Happy 175th Birthday Cunard

Despite the Commodore’s warning last night of rough seas and a bumpy ride, we only noticed a gentle rocking motion from the Queen Victoria and we slept very well, getting up at around 8.30am to blue skies and a fine day, if a little windy.

What a busy day today turned out to be! It was our first full day at sea, and the entertainment team had provided a full itinerary of events to keep us occupied. At 10 o’clock we attended a lecture by maritime historian and Cunard expert Chris Frame, an Australian author who has written a number of books about the great Cunard liners of the past and present, including the Lusitania which is, after all, what this whole voyage is all about.

The lecture traced Cunard’s history right from its beginnings in 1840 by Samual Cunard with the first ship Britannia, and outlined the stories of some of the great steamships such as Mauretania, Carpathia, Aquitania and Caronia. You will already have noticed that all Cunard ships (with the exception of the Queens) have names ending in ‘..ia’ – this was so that passengers looking at the ships’ transatlantic timetables in the newspapers would know they were booking a passage on a Cunard ship. Similarly, all White Star Line ships’ names ended in ‘..ic’, such as the Olympic.

It was all very interesting. We learned how the German steamships were the fastest at the time, and White Star Line ships were the most luxurious. This left Cunard out in the cold, so they had to do something to become the industry leaders. They therefore decided to go for the growing market in transatlantic luxury, as we could see from various photos of the opulent interior of the Lusitania and her running mates.

After Chris Frame’s talk was finished, we stayed in our seats for the next one; a lecture from former BBC news reporter Martin Bell entitled The Age of Total War: 50 Years in the World’s Unquiet Corners. Martin started off with some short and witty poems he’d written; apparently he is quite an accomplished writer of verse and has published a number of poetry books.

Martin’s talk was fantastic. He showed us various news clips from over the decades wherein history was being made, such as the war in Vietnam and the Falklands War. He followed the clips with an additional commentary and injected a wry humour and irony into his talk. The overall impression that we got is that Martin does not believe in war, and that over the years, with wars in the world still raging, mankind has learned little.

After the talk was finished, we had a half hour break so Trevor went to get a couple of cups of coffee, while I kept the seats. While I was waiting, I did a bit of kumihimo braiding, and waited for the inevitable question. Whenever we go away on cruises I bring my kumihimo stuff with me, so I can keep my hands busy during the days at sea, and I always get people coming up and asking me what I’m doing.

Today was no exception. A lady sitting a couple of seats away was watching in fascination as I moved the cords around the braiding wheel. She asked what I was doing, so I explained that kumihimo was a Japanese method of braiding cord, using from between 4 and 16 threads, and indeed the word ‘kumihimo’ translates as ‘the coming together of threads’. She wrote it down and said she’d look it up on Google, but in the meantime I gave her a bracelet I’d already made.

By now Trevor had returned with the coffees, and we settled down for our next talk by Irishman Senan Molony. We had seen him before, on the Balmoral three years ago during the Titanic Memorial Cruise, so we knew his talk would be interesting. The presentation was entitled Last Traces of Lusitania and discussed how the people of Ireland reacted to the tragedy, from the first responders to the body recovery and mass burials, to the inquest and aftermath, and what there was to see of the Lusitania legacy when ashore in Cobh and Kinsale. He accompanied his talk by a lot of very interesting photographs taken from the archives, some of which had never before been published.

By the time Senan’s presentation was finished, it was after one o’clock and time to go for some lunch. We went along to the Golden Lion, but it was very busy and there were no spare tables. We therefore decided just to go up to the Lido restaurant and get something there.

Afterwards we tentatively ventured out on deck but, as we expected, it was cold and windy, so we didn’t stay out long! That is one of the problems with cruising around the British Isles in May; there is no way of predicting how the weather is going to be. Three years ago when we cruised the Scottish islands on the Marco Polo in May the weather was in the high 70s / low 80s and a couple of years ago on the Adonia it was windy and cold; this cruise the weather has been less than kind.

At 2.40pm it was time to go to the Britannia Restaurant to participate in some complimentary wine-tasting. As Platinum World Club members we get a free pass to take part in this event. Passengers below Platinum level can also attend, but they have to pay $30.00 for the privilege.   🙂

Today’s selection of wines was from Australia. We started off with a crisp white Sauvignon Blanc with citrus notes which I really enjoyed, then we moved on to a Chardonnay which to my uneducated palate seemed a little bland. The sommeliers told us all about the wine regions and the types of grapes, and also how much each bottle was if we wanted to purchase it for dinner.

We next tried two red wines which were served with a selection of cheeses. The first was a Merlot and the final one was a Cabernet Sauvignon; I enjoyed them but on the whole I prefer white wines.

After the wine tasting was the next event; the Cunard World Club cocktail party. Once again it was a formal night, so I wore a long burgundy-coloured dress with a sequinned bodice, with a matching sequinned lace jacket, along with a striking Murano necklace. Trevor wore a dark red bow tie and cummerbund with his dinner suit.

We made our way to the Queen’s Room, which was all decorated out in preparation for tonight’s Cunard 175 Year Ball. We enjoyed a couple of free glasses of ‘champagne’ before going along to the Britannia Restaurant for dinner. The sun was shining and from our table I was mesmerised by the white horses on the sea around the ship’s wake, and the gentle rise and fall of Queen Victoria‘s stern on the blue ocean waves.

Dinner was delicious, and the conversation interesting as usual. So far the food and service have been entirely excellent, as we have come to expect on Cunard ships.   🙂

After dinner we took our places in our ‘usual’ seats in the front row of the Royal Court Theatre for tonight’s show. It was a production by the Royal Cunard Singers & Dancers called ‘Hollywood Rocks’ and depicted scenes through the history of the silver screen. The costumes were very colourful and the singing and dancing excellent; we enjoyed the show a lot.

Finally we went along to the Golden Lion where the entertainments team were putting on “The Liars’ Club”. This is similar to “Call My Bluff” where each panellist gives a definition to an obscure word and you have to guess which definition is the correct one. It was good fun as the words given were, predictably, prone to many double-entendres, such as ‘titman’ (the runt in a litter of pigs) and ‘willywaw’ (a cold wind coming from the mountains to the sea).

Afterwards we were quite tired after this activity-packed day, so we just went back to cabin 4119 and settled down for the night. Tomorrow we were due to dock in Cobh, Ireland, for what would be the highlight of this cruise.

2 thoughts on “Happy 175th Birthday Cunard

  1. You never know where Australia will pop up, even at wine tasting on the QV. i still laugh on a French ship cruising to Antarctica kangaroo was on the menu!

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