August 30, 2013
Posted in: Cunard Ambassadors
In June, Queen Victoria embarked on her 2013 Cunard World Club voyage to Russia and the Baltic. We were joined on board by Maureen Ryan, former Social Hostess and Cunard World Club Ambassador, who kept a diary of her time with us…
Saturday 1 June
The sun was shining, a light breeze across the water, when I joined ‘Queen Victoria’ in Southampton as Cunard World Club Ambassador for the first CWC voyage of 2013. Commemorative Cunard World Club pins had been placed in all members staterooms, together with a letter from Captain Olsen. The ship looked immaculate and everyone, from the moment of entering the embarkation lounge, was so welcoming. I had lunch in the Lido, where many crew whom I had known over the years of working on the ships, came up to say hello, and it was lovely to see Anna Koster and to meet Dragana Prodanovic-Kriebb, the Voyage Sales Specialists. The Boat Drill was followed by the Sail Away Party – the weather was perfect for sailing down Southampton Water. The decks were full, glasses clinking, some guests dancing. I bumped into a colleague from Queen Mary 2, Ed Moffat, now Queen Victoria’s Entertainment Director. At dinner I was seated with Mrs Rita Worth and Mr Alf Haslem, two world cruise guests, besides others, some of whom had travelled from the United States to join the voyage. Ed Moffat did a good job with the Welcome Aboard show, giving us a taster of the artists who would be performing later in the cruise.
Sunday, 2 June
Captain Inger Klein Olsen conducted an Interdenominational Service – the Royal Court Theatre was full – a lovely Cunard tradition every Sunday at sea. I then went to meet the guests at the Sailing Solos get-together and among many others, spoke with Alison Jordan, Betty Harris and Pat Tilbury. The Social Hostess, Lauren Jones, organises a great programme for Solos on Queen Victoria, including coffee mornings, and lunches on days at sea. A sunny day and many guests took to the decks. The Captain held three Welcome Aboard Receptions, this being a great opportunity to meet many guests, including Peter and Klaaje Boult. Some faces I recognised from QE2, including Mr and Mrs Gray and Mr and Mrs Hinton. I hosted a table at dinner and lovely to welcome, among others, Mr and Mrs Douglas Jackson. Later, Alan Stewart kept everyone very amused with his show in the Royal Court Theatre.
Monday 3 June
This morning I was invited to be a guest on the TV Morning Show, hosted by Ed Moffat where I chatted about the Cunard World Club, and my role on board. Another sunny day – many guests were out on deck enjoying the sun and deck sports. At the Solos meeting I had an interesting chat with Alice from New York, and during the afternoon went to the Hostess Corner, taking my counted cross stitch! Stitchers, knitters, among others, gather for some social chat and relax with their piece of work. At dinner, it was great to see Pat Tilbury and Edward Fox join my table. Claire Langan (flautist) gave a terrific performance to packed audiences this evening.
Tuesday 4 June
Another lovely day at sea. The dance class, Salsa, given by Dan and Olena was excellent, the Queens Room was packed. The guests are now getting excited about reaching our first port tomorrow, Stockholm. I had an enjoyable lunch sharing a table with Mr and Mrs Portman and Mr and Mrs Kinniburgh. This evening I hosted a lively table, welcoming Mr and Mrs Joseph, Catherine Hinton, Mr and Mrs Gerald and Eunice Wicks. Afterwards some of us drifted to the Masquerade Ball – the floor was full with masked couples, dancing to the Queens Room Orchestra, with the lovely Paul Ritchie (vocalist) who I’ve known for many years.
Wednesday 5 June
Everyone was up and about really early to see our entry into Stockholm and very soon the guests were disembarking. I escorted a lovely tour ‘Highlights of Stockholm,’ during which we visited the City Hall, seeing the Blue Hall where the Nobel festivities are held. Lovely to see Mr and Mrs Arnold and Jill Marlow on my tour bus. I enjoyed dinner with a great group of guests, including Mrs Cherrie Newman.
Thursday 6 June
Helsinki today – a wonderful city. In the Daily Programme there was a notice advising ‘Solos’ that if they wished to meet up to go ashore, anyone interested to rendez-vous at the Golden Lion Pub – what a great idea! I was escorting the tour ‘Highlights of Helsinki’ which included a visit to the Rock Church. The show in the Royal Court Theatre that night was ‘Celtic Heartbeat ‘– much enjoyed.
Friday 7 June
This morning we arrived in St Petersburg. Everyone was so excited about the visit and we were not disappointed. We saw so much of the beauty of the city on our tour, ‘Picturesque St Petersburg’, which included a visit to the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood, and a boat ride on the River Neva, where I feel the sights are seen at their best, including the battleship Aurora. In the evening I escorted a tour to the Hermitage Museum, a special occasion to visit without crowds, an opportunity to view many works, followed by a concert, given by the State Symphony Orchestra of St Petersburg and a champagne reception. We also witnessed the White Nights, so called because of the long periods of daylight at this time of year.
