Snowbow Newsletter December 2020
Our Christmas Greeting in all its wonderment
Welcome again to this Newsletter for the runup to Christmas and the New Year and as always, there’s so much to tell you and I do wish we could just meet up and chat away as good old friends, just as we do when on one of our fabulous Maritime Memory Cruises. We were worried that when Fred Olsen Cruise Line sold the dear old Black Watch, that would spell the end of the line for Maritime Memory cruises, but then when those nice people there told us that they were buying two Holland America Liners to replace their two older ships, well, smiles returned to our faces and the reason why was because Holland America Line have been on to us for ages to sail with them, and so confident were they that they invited us on them and that invite extended to the two ships that Fred Olsen Cruise Lines have bought, the Amsterdam and the Rotterdam. We were worried they would go for something far from our liking, but we can say in all confidence that these two ships were almost built for people like us and now with the Corona Virus Vaccine here at last, we should be able to once again enjoy being back at sea again.
They’re both just over 60,000 gt, carry approximately 1300 passengers, which isn’t much more than most of the ships we have sailed on in the past, and of course, the QE2 carried many more. These new ships can also be a bit speedy when need be and quite capable of 25 knots, and the interiors are so beautifully furnished, so we’re confident that they will pass your high demands with flying colours, but for us, perhaps one of the most important things is that Fred Olsen Cruise Lines really want us to sail with them, which means so much to us especially because they take an interest in all of you as part of Maritime Memories and as individuals, and will go out of their way to make sure our unique maritime cruises are even better than ever.
Fred Olsen’s have given us two wonderful Med cruises for 2021, one in May and the other in September 2021 and then in 2022 an around South America, with an extra one for people who can’t sail all the way ‘round but would like to join prior to transiting the Panama Canal and the voyage back to the UK.
Here are the fantastic itineraries for the Med cruises, but the fares and offers shown here could well have changed a little, but fear not, we’ll get the best!
Borealis – Islands of the Mediterranean – cruise W2109
Departs Liverpool 4th May 2021 – 18 nights
Liverpool, Cadiz, Mahon (Menorca), Ajaccio (Corsica), Cagliari (Sardinia), Valetta (Malta), Palma (Mallorca), Cartagena (Spain), Oporto (For Leixoes, Oporto), Liverpool
Lead interior fares from £2,949 pp / ocean-view fares from £3,049 pp
Plus free £100 per person free on board spend credit & free tips.
Borealis – Amalfi Coast, Tuscany & the Italian Riviera – cruise W2121
Departs Liverpool 2nd September 2021 – 24 nights
Liverpool, Ceuta (Spanish Morocco, Spain), Milazzo (Sicily), Amalfi (Amalfi Coast Italy), Rome (from Civitavecchia, Italy), Sorrento (Amalfi Coast, Italy), Salerno (Campania, Italy), Olbia (Sardinia, Italy), Livorno (Tuscany, Italy), Portofino (Liguria, Italy), Genoa (Liguria, Italy), Toulon (France), Cartagena (Spain), Cadiz (Spain), Liverpool.
Lead interior fares from £3,149 pp / ocean-view rooms from £3,999 pp
Plus £150 per person free on board spend credit, & free tips.
Borealis – Latin America with The Chilean Fjords Voyage – cruise W2201
Departs Southampton 4th January 2022 – 79 nights
Southampton, Lisbon, Funchal (Madeira), Mindelo (Cape Verde), Salvador (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Ilhabela (Brazil), Montevideo (Uruguay), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Puerto Madryn (Argentina), Ushuaia (Argentina), Punta Arenas (Chile), Puerto Chacabuco (Chile), Robinson Crusoe Island (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Arica (Chile), Paracas (Peru), Callao (Peru), Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Cozumel (Mexico), Havana (Cuba), Nassau (The Bahamas), Hamilton (Bermuda), Ponda Delgada (Azores), La Coruna(Spain), Southampton
Interior fares from £8,299 pp / ocean-view rooms from £9,599 pp
Plus £300 – £600 per person free on board spend credit, (amount varies depending on room grade booked), plus free tips.
And just for any of you who can’t do the whole ‘round voyage’ we’ve arranged for the Borealis to call in to Peru, so we can join her there for the Panama Canal and the voyage back to Southampton.
