It must have been the summer of 1966, I was a junior clerk at Wallasey Town Hall, when I spotted a circular from the Civil Service Union advertising a cruise on the Dunera for adults, albeit dormitary accomodation with limited cabin availability.
My junior clerk salary stretched to providing a trip for Mum and me and we boarded at Liverpool on a brilliantly sunny morning, bound for Vigo, Madeira and Oporto. As we pulled out into the Mersey, I remember joking about needing to be prepared for the notorious Bay of Biscay – unfortunately it was in St. Georges Channel,only a couple of hours into our cruise, that we ran into rough sea, and I wasn’t the only one to be sick!
I don’t know how often the crew welcomed aboard an adult contingent in those days of schools cruises, but it must have been quite a change for them. They were brilliant, and the cruise was wonderful.
My enduring memory, however, is not so much of the great places we visited and the marvellous parties on board, but of our return from Madeira, where most of the passengers had taken advantage of the bargain prices of the local wicker furniture and had treated themselves to 3-piece suites, tables, ottomans etc., all of which were stowed,in a big pile, uncovered, on the prow. Sailing back into the Mersey, my beloved Dunera looked more like something out of Only Fools and Horses.