Saturday 8 June
Another lovely day of sunshine and wonderful sightseeing. I escorted a tour – ‘Hidden Scenes’ – showing us sights of every day life in St Petersburg, including the subway system. It was so interesting, everyone was taken aback by the depth of the tracks – the escalator stretched down and down, until finally we reached the platforms. There were brasswork fittings on ornate lights, and decorated walls but, like most cities, there were crowded trains. The two guides handled the group so well and without any mishap, we changed and made connections three times, surrounded by the rush and crowds of every day life in St Petersburg. Most impressive was the memorial down in one station to their poet, Alexander Pushkin. After dinner I was invited by Mrs Pat Tilbury to the Commodore Club where we thoroughly enjoyed the cocktail pianist, Paul Madden.
Sunday 9 June
Today, I escorted the full day tour, ‘Best of Tallin’, showing us the main sights of this most interesting city, particularly the Old City. Our guide was wonderful, very well informed. We had a concert of traditional medieval music followed by an enjoyable meal in a typical Estonian restaurant. That night the Royal Cunard Singers combined with the two orchestras for a great show ‘Singers in Concert’.
Monday 10 June
A day at sea – time to relax! But, as ever, there was much going on – the Grand Russian Bazaar, an interview with Captain Olsen, Musical Murder Mystery, to name but a few, plus the Cunard World Club Ambassador presentation – my talk on life and work through the years with Cunard Line. Two Cunard World Club parties took place in the Queens Room, when a presentation was made to the Top Sailor of the Voyage, Kazuko Kamiki, who has travelled for 1246 days! Runners-up were Mr and Mrs John and Doreen Umpleby with 1048 days, and Mrs Rita Worth with 971 days. Congratulations to them all! At my table that evening I welcomed guests from the UK and USA, including Mr Jack Kaufman and Mr David Bowers from Texas. The Ascot Ball drew crowds to the Queens Room this evening.
Tuesday 11 June
Today in Warnemunde I was escorting the tour ‘Rostock by Vintage Tram and Waterway’, a lovely excursion taking the tram to Rostock, a walking tour and then returning to Warnemunde by boat. On returning to Warnemunde the town was packed, bustling with shoppers and cafes, followed by a wonderful send-off as dozens of small craft escorted ‘Queen Victoria’ out of the harbour, accompanied by ships whistles and huge crowds on the dockside and the decks full of guests clapping and waving flags.
Wednesday 12 June
‘Wonderful, Wondeful Copenhagen’, was the tour I escorted and so it was! A day of bright sunshine, visiting, of course, the Little Mermaid, Amelienborg Palace, followed by delicious Danish pastries, plus a canal cruise. I hosted a lovely table that evening, including Mr and Mrs John, Natasha Ryan and Mr Doug Gallop – our table always seems to be one of the last to leave the restaurant!
Thursday 13 June
And so to Norway and, sadly, our last port of call. And for the first time this voyage, the rain! But arriving in Kristiansand one noticed the lush greenery everywhere. The excursion ‘Pearl of the South’ visited a fascinating open-air museum, followed by a panoramic tour of this Southern Norway capital. The Senior Officer’s party took place before dinner, always a lively and popular event. This evening I welcomed my last group of guests to the dinner table, including Mr and Mrs Alan and Sylvia Morley.
Friday 14 June
And so to the last day of a wonderful voyage and a Daily Programme again packed with activities, including an Open Galley Tour, an Art Exhibition and a great favourite, the Tea Dance in the Queens Room. The Cunard World Club hosted a Wine Tasting event in the Britannia Restaurant during the afternoon – a great opportunity to learn of, and sample, many great wines offered by ‘Queen Victoria’.
As we sail ever closer to Southampton I would like to say how honoured and privileged I feel to be the ‘Madrina’ of ‘Queen Victoria’, and also the Cunard World Club Ambassador for this voyage. Throughout our journey I have been struck by the many guests who have said how much they love the ‘Queen Victoria’. Much of the ship’s success is due to her wonderful crew, and their dedicated White Star Service, combined with a warmth that has always been part of Cunard Line.
I would like to thank Captain Inger Klein Olsen and all the ship’s personnel for making me feel so welcome, and in particular Anna and Dragana from the Voyage Sales team for their help and kindness, Shore Excursions Manager, Michael Koster, and Production Manager Dave Cowell, plus Andy and Irwin from his team, for their assistance with my presentation in the Theatre.
Find out more about Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth’s upcoming 2013 Cunard World Club voyages:
New England and Canadian Sojourn – 10 – 22 September with CWC Ambassador Ciaran Ward, former Chief Electrical Engineer on Queen Mary 2
Greek Isles and Holy Land Explorer – 2 – 21 November with CWC Ambassador Maureen Ryan, former Social Hostess.