sexta-feira, 16 de agosto de 2019

Goodbye ORIANA

After 24 years of calling Southampton home ORIANA as "PIANO LAND" sailed for the last time.
After a week in port and looking somewhat different to when she returned from her final cruise the names of her bows and Union Flag artwork painted out but still visible and the letters removed from below her funnel.
ORIANA no more: the proud letter torn from their rightful place: Photo Andrew Sassoli-Walker
 For her last hours ORIANA was joined by the only ship that was ever able to equal her near sister AURORA who enthusiastically greeted her and the less impressive VENTURA.
ORIANA and AURORA together for the last time Photo: Patricia Dempsey
During the week her estimated date and time of departure had changed several times from the 15th to 16 August but finally at little after 8:30am ORIANA/PIANO LAND began to pulling her lines up and shortly before 9am slipped her berth under the charge of her V.Ships crew her horn sounding 3 blasts AURORA chimed in with a final salute to her former fleetmate with 2 short and 1 long blasts.
ORIANA departs for the last time Photos: Patricia Dempsey
Continuing down Southampton water ORIANA passed near the Ocean Terminal where VENTURA was berthed and the two saluted each other as she passed on.
ORIANA passes VENTURA Photo: Patricia Dempsey
Photo: ABP Southampton
Continuing on her way ORIANA looking as stunning as she ever not looking half of her 24 years.

ORIANA continues on her way Photos:Patricia Dempsey
Making her way out into the English channel for the final time ORIANA throughout the day has varied her speed between a maximum of 18 knots and a minumum of 11/12 knots.
ORIANA out bound never to return
After 24  years we have finally said an emotional goodbye to our dearly beloved ORIANA she is now the charge of another company and heading away from her true home for the last time, she is en route to Piraeus, Greece where she is expected to arrive on Friday the 23rd August at 1pm local time.

Photo Copyrights: Patricia Dempsey, ABP Southampton & Andrew Sassoli-Walker

sábado, 10 de agosto de 2019

ORIANA's Final Voyage: Farewell ORIANA

9th August 2019 exactly 24 years and 4 months from the day she set out for Maiden Voyage  ORIANA returned to Southampton for the last time, after over 2 decades of loyal service to P&O Cruises her days serving the market she was built for have come to a end.
During the last evening at sea ORIANA's first Master Commodore Ian Gibb held a talk in the Theatre Royal recalling his 40 year career which culminated with taking command of ORIANA.
At the end of the talk in the presence of P&O Cruises President Paul Ludlow Sarah Breton ORIANA's last master presented Commodore Gibbwith the Sword which he was presented with at ORIANA's naming in April 1995 and had hung near the ship's reception desk since.
Ian Gibb is presented with the ship'sword, first presented to him in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen in April 1995
And he signed the ship's offical visitor book, which has been with her since 1995  and was first signed by Her Majesty.
ORIANA'S first and last Masters.
All good things must come to an end and the following morning ORIANA's P&O Cruises career did exactly that navigating as she has so many times towards the Isle of Wight ORIANA continued inbound for Southampton.
ORIANA's postion off the cost of the Isle of Wight in the morning.
ORIANA makes a hard turn to Starboard
As ORIANA made her way into a wet and overcast Southampton she was joined by the tug Apex who gave her a water canon welcome echoing her first arrival in 1995.
ORIANA returns for the last time, Photo: Andrew Sassoli-Walker
On board ORIANA passengers gathered on the forward end of Deck 12 above the bridge and the observation deck to watch the final arrival.

Crowds gather on the forward decks watching the arrival.
And so with her escort ORIANA made her way towards The Mayflower Cruise Terminal the terminal she has called home for must of her career, from P&O no welcome home or fanfare but at least ORIANA was safe in the knowledge that she had done the job she was intended for with distinction for 24 years.
With no more passengers to board no more turnarounds to go through her last passengers were able to leave ORIANA at their own pace.
At midday ORIANA moved to Berth 104 ready to begin her de-storing and for her Chinese owners to officially take possession of her.
And while P&O had not given her the send off she rightfully deserved her passengers this last year
To sum up her career and feelings towards her one of her last Deck Cadets Jack Brundell wrote a short poem included with her final cruise log:-

"Farewell ORIANA, with your brillant shine
Your lounges and restaurants, so pretty and fine
Your Guest and Crew, who claim "You are mine"
Thank you ORIANA, we've had a great time

From Lisbon to Bridgetown, Sydney to Cork
You've called into many a beautiful port
The laughter, cheer and wonder you've brought
It's easy to see, the infectious love we've all caught

For now is the time to say goodbye
We'll be forgiven for not hiding that tear in our eye
But don't be upset, and hold back that sigh
Let's raise a glass and end on a high

Farewell ORIANA, you elegant girl
Queen of the seas, the Mother of Pearl
For in our hearts, our love forever will shine
Thank you ORIANA, we've had a great time."

