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

domingo, 21 de julho de 2019

On board ORIANA's penultimate cruise

Today we share some more photographs from around ORIANA on her  penultimate cruise sent to us by Jamie Connerty and Patricia Dempsey.
While Carnival's mechanical maintaince has been called into question a lot over the past few years ORIANA's interiors have been kept to a high standard even if the new carpets, decor and upholstery doesn't quite match the style of the original designs.
We start by looking at one of ORIANA's most loved venues The Crows Nest

Unrivalled by any other Carnival Group ship, ORIANA's Crows Nest Photos:Patricia Dempsey
Another of ORIANA's destinctive features her atrium staircase as it always has been to be dramatic and elegant first impression when boarding the ship.

ORIANA's ever stunning atrium staircase Photos: Jamie Connerty
Slightly diminised since the removel of the waterfall feature in 2016 the atrium still exudes an air of understated elegance.
And it was here that ORIANA was wearing her colours on her sleeve so to speak as she proudly displayed the Golden Cockerel, awarded to her in 1997 upon the retirement of CANBERRA.
Proudly displayed-The Goldern Cockerel Photo: Patricia Dempsey

Looking through ORIANAit brings to mind the ships future, what will these elegant venues look like under Astro Ocean Cruises? and how will they be used to create "A ship custom designed for the Chinese market"
Harlaquins ORIANA's main dance venue
Small detatils lacking from ORIANA's newer fleetmates, a small vestibule between The Monte Carlo Club Casino and Andersons bar
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II stands guard over the entrance to Andersons Photos: Jamie Connerty
Not to be outdone ORIANA's outer decks offer more open deck space than the larger ships in the P&O Cruises fleet.
ORIANA's terrace pool and surrounding area in use while at sea
Passengers around the Crystal pool area Photos: Jamie Connerty
ORIANA's Riviera pool:Photo Patricia Dempsey
A small reminder on deck of ORIANA's 16 years as a family friendly ship:Photo Jamie Connerty
 While it is obvious that as far as P&O is concerned ORIANA's time has come and only that going forward it's only concern is for it's larger mass market vessels during this her final days at least her crew have made provisions for passengers to share their memories in the form of a memory board set up near the atrium staircase featuring memories written by passengers and items collected from the ship over years while in the Theatre Royal Oriana:From Dream to Reality, the documentry commissioned by P&O about ORIANA's design and construction.
Among the momentos a first editon of ORIANA Today featuring Commodore Ian Gibb ORIANA's first master

More memories and images that availble to purchase on board during her maiden season Photos: Jamie Connerty
One item pinned to the board which stands out as perhaps the most poignant the part of a registration  form for the as of then unamed ORIANA's maiden season, the chance to be what the P&O of the 1990's saw as the future.
Photo:Jamie Connerty
Once again we send our thanks to Patricia Dempsey and Jamie Connerty for the kind use of their photographs.

All Photograph Copyrights: Jamie Connerty & Patricia Dempsey

sábado, 20 de julho de 2019

ORIANA's penultimate cruise

Somewhat later than intially planned ORIANA got underway on her penultimate cruise earlier today departing from Southampton's City Cruise Terminal.
Oringinally scheduled to depart yesterday evening ORIANA was brought back into Southampton on Thursday evening for maintaince requiring replacement bearings.
As such she remained alongside overnight before departing shortly after 9:40 this morning.
On board for this second to last cruise are two of our loyal followers, Patricia Dempsey and Jamie Connerty who have very kindly sent us some photos from on board.
A proud name and a bow like few others, Photo:Jamie Connerty

Embarking ORIANA, passenger and crew gangways respectivly Photos:Patricia Dempsey

Despite her 24 years ORIANA still makes a fine impression on all who board and despite her inpending departure for new owners the ship's company have kept looking fresh and in top condition.

ORIANA's Promenade only rivaled by AURORA's Photos:Patrica Dempsey
Pleanty of seating options for those who want watch the world go by Photo: Jamie Connerty
ORIANA's Red ensign flys over the Terrace pool Photo:Jamie Connerty
Looking up at ORIANA's Terraced decks one of her many stand out features Photo: Patrica Dempsey
ORIANA's unique funnel under a overcast Southampton sky Photo:Patricia Dempsey
And out at sea ORIANA's funnel stands tall over the Crystal Pool: Photo Jamie Connerty

Heading out of Southampton throughout the day ORIANA made her way to Gurensey arriving shortly after 8pm.
ORIANA heads out to sea Photo: Jamie Connerty
 We extend our thanks to Patricia and Jamie for allowing allowing us to use their photographs.

All photos Copyright: Patricia Dempsey and Jamie Connerty

segunda-feira, 15 de julho de 2019

ORIANA's future: A lack of organisation?

