Dispatches: Secrets of Your Cruise

I’m sure many of you watched this on Channel 4 last night (3rd July). I, along with my friend Maureen, were participants as they wanted people who had cruised to take part.

Our little bit was recorded aboard the Princess Caroline in Southampton’s Ocean Village on the 2nd June. We were joined by three other people who were related (husband & wife plus sister of the man). We were not onboard Oceana with Tazeen Ahmad as some believe.

Princess Caroline in Ocean Village

With Maureen Hunt

Contrary to some thinking, we were not “lambs to the slaughter” there to be made fools of. We had been told it would be about growth of the cruise industry and effect on the environment before being given the filming location, so went into it with our eyes open.

The ITN team and Tazeen were really friendly and put us at our ease, though we did start an hour later than intended due to them having lunch. We weren’t sailing on the Princess Caroline, but it was an odd choice to discuss the topic.

It was a small but very professional team, though the main cameraman was wearing shorts which was distracting! 😉 The producer/director, Ben Laidlow, had a smaller camera for wide shots.

The footage in Southampton of Black Watch, Queen Elizabeth and Celebrity Eclipse was filmed on the 19th May. There were six ships in on the day of our recording – Navigator of the Seas, Marina, Silver Explorer, Norwegian Jade, Aurora & Silver Whisper. With so much pollution on tap, you have to wonder why they didn’t do any particulate measurement or check the air quality.

Also bear in mind that at one end of Southampton Water is the Esso Refinery while at the other is Marchwood incinerator. Car carriers, container ships, tankers, ferries and pleasure craft make up more river traffic on a daily basis than cruise ships. And Southampton is not the only port that applies to.

The filming process took around 3 hours due to reshoots, different angles and too much talking. The others were worrying about getting a parking ticket, but then one of them was enjoying the attention so much she waffled on, often off topic resulting in a telling off each time. Maureen wisely paid for an extra hour.

The transmission date was originally thought to be the 10th July. Channel 4 began advertising on the 26th June and we received the call about the date the Friday prior.

Ironically, the 3rd July was 67 years since my paternal grandfather died. Although it was simply a case of losing the will to live after my grandmother died, he had followed his father’s footsteps working at Liverpool docks, first as a docker then ship planner. My great-grandfather smoked, drank and breathed in far worse from liners and trains than we do, yet lived to 85.

There is no arguing we need to do something about pollution but we could start by removing the poisonous chemicals in various products. More from things such as shampoo, washing powder etc, get flushed from our homes daily than cruise ships. Recently there was the recent trend of adding hazardous micro beads to body washes which are plastic and end up in the food chain.

However, pollution today is far less than it was in the past. The cruise industry is constantly regulated and making improvements but without changing to oars, nothing will be perfect in our lifetime.

My dad suffers COPD yet struggles more around traffic than anywhere near any seagoing vessel. His COPD was caused by diesel fumes from road vehicles after decades being around them.

I had breathing tests in February 2017 and my lung capacity is 98% despite 64 cruises and smoking from 1986-2008.

I also once dated a crew member so know more about what ships do than the average viewer or cruiser, having seen it for myself.

I don’t regret being part of this programme in the slightest. It was interesting in many ways and educational. Overnight ratings peaked at 1.7 million which is a strange feeling knowing so many saw you.

Will I stop cruising? Not until the green lobby get rid of their cars, boats and no longer fly.

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