Now all is said and done, P&O have moved on from her and ignored their passengers opinions time and time again we can now say only one thing.
Goodbye ORIANA and thank you.

Photos: Bob Bowler and Andrew Sassoli-Walker

quarta-feira, 7 de agosto de 2019

ORIANA's Final Voyage: Last Port of Call

We have often reminisced about ORIANA's first land fall, that April day back in April 1995 when she proudly  arrived amongst much jubilation  in Funchal, Madeira.
Today bookending with that great day ORIANA made her final port of call in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Docking in the Belfast Cruise Ship Terminal not too far the famous Harland & Wolff shipyard builders of CANBERRA among other great liners and whose future is now also in doubt.

Views from of the Harland & Wolff shipyard and it's two cranes from ORIANA's Promenade and Sun Decks
Throughout this Final Voyage among the passengers on board ORIANA has been a Mr Carl Tian, the Vice President of Astro Ocean Cruise  International along with a group of other Chinese reps and he  has in conversation revealed that the group also has it's eye on Aurora a possible purchase at a later date.
ORIANA still looking every bit the British cruise liner.
And so after a day in port Oriana slipped her moorings for the last time under the P&O house flag.
Like so many times before the beautiful Terraced stern decks turnout for a sailaway party.

Like so many others over years this one of course was different for this is the last time for and her and her loyal passengers.

The last of many sailaway parties.
As ORIANA heads towards home port for the very last time as an era comes to a premature end it is beyond any doubt ORIANA, The First Superliner Built For Britain has single-handedly done more the British cruise market than any other ship, from the outset she epitomised 'Britain at sea' in the era of cruising, and proudly took her passengers whether from the British Isles or beyond to the four corners of the globe in grace and style.
Now all is said and done, and the sun has almost set on her we can say Thank you for the memories, Thank you for the laughs and for the emotions, Thank you ORIANA. 

All Photo Copyrights: Bob Bowler

terça-feira, 6 de agosto de 2019

ORIANA's Final Voyage: Ålesund ORIANA's last overseas call

Yesterday ORIANA made her last call in Norway in port city of Ålesund it also marked the last call outside of the United Kingdom for ORIANA.
Seeing ORIANA brings to mind the time, the optimism she was built on, the successor of the much loved liner CANBERRA, the bright new future of P&O to take it into a century, the new flagship of the company and the British Merchant Navy, the first of two custom ships built for the British market and the new face of cruising. no other ship could have been afforded such accolades and handled them gracefully as ORIANA did, not since the days of the liners had a ship seemed so imporant and not since has a ship ever truely lived up to her.
And now in her eleventh hour ORIANA is still every bit the ship that set out 24 years ago, she has fulfilled and exceeded the promises set down by her designers and her high quality still shines bright.

ORIANA alongside in Ålesund
On board the ship the feeling of finality is also most evident the once large and diverse book collection in her library has been given away to passengers and like on CANBERRA's farewell cruise in 1997 many shipboard items will be auctioned off to passengers.
On board ORIANA representatives of her new owners including the Vice President of Astro Ocean Cruises, who has spoken with passengers regarding the ship's future and the company's future plans.
Proudly displayed The Golden Cockerel
Never far from ones mind "ORIANA Farewell"
A premature Farewell
"Great Times And Cherished Memories" the slogan seen throughout ORIANA for her farewell season, reminding all passengers and crew, not that it is needed that for her the clock has almost struck 12 and the dream of ORIANA has come to it's end far too soon.
The last call in Norway for ORIANA
All Photo Copyrights: Bob Bowler

