ORIANA 28th June 2019
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...