Monday, October 29, 2012

On board four Cunard QUEENs

I caught the Queen Mary 2 inbound at San Francisco, Jan 2007. But a recollection of those great Cunarders: Living quite near Southampton, the great British seaport, Philippe Spanner wanted to go to sea, to see the world. So he joined the Cunard Line in 1966 as a 17-yr old. 
"It seemed a way to see the world, but on a bargain. I started on the grand old Queen Mary as a bellboy. I had a special uniform and even wore white gloves. In those days, family & friends were allowed to come aboard and see off the passengers. I delivered Champagne, canapes, even bon voyage telegrams. The ship itself was magnificent, a world of wood panelling and beautiful carpets and fine furnishings. My dream had come true --- I enjoyed it all from the start. Later, I was moved to the Queen Elizabeth, where I became an elevator boy and then a commie waiter. A commie waiter is an assistant in the dining room and where you do all the running around. It was still all very grand, and the rich and famous were still there. And there were some great tips. I lived in a 4-berth cabin in the crew quarters. Next, I was transferred to the Franconia, which was on the continuous 6-day New York-Bermuda run. She was actually my favorite Cunarder, but because of her weekly trips to Bermuda. I loved diving and Bermuda was perfect for that. We'd have overnight stays in New York and, on Friday nights, I used to go to the British Seamen's Club on West 48th Street to watch a movie & have a drink."
Philippe was selected in the spring of 1969 to join the brand new QE2. "By then, I was working in the kitchen and as a full waiter. Captain Warwick was in command. She was absolutely and totally different than the other, earlier Cunarders. She was light years away from the original Queens. The crew loved her, however. But all of them felt she'd never last --- that she was too plastic and the not the quality of the old Queens. During a New York layover, just before the ship's first Christmas cruise, there was a dinner for the crew. The officers helped serve and Captain Warwick served me my Christmas dinner. I also remember that Count Basie and Tony Bennett came on as entertainers on that first Christmas cruise down to the Caribbean. I stayed with the QE2 for a year-and-a-half, but then met a nice young girl and felt it was time to say goodbye to the sea. I was very, very fortunate to have had those times with Cunard, sailing on the liners. Recently, I returned --- crossing on theQueen Mary 2. I really am lucky --- in my life, I've sailed on the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth 2 & Queen Mary 2!"
Texto e imagens /Text and images copyright Bill Miller. Favor não piratear. Respeite o nosso trabalho / No piracy, please. For other posts and images, check our archive at the right column of the main page. Click on the photos to see them enlarged. Thanks for your visit and comments. Luís Miguel Correia
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