June 2016

By the time you read this I will be heading out the door to board Fred Olsen’s Boudicca, which is slightly worrying. It was only a few weeks ago that the headlines shouted out that hundreds of passengers on a British cruise ship had fallen ill with the sickness and diarrhea bug norovirus.

The BBC reported that that most of those on board were British and that Fred Olsen Cruise Lines were undertaking extensive sanitisation measures and cleaning of the ship in accordance with its strict illness containment and prevention plan

The US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) said 252 of the 919 passengers on board the Balmoral cruise ship had fallen ill with the stomach virus.

Fred Olsen co-operated fully with all the necessary maritime agencies and authorities, as Balmoral continued on her cruise and continued to make very effort possible to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all its guests and crew on board, which is of paramount importance.

It isn’t just Fred Olsen that has made the news, it seems that several other cruise lines have also come under scrutiny. The CDC is investigating an outbreak of a stomach bug aboard the Disney Wonder in the first week of May. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says that 92 passengers and 5 crew members reported falling ill.

Brits on board the Queen Mary 2 had their holiday plans scuppered as the lavish cruise liner was banned from entering Jordanian waters following an outbreak of the highly contagious norovirus. Not only was the ship denied entry to Aqaba but also Salalah in Oman because of an outbreak.

In March, the luxury cruise line The Golden Princess, which was sailing around the South Pacific, docked in Melbourne after hundreds of passengers were struck don with the illness.

There have been various outbreaks on Boudicca but that isn’t the worst thing to happen in the last year. The U.K. based cruise ship with 784 passengers aboard was left listing off the coast of Morocco, North Africa following an engine room fire.
Newspapers in London reported that the Boudicca cruise ship, originally sailing from Southampton for an 18-night cruise of Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, caught fire due to an outbreak in the engine room and left the ship in total darkness.

The BBC said that the fire broke out at four in the morning and "the ship was without engine power for about five hours." The BBC quoted texts from passengers on board back to their families: "'no engines, fire in the engine room, there's smoke, we're in life jackets and the captain says everything is under control'."

The ship was able to restart two main engines as well as auxiliary engines and limped to the next port at a speed of 8-9 knots.

The Daily Mail covered the story in an article "Terrified British holidaymakers plunged into darkness after stricken cruise ship began to list off coast of Morocco following fire in engine room." The cruise line down-played the danger to the passengers and crew members, saying "there is a power outage to some cabins and public areas in the centre of the ship, but most services are operating normally, and guests are enjoying the usual activities on board, both inside and out on deck."

In fairness it isn’t just Fred Olsen that has hit the headlines regularly. Cruise & Maritime’s Marco Polo hit the news. A British pensioner had to be rescued after jumping into the sea in a bid to catch her cruise liner off the coast of the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Susan Brown, 65, from Dorset, swam about 1,600ft out to sea in an attempt to make it to the Marco Polo cruise ship after a row with her husband. The couple had cut short the 32-night Treasures of the West Indies cruise on day 28, and the cruise operator Cruise & Maritime Voyages had offered them flights out of Madeira on Saturday evening.

The couple are thought to have had a row at Madeira Airport and Mrs Brown reportedly believed her husband had gone and got back on the ship. However, it is thought he had boarded the plane and flown back to Bristol. In a bid to get back to the ship, Mrs Brown jumped into the water beside Madeira Airport and attempted to swim to it.

Three fishermen heard her cries for help, and told local media she was "very confused and pale". According to the Daily Telegraph, one of the fisherman said: "She was barely conscious - she's lucky to be alive. I don't think she would have lasted another 30 minutes."

Funchal port captain Felix Marques said Mrs Brown had told medics that she had jumped in the sea after losing Mr Brown at the airport. Speaking to the Metro, he added: "She says that when they were at the airport, her husband told her he was getting a taxi and returning to the cruise liner but that didn't happen and he boarded the plane.

