“We wanted to evolve our ships,” said Robert Howie, hotel manager onboard the Queen Elizabeth. “I’ve been working on this ship for 18 months. We looked at what we had with Queen Mary and Queen Victoria and took guest comments into account.”
And that has led to another unique queen for the Cunard fleet, with Howie saying that the ships all had different feels.
“Entertainment wise we didn’t want to copy the other ships,” he continued. That led to the decision to start the Queen Elizabeth Theater Company, featuring 21 dancers and actors, which Howie said was “impressive for a ship this size.”
“It’s been seven years since the Queen Mary, and we’ve taken the opportunity to advance some minor elements as well,” said Howie, who also launched Queen Victoria as head of the hotel department, explained. New linens on the 90,900-ton Queen Elizabeth will be rolled out across the fleet within six months.
“There is an evolution of the Cunard ships going on, and there is lots of competition in the market. We don’t have gimmicks like some other brands so we have to do the best with our core product,” said Howie.
The Hotel Manager, who oversees a staff of 1,005, starts off his day by catching up with department heads in the morning. And while “no two days are the same,” he made a note of saying that he visits them individually instead of having one big meeting. “It’s better for me to go around to them,” he added.
That’s followed by office work and email, he continued, and the afternoon turns into troubleshooting and keeping in touch with various departments before the social responsibilities that come with being a Cunard officer take over his evenings.
Originally from Scotland, Howie has been at sea for more than 20 years. Starting as a junior bar steward with Princess Cruises, he worked his way up the ladder with highlights including spending time at Princess headquarters in California before working on two Princess newbuildings in Japan and more in Europe. In 2004 he moved across to Cunard to continue shore-side in California and then went to Europe for newbuildings at Finacantieri - Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.
Stay tuned to CruiseIndustryNews.com for more Queen Elizabeth coverage and be sure to subscribe to the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine to read the full-length feature article on Cunard’s latest ship, including the complete version of this exclusive interview.