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  • Writer's pictureEllen Frazer-Jameson

ON STAGE: THE GALLEY & THEATRE

DAY 97 - 18 APRIL 2023 (SHIP'S date)

ENROUTE TO TENERIFE, SPAIN

Queen Mary 2 World Centenary Voyage

102 days, 31 ports, 18 countries.

THE FINAL FIVE DAYS

Ellen Frazer-Jameson reporting from Queen Mary 2


BEHIND THE SCENES (Part III)

THE GRILLS (PHOTO: JD SCHWARTZ)

Our Behind the Scenes tour has introduced us to various departments on QM2, the Mooring Deck, the Engine Room, Medical Centre, crew quarters, luggage control, the Fire Locker and the Recycling Centre. The experience and amount of information we have received, has been fascinating. We have seen at first-hand how many staff and how much organisation goes into servicing the needs and demands of 2,500 guests and 1,200 staff and crew.


Next, stop on our tour, an area with which we are all familiar. Morning, noon and night– breakfast, lunch and dinner, snacks and afternoon tea,


A much-anticipated visit to the Galley.


The entire culinary brigade consists of 150 chefs who are under the supervision of the Executive Chef and three Chef De Cuisine. QM2’s main restaurant, Britannia serves up to 1,200 meals a seating plus the Queens and Princess Grills serving both restaurants with 400 meals. Alternative dining venues include King’s Court buffet and the Verandah.

BRITANNIA RESTAURANT (PHOTO: JD SCHWARTZ)

Other areas are the fast food station, Boardwalk Café, room service and the crew "mess." The entire galley and dining operation is supported by a team of 85 utility hands ranging from dish washers, pot washers and galley cleaners all working around the clock. This team reports to the Galley Manager. There is also a Provisions Team of 13 headed by the Inventory Manager who stock the provisions in major ports of call.


Facts and figures

On a typical seven-day Transatlantic crossing the following quantities are consumed.


Fresh fruit and vegetable 50 tons

Meat 8 tons

Poultry (chicken, duck, turkey) 2 tons

Seafood 13 tons

Dairy products 2 tons

Flour 4 tons

Rice 2 tons

Fresh Milk 20,000 litres/5,0000gallons

Eggs 32,400


DAILY CONSUMPTION: 120 pizzas / 700 English scones / 9500 canapes


Meals prepared and served each day 16,000

China and glassware used in dining areas 87,000

Linen napkins laundered every day 8,000

Cups of tea served daily 6,000

Storerooms are located on Decks A, B and 1, consisting of 21 refrigerated and frozen store-rooms for all food and beverage items. Most food stuffs (non perishables) have been on the World Voyage since Southampton. At Cape Town there was a restocking of provisions including produce. In the interests of research, we were invited to step Inside one of the seven freezer units. Every restaurant has its own freezer for goods – including kosher meals; these are prepared in advance and await orders.


The sensation of "freezing" was instant as the huge doors began to close. On the verge of panicking, we wanted to know, “What happens if someone gets stuck inside?” Problem solved. There’s a man trap alarm which, if pressed, immediately releases the locking mechanism.


There are chefs working in the galley 24 hours a day, bakers bake bread and pastry chefs create desserts. Allergies and special dietary requirements are all catered for.

TEA TIME: 3:30PM (PHOTO: JD SCHWARTZ)

In the galley, we uncovered one Behind the Scenes secret – to celebrate Easter, chocolate eggs will be on the menu. Chefs are already making and decorating them. We saw them. No visit to a Galley such as this, would be complete without a chance to sample the goods. Food and Beverage Services Manager, Wendy Michel, and her team served delicious cocktails and mouth-watering desserts. We hardly wanted to leave but were thankful for the refreshment. Touring an ocean-going liner is hard work.


******


Duly refreshed, we head to the Royal Court Theatre on Decks 2 & 3.


Theatre Royal Company manager, Francesca Harrison and Production Manager, David Fox are on stage in the theatre waiting to welcome us. Francesca is one of the production show’s dancers and also manages the 5-female dancers (including herself) and 5 male dancers along with 2 male and 2 female vocalists. Francesca has sailed with Cunard for ten years and like most of the other performers, she came to the company after completing a university course in the performance arts.

“The majority of our dancers are on their first contracts which means they are young and new to the life of a dancer at sea. Production shows which you will have seen, for example, Rhythms of the Night and Passionata, are choreographed by a professional team at the Cunard Academy in Southampton. After receiving a contract, dancers and singers attend the Academy where we have a purpose-built studio and learn all the routines for our shows. Once on board we have three or four weeks to rehearse with all the other performers. We are a tight knit team and all of us get on great.


On the World Voyage we have presented our showcases several times and as we near the end of the voyage, we are performing certain shows for the last time. Only one show, Be Our Guest is unique to QM2. You may see any of the other productions on our sister ships. For those performers who are taking up a new contract, it’s back to the Academy to learn the latest productions.”


Francesca shows us the backstage area. It is extremely cramped for 14 performers and stage crew but the whole area is well organised and costumes are stowed away with corresponding accessories, hairpieces and make-up at the individual dancer’s dressing table.


Francesca takes us into the corridor, the best place for her to change make quick changes, especially when there are lots of feathers and headdresses to put in place.


As we saw with the firefighter’s locker, preparation is key. Francesca pre-sets her glamour costumes into a neat pile. One by one she discards each item and swaps it for her next change. And ‘No’ the costumes are not fixed with velcro, more often, the performers struggle with zips and buttons and tied up bits of ribbon to get in and out of costumes.


The dancers do not have a dresser, they all help each other. “We have a lovely team," says Francesca, “we are all good friends, especially having spent so much time together on the World Voyage. Some dancers have chosen to go home at the end of their current contracts. Some of us are returning for future voyages. It’s a great life onboard this ship and I don’t know when I will ever return to a life ashore. “


Francesca and her team are polished performers and the Cunard audiences certainly enjoy Royal Court Company performances. “The appreciation of the audience is what motivates us .”says Francesca, “their applause shows that we have done our job and entertained the guests. This is what we set out to do. We are thankful for all the compliments we receive.“


******


Our final Behind the Scenes installment includes a visit to the Bridge featuring a meeting with Captain Hall where we'll discover the inner workings of the navigation and operations from the command center of this great ship - stay tuned !


Happy Sailing... Ellen


* * * * *


Current position of Queen Mary 2: Under way from Walvis Bay to Sta. Cruz (Tenerife)

  • Departure was 7 d 18 hrs 29 min ago. (at 19:00 h local time)

  • Arrival will be in 19 hrs 31 min. (at 08:00 h local time)

  • Traveled distance since Walvis Bay: 3,578.30 nm (6,627.02 km)

  • Remaining distance to Sta. Cruz (Tenerife): 368.24 nm (681.98 km)

  • Traveled distance since Cape Town: 4,362.20 nm (8,078.79 km)


 

Photo of the day (from the archives of JD Schwartz)

"UNRESERVED"

Further updates will be posted as soon as we get them from Ellen onboard Queen Mary 2.


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