terça-feira, 30 de maio de 2017

First time in the Canaries and Madeira in 2017

For the first time this year ORIANA made recently her return to the Atlantic archipelagos of the Canaries and Madeira, thus making her first 2017 call in the port of Funchal on 28th May, a consequence of the company's decision to call only in the Azores during the Caribbean Transatlantic cruises, both on the westbound and eastbound crossings.
Seen here with Portuguese submarine NRP ARPÃO, returning to port after a brief voyage out in the bay to demonstrate her capabilities with some local Government entities onboard.
Currently on a 15-night Azores, Canary Isles & Portugal cruise, she departed from her homeport on 21st May, then calling in Ponta Delgada and Praia da Vitória (Azores), Funchal (Madeira), La Gomera, Las Palmas* and Puerto del Rosário (Canaries), Lisbon and Vigo before the landfall of the voyage in Southampton on the 5th June.
We would like to thank the ship photographers Ruben Câmara (first two images) and Francisco Correia (last three images) from Funchal, for sending these images depicting ORIANA during her most recent call in Madeira's capital.
*Where she called today, at the time when this post was published.

quinta-feira, 18 de maio de 2017

Celebrating ORIANA - Passage home on board ORIANA

In March 1997 ORIANA the proud flagship of the P&O fleet followed in the wake of many of her proud forebearers as she preformed a duty that in the eyes many represented the true demise of the British Empire.
Arriving in Hong Kong during her World Cruise, as many P&O ships had on both World Voyages and in earlier times liner service, ORIANA was to spend the day with her great Cunard rival QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 and while docked received on  board 53 new passengers and their families who unlike the other passengers on board would not be paying for the privilege of sailing on Britain's most luxurious ship.
So who were these passengers and why were they special?
In short they were not in anyway special or noteworthy, they were in fact British Civil Servents whose work had supported the United Kingdom's Government and it's administration of Hong Kong, the last large overseas territory, and for many the last symbol of the faded might of the British Empire.
Within 4 months even that would be gone as it had been agreed in 1984 that Hong Kong would be handed back to China on the 1st July 1997.
Ahead of this date many of the officals and support staff of the Government whose services were no longer required would be exercising the right bestowed by their position working in an oversea territory for free sea passage back to Britain for them and their family, all paid for by the taxpayers of territory they were residing in.
The only conditions attached to the deal was that the person would need to have been working over seas for at least 15 years or be over 50 years of age.
In days gone by that would have meant months of travel in less than luxuirous condition but in 1997 it meant passage by cruise liner on a leg of it's world cruise with all the benefits that such a voyage brings with it.
The last 'British' flag of Hong Kong is waved from ORIANA as she prepared to sail
As the sun was setting and to the sound of the Band of the Hong Kong Police force and Bagpipes play ORIANA slowly proceeded astern from her berth on the dockside there was tears as friends of those who had boarded waved many themselves would be heading home theirselves on board the QE2 two days later. 
A true end of an era the departure attracted some press attention as show below.

ORIANA's terrece aft decks filled by passenger as the Band plays on the Quayside

In the fadeing light ORIANA makes her departure
Photos and Video Copyright: Associated Press

domingo, 14 de maio de 2017

Celebrating ORIANA - A Prize Memento

Today we look at item from ORIANA's Maiden season which reflects perhaps the most major change she has undergone during her career so far and also serves as link for ORIANA to the P&O liners of old.
From her debut in April 1995 until November 2011 ORIANA cruised as a family friendly ship with a full suite of facilties for children of all ages from a night nursery for the youngest to a teens club.
Below we have plaque awarded to on board ORIANA during her Maiden Season for a Fancy Dress competition held amongst her younger passengers.
A plaque awarded during a Fancy Dress competition
While it is no longer a staple of ship board entertainment fancy dress balls and competitions were once a popular past time on board P&O ships not only among the younger passengers in the days before the multifunction entertainment venues and full performance theatres.
P&O entertainment 1950's style on board  ARCADIA (II) Copyright: British Pathé