"She was very lucky to survive. She was in the water for more than three hours and was suffering from the effects of hypothermia when fishermen who heard her cries for help around 12.20am on Sunday rescued her. "All she had on her was the clothes she was wearing and a handbag which she was clinging to. "He added: "It's only a hypothesis but we think one of the reasons she may have been able to stay above water for so long was that her handbag kept her afloat."


These sort of news items are not really unexpected but the following incident left me feeling quite sick. It was like a scene from every parent's worst nightmare: a distraught mother watched helplessly as a cruise ship sailed away with her young children on board.

According to reports, the mother had not arrived back to the cruise ship at the scheduled time of departure, and the father had disembarked to try to find her.
The cruise ship then set sail, leaving both parents on the quayside.

The father could be seen jumping off a racing buggy and waving his arms frantically, while his wife dropped her bags, fell to her knees and clasped her hands in front of her chest as she begged the crew to stop.

According to the Mail, spokesman for Norwegian Cruise Line, Archie Pottinger, confirmed that the mother had been late for the cruise ship's departure.
"The onboard team located her husband and children on board but the family was not able to reach her, nor did they know when she would be returning," he said.
"Due to the circumstances, the ship went beyond normal protocol and waited an additional half an hour for the guest."

"When she had still not returned, and, following consultation with the family, it was decided that the husband would disembark with their travel documents to wait for his wife while the children, a boy aged nine and a girl aged twelve, would stay with their uncle and his family on the ship for the remainder of the voyage."

"The company offered travel and lodging assistance to the couple and arrangements were made for them to reunite with the ship upon her return to New York on April 24."

While many passengers had sympathy for the family and shouted for the ship to turn back, some were not so sympathetic, pointing out that it's a strict cruise rule to be back in time for departure.

It wasn’t reported why the mother was late back to the ship but the whole thing left me feeling cold.

There are hundreds of incidents on cruise ships that go unreported, numerous pool drownings, suicide jumpers, mooring mishaps, fires and unexplained deaths. The reason you don’t hear about it is that cruise lines don’t like negative publicity. My girlfriend was on one ship where a passenger went missing after dinner. A full search was made of the ship before it changed course so it could retrace its steps over the last 12 hours but it proved fruitless. The woman in question was never found. Numerous passengers sent emails home to put loved ones minds at rest in case there were reports that a woman was missing. Those that published items on Facebook were severely reprimanded by the cruise ship.

I have been on several cruises where there have incidents but you never hear the outcome, it is very much a closed shop and the crew are threatened with dismissal if they talk.

The trouble is that when people travel a lot seem to leave their common sense back home. A parent of an eight year old wouldn’t let their child wander the streets at night where they live so why do they think it is right to let them wander alone in a ship. I was on Royal Caribbean recently where the drinking age is 21 in America but this particular voyage saw the ship cross into European waters and the age was lowered to 18 midway through the cruise. I have never seen so many drunken children in my life and the parents were oblivious, well that was until one couple were called by security because the youth had been seen sitting on the deck railing because of a dare. I can tell you that a lot of couples got a shock when thy saw their cruise bill.

Like any holiday you have to be prudent and for any of you traveling soon I hope you don’t encounter the norovirus bug. A cruise ship, which is regarded as a confined area sees the virus spread like wildfire. When people are ill with norovirus, they shed up to 1 billion viral particles in each gram of stool so it’s not surprising that you are confined to your cabin for 48 hours. It is hard to avoid but these might help.

Wash your hands often (hot water & soap), especially before/after eating and after using the bathroom. I always go back to my own cabin.

Avoid touching handrails, door handles, elevator buttons etc.

Limit physical contacts as much as possible; pack some extra soap, a personal disinfectant  (Lysol, Pepto-Bismol), oral rehydration sachets & treatments for diarrhea.

Avoid eating uncooked food (including salads & sandwiches) and food that cannot be washed (unless it can be peeled or shelled).

Drink only bottled liquids (preferably without ice), don’t share drinks/utensils.

