sexta-feira, 18 de maio de 2018

A Tale of Two Firsts

On the 9th April 1995 after years of planning,designing and building, ORIANA, the first 'Superliner built for Britain' and Flagship of the Merchent Navy, sailed for her much anticipated maiden voyage, as the most technically advanced ship built to date and one of the largest purpose built cruise ships in the world ORIANA, had been on P&O's part a £200 millon gamble on the future of the British cruise market and after she triumphantly sailed for her first port of call, Madeira, they would soon know if their investment would pay off.
However ORIANA was not the first purpose built cruise ship to sail under  the P&O Flag, and today we take a brief look at a small unremarkable ship which ORIANA followed in the wake of, and also note a few similarities between the two.
Acquired in 1971, the 17,000 ton SPIRIT OF LONDON was intended to be the 5th ship in the NCL fleet and twin to SOUTHWARD, to be named SEAWARD
Eight years before they would stun the cruising world by purchasing the magnifcent liner FRANCE, for conversion into NORWAY, the world's largest dedicated cruise ship, NCL's fleet consisted of small diesel powerd ships which operated year round in the Caribbean.
During 1971 the ship's builders, Cantieri del Tirreno e Riuniti ran into serious financial problems, which caused the yard to be nationalised, and as a result they attempted to renegotiate a higher price for the ship, which NCL refused and pulled out of the contract, when at this time P&O was looking to establish itself in the US cruise market, having failed to do so previously with CANBERRA.
Having been made aware of the incomplete NCL hull P&O made enquires and was able to purchase the ship which they renamed SPIRIT OF LONDON for £10 Million.
P&O then set about with their design teams bringing her in line with their requirements which was to be a ship aimed at an American market but to be decidedly British in its decor being somewhat in the 'swinging London' style which had been popular since the late 1960s.
In the respects of the ship's origins and P&O's intended market, when the ship was completed there was seemingly very little that SPIRIT OF LONDON and ORIANA had in common, but they do share a few minor similarities.
As ORIANA was the first cruise ship built specifically for the UK market, SPIRIT OF LONDON was the first purpose cruise ship to be owned by P&O as well as being the first diesel powered ship owned by the company.
With her introduction into service, bringing the P&O name to a new market, the ship would begin a new era with for the company and although her time under the P&O brand would be short lived, her popularity led to P&O purchasing Princess Cruises, which would be followed by over a decade of expansion for the P&O's passenger division.
ORIANA's introduction of course was also the beginning of a new era for the company siginlling the change of their tonnage from former liners such as the venerable CANBERRA and SEA PRINCESS/VICTORIA who were ORIANA's fleetmates at the time of her introduction, to the purpose built cruise liner
With ORIANA's success, it reassured P&O that their faith had not been misplaced and within 2 years they were drawing up plans for their next project- Capricorn later named AURORA, based heavily on, while also expanding upon ORIANA's superb layout and design.
SPIRIT OF LONDON  launched 9/5/1972 :P&O Heritage
When the ship was complete and arrived in Southampton ready for her Maiden Voyage in November 1972 she contrasted greatly with members of P&O's existing fleet, with her sleek line being the complete opposite to the verticality of the older liners, the exception being CANBERRA.
Sailing with mainly British passengers for her Maiden Voyage on the 11th November, she headed first for Funchal Madeira arriving 3 days later and would stay overnight.
23 years later ORIANA's first landfall was Funchal where she arrived to much celebration after 3 days at sea and enjoying an evening in port with a firework display put on in her honour.
In command of SPIRIT OF LONDON as she sailed on her Maiden Voyage was Captain Gerald McGowan along side his Chief Officer, Ian Gibb.
On the 9th April 1995 it was Commodore Ian Gibb who kept watch over ORIANA as her Master as she headed out of Southampton for the first time.
Ian Gibb seen in a promotional video for SPIRT OF LONDON : PeriscopeFilm

segunda-feira, 9 de abril de 2018

ORIANA 23 Years Young

Southampton, 9th April 1995, ORIANA the largest, fastest and most advanced British passenger liner built for 25 years, embarks her first passengers as the great ship prepared to sail on her Maiden Voyage.
Amongest streamers, a brass band playing and a waiting flotilla of boats to wish her well the new flagship of  P&O Cruises and the British Merchant Navy looked resplendent as her master Commodore Ian Gibb guided her out of Berth 106 and down Southampton Water and onward to her first landfall  Funchal, Madeira.
23 years to the day it is perhaps fitting that ORIANA is alongside in the very port of call she set off for all those years ago Funchal, where she is joined by AIDA PRIMA.
A great many things have changed since April 1995 both with ORIANA/P&O and with the port of Funchal itself but ORIANA still makes for an unmistakable and elegant sight whenever she calls.

