OASIS OF THE SEAS
2nd November 2009
The biggest cruise ship afloat was built by STX Europe, in Finland, for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, of Nassau, Bahamas, and was officially handed over on 28th October 2009, before travelling to her home port of Port Everglades, in Florida. Named OASIS OF THE SEAS, she has a gross tonnage of 225,282, has beds for 5408, and can apparently take a maximum of 6,400 passengers. She was huge according to all the plans, and after seeing her yesterday I can confirm that she is absolutely ENORMOUS.
After she left the shipyard, the news came that workmen were still on board (where have we heard that before?)and were to be put ashore by tender near Lee-on-the-Solent, in Hampshire, England, on Monday 2nd November 2009. When I was offered the chance to travel there, of course I accepted with thanks and excitement.
I left home early enough for the moonlight to be pouring down during my walk to the station, but some time later I was in glorious sunshine with my shipping chums, eagerly awaiting the latest news about OASIS OF THE SEAS. We knew she had gone under the Great Belt Bridge, Denmark, with lowered funnels and just 2 feet to spare, and was due off the south coast about 2 p.m.
We had time to take the ferry from Gosport across the water to the Portsmouth side on SPIRIT OF GOSPORT, and then wait for the next sailing of WIGHT RYDER 11 across to the Isle of Wight, and back again. She was built in 2009 and began on this route in September, together with her sister ship WIGHT RYDER 1.
SPIRIT OF GOSPORT
As we left the Portsmouth quayside we could see the laid up WIGHT RYDER 1, which I understand has a 'technical' problem, and FASTCAT SHANKLIN
COMMODORE CLIPPER sailed past, and we could see ST. CECILIA.
As we started to turn to head out to the Isle of Wight, there was an announcement that we had to wait until HMS ILLUSTRIOUS came away from her berth and left the harbour, so we had wonderful views of her, and of her tug BUSTLER bustling.
We sailed over to Ryde, disembarked and joined the end of the queue of people returning to Portsmouth, and sailed back again. We saw the Wight Link ferries ST. HELEN and ST. CECILIA passing each other.
On the way back to the Gosport ferry terminal, we walked past an inlet and saw a man loading his fishing gear into his boat - it was called JACK DAW, of Portsmouth, with the number P45 on the side of it. This amused us for hours afterwards.
Jack Daw and his P45
We sailed back to Gosport again on SPIRIT OF GOSPORT, and had time to notice the style of seats on board; in fact they were very comfortable.
We had time for a lunch break, and then it was time to visit the beach at Lee on the Solent and await the coming of the ship. There was cloud cover by this time, and the threat of rain later, but suddenly our patience was rewarded and we could see something very large on the far horizon, probably 12 miles or so away.
A couple of small aircraft flew over, and I spent some minutes writing the date in a tiny patch of sand on the pebbly beach.
OASIS OF THE SEAS sailed along at about 10 knots and finally stopped across the water from us. The sky darkened and her lights came on, and we became aware of the huge bulk of this new ship. We saw a local craft approach a door that opened in the hull, and it stayed there for a long time. We had enquired about local trips to see this ship, but none were running, which we thought was a shame. We took a few photographs but the November light almost defeated us.
There was no sign of activity for such a long time, that when the rain finally started we decided to leave the beach. Driving out of the town we passed the Hovercraft Museum, and I had a nostalgic moment when I saw PRINCESS ANNE briefly. She was the one and only hovercraft I have ever been on, many years ago.
We had enjoyed a fascinating ship day, in varied weather conditions, and I was glad I had been able to see OASIS OF THE SEAS.
Ships seen: Spirit of Gosport, Wight Ryder 1, Wight Ryder 11, Gosport Queen, Fastcat Shanklin, St. Faith, St. Helen, St. Clare, St. Cecilia,HMS Illustrious, Cote d'Albatre, Mont St. Michel, P45, Tokyo Car, a Sikorsky helicopter, Commodore Clipper, Princess Anne hovercraft, Wight Cat, Blue Funnel vessel, Red Funnel car ferries, Red Funnel catamarans, Red Jet 5, Arcadia, Portsmouth Queen, Spirit of Portsmouth, Bustler, Hovercraft Hovertravel, Oasis of the Seas.