Newsletter October 2019

Snowbow and Maritime Memories Newsletter October 2019

We really have had so many phone calls and emails from you, requesting that we try hard to arrange more of our Maritime Memories Cruises.  It was so sad losing the wonderful Discovery, for she was for so many of us, the perfect cruise ship. Wow, did we have some wonderful days cruising on her, and really, she was our ship wasn’t she. Her Master, Captain Kemp and his crew went more than that extra mile to give us all the things we really wanted, such as:  Freedom to visit the bridge and the engine room, great maritime talks from our own choice of special speakers, together with film shows. Our video series The Great Liners broadcast via the ship’s internal TV system, and if all that wasn’t enough, we also had afternoon fun sessions, where we could take over the theatre and do, well, whatever we fancied doing, including full shows by Des.

We had great food, all of which was helped by the fact that we were all seated together, and our Discovery’s Chef and Galley staff just loved having the chance to do something different, which they did by accepting our challenge to reproduce meals as served aboard the great ocean liners of yesteryear, and to do this, to work from we gave them actual rare menus from great ships such as:

We were wined and dined just as those lucky travellers were, back in the Golden Age of Ocean Travel and as they did back then, we even had special fancy dress farewell dinners. But importantly, all we did wasn’t just for us, no, we did this for all onboard and my, how it brought everyone together, we had so much fun and happiness.

The world today could well do with some of the happiness we had and shared, and all in all, those voyages of Maritime Memories just brought so much joy to so many people, and it didn’t cost a penny more… Well, it might have meant Ulla and I working ourselves into the ground, but as I said, the whole ship joined in and where else in the world would you find unique cruises like the ones we had.

Here is a little reminder of some of the places we sailed to and the amazing cruises we had:

Who could ever forget the voyage we did to Russia to celebrate the memory of the WW2 convoys, the amazing VIP send-off the Royal Navy gave us; the tremendous heroes welcome given to us by Russia, and the most memorable wreath laying service aboard.

Around Britain with a VIP reception at every port.    To the warm waters of the Med, Suez, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and so on, all such wonderful cruises, packed with so much fun and so many very happy memories.

How we wish we could just turn back the clock to those magical days, but as you know only too well, our world is changing almost beyond recognition, which makes us sad, but at the same time, so pleased we have lived through an age when everything really was so much nicer, when people cared about each other, when times were friendlier and happier, when people stopped, to say hello, and even though we had so much less, we were all so much more contented. We would like to cruise as we used to again, but will we ever be able to find the type of special ship we would really love, ever again; but we will search, I promise.

Stop Press!

Would you believe it… Great News, for after a long and difficult search for a ship to replace the late “Discovery” for our unique Maritime Memory Cruises, at long, long last, we believe we have found the perfect ship. so here for you, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that ship…

Fred Olsen’s lovely Black Watch

Wide open decks and beuatifully furnished… a tan, swim, a little drink and a really tasty meal… sound good to us!

Cabins to suit every pocket and taste, from  Balcony Suites to Singles

She really is the closest we could get to our old MV Discovery… She’s just 28,613 gross tons, carries less than 800 passengers, has a service speed of 18.5 knots, is beautifully furnished with a wide choice of restaurants, bars, theatre and cinema as well as acres of open decks, just as ships used to have years ago during the Golden Age of Ocean Travel… But, she has much more, because the people running Fred Olsen Cruise Lines genuinely want to play an active part in making Maritime Memory Cruises special again, and to do so, to provide all those special things we used to get on the Discovery, even down to giving us the great, comfortable cinema for our own Maritime Memory shows, to which we’ll invite all aboard to join us, for as all of you who have been with us before, means almost anything can happen, from serious lectures, screenings of rare maritime films and, if you’re not careful, me (Des) entertaining you with my own maritime stories, stand-up comedy and comedy songs. (Well, in today’s world of endless doom and gloom, I think we’re all desperately in need of a good old laugh!)   

