Brooks Blog
A personal account of

Brooks Aehron’s ‘Music At Sea’ on board ‘Constellation’
June 2 – 16 2007

Dover, England – Oslo, Norway - Copenhagen, Denmark – Tallin, Estonia

St. Petersburg, Russia – Helsinki, Finland – Stockholm, Sweden

Warnemünde, Germany – Copenhagen, Denmark (Whoops!) – Dover, England

June 2, 1953. Dressed in surplice and ruff, I stand in the choir stalls of Magdalen College Chapel, Oxford, a shy nine year old singing for all I am worth, as tradition demands, the stirring Latin words ‘Vivat Regina, Vivat Regina Elizabetha’ for I am the youngest member of the College Choir and ancient University, and today is the Coronation of our new Monarch Queen Elizabeth 2cnd. Exciting times! Spool on exactly fifty-four years to June 2 2007, and excitement is still present, albeit of a different type! Driven by what I surmise to be a frustrated Formula 1 pilot and (thankfully) no longer attired in surplice and ruff, I grip the rear seat of a car hurtling along the motorway from London to Dover for our first ‘Music At Sea’ of the year. As we touch 100 mph my driver turns round to face the back seat ‘Must be careful – already have 6 penalty points for speeding’ and I an certain that before this day is through I will either be in the local mortuary or onboard Constellation – the odds favouring the former – but either way sure of expert attention!

The car rounds the brow of a hill and suddenly beneath us is the 92,000 tons of luxury and indulgence comprising ‘Constellation’, sitting majestically in her mooring, dominating Dover and as regal as the famous white cliffs standing sentinel over the shoreline.

Charles Dickens stayed in this town on several occasions and in 1859 wrote this evocative description:

The little narrow crooked town of Dover hid itself away from the beach, and ran its head into the chalk cliffs like a marine ostrich. The beach was a desert of heaps of sea and stones tumbling wildly about, and the sea did what it liked and what it liked was destruction. It thundered at the town, and thundered at the cliffs and brought the coast down madly. The air among the houses was of so strong a piscatory flavor that one might have supposed sick fish went up to be dipped in it, as sick people went down to be dipped in the sea.

Today’s Dover deserves a more appealing description! The sea still thunders, though we no longer dip the sick in it, and thankfully the ‘piscatory flavour’ in the air has gone!

My visit is too rushed! At the port gates the taxi whooshes past the crumbling edifice of the disused Lord Warden Hotel, scene of the reunion of the exiled French Emperor Napoleon 3rd with his Empress Eugene but now home to offices, pigeons and seagulls.

The Lord Warden Hotel in the 1930s

Dover’s rich history – associations with Charles 2cnd, Winston Churchill, The Royal Navy, even a pub named ‘Louis Armstrong’ and a Bronze Age boat – must be left for another day as must any chance of a visit to neighbouring Folkestone where Claude Debussy voluntarily exiled himself to escape the furore in Paris caused by a current liason and the attempted suicides of TWO of his ex-mistresses. Lets enter the fantasy world of one of the world’s great cruise liners - ‘Constellation’. The photographers snap all arrivals – a ‘before’ and ‘after’ might be useful (remember the old cruise ship joke about overindulging guests embarking as passengers and leaving as cargo?) and the weary traveller crosses the gangplank into the surreal world of the Grand Foyer. A marble floor with glowing backlight onyx staircase silently wreathed by gold and silk drapes cascading down three decks, a white-gloved hand gently proffering a glass of chilled champagne. Dear Reader, this is NOT a dream. Welcome to ‘cruise ship heaven’ and that glass of champagne is the heaviest object you will lift for the next 14 days!

A quick call to Rose confirms that the Group are safely onboard with the sad exception of Julie and Francisco from the USA who would have been new to MAS, and Cynthia and Len from England, two of our regulars. In both instances the culprit is last minute illness. Francisco and Len, you are not forgotten and we will miss you. Please get well soon.

