Good morning, afternoon, evening!

I wanted to wait until we had announced the extension to our pause in operations before catching up with you all.

Given where the world is right now with the pandemic, I can’t think anyone will have been surprised by this yesterday’s announcement – QM2 and QV voyages cancelled up to and including departures to July 31; for QE we’ve cancelled voyages up to and including her September 8 departure, meaning we’ve cancelled her Alaska season which was sadly no longer viable. Thank you to all those who have been involved in the planning of the announcement and to the CCO team – you, as always, are on the front line dealing with Guests who are understandably disappointed (although a 125% Future Cruise Credit does help one to recover).

Some good news – today we have two aircraft taking 670 of our Filipino crew from QM2 back to the Philippines. There’ll be a 14 day quarantine on arrival, after which they’ll be able to return to their homes and families. Thank you to every one of them and we look forward to welcoming them back onboard as soon as we’re up and running again.

More good news – QE is now at anchor off Manila and, following an inspection by government authorities, has started her official 14 day quarantine period. This means that on May 5, Filipino team members will be able to disembark and return home to their families.

QV still has some illness although thankfully new cases have come down very effectively following the measures taken onboard. We send those who are still ill our very best wishes for a speedy recovery. Having had illness onboard does complicate repatriation efforts and we’re currently working really hard and using all our clout to get the best outcome for our team. I’ll keep everyone posted.

During the last few weeks, one of the Zoom meetings I’ve looked forward to (yes, there are some) has been my weekly check-in with the Employee Experience Group. I’ve genuinely found it an incredibly good way of getting feedback on how people are managing, what the common concerns and worries are, how things might be improved, etc.

A big thank you to all involved and especially to Nicky, Katie, Dan and Alex who are currently on furlough and were dying to stay a part of the group but sadly under the furlough terms that’s prohibited – you’ll be missed. Meanwhile we need new members whom we’ll be announcing tomorrow. For those based in Southampton, please do keep speaking with this team – it’s a very effective way of relaying any thoughts you have on how we might do things better.

Last week’s photo… It was Queen Victoria in dry dock in Palermo in 2017. It was a picture of her bow thrusters and the first person to the right answer was Ian Gillone, Chief Engineer on QE. The deduction was truly impressive… to quote Ian’s response:

” … fairly sure it’s not us (QE) as the weld between thruster 2 and 3 is slightly different. It looks like different blocks than Hamburg dock bottom …”

Honestly, I’m disappointed that more people didn’t spot the weld – such a giveaway! Ian – wine in the post.

So for this week … no prizes for guessing who, but when was it and where was it? Email me with your answer – bonus point for guessing how many different items were devoured! Prize for the first correct guess might be chocolate this week.

Lastly, the team on QE has produced two just amazing videos during QE’s time at anchor off Australia – they blew me away – laughing to (almost) crying. I’ll make sure we get a link on here soon! Captain Thorhauge / QE – thank you for your incredible Cunard spirit.

Thank you to all for keeping up the energy during this lockdown, whether you’re in the UK, USA, Japan, Australia, Germany, China, Hong Kong or on one of our ships. I continue to be in awe of just how strong everyone is remaining during such a difficult period.

Stay safe and take care everyone.

Simon Palethorpe
President, Cunard

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