29 May 2020
Saturday 29th June 2019 (continued)
But back to today, and breakfast is my first priority. Because it is a sea day there will be a Welcome Aboard party of the Ocean Liner Society members this morning, in the Medina Room, Deck 13 Forward Stairwell. We have the use of the room from 10.45 until 12.15, and can buy any drinks or snacks at the nearby Crow's Nest Bar. I know quite a few members of the OLS on board and it will be interesting to see who else attends. In the event, 51 people turned up, and most of us wore a name label (in big font size). I think many of us know each other by name but not necessarily by sight so it was interesting to walk around and meet people. Some people sat in low comfy seats, but the rest of us circulated and enjoyed meeting others. It was a very pleasant way to spend a morning at sea, in congenial company, but later in the voyage I realised I never saw many of them again.
I see from the daily programme that from 7 a.m. I could have attended Total Body Conditioning, Pathway to Yoga, Body Sculpt Boot Camp, Short Tennis, Armed Forces Day UK get together, Cofee Chat and Travelling Solo Get-Together, Stretch & Release, and Facebook Meet & Greet, but I was happy to be in the Medina Room.
During the rest of the day there were lots of activities to take part in or watch and enjoy being on this ship. Tonight all passengers are invited to the Pacific Lounge for the Captain's Welcome On-Board Party at 8 p.m. so OLS members have decided to meet in Anderson's on Deck after 7 p.m. for a drink first before going to the Captain's party, and then to second sitting dinner in the Oriental Restaurant on Deck 6 aft at 8.30 p.m.
That continued a very enjoyable day at sea.
To be continued...
Saturday 29th June 2019
I woke this morning on board ORIANA, with a day at sea ahead of me. Up on deck the air was chilly and the fog horn was sounding, but in board there was lots to do, or not.
I remember that I sailed on this ORIANA for 2 nights on 5th November 2005 and looking at my few pictures taken back then it will be interesting to see what changes have been made. The first obvious one is that her P&O original buff yellow funnel has disappeared, to become dark blue on here. It seems I didn't do any diary notes as it was simply a group social outing, visiting the port of Zeebrugge and enjoying the ship for less than 48 hours. I did keep one souvenir from the trip - a plastic coated luggage label, in a delightful shade of lavender!
These are a few pictures from that 2005 trip.
I knew that the ship was built for P&O at Meyer Werft's shipyard in Papenhurg, Germany, starting in March 1993. She was named by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 6th April 1995, at 69,153 gross tons and started her maiden voyage on 9th April 1995. She is capable of carrying 1822 passengers, and currently sails as an adults-only ship. She has been an extremely popular cruise ship for the line but it was subsequently decided that two new and bigger liners were needed, and as ORIANA is the smallest and oldest ship in the fleet, she would be sold. The sale will take place in August 2019. The first new ship, to be named IONA , is due to enter service in 2020 and will run on Liquefied Natural Gas, and I am already booked on her to sail out of Southampton on 23rd May 2020.
To be continued...
22 May 2020
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...