segunda-feira, 5 de agosto de 2019

ORIANA's Final Voyage: Svalbard and Glaciers

Today as ORIANA makes her last call in Norway with only 4 days left in P&O's service we continue our look at ORIANA's final adventure.
A medical emergancy on board a cruise can sadly be a fact of life and on this last outing for ORIANA was no exception as she headed towards Svalbard a passenger was taken ill even requesting registered blood donors to come forward while ORIANA herself was turned around to sail near Bear Island (also known as Bird Island) in the Barents Sea allowing the passenger to be trasfered to shore.
Resuming her planned course Captain Breton increased ORIANA's speed to 20kts faster than P&O's fleet tend to sail these days and arrived in Longyearbyen in the Svalbard archipelago at around 6am local time on the 31st July
A cloudy approch seen from the Sun Deck
Low Cloud around the mountain tops
Heading to her berth
Captain Breton guides ORIANA into her berth
Being a remote and out of the way destination the port area has little in the way of  large structures and as such ORIANA as a mid-sized ship dominated the berth she towered over.

ORIANA alongside her berth
Seeing past the much derieded current P&O livery and the ducktail added in 2011 ORIANA is still the impressive and beautiful vessel that entered service in April 1995 and it brings to mind The Ballad Of Oriana a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson some of which was quoted in P&O's ORIANA From Dream to Reality book first published to coincide with ORIANA's Maiden Voyage:
 "My heart is wasted with my woe, Oriana.
There is no rest for me below, Oriana.
And then the tears run down my cheek, Oriana:
I hear the roaring of the sea, Oriana."
Now in her twilight days the words take on a poignancy not present in 1995.
ORIANA seen from a slightly elevated position
Departing from Longyearbyen ORIANA headed up to Templefjord to glacier located there.
ORIANA's bow faces the glacier
For a further 2 hours sailed onwards towards the Nordenskiöld Glacier arriving at around 11pm local time.
ORIANA arrives at the Nordenskiöld Glacier
Details of the glacier
 ORIANA remaind at the Glacier for around an hour allowing her passengers to photograph of the "Land of the Midnight Sun".
The Midnight Sun
Continuing on her way ORIANA next sailed past the abandoned Russian mining settlement of Pyramiden.
Following a memorable experience for passengers ORIANA made her way onwards to her next port of call Tromsø.

Views from ORIANA as she heads to Tromsø
We once again thank Bob Bowler for sending us his photos.


All Photos Copyright: Bob Bowler

terça-feira, 30 de julho de 2019

ORIANA's Final Voyage

Last Monday ORIANA  set off from Southampton on her Final Voyage for P&O and the last before her handover to Astro Ocean International Cruise Line.
This last voyage for ORIANA is taking her to the North Cape and  among other ports of call Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands to her final port of call as Oriana Belfast, of course the birth place of ORIANA's much missed and beloved mother CANBERRA.
ORIANA departs for her Final Voyage Photo:Patricia Dempsey
Among her passengers for this final voyage is one of loyal followers Bob Bowler who has provided us with photos for this blog over the years and this last voyage is no exception as he has kindly been sending us some excellent photos from ORIANA's final voyage.
From the departure day he captured a view of the newly completed SPIRIT OF DISCOVERY from Saga Cruises like ORIANA built by Meyer Werft although lacking the fine lines of the P&O ship.
Also onboard for this Final Voyage to fittingly to bookend her career her first master Commodore Ian Gibb.
The latest generation of Meyer Werft ship taken from one of the greatest
 Arriving at her first port of call Tórshavn ORIANA was enveloped in fog which lifted quickly as she came alongside.
ORIANA's fog covered Sun Deck looking toward the observation Deck
The fog lifts from ORIANA's aft Sun Deck
ORIANA docked in Tórshavn
 The next call brought ORIANA to Leknes in Norway's Lofoten Islands and while located within the Arctic Circle the weather ORIANA and her passengers and crew found were far from what one would expect instead a temperature sitting around 26 degrees brought visitors and ORIANA's crew to the beach.
A view across ORIANA's terraced decks at Lekness
ORIANA'S Promande deck with tenders lowered
ORIANA's passengers return to her tenders with ORIANA herself on anchor
Following on from Leknes ORIANA has made her way for the final time to the iconic North Cape a destination she has visited many times over her career.
ORIANA passing near the North Cape
 ORIANA is in her final week and a half serving the passengers she was built for and what is clear is that to those who have followed and returned to her over the years and, for those who she was the face of cruising P&O Cruises is no longer the company it once was, no longer dedicated to giving an authentic British cruise experience but rather just another out of touch by the numbers face of Carnival UK.

Photos: Bob Bowler