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Forever Cunard

We Lost 12 Goals to Nil – How Did That Happen…

March 5, 2012


Posted in: Forever Cunard

Hello All

Saturday afternoon, a London Veterans Field Hockey match against Maidenhead, in the pouring rain – and we lost 12-0. And given that I am the goalkeeper, you can imagine that this was not my finest hour. How on earth did that happen – well let’s rewind a week to last Saturday morning.

I checked in at Heathrow for the rather long journey to Australia. I go ‘down under’ each year at this time – an opportunity to see our ships on their World Voyages and to promote Cunard in the growing Australian market. I always find the outward journey not too much of a problem as I have a lot to look forward to. I travelled on a Qantas A380 – very good service, comfortable seat and happily none of the cracks in the wings that I was reading about in the press prior to boarding. I always choose the flight via Singapore that leaves Heathrow at 1100 – it means that you arrive in Sydney at 2030 in the evening and have the night to try to relax and recover. So that journey took care of last weekend – left on Saturday morning and arrived Sunday evening, the world is a big place.

I felt pretty good on Monday and spent the day in our Sydney office. We have a super team of people down in Australia – they look after many of the Carnival Corporation cruise lines and have done a terrific job growing Cunard in Australia. It was an interesting morning as the Australian Prime Minister was doing her best to win a vote of confidence – which she did. I spent the morning with the Sales and Marketing team hearing about our progress in Australia. Actually it was a breath of fresh air to be in an economy that is performing so well. GDP is running at 4%, unemployment is at just 5% and interest rates are up at 6%. As long as Australia continues to dig big holes in the ground and sell lots of valuable minerals and building materials to China – then Australia is set to continue to thrive. Their dollar is also very strong which means it’s a very good time for them to travel.

Captain Stubbing from Princess Cruises Love Boat was also in the office that day. I watched as he sang the famous Love Boat song to all the staff in the office. I decided not to sing to them – but that afternoon I ran through a series of presentations to update them on developments at Cunard Line and to thank them for all their efforts in supporting us. We have had wonderful success with the first ever Royal Circumnavigation of Australia on Queen Mary 2 – with over 1,400 Australians booked on that voyage. Many of you will have seen the extensive press coverage of Queen Mary 2 arriving in Sydney on Valentine’s Day where we carried out a successful surprise wedding proposal.

After a busy day in the office I retired to my hotel. I did put the shorts on and go for a walk down by the harbor – a great way to try and offset the jet-lag and the views in the harbor are exhilarating. Then it was early to bed as I had something to look forward to in the morning.

So then onto the big event that evening. On each world voyage we choose a special location and take all the full world voyagers out to dinner to thank them for going round the world with us. This year we had chosen Sydney Town Hall as the venue. After a drinks reception in the Queens Room – we all set off for dinner. The Town Hall was looking magnificent. I personally shook hands with each of our 700 world voyage guests as the Australian Youth Choir sang to welcome us.

Sydney are very proud of their Town Hall – it was built in 1889 – in my speech I mentioned that by then Cunard Line was already 49 years old. I could not help feeling how happy and healthy all the guests looked – well why not, they had been half way round the world with us. After an organ recital we enjoyed a great dinner – good camaraderie, many friends , dancing to a seriously ‘Big Band’ – and yes despite my clumsiness I did take to the dance floor with a wonderful lady who is currently on her 30th world voyage with Cunard Line.

It means a lot to our guests each year to take them out to dinner on the world voyage – it also reminds them just how spectacular the dining and White Star Service is on board – for as good a job as these land based venues do, they just can’t get close to what our wonderful ship’s company provide on board day in day out. But Sydney and the Town Hall looked after us famously.

My last task whilst on board was to deliver further good news to the Captain and his team. Each quarter we award ‘Ship of the Quarter’ to one of the ships in the fleet. This is based on how well they have looked after our guests, how well they have managed their costs and how smoothly the operation has run. And the winner was – Queen Elizabeth. Good for them.

Then, after a giving a presentation to 150 local Australian Travel Agents, it was time to set off to the airport for the rather long flight back home.

I really loved my time in Australia – even though it was a long way to go for a few days. The people there have a wonderfully positive attitude, the weather was warm, and Sydney Harbor was as awesome as ever. It was special to meet so many of the guests on their World Voyage as well as the many who are on shorter voyages with us. If you have not yet travelled to, from or around Australia with Cunard then I can’t recommend it highly enough. When you arrive or depart Sydney Harbor on a Cunard ship – it is a spine tingling experience. Next year, in early March, Queen Mary 2 will be doing her first ‘Around New Zealand’ voyage – 12 nights to and from Sydney and seeing the most beautiful parts of New Zealand. I plan to be on that one – New Zealand is a beautiful country and I just can’t imagine a better way of seeing all the best it has to offer whist having Queen Mary 2 as a home.

