Friday 28th June 2019
My Danish friend was staying at the same hotel as me, and over breakfast I suggested he might like to take a little ferry to Hythe from Town Quay, as he could add it to his Ship List for the year. He was immediately happy with that idea, so we checked out and left luggage at the hotel, and walked down to the water. We saw huge container ships further along Southampton Water, and I warned him that the Hythe ferry was much smaller. We saw the Red Funnel passenger ships heading to and from the Isle of Wight, and I said the Hythe ferry was smaller than these. We saw the fast catamarans heading to and from the Isle of Wight, and again I said the Hythe ferry was smaller than them.
By the time we had passed the Town Quay location of our Union-Castle Line offices, way back in 1998 when the re-launched Union-Castle Line was preparing for the Centenary Voyage, my Danish friend was starting to wonder just what he was to sail on. He soon found out when we bought tickets for the little Hythe ferry called JENNY BLUE. She is of small and unknown tonnage but is 13 metres long and is standing in on the route at present due to 'safety issues' with one of the other Hythe ferries. It was a warm and sunny day and a pleasant way to spend 20 minutes on the sparkling water as we sailed over to the little village of Hythe, on the west side of Southampton Water.
At Hythe the ferry berths at the end of the 700 yards long Pier, which carries a railway along the track to the centre of town. The original railway was built in 1909 but the current electrified rails were laid in 1922 with a 2 feet wide narrow gauge. There is a wide board walk beside the line which is a pleasant alternative to the ancient but equally pleasant wooden railway carriages. I always enjoy this little trip to Hythe and would recommend it to anyone wishing to photograph any cruise ships in Southampton port or sailing in and out.
(more information can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hythe_Pier,_Railway_and_Ferry)
There was time for coffee and a walk around in the sunshine, before walking back to the end of the Pier and catching the JENNY BLUE back to Town Quay in Southampton. That was a delightful way to spend a morning before heading back to the hotel to collect luggage and then get a taxi to Mayflower Cruise terminal to join the good ship ORIANA for her 7 day Iberian Cruise.
Ships seen in the morning: Red Funnel ships going to and from the Isle of Wight, Jenny Blue going to and from Hythe Pier
We took a taxi through Dock Gate 6 and into the docks to the terminal for ORIANA. Check in was fairly easy and I was soon on board my second vessel of the day: the good ship ORIANA. I am booked into cabin F117, an inside twin for single use.
Lunch was the next priority as we all started to learn our way around this lovely ship. It was interesting to note that my cruise card had a tiny silhouette of ORIANA on the top right corner in gold, with the word FAREWELL underneath it. The card could be put in a little deck plan case with 'Welcome to Oriana' on the front.
The afternoon was spent catching up with friends, unpacking, and then preparing to meet more of the Ocean Liner Society group for drinks and dinner this evening. We sailed at 5 p.m. from Southampton and I enjoyed seeing the lovely SHIELDHALL as I stood beside a teak deck rail.
Tomorrow we have a day at sea, heading south towards La Rochelle in France. My notes for the rest of today simply say 'drinks, dinner, and Show', so I must have enjoyed myself. I note that I mentally awarded the Show's Magician nine marks out of 10 for his skilled performance, so a good ending to a good day.
Ships seen: Oriana, Shieldhall, local ferries to Hythe or the Isle of Wight
To be continued...
ORIANA, 28TH JUNE 2019
I am a contented member of the international Ocean Liner Society (www.ocean-liner-society.com) and was one of the people who booked to join other members on the planned annual cruise, this year on board P&O's ORIANA for a farewell cruise, lasting a week. She is due to leave the fleet in a few weeks time and many of us were interested in sailing on her for the last time. I planned to travel to Southampton on the day before sailing, and checked on marinetraffic.com that morning, to see that the ship was approaching the Channel Island of Guernsey. That seemed fine and I looked forward to seeing her on Friday 28th June.
Thursday 27th June 2019
I travelled to Southampton and soon checked into my hotel and left my little suitcase. It felt odd not to have a rucksack on my back, with minimum weight, but I could indulge myself and take several different outfits for my week on board ORIANA - what a novelty.
I had been invited to meet a couple for dinner at a local hostelry and they sent me a message to say that the sea around Guernsey was too rough to launch the ORIANA tenders so the call there had been abandoned. The subsequent message was to tell me that the ship then had a medical emergency and would be returning to Southampton that very evening and was due in just after 9.00 p.m.
We sat at a dinner table on the first floor of the Dancing Man Brewery looking out of a big window when we suddenly noticed ORIANA sailing past and heading slowly for her berth at Mayflower Terminal.
It was nearly 9 p.m. but the light was enough for a photograph and then to spot another friend walking along the pavement below. I had already been surprised to find out that this hostelry was originally what I knew as the old Southampton Maritime Museum, with its wonderful ship models and displays. I think back then the main thing I coveted was a very large model of the CAPETOWN CASTLE, which was so detailed I think I could have pointed out my cabin when I worked on her as a Union-Castle Line Purserette - oh my, memories, memories. Back to here and now, as we managed to contact our Danish friend down on the pavement and persuade him to come and join us for a meal.
