Cunard welcomes back the oldest living crew member to celebrate his 100th birthday

Jun 27, 2019

Cunard Line has welcomed back one of the oldest living crew members on the ocean cruise liner Queen Mary 2 as the company prepares to celebrate100-years of sailing from the port of Southampton. The former bellboy John Jenkins first started working for Cunard Line back in 1933, onboard the superliner RMS Mauretania sailing from Southampton to New York City.

Born at a time when ocean vessels were the only way to travel between two continents, Mr. Jenkins joined Cunard as a bellboy and lift operator. After Mauretania was retired in 1934, he was working on the Cunard liner Ascania until the outbreak of the Second World War when he joined the British Army. He fought at D-Day in 1945, before returning to the United Kingdom to continue his career in the merchant navy.

He was recently invited back onboard to celebrate his 100th birthday and to inspect the Queen Mary 2 bellboys – to ensure they met the high standards of 1930s Cunard service. The bellboys passed the inspection, though Mr. Jenkins was quick to point out that working on board back then was quite different from 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”,’ Mr. Jenkins said.

Queen Mary 2 Captain Aseem 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 and of course to congratulate Mr. Jenkins on such a special milestone birthday that he will celebrate later this year.’