My Chat with Evans Hoyt, Captain of Cunard’s Queen Victoria

One of the really cool things about travel writing is you get to meet interesting people. During our nine-night segment of Cunard’s Queen Victoria 98 night world cruise, I had the opportunity to talk with Evans Hoyt, the ship’s Captain. What did I learn?

Evans Hoyt, Captain of Cunard’s Queen Victoria, credit Bryce Sanders

Let’s start off with the fact my meeting did not take place as planned. There I was, ready and waiting on Monday, January 16th outside the ship’s library. I was promptly collected by my onboard liaison and led to the Captain’s office on Deck 8, near the ship’s command bridge. The captain and I shook hands briefly as he explained the need to reschedule – A passenger was seriously ill. The ship needed to be rerouted towards the closest suitable port (in Newfoundland) which would put our vessel within range of an air ambulance. This was top of the Captain’s priority list. I was later rescheduled for Tuesday.

On Tuesday, there I was, ready and waiting once again outside the ship’s library. After being collected once again and led to the Captain’s Office, Captain Hoyt greeted me and suggested we sit and have our chat on the Command Bridge!  This is a great honor. Decades ago, tours of the ship’s bridge were routine. Today, it is one of the most secure areas onboard, accessed via an electronic keypad, somewhat like a walk-in vault.

How did you become Captain of a Cunard liner?  Captain Hoyt mentioned he has the distinction of having been the first American to become a Cunard captain. He graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in the 1980’s and his career brought him first to vessels carrying freight and later to passenger ships. By 2005 he was sailing passenger ships exclusively. His entry into the Carnival Corporation family came via serving with P&O, which brought him into Cunard and becoming a Cunard captain.

How many captains does Cunard have?  How do vacations work?  Cunard has three ships and six captains. When Queen Anne enters service, the count will be increased by two captains. Assignments are typically structured as three months when you are at sea and three months when you are not at sea. Its expressed that way because it’s not three months on and three months off. Captains have responsibilities while they are not sailing. Ongoing training is a good example.

Can captains or other officers bring family members when they are at sea?  Going to sea for months at a time separates families. Cunard has a program to bring families together by allowing spouses, partners and children to travel with their serving family member from time to time. This can be affected by issues like cabin availability.

What distinguishes the Queen Victoria from the Queen Mary 2 and other ocean-going ships?  All Cunard fans know the Queen Mary 2 was designed as an ocean liner capable of transatlantic voyages throughout the year. The QM2 has more draft (the amount of the hull under the water) and can keep up speed in heavy weather. Queen Victoria has a shallower draft, which conveys a different advantage. She is able to get into ports a larger ship cannot. This means less tendering to get to shore, which passengers appreciate.

Queen Victoria entered service in 2007. Queen Anne is expected to enter service in 2024. Technology changes quickly. How will the design of Queen Anne be different?  At 113,000 tons the Queen Anne will be larger than Queen Victoria (90,000 tons) and smaller than Queen Mary 2 (148,000 tons). It fits in the middle. There will be refinements to the hull design. Many of the improvements will be “back of house,” meaning they are important, but not immediately visible to passengers. This includes sustainability, efficiencies and a greener approach. There will be additional guest venues and more advanced technology generally.

What is Cunard doing to attract the next generation of passengers?  How are they attracting the children of current Cunard passengers?  Many cruise lines are altering their offerings in an effort to anticipate what current and future generations want. They are aiming to deliver everything you might do onshore, but in a shipboard environment. Cunard understands the need to move with the times. The addition of Freedom Dining, an available open seating component of the first seating is a good example of the line responding to passenger feedback and requests. Diners can arrive within a window of time and be seated alone or with other diners if they prefer.   Cunard also believes that which is unique is also important to protect. The history of Cunard is different from the history of many cruise companies. Cunard believes passengers should have the freedom to choose which activities you would like to enjoy, delivering this experience in a surrounding based on personalized service. This approach has developed great loyalty both among passengers and crew. Cunard feels there will always be a place in the market for tradition and the frequent transatlantic crossings are an experience offered only by Cunard.

The message I took away from our talk was Cunard understands it has a distinctive brand in the luxury part of the market. They have name recognition built on tradition, treating staff well and delivering a unique experience. Their objective is to build upon these strengths as a strategy to cultivate the next generation as first time and returning guests.

Cover photo: Queen Victoria, credit Cunard Line

Many thanks to Cunard Line and thanks to the All Things Cruise team.

See voyages All Cunard Ships  & Queen Victoria

Overall Review: Cunard’s Queen Victoria Transatlantic Voyage (~Excellent and Looking Forward to Next Time!) – All Things Cruise

9 Great Days Crossing the Atlantic on Cunard’s Queen Victoria

Restaurant Review – Britannia Dining Room on the Cunard Queens



Leave a Comment

Trusted by over 1.5 million cruisers since 2003.
Get FREE access to members-only pricing.
There is a highly acclaimed way to receive multiple quotes from a site called CruiseCompete, where cruise specialists compete to offer you the best deal. The media sums it up for CruiseCompete:
Score Luxury Cruises at Bargain Prices” (The Street)
Best site for cruise deals” (The Wall Street Journal)
28 Best Travel Sites” (Kiplinger's) Multiple annual mentions
36 Web Addresses You Should Know” (The Washington Post)