December 20, 2013
Posted in: Cunard Ambassadors
Last month, former Social Hostess Maureen Ryan boarded Queen Elizabeth as Cunard World Club Ambassador in the Mediterranean. During her time on board, she kept a diary…
CUNARD WORLD CLUB – GREEK ISLES AND HOLY LAND EXPLORER VOYAGE
Saturday 9 November – Civitavecchia
Guests were already gathering from all corners of the globe when I arrived at the cruise terminal to board Queen Elizabeth. Everyone was eagerly looking forward to a 12 day cruise on board this beautiful ship. Cunard World Club welcome letters and pins had been placed in members’ cabins during embarkation. I was on board as the Cunard World Club Ambassador for the cruise and before we departed that evening, I met with Captain Chris Wells, Deputy Captain Aseem Hashmi and David Hamilton, the Hotel Manager. It was lovely to see them all again, and it was also great to see Hayley Vandersteen and Eli Iniesta from Voyage Sales. That evening, as the lights from ashore became more distant, dinner was followed by an excellent Welcome Aboard show, hosted by the Entertainment Director Amanda Reid, who I’ve known for many years.
Sunday 10 November – At sea
The Royal Court Theatre was packed for the Captain’s Remembrance Service. The Order of Service, specially printed for the occasion, featured red poppies on the cover sheet – the symbol of Remembrance. The service was most moving – lovely hymns, prayers and a wonderful poem read by the Deputy Captain about the Merchant Navy and its service during wartime. The Daily Programme featured a huge selection of activities – dance class, art class, a ‘Solos Get-Together’, Mike Harvey’s lecture on Christine Keeler, bingo, bridge and trivia quiz. The Captain held two receptions for Britannia guests, during which he read out the many nationalities of the guests, including Japanese, Australian, Canadian, Israeli, Chinese, German, American and British – a truly international ship, with so many Cunarders of the past. I met with many guests, and dinner followed in the Britannia Restaurant with a great table, including Mr and Mrs Gordon and Jacqueline Hamilton, and Mr and Mrs William and Linda Corcoran.
Monday 11 November
I was up early as Amanda, the Entertainment Director, had invited me to be a guest on her morning TV programme, ‘Rise and Shine’. We chatted on the show about my years with Cunard Line and the role of the Cunard World Club Ambasssador. The ship was scheduled to arrive in Katakolon that morning but unfortunately, due to tricky weather conditions the call had to be cancelled. Very soon, a revised programme of events for the day was published and once again guests had multiple choices including samba class, a Cunard Insights Lecture on Marilyn Monroe, or to walk the deck, sample the delights of the spa or listen to live music in various venues. At dinner conversation flowed and it was lovely to meet again with Mr and Mrs Raymond and Leonnie Petitpren who I’ve known since QE2 days. The Queens Room was busy with a themed evening: ‘London Night’ and Jacqui Scott featured with her show in the Royal Court Theatre.
Tuesday 12 November – Santorini – At Anchor
After meeting with my group we went ashore by tender. Today I escorted a lovely tour, Akrotiri –The Lost City of Atlantis, a fascinating excursion to the site of the excavation, an ancient unearthed city. It was a lovely day, much enjoyed, and on returning to the ship there were great views to enjoy from the ship. For any guests not wishing to go ashore, there was a selection of activities, including croquet, bridge, a film and, of course, afternoon tea so beautifully served in the Queens Room, complete with Harpist Rebecca Mills. And for solos, there is always the opportunity to meet up with others – a great idea – simply rendezvous at the pub at the advertised time to arrange an outing. ‘Variety Showtime’ was the show in the Royal Court theatre that evening.
Wednesday 13 November – At Sea
The weather was lovely, and many people were on deck and in the pools during our day at sea. A Galley Tour, a lecture on the History of Impressionism, and tango class were some of the organised activities. That afternoon, I gave an illustrated talk in the Royal Court Theatre about my time working at sea with Cunard over many years. Captain Wells held a reception for Grills guests in the Queens Room, where the EOS String Quartet played throughout the party. At dinner I was delighted to co-host the table with Jonathan Leavor, Chief Purser, and we welcomed Mr Andrew Griffiths and Mrs Jayne Wood, together with guests from the US and Portugal. The Royal Court Theatre was busy after dinner with a great show – ‘Sing’.
Thursday 14 November – Haifa
There was great excitement in the morning as the whole ship seemed to be up and ready to disembark very early with an air of such expectation. I met with my group and as we disembarked down the gangway, lines of coaches were waiting to take us to destinations such as Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea and Bethlehem. And what a day it was – I was on the Jerusalem and Bethlehem tour, a hectic experience, such atmosphere, history and immense crowds, I was kept busy taking care of our group and making sure nobody got lost in the Old city! Lunch was taken at a kibbutz, very well organised with such large numbers, followed by a visit to Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity. Then it was time for the journey back to Haifa, the coach quiet, as everyone reflected on such a thought provoking and eventful day. Queen Elizabeth was overnight at Haifa.