Report any observed evidence of vomiting or diarrhea that you may encounter on the ship.

Should you experience any symptoms, return to your cabin and immediately report to the Medical Centre.

As you know Richard and I are always asking our readers to let us know of any rarities they might have. I’m very grateful to Mike Parker who sent in his late wife’s scrapbooks. Sue was one of dad’s biggest fans and a regular on our site and she started collecting memorabilia in her teens. One item that I now have the good fortune to have in my collection are the original labels from Cadbury’s drinking chocolate which ran the competition for The Late Late Show. Although I have written about the event I had never seen the actual labels until now so my heartfelt thanks go to Mike.

Now sit down and take a Valium before reading on. Last month I talked about Warners, who took over the reins of EMI and subsequently Universal and are sitting on a potential goldmine of back-catalogue for all their stable of artists and had failed to do anything with it.

It now seems my nagging has paid off. Sadly because of the news of George Martin’s passing Richard and I suggested a ‘Produced By George Martin’ project. At first, although Warners replied that the idea was certainly something they could look at they would still have to canvass interest, which would took several weeks. It didn’t, it in fact took several months but we now have the green light.

The track list features songs George had either written for dad (mainly under the pseudonym Graham Fisher) or tracks he’d arranged and conducted.  The current running time comes in just a smidge over 78 minutes and by no stretch of the imagination could it be deemed a ‘Greatest Hits’.

The working title at the moment is ‘Matt Monro: Produced by George Martin’ and as soon as I have a definite release date you will be the first to know. I don’t think it will be too long as I have already written the notes and am awaiting the artwork. The track list was submitted to legal who have now dispensed with the matter so I’m just waiting for a slot.


You Keep Me Swinging – Made under the name of Fred Flange for Peter Sellers LP. 1st Recording with George, who also wrote it!
Love Walked In - 1st Single recorded with George under the name of Matt Monro
Portrait Of My Love – 1st Hit
My Kind Of Girl
This Time – Single B side written by George
Gonna Build A Mountain
Can This Be Love – Single A side Written by George
No One Will Ever Know – Piano Demo. Written by George and his favourite recording of Matt
Softly As I Leave You – Major Hit
Tahiti – First time Stereo Release
My Love And Devotion
I Get Along Without You Very Well – From Matt’s most critically acclaimed LP – “Sings Hoagy Carmichael”
One Morning In May – From Matt’s most critically acclaimed LP – “Sings Hoagy Carmichael”
Walk Away
Without The One I Love – Not available on CD since 1991!
The Girl I Love – Not Currently Available
From Russia With Love – George’s production tricks at their best
If This Should Be A Dream – Written by George – Not available on CD since 1991!
Once In Every Long And Lonely While – Written By George and not available on CD since 1991!
As Long As I’m Singing – Not Currently Available. Made for US market
Yesterday - Arranged and Conducted by George
Sarah’s Coming Home - Arranged and Conducted by George
First Of May - Arranged and Conducted by George
Michele- Arranged and Conducted by George
Ethel Baby - Arranged and Conducted by George
I Am In Life – From the last Session produced by George
I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten – Produced by John Burgess BUT - Arranged and Conducted by George – Rare on CD


STOP PRESS…..Michael Buble is doing "My Kind of Girl" on his next album!

My new dates for 2016 have been confirmed as follows.

Cruise Calendar 2016

6 June – 1 July – Fred Olsen – Boudicca
9 July – 23 July – Emerald Princess (TBC)
23 July – 6 August – Emerald Princess (TBC)
26 August – 3 September – Celebrity Eclipse
3 September 17 September – Celebrity Eclipse
17 September -30 September – Celebrity Eclipse
30 September – 3 October – Celebrity Eclipse
3 October – 16 October – Celebrity Eclipse
16 October – 29 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 Foundations.

Check out the ‘Rough Guide to’, 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


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  - Press this link to see the Amazon Listing for The Singers Singer by Michele Monro


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