You can just imagine how difficult it really is for us to try to select cruise itineraries that most of you will enjoy, but hopefully, at least to get us strated again, we’ve managed to do just that. So, our first cruise aboard the Black Watch will set sail from Liverpool on the 28th April 2020 on a 14 nights, sunshine voyage to the Canaries via Lisbon (Portugal), Funchal (Madeira) in port on board overnight, Santa Cruz (Tenerife), Arrecife (Lanzarote), Portimao (Algarve), Oporto (For Leixoes, Portugal), and then back home to Liverpool on the 12th May.   On this cruise we have our group fares starting from £1,809 pp for an ocean-view twin room which in cruising terms is very affordable, especially when it includes so much…  

The other cruise, which again we have given a lot of thought to, sets sail from Liverpool on Oct 16th, on a 9 night cruise to places that, after listening to your itinerary preferences; will take us to some really nice continental ports, places that are both scenic and beautiful, starting at  Rotterdam (the Netherlands), Antwerp (Belgium), followed by scenic cruising along the River Seine in daytime to Rouen (France), and finally to the beautiful French harbour town of Honfleur, before arriving back in Liverpool on the 25th October. Our group fares for this cruise start from just £1,139 pp for an interior twin room, which is great, and should leave us with enough cash to do some Christmas shopping, making it not only a chance to buy something a little more different, but helping to turn that whole Christmas Shopping task into a pleasure, and just so much easier.  So, add all this to the joy of us being able to get together again aboard a beautiful ship, then we (Ulla and Des) hope and believe these new cruises will be a great success.

Your cruise fares include comfortable en-suite accommodation, all meals including breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, 5’Course A’La Carte dinners each evening where we will be dining together as a group, late night Supper Club, meals & snacks from the room-service menu, unlimited tea & coffee at selected venues. All entertainment and use of leisure facilities, local taxes, port charges, two Captains Cocktail Parties & two Group Drinks Parties, Gala Buffet, Porterage between the UK departure port and your room. Plus, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines do not charge bar service charges, making your bar bill even more affordable!

And, thanks to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines enthusiasm to have us with them, on top of all they offer us, we will also have our usual Maritime Memories group parties, talks and so much more and, all without any extra cost… Yes, this could be Happy Days again, so come on, let’s all get together and set sail again aboard a real ship, a ship that in this age of so similar looking floating blocks of flats, actually has its own individuality, style and charm that was once the hallmark of all ocean liners during those Golden Days.

We will get a more detailed flyer out to you as soon as possible, but if in the meantime you would like to ask any questions, or would like to book, we recommend that you do this as early as possible to secure your preferred accommodation at the best price, then just call us and we will arrange for one of those nice people at Fred. Olsen to arrange it all for you…

So, call us, Des and Ulla at:  00 44 1273 585391 / 584470.    

You know, we can’t help but notice just how much stress, tension and unhappiness there is in this world today, and it’s such a shame, for most of us remember a world that was so much friendlier and nicer, so come on, let us all get together again and show ‘em that it is still possible to enjoy yourselves and where better than sailing aboard a beautiful ship, far, far away from the maddening crowds.

Full details of how-to book for these cruises are at the end of this newsletter.

Now Whats Next?

I know, yes, we have, despite all the time we’ve spent searching for our ideal Maritime Memories ship, managed to produce yet another of our Award-Winning DVDs, and this one tells the story of the great, Panama Canal, from its construction right through to modern day. But being us, although it’s one of the few, if only DVD available about the building and operating of the great Panama Canal, we had to make this very special, and so we did, because thankfully a few years ago on another Maritime Memories cruise, we went through the Canal and you won’t believe the things that happened to us, but we did manage to film it all, so, having access to this film as well as to really rare archive film and images of the building and operations of the canal, and very rare film of ships using the canal, right from its opening in 1914, all the way through to modern day, enabling us to be able to tell this fascinating story in a way that no one else could ever do..

Oh. And the title of this programme is…  

The Great Panama Canal

Actually, this fits in well coming after talking about our cruises, because we actually shot a lot of this aboard the Discovery, when we arranged a special Maritime Memories transit of the Canal, and, as so often happens on these Maritime Memories cruises, something quiet, very special happened.

When we first arrived in Panama, we were put up in a great hotel, but there we had to wait for two nights before our ship, Discovery, would arrive.  I wondered how Ulla and I could possibly keep all out Maritime Memories people happy, for, being Panama, the temperature and humidity was right through the roof!  Then something wonderful happened… I received a phone call from a high-ranking Panamanian Government official, who, on hearing we (Snowbow/Maritime Memories) were there in this hotel, invited us all to an exclusive visit to the Miraflores Locks!  Well, I had been through the Canal many times as a seafarer, but never, ever had the chance to get off the ship to actually set foot in one of the locks, so I jumped at the chance, as did everyone in the whole of our crowd.

Early the following morning, luxurious airconditioned coaches arrived to pick us all up and take us to the lock, where we were warmly greeted by other high-ranking Government and Canal officials, together with endless glasses of Champagne, or anything else we fancied a drop of.  And so, started another of those wonderful Maritime Memory days that none of us there would ever forget, for not only did we get all the drinks we wanted, but also as much tasty food as we wanted as well, but the most wonderful thing of all was to have not only the most prized, air-conditioned viewing lounge…

Out special viewing lounge right beside the action

but also, the freedom to just step outside (without hard helmet, goggles and high viz jackets) and watch the great maritime spectacle of ship after great ship negotiating their skilled ways through the locks… Amazing!

