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Forever Cunard

Thank You John Duffy…

May 24, 2012


Posted in: Forever Cunard

Hello all, this week saw another very special day in the history of Cunard Line.  A much loved and respected Hotel Manager, John Duffy retired after almost 47 years of service at Cunard Line.  John is known and admired by many thousands of our guests and has worked alongside many thousands of colleagues.  He has served as Hotel Manager on the two most famous Ocean Liners in the World – Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2.  So it was important for us to see John off in some style.

On the last voyage, his colleagues on board organised two events.  The first – a tradition – was a farewell to John in the Crew Mess in front of the ship’s company.  The second was an event for all his senior officers held in the Atlantic Room.  It was an opportunity for all of his colleagues to bid a fond farewell to John.

Then in Southampton it was the day itself for John’s retirement.  We gathered in the Golden Lion – present were a number of the Senior Officers on board and many colleagues from our Office ashore who have worked with John for many years.  I thought I would share with you the brief speech that I gave:

On the occasion of your retirement from Cunard Line on the 22nd May 2012, all of us at Cunard pay tribute to your remarkable 46 years of service.

Throughout your career, you have been a credit to Cunard Line.  The way in which you have looked after our guests has been a shining example to all of those who have had the pleasure of working with you.  You have touched the lives of many thousands of guests and many thousands of colleagues.

You have shown tremendous leadership and rightly have served in a position of leadership on the most famous ocean liners in the world – notably on QE2 and Queen Mary 2.

On behalf of all of us at Cunard Line, thank you so much for all that you have contributed in your time with us – you will be missed but your spirit will live on amongst our guests and crew for years to come.

By way of a thank you – we would like you to take a round trip Transatlantic Crossing on Queen Mary 2.  But this time John you will experience the voyage as a guest – and we would like you to be accompanied both by your wife and son with our compliments.

I wish you all the best for a long, healthy and happy retirement – and please do make sure you stay in touch.

In addition to inviting John to sail with Cunard on a Transatlantic Crossing, I presented him with my personal gift which was a framed, signed picture of the QE2 sailing into New York with the twin towers in the background and Concorde flying above.  I mentioned that John had outlived those three famous icons, which in itself is quite some achievement.

Frank Prowse, our Senior HR Manager then read out a rather poetic ‘Ode to JD’:

John Duffy is a legend within Cunard

For 47 years he’s worked so hard

Sailing the seas with many thousands of guests

Always a professional dealing with their requests

Through Cunard’s many changes he’s remained so calm

Dealing with it all with knowledge, experience and charm

Among his greatest achievements were the years on QE2

That ship was an icon and he is too!

No one more deserves a well-earned rest

John, we’ll all miss you – you are the best!

We had one last surprise for John – after all he had asked me personally “not to make any fuss at all” for his retirement.  Some chance of that, when someone has 47 years of service we absolutely have to do the right thing in a respectful and emotional send off.

So we asked the crew to line the decks up on Deck 7.  All the Senior Officers stood to attention on the dockside and other colleagues and friends stood on the gangway.  Many of you will know that John hails from Liverpool and in fact one of the things he can look forward to in retirement is an Everton Football Club season ticket.  As John came out onto the gangway we played “Ferry Across the Mersey” and as he walked down the gangway the wonderful Queen Mary 2 whistle was sounded three times. 


Many handshakes and then John found his way into the Mercedes Limousine that we had organised to take him home.  One last Cunard touch – after 47 years we felt he deserved a very cold Gin and Tonic.  And sure enough our Hotel Manager Robbie Howie passed John his Gin and Tonic as he sat in the back of the car.  As the car drove off with the Queen Mary 2 whistle much in evidence John held his glass up to the window and the last words we heard him say were “Now that’s what I call White Star Service”…..

John – many thanks for a wonderful career at Cunard Line and I am sure many of our guests and colleagues wish you every success in a long, healthy and happy retirement.

Best regards,


  1. paul clayson says:

    John, we shall miss a familiar face when the Captain introduces his senior officers at the receptions. We have crossed the Atlantic many times on the QM2 and never one complaint. That speaks to your efficiency and dedication. Have a great and long retirement.
    Beryl & Paul Clayson
    Toronto, Canada

  2. Pam Towart says:

    Gosh – 47 years with the same company is a long long time & is certainly worthy of special recognition! I thought my husband’s 33 years with the same oil company was a lengthy stint but Mr. Duffy’s certainly tops that by far. (I do hope his retirement reward cruise trip will be in a lovely suite & not just a regular cabin……?).

  3. Rob says:

    Nice story. I continue to be impressed by how Cunard recognizes the senior team members who retire. Well done.

  4. Rory Stainton says:

    Best of luck you sailed for many years with my father Ray ( chief Pantry man ) QE11 and myself when I was in the galleys aboard the QE11 in the 80′s

  5. Bill Bradbury says:

    And people wonder why we regard Cunarders as a family. 47 yrs phew!!! Only sorry he has to watch Everton as I am a Liverpool supporter but he has bragging rites as they finished above us. Well done and thanks for ALL those to whom he gave a wonderful cruise.

  6. Judith Sayers says:

    We will miss you at the functions, well done for all your hard work, have a very happy trip as a guest with your family, and enjoy your retirement.

  7. Amanda Knibbs says:

    Mr Duffy – a man for whom a have the upmost respect and was always there to give his help and support when times got difficult. A well deserved retirement :)

  8. Norma Straw says:

    My husband and I enjoyed dining with him at his table on a Panama Cruise back in 1997. we were having such a nice time talking that we discovered it was after 11.00pm and everyone else in the dining room had left. He loved his shrimp cocktail as we discovered our table were the only one eating one at dinner. I hope he manages to find time to head to Silverstone for some race car racing.