quinta-feira, 4 de maio de 2017

Celebrating ORIANA - First meeting with a great rival

May 1995 brought ORIANA another first in her early career; a meeting with perhaps P&O's greatest rival on the seas, the famous Cunarder QUEEN ELIZABETH 2.
Having taken over the role of Flagship of the Merchent Fleet from the ageing QE2 it would make for a fitting meeting to pass the baton from the old to the new as it were.
ORIANA passes QE2 for the first time
The two ships identical in tonnage although different in every other way represented two contrasting eras of sea travel, QE2 a mixed Transatlantic liner/Cruise ship from the end of the great liner era and ORIANA a thoroughly modern dedicated cruise ship the first dedicated to the British cruise market.
With Commodore Gibb on the Port bridge wing, ORIANA enthusiastically sounded her horn in greeting to which QE2's deep horn replied.
While it was common for the veteran queen's to get the last blast in on this occasion Commodore Gibb blasted one final salute to ensure ORIANA truely made her presence felt.
This being the first meeting there was to be many more over the years both in Southampton and at many other ports around the world.
One such meeting occurred 13 years later during QE2's farewell year on the 3rd January 2008, both ships by this time ultimately owned by Carnival PLC, met in the port of Funchal on the fair Atlantic Isle of Madeira,  ORIANA by now herself considered somewhat classic withj the ever larger new builds entering service, still made quite the contrast to the old liner.

ORIANA and QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 contrast Funchal, Madeira, 3/1/08: Copyrigh Nuno Jesus

sexta-feira, 28 de abril de 2017

Celebrating ORIANA - Mementos from the Maiden Voyage

For regular cruise passengers there is nothing like embarking on board a new ship especially a Maiden Voyage and alongside the boast of being the first to enjoy the new ship's amenities and being on deck with pleanty of firehose welcomes for the ship making it's debut in each port.
Just like any other cruise picking up momentos also become something of a hobby on board and being the Maiden Voyage a once in a lifetime event it seems more poignant to pick up and keep such items to recall in the years to come.
Such is the case for ORIANA and today we look at some of the items collected from her Maiden Voyage.
Firstly a couple of unique Maiden Voyage/Season items available during the cruise from the ship's photography shop, firstly a image of ORIANA during her later stages of fitting out  and secondly a image of ORIANA on her Maiden Voyage signed by Commodore Gibb.

Another must on board ship for aficionad,  postcards on sale in gift shop here we have one of ORIANA herself and one showing her ventern fleetmate CANBERRA in all her glory.
While for ladies a compact mirror would make a small and practical keepsake.

Alongside the items for sale on board other items such as menus, invites etc made for another excellent keepsake to recall ORIANA's first days at sea such as this one below, the first invite sent out to her passengers for ORIANA's first formal event in service, for those present certainly memory to cherish as Commodore Gibb and the ship's company turned out in style to greet those on board.
While even some more basic items from the Maiden Voyage were also collected by those eager to collect everything they could from the ship including as shown below cabin Key cards.

quarta-feira, 26 de abril de 2017

ORIANA in Northern Spain

ORIANA seen recently in two northern Spanish ports during her previous cruise to the Iberian Peninsula. The first two photographs were taken while berthed and then leaving Santander, on 13th April, and on the last image she is seen departing the following day from El Ferrol bound to Leixões, Oporto.
This 12-night round trip Spain, Portugal and France left Southampton on 11st April, and also saw her calling afterwards in ports such as Cadiz, Gibraltar, Lisbon and La Rochelle, before returning to her homeport on 23rd April.
Images Santander: Chiminuel.
Image El Ferrol: José Ricardo Montero.

domingo, 23 de abril de 2017

Celebrating ORIANA - A successful debut

After 14 nights away on the 23rd April 1995 ORIANA returned to Southampton to complete her Maiden Voyage and prepare for her next passengers to embark.
The previous evening was one that vetern cruisers knew with the feeling of farewells and of saying goodbyes to friends made over the preceding days and nights but also that of celebration as the ship's company did their upmost to ensure the last night of would be a memorable one.
 During the last days of the cruise P&O's cameras spoke with many of the passengers on board to sound out their opinons of the ship.
With so many P&O cruising veterns from both the previous ORIANA and CANBERRA on board it was always going to be difficult to introduce innovations and improvements to a cruising experience they saw as already perfect yet it seemed that with ORIANA the company had managed to do just that, the ship retained the company's trademark 'Britishness' and inlaid it with standards of luxury  and technology that had yet to be seen on board any other passenger ship.
For ORIANA's crew too the ship had more than proved her worth performing exactly as expected.
Commodore Gibb in particular could not praise his new command enough from her character which was already showing  to her performance.

As ORIANA departed once again on the evening of 23rd April this time bound for her maiden calls in the Mediterranean those passengers who were on their way home could look back fondly on the memories of a voyage that would last a lifetime.
Perhaps the final theatre show of cruise summed it up in the best possible way.