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.


A message from David James — 2 Comments

  1. I was also on that trip. My first trip abroad. I was in the 2nd year at Parmiters Grammar in Bethnal Green. Sadly no longer there – moved to Watford.

    A wonderful trip marred only by the atrocious weather both there and back, resulting in just about everyone in our party being violently seasick. I was alright until I had copious amounts of chocolate and an orange drink. That was it for the next day or two.

    I can also recollect seeing Madeira slowly coming into view on the horizon. The first time I ever saw foreign soil. Ithought Madeira was wonderful. So colourful and bananas growing at the side of the road. I remember the cliff top – a local boy came over the railing from the sheer drop side. The boys diving for coins in the harbour – silver ones only though! We bought these model barrels and filled them with Madeira wine.

    In Cassablanca we went ashore and bought loads of bread and cakes. When we got back the chef was standing at the top of the gangway and wanted to know why we had bought all this food.

    I dont really remember getting into the cente of Lisbon but we did go to the Henry the Navigator “statue” and severa lothers places of “interest”….to a 12 year old !

    We did hit very bad weather coming back and put into Southampton. I believe we should have gone round to back to Tilbury, but they wanted to save time. It was late into the night when we got off and we were put on a milk train back to Waterloo. Some of the parents who had cars were there and had been waiting hours for us. Anyway we all got home one way or another.

    We didnt do one iota of school work on board. In fact we never set foot in one of the classrooms, as I recall. Hardly ever saw the teachers.

    I think I have lots of photos somewhere. If I can scan them and its possible to put them on the website I will try.

    If anyone else was on that trip it would be good to hear their thoughts. It started me off on a long association with cruising ever since.

    Ron Lane

  2. I also went on the Madeira Casablanc and Lisbon cruise.It was in 1963 if I remember correctly and I was 11.

    I seem to remember that it was 47pounds for 17 days!!!

    Strangely enough, I only remember the name of one person, Michael Bray and I also recall a most lovely young girl who was probably 14 or 15 who plied me with ‘brandy’ to ease a terrible tooth ache!!!

    I remember nothing about any teachers but I also recall ‘wind surfing’ using deck chairs on the deck as we crossed over the Bay of Biscay.

    What fun…………

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