NEWS

April 2018

I cannot believe I’ve been home almost six weeks, which, through the advances in mathematics means I only have six weeks left before I go back to work. As much as I love being on the ships, I never seem to get everything done that I want to while I’m home.

I only had a week after disembarking the Magellan before my court case with CMV and it required much more work than I had envisioned. The court had specified I had to prepare 3 case bundles and submit them no less than three days prior to the hearing and no more than seven. When I rang I couldn’t get anyone of the staff to confirm whether that included working days or not.

Everything had to be tabulated and indexed and by the time I’d finished putting together all my evidence there were 310 pieces of paper in each bundle. Right from the start of this process CMV didn’t bother to conform to the judgments so I received no witness list or their written testimony by the date specified, in fact I never received it. About a month before I got the feeling that the company had no intention of following through with their defense but they were holding fire in the hope I’d pull out.

The trouble with me, being an Aries, is that I am pig-headed, and anyone that knows me understood I wouldn’t back down. I did risk a substantial amount of money to take this to court but I‘ve got to the point in my life when I am totally fed up of the corporate giants pissing on the little people.

The world cruise was a trip of a lifetime and as such there were certain expectations. Not only was it a world voyage but a maiden one so I thought that CMV would throw everything at it and use it as a marketing tool for the next one, bearing in mind the Columbus was already on sale for January 2018. I was wrong. The company was just not prepared for what a world cruise entailed and the crew didn’t have a clue as they’d had no extra training and were out of their depth through no fault of their own.

By default a world cruise isn’t chicken feed, some first time cruise holiday makers would have used their life savings to experience a “trip of a lifetime”. They were the lucky ones as cruise virgins have nothing to compare the product to. But it didn’t take a genius to work out there were things sadly awry. I won’t go into all the details but it is a sad state of affairs for a ship to stage a ‘mutiny’. 260 people can’t all be wrong but the company reused to address any if the issues, instead burying their head in the sand in the hope the complaints would all go away. Unfortunately when a genuine complaint gets ignored, it just served to inflame the situation.

The night before the court case (28 February) the sky delivered reams of snow. It had been forecast but I was rather hoping the weatherman had got it wrong, as he so often does, but no such luck. By the morning there was five inches not only surrounding my car but on it. Brian, my neighbour, had to literally dig me out. Being the plaintiff, the choice of court location was mine and I chose Telford County Court, a mere two miles from my home but the journey was fraught with near accidents as the car skidded in the small country roads. On entering the court’s car park, I nearly ploughed into the barrier as the brake wouldn’t hold and I have to say I was relieved once the car was stationary again. It was bitterly cold and if not for the hearing wild horses wouldn’t have dragged me out.

As predicted CMV didn’t show for the 10.00 hearing, nor did they ring the court as a matter of courtesy so I was asked to wait an hour to give them an acceptable amount of time to arrive, in case the bad weather slowed them down. At 10.00 the judge called me in and with no defense to consider judgment was made to me. The judge was very nice and explained to me that by the letter of the law he couldn’t award me a full refund as technically the ship had left its home port and sailed to most of the ports on the itinerary. However I was allowed to claim for damages.

One of the most costly extras was transportation at ports of call. I have been cruising for nearly 40 years and have been used to each cruise line laying on a shuttle service from the court to a central site in the visiting town. CMV didn’t provide this. The only shuttles that we were afforded were those laid on by some of the port authorities. In Ho Chi Ming, as an example, we were 90 minutes away so unless you were prepared to book one of the highly priced ship excursions you had no means of getting there. Some of the crew chanced getting a cab at the port gate, more than a mile’s walk from where we’d docked, and in 90+ degrees of heat. The trouble was we’d been warned that the cabs were not reliable and often didn’t turn up for the return leg of the journey, that and of course the expense for such a lengthy car ride.

Sydney was the same. Instead of docking at the main hub in Circular Quay we were stuck in the boon docks at Whitehaven Bay. There were no waiting cabs at all and the nearest bus stop was more than 2 miles away. The only transport on offer was a ferry service, a 500-meter walk away, with no shade and no seating area. This was unacceptable for those that were elderly and those with mobility issues. Apart from the matter of having to buy a ticket, Circular Quay was still an hour’s walk from the drop off area at King’s Wharf. The service only ran until 8.00pm, which was a stupidity when you have an overnight stay.

These are just two examples of a plethora of container ports, with no passenger facilities at all and the costs were something I hadn’t budgeted for. Unfortunately I didn’t win on this point, as CMV had not specified it would provide transport for their 900 guests.

Having said that the judge was more than fair and I was very happy with the judgment. I had written to CMV just before taking the matter further asking them to make a payment, which was equal to my award. My viewpoint is always ask for more as you hardly ever get the full asking price. If I’d only asked for what I wanted I would probably have got less.

