June 3, 2011
We Are Cunard
It’s Friday as I write this and I am approaching the end of a busy week at our offices in Southampton. As ever, days are filled with meetings and reviews with colleagues, pouring over numbers and at this time of year we are already focused what needs to be done for the year ahead in 2012. Seems strange to think that in a couple of weeks it will be the longest day and then the days start getting shorter as we head towards another winter. Still the summer lies ahead of us all. Just in case anybody thought our ships were full for the summer – we do still have some space on many of our voyages and we have seen strong interest in all of our markets around the world from those guests still looking to get away on a voyage this summer.
Queen Mary 2 is in Southampton today – so I could not resist going down to see the ship and find out how the last voyage went. I am pleased to report the ship’s company were in good spirit. The ship has just returned from Hamburg where she completed a very nice 6 night voyage from Hamburg up to Oslo, Stavanger and Copenhagen. We had a really good mix of different nationalities on board and the feedback from our guests was terrific. Today she sets off for New York – you know you can sense that when you go on board. Queen Mary 2 was built for the Transatlantic run – and on those runs she is at her very best, our guests and crew know what to expect, and there is always a sense of setting off on a journey. Having walked the ship, spent some time with our Hotel Manager John Duffy, I left the ship to go back to the office. Of course it would have been a lot more fun to stay on board and travel to New York – but I left that pleasure the the 2,600 lucky guests embarking.
One piece of news from Queen Mary 2 is how well our new 3D Cinema productions are doing. In particular the full 3D production of Carmen is proving a hit. We also show some previews from more animated productions like Toy Story 3. It can have quite an impression on people – have a look at this picture and see if you recognise anybody;
Well did you spot them? Yes, on a rare moment of time off, you can see three of our most valued Cunarders. Hotel Manager John Duffy, Captain Paul Wright and Entertainment Director Paul O’Loughlin. I am sure Captain Wright remembered to take of his 3D glasses before going back up to The Bridge.
Changing track – we had another moment in history to celebrate. On 27 May it was the 75th Anniversary of the first Transatlantic Crossing of Queen Mary from Southampton to New York in 1936. Now we don’t let opportunities like that pass by without a fuss. To talk you through what we did I am delighted to welcome Jackie Chase as a guest blogger. Jackie works in our North America Sales and Marketing Team;
Manager of Public Relations
Cunard Line, North America
On Friday 27 May, I had the privilege of representing Cunard Line aboard Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, to pay tribute to the legendary ocean liner on the 75th anniversary of her maiden Transatlantic Crossing from Southampton to New York in 1936. Enthusiastic well-wishers from all over the world joined the festivities and included maritime devotees and historians, former crew members and past guests of the iconic ship.
Also in attendance was a group of WWII squadron members, reunited for the first time since Queen Mary carried them across the North Atlantic during her service days as the Grey Ghost. I was honoured to meet one of these guests, Stuart Babcock of Hartford, Connecticut, who was with the 34th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron and sailed aboard a six-day Queen Mary Crossing on 21 March 1944 from New York’s Pier 90 to Glasgow, Scotland. Many people may not be aware of the significant contribution that these squadrons made during the war, flying alone and armed only with cameras, they were the eyes of the allied armies over every battlefield and played a critical role in aerial surveillance. Accompanied by his daughter, Susan, for the anniversary celebrations, he was visibly moved to be back on board the vessel for the first time since his journey during the war.
Guests from the United Kingdom included a group from the R.M.S. Queen Mary Association, based near Southampton, England. Retired Cunard Commodore Ronald Warwick, OBE FNI LLD is the president of the organisation whose mission it is to preserve the historical legacy of the beloved ship. During the reception, I met Mrs. Pat Adams, treasurer of the Association who was thrilled to spend the weekend aboard the ship for the festivities and sent along warm regards from Commodore Warwick.
To mark the occasion, I presented a commemorative print to John Thomas, Queen Mary’s historical consultant and master of ceremonies, that featured references to the ship’s dramatic impact on the 20th century – including Winston Churchill’s famous accolade about Cunard’s role in ending WWII one year early, due to Queen Mary’s transport of thousands of American troops between the United States and Great Britain.
Among the excerpts that I shared with guests:
“Queen Mary is an icon of the 20th century who shall forever remain one of the world’s most beloved ocean liners, and an enduring symbol of the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.”
“Since 1967, when Queen Mary retired to her new home in Long Beach, California, she has continued to fascinate visitors from all over the globe. She lives to bear witness to the revival of Cunard’s ocean liner renaissance with the advent of her namesake Queen Mary 2, which proudly carries on the company’s traditions, heritage and hallmarks made famous by Queen Mary.”
The team at Cunard’s office in Valencia, California are very fortunate to have Queen Mary in our own “backyard.” In recent years we have had the pleasure of collaborating with the iconic ship’s staff on two Cunard Royal Rendezvous’: first in 2006 during Queen Mary 2’s maiden call to Los Angeles, and this past March during one of Queen Victoria’s Americas calls to the city. It is thrilling to have the opportunity to walk the decks of Queen Mary where people from all walks of life have gone before, and to be a part of Cunard’s ongoing, living history.
Countless Cunard devotees agree and passionately carry on the company’s legacy as evidenced by the many guests who spent the weekend aboard Queen Mary for her anniversary events.
Well – these sort of events never fail to create special moments. In reading Jackie’s blog of the day I could not help being reminded of the special place Cunard Line has in history. To think that Stuart Babcock travelled on Queen Mary to support the war effort in 1944 and here he was 67 years later able to enjoy his special memories with his daughter Susan. Congratulations Mr Babcock Sir, and thank you so much for being part of the celebrations of such a very special ship.
That is all for now. Have a good weekend wherever you are reading this………