First night onboard will be quiet, unpacking and sheer exhaustion take precedence over festivities, but some of us will explore this floating palace and hopefully notice a magnificent creation by the onboard master chocolatier Danilo Peralto – A Grand Piano totally constructed from chocolate! Do we feel special? Definitely, and as ‘Constellation’ sails into the mists of the English Channel we disperse to our staterooms, with child like joy anticipating unknown excitements to come and looking forward to our first concert on the morrow.

The Chocolate Piano created by Danilo Peralto

June 3. At Sea.

A few ‘Hellos’ this morning as Rose, Linda and I are joined by some of the Almunni in the Cova who remember this is our daily meeting point for anyone who feels like some company. This afternoon I play the concert, relocated from the 900 seat Celebrity Theatre to the more intimate Michael’s Club where wood panelling, antique fireplace and comfortable chairs around the piano, create the illusion one is in the richly furnished drawing room of an historic stately home. I think this venue is more suitable for us and the group enthusiastically agree. My programme includes the music of Mozart, Chopin, Grieg, (it’s the 100th anniversary of his death this year and we shall be in Norway tomorrow) and Liszt. I enjoy the concert hugely – the audience seem to as well!

Michael’s Club (after Michael Chandris, a founder of Celebrity Cruises)

At our reception following the concert it is clear that once more we are truly international with members from North America, Singapore, the Dominican Republic and Europe. Emotional also, as two schoolfriends in 1948 Shanghai are reunited. Coincidental: When I speak of my first appearance at the London Palladium and mention that my co-artistes had included a dance group named the Tiller Girls, an English lady now living in Florida tells me that she had been a member of that same troupe! Romantic: When her husband (he was serving in the US Air Force) recounts how he saw her on the West End stage, fell in love and proposed before the week was out! He also tells that I have been responsible for considerable expenditure on his part. I think he is referring to the cruise but ‘No’ - he’s just invested in not one but TWO pianos – one for his wife and the other for their daughter! Sorry – but its money well spent! Flattering: When one couple tells Rose that the concert alone is worth the price of the cruise! Thank you - but a word of advice between friends – Remember Rose runs a Travel Agency! Inspirational: to spend time with one of our regulars from Texas – you know who you are – who has an illness which affects his ability to stand upright but who NEVER complains nor lets it cramp his style. I have avoided naming names so far – to protect the guilty – but now I will break that rule. A dear friend, Linda from California is assisting Rose with the organisation, and is special to us all. With her husband Phil they were MAS regulars until Phil was tragically killed in a freak motorbike accident on May 28 2006. Linda is now safely past that dreadful hurdle of the first anniversary of his death. Phil was an eternal optimist for whom the proverbial cup was never half empty but full to the brim – and rising! He epitomised the sheer joy of living - seized every moment and enjoyed it to the full – and, apart from the music, that is the clear defining philosophy of all in this Music At Sea group.

June 4 Oslo, Norway. In the early hours we traverse the Oslo Fjord to dock in the centre of Norway’s Capital at 7 a.m. A harbour full of little boats drowsing at their moorings in the early morning sunshine, as if trying to ignore the wake up cries of hundreds of seagulls, swooping and calling to no-one in particular, but to the whole world in general, as they search for their breakfast in the clear water lapping against the freshly painted hull of ‘Constellation’. I hold the usual coffee morning but most of the Group are exploring ashore. Some to the Vigelund Sculpture Park, others to marvel at the Kon Tiki. When in Oslo, I usually stroll to the rear of the Royal Palace, which looks down on Oslo’s main square and feed the ducks. They don’t need it, but when did a duck, even a royal one, ever refuse a free crumb? The question will not be answered today. I need to prepare for the 2 performances of this evening’s show.

‘Constellation’ docked in Oslo July 2 2007

To accurately gauge her size compare with the buildings near her prow. This is not an optical illusion!