Friday 15 November – Haifa
Once again everyone was up early and on the coaches, to Galilee, Nazareth and Caesarea. Our tour had a wonderful day in Galilee, the weather was perfect and we drove round the Sea of Galilee, visited the River Jordan and the Mount of Beatitudes. Then, after lunch at an excellent kibbutz, we set off for a look at Nazareth before making the journey back to Haifa. By 8.30pm everyone was back on board, the Royal Court Theatre was full for the show ‘Vanity Fair’, and Big Band Night proved popular in the Queens Room.
Saturday 16 November – Limassol
The tour I escorted to Kolossi Castle, the base of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, and the Curium, impressive Greek and Roman ruins, was very popular. The day was warm and we ended the tour shopping in lively Limassol where cafes and shops were busy. After sailing, the EOS String Quartet played in the Midships Bar, there was karaoke in the pub, dancing in the Queens Room and a hugely popular comedy juggler, Goronwy Thom, gave a wonderful show, finishing with a standing ovation.
At dinner Theresa Rasberry, the Hotel Manager’s Personal Assistant, co-hosted with me and we had an enjoyable evening meeting guests from the UK as well as Mr Claude Diotte and Mr Christopher Playle, both from Canada.
Sunday 17 November – Rhodes
The weather was lovely and I escorted a great tour, Panoramic Rhodes, very scenic and enjoyed by all the participants. We finished the tour in town, with its quaint and winding streets and most attractive restaurants and cafes. Two Cunard World Club parties were held in the evening, the Top Sailors for the voyage being Mr and Mrs Raymond and Leonnie Petitpren. Eli Iniesta, one of the Voyage Sales Assistants co-hosted at dinner, and we welcomed to the table guests from the US and UK, plus Herr Klaus and Frau Antje Blunck from Germany. An Elizabethan Ball was held in the Queens Room during the evening and vocalist Phillip Browne proved popular in the Royal Court Theatre.
Monday 18 November – Heraklion
I went with the tour to Knossos, the Minoan Miracle, a wonderful archaeological site, and then spent time in the busy town of Heraklion. In the evening I hosted dinner with another lovely group, including Mr and Mrs James and Margaret Askins from the US. As ever, the ship was full of life – singer and comedian Mike Doyle was in the Royal Court Theatre, Graham Wellard was in the popular Commodore Club and many guests were dancing away at the 50’s and 60’s Night in the Queens Room.
Tuesday 19 November– At sea
A welcome day at sea, after such hectic times ashore! There was a lot going on with the Guest Talent Show, Captain’s Book Signing, plus Champagne Afternoon Tea in the Garden Lounge – what an end-of-voyage treat! Also the Nautical Chart Auction took place, the proceeds going to the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund. Guests have also been invited to make monetary donations, plus donations of clothing and shoes for the Relief Fund. A Cunard World Club Wine Tasting event was held in the Britannia Restaurant, sampling some of the delicious wines on board Queen Elizabeth. The Senior Officers held their cocktail party – always a lively event – before dinner, and then, sadly, my final hosted dinner of the voyage, when Paul Bowes, Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, co-hosted with me, meeting among others, Mr and Mrs John and Joanne Winchester from the US. In the Queens Room a Strictly Starlight Ball was held featuring the Queen Elizabeth Strictly Dance Competition!
Wednesday 20 November – Naples
The final day of the voyage! I escorted my final tour to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. We had a lovely day before returning to the ship for the final night, which included a lively show in the Royal Court Theatre ‘Variety Showtime’ as Queen Elizabeth sailed towards Civitavecchia.
I feel very honoured to have been the Cunard World Club Ambassador for this voyage, and I would like to thank Captain Chris Wells and all the ship’s company for making me feel so welcome. Special thanks to David Hamilton, Hotel Manager, Jonathan Leavor, Chief Purser, Theresa Rasberry, Hotel Manager’s PA, Hayley Vandersteen and Eli Iniesta from Voyage Sales, Susanna Capaccio, Tour Manager, and Amanda Reid, Entertainment Director. I would also like to mention the wonderful crew from the Philippines who carried on with their duties so professionally during what has been a very difficult time in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
As ever, a great team, a great voyage, in the tradition of “The Most Famous Ocean Liners in the World”
Cunard World Club Ambassador
Thanks to Maureen for taking the time to write a blog about her time on board. She’ll be on Queen Mary 2 on 9 May 2014 for her 10th Anniversary crossing from Southampton to New York. Maureen will be joined on board by Stephen Payne and Commodore Warrick.