NEWS

October 2016

I seem to have been on Celebrity Eclipse for months and I still have a month to go. The ship is beautiful and put others to shame. As I sit on deck writing this update I look out at the still calm waters of the Mediterranean bathed in sunlight and think how very lucky I am to have a working environment as good as this.

Our very own Edgar and Margaret Salmon were upset to learn they were getting onto the Emerald Princess while I had just got off there and had jumped onto Celebrity. We did try and make a tentative attempt at meeting up in Genoa as both ships were to be in that port on the same day but Edgar didn’t switch his phone on while at sea and I got his message too late. The problem was that we were due to sail at 3.30pm, nearly two hours before the Emerald so the opportunity was lost. Hopefully we might see each other on a cruise ship next year.

The first leg of this marathon run was 8 days in Norway visiting Bergen, Flam, Geiranger, Alesund and Stavanger. When I accepted the booking I had no idea it was a Bank Holiday weekend. The extra money I paid for my new GPS was worth every penny as it diverted me away from all the long queues and traffic build-ups including the Southampton Boat Show. It took me via a toll road, which cost me £5.50 and because of the cost the motorway was empty. By the time I dropped my luggage off and parked the car it was only 10.35am and by midday I was set up on Deck 12 doing a crossword puzzle. I’ve never got on any ship that early before and I spent the most part of the day relaxing making last minute phone calls to all and sundry. Several loud blasts from the funnel let Southampton know we were leaving and we left the sunny shores of England to a ripple-less sea.

There was a letter in my cabin from Jane McAnealy, the activity manager, requesting a meeting later that evening to go over my schedule. As there are only two sea days on this voyage they added a third talk at 8.00pm on one of the port days but it didn’t work out well with passengers much too tired from the extremely long tours and it was also timed in between the two sittings for dinner. My shows scheduled on the sea days went very well and I spent most of my days playing tourist.

The only negative about this ship is the lighting on Deck 12. Every night, after sunset, they have a candle light setting and no one can read, crossword solve or even see the people you might want to talk to. Every evening we ring down to reception to complain and every evening they reluctantly put them back on for an hour or two.

The  only negative about the itinerary was that my favourite port Bergen was closed as we arrived on Sunday and like most European countries they are religious and don’t open. Boo Hoo.

A couple of years ago I bought a fabulous leather cap filled with badges in Norway but it was stolen on one of the cruises. Fr the life of me I can’t remember what port I bought it in even though I can visualize the whole area. I was hoping I could replace the cap this week but alas it didn’t come from any of these ports so now it is a matter of elimination. I’ll have to get my itinerary out from the two week Northern Lights Cruise when I get home and see which other ports I visited and before you say it I already checked the Internet and EBay.

The Celebrity Eclipse was the last ship to go into Norway before the end of their season and places like Alesund where the population is only 156 people, was considerable less as some of the natives had left early for the winter.

Meanwhile back in Blighty there had been a  heat wave which decided to go awol on the day we docked at the Ocean Terminal and I was delighted when we heading out to the shores of the Mediterranean and warmer weather. The first faces I recognized were Beverly and Bill and shortly after Sally and Mike. I met these couples on this ship last year and both were ‘virgins’ to cruising so I introduced them to each other. From that moment on they were inseparable and stayed in touch in England. The next logical step was to come on the ship together and we all had a great time catching up.

Sally had shopped around and got a tremendous deal paying £2400.00 each but that gave them a balcony, the drinks package, upgraded status to gold concierge complete with Butler service, $200 cabin credit and case of wine delivered to each of their homes. It just proves it pays to shop around and it was a last minute booking as she made the reservation in April with Thomas Cook. Beverley said the cabin credit would go towards the handles on a new Michael Kors bag!

I went to get lunch and walking back along the deck there were three people with their belongings plonked on my chair. I was ready to do battle when I saw it was Caroline, June and Barry who were also on last year. Caroline said she saw the coke and the crossword book on the table and knew it was mine. They were on to celebrate June and Barry’s 50th wedding anniversary and a great time was had by all.

The winds on the first two nights were fierce. I have a routine in that at 900pm I go down to Deck 5 because the lights are on there. I turned my chair away from the wind and huddled down to do some work. Unbeknown to me the Captain had given the order to close off Deck 5 because of the weather and the doors were disabled. No one came out to check whether there was anyone out there and it took nearly an hour until I spotted a crewmember and asked to be let in, silly people.

Having left the Bay of Biscay and rounded a corner we finally got rid of the winds that had followed us since we left England and the forecast for Gibraltar was 30 degrees. I could live with that and feeling that heat on your skin penetrating your bones is definitely a healer. I dashed about buying my antibiotics because Gibraltar is one of those countries where they will sell them without a prescription. What my doctor doesn’t seem to understand is that working up to nine months at sea I need a certain amount of drugs with me just in case and I don’t feel inclined to pay $100 a time to visit the medical centre.

The next sea day was the grand opening of Michael Kors, they never open straight away and hype up the event, which works and there was quite a crowd. I was extremely naughty buying several bags and a watch I’d had my eye on which I’d spotted in the window a couple of days. That is the good thing about doing back-to-back as new stock comes on every time we go back to base and they’d had a large order. Actually I haven’t had a decent watch in years except for an old Timex hooked to the side of my bum bag. I find it very difficult to do up anything fiddly as I shake too much but this watch has a button, which releases the metal watchstrap. The other benefit of the wristband is that I could have links taken out. I don’t like anything tight on my wrist so I have left it loose on purpose. It is gorgeous but designs have changed in the last few years, which I never knew about.

The night of Gibraltar I got talking to a couple called Kevin and Jackie and I must say I have made friends for life. We spent most of the cruise together and of course they had the benefit of their own personal port guide. Having visited most ports several times over certainly has its benefits.