This evening the performance is greeted with a vociferous reception which I suspect has more to do with the support from the Music At Sea members in the audience than the talent of the artiste on stage! Thank you EVERYONE! Backstage there is a BIG drama connected with the Bingo scheduled between shows. Just before the game starts……HORROR, SHOCK, PANIC. The Bingo board is ………MISSING!!!! Do I hear you laughing dear Reader? Please have some sensitivity. Forget the show. This is SERIOUS. Heads could roll. Crew walk the plank. I’m writing of a DISASTER second only to sinking. Search routine, Search routine, Search routine, Halleluljah!! The Board is found, the game proceeds, the cruise staff can sleep easily in their bunks – but, I just can’t see the attraction of a game in which so many of the participants are guaranteed to lose?

June 5 Copenhagen. One of my favourite places. Here you can find real strawberry jam made from real strawberries – not the genetically modified, artificially flavoured, colour enhanced, glob sometimes labelled ‘strawberry jam’ which is an affront to anyone with taste buds! This is not my only reason for liking Copenhagen, though it is enough! Copenhagen is a fantastic, fabulous place with wonderful people, stupendous atmosphere, exciting attractions, the locals speak better English than many of the English - and it is SAFE. The visitor need not fear being jostled, insulted or mugged. In other words Copenhagen is CIVILISED – so it is a bit of a shock to discover the city temporarily invaded by cows – over 75 life sized models decorated by Danish artistes and located at focal points and squares in aid of the ‘Save the Children’ fund.

Is this a cow I see before me? (with apologies to Shakespeare!)

A good cause and, since the cows are being hugely enjoyed by children of all ages, a smart idea. (Check it out at: After the coffee morning I need to rehearse so cannot get ashore but the male members of the group return from town later looking very happy. Are they secret cow freaks? No, Today is ‘Constitution Day’, many of the shops are closed, and they’ve saved a fortune! What a bunch of Scrooges!

In the evening I join with the group at both Dinner sittings. I hear of childhoods spent in pre-Castro Cuba when dating was done in the presence of a chaperone – (tip: classical music can make a drowsy chaperone fall asleep, what’s going on in my concerts?) Another guest tells that the John Steinbeck book ‘Travels with Charley’, inspired him to imitate the author and, with his dog Myrtle as companion, ride his Harley motorcycle on a 9 week trip around the USA! Another of us helps the group ‘Contact’ which gives telephone support for people in deep distress on what seems to be a ‘suicide hotline’. Then one of the ladies informs me she is a hooker – I have enjoyed some bizarre evenings but at this point, I’m convinced this is turning into one for the history books! Further explanation reveals that she makes carpets using a hook! OK – I knew that all along! Late that evening a letter slides under my cabin door – no, NOT from the hooker, BEHAVE or leave this website! – It is from our guest artiste the brilliant violinist Peter Fisher who will be playing for us in St. Petersburg. Thoughtfully, and typical of him, he is letting me know that he has safely arrived onboard. That’s a relief, and not just because I have spent most of the day studying his accompaniments! Peter’s flight landed at 4.40 this afternoon. He still had to clear immigration and wait to collect his luggage from the carousel. Constellation left at 6! Did his Danish taxi driver and my English one train together!

Peter Fisher

June 6 At Sea. A highly entertaining coffee morning. Two of our members are from the Wirral (they claim that’s the posh part of Liverpool) and their stories of Liverpool life have us in stitches. Afterwards I need to quickly refocus my brain to concert mode as I am due to give an afternoon performance in the Celebrity theatre to which we are inviting all the ship’s guests. The programme includes Chopin’s ‘Heroic’ Polonaise, Bach’s ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’ and the Second Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt. The theatre is packed - no doubt helped by the cold weather outside – and the audience gives me a terrific reception (OK - I know, - THANK YOU MAS group!!)

Rose with Captain Papanikolaou

This evening Captain Papanikolaou hosts a reception for repeat guests and Rose receives special mention for being the guest with the highest number of Celebrity cruises to her name. A total of 33! Cause to celebrate, which we do until one of our number is suddenly taken ill and whisked off to the ship’s hospital. We are all very upset but perhaps none more so than the unfortunate one carried leaving his drink untouched! The evening is spent under the dark cloud of worry as we wait for the eventual confirmation that our friend is not in danger.