I’ll tell you what, those ships don’t half look big when you’re standing alongside them down on the quayside, a view so different from the perspective of a seafarer looking down from the decks above.   It really was one of the best maritime experiences we have ever had, so much so that we just got totally carried away and didn’t leave the lock until the early hours of the following morning to return to our hotel… What a day it had been, and all captured on film, some of which we used in the making of this unique programme, which we hope you will all enjoy.  

The following morning, after little sleep, but with everyone still feeling cheery after the wonderful day we had at the Miraflores Lock, we were taken down to the quayside in Panama City, where to be taken out to a beautiful ship waiting for us at anchor in the middle of the bay. She looked great as she rested in the morning sun that lazed across her turquoise sea, and as we approached her, so we wondered what sort of welcome, if any, we would get, but then as we neared her side, so she hoisted the whole collection of our rare Maritime Memories nautical flags, and as we came alongside, she blew her great whistle in welcome, and as we looked up so we saw the smiling figure of her master,  Capt. Derrick Kemp, waving down to us from the bridge, and we knew then that we were in for many more great maritime days.

That whole voyage through the Canal and all the way back to the UK via a myriad of fantastic ports of call, was absolutely magic, especially our transit of the Canal, which was amazing, but I’m not going to write much more about it here as you won’t want to buy the DVD, and that would be disaster for us, for we totally rely on the sale of these DVDs in order to allow us to do this work, so do order a copy because it really is so important to us.  

We were welcomed aboard by a whole army of crew, who were all singing our Maritime Memories Hymn, “Always Look On The Brightside of Life” then after a really tasty lunch and a few more liveners, Discovery’s engines came to life as she turned her bow towards the distant entrance of the Canal, and the start of our transit.   

Most of this was captured on film, allowing us to show us transiting the Canal in modern times, but with the help of rare old film, to also turn back the hands of time to yesteryear as well, showing ships of old also transiting the Canal.  The rare old films show ships of every shape and size, ships that we all once knew so well and even some I actually sailed on.  

By editing the films together in this way, it created a strange and almost eerie effect, especially when the rare old films take us aboard those old ships, allowing us to both experience transiting the canal as it is today, and then by careful editing of the archive film, as it was all those many years ago, and you know something… it’s hardly changed at all.

To add further interest, we also take this opportunity to show you the Canal being built, so as we pass through say the Miraflores Locks or the Gaillard Cut, we not only show film of us passing through but again, rare old film of the old ships passing through them as well, again, creating a strange effect.  We also show more rare film of the construction of these marvels, right on to the opening of the Canal in 1914… I am in serious danger of writing too much, but then so much happens in this video that you will like, including showing you extremely rare film of some of the Canal’s first visitors including Cunard’s great Mauretania 1, and White Star Line’s Georgic… Imagine the excitement amongst the passengers and crews aboard those great ocean liners as they neared what was then, one of the wonders of the world.

This is a really good programme and one you will watch over and over again.  You can order from our website or from us direct on:  00 44 (0) 1273 585391 or 584470, and the DVDs are still the same price as when we first started making this series over 24 years ago…£18. 95p UK, £19. 95p in Europe and £20. 95p for the rest of the world.   Unfortunately, since we started making these unique programmes, the cost of postage has gone through the roof, but no matter how tough things get, we will continue producing them for as long as we possibly can, for we know from your emails and phone calls just how much pleasure you all get from watching them.

As for our happy Maritime Memories crowd, well they just loved every second of the voyage and when we eventually returned to our home port, Captain Derrick Kemp had to make a personal plea to all, saying:  “We’re sorry folks, but sadly you do have to now leave the ship, but don’t worry, just talk to Ulla and Des and we will soon all be back together again… And you know something, it wasn’t just ex-seafarers or ship enthusiasts that were with us, no, many of our crowd hadn’t even set foot on a ship before, but those same people have now been back with us time and time again… Isn’t it nice to know that there are still nice things we can do in this often not too happy world we dwell in today!