With less than a month left in P&O service we take a look at the apparent lack of organisation  on the part of ORIANA's new owner/operator Astro Ocean International Cruise Line.
Despite a large press event in May to announce the new company's overriding goal of being a high end cruise brand for the Domestic Chinese market, alongside ORIANA's new look in the guise of PIANO LAND.
PIANO LAND revealed
 Despite the brand launching later this year with "PIANO LAND" debuting in late September/early October there seems to be a complete lack of organisation from the company in nearly every aspect of it's operations from we can glance it is the polar oppositeo f the years of careful planning which led up to her introduction into P&O's service in April 1995.
For a new a new ship being touted as "PIANO LAND" The First Ship for Astro Ocean Cruises, has been designed exclusively for Chinese National Guests" it seems that infomation has failed to reach the company's marketing/sales department as there appears to be no company website no booking infomation or even itineraries other than the fact, as mentioned before, that she will be home ported in Xiamen and at some point will also be cruising out of Hong Kong,  in fact beyond the occasioanl advert showing her impending arrival there has been very little in the way of marketing, the domestic Chinese market is famous being almost non-existent yet Astro Ocean Cruise is seemingly doing very little to change that.
 Cruise ship operations from the Deck departement to the engineering, hotel services and house keeping, maintenance are a large undertaking on every level so Astro Ocean Cruise as a start up company have decided not to bother itself with such things instead out sourcing all on board operations to V.Ships part of the V group of marine management companies.
However they to seem to be having problems of their own as with less than 3 months to go until  PIANO LAND  launches there are still 91 on board vacanices including those for 2nd Officer, 3rd Officer, and perhaps most worryingly for Ships Master, despite a start date for that position as June 2019  as of writing the vacancy is still live on the V.Ships website.
With less than one month left in P&O service there are still 91 vacanices for ORIANA/PIANO LAND
Elsewhere the decidely unhelpful Sea Cruise UK, an production company has joined with Astro Ocean Cruise to provide performers for the planned production shows on board, having held casting auditons back in May for the company at present they are busy prepaing costumes and being completely amazed by the beauty that is PIANO LAND.
Posting the following on social media.

Yes ORIANA is super special shame P&O doesn't see it.
Also using the power of social media Sea Cruise UK took to advertising for Astro Ocean Cruise for Stage and production manager, Sound Tech, Light Tech, Stage Staff among others and for the first time giving some contact details for the company : kun.zhao@astro-ocean.cn and
li.lai@astro-ocean.cn respectivly.
So where does all the leave ORIANA herself? We can not really say if the company continues being as blasé as it is at present the venture will be very short lived and at sometime in the future perhaps she may yet return to European waters under new ownership.

segunda-feira, 1 de julho de 2019

ORIANA: The Beginning Of A Lifelong Passion

In life there are often things which we grow attached to at an early days and for which we have feelings for which can stay with us for a lifetime, passions which are sparked in the fertile imaginations which are fuelled as we grow phiscally and emotionally.
For both the authors of this blog this was the case with the world of P&O Cruises' ORIANA.
Myself I first become aware of ORIANA in March 1993 an eager 6 year old far from the sea in a rural Wiltshire market town seemingly a world away from ships and  the cruise industry, who by a chance viewing of the 1953 movie 'Titanic' had been introduced to the ill fated liner and passenger ships in general.
About a week or so after watching the film the word 'Oriana' would enter my vocabulary for the first time on the 11th the evening news showed the pride of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, the largest shipping company and one of Britain's most well know companies, as constructuion of it's new flagship got underway and her name revealed for the first time ORIANA.
While on the surface it may not seem the kind of news that a landlocked 6 year old would find interesting, this one found it fascinating the whole idea that this one large building block would grow into the world's latest cruise ship.
11 March 1993 ORIANA's Keel is laid
Over the next year or so news of ORIANA or things referring to her inpending arrival in April 1995 would pop up from time to time including a seeing a cut away poster introducing her in a Doctor's waiting room.
With the internet being far from the all knowing source of infomation we know and love today finding new infomation or news on Oriana was often a case of looking in a Travel agents for new brochure or waiting the odd glimpse of progress in Newspaper.

When April 1995 eventully came finally through the news I got my first true glimpse of ORIANA as they were present in Southampton to film her arrive for the first time.

And later on the 6th April Her Majesty her naming took it's rightful position on the evening news the worlds newest and the most advanced passenger ship was finally home and ready to serve her owners and passengers.

25 months after watching that first block on drydock floor she was finally complete, watching in awe at the television as her classic liner inspired lines complemented her elegant and understated interiors with their art deco touchs showing the vast improvement over the generation of ships she was superseding and in retrospect due to the effort of the world class design team an interior which is leaps and bounds above the dull unispired shopping centre chic look of the behemoth that is due to replace her.
That 6 year old who first saw a single block has long since grown and had many many adventures with ORIANA today he looks back with fondness and sadness as her P&O crew prepare to lower the houseflag for the last time and she sails from the once influential company and once great country that she served so well,  she heads to the endless horizon to begin a new life in a far eastern land, but he knows that ORIANA's heart has been and always will be in Southampton and the countless ports she visited over the last 25 years.