sexta-feira, 21 de abril de 2017

Celebrating ORIANA - Maiden Voyage Calling in Portugal

Following her maiden departure from Gibraltar ORIANA returned to Portuguese waters.
Firstly to  Praia da Rocha in the Algarve the famous resort region of mainland Portugal where ORIANA once again anchored.
For the final port of call ORIANA headed up the River Tagus to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon a port which P&O has a long history of visiting including the previous ORIANA on her shakedown cruise in 1960.
On this Maiden visit due to work maintaince work ORIANA made her way to the Jardim do Tabaco terminal rather than the preferred  Alcântara terminal.
While ORIANA's passengers enjoyed themselves in the historic city Commodore Gibb and ORIANA's crew played host to the local port authorities and press holding tours of the ships passenger and work spaces, and later to British Ambassador to Portugal and his wife both of whom were eager to see Britain's latest flagship.
 Making the most of the last port of call ORIANA's passengers returned to the ship ready for her early evening departure and to wish the great ship on her way a local folk group preformed on the quayside.

terça-feira, 18 de abril de 2017

Celebrating ORIANA - A Call at Gibraltar

Leaving the romance of Casablanca behind her ORIANA next arrived at Gibraltar on the 18th April, for her British passengers a home away from home.
Entering the Gibraltar strait at 6am and boarding the pilot shortly after ORIANA continued her course where she arrived at her berth at 9:01 am.
For many the cruise offered the chance to explore a little of 'Britain in the sun' as many refer to the Gibraltar, from it's history including the evactation of many of it's citizens during the second world war to popular UK highstreet shops and the duty free merchandise available to purchase the port had a little of everything to offer.
However for one couple the port was  to serve as the venue a special day.
Being UK registered it was not possible to be married on board, it would be over 11 years before ORIANA's first wedding would take place but on this Maiden Voyage ORIANA had her first on board honeymoon.

segunda-feira, 17 de abril de 2017

Celebrating ORIANA - Maiden Ports of Call

Following her triumphant call in Funchal ORIANA made a short overnight trip of around 257 nautical miles to Tenerife the first of two ports of the cruise in the Canary Islands to be followed the next day with a call in Lanzarote the latter of which would see ORIANA on anchorage for the first time.
Both ports being popular ports for P&O's as well as British holidaymakers.
During this leg of the cruise an impromptu gathering was held where many veterans from the previous ORIANA memories and brought along many menus, price lists and many other momentos from the old ship.
So far ORIANA had lived up to the memory of her namesake and was impressing on her passengers she was a fitting as CANBERRA's replacement as P&O's flagship.
Moving away from the Atlantic Isles the cruise next brought ORIANA to Morocco and the city of Casablanca symbolic once again P&O's history and it's close ties with North Africa.
 The city, it's Spanish name coming from it's Portuguese Casa Branca, is  famous for it's mix of French, Spanish and Moorish architecture and for being the setting for the wartime Hollywood romantic drama of the same name set the perfect scene for a port of call on a great ship's Maiden Voyage

quinta-feira, 13 de abril de 2017

Celebrating ORIANA - Departure from Funchal

Following on what was a very special first day of ORIANA's maiden call of the inaugural voyage, the 13th April 1995 found ORIANA still berthed in Funchal for one more full day.
Scheduled to depart at 6 pm later on, the best spots along the city's coast and the harbor were being filled by a crowd of people wishing again to have the best view to the newest cruise ship afloat. Only the New Year's Eve fireworks in the capital of Madeira could compare to such a gathering.
The importance of this event would lead to the release of a small series of local postcards with aerial images of ORIANA, made to promote the destination Madeira, which could be seen for sale in every souvenir shop for many years to come.
ORIANA's maiden call in Funchal was to remain one of the biggest, if not the biggest event this port ever had, at least until Cunard's QUEEN MARY 2 made her inaugural call on 15th January 2004.
Video: Paulo Camacho