Borealis – Cultural Cities & Scenic Islands of the Americas – cruise W2204
Departs Callao (Peru) 22nd February 2022 – 30 nights (Fly from London Heathrow, return to Southampton)
Callao (Peru), Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Cozumel (Mexico), Havana (Cuba), Nassau (The Bahamas), Hamilton (Bermuda), Ponta Delgada (Azores), La Coruna (Spain), Southampton
Interior fares from £4,299 pp / ocean-view rooms from £4,599 pp
Plus £200 per person free on board spend credit & free tips.
Fares may change as fares do, but what we will get is amongst the best deals on offer in the world of cruising and certainly the best value for money so:
To book call Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines friendly reservations team on
0800 0355 144 – Quote Maritime Memories group account code GRP0290 to book. (Open 9am – 5pm Mon to Fri). Please ask for late sitting dinner at 8.30pm each evening, to be part of the Maritime Memories group.
Please note that bookings for the Maritime Memories group cannot be made on line or through a Travel Agent… Call Des or Ulla at Maritime Memories/Snowbow for more details and help: 00 (0) 1273 585391.
Now let me tell you about the new DVDs, which we really have struggled to make during these difficult Corona days, but we got there in the end…
We have now managed to produce a staggering 49 of these Prize Winning productions, but one of the biggest problems we have had in the making of this series, that’s as well as searching and then restoring the rare old film, is actually finding film we haven’t used before, thereby making every episode completely different, and these two new programme are no exception, so here’s a brief glimpse of the treats in store for you.
Episode 48 starts with a nice little trip down the Thames in the 1930s, from Windsor to St Katherines Dock, where we take you on a cruise… yes, a cruise, but a cruise like no other for we’re not taking you on a floating entertainment centre with thousands of passengers, but to join Carron’s 1,000gt SS Forth and what a wonderful experience that is, for she really is a real ship… she creaks, she groans, she huffs and puffs and the only entertainment for her handful of passengers is to sit out on the open deck cargo hatches, so now with this rare film we can all sail on her & see for ourselves just what such a voyage was like… I’ll tell you what, having seen this film I really wish we could have all sailed on her for real.
Next we travel to Southampton in the late 1960s to join Shaw Savill’s magnificent Northern Star as she sets sail for Australia and Freemantle with a ship mostly full of immigrants.
It’s the first time we have ever been able to follow a family of immigrants as they sail to a new life so far away, and when after several weeks we arrive in the great port of Freemantle, our rare film allows us to stay there for a while and enjoy so many great maritime experiences of so many famous ocean liners sailing in and out of that famous port in its heyday.
This is followed by more rare film that allows us to visit the great port of Rotterdam in the very early 1960s when it was full of ships of every shape and size. Our visit coincides with the news that the port had just overtaken New York in both numbers of ships and cargo handled, something the port celebrates during our visit.
Nearly all the WW2 Convoy film we ever see is the same old newsreel footage, but the rare convoy film seen in this episode is unique and never made public before. Film cameras weren’t allowed on convoys, but somehow this film was actually shot by a crew member, showing scenes from both Atlantic and Arctic convoys, so just enjoy this unique wartime footage.
To end the programme we stay with WW2 convoys, but this time we join that famous ocean liner the Queen of Bermuda, as with her decks crammed full of men, women and even children, liberated from the unbelievable horrors of Japanese prison camps…Now after the years of starvation and torture, the Queen of Bermuda sets sail from Columbo, to take them back home again… Their greeting in Southampton from all the ships in port makes this film worthwhile on its own, adding so much to this emotional welcome.
The rare films used in episode 49 includes:
To start with we show you the exciting start of an early 1950s Cunard White Star film. This film was thought to have been lost along with all the other official Cunard films, but after years of Ulla and I searching, we found and rescued it from the attic of an old building in Liverpool just before it was all torn down and demolished.
Restoration was difficult but after many weeks of work we did it, and the film, which is narrated by that once top BBC radio presenter Alastair Cook, tells the story of the birth of Cunard and as part of that story, shows rare footage of some of its most popular post-war ships. It’s amazing the lengths shipping companies went to, to always show their ships sailing on millpond seas.
But I’m afraid we step in here with even rarer film that perhaps neither Cunard nor Alastair Cook would want you to see, for this film, the likes of which we have never seen before, was actually shot by one of the Queen Elizabeth’s passengers during a horrendous Atlantic storm. How this brave soul ever managed to stand up straight on the mighty ship’s top deck in such conditions is fantastic, so if you are one of the many Queen Elizabeth or Mary enthusiasts, then this is for you. Then after the storm we see more film of her, showing the great Queen as never captured on film before.
