November 22, 2011
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Mary 2
Guest Blog: Mike Pearse, ITV News
This is the first time I have travelled on the ship since her fifth birthday trip around the UK. And first impressions are that standards are higher than ever and have not only been met but exceeded. From the moment you board the ship you are treated with first class service.
Staterooms are spotless and those who attend to you could not be more friendly. They are happy to bring you anything you require and nothing seems a fuss.
I am on this crossing to film some reports for ITV News in the UK. They will be broadcast next April as part of a series looking at how safety and travel from Southampton to New York by sea has changed over the years since the Titanic one hundred years ago.
Many of the fellow guests have been on QM2 many times before and they tell me they can’t wait to get underway. The safety drill over it is time to change for drinks and dinner. In the Britannia Restaurant we are greeted, just like everywhere else on this ship, with high quality service, smiles and a first class attitude. As ever our food and wine is what you would expect in a top London hotel and when one in our party asks for something not on the menu it is never any trouble. This ship has a very can do attitude you do not often experience even in many of our top dining places at home.
But this is just the start and I am pleased to report as we near the end of our trip things have not changed but got even better. Staff right around the ship maintain the highest standards and are a credit to Cunard.
The Master and officers have kept us fully informed all the way of our progress and the Captain’s Reception saw drinks and canapés of a mouth-watering standard. Captain Kevin Oprey took time to talk to guests and pose for photos and then spent far longer than I had expected talking with those who attended.
As the days have continued we have dined in Todd English and found the food exceptional. The staff were, as we have come to expect, expert in knowing what is on the menu. A nice added touch was meeting the chef who prepared our meal. The chicken and fish courses are to be recommended.
At every step of the way we have found standards maintained and exceeded. My uncle has a saying “keep it First Class” and it certainly has been that.
As for things to do on board the problem is fitting them into your busy schedule.
Eating plays a great part from the buffet breakfasts to full English, lunch at a number of venues to the formal evening meals food is one thing you can not fault.
Lectures have been extremely informative. From one about earthquakes and tsunamis by Dr. Keith Johnson to the work of the RNLI by Martin Woodward MBE, they have been well attended and liked by fellow guests. Classical performances by Kerenza Peacock and Alison Farr were brilliant and the vocals of David Shannon showed West End quality. We have also heard international band VIBZ and Roger McQuinn from the Byrds has been telling us about the history of the band.
Many varied films on board have entertained cinema goers but one very good event was the Bizet Opera Carmen in 3D. It was nothing short of brilliant and sure to be a big hit. Harry Potter is also being shown before we arrive in New York, again in 3D.
It was pleasing that we marked Remembrance Day both on November 11th, at 11am and with a special service on Sunday. Many of us on board were determined not to forget. We were allowed to remember with pride.
You have to mention the weather. It was a little rough during the first couple of days but soon became calm with a mostly moderate sea. A very good crossing for the time of year.
One could go on forever writing about every minute of every day but being on QM2 is something you have to experience. What is so impressive is how many people on board have been not once, or twice but six, seven or eight times. Some will only have a few hours in New York for lunch and return straight away. That is how much they love this ship.
Dining on the Captains table was a great end to our week at sea. A visit to the Bridge to hear the whistle blown at noon was also very exciting. Another visit was behind the scenes to the kitchens on board. It is a massive operation to cook and prepare so many meals and the planning is often done weeks in advance to make sure everything remains up to standard. By my maths an average crossing has 3,700 passengers and crew and totals some twelve thousand meals a day. It is a major challenge but one executed so well.
So to sum up this has been a trip which has seen Cunard keep up its exceptional service and standards. Cunard does keep it First Class and does rule the waves between Southampton, New York and the rest of the world.