ORIANA arrives in Funchal 9/4/18 Photos: Francisco Correia

ORIANA docked in Funchal, 9/4/18

quarta-feira, 21 de março de 2018

ORIANA in search of the Northern Lights

 For her fourth cruise since returning to service ORIANA returned to a destination unlike any other: Norway, from the deep fjords to the North Cape it is truely a destination few can rival, in the summer it is called 'The land of the Midnight Sun' and in winter when the days are at their longest, it becomes the go to destination for those looking for one of natures breathtaking displays, The Northern Lights.
It has become something of a custom for ORIANA to head north during February/March taking her passengers in search of the often elusive Aurora borealis.
Among the ports visited during these 'northern adventures' is Alta which is said to be the Northern most settlement with over a population ofover 10,000.

ORIANA docked in Alta, Norway, 3rd March 2018, Photo Copyright: Paul Crane
Other ports of call ORIANA made during the cruise included Åndalsnes where she called on the 28th Feb as shown below and Tromsø the third largest urban area inside the Arctic circle.

ORIANA alongside in Åndalsnes
Two modes of transportation, ORIANA contrast with a passing charter train, Photos: Leif Johnny Olestad

quarta-feira, 21 de fevereiro de 2018

ORIANA meets fleetmate OCEANA in Funchal

It is a meeting that happens more often in Southampton, but on this 15th February it occured in the port of Funchal instead, where P&O cruise ships call in a regular basis, happening so for the second time, as both ORIANA and OCEANA have already met here 4 years ago, on 30th July 2014, but still with the old company livery at time.
Having arrived precisely from their home port early morning, almost at the same time, both remained in port until the afternoon, with ORIANA leaving first and thus starting a true horn festival in Funchal, as either one seemed very determined in having the last "word"!
Afterwards, ORIANA continued with her Canary Isles cruise bound to La Palma, while OCEANA departed approximately 1 hour later, westbound to St. Kitts, on her current Caribbean Transatlantic itinerary.
It is possible to check in the video above who won this great horn fight, and we also share bellow another video, this one recalling the first time that ORIANA met with OCEANA in Funchal.
We also wish to extend our appreciation to Francisco Correia and José António Silva, for their precious contribution to our most recent video.

segunda-feira, 5 de fevereiro de 2018

First port of call after the 2018 refit

ORIANA seen departing after yet another call in the port of Funchal, Madeira bound to La Palma, in the afternoon of 3rd February 2018, very fresh from the recent refit at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg.
As published last week in our blog, ORIANA finished a 22-day period in dry dock on 29th January, and departed homeward bound to Southampton, to embark for this 12-night itinerary around the Canary Isles, being Funchal the first port of call.
After the present cruise, ORIANA will once again head south to this Atlantic region for a similar itinerary, of the same duration, and this time she is expected to meet in Funchal with fleetmate OCEANA, on the 15th February.

segunda-feira, 29 de janeiro de 2018

ORIANA departs Hamburg

Yesterday amidst grey skies ORIANA departed from Hamburg sooner than was expected and is now en route to her home port Southampton ready to re enter service tomorrow.
With a tug at her stern ORIANA edges out of dock.
After 21 days in dry dock ORIANA finally afloat in the River Elbe. 
Members of ORIANA's crew on her terrace decks Photos: Jens Hagens
At an average speed of 17 knots ORIANA is due to arrive in Southampton at around 8:45PM where she will be docking at the Mayflower Cruise Terminal.
With ORIANA returning service earlier than expected she will depart tomorrow on a 12 night cruise to the Atlantic Isles and Portugal calling first in a faviourte port of her's Funchal, Madeira before heading down to the Canary Islands full details on the cruise can be found here:
Two further replacement cruises will see ORIANA heading back on the same itinerary for a further 12 nights  and a 2 night city break cruise to Bruges, Belgium,
ORIANA looking as good departing Hamburg as new Photo: Schiffe,Mx & Co

quarta-feira, 24 de janeiro de 2018

More images of ORIANA

Straight from Germany we share some more images of ORIANA from her drydock.
 ORIANA with the wintery Hamburg behind serveing as her backdrop, Copyright P&O Cruises/Carnival UK
Alongside the technical work taking place as seen below ORIANA is also undergoing some more cosmetic 'treatment' seen here with her bow crest.
ORIANA with her anchors lowered and work being carried on her crest
ORIANA towers over a crewmember
 And as with other photos taken during the drydocking  there is pleanty of time for posing underneath ORIANA's stern with her mighty propellers as seen below.

ORIANA once again provides a dramatic backdrop
 With even her current Commander, Captain Derek Gray stopping for a photo or two.
Captain Derek Gray and Food & Beverage Crewmember Rijil Madhav
Photo Copyrights: Rijil Madhav