The Brandenburg Choir joined nicko cruises recently on a wonderful sailing aboard Vasco Da Gama, along the French Riviera. It’s the first time the group have joined one of our sailings and to say it was a huge success is probably an understatement.

The Brandenburg Choral Festival of London exists as a platform for amateur choirs to perform in Central London venues. It is London’s biggest and broadest celebration of all things choral — and we mean everything!

Over the year they bring together choirs and vocal ensembles of different shapes and sizes, and from every musical background — classical and jazz, a cappella or accompanied, gospel, male voice, choral scholars, community choirs, and a whole lot more besides!

Vasco Da Gama lends itself well to groups, with so many quiet areas, an auditorium, large two-tier theatre plus small conference rooms for group requirements – she was the ideal choice of ship. The Brandenburg Choral group ended their cruise with a mini concert performed to the whole ship on May 27, as they cruised to Barcelona for their final port of call.

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Bob Porter, Brandenburg Artistic Director kindly kept a log of his time aboard and it went a bit like this…

Brandenburg Choral Cruise – Captains Log Stardate, Saturday 20th May

Flew to Marseille yesterday to get to the ship by lunchtime today. First time on Vasco da Gama – it is WONDERFUL! Five-star luxury.

We had our first rehearsal and considering being a scratch group, who were up at the crack of the sparrows’ chirp, all really cream crackered and surrounded by soft furnishings – it went well.

We were joined by the ship’s resident cocktail pianist, Alex, who asked if he could sing bass!

Warm-up, Bob’s iconic Cruise Round (courtesy of Mr Tallis) and a rehearsal on Ave Verum. Familiar to most but we did some good work – it is going to be FAB

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Brandenburg Choral Cruise – Captains Log Stardate, Sunday 21st May

Woke up in St Tropez.

Delighted to have Michelle Daniels (Commercial Director of Light Blue Travel) here with us. Settling in with a new cruise company could throw up a few problems, but the nicko team have been brilliant in accommodating us within the general schedule and having Michelle here with us for the first couple of days has been a bonus – not least because she is a very strong Alto in an internationally award-winning Ladies Barbershop Choir – so she really gets it.

Quick pop into St Tropez for lunch and then rehearsal number two.

We now have a repertoire!

  • Bob’s Cruise Round
  • Ave Verum
  • The Long Day Closes

Still work to do – but it sounds like a choir!

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Brandenburg Choral Cruise – Captains Log Stardate, Monday 22nd May

Woke up in Cannes – ready for the Film Festival, but somehow my invitation seems to have been lost in the post.

Never mind, the sun came out and we all went to Cannes (most of these ship-to-shore transfers are by small tender boats) and met Emilie from the Camino days, which was lovely.

A small amount of Vasco da Gama’s German guests joined the choir today and we are having a wonderful time! 

New repertoire addition was Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. It is a great sing, and a splendid contrast to our other pieces.

Brandenburg Choral Cruise – Captains Log Stardate, Tuesday 23rd May

Vasco da Gama is a lovely ship. It is run by nicko cruises which is a German company – of the 800 passengers, there are c. 40 English speakers, three-quarters of whom are Brandenburg guests.

It is therefore ironic that there is a group called Brandenburg from London on a German ship.

New repertoire today was to add the well-known setting of “The Lord is my Shepherd” by Howard Goodall.

We were docked outside Villefranche today, so another tender transfer.

It is a little gem! Beautiful and quiet. Kenna and I loved it so much we are planning a return for our honeymoon in August

Choir still sounding great!

Brandenburg Choral Cruise – Captains Log Stardate, Wednesday 24th May

Off to sunny Corsica!

Moored outside Calvi – a wonderful little seaside town.

Cracking lunch – well, if you are to stick to the 10,000 calories a day regime, you can’t let up for a moment! Now we have acquired the ship’s jazz pianist and cabaret singer in the choir – luckily, we have print facility so new scores are not a problem.

We started the familiar arrangement of Bach/Gounod Ave Maria; well familiar to some! We had to work hard yesterday but it will bed in soon, I’m sure. The post -rehearsal evening consisted of a special Curry Night (very good indeed–nothing like a Ruby Murray to cheer you up!) and then an hour of raucous and debauched late-night party singing with Alex (ships Cabaret pianist) and a whole bunch of Brandenburg Cruisers, belting out ABBA, Neil Diamon, Simon and Garfunkel plus a sampling of terribly done Queen.

Ho Hum!

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Brandenburg Choral Cruise – Captains Log Stardate, Thursday 25th May

A quick visit into Ajaccio for a beer and to buy some specialist Corsican sausage. Bit more of a bustling town than Calvi but still nice.

Our final rehearsal day. We have amassed a repertoire of five pieces for tomorrow’s performance:

  • Mozart Ave Verum Corpus
  • Goodall Lord is my Shepherd
  • Bach/Gounod Ave Maria
  • Sulllivan The Long Day Closes
  • Cohen Hallelujah

What a great tea – our multi-lingual group, three of the cabaret musicians from the ship and of course, our incomparable accompanist Alison!

It is really coming together, and we are in with a chance of giving a great performance.

Brandenburg Choral Cruise – Captains Log Stardate, Friday 26th May

The BIG DAY arrives. We are well prepared and in good shape. A rehearsal in the morning followed by a bit of lunch.

We are in the theatre now –a bit daunting for some because it is a rather large space.

The pool deck has a retractable roof, so with it open to the skies, they set up a bbq – delicious!

Then a line up with everyone dressed up to the nines.

We followed another event in the theatre, so there was a captive audience. We were great and they loved us.

A wonderful triumph to end a week of hard work alongside LOTS of fun!

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Vasco da Gama

Named after the historic Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama is a classic 4-star vessel that combines elegant-modern flair with beautiful teak decks and a ratio of two crew members to every one guest, for a more personal atmosphere as well as a generous sense of space.

On board, you’ll find a range of equipment for spa, fitness and other leisure activities, including indoor and outdoor pools, plus comfortable and stylish cabins in sixteen different categories. Enjoy low single supplements and childcare facilities, with children under sixteen travelling for free when accompanied by two full-paying guests.

Be dazzled by an incredible programme of entertainment as we offer tailor-made in-house shows to rival the highest Broadway calibre productions, performed twice per evening, in a theatre extending over two decks, at the artistic heart of your ship.

With five restaurants and seven bars available, prepare to be spoiled by a wide range of first-class culinary delights, freshly prepared by our kitchen crew. The Club Bistro presents buffets showcasing a variety of themes, while in our three Waterfront Restaurants we will serve you at your table.

The same goes for our fine dining restaurant, The Grill, where we offer excellent menus for a small surcharge. In all restaurants you can dine at extended, flexible mealtimes, with a free choice of seats, while the Alfresco Grill offers light dishes to satisfy those little pangs outside of mealtimes.

Learn more about nicko cruises and what we do.


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