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                                                    From Bill Miller 

Mar 2022

Above:  Greek Line’s Queen Anna Maria at Boston in 1968

Mon Apr 3rd At Home in Secaucus: Lee & Rosemary are longtime cruising friends (we crossed the Pacific together, from Tokyo to Los Angeles, some twenty years ago, for example, and did a Viking Ocean trip more recently).  Today, Rosemary wrote:   “Lee and I returned from a spring cruise adventure on March 24th.  The cruise had been planned a long time ago, not knowing if we’d be able to go or not.  Well—we DID!!!  We sailed on Regent Seven Seas Splendor (below) from Miami to Miami for 18 days through the Caribbean. We are just short of sailing with Regent cruises for 200 days over many years; one of our favorite cruise lines.  It was one of our very best cruises everywhere – maybe our happiest.   A highlight:   Lee turned 100 while onboard!”

And from across the seas in England, our good friend Stephen Macey wrote following our posting about P&O and the liners Canberra & Oriana:  “Amazing! Regarding the original Oriana, my first encounter with her was on 26 July 1968! And I spotted the Canberra (below, at Southampton in 1979) in the background of one of your pictures, my last encounter with her was 45 years ago this evening, prior to docking in Southampton. As I type this, now 45 years ago, I was in the Peacock Room dancing the night away before arriving in Southampton on Sunday 3 March 1977!  I must confess to starting to feel a little ‘mature’!”

Another one gone!  TV characters sometimes become like friends, part of our life, our world.   For many years, I was a fan of the British soap EastEnders.  Today, news of the passing of June Brown, who was the iconic Dot Cotton on the long-running series.  Brown first appeared in the series in 1985, the year EastEnders was created. She stayed until 1993, returning to play the same character from 1997 until 2020. An EastEnders spokesperson said: “There are not enough words to describe how much June was loved and adored by everyone at EastEnders, her loving warmth, wit and great humour will never be forgotten. June created one of the most iconic characters in Dot Cotton, not just in soap but in British television, and having appeared in 2,884 episodes, June’s remarkable performances created some of EastEnders finest moments.”

Some of her biggest storylines included Nasty Nick’s murder plot, when her son, played by John Altman, planned to poison her so he could steal her big bingo winnings to use on drugs. He changed his mind at the last minute.  One of her most moving and controversial moments came when her close friend Ethel, who was terminally ill, asked Dot to help her take an overdose of morphine to end her life.  Dot wrestled with her Christian beliefs but ultimately decided to leave out morphine pills for Ethel to take. Her relationship with husband Jim Branning, played by the late John Bardon, was much cherished by fans of the soap. Brown remained a favourite with viewers for years, but during a podcast interview in February 2020, she confirmed that she had left the series “for good”.  In the last episode she featured in, Dot Cotton – or Dot Branning – left a voicemail message for another character, Sonia Fowler, saying she had moved to Ireland.

Tue Apr 4th At Home in Secaucus:   This ‘n That:  Cruise lines are finding that positioning voyages with added sea days have become especially strong sellers following the covid shutdown. … Some cruise lines are increasing their mandatory charges – such as gratuities. … It’s a cruise line staple that went away due to the pandemic,  but the self-serve buffet is returning.   With some modification of course, cruise giant Royal Caribbean International has brought it back.

Wed Apr 6th At Home in Secaucus:  Carnival Cruise Line said on Monday that the one-week period of March 28-April 3 was its busiest booking week in the company’s 50-year history, showing a double-digit increase from the previous record seven-day booking total.

Another long-ago voyage!  I had a call today from a lady who sailed from New York to Le Havre on the French liner Flandre back in Sep 1959.   She returned home months later, in Apr 1960, on the very same ship and wanted to know the fate of the ship.  Conservative in size by North Atlantic liner standards (only 20,000 tons and  with quarters for just under 800 passengers), the Flandre (seen below at New York in Jul 1962) was commissioned in 1952, but then sold to Italy’s Costa Line in 1968 and renamed Carla C (a name later advertised as Princess Carla for a charter in the late ‘60s to then newly formed Princess Cruises and then later formally renamed by Costa itself as Carla Costa).  She was again sold, in 1992, to the Greek-flag Epirotiki Lines and became the Pallas Athena.  Unfortunately, she was destroyed by fire at Piraeus but two years later, on Mar 24th 1994, and then her scorched remains were sold off to Turkish scrappers later that same year.  

Flandre docked Pier 88 NYC with France

Below:  Another new face!   Virgin Cruises has now added its third big cruise ship, the Resilient Lady.

Post card:   Permanently moored in Rotterdam harbor, friends reported an excellent stay on the preserved, 1959-built Rotterdam.  They noted, “It was as if the ship was brand new!”

Thu Apr 7th At Home in Secaucus:  The restart of the global cruise industry continues to pick up pace as 300 cruise ships are expected to sail in April. That’s up from 264 ships in March, and just 22 last April. There will be 71 brands operating in April, compared to just 20 a year ago in 2021.

The Carnival Sunshine leaving Nassau in a photo by Andy Hernandez

Meanwhile below, our good friend & keen photographer Justin Zizes has been at the helm of harbor vessels – and with his trusty camera in  hand.   While sailing along the East River and on a moody afternoon, he captured the Brooklyn Bridge (1883) and the World Trade Center (2016).

Sat Apr 9th New York City:   90th birthday for our dear friend Des Kirkpatrick – late morning drinks in a luxurious townhouse, then to lunch (just around the corner) and then back to the townhouse for cake & Champagne.   A fine tribute in every way!   Des was, in his long and colorful and well-traveled life, a purser on Royal Mail Lines’ Andes and then Furness-Bermuda Line’s Ocean Monarch (seen below), and did countless cruises on the likes of the Rotterdam, Kungsholm & many others.  He also worked for Lindblad  Travel & so sailed off some exotic, often quite remote ports of call.

The Ocean Monarch laid-up and for sale in Cornwall’s River in a view from fall 1966.