quarta-feira, 12 de abril de 2017

Celebrating ORIANA - Funchal, Madeira

First landfall of the Maiden Voyage

On a sunny morning of 12 April 1995, a maiden visitor could be seen approaching the breakwater of Funchal, Madeira on her inaugural voyage. A maiden visitor that had been the highlight and subject of great expectation worldwide, in the years prior to her launch. 
Known at the time as the largest ship built in Germany in the last 80 years, the largest ship exclusively dedicated to the British cruise market, and the newest flagship of Britain's Merchant Fleet, it was none other than P&O Cruises' brand new ORIANA!
Apart from all of these features, which were more than enough to make this a very special call in Funchal,
ORIANA was also seen as the successor of the venerable CANBERRA, at the time a ship that had been calling in this port frequently for a long time, thus being a well known visitor among the locals. 
Besides we can also refer to another important factor surrounding this maiden call, at the time it was not common to observe brand new ships like ORIANA in Funchal. After the great "boom" of the cruise industry in the late 70's/80's, most of the larger and new ships were being built in Europe as well but for the North-American market, cruising essentially in the Caribbean, during the Winter, and Alaska on the Summer months, as depicted by the most famous companies, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL, and Princess...
Eventually ORIANA would operate on a different schedule, not on a turn-around basis in a specific region, but on distinct cruises to Med, Northern Europe, Canary Isles and also Caribbean and World voyages based in Southampton, as she still does nowadays.
Therefore at around noon, ORIANA was “sliding” through the flat seas on her way to the harbor, and much like what happened in her homeport days before, a flotilla of small craft went to sea welcoming the new superliner in great style, along with the local tugs dressed overall for the occasion. Even the dolphins were jumping out of the water to have a good glimpse of ORIANA.
On shore thousands of people gathered at seaside to witness this grand event. In the previous days she had been already a huge highlight among the local Press.
After docking at her designated berth, the passengers were presented with a performance from a local folkloric group, while leaving the ship’s gangway, being at the same time, offered with typical souvenirs from Madeira.
Later on, Commodore Gibb welcomed onboard several authorities and entities for the traditional plaque exchange ceremony, and kindly invited everyone for a tour around his brand new ship.
With the day nearly at its end, and as ORIANA prepared to overnight in Funchal, there was still place for a fireworks display, a final special touch truly placing her inaugural call among the most memorable moments this port ever had.
Images: Luís Filipe Jardim
Video: Paulo Camacho

domingo, 9 de abril de 2017

Celebrating ORIANA - The Maiden Voyage begins

9th April 1995, Berth 106 Southampton - With all the celebrations around ORIANA's naming behind them her crew now faced their and ORIANA's first true test, her first true meeting with the public as her first passengers made their way on board.
Despite the overcast sky it didn't dampen the excitement of those making their way to Southampton to board the first British superliner among them many P&O cruising veterans from both CANBERRA and almost 200 who had sailed as passnegers and crew on the previous ORIANA including one couple who had first met while working on board the older ship.
From the experienced  passengers to the youngest 8 month old Stephanie Donahoe.
For these passengers were not only leaving British shores for 2 weeks to enjoy the sun in the Atlantic Islands and the Iberian Peninsula, they were sailing on the Maiden Voyage of ORIANA not only the new flagship of the P&O fleet and the British merchant navy but the first ship custom built for the rapidly growing UK market she was P&O's £200 million gamble into the future of cruising.
On a technical level ORIANA was also a masterpiece of martime design being the fastest passenger ship built for 25 years and the fastest purpose built cruise liner in the world while at the same time her design remained somewhat traditional giving her passengers the best of both worlds.
Boarding ORIANA a letter awaited in each cabin a welcome from Commodore Gibb and a first opportunity to share a little of the affection that he and the crew had already developed for the ship.
Commodore Gibb's welcome letter
And for regular passengers  there was also a welcome from P&O's loyalty club
"The P.O.S.H Club" welcome
It wasn't only for those on boarding who were anticapting ORIANA's sailing ship spotters and enthusiasts were eager to see her sail and to that end P&O published the times at which they estimated ORIANA pass certain points on her journey down the Solent and to the sea as shown
below.
Route and estimated times of ORIANA's departure
 With passengers boarding at 4pm the first entertainment held onboard ORIANA for her passengers began with Piano music on offer in The Crow's Nest some or for different tastes there was also music being played in both Harlequins and The Pacific Lounge.
The obligatory safety drill was held at 5pm and shortly after 6pm as The Band of the Royal Corps of Signals played as ORIANA sounded her horn lifting off the berth
Streamers flew and cheers from both the ship and shore could be heard as ORIANA, once again was  joined by small flotilla of little boats, made her way down Southampton water.

