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The Patter of Italian Feet.


When I joined Oriana in 1973, remember this was pre-computer days and everything was done by hand or on very primitive equipment. For instance, the woman assistant pursers had the job of typing passenger and crew lists onto flimsy stencils that were attached to a roller in the Gestetner machine that allowed the ink to pass through the stencil onto the paper. This thankless task often ended up being covered in ink, or the stencil getting tangled and having to be retyped.


Gestetner machine used for printing

crew and passenger lists on P&O

ships in the 1970's


More advanced was the printing on board the Oriana. The daily news sheet and the schedule were printed by the onboard printers. they used linotype, meaning literally a line of type, involving setting row after row of metal letters into a frame, inked and being stamped onto paper. Once known as the eighth wonder of the world this process revolutionised the printing business which until then every letter had to be set by hand.


Then along came the Princess ships and printing was revolutionised yet again when a

a Heidelberg rotating drum printing press was used. This of course was much simpler the work was typewritten and pasted onto a board that was photographed and printed onto thin metal printing plates that were attached to a roller on the rotating drum printing press. In the early days of Princess, the Princess Patter was printed in one colour, the paper stock having been delivered to the ship with the Patter heading pre-printed ashore.

Sailing on Sky Princess last year I noticed that this process was still used although the quality of the paper was of a lesser grade and I have to say in my opinion the design was less striking.


THANK YOU, PETER SARA, For the following.


The printing press on the Pacific Princess for the "Princess Patter" was indeed operated by a single Italian printer. The printing machine was a Heidelberg rotating drum printing press. I was the Senior 3rd Engineer Officer on the 12 to 4 and had the pleasure of fixing the printer one night as it seized halfway through the "Princess Patter" print run. So, from 0400 to 0600 I worked on this wonderful machine. Fixed at 0600 the full print run was out for distribution for 0800. The wonders of being a Marine Engineer - "Jack of All Trades"


The cruise director and the deputy purser were responsible for the Patter content. Once the content was laid out on a mock-up this was delivered to the deputy purser and once the content was checked, he would then pass it onto the cruise director to check that the daily schedule was correct.


Yes, mistakes sometimes happened but hopefully not too many. By late afternoon this went back to the printer to go to press for delivery to cabins in the evening.



Deputy Purser Stuart Bennett

with Italian printer Nunzio

Island Princess Acapulco 1976


THANK YOU STUART BENNETT For the following.


Nunzio was the Printer on ISLAND PRINCESS when I joined in late 1975. Although he was recruited via the catering contractor, he had no onboard reporting line to the Chief Steward, or perhaps just refused to acknowledge that.

It became very evident very quickly the Italian crew did not like him, and he reciprocated in spades. He aligned himself with me for some reason and used to frequently loiter around my office. I was very interested in the printing function, having had the Maurice Onslow lecture on printing, proof-reading etc on Canberra. The ships like Canberra and Oriana had offset printing? And I recall we loaded several tonnes of lead at the beginning of a voyage and offloaded the used typeset. Printers were a breed; some were ex Fleet Street and highly unionised (called chapels). This was before Rupert Murdoch.

On IP I got sick of complaints from everyone about this swarthy person who stood around or sat in the foyer. He was in dirty old jeans and a

So, I set to work and with the help of Dave White, the Accomm Supervisor I firstly got him in uniform (although we never quite replaced the brown shoes- see photo). Nunzio responded very well and of course, started ‘pulling rank’ on his fellow Italians. Emilio Gandolfi the Chief Steward now was in and out of my office complaining about him and told me the Italian crew now referred to him as “Il Admirale” behind his back. 😊

I spent half a day with him one morning whilst he showed me his world and I also helped him sort out his store of blank menu cards, Princess Patter stock etc. The menu boxes were too heavy for one person to lift, and nobody would ever help him.


Dave White

Accommodation Supervisor

Island Princess 1976





In return, I got huge loyalty from Nunzio. On 4th July 1976 was the big day- the 200th anniversary of US Independence Day and we were in Alaska. We managed to print a 4 colour PP, something Maurice Onslow said would be impossible. I took great delight in sending him the finished product and although IP was not his ship (it was under Pietro Corsi), Maurice then went through it with a fine-tooth comb and was even more pissed off when he couldn’t find a single typo! Happy days.



Pietro Corsi was VP Hotel Services for Princess Cruises in Los Angeles.


Morris Onslow started work as a Junior Assistant Purser for P&O and later was Deputy Hotel Services Manager based in Southampton for P&O ships.


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7 Comments


John Martin
John Martin
Mar 06, 2022

As an addendum to the Princess Bedroom Stewards Handbook. For some reason 'management' believed by 1983 it needed updating. Here a memo' on the issue. It was Hotel Services Manager R L 'Bob' Hewson comment as 'only at this time'. Hotel Services had been pursuing a revision for a while. Also a telex (remember those?) advising that I was bringing these comments on a visit to Princess Offices in Century City. (Amazing the useless stuff I seem to have retained!)



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John Martin
John Martin
Mar 06, 2022
Replying to

You are right about the attic David. This was amongst a folder of reports I made when with P&O Cruises. Enlighted re-reading. I had had the folder out as I was doing a summary of all the ships I had served / sailed in (work related), dates and routes. Amazing how memory fails you. Thankfully, these reports also summarised the dates, flight schedules, ports visited etc as I had to submit travel arrangements to the office so they knew where and when I was. I have also been reliant on my Seaman's Discharge books as well for those ships I served in. Diaries can be quite 'sketchy'.

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John Martin
John Martin
Mar 06, 2022

I could be corrected, but I was to believe that Maurice Onslow was a product of Orient Lines. He became the Hotel Operations Manager for P&O Cruises UK and Deputy to Hotel Services Manager Bob Hewson who had oversight for all P&O and Princess ships. Pietro Corsi ran hotel operations for Princess in Los Angeles and Peter Scott for the Australia based ships in Sydney. In 1986 the fleet functions were disbanded as each operating area became seperate operating companies.

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John Martin
John Martin
Mar 06, 2022
Replying to

Remember that well. Also the way he lifted his head so he look down his nose at you. A usual comment whenever he saw me was "it's all your fault" - to which I would reply, "at least I don't have slopey shoulders". Having said that, we got on well.

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John Martin
John Martin
Mar 06, 2022

A photo of me with 'Aureol's printer in 1982. Both Graham Austin and myself were church bellringers at St.Nicholas and Our Lady (the seamen's church) at the Pier Head in Liverpool - when on leave. It shows his letterpress printing machine...and a photo of him typesetting. He was responsible for all the menus, daily news sheets, entertainment progammes plus anything else the Chief Catering Officer or Purser decided needed to be printed 'professionally'. Passenger and Crew Lists were run off with a Gestetner by the Purser's Office. My role was to check the draft menus before doing a print 'run'.



During the short period when 'Aureol' was being handed over to new owners in 1974 after 23 years mail boat…

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