A thought to ponder. IF one is unlucky enough to be taken ill, a cruise ship is the VERY best place to be. Within two minutes there will be expert medical help at your side. Where else would that be true except in a hospital? And the interesting thing is that VERY few people, when booking a cruise, enquire about the medical facilities available.

June 7. A glorious day and we are docked in Tallinn, Estonia. An historic Hanseatic port which hosted the England/Estonia Football match yesterday. Thankfully it was a good game and the English supporters, not renowned for friendly behaviour under stress, behaved. I am delighted to see a little crowd at our coffee session and Juergen, a big MAS supporter and good friend, smiles a friendly greeting. Quietly steering the conversation towards football and choosing his moment with precision he says: “Do you know the German national team wear 3 stars on their shirts” No, I don’t, why would that be? “It signifies the number of World Cups Germany has won’ Oh No! Where is this leading? Suddenly, it is quiet and the group are listening intently. Juergen’s eyes are twinkling. He’s led me straight into an ambush. Juergen continues. “On the other hand” ……he pauses for theatrical effect before hauling in his fish….. ‘The English team has only…….. ONE” The table erupts in applause. OUCH! OK, I’m a man, I can take it. But what are these thoughts coming into my mind? Juergen’s pride and joy is a BMW currently left unattended in Dover. I have friends there. What if?….No, please don’t let me even imagine this… but……as Juergen obviously loves stars so much……. what if he was to get back and find that the highly prized BMW logo on his gleaming car bonnet had been replaced by the three pronged star of a rival manufacturer (name begins with ’M’) from Stuttgart. No, this is unthinkable…….but what if?……No, enough now. Be quiet inner vindictive voice. Do I need counselling? No, I need a coffee - and that’s precisely what I have. The good news of the morning, which overshadows everything, is that our sick guest from yesterday has ventured off on a walking tour of the old city. You can’t keep a good man down – especially if he comes from Texas! For me it’s a desperately busy day, mainly centred around rehearsals starting at 7 in the morning which will continue until 3 the following morning. An additional problem is that our concert piano in Michael’s Club has acquired a broken string. Cruise Director, Luke rides to the rescue and authorises a tuner at the next port. This man is a saint.

June 8. St. Petersburg. A city of stunning beauty stained by a tragic past. So many died during St. Petersburg’s construction that it is said it was built on the bones of the workers. Tragedy surounds us. A generation brought up under a communist system which promised free housing, heating, electricity etc for life has reached old age to find that under capitalism these essentials are not free and since saving and investing is not part of communist philosophy many do not have the means to survive. One reason why in Russia male life expectancy is only 58 years – compare that with 70 years in the U.S.A!

This city has undergone tremendous changes. Fifteen years ago we docked within walking distance of the Winter Palace, there was little traffic and an early morning stroll through the deserted streets was a pleasure. You will not be able to walk from the ship today as our dock is in an industrial port nearly 30 minutes drive from the town centre with our berth 2 miles inside the dock gates! Once the old “Song Of Norway’ changed docks for one closer to town but, mysteriously, on that visit, only half the tour buses turned up! We didn’t change docks again! Corruption and violence are part of life here. A few years ago there was a corpse on the river bank opposite to the ship. The body lay there for 24 hours before being removed. Such was the level of passenger complaints that at Showtime that evening the beleagured Cruise Director tried to diffuse the situation by injecting some humour. He announced a new activity to the St. Petersburg programme - ‘Dunking Boris’. Now he is an ex-Cruise Director!

Today we have our special excursion created by John and Rose - the ‘Music At Sea Surprise’. `A visit to the Youssopoff Palace, a private concert at Rimsky-Korsakov’s apartment and finally an evening at the Demidoff Restaurant.

