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

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