NEWS

 

July 2017

Last month I mentioned that on coming home it was the first time ever that Max wasn’t waiting for me at the house because his University exams started on 5th May and I’m delighted to say he achieved a first for his second year. So one more year of agony to get through but at least this time next year he will be a graduate.

I was only home for a few weeks and boy was it tight trying to get all the mail, washing, cleaning and updates done in time before I left again. It didn’t help that I made a formal complaint to ABTA about CMV, the paperwork is all very laborious and I have now filed court papers as well. As far as I’m concerned the ship was not fit for purpose and even after all the cruising I’ve done over the last 40 years, I was shocked at how dismal a display it was. Bare in mind it was a Maiden World Cruise and we didn’t even know we’d left Tilbury. There was no band, no fanfare or announcement, we just sailed out. That was the first indication things wouldn’t be right. It’s such a shame as Cruise & Maritime had all the tools to make it great and I would have thought they would have used it as an advertising tool for the Columbus World Cruise in 2018. After all you couldn’t have asked for better publicity.

I made the most of the ports otherwise the whole thing would have been a wash out but there were a lot of sea days in between and when we did anchor we were miles away from a lot of places, some a two hour trip away. The thing with container ports is that they are not geared up for passengers. Because of the security element passengers are not allowed to walk in certain ones and because they were in the middle of nowhere there was very few, if any, taxis available. What is the point of having an overnight in Saigon, now Ho Chi Ming if you can’t get there. Even if you had paid for the ship’s transport it came back at 6.30pm (meaning you leave the city at 4.30pm) so you can’t enjoy an evening meal or soak up the atmosphere. All in all it was very disappointing. When you look at the itinerary before booking you note how many hours you have in certain places but what you don’t realize is that you could lose two or three hours because of traveling to the city. I’ve never been to so many container ports in my life and even some of the other stops didn’t have onshore facilities.

Chennai was a perfect example of the total ineptitude of the ship’s staff. We arrived at 6.00am and so I had booked a private tour guide to pick me up at 6.30am. As most of the ship’s tours didn’t start until 7.30am I was right in thinking there wouldn’t be a queue to get off. I was told the ship had cleared and so went down the stairs to be ushered up by the local security who said the ship hadn’t had clearance. This happened three times. Finally on the 4th attempt I was allowed down but then found out that passengers weren’t allowed to walk within the port. The GSM had no idea and pointed to a gate cross the way. I wasn’t allowed to go and was told I would have to use the shuttle service, which didn’t star until 7.30am. The gate we had to use was 2km away from where we were berthed. I demanded someone take me in a car and I finally reached the gate at 7.10am Thank goodness one of the ship’s security had come in the car with me as he was a local and was meeting his wife because the guards at the gate didn’t want to let us out. It was a complete fiasco

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I finally met up with my guide at 7.20am but also had to cut the tour short as although we didn’t have to be back on board until 5.00pm one had to allow an hour to get to the gate and wait for a shuttle bus that would take us back to the ship. The worst thing was that no one knew anything about the rules and regulations of Chennai. I wouldn’t have gotten off at all if it weren’t for the fact that I was told the Indian visa was compulsory and cost me about £200.00. It turned out it was only necessary if you wanted to disembark.

Anyway I have left the matter in capable hands and will wait for an update.

I don’t fly over a few hours as it means I have to have medical assistance. Had I been medically able I would have flown home but there were other problems, one is that I had 11 pieces of baggage, something the airlines wouldn’t take kindly to. The second problem was that my car was at Cruise & Maritime’s home port in Tilbury so the logistics and money needed to get back to London and then get a cab to Tilbury would have been hugely expensive. I worked out it would probably have cost me £4,000 all in, something I wasn’t prepared to do.

Suffice to say if we had been told all the negatives regarding container ports and visa costs, lack of entertainment etc then one can make an informed decision. There were some passengers on the 4-month trip that had never sailed before! But at least they had nothing to compare it to. I took the trouble to travel on Magellan one year earlier for six weeks to the Amazon and it was a completely different ball game. We did have the smell of fumes and some cabin flooding but the entertainment was excellent. We had cabarets on deck nearly every night as well as open-air buffets. This year over the 4-month voyage we had the most amazing weather throughout but it seemed as if no one could be bothered with the extra workload. It is down to the Hotel Director to organize the departments so everyone is working as one and the one we had was useless. Last year Austrian born Daniel Rihter was HD and he was brilliant. I suppose you are only as good as your staff.

To be fair to a lot of the underlings they just weren’t prepared and they were powerless to effect change. I asked the Bar Manager why we had run out of Soda Water, Ginger Ale and Crisps etc. He explained that they had been requisitioned but they weren’t ordered and that is how it remained. Every time the ship ran out of an item it wasn’t replaced.

About a week before joining Celebrity my brother suddenly announced he was also getting married in December this year and I would have to fly to Sri Lanka. Don’t get me wrong a 9 day beach holiday is something not to turn your nose up at but I had to dash out and buy an outfit, organize most of the legalities for him and his lady, cancel my annual Christmas party and try and prepare for the festive season in advance as we don’t get back until the 22nd December.