The group enjoy the Youssopoff Palace. An effigy of the shadowy Rasputin is there – stabbed, strangled and drowned in the River Neva the coroner said it was the worst suicide he had ever encountered. (Editors note: No he didn’t – that’s Brooks’ idea of a joke!!!!). Coincidentally, the other Putin – Vladimir, no relation but to some, just as sinister - is in town and causing total traffic gridlock! Consequently the group arrive at Rimsky Korsakov’s apartment behind schedule.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Desk and Piano

Rimsky spent the last fifteen years of his life here and the apartment contains his Becker Grand Piano, furniture and many personal mementoes including his writing desk, manuscripts and pen. Famous musical gatherings were hosted here - Chaliapin, Rachmaninov, Skryabin, Glazunov, Stravinsky were guests. Now its our turn! Peter and I perform a concert of music composed by Rimsky-Korsakov and his circle of friends. Have you any idea how it feels to actually BE THERE and play that music? I can’t find the words, but it is an emotional experience for performers and audience alike. Peter’s playing is stupendous and is rewarded with a standing ovation.

Following the concert we are all ready for dinner so its off to the Demidoff. They treat us royally. (Yes, I KNOW how the Russians treat their Royals but I’m not implying they shoot us. They don’t. They don’t even consider it. (I think). I’m using the term in the British sense and we love our Royals. In other words they treat us VERY VERY WELL – OK?) The vodka, wine and food are plentiful and between courses we are entertained by singing gypsies. Sounds like a tourist trap but isn’t! A fitting close to this unique, wonderful day which leaves us feeling we have entered the inner soul of this great country. Now its late and, as many of us need to be up early the next morning for more exploring, its back to our floating home for much needed rest. At the gangway, a poster on what is permitted to be brought on board devotes itself, in six languages, to one subject only. It decrees that the bringing of alcohol onboard is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. Bizarre. There is a $25 corkage charge in all onboard restaurants so who would bother? Now that IS a sobering thought!

Peter and Brooks in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Apartment (photo: Juergen)

June 9 St. Petersburg. Phew, its going to be a scorcher. Global Warming is in evidence here. Laura told me yesterday that the evil St. Petersburg winters had been notably milder of late. Who is Laura I hear you cry? Well Laura,not to be confused with Lara in Dr. Zhivago who had a ding-dong with Omar Shariff, works for ‘Red October’ which is the travel agency who fix everything for us in St. Petersburg and not to be confused with Red October the Russian submarine captained by Sean Connery in the movie of the same name. Yes, I know Sean Connery also played James Bond but in this movie he played a Russian submarine commander - not that it matters as he played both with the same voice and accent! Back to Lara, no Laura. Now I’m confused, even though she’s younger than Julie Christie and doesn’t drive a sleigh. Laura is wonderful. Believe me, if you need anything (legal) in St. Petersburg ask for Laura. In fact, next time you’re in town for a few days get Red October to fix your tours and blow your budget in the Grand Hotel Europe. It’s close to the Hermitage, Nevsky Prospekt plus plus plus ……. Tschaikovsky is rumoured to have spent his honeymoon there!

A Russian band is playing on the dockside as, at the end of this bakingly hot day, our weary travellers stagger back to the ship. Strategically placed on the ground in front of them, is an upside down, deep, Red Army cap! The musicians know many of the guests are from the U.S.A. and have chosen their programme carefully! How enthusiastically they render a medley of U.S.A. patriotic songs – and how enthusiastically the suddenly revived guests throw money into that cap! Dear Reader, if you had shaken that cap would it have clinked? – No, it would have positively rustled! Karl Marx must be turning in his grave - Capitalism is alive and well in St. Petersburg!

As we leave we pass the historic Russian naval base of Kronstadt created by Peter the Great. As a naval officer Rimsky-Korsakov sailed from here to the U.S.A. when the Czar supported the North in the American Civil War. During the Cold War it was ‘top secret’ and the headquarters of the Soviet Baltic Fleet. When I first came here in the early 1990’s all passing ships were closely monitored for any hint of espionage.

