Roland Sargunan has been with Cunard for the past 23 years. He is Chef de Cuisine and also one of the relieve Executive Chefs for the past three years. Having signed off from Queen Mary 2 in March 2020 he recently joined Queen Victoria and is here to fill us in on what life has been like.

Keeping busy at home

The first couple of months after coming home I did some home improvements, studied online and started my home cooking channel on YouTube ‘5 Star Cuisine with Chef Roland‘.


I also entered a cooking video competition (winning second prize!) and started an al fresco supper club with special themed menus in the beautiful garden setting at my home in Malaysia.

 Originally I was supposed to rejoin Queen Elizabeth in October 2020 but this changed to Queen Victoria in January 2021 as I was unable to renew my Personal Survival Techniques (PST) certificate in time due to travel restrictions.

Travelling in times of Covid

The team at Carnival UK was very organised with all the arrangements for my training, PCR self-test, accommodation, transfers and flights. With joining and training details confirmed I applied for ‘My Travel Pass’ with the Malaysian immigration in order to leave the country.

The Kuala Lumpur International Airport was very quiet and there were less than 30 people on the flight. It was a very comfortable flight as I had the whole row of seats to myself. The Flight Attendant even called me by my name which was a nice experience! Hygiene kits were provided for all passengers and masks had to be worn at all times as expected.

In the past I would fill out an Arrival Card at the UK airport, but now I had to complete the online Passenger Locator Form 48 hours before arrival. I also carried a print out of the form to show the Immigration Officer at the airport.

To my surprise the queue at Immigration at Heathrow was very long and after 1.5 hours I passed through. The journey to the hotel in Southampton where I stayed for seven days to attend my training course was pleasant and the roads were not busy at all due to the lock down.

The restaurant at the hotel was closed and there were limited other services available. I ordered food through a delivery service as all the restaurants in Southampton were only open for take-away and delivery.

CUK compliance requirements mean a crew member must undergo a PCR test not more than five days prior to their joining date. As I arrived early to attend my training, I did a PCR self-test kit after my course ended, three days before joining the ship.


Back on board

It was a strange feeling to join a ship; firstly because I was at home for ten months and secondly, the last time I was on Queen Victoria was probably three years ago. But that feeling disappeared almost immediately as many people onboard made me feel very welcome.

At the port terminal, I was greeted by a Medical staff-member who took my details and performed another PCR test which took 15 minutes to get the results. Once the green light was given, I went up the gangway and was greeted by Security, the HR manager and Housekeeping.

My luggage got scanned, sprayed and sanitised before we headed to the Purser’s Office to hand in all documents including my passport and seaman’s book. A member of the Housekeeping staff then guided me to my temporary quarantine stateroom. Social distancing guidelines were adhered to at all times and disinfectants were applied along the alleyway where I was passing through. I must say everything was done so professionally and very organised. The system in place was very well executed.

During my preventive quarantine period I’m staying in a comfortable Guest stateroom with a nice balcony. Although the weather is quite cold, I try to sit outside once in a while to catch some fresh air. I prepared myself well for quarantine; downloaded lots of movies and brought lots of snacks.

We’re being served three meals a day with a very good menu choice. Ruben, who has been serving the meals, has been very attentive and has been making my stay comfortable.

I wake up at 7:00 and do some exercise before breakfast is being served at 8:00. Then I shower and get on my laptop, do some of my online work and learning and keep in touch with friends and family at home.

Thankfully we have free access to the internet while we’re in operational pause; it makes a world of difference. After the first seven days of preventive quarantine, we’re allowed to go on deck twice a day for an hour; just to walk, catch some air and meet up with our fellow quarantine colleagues from a distance.

The two weeks pass by quickly when you keep yourself occupied and before you know it, you’re already back at work!

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1 Comment

  1. Vicki Hart-Mclaren on

    Being home, the Youtube channel and the cooking competition…. What a great way to keep occupied, continue to do what you love and share your passion for food. Some great achievements there- Well done!

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