Now to that great artist Robert G Lloyd and his latest book and works:

Robert Lloyd’s new book, In Deep Water

Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2, crossing the Atlantic together

This magnificent book is a masterpiece in itself, and if you’re a fan of Robert’s then it really is a must to have.  Even if for some strange reason you’re not familiar with his work, do get a copy, for the maritime art displayed within is just mind-blowing.  They vary from magnificent paintings of some of the world’s great ocean liners, both past and present; right through to the smaller cargo ships and even todays Box-ships.  There are also exciting paintings of ferries and even offshore platforms etc. so if you want something special, then we thoroughly recommend this unique book, and just for the record, we don’t handle it, but did manage to get a copy and it really was something to cherish, and something we, and you, will want to look at over and over again.

The Waterfront in New York circa 1957

MV Benstac offloading cargo in the Far East


Supply vessel Portosalvo leaving Aberdeen in the teeth of a gale

There is just so much in this wonderful book, varying from ocean liners to classic ships, Box ships, Bulk carriers, tankers, off-shore vessels, rigs, ferries, naval ships, tugs… It’s a book you would enjoy forever… Sadly we don’t handle sales of it, but you can get it via: Ferry Publications @ 01624 898445 or through their website @

We are so honoured to be able to exclusively handle the sale of Limited-Edition prints of all Robert’s work, and what’s good about these prints, as well as their remarkable art, is the fact that the editions are very low, often no more than a 100, and the quality of them is sublime, and something that if you have one in your home or place of work, will be admired by so many, but most of all, by you.

If you want one of these masterpieces then give us a call of:  00 44 (0) 1273 585391 or send an email to:   

We really ought to dedicate a whole News Letter to Robert and his amazing work… I know; we’ll try to film him at work in his studio and then put a link to it in our next Newsletter, because between you and me (Des) I’m just in awe of his work and would love to see him splashing the old paint about, just to try and see how he manages to get such detail, such feeling, such true nautical magic.


Des in Venezuela aboard the Saga Rose.

I know I look just a little younger in this photo, taken when I was a lecturer on the Saga Ruby for her world cruise… I loved that ship, and she was a lot of fun to sail on.   Just a little personal information… When in Venezuela back then in circa 2003, on our voyage around the world, there was a lot of trouble with rebel armies trying to overthrow the government, so security was at a maximum… An onboard announcement was made, informing all passengers that because of the dangers they must not on any account venture ashore on their own, especially beyond security and into La Guaira itself, the port we were in.  Instead, they would be taken in safety under armed escort from the ship straight to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, and warned them to remain with the main group at all the times, because of the dangers from the vicious armed rebels.

Well, I never enjoy guided tours and such, and I really didn’t fancy going ashore with a whole crowd under armed escort, so no, I just wanted to do what, as an ex-seafarer, I have always done, which was to just wander ashore and to do whatever happened.  One problem I had though was that on that voyage Ulla couldn’t join me, so I took a good friend along as company, and that good friend was Michael, whom I always used to call, Plate!  Now had Plate got wind of any kind of danger and he would quickly have insisted that we go with the armed escort, but thankfully when the relevant announcement was made, he was happily singing away in the shower and missed hearing it, so it wasn’t difficult to persuade him that he and I should just wander ashore and enjoy ourselves on our own.

The town of La Guaira was a bit of an uneventful, dull place, with just beaten up old cars, small, dodgy looking shops, and rows of old men just sitting all around, smoking strong, strong tobacco, so we soon got fed up with it and Plate wanted to get back to the ship, but I couldn’t help but notice the almost mountainous hills that surrounded the town, and that at the top of them was the edge of the mighty Rain Forests, which I could see so temptingly, thickly rich and green, beckoning to me…

I pointed to the top of the hills.  “Let’s go up there to the rain forest, Plate.”  He got all excited. “Rain Forest… where?” He looked in the direction I was pointing and, not knowing that it was probably a favourite hiding place for rebel army camps, enthused. “Yeah, let’s go there, that sounds great, but how do we get all the way up there, those hills are far to steep and high for us to climb on our own.”  I gave a knowing smile.  “Don’t worry, Plate, leave it to me…. Wait there, don ‘t move, and I’ll be right back with a cab.” He wanted to come with me… “No Plate, stay there, it’ll be… It’ll be much easier and a whole lot cheaper for me to get a cab on my own.”  With that I turned and hurried off towards the town centre, for the last thing I wanted was for Plate to even get a hint that going into the Rain Forest might be a little dangerous, for even though he was an ‘always in the gym man, and many times stronger and fitter than me, in reality he avoided all danger like a plague, and would always walk and even run away from even the slightest sign of danger.

Plate in Venezuela aboard the Saga Rose.

