Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the fjords of Norway…

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Passengers on board Quest for Adventure had an unexpected treat this week, an unannounced 90-minute concert performance by singer-songwriter Ralph McTell during a cruise through the Norwegian fjords.
The unique event – McTell’s first performance at sea – was the culmination of three years’ dogged effort from Quest’s cruise director, Neil Horrocks, who has been a fan for 16 years. And of course it finished the only way possible, with McTell’s biggest hit, Streets of London.
Neil told me today: “It took lots of careful emails to persuade Ralph to come on board. He was naturally wary, as when you say ‘cruise ship’ to someone who doesn’t know the industry, they presume it will be massive and impersonal.
“However, I wrote to him, saying I’d seen him in concert at the Royal Northern College of Music in 1997 and 1999 hen I was studying in Manchester. I felt his act was so good and the storytelling so vivid that it didn’t matter the passengers probably only knew the one song.
“He confirmed in April that he would come on board but it wasn’t marketed or advertised, so it came as a complete surprise to the passengers.
“He chose to join the cruise from Stavanger to Bergen as his wife, Nanna, is Norwegian, and he felt that the way I had written reassuringly meant he would be in safe hands.
“The result was that I had the privilege of introducing a true gentleman who had single-handedly sold out the Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House in the ‘seventies.
“He did a 90-minute set, when I expected only an hour at the most, and ended with Streets of London. Every single person in the audience warmed to his wonderful stories of how the songs came about, and he was genuinely moved by the reaction.
“Another lovely touch was that he included songs which dealt with issues raised the previous night in a presentation by former journalist and ex-MP Martin Bell, so it tied in perfectly.
“The three of us had dinner together the following night and Martin will now be going to see Ralph at the Cadogan Hall in London in December.
“Sometimes this job of mine really is the best in the world. I walked on stage at the end of Ralph’s performance and said: ‘I feel like saying my work here is done.’ It really did prove that if you believe in something enough, then you can make it happen.”
The chances of an encore look good. As he stepped ashore, McTell said”Thank you so much for inviting me on board. I don’t feel like I joined a cruise ship, I feel like I became part of a wonderful family.”
To adapt another line from Streets of London, it looks like Neil succeeded in showing Ralph something to change his mind …

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:30+00:00 30 July 2013|Cruise Entertainment|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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