Next we join Union-Castle’s liner the Durban Castle, as she leaves London for Cape Town. This is another 1950s film, and it gives us the rare chance to not only sail aboard that famous ocean liner but also to see many more Union-Castle ships we haven’t seen previously on film, as we also sail all the way around the East African coast. Plus… we also tell the scary, spooky story of the famous murder that took place aboard the Durban-Castle in cabin 126 on B Deck, in 1947. It almost put us off sailing ever again, and one things for sure, we will always make sure our cabin door is chained, bolted and locked… but it’s a great, true murder story!
If all that isn’t enough for you, guess what? We take you on another cruise but not aboard Carron Line’s Forth again, but this time aboard one of the most beautiful maritime creations of them all… Orient Line/P&O’s wonderful Orsova, taking us from Southampton in it’s heyday on an early 1960s cruise to the Caribbean…
There’s rare film and even rarer film, and this is really rare, rare film taking us all the way on a truly magical cruise, in which we not only see and enjoy the Caribbean as it was back in those pre, mass tourist days, but also allows us the unique experience of being able to see and enjoy being aboard such a great ocean liner…
Finally, and as a special treat, we show you what could well be the rarest maritime film of all. Shot way back in 1899 at Pembroke Dock, it shows the then Duchess of Cornwall and York, christening the newly launched royal yacht the Victoria and Albert. It lasts for about 2 mins but it is so special and something that so many of you will enjoy.
We are still doing our special offer whereby for every two DVDs you purchase you get a third one of your choice from The Great Liners series, for free, which makes a massive saving, and if you went silly and bought 2,000, then you’d get another 1,000 for free… Imagine that!
So next will be Episode 50 which even though I say so myself, is nothing short of amazing and has taken Ulla and I over 23 years to do. In the beginning it was only going to be just the one episode and that took two and half years to make… The rare old film alone took 18 months to find, most of which had been stored deep below the streets of old London, in the darkest basement of an old office block, and then forgotten. Restoration was a major undertaking, but we did it, but all we wanted to do was to make just one such programme that would serve as a ‘moving image record’ of the heyday of shipping to show today’s generation and generations to come how we could once happily boast of having the biggest Merchant Navy and Shipbuilding industries in the world.
The response we got from that first programme (The Great Liners of P&O and the Orient Line) from people all over the world was truly amazing and they all asked us to produce more and try to including ships they sailed on including Blue Funnel, Blue Star, Ben Line, Bowater’s, Bristol City Line, British India. Brocklebank, Cunard, Elder Dempster, Anchor Line, Avenue, Bank Line, Bibby Line, Booth Line, Brocklebank, Canadian Pacific, Clan Line, Wm Cory, Ellerman Lines, Federal Steam, Furness Lines, Fyffes, Glen Line, General Steam, Harrison Line, Henderson’s Houlder Bros, Hogarth’s. Hains, Head Line, Lamport & Holt, Manchester Liners, NZSCo, Palm Line, Port Line, Prince Line, Reardon Smith, Royal Mail Lines, Shaw Savill, Saint Line, Silver Line, Sugar Line, Union-Castle, Union S.S. NZ, Wilson Line, Shell, Esso, BP and so many, many more, plus footage of ship building, trials and all the ports in the world when they were crammed full of ships of every shape and size.
When I start to look at this list, even though it only gives you some of the shipping companies and their ships, featured, I realise I am only touching the edge of what we have managed to do and in doing so, have created what is now by far, the biggest maritime film and sound archive in the world, so whereas all this rare archive film would have been lost forever and never seen again, at the risk of repeating myself, we have at least managed to save it so that today’s and future generations will be able to view these unique programmes, and that the story of the heyday of shipping will now last forever.
Our reward is when the phone rings or an email pings in, telling us how much you have enjoyed watching the DVDs, which is so important to us, otherwise we just couldn’t continue to spend the rest of our lives beavering away without payment… We even had a lovely letter from the Queen Mum, who wrote to express us gratitude for the DVDs and for all the wonderful memories they brought back to her… PS. No, she didn’t stick a fiver in with it!
If you want to order DVDs then just go to our website at: www.snowbow.co.uk and click on DVDs, which will then take you through to where all the current 49 are shown in detail… The price per DVD is £18.95p including UK postage and packing, £2 extra for mainland Europe and £4 extra for elsewhere in the world, and please, if you want them for Christmas, so you’ve got something special to watch, do order before the 18th December.
