November 27, 2012
Posted in: Cunard Ambassadors
When Cunard first contacted me earlier this year with the offer of taking part in the Ambassador programme I honestly wasn’t sure whether it might be a little too early in my retirement to accept.
I was told the opportunity existed on the three Cunard Liners on a particular designated voyage during the year. Since I had never set foot on Queen Elizabeth before and the sailing was in November in the warmer weather of Greek and Turkish waters, this was certainly my preference and the obvious choice! It was to be a 12 day voyage starting and finishing in Piraeus with only 1 day at sea therefore quite demanding for us guests!!
I actually met several previous guests I had sailed with before at the airport awaiting the flight out to Athens. They were probably more surprised to see me than I was to see them!
A beautiful warm and sunny day greeted us on landing in Athens and we were soon on our way to the port. It was indeed a busy day in Piraeus with all the cruise ship docks occupied. Queen Elizabeth was berthed at the new Passenger terminal and embarkation was smooth and fast although it did seem a little strange embarking via the passenger gangway rather than the crew gangway!
It was difficult to believe that this was my first time back on a ship in 16 months. After unpacking I made my way to the CWC Office to meet Eli and Hayley, Voyage Sales Specialist and CWC representatives. Actually Eli had been my secretary on Queen Victoria when I was Captain there. This time she was my boss J I was given a tour of the ship to see the differences to Queen Victoria and also met several previous shipmates on this early walkabout.
Queen Elizabeth is an absolutely beautiful vessel and the cleanliness and condition is first class in all respects.
We sailed on time on a lovely evening and I watched from my balcony which was definitely a change for me rather than from the Bridge!
The first morning in Mykonos I appeared on the TV show with Amanda the Entertainment Director to introduce myself to our guests for the voyage and explain the special benefits of this commemorative voyage.
Twelve days and nine ports later and I just can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. The weather has been fantastic, the outstanding service and friendliness of all staff has been remarked to me on so many occasions during my interaction with the guests.
I have always enjoyed hosting tables and it was so nice to be able to do this again albeit in a different role. Some of my table companions I had sailed with before and some not, but one thing for sure, at the end of dinner we had all made lots of new friends. On the first formal dinner we counted up the number of grandchildren produced by the nine of us – it came to 57 [29 girls and 28 boys]!! One couple, although I am not going to give their name, were responsible for 22!! Hopefully these offspring will all become Cunard guests in the future.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the wonderful food served. Perhaps I should point out that since retiring I have become predominantly vegetarian and I can assure you I certainly didn’t go hungry – there were always superb veggie choices.
One thing I think most Cunard guests really appreciate is the elegance of the formal evenings at the Captains welcome aboard parties and of course the CWC party. Even though this was a very port intensive itinerary and the days ashore were probably quite tiring, the formal evenings were thoroughly enjoyed by everyone I spoke to.
It never ceases to amaze me just what interesting people one can meet onboard a Cunard Liner. I hope she doesn’t mind me mentioning it but one lady on this voyage whom I have sailed with before, is actually in the Guinness book of records for tap dancing nearly 21 miles in 9 hours! Everybody has a story and Cunard might just attract the guests with the best ones!!
The Top Sailors for this voyage were the lovely Mr and Mrs Raymond Petitpren with 1913 days – to put that into perspective that’s over 5 years! They are the most delightful couple you could wish to meet and it was such a pleasure to dine with them. They have a fantastic sense of humour and you can guarantee that lots of laughing will be heard from any table they are invited to and of course many will know they are outstanding ballroom dancers. No 2 on the top sailors list this voyage are also both lovely people Ms Elizabeth Langton and Mr Frederick Holden with 1629 days [over 4 years!]. They joined the table too and it was great to catch up with all their news. They also invited me to their table in the Britannia one evening and I had a very enjoyable time with them – they are truly excellent hosts.
I met Captain Burgess early in the voyage and he told me I was welcome on the bridge any time I like. Of course I thanked him but think I spent enough of my life on the Bridge. He very kindly invited me to Dinner one evening and we shared a fantastic meal in the alternative dining area on the night of the Jasmine themed meal.
I have to say that everywhere on the ship I have experienced nothing other than first class service from those staff that have sailed with me before and those that have not. Morale amongst all the staff I came into contact with was extremely high and they all exhibited a real commitment to the Cunard product.
I also really enjoyed the sailaways and arrivals out on deck with the opportunity to talk to those guests who regularly were watching the manuevers coming in and out of port.
This was a fantastic itinerary and from what I could gather, was I think, one of the main reasons our first timers chose Queen Elizabeth but I am sure that in the future they will look for the Cunard Brand as well. I went ashore in nearly every port and have to say what an excellent itinerary this is with something for everyone. From the guests I spoke to, Santorini, Dubrovnik and Istanbul seem to be top of the favourites list. Personally I really enjoyed the delights of Corfu where I have been many times but never stepped ashore before. I heard lots of good feedback about the tours to Ephesus from Izmir.
With only one sea day there was a lot to pack in. First was my interview with Amanda in the Royal Court Theatre. I have known Amanda for many years going back to Cunard Countess and Princess. We talked about some of the more humorous episodes in my career and managed to raise some laughs! Next was the lunchtime Senior Officers Party in the Commodore Club. These parties are always very popular with the guests and Staff and I managed to catch up with several Diamond and Platinum guests who I had not met before. In the afternoon I attended the Wine tasting event for our Diamond and Platinum guests – I think they nearly all turned up for this very popular event. It was a first for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it and really did learn a lot from the very knowledgeable Sommeliers.
I am writing this blog on Eli’s computer in the CWC Office and looking out at the sights of Heraklion which is a maiden call for Queen Elizabeth. Unlike the sunny skies that we have experienced nearly every day of the voyage, today is mostly overcast and seems to be preparing us for disembarking and returning to the grey November days of the UK.
I would very much like to thank Cunard for this opportunity to sail on the superb Queen Elizabeth. I would also like to thank all the staff of Queen Elizabeth for making me so welcome and in particular Eli, Hayley and Laura [CWC Representatives] for assisting me so ably in carrying out the Ambassador role. It was also such a pleasure to meet both previous and new guests of Cunard, I am confident they really enjoyed both the ship and all the ports we visited.
Until the next voyage “I still am Cunard”
Captain Paul Wright [retired]