It will actually be lovely spending time with the family. We haven’t been on holiday together since we were kids so we’ll probably come back not talking to each other, lol

I signed my contracts with Celebrity 18 months ago and they have been amazing because Max only told me about his wedding this year so I had to speak to the office about the situation. To be fair they could have told me they would cancel all of my bookings but instead are letting me go home for the equivalent of one cruise. I did offer to fly home at my cost for three days but it means flying back from St Petersburg and it is difficult to get a visa and is more trouble than it is worth. So as it stands I come back to Southampton on 30 July and disembark Thank goodness I can keep my room so I can leave all my luggage onboard. I’ll drive back to Telford and spend a few days seeing my boy while he is still single and then o the 9th August we all drive down to the wedding venue at Hunton Park and stay for two nights. The actual wedding is on the 10th so I’ll check out on the 11th and am staying at a local hotel in Harrow for the night while Max and Justine will stay at her parents in Harrow. Not sure what we are doing that day but when they fly off on their honeymoon on the 12th I will drive to Southampton and stay the night ready to board the ship on 13th. It’s a bit of a nightmare but it just isn’t worth driving six hours to come home for two nights. It just means unlocking the house, turning all the electrics on and then I have food to think of for two days etc etc, No it is much easier for me to stay up in London.

On Sunday 18th I drove to Southampton to board my favourite ship, the Celebrity Eclipse and I am absolutely delighted that my gorgeous friend and cruise director Sue Denning will be onboard again. It was her big anniversary last year and her and her husband Jimmy planned the most amazing year of travel and celebrations so I wasn’t sure if she would be rejoining the Eclipse so early. This is my third year as ‘resident’ speaker’ and one that I want to make memorable as sadly next year the Eclipse will no loner be based in England for the summer. I’ve been lucky enough to be offered the Silhouette from 7th May right through to November, with a month off in between for good behaviour, lol. I made the decision to only work until August and as a rarity have some of the English summer at home.

Like the Eclipse Silhouette is also a Solstice-class cruise ship so the set up is almost identical. The main difference is she carries 35 more passengers than the other three Solstice class ships so it means I can work in Celebrity Central again. This is a much more intimate room than the theatre and I love the atmosphere and having the chance to talk with the audience.

Talking of an audience, at the time of writing this, it is possible that Matt and I will be doing a one-off show at Brierley Hill Civic Centre in Dudley in November. The venue seats 695 so it should be a great night and if any of you live near there we would love to see you. I wrote the Matt Monro story ‘One Voice’ and originally Matt and I were going to tour it together but with my work on the ship it wasn’t possible so I put in a narrator. This will be the first time we have worked together so will be very memorable.

What is nice to know is that as long as Matt Jnr and I are around we will continue to ensure the legacy dad left behind isn’t forgotten although it gets harder every year as new generations reach maturity and radio stations change their play lists.

My old friend Eric Hall rang me asking if I would come on his Radio Essex radio show on Father’s Day and play a few MM songs but alas I was going to be away so we have arranged something for around dad’s birthday on 1 December.

Just so you know Jasmine records issued an erroneously titled "Complete Recordings 1955 - 1962" set by dad on 9th December. This in all likelihood steals all Richard Moore’s remasters, as this record company doesn’t have the rights to any of the original masters. Certainly they don’t have the masters from Decca, Love is the Same Anywhere or The Complete Singles Collection.

This is either a substandard release or they have taken our masters for their own gain. There is never any finesse or research taken. They have listed the Parade of the Pops LP tracks as BBC Transcriptions. Where they pulled that from I don’t know as they are EMI tracks recorded at Abbey Road and have nothing to do with the BBC apart from being the same name as the radio show.

Strange Lady took us years to get hold of and Richard lovingly worked on the disc to give it its best possible treatment. Jasmine can’t have got the masters anywhere else so I urge you not to buy this product. I’m so fed up with these fly-by-night companies coming out of the woodwork to make a buck off other people’s work.

Richard and I have started talking about changing the look of the website but before we invest in the time and money we want to know whether you all still like to visit. I have noticed that the Forum has been very quiet of late. I there something we can do to improve it or have you simply lost interest. It took me quite a few years to fight to get this site out live and I’ve been incredibly proud of what Richard and I have both achieved. It would be immensely sad to say goodbye but we both get the feeling that there is not enough interest anymore. Please let us know your thoughts and from these comments it might help us to go forward in a more positive way.

Cruise Dates 2017
18 June -2 July - Celebrity Eclipse
2 July-16 July - Celebrity Eclipse
16 July - 30 July - Celebrity Eclipse
30 July - 13 August - Celebrity Eclipse
13 August - 26 August - Celebrity Eclipse
26 August - 3 September - Celebrity Eclipse
3 September-17 September - Celebrity Eclipse
17 September-21 September - Celebrity Eclipse
28 September -8 October - Celebrity Eclipse
8 October-18 October - Celebrity Eclipse
18 October-28 October - Celebrity Eclipse

Cruise Dates 2018
6 January – 25 February – P&O Oriana
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 - Celebrity Silhouette
7 July – 21 July - Celebrity Silhouette
21 July – 4 August - Celebrity Silhouette

 

I wrote a travel blog while I was and the world cruise and have added to it since I’ve been back. While on Celebrity I will continue to add to my Facebook page as when I get into port https://www.facebook.com/michelemonro

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 Jackie Wilson

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 don’t forget to check my travel blog out at Facebook.co.ukm/micheleMonro. See you all again in July.

Warmest to you and yours

Michele   

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