I hurried off down the main drag, back to the town centre where I had noticed previously that there were a few taxis parked.  When I got there, there were three old bangers parked up with Taxi scrawled on them, so despite them all looking more than a little dodgily rough, I asked the drivers if they would take me up the mountain to the Rain Forest, but all three just gave me strange, frightened looks and mumbling things like…’No, no, too dangerous… guerrillas kill you.’ And even at the sight of a hefty wedge of dollars, they still flatly refused to budge…

I was just about to give up when just up a nearby street I saw this foreign looking man parked up in a really, really, beaten-up old land rover, so, with nothing to lose, I thought I’d ask him.   He looked and sounded as if he were perhaps a Jamaican, and by the state of his repose, was well off his head on something smellily strong, but the only alternative I had was for us to return to the ship, which I really didn’t fancy doing, so I knew that I had to at least ask…  He swayed about a little as he took in my request, his somewhat vacant eyes rolling slowly around as he attempted to respond… Then, with his gaze now upwards towards the forests, he slowly turned and in a high, squeaky voice, slowly responded.  “You want me to take you up to the mountain top to the rain forest…” He rubbed his chin. “Hmmm, no, no, man, that’s very dangerous.”  “I’ll pay you good money,” I said, and waved some of my US Dollars in front of him.  His eyes opened wide as he saw enough cash to buy him many stashes of whatever he was on and, with eyes rolling back and forth between the money in my hand and to the long winding track that appeared to go up the steep, steep side of the mountainous hills, he slowly unwound himself into the driving position.  “Come on.” I half pleaded, “It’s a lot of money just to go up a hill.”  He nodded. “Okay then, but if I sense trouble man, then we is coming back down here again very quickly, you understand!” I smiled. “Yeah, I understand, no problem mate… Hang on a mo, while I go and get my mate. With that I hurried back up the street to a waiting, Plate… “Come on Plate, I’ve found this nice local man who wants to take us up to the Rain Forest… He reckons its great up there.”

I’m going to cut this story short otherwise it’ll turn into a whole book, but anyway, off we went in this truly beaten-up and dilapidated old land rover, its gears grinding as it creaked and groaned and rumbled its smoky way higher and higher up the long steep, mountainous track, which gradually became greener as all semblance of the track completely disappeared into overgrown bushes and trees as we became as one with the natural terrain,  

After what seemed an age of going ear-popping upwards, we eventually made it to the very top, where we cautiously entered into the dark, humid and very mysterious thickness of the dark forest… Plate was excited at being there, but was also a little anxious at the way our driver behaved as he acted nervously, looking around him all the time for even the slightest sign of any guerrillas, as we swayingly rumbled cautiously through the humid darkness; but thankfully Plate remained completely unaware of any possible danger… “This is great” He smiled… “I can’t wait to tell my kids all about this when we get back home.” Just then the driver suddenly froze into an advanced state of rigamortis, as from out of the darkness of nowhere came a whole militia of heavily armed, and not to be messed with, guerrillas.

Heavily armed guerrillas appeared from out of nowhere.

Plate also froze as they surrounded our wagon and aimed their heavy machine guns directly at us…  “Oh my God…” He mumbled… “Guerr…guerr… Guerrillas!”  I was also concerned, but one thing my days at sea had taught me was to always remain calm when dangers falls, but I also knew that if I didn’t do something, then we would soon be dead… but what?!  Then, almost by remote control and without even thinking about the possible consequences, I just grabbed my video camera and, as if running into some dear old friends, clambered out of the old Land Rover and hurried towards them… “Hello, hello… BBC… BBC.”  I greeted them. They paused, confused at my action. “I’m from the BBC.”  They looked at each other and then, would you believe, reacted interestingly to the name, BBC as if, even in this deepest rain forest, they knew of it.  Now I’m not suggesting for one moment that the BBC is at all slightly, Liberal, Left, but these guerrillas even muttered. BBB, BBB C, to each other… Then, hopefully, selecting the one that was their leader, I went up to him and indicated that I wanted to video he and is merry men for BBC News.  Thankfully he nodded his head and also muttered with a growing, toothless smile: ‘BBC’.  He then ordered his men to lower their guns from the kill anyone stance, and then in fiery language, seemed to tell them that I was from the great, BBC.  They then all applauded and smiled, and stood around me in a semicircle, ready to be videoed and to become famous.

I tried to appear to be calm, gesturing instructions as I videoed away. Then, acting like TV directors when they’ve actually managed to capture something really special, I suddenly beamed with joy as I let my camera fall by my side.  “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I joyed with pride and then gave them all in turn a grateful hug.  Then with a final hug and kiss for the now proud leader… “BBC, BBC,” he muttered, I wished them well, and, even though my underwear must have been completely discoloured many times, I tried almost nonchalantly to walk back to the old Land Rover, turning briefly to wave to my new friends.  