  9. Michele Rando says:

    John will be sorely missed by passengers and crew alike. I can’t picture ‘Cunard ‘ without him.

    My family & I wish John and his family many blessings of good health & happiness.

    Michele Rando, Cunard Line- NY, 1972-1995

  10. John Fazio says:

    John, Best wishes for a happy, healty retirement. Thank you for making my 31 years of sailing on Cunards QE2/QM2 such a wonderful experience.

  11. Pascal Mencini says:

    A true Legend of Cunard Line. It was a pleasure working along side you for all those years on the QE2. The only thing I regret is not being able to be there to wish you all the best Mr. Duffy. Sorry for the formalities, but I do not think that I or anyone who had worked along side you could ever call you anything but Mr. Duffy. Wish you all the best and hope that happiness follows you throughout your retirement as it did throughout your career aboard the true Ocean Liners. Maybe now you will have time to tend to your garden!! ;-) Best Wishes!!

  12. Carmel Rogers says:

    Dear Mr Duffy,
    I am so happy that you were given a ‘good send off’. I would have loved to be there to wish you well. Enjoy your retirement and your transatlantic cruise. You deserve every minute.
    With great affection and many happy memories, all the very best.
    Carmel xxxx

  13. Charles Jackson says:

    John. We are so sorry to see you leave, you are a true gentleman, always ready to lend a helping hand to ‘your’ passengers. However, after forty seven years you deserve a long and happy retirement. Keep busy. We shall miss you

  14. Paul Cunane says:

    Yet again, another Liverpool Lad done well ! … Thanks for the happy times I’ve shared at your table … There’s no question about it ..you’re going to be missed ! not only by your colleagues but by guests too !.

  15. Alan Norman says:

    you have earned your retirement after an extraordinary career,well done to you best wishes to your family and hopefully we’ll meet again possibly at St.Marys now that we are back in business
    Alan and Pauline

  16. After serving the public for over 46 years, you certainly deserve a restful transatlantic cruise. We both have sailed many times on Cunard and we always were thankful for all of your effort in taking care of all the passengers on Cunard.

    Enjoy your retirement with your family.

  17. Our best wishes to you for 47 years of wonderful service to the passengers of the Cunard line. We have been on many Cunard cruises to Europe and the Caribbean islands and we will miss your attention to detail. Enjoy your retirement with your family. Irene and Joe Heuneman

  18. Gerald Morris says:

    Dear Mr. Duffy,
    We are so happy that we have had the opportunity to chat with you many times at Senior Officers Party’s and World Club receptions. We will miss your warm “welcome back”. Our sincerest best wishes for a happy retirement. It is a time to stop living at work and a time to start working at living. Enjoy every day.

    Gerald & Audrey Morris

  19. Gail Sackloff, OBE says:

    Mr Duffy,

    You are one in a million! and will be greatly missed.
    I am so honoured to have known you for so many years on my Cunard travels on QE2 and QM2 , I will miss you.

    Wishing you all the very best on your retirement.
    Thank you for everything John.

    Best wishes, Gail.

  20. Rob Holloway says:

    Mr Duffy.
    Forty seven years is an accomplishment to be proud of and with the same company.
    I was pleased to see you were given the ‘ White Star Service’ and i chuckled when I saw the Mercedes Limousine waiting for you.
    Well done, enjoy your retirement
    Cheers / Rob

  21. Rowan Sheppard says:

    What a great send off.
    I known my father (Dennis Sheppard) would have wanted to wish you all the very best for a well deserved retirement.

    Congratulations and best wishes
    Rowan & Andrea Sheppard

  22. Ken Smith says:

    Hello John,
    47 years ago I was a Printer on the “RMS Carinthia” and you had just signed on as a Junior Assistant Purser if I remember correctly, Jack Newman was chief printer.
    Enjoy your retirement.

  23. les royle says:

    To John: Enjoy the retirement my friend. We both worked for two of the oldest shipping companies in the UK – Elder Dempster & Cunard – I followed you from one to the other, although my tenure in Cunard was a paltry 7 years.

    As you will recall, we could never get you onboard QE2 in my day – too fond of the little white ships in the Caribbean, but I think it very fitting that such a fine , dedicated professional, should retire from the flagship of the Cunard fleet.

    As our old boss John Sawyer would’ve said – ‘ he’s from Liverpool, he’s born with sea-legs!’

    Never did convert you to the ‘red’ side of the city.



  24. nige lewis says:

    Thank you mr duffy,

    for all the hard work that you gave to people , you were first class and all the best to you …….. foreever

    mr nigel lewis

  25. Terry Foskett says:

    Thank you for your support over the years John when we worked together. Enjoy a well earned retirement and I wish you many future happy years with your family.

    Terry (QE2 Chief Purser 2002-2004)

  26. Bill Fulton says:

    One of natures true gentlemen. It was always a pleasure to travel on a Cunard liner when Mr Duffy was the Hotel Manager.

  27. Steve Ward says:

    Enjoy your retirement, John. You can relax now, knowing that you guided the QE2′s hotel department through countless updates, modernisations, policy changes, refits, storms (and a series of Alan Wicker programs….) and brought it out the other side even better than before.

    Best wishes

    Steve Ward (QE2 Finance Officer, 1988 – 2000)

  28. As Peter rightly said, you will be missed but certainly not forgotten. Congratulations and best wishes John for a long, happy, healthy and well deserved retirement.

    Best wishes

    Andy Fitzsimmons

  29. Guy Haywood says:

    What a fantastic achievement, ! Enjoy your retirement. !

  30. Colin Watson jnr says:

    I had the pleasure to work on board QE2. Thank you for that opportunity. Mr John Duffy is Cunard. I can only say that where do the ships end and john begin? They are a part of him and for that I am sad for him and I wish him all the best.

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