Do you know it takes 8 hours to fly from Sydney to Singapore, you jump off for an hour, and then it is 14 hours from Singapore to London – it is a very long and exhausting  journey but I found my week busy, tiring and at the same time inspiring.

So back to where I started – how on earth did a fine bunch of athletes like us lose our hockey match on Saturday 12-0. Well firstly the opposition were rather better than us. Secondly, and unusually for us, we played particularly badly. And thirdly – and this is my excuse – Australian jet lag is no good for my goalkeeping reflexes…..

I trust you are keeping well wherever you may be reading this.

Best Regards


  1. Robin Knight says:

    …and you managed to overlook the rain! We got off QE in Sydney Feb. 28 and then spent three nights in the city, flying back to UK on March 2/3 via Hong Kong. It never stopped raining while we were in Sydney – the BIG WET according to ABC.

  2. Michael Newe says:

    Now in German: ein ganz toller Bericht — congratulations! Michael

  3. Fran says:

    Love reading the blogs and seeing the photographs; as mynHusband and I are joining the QM2 in Singapore for the voyage back to Southampton.

    This is after a 3 weeks journey around Malaysia!

    Packing and raring to go next week! save us some sunshine please?



  4. Judith Sayers says:

    Great photo Peter. Very interesting blog. The flight back is definitely the worst thing! It took me 2 weeks to recover from that! Has put me off the long haul flights. Thats why we stick to Southampton!!

  5. Roger Waterfall says:

    Thank you for keeping us in touch with QM, very much enjoyed your blog Peter.

    Recommend that your team decide on a substitute keeper, before your return from NZ next year.

  6. Daniel Rönnqvist 12year Sweden says:

    It’s a great blog but I think it is a bit difficult to navigate at the new website.
    It´s a great foto on Queen Elizabeth 2 with the rainbow.

  7. Beryl Moss says:

    A great blog with fantastic photos and a short but interesting video. Shame about your hockey match but sometimes it just doesn’t come together. Never mid better luck next match.

  8. Robert - Hunter Valley says:

    Mr, Shanks comments on the wonderful Sydney Town Hall are most welcomed. For many years, earlier, the Town Hall was the centre of the cultural life of Sydney. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra, great Oratorios were formed, international concert artists performed and varied other events were the lifeblood of the Town Hall. It was a rumour, that if a certain key on the Town Hall organ was struck, then the grounds surrounding the Town Hall and the nearby underground railway station of Town Hall would implode. Todate, the rumour has not been activated. Next to the Town Hall is the impressive Church of England Cathedral. It and the Town Hall have been and still are, testimony to the ever broadening of the fine City of Sydney. Named after Lord Sydney, a statesman, who recognised the importance of the new colony, Capitol and City. We, in Australia, owe a massive debt of gratitude to a farsighted man of vision.

    As a regular passenger on the Cunard Line, in a cabin of interest (not the amusing number), it was appreciated to read Mr. Shanks joy at being in Sydney. It is becoming a tradition, for we Australians to travel abroad, on long voyages. Cunard is now being recognised as the Line of Discovery. A kindly crew, with an ironic appreciation of the Australian Way, Captains, who make one feel most welcome and who, are of themselves, MARINERS first and foremost and the sense of freedom and security always. One feels at home in Cunard.

    But there somebhing in the 2013 wind – The ASHES. Australia has a fine and distinguished hockey team. We, now, have a team of Cricketers, who shall ensure that the Golden Urn is returned to its rightful heritage – ‘ere – mate. bewdy and stone the crows.

  9. Peter Shanks says:

    Robert – nice comments thanks. But don’t be too over confident about the ashes. I am lucky enough to have tickets from the ballot for the Men’s Olympic Hockey Final – and GB versus Australia would be a wonderful thing. I think Australia may do well – if they make the final and GB don’t – then I will be cheering for Australia. Best Regards. Peter

  10. Sarah jones says:

    Thanks Peter , I I quickly met you on the QE in Sydney but did not have time to chat . I wanted to say what makes the QE SO special, is the fabulous and excellent crew. Thank you everyone, we will be back next year. Sarah Hamilton Jones

  11. Kay Fall says:

    I must agree with the person that said about the new site being difficult to navigate. I have always enjoyed catching up with the blogs (and the on board cameras) especially when I will shortly be joining one of these magnificent ships. Joining Queen Elizabeth in Singapore, just cannot seem to find the latest blogs anymore

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