Luxury cruise line Cunard welcomed back one of its oldest living former crew members as he prepared to celebrate his 100th birthday in the same month that Cunard will celebrate 100 years of sailing from the City of Southampton.
November 2019 marks a century since the record-breaking superliner RMS. Mauretania inaugurated Cunard’s Southampton express transatlantic service, linking the Hampshire shipping hub with New York City.
Former Cunard bellboy, John ‘Jack’ Jenkins MBE, who recently gave a moving speech at the D-Day commemoration ceremony in Portsmouth attended by Her Majesty the Queen, HRH The Prince of Wales and US President Donald Trump, was recently welcomed on board Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 by Captain Aseem Hashmi MNM for a celebratory lunch. While on board, the Captain invited Jenkins to inspect the ship’s bellboys – to ensure they met the high standards of 1930s Cunard service.
Queen Mary 2’s crew easily passed the inspection, though Jenkins was quick to point out that working on board Mauretania was quite different to how it is today.
“I remember one of my first trips, when we sailed to the West Indies. When we would arrive in port I would then have to walk around on deck with a gong, as we had no tannoy system back then, and bang the gong and say, ‘all visitors ashore, all visitors ashore,’” Jenkins recalled.
Born at a time when ocean liners were the only way to travel, Jenkins went on to join Cunard in 1933 as a bellboy and lift operator. RMS. Mauretania was the first Cunard ship he was appointed to – the very ship that established Cunard’s Southampton hub in the year of his birth.
After Mauretania was retired in 1934, Jenkins served on board the Cunard ship Ascania until the outbreak of World War II. Joining the war effort, he fought at D-Day in 1945, before returning to the UK to take up a career in the merchant navy.
Captain Hashmi said, “It was such an honour to welcome back Mr. Jenkins to the Cunard family. It felt like a very fitting way to start our centenary celebrations, here in Southampton, and of course to congratulate Mr Jenkins on such a special milestone birthday that he will celebrate later this year. The members of the ship’s company and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to stories of what life was like on board, and we look forward to the opportunity to do so again.”
Departing Nov. 19, Queen Mary 2 will undertake an historic transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York – in tribute of the century long relationship between the city and Cunard.
Guests on this celebratory voyage will journey into the past thanks to a travelling maritime exhibition from Southampton’s Sea City Museum, as well as a series of enrichment lectures on board. Maritime Historian and author Chris Frame, will be joined by local history expert Penny Legg, each presenting a series of unique talks about the long and illustrious history of Cunard and Southampton.