests?
I am pleased and proud to hold this role, and to serve you on the Most Famous Ocean Liners in the World.
That’s all for today – I hope you are keeping well and do let us have your comments and views of anything Cunard.