Kronstadt – once a top secret naval facility.

Any hint of photography and the ship would be boarded and cameras confiscated. When relations eased between East and West, passing cruise ships would make a feature of this island causing great excitement amongst the guests who flocked to the open decks, cameras at the ready to take pictures of the once deadly submarines rotting in their pens. Today Kronstadt is deserted and unmentioned. Curious, I enquire at the Guest Relations Desk and the Shore Excursion Office for information about Kronstadt. They’ve never heard of it! How long before enquiries about Leningrad and the revolution are met by the response “Lenin who?” and with that thought to ponder I turn in for the night.

Kronstadt today – practically deserted!

June 10 Helsinki. Another beautiful day. Its unseasonal and I don’t believe it can last. (Editor’s note: It didn’t!) We are docked close to the Masa shipyard where so many of the great cruise ships are constructed. Our Texan friends join me for morning coffee and then zoom off to the produce market in search of fresh peas! They return successful and happy!! I’ve not tried Finnish peas but they must have the wow factor! This evening I dine with four guests, originaly from China but now based in Singapore and the U.S.A. One of the ladies is a Chinese Herbal Practioneer and I notice that she drinks warm water with her meal. Something to try. After dinner Peter plays another sensational performance and we all retire to our various staterooms tired but content.

June 11 Stockholm. At the coffee morning a Chinese lady – Mary, and not with our group, comes to me with a very serious expression on her face. She wants to ask me a question. Fire away. “What is a nymphomaniac”? Not the question I had been expecting! I do my best to explain and then she asks me to write the word down in her diary. Alex, an employee of the year, is serving the morning pastries and has clearly been worrying that we are not getting enough nourishment, He brings two of the ladies in our group long crisp breadsticks covered with cream and nuts! This goes down in more ways than one, as immediately the recipients politely take possession of the unrequested delicacies, the combined weight of the cream and nuts causes them to collapse over their clothes. Alex is distraught and rushes for a cloth!

June 12 At Sea. Thank goodness for a leisurely sea day! We are ‘toured out’ and are glad of the chance to relax. Today is our final concert in Michael’s Club. Luke has had the piano mended but the pre-concert rehearsal is drastically shortened by an overrunning lecture on the art of making Martinis. There is barely time to set the piano and rearrange the seating let alone ‘warm up’ as the clock has ticked and the group are waiting outside the door! Such are the perils of the musical life. I play a programme of Schubert, Strauss, Chopin, Mozart and Rachmaninoff. Afterwards we congregate around the staircase for a group picture. Singer Lindsay Hamilton has arrived on board with husband Rico and baby daughter Evie not yet one year old. She can just toddle (Evie not Lindsay!) and attempts to join our photo session. Laughter all round and such is our merriment that the group photo comes out making us look slightly tiddly!

Our merry band – note the gold and silk drapes!

June 13 Warnemunde. This used to be in East Germany and the watering hole for top party apparatchiks. Now it is a charming seaside village full of cycles and dogs! The dogs do not run behind the cycles but sit regally in special wicker boxes positioned behind the saddle! I’ve noticed this doggy reverence in the South of France - but substitute ‘wicker box behind the saddle’ for ‘back seat of a Mercedes ‘S’ class’! The G8 luminaries meeting in nearby Rostock have dispersed. Tony Blair to see the Pope and Vladimir P., as you will recall, to St. Petersburg in order to cause traffic chaos. After the coffee morning I stroll the cobbled streets looking at car number plates! Juergen and Margit have explained that in Germany all cars registered in the old Hanseatic ports have an ‘H’ in front of the town’s primary identification. So Rostock, Hamburg, Lubeck and Bremen instead of being R, H, L and B become HR, HH, HL and HB. – Reader concentrate on this. You never know when this knowledge will come in handy. Imagine you reach the final question on ‘Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?’ and its on car number plates in Hanseatic Ports. You’ll be eternally grateful. In fact your conscience might even prick you to send me a cheque! Now I have your attention I’ll share more Baltic travel tips which often come up when evenings are spent in company with that great and popular philosopher Al Cohol. In this part of the world what we call ‘Jam’ is known as ‘Marmelade’, If you would like an apple juice do NOT order Appelsin juice as you will be brought an Orange juice. (The locals thought apples were oranges from China) A Danish Pastry in Denmark is known as a Viennese pastry, In Warnemunde a doughnut, filled with strawberry jam and covered in vanilla icing is known as a Berliner, This is not just food for the body but food for thought. When JFK made that ringing declamation “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” the world applauded – but could some of the locals have thought that the American President was actually saying “I am a strawberry-filled-vanilla-coated-doughnut’? - and might this have been the REAL reason they built the Berlin Wall? If only JFK had returned to say: ‘Ich Bin Nicht Ein Berliner’ history could have been different. Future historians will surely pick up on this but remember, you read it here FIRST! Just be thankful he wasn’t in Hamburg!