We would also ask you not to lend these DVDs out, because although we know you do it with the best of intentions, it would really help us if you encouraged others to buy their own instead. Unfortunately we have many incidences of people not only lending them out but actually copying and selling them, which we find so difficult to take. One ex-Blue Funnel man actually had a whole container load copied in the Far East and then sold them for half the price we charge; well, he didn’t have to spend all the many months working to make them did he, so he could easily afford to. We managed to stop him in the end, but when this happens then we really do seriously consider stopping, but thankfully, most are you are so honest and go out of your way to encourage and help us, so thank you for that, for we really need it.
What will we do for episode 50? Well it will be special that’s for sure, but we won’t alter the way we make these programmes because all you really want is to see the ships, and for those golden memories of those wonderful days to come rolling back for you to enjoy.
Now on. and next up is the programme we made titled ‘Scouts of the World’, a 65 min programme that for the very first time, tells the complete story of that fantastic movement and done so in the most informative and yet entertaining way so everyone can enjoy it.
To make it possible we filmed all over the world from top to bottom, from the sweltering heat of the tropics to the freezing cold of the Arctic, from some of Africa’s poorest outback, to scout camps literally all over the world and to the annual scout parade in the magnificence of Windsor Castle, but of course, of all the possible locations to film, perhaps none is more significant and worthy as that of Brownsea Island and that very first Scout Camp in 1907. Rare film allows us to go back in time to that so important moment when the Scouts founder, Robert Baden-Powell himself, took just a handful of enthusiastic boys, carefully ensuring they came from every background including the country’s poorest, to that camp, which was to give birth to the huge multi-million international Scout movement of today, a movement free of politics, religion or any other such differences of influence, a movement of without partiality or personal gain, a movement whose main purpose was to try to bring peace and understand to all
This 65 min programme will be ready soon, so if you are involved with scouting today or have ever had anything to do with it, or just want something to make you feel good about life and today’s world, then this really is the most comprehensive programme ever made about this amazing organisation, so watch this space.
Now we haven’t been in the business of reviewing books, but what with Lockdown and the so gloomy world we currently live in, where newscasters and journalists seem to do everything possible to come up with the most dispiriting, gloomy news, we thought it sensible to recommend a book called; All At Sea in the 1960s, by Philip Braithwaite. It’s a modest publication but one that fills us full of memories for those once great seafaring days, and it will certainly evoke memories for so many of you.
A capsule in time opens up, literally and pictorially, drawing the reader into the reality of how it was for our maritime engineers and sets out to show their daily life with its ups and downs and trials and tribulations. The aspirations of the shipping companies and the new technologies are beginning to make inroads.. The magic of the Orient, the hazards of the seas, the elations and thrill of adventure and the unknown await….
Here’s a tiny sample:
After the main engines had been reassembled, engine trials were conducted, in the dock, various problems were ironed out and the ship was passed for sea worthiness and the short voyage to Glasgow would be on schedule, after we had had boat drill and inspection..
By 2000hrs we had ‘cast off’ and were ‘full away’ by 2200hrs.. I watched the last glimmer of daylight set over the Irish sea, by 2235hrs, before turning in for the night.
It’s an easy read and the photos taken by Phil are fantastic, so, especially if you happen to be an ex-ship’s engineer or are mechanically minded, then this will make you happy, so get your copy now.
The book is available through Amazon and other bookstores and directly from the publishers through Phillip’s website at: http://braithwaite.pageonpage.com and costs £19. 59p.
And now from books to records… musical records, well almost musical because yes, I do mean recordings by me. I bet you’re all muttering to yourselves; ‘He must be the oldest bloody pop star in the world, which is almost certainly true, but there’s a lesson here for it just goes to prove that regardless of age, anything is possible if you’re determined enough to do it. This was something all ex-seafarers were taught during their sea-going careers, and I certainly was, for without my sea training I doubt I would have attempted this, but I did and I have done it. I do apologise for calling myself a star, which I haven’t done to try and wind you all up, but it is a fact that my first two releases have gone further than anyone ever thought even imaginable and that includes me, for they both went into the top ten in both the European and World Top 100 Charts, and the first release even… wait for it… got to number One in both European and World Top 100 Charts!