I can’t describe the feeling that held my whole body, but perhaps, perhaps we might just escape. I turned slowly to give a final wave, and to my relief they returned my wave and applauded as I climbed back inside the old Land Rover.   I calmly asked the driver, who had now become the whitest Jamaican I had ever seen, to just wave nicely to my friends and then to drive away very, very slowly away.  As if a puppet, he somehow managed to lift himself back into the driving position and then with a loud grinding of the gears, slowly, slowly started to drive back along the way we had come, through the deep, dense forest and all the way back down the now treacherously steep, steep hill.  As for Plate, well he was beyond fear and completely frozenly speechless as he tried to control his nerves… then he hesitantly mumbled.  “I’m… I’m… I’m never ever going ashore with you ever again”. His voice became clearer. “They were guerrillas, real, dangerous guerrillas, armed with machine guns, hand grenades and things… they could have killed us!”

Going back down the steep hill was so much more dangerous than coming up, but after what seemed like forever. we eventually got back to the town, where Plate and I, and judging by the way he was walking, also with stained underwear, creepily crawled cautiously back to the quayside and to the heavily fenced security barrier, where two security officers stepped out of their control room to question us.

The security officers, one of whom was a very attractive women, looked at us suspiciously. “Why you no on the buses with all the other passengers?”  We handed them our boarding passes, then they gave us another long, questioning look.  “Where you been?”  The senior man asked.  Plate turned and pointed up to the very top of the mountainous hills, and in a shaky voice said.  “We’ve been up there in the Rain Forest.”  They both looked up towards the forest in disbelief.  “You’ve been up there!” The attractive female turned and leaned forward to take a closer look at us… “And you still alive!”

If I wrote this in proper detail, then I could dwell a little longer on the fear we all had, surrounded by extremely hostile guerrillas who were well known for not taking any prisoners.  Looking back then, yes, it was a very frightening experience, especially standing there with me video camera, filming away for they really weren’t the sort you would probably want to invite home for Sunday Dinner! But we did survive to tell the story.  “I can’t wait to see the video you shot… Wait ‘til I show it to my kids!”  Plate had recovered and was now acting all sort of nonchalantly cool, as if what had just happened was an everyday occurrence in his life.  I smiled. “Show your kids, Plate. Hmmm, well that could be difficult.”  “Difficult, why?”  “Well, what with the situation being far from ideal for normal filming, I forgot to put a recording cassette in the camera!”  Plate quickly lost his new found coolness and looked as if he was about to pass out. “Oh my God, what would have happened if they’d ask to see the pictures?”  I nodded. “I think we would have quickly have become dead meat Plate!”  Plate went an even whiter than white, shade of Pale.

By the way, Plate absolutely refused to go ashore with me ever again, but just to show you that we really were on the Saga Rose, here is a photo of the two of taken aboard her after a drink or two at the Captain’s Party Night, with us jolly camping it up, pretending to be Husband and Wife!

Des with Plate on the Saga Rose.

The Saga Ruby voyage was quite important to me because it was only the second time I decided that instead of just doing the same old rehearsed and well-practiced lectures every time, I would from now on adlib mine so they were all individually different, and at the same time, deliver them in a comical way, the same as I had done so successfully on a previous voyage aboard the then world’s premier ocean liner, the beautiful QE2.  Now that’s another very funny story, when, as I stood there regurgitating yet another same old lecture, something strange happened that resulted in me suddenly introducing both comedy and songs into my lectures, something that audiences even at the highest levels, really warmed to and enjoyed. But as I say, that’s another very strange and funny story.

This brings me to a double audio album I have just recorded, which uses extracts from shows I’ve actually given aboard those two liners, and several other cruise ships, with an end result that, (and this is according to people who have heard it)  it’s one of the funniest and most entertaining recordings ever made, and the songs are pretty good as well.

A Ray of Happiness by Des Cox

My main reason for doing this recording was because, like so many of you, I am so fed-up with all the doom and gloom that seems to have taken over the happier world we once knew… In all honesty, I have never known so many deviously awful people, trying to ruin our lives, especially our politicians, who were once, would you believe, people we tended to look up to.  Now when we look, it is mostly with total distrust and abhorrence, as they go to any lengths to destroy our lives.  We in all honesty, have never known such mass hatred in this country and no matter if you voted in or out of the EU. their behaviour is the pits, and we are so much better than all that.  It’s been so bad that many people have asked us if there is anything, we could do to bring a little ray of happiness back into our lives. Well thankfully we have now started our cruises again, so that will bring a lot of happiness to all who are able to come with us, but how to bring happiness to you all, which is difficult, but that’s no reason not to at least try, and that is why I made this recording based on my performances when entertaining aboard ships,  and believe me, the only reason I ever do shows on ships is purely to spread fun and laughter, hence the recording’s title, “A Ray of Happiness.  Oh, and all the audience sounds of laughter and applause on this double album are real, recorded at my live shows by people on their video cameras, who have then be kind enough to send me copies on DVDs, so as well as being completely adlibbed,  there aren’t even any library effects either, just the real sounds of laughter and fun.