June 14 the first ‘slip up’ We are scheduled to be in Helsingborg, a tender port, but the weather has turned foul, and Captain Papanikolaou, a kind and considerate man, prefers not to risk drowning his passengers. We appreciate this especially as he heads the ship for nearby Copenhagen where the shops will all be OPEN! The cows are still here and spreading. The Little Mermaid (who has several times had her head removed by vandals) now has a rival – the little Moo-Maid – and also headless!

Definitely NOT a Cow! ‘The Little Mermaid’ Copenhagen

A surreal coffee morning. Our two Liverpudlians wearing magnificent sweaters embroidered with the insignia of the Royal Engineers discuss the possibility of abseiling down the side of the ship! What will ‘Health and Safety’ say? Forget ‘Health and Safety’ - Security will shoot them! A diversionary tact is needed. How about going ashore with a pail and milking the aforementioned Danish Cows! Rose, ever the wise and sober one, counsels caution, for Danish cows are clearly regarded with veneration, possibly adoration (I thought that was only in India) and any action against them, even in fun, might be regarded as only slightly worse than abusing the Little Mermaid! Not wishing to cause an international incident or, even worse, have ‘bovineophile’ stamped on our passports, we order another cappuccino and the idea is forgotten!.

June 15 A Sea Day. A fun coffee morning. Two of the group are planning marriage early next year and the prospective groom is whispering the secret honeymoon plans in my ear! In the afternoon we hold our final get-together. I had asked the group for feedback and one proposal is that we start a collection of suggestions for staying healthy on a cruise. Great idea. Our proposer has started the ball rolling with the following: When checking into an hotel room or cabin for the first time use an alcohol gel to clean all surfaces in your stateroom which come into contact with your hands. i.e telephone handset, buttons, door handles, TV remote. This is sound advice and we shall start a designated section on the MAS web site for similar suggestions. (FYI on Celebrity Cruises it is part of the regular sanitation policy that this procedure is carried out by the Cabin steward EVERY day!). Many of the group have written compliments, (OK, I admit it, we LOVE reading that) and the greatest compliment of all is that many are discussing and reserving space for their next MAS cruise. ‘Goodbye’ is too final. I prefer ‘Farewell’ or the French Au revoir So that is how we take our leave of each other, wishing each other well and looking forward to our next meeting. And that is how I close this account to you dear Reader. Hopefuly one day YOU will join us for ‘Music At Sea’. Until that happy time, from myself Brooks Aehron, with John and Rose plus all our Music At Sea guests onboard ‘Constellation’: Michael and Becky, Paul and Shirley, Linda, Keith and Joyce, Juergen and Margit, Gerry and Maureen, Terry and John, Gina and Don, Jay and Helene, Jan and Tom, John and Kendy, Ziggy and Mercedes, Benjy and Margarita, Karen and Mel, Tom and Sandra, Pam and Gene, Barbara and Fate: To YOU dear Reader, wherever in the world you might be, Au Revoir and Fare Well.

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