By the end of the cruise the smoking area where I sit on Deck 12 had a great bunch of people and unbelievably six couples, who knew I was going to be on here next year, went down to Future Cruising and rebooked the same cruise for next year visiting Gibraltar, Nice, Florence/Pisa, Rome, Genoa, Malaga and Lisbon. You can’t get a bigger compliment than that and I can’t wait.

The 17th September saw us dock back in England and I was genuinely gutted that everyone was going but at least I’ll see them all again. We picked up those pesky winds a couple of days prior and weather in England was cold and spitting with rain. I’d made arrangements to get off and put some of my purchases in the car. It makes the cabin tidier but I have to stop spending as I simply won’t be able to get everything in my tiny Kia Picante when I get off at the end of October!

This leg saw us visit the Azores, Portugal and the Canary Islands. The very first night at sea I went to the theatre to see a group called We3 which brought together the talents of Fraser (bass), Steve (lead) and Andy (vocal percussion) to form a unique sounding band with extraordinary versatility, repertoire, range and style that left me mesmerized.

Every single sound was made with their voices alone and incredibly they managed to create the fell of a band by combining their unique skills on stage with an interesting repertoire of rock songs, modern pop, jazz and soul classics as well as their own original material.

The boys were famously featured on the T-Mobile advert at Heathrow Airport entitled ‘Welcome Home’ which has now had nearly 14 million hits on YouTube. They have entertained the elite in the business including Queen, Elle Macpherson, Tom Jones, Brian May, Brian Adams, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Tim Rice.

If you get a chance you need to see the boys show but you can start by visiting their website at we3vocal.com and watch one of their video clips.

My gorgeous friend Sue Denning embarked on 17th relieving Eddy Jenkins as cruise director. Sue and I knew each other in the days I managed a group called the Brothers Demented and she was acting CD when I came on the Eclipse last year. She invited me for dinner last week to try out the new Japanese Restaurant, which took over the space formally occupied by Bistro on Five. I’m gutted as I loved that eatery if only for the best burgers at sea and I was actually the very last patron to eat there when it closed last week. She also invited another of her friends and fellow artist Lorraine Brown who was doing the show in the theatre the following night. Apart from being a lovely bubby person she has a tremendous talent and is definitely one of the best singers on the circuit.

There were also quite a few fellow passengers I knew from previous episodes at sea, one of whom is Lynda and Brian. Lynda is very zany and was known for dressing in very loud colours and this cruise didn’t disappoint. It’s always good having a personality onboard as it brightens up the cruise. Her husband Brian suffers from Parkinson  but loved all my shows last year and on their passenger comment form they wrote that I had made their cruise.

This leg was interesting because as well as visiting Ponta Delgada, Madeira, Tenerife and Gran Canaria we did an over-night at Lisbon. I do love this city and it was fantastic having the opportunity of spending an evening there. As well as the obligatory visit to Michael Kors I had dinner at The Hard Rock Café, now that’s a great burger.

Because of making sure this hits the website on time I had to submit it to Richard on 29 September which means we have two almost identical itineraries, almost except for the first port. Instead of Ponta Delgada, one if going to Vigo and the other to La Coruna and they both have an overnight in Lisbon. I’m going to make sure I make the most of it as looking forward to the legs for next year I don’t think it’s going to be repeated.

I’d made arrangements with my publisher to send another 100 books to the ship as I had none left and although they came on the ship on the 17 September I didn’t get them until a week later because they couldn’t be found. I’ve missed out on several cruises because of this hiccup in the print run but at least I have replenished stock now. Sod’s Law says I’ll go back with 98 copies!!!

Now on to Matt Monro news……..
The new highly awaited release Matt Monro: The George Martin Years is finally back in stock at Amazon. Please don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon for Richard and me as it is the only way we have of knowing what you think of the release, good or bad. The track listing is featured on “CD of the month”.

The other news although slightly premature is that the new show “Matt Monro: The Legacy” has been sold to 60 theatres around the country kicking off in February 2017. Matt Jnr will star but having looked at the dates it is impossible for me to do it as well. It was hugely popular last year and this time round I’ve updated the life story and Matt has added several other hits to the repertoire. Keep an eye out for further news in the coming month.

My gorgeous boy Max has just started back at University. Now that the long summer holidays are over he needs to shake off the cobwebs and concentrate on his degree.
He went over to Florida recently and we put the house on the market. We had an offer within three days and originally we were set to complete on 28 September. Unfortunately there was a slight hold up with the funds so we are waiting on a new date but it shouldn’t take too much longer. When the money is finally in the bank it will allow Max and Justine to get married next year just in time for their 10th anniversary. That reminds me I need to buy a new hat. If it was good enough for Cilla Black……

The time away has given me the leeway to work on my new book project and all being equal it will be ready to go to print in February ready for the cruise season next year. The working title is ‘The Port Guide for Mere Mortals’ which includes a ‘Mobility Challenged’ section. The first edition includes Norway and Europe. If you have any recommendations of shops, eateries, tours and the likes please email me at michele@mattmonro..com. Even if you had a valuable tip I want to hear it , you might know the best places for duty free and if anyone has issues with their mobility please share your stories with me. This project is important and if you have any suggestions of things to include then also share that. Please don’t be shy, everything is valuable and you’ll be helping future travelers.

 

My new dates for 2016/2017 have been confirmed as follows.

Cruise Calendar 2016

30 September – 3 October – Celebrity Eclipse
3 October – 16 October – Celebrity Eclipse
16 October – 29 October – Celebrity Eclipse

Cruise Dates 2017
5 January – 5 May - Cruise & Maritime Magellan World Cruise
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

 

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

 

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

 

Warmest to you and yours
Michele
x

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