To begin ORIANA's sea going career her first port of call would reflect P&O's history and heritage, leaving Southampton behind ORIANA 2 days at sea would follow before reaching Funchal, Madeira one of P&O's most popular ports call, here she would spend overnight allowing the passengers to take in the beauty of the city and islands while a local Folkloric group would be boarding to entertain the passengers with local dance and tradition.

quinta-feira, 6 de abril de 2017

Celebrating ORIANA - "I name this ship"

The Dawn of the 6th April 1995 brought the next milestone in ORIANA's life, having arrived spectacularly 3 days before the new Queen of the Seas was ready to meet another royal as Queen Elizabeth II was to name her in a carefully choreographed ceremony later that day.
For the occasion ORIANA was docked alongside berth 44 the former Ocean Terminal where seating had been erected for those present to observe from.
On board ORIANA herself for guests who had stayed on board overnight there was a classical music presentation held in The Crows Nest followed by recitals in the Pacific Lounge before joining those those assembling dockside.
The guests were all seated by 11am as they waited for the Queen and her entourage  the Band of HM Royal Marines provided musical entertainment.
As the Royal train arrived the sound of The Choir of Westminster Abby performed Fair Oriana, Beauty’s Queen.
With the Queen and Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh taking their place in front of ORIANA's bow alongside Lord Sterling and Commodore Gibb the Choir performed God save the Queen as ORIANA 's officers watched on.
Next followed an introduction by the master of ceremonies and a perfomance of Fanfare to ORIANA a piece of music which had been composed by the famed composer Benjamin Britten for the launch of the previous ORIANA.
The Bishop of Basingstoke gave the blessing with holy water before Her Majesty gave a short speech and uttered the words which had last been spoken by her cousin Princess Alexandra 35 years earlier.
"I name this ship ORIANA may god bless her and all who sail in her" as she pulled the leaver that sent a bottle of champagne smashing against the I in the ship's name.

ORIANA's horn blew wildly  as the band played and many in the crowd admitted having a tear in their eye as events went as planned.
It wasn't only those on the dockside watching in the new age of mass media ORIANA's naming became an international event that would be seen by millions around the world
 With the naming over with the royal party boarded for lunch and a tour of the ship Her Majesty also  meeting a young girl named Oriana.
Commodore Gibb shows The Queen ORIANA's bridge
 Remembering the visit Commodore Gibb recalled "I think she was impressed with the ship, she certainly appeared to be. There are two memories in particular I have while touring the ship, the first was while she looking round the Spa & Fitness areas she joked while observing the Exercise Machines that “we have these in the dungeon at Windsor Castle!” and sometime later while touring the ship's Galley the executive Purser had selected 10 or 11 members of the restaurant crew to introduce to her to and as it turned out they all had the surname of Gomez so I was walking down the line introducing each saying “This is Mr Gomez and this is Mr Gomez and this is Mr Gomez as well”
To end what had been the perfect day a fireworks display saluted the worlds newest ship.

While the celebrations continued Commodore Gibb looked forward to the maiden voyage beginning in 3 days time “ Funchal in Madeira is one of our favourite ports of call, there’ll be a great welcome, with a half a bottle of Madeira wine for every passenger and corsages of local flowers- and the weather is almost always sunny too.”
  To sum up the journey ORIANA had already taken and the ships that would follow her John McNeece one of the design team behind the liner's public spaces said "She will be the benchmark by which all others will be measured"