As you may have seen we’ve been catching up with some of our Cunard people to find out what life’s been like on board during Covid-19. This week we hear from Mary Jane Caldea Luyao, Senior Waiter on board Queen Victoria, who joined in January and worked in the Britannia Club Restaurant before the pandemic started. Here’s what she had to say…

“In 2005 I started as Assistant Buffet Steward on board Queen Mary 2. While progressing through the different ranks I worked in a variety of restaurants before joining the pre-opening team of Queen Victoria, in the shipyard of Fincantieri in Marghera, Italy in 2007.

For ten years I also worked as Dining Room Administrative Assistant in the fabulous F&B Department and became Senior Waiter in 2017. In this role I look after the Lido Buffet (preparing and opening buffet lines), I work in the alternative dining restaurant and I oversee the Crew, Staff and Officer Mess. Over the years I was nominated twice for ‘Star of the Month’ for delivering great White Star Service, something I’m very proud of!

As the only Restaurant staff member remaining on board, I now take care of all service in the Lido, in room service and in the crew lounge with the support and assistance of my Hotel colleagues.

This is my ‘A Day in the Life of…’

8:00        My day starts with getting room service underway for our colleagues in quarantine, coordinating with the breakfast Chef and the bedroom Steward.

8:30        I close the Lido Buffet line and then enjoy my own breakfast with my Lido co-workers.

8:45        I wipe down and clean the buffet line including the glass sneeze guards after which I prepare all the condiments like malt, balsamic, white vinegars, olive oil, mayonnaise, ketchup etc., refill the ice cream and cones, prepare the trays for room service (lunch) and check e-mails for information on ship’s operation.

10:00     Gardening with Roz! This is my therapy as I assist our Executive Housekeeper Roz Old taking care of the thousands of live potted plants on board.

10:30     Morning break – face timing with my family!

11:00     Back at the Lido getting ready for lunch service – we now have 120 people to cater for; place all the proper serving spoons and tongs on the line; check room service trays and do ‘mise en place’ (the preparation of dishes and ingredients before the beginning of service) like salads, breads/butter, fruits, coffee, tea, milk and sugar.

11:30     Lido Buffet line opens; prepare the Engine Control Room’s order and assist the Chefs with the refill of the salad station.

12:00     Room service starts – this can be over 20 trays depending on joiners who are quarantined in their cabins for 14 days after joining – the most I have had is 38 at one time – busy!

12:30     The buffet line closes; lunch with the Chefs. Always good fun and we talk about the day. 

12:45     Clean the buffet line; prepare trays for room service.

14:30     Afternoon break, face timing again with family and an afternoon nap.

17:30     Back at the Lido Buffet – always a buzz around as we get ready for dinner service; place all the proper serving spoons and tongs on the line; check room service trays and do ‘mise en place’, similar to lunch time.

18:00     Dinner buffet opens; check the Engine Control Room’s order and refill the salad station.

18:30     Room service starts – dinner to the quarantine cabins.

19:00     Lido Buffet line closes; time for dinner with colleagues.

19:15     Clean the buffet line, prepare trays for room service, clean the ice cream machine, mop the floor, check the Bar service in the Winter Garden (my nick name is now ‘The Land Lady!’)  and assist Louis behind the bar if he’s busy and then attend to all requisitions for ordering from the ship’s stores.


20:30     Time for my admin duties in the Maitre D’s office; ordering via MXP for bar and Lido,  printing the lunch and dinner menus for the following day, and checking of the menu orders for quarantined crew. I also catch up on updates from Executive Chef CB Kumar who is now in charge of Food & Beverage, and check for any messages from the Hotel General Manager.

21:30     End of working day, return to cabin, drop dirty uniforms to laundry, play nice music, take a hot shower and do my beauty rituals.

23:59     Pray the rosary and sleep – Good Night!

Being part of the operational pause team with minimum manning is very challenging and a lot of hard work but it’s worth it. This contract has certainly been the most memorable one.

At the end of October I will return to my husband who is a Chef based in the Philippines and our two beautiful children.”

Next week look out for an update from Girlie, Hotel Ops and Retail Manager on board Queen Mary 2 and currently at home.

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