All of you who have seen me on stage will know that I never rehearse, in fact right up until the very moment I walk out, I haven’t a clue in my head as to what I’m going to do, which can be a bit worrying because who knows, one day I might go out on stage only to find my head is locked in silent mode, but I still do it, and do so because I want what I do to be different and completely original.  So, as my whole stage performances are adlibbed, so is this double album, even to the point where I make most of the songs up as I perform them, which evidently isn’t the norm, at least, so I’ve been told by people in the music business, who are in positions of knowing, and have told me that this is the only time anyone has ever done anything quite like this and furthermore, they like it, especially the comedy impersonations, jokes and songs, songs that range from ballads to good old rock ‘n’ roll, country-rock, folk… You name it and its probably there somewhere, so I do hope you will have a little listen.  

It will be out in about six weeks’ time once I have been able to master the art of trying to market records using modern technology, which I find so difficult to deal with, for as an ex1960s  pop singer, I was originally signed to EMI Records, and it was they who, back in the days of vinyl, took care of all those marketing problems in an age when all records were sold in nice little music shops… It was all so straightforwardly simple back then, but now, unless you’re a computer Geek, it’s nothing short of being a nightmare; well for me it is anyway, but whatever it takes, it will be done.  

I have also made several promo films to go with songs from the album, all of which we will put up on our website… They’re a mixture of various moods, and mostly shot on location around the country, plus two animated films featuring a caricature of me performing comedy songs aboard the QE2, Saga Ruby, Discovery and Aegean Odyssey… I’m pretty sure you will enjoy these, for at least they will bring a little happiness and might even have you up, rock ‘n’ rolling again!

Before this I am releasing another record, this time a single, which is one of the tracks from my double album, but a track I recorded mainly for my Children’s TV series, “The Bubblies”.   This series was created by me back in the 1970s. and was broadcast all over the world.  Sadly, together with my follow-up Children’s TV series. “Tugs”, all the rights to both these series were stolen from me by people in the business including one of our main UK TV broadcasters, people I thought were honest and could be trusted… If only I had known!  The end result was that I was left penniless, and my only course of action was to either just give up and let the robbers win or, even without funds, fight those bastards through the Highest Courts in the land, and that’s what I did, which resulted in a legal battle that all in all, lasted for over twenty long, nightmarish years.

How can such evil, warped people exist?  People who knowingly and worse still, deviously scheming to steal your creations, whilst pretending to be so honestly, friendly and helpful  This is a story I will shortly write in full, telling of how I once created little characters, drew them and used them to tell my kids bedtime stories, characters and stories that went on to become two successful TV series that were shown all over the world, but instead of being decent honest people, they set out to not only steal the copyright and claim it as their own work, they also issued death threats to me and my family, (even the kids) and left us in poverty minus, without even blinking.  So good were the stories and characters that the creator of the Muppets and Sesame Street, Jim Henson, would come to our studios every day when we were filming, to learn how to operate and film puppets. (I, together with my team of model makers and puppeteers, who were mostly from Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds Studios) developed a whole new way of operating them, something that Jim Henson was so keen to use, and I gave him permission to do so.

It is a heart breaking and very powerful story of evil against the bad, but already one major Hollywood film company has asked for the film rights, so perhaps those evil people will get their just rewards after all.  I will also feature this story in my autobiography, “Jumping for Balloons”, Vol One of which, has already sold out but will be reprinted, and Vol Two, is nearing completion.

Hopefully you will like Vol Two, which I have sub named “Carry on Sailor” as it’s all about my life at sea… It’s full of the most bizarre and unbelievably funny things that happened to me as I sailed around the world, as was the case with most seafarers in those good old days. But it’s also rich in great nostalgia as it captures the age of the 1950s/60s, in a way that you can almost touch it and feel as if (providing you’re old enough of course) you’re actually back living again and having a happy life in an age that I believe was the best ever  It also tells of how hard life at sea could be, of the dangers we faced, but also of the adventure and excitement of going away to sea in an age when overseas travel was so special in those pre mass tourist days.  There was also the romance of course, but now, as a happily married man, I’m not going to tell you lot too much about that!!!  Oh well, perhaps just a little, especially the hilarious things that happened to this young lad as he tried to grow up and come to terms with the opposite sex!     

