I was on the Dunera Easter 1964, on a School Trip to Madeira, Casablanca and Lisbon – 13 days cost £45 leaving from Tilbury, return to Southampton. I was only just about 13 at the time my first time abroad. There were some children on the Boat who had won the trip via the Daily Mail or Mirror. The crossing of the Bay of Biscay was rough, most of the children were laid up. I had never been abroad before let alone on a Troop Ship with no stabilisers and yes, I drank some old orange. We were in Collingwood Dormitory, we won the first prize for the cleanest dormitory. The party consisted of 13 boys and 3 masters, one of which was our Headmaster, Hurstmere Secondary Boy’s School Sidcup Kent. We sighted Madeira after sailing for approx. 2 and half days or so. On the way our boat passed the Devonia or Navarra on its way to America.
Every morning we used to go to the kitchen and get our breakfast I would be interested to know I believe they used to play reveille – does anybody remember? I would like to know, I have heard the tune since, but it was a general muster calling. We had a disco on the boat and also drill. The lifejackets were the old kind used during World War 2 – very inflatable. We had lessons on board ship and also had a Church Service on the Good Friday.
We used to keep a log of the Watches and the general weather and sea conditions. I felt very giddy and remember laying in the lounge; I had a funny sensation, a giddy sort of feeling. We also had a dress rehearsal for a stage show. Everybody put on something or other in the way of entertainement – self made.
We eventually got closer to Madeira and saw the island popping its head up and a shoal of porpoises swam underneath the boat. I remember about Madeira – the arrival of small boats, the locals came to dive for silver coins and then the arrival at Funchal. We had a trip of the Island and went into a most beautiful Church with beautiful chandeliers. At this time we would not have known that the Church must have been the Church of Isabella & Ferdinand Habsburgs and the second highest man made sea cliff in Europe.
The island was beautiful – all you smelt were bannana plantations and orchids. The first night was wonderful we saw fairy lights over and around the town of Funchal – quite a site.
Just before we left we had traders standing on the jetty and trading with the pupils on the boat. Ropes were set up and pulleys were put into motion so that trade could begin and bartering started.
We left Madeira and went on our way to Casablanca. As soon as we arrived, all we saw were fezes and we knew that with the trading houses we were in Morroco. We did have a trip of this area also. A trader tried to give me a tray full of rings and pocket the money in total! I cannot recall too much about Casablanca. Perhaps it was that it was a typical Moroccan town, out of the Orient.
The next port and final port of call was Lisbon. The bridge across the Tigris was well underway, and when we arrived we went into a Trading House for bartering. We had an excellent trip around Lisbon and saw where St Columbus sailed for the New World, and also went to the Portugese Coach Museum and saw the carriage that Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth had been in at the time of the Coronation in 1953.
A lad decided that he was going to go on a trip around the city on one of the coaches used to escort the pupils around. I remember the city of Lisbon and the Tigris well.
There is not a lot more that I can remember – I would like to know about that tune that used to be played at breakfast. Was it the original reveille or something similar – can anyone remember it?
I am a Radio Amateur, and other than the cruise, remember spending one Easter in the Pool of London the HMS Belfast in the Radio Operators Mess. In the early days of the 1960’s trips like these and our first trip to the Adriatic Coast of Italy, were all fairly new ventures. I have never been outside Europe but have been to Roumania, Cyprus and also Burgenland. A friend who I knew in England had been on at least a dozen cruises around the world. They are common place these days, and the ships do use stabilisers!
Quite an experience but one that I shall never forget.