That was a pleasant evening which ended with a short tourist trail around several of the city wall remains and a visit to the 14th century Red Lion, in Below Bar; I remember it as a favourite establishment in the 1960s where sea-going Union-Castle staff would sometimes meet on the night before sailing, on a Friday at 1.00 p.m.
Ships seen: Oriana, Red Funnel vessels heading to and from the Isle of Wight, various cargo vessels entering or leaving the port with tug assistance
To be continued...
29th March 2020
Spring is struggling to arrive in the south of England, but there are some beautiful sights around me which I thought I would share with you. I hope you are keeping safely at home and are well.
Monday 22nd July 2019
Today everyone seems to be up early for breakfast, ready to leave the ship here in Kiel. I could see the Passenger Terminal tent alongside and hoped we wouldn't need to spend any time in there after disembarkation.
I had really enjoyed seeing and sailing on VASCO DA GAMA and thought she was beautifully furnished and planned, with a good flow for passengers. The staff I spoke to had been pleasant and professional and made me feel welcome on board.
My friend and I had chosen Priority Disembarkation, and joined a queue as requested. Unfortunately it would seem that many hundreds of others had also done so, which should not have been a problem, but it was. Nothing could be done, and indeed nothing was done, as far as we could see, but British stoicism saw us through the eventual disembarkation.
Nearing the gangway I handed my cabin card to be registered as I was about to step off the ship and onto the gangway, but the machine said I was not allowed to leave - I was instructed to return to Reception for a cash refund! Since I had authorised my credit card to be used for my final bill, I was surprised at that. Someone in uniform appeared and decided to escort me all the way back to Reception. That was good, as he then waved an arm at the Reception staff and told them to help me straightaway! They did and I was given cash of Euros 7.10 as a refund. I asked why it had not been refunded onto my credit card, but I was told "we don't do that". I signed their acceptance form, and hurried back to the gangway to meet my friend, thinking that had been a weird and rather suspicious experience.
Ah well, a drink and meal (pasta aeroplanes in a tomato sauce) at the wonderful Vapiano soon made me put the incident in the back of my mind; it happened and I will probably never know why, or care about it again..
Ships seen: Laboe, Vasco da Gama, Color Fantasy, Stena Germanica
It was soon time to get a train to Hamburg airport and head for home in the UK. I had enjoyed a fascinating time in Kiel and also on board the VASCO DA GAMA and many other ships. Lucky me, as I often say.
Sunday 21st July 2019
This morning we arrived in the port of Copenhagen, Denmark, but it seemed dark and the rain was pouring down. Plan B was brought forward, and so there was time to walk around the ship and take photographs before heading out to the local train station.
We bought tickets for a train up the coast to Helsingor, ready for ferry rides across the water to Helsingborg and then return on a different ship; we could then wait for a third ferry back again before getting to a fourth ferry where we are booked on board the ferry AURORA for the Waves Restaurant Lunch.
The first ferry was HAMLET, the second ferry was TYCHO BRAHE, the third ferry was MERCANDIA IV and then our lunch ferry was AURORA.
With those lunch tickets it meant we could stay on board going to and fro between the ports, across The Sound, until we had finished and enjoyed our lunch! I think that's a very good idea.
In fact I remember a long time ago (in May 2007), travelling with a group from The Cinema Theatre Association, sailing across The Sound between Helsingor and Helsingborg on the TYCHO BRAHE and being able to watch the passing ships sailing north and south as we enjoyed our lunch. I think most of my companions were more interested in the food than the ships, but I kept looking and soon had my reward. I could see a very good-looking vessel sailing slowly along, and I immediately recognised it as the Danish Royal Yacht. She is a very stylish vessel, often featured on tins of Danish biscuits, and I was very pleased to see her. I spoke to a nearby steward and he confirmed that it was indeed the Danish Royal Yacht, presumably taking some of the Royal Family away for a few days.
Anyway, back to the present and a wonderful meal enjoyed at leisure at sea. We finally had to disembark at Helsingor again to get a train back to Copenhagen, ready to head back to the ship. What a fun way to spend a few hours at sea.
Back at the port I wanted to walk along to see the other cruise ships nearby and take some photographs, so I was glad the rain had stopped enough to do this.
Back on board VASCO DA GAMA I used a lift I hadn't seen before, and was amused at the picture on the inside of the lift. At first it was quite disconcerting because of the apparent proportions of the scene.
Tonight we sail overnight back to the port of Kiel, where we have to disembark.
Ships seen: Vasco da Gama, Crown Seaways, Hamlet, Jeppe, Pernille, Aurora, Tycho Brahe, Mercandia IV, Seven Seas Navigator, Aidamar, MSC Meraviglia, Viking Sky
To be concluded...