During the long running High Court legal battle, the defendants hid and even tried to destroy anything relating to the production of the series including the film, which meant that even if I could win, there would be nothing left for me to be able to work with and sell, but thankfully, many, years later I received a phone call from out of the blue; it was from the boss of a film library to say that they had kept safely the original film of every episode in temperature controlled conditions, which was like hearing angels sing… how happy this made me.    Now I have managed to restore all of the 52 x 5 min episodes of “The Bubblies” not only to their former glory (they were all shot on 16mm film) but also to enhance and update them to allow them to be broadcast on modern day equipment.  Now I hope to be able to give them their own TV station on the internet and let the series be broadcast all over the world direct, and as The Bubblies character are also a Children’s musical band, then what better way to relaunch the series than with a hit record, which is why I have recorded this new single, which is called Darlin’.   Thankfully I was able to find all the artists who recorded all 52 songs featured in the actual series itself, artists such as Robb Storme, who had a tremendous voice and it was indeed an honour for me to perform with him.

I have also made a promo film using the Bubblies characters, which we will put onto our website when the record is released, so give it a try. Oh, and by the way, the actual TV version of the series, which we will also make available for you to buy, would be a great present for grandchildren, because, it was created, written and filmed in our day in the good old traditional ways; the stories are entertaining, slightly educational, but in a nice entertaining way, and each story has a worthwhile moral, but above all, they are great fun for everyone to watch

Des with new single for The Bubblies.

New Book ‘Carry on Sailor’

Des with Bubblies, Rob Stormer and Anna

The other Children’s TV series I created was titled ‘Tugs,’ and was all about the adventures of a group of tugboats as they go about their daily routines… I’ve always loved tugs and was always fascinated at how graceful and yet how so powerful they were, as they helped manoeuvre ships of all shapes and sizes in and out of port.  It will take a little longer to bring this back to our TV screens, as I have to do a lot of work to get it back to the original exciting charm it had before it was also stolen from me, for one of the first things the people who do this kind of terrible thing do, is to try to disguise it to appear as if it’s their own creation by altering stories, music, voices and characters in order to conceal the true copyright. but it will come back and of course, because of my knowledge and experiences of actually serving at sea, I can rewrite the stories to reflect that unique knowledge and in doing so, produce a brand new TV series of ‘Tugs’, so watch this space.

 Children’s TV series Tugs

We’ve covered a lot in this Newsletter, from cruising to books, limited edition prints, new records and Children’s TV series, all of which have connections with the sea, and all of which we do to genuinely try to spread a little happiness, although in today’s world just about everything is so much more complicated and difficult to do, especially when trying to arrange new cruises for you to enjoy, for there are now so much more red tape and regulations, so it’s not straight forward trying to do all the things we used to do, as was the case when we used the Discovery, but one thing is for sure, we will have so much more fun than you will ever get on any other cruise on offer around the world, and most important of all, we will have you!

If you are on the internet and would like to visit our Facebook page, here is the link:   So now let us say goodbye, but before we go completely, when I was at sea, even as a sixteen year old, I used to draw cartoons for the crew and passengers, and quickly learnt that by using cartoons I could make fun of everyone aboard including the Captain… That’s another story, but for now, here are some more of those cartoons, which we hope will also bring a few extra smiles into your lives.

Just to summarize: for DVDs, prints or news on cruising, please call 00 44 (0) 1273 585391 or email: or for our main website:   We need all the help and support we can get, but we also enjoy hearing from you.    

When it comes to our new cruises, Fred, Olsen Cruise Lines would be only too pleased to look after you whilst we’re away, so if you like, just contact their friendly reservations team on 0800 0355 122 or 01473 742424 and quote Maritime Memories group account code GRP0290 followed by the cruise information, that way you can book as early as possible and get the cruise and accommodation you would prefer most.

Their office is open from 8am – 8pm Mon to Fri,  9am to 5pm on a Saturday and  & 10am to 4pm on Sunday.

Oh, and as we are a special group, Maritime Memories isn’t bookable on line via either Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines website or our own, but only by making bookings (as above) over the telephone. Just one other thing to remember, traditionally the lowest and highest fares are the first to go, but not to worry, for the helpful people in bookings will find the closest to what you’re looking for.

See you all soon.

Best Wishes,  

Des & Ulla.