I never for one little moment imagined the releases would do anything other than just disappear, never to be heard or seen of ever again, so what a shock I got when they called me from America to tell me that both releases were at the top of those charts. What I think makes it all so more unbelievable is the fact that, or so the American’s informed me, around 40 million new recordings are released every month worldwide on the net, but we, We, We did it, and I say WE because I genuinely believe that most of you are egging me on.
Now the Americans have stepped in and released four more singles as well; all tracks from the Double Album I recorded, called ‘A Little Ray of Happiness.’
These are the tracks released by the Americans and promo films (good ones) can be found on YouTube… so just search click on the link below and it should take you to these recordings or copy and paste in onto Google Search..
“Now I kid you not..” As Frankie Howerd would have said, but the reason that finally drove me into doing these recordings was because I was so sick and tired of all the media and other doom mongers and their endless diet of gloom, all designed to try to destroy any attempt by anyone to bring happiness and smiles back into our world. The double album titled ‘A Little Ray of Happiness’ is exactly what it says… a little ray of happiness breaking through the foggy doom and gloom, to reach out to us all and bring back our hopes and smiles.
Actually, what I’ve done on record is much the same as I do if entertaining on stage during our Maritime Memory Cruises… I never rehearse, I just go on stage and armed with one acoustic guitar, just do whatever happens to come into my head, but with a secret mission and intent; to create a happiness for everyone that comes to see me, so when they leave at the end of the show they will all feel so much happier than they did before they first came in.
I have another release due out the week after Christmas, and worryingly, the Americans have got themselves doubly excited about this one, but as long as it spreads happiness around the world, then I will also be happy, and I know that you will also be. By the way the new record release is a song that I first performed way back in the 2007 financial collapse. I was entertaining aboard the old Discovery, but although it was a full house, everyone there was so concerned about the financial collapse that they were in no mood to enjoy themselves, so I wondered what I could do to change things. Then as I stood there, the sound of Elvis Presley singing ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ just appeared in my head, and then because of this, I said to the audience. “I’m tired of all the doom and gloom caused by this huge financial collapse, so I’ll tell you what… I’m going to make you laugh whether you like it or not and I’m going to do it by… by singing my own funny version of that great Elvis Presley hit, ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ although I must warn you that after this you might be even more upset, because as things stand, I have no words and will be adlibbing the whole thing, but who cares, so, 1,2,3, here goes…’Are you lonesome tonight… Well, a couple of lines in and the audience started to smile, then goggle and then to laugh, a laughter that just grew and grew the further the song went… yes, it had worked and that once sad audience was laughing again.
So with today’s doom and gloom even more soul destroying then back in 2007/8. I decided to record this song and hope I could conjure up funny words again. I managed to get two great musicians to play and do backing vocals, but as for the main vocal, which is me, once again it was all adlibbed. So it has an Elvis type arrangement but most important of all, it is very funny, well the Americans think so anyway, and are confident that they will get it played on over 250,000 radio stations around the world, plus get the video promo played all over the world as well including in Los Vegas! So if each play brings about a few smiles and laughs, then at the end of the day, that will amount to one massive laugh!
And now to end with before I go cross-eyed and get writer’s cramp, all the songs on the double album are done just as I am when performing on stage, all adlibbed and go from rock ‘n’ roll to ballads, country rock, folk and of course, lots of both stand-up comedy and comedy songs. It lasts for just over two hours and my sole aim is to bring you happiness, and should you buy it and then not like it, well you can always do what my old Mum did with my early records… turn them into flower pots!
The main vocal track on ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ and several of the others, were actually secretly recorded by some of you during performances aboard ship, and thank goodness you did because as they were all adlibbed, I’d forgotten them so I was able to use those recordings, which means that if you listen to them you will hear those very first vocals, which I later added a guitar and piano too and a backing singer… So what you hear is, if you happened to have been on the cruise when I first performed these songs, is as they were when they first came out of my mouth, so the background laughter, which was also taken from those live recordings, could well be recordings of you, and you and you… But don’t come asking for royalties, because any royalties will be used to help Ulla and I pay the bills that will enable us to continue producing more Great Liner DVDs.
And now to end this newsletter with a smile, here are a couple of my cartoon strips that I hope will make you smile, but you know something, the best and greatest smiles come when we are all together, so hopefully we will all be able to meet up soon… Can’t wait to get our vaccinations!
Merry Christmas and a really happy New Year