I did think that CMV might play up and make me chase the money but I give them their due, I received a very courteous email asking for my bank details and the money was in my account the next day. What I find short-sighed of the cruise line is if they had offered a cruise credit to some of the legitimate complainers on the cruise, those passengers would have invested in another cruise in the foreseeable future. It would also have gone a long way in repairing the good will. Here’s the thing, on a long cruise where more than half the voyage are days spent at sea, the passenger is going to spend more than if they were in port. If the cruise line had offered up a free cabin they would have been quids in with the added costs of drinks packages, money exchange, specialty restaurants, photo sales, spa treatments, ice cream sales and coffee cards. Those that had a good time would no doubt book a future cruise BUT of those 200+ upset clientele, I would lay money down that more than ¾ will never travel with CMV again. That’s a huge loss in a very competitive market. Then there is the fact that we are only talking about one cruise, there are umpteen others where they have upset passengers to the point of a no-return. It’s a great shame as I have a soft spot for Magellan and its crew, as I did on Marco Polo, but I will never invest my hard earned money on a trip of a lifetime again because it becomes one but for all the wrong reasons.

The cruise I was booked on with P&O for 5 January was pulled at the last minute so I headed to the Amazon to grab some winter sun. About a month after returning I started experiencing nasty shivering fits in the middle of the night. It only happened every three of four night so I put it down to the extreme winter weather we’d been experiencing. I started feeling extremely tired in the middle of the day to the point I had to have a small nap but I didn’t feel refreshed once up again.

Two weeks ago I went for my annual medical and mentioned these night chills to the doctor. I was shaking so badly the night before that I felt like a tumble dryer on full cycle! He explained that my symptoms were classic malaria and wanted me to have bloods drawn. In the four trips I’ve made to the Amazon, I don’t remember ever getting bitten but the doctor was concerned as the disease is rife in South America. Here’s the thing in December I headed to the Dominican Republic for m brother’s wedding and got bitten to smithereens. I had no idea it was a malaria hot zone until Max told me. He and his wife donate blood every month but apparently on his return to England following the wedding he wasn’t allowed to give blood for fear it might be tainted. Well I never.

Last Monday I headed to Princess Royal Hospital for the tests my doctor had requested. I was very impressed that the surgery rang me on the Thursday with my results. It seems that although not malaria, I have picked up some tropical infection and it may or may not have contributed to my low kidney function. I will have further blood tests when I come home in July and see where I’m at.

I’m up to my eyes writing my new book. It’s a much bigger venture than I’d first imagined and my deadline of last September was overly ambitious. As well as a port guide for those wanting to tackle exploration on their own it’s an A-Z to cruising with mobility challenged sections throughout. Because I’ve been at sea for nearly 40 years I have a better perspective than some and I’m providing the basic asks and not the history of the city you might be visiting. As it’s now finally beginning to take shape, I’m excited about its launch. Because of the information included I’ve had to split it into separate tomes. The first will be Norway and the follow up the Baltic. At least for those the A-Z to cruising remains the same for all the guides so there is not the same workload involved as for the first release. Considering the expansion of the cruise industry and the fact that it is still the fastest growing sector through the travel market I’m surprised there isn’t more information out there.

The photographic exhibition has had to be put back once again as there is not quite enough time in the year to give it my full focus but the prints are still selling well on the ships. It would just be nice to bring it to a larger audience but having placed them on their own dedicated website I was bitterly disappointed that the Internet doesn’t give the shots the justice they deserve. The unique angles and finish don’t translate to a screen but god willing there will be a future opportunity.

My son is studying extra hard in the last few weeks left before his final exams. In the six weeks I’ve been home I’ve only seen him twice but both Max and Matt are coming over on my birthday on Easter Monday, which is a lovely treat as I’m not usually here for the ‘big’ day. Thank you to all those that have already sent me birthday messages and texts, it is very much appreciated.

NEWS ALERT

For those of you who follow my brother’s appearances, I am sad to announce that 2018 is the last year Matt will be touring with The Matt Monro Story. After more than 30 years in the business Matt is hanging up his hat and while he did say the same thing a few years ago it was the dangling carrot of The Matt Monro Show that tempted him into staying to complete my vision.

The British tour kicks off in September and carries through to the end of November although Matt has already done a lone date in Ireland.

For your last chance to see Matt performing the songs our dad made famous book your tickets now.

Cruise Dates 2018

7 May – 19 May – Celebrity Silhouette
19 May-26 May – Celebrity Silhouette
26 May 9 June – Celebrity Silhouette
9 June 23 June – Celebrity Silhouette
23 June 7 July – Home for Max’s Graduation
7 July – 21 July – Celebrity Silhouette
21 July – 4 August – Celebrity Silhouette
4 August – 18 August – Celebrity Silhouette

Each time I’ve been away I’ve been posting a travel blog with pictures and video onto my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/michelemonro every time I’m in port with an Internet connection.

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight feature this month, I know so many of you enjoy them. This month we look in on the ever-popular Temptations

Check out the ‘Rough Guide to mattmonro.com’, which is available towards the bottom of the Homepage. If you don’t know how to access certain areas of the site or in fact are unaware of new areas, this guide will explain how easy this website is to get around, once you know how.

There is also another information box “How to Use the Forum’. I know a lot of people have been tempted to join in on some of our conversations but are slightly nervous of doing so. For that reason I have printed step-by-step instructions of how to access it. It really does only take a few minutes.

Whatever the coming year holds, suffice to say that I shall be plugging Matt Monro’s music at every opportunity.  That is the wonderful thing about working the ships, it gives me a brand new audience each time and if then, a small percentage go home a fan, then it is worth all the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the Bay of Biscay!!!!

Until next month take care of yourselves and here’s wishing everyone a Happy Easter. See you in May.

Warmest to you and yours

Michele

 

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