Departure day, the beginning of your cruise, for seasoned and novice cruisers there is nothing quite like it, often planned months in advance Passports/cruise tickets, check, Packing, double check, Dog, collected yesterday.
Then the journey to the cruise terminal, for the majority of those cruising from the UK, the journey to Southampton, nearing the docks a first glimpse of your ships' funnel and upper looking for the correct dock gate, and finally arriving at your terminal ready to show passports and tickets. P&O Cruise 571 departing on the 9th April 1995 was in many respects no different, yet in everyway it was a very different journey the 1800 passengers were about to embark upon not only were they sailing on a Maiden Voyage they were sailing on board ORIANA, the new flagship of Britains oldest shipping company, its first dedicated UK based cruise ship designed with the British passenger in mind standing in contrast to her mass market US cousins.
On a technical level ORIANA was 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.
In terms of the passengers boarding covered a broad range,mostly there were regular P&O cruisers members of P&O's POSH club but there was also passengers who were new to cruising beginning their "cruising life" with the ship designed to usher in the new era of UK based crusing, while the majoritiy of passengers were British and had come from all over the UK to join ORIANA for her maiden sailing there were some who had travelled from further to join the ship, including from the Netherlands to Australia.
To greet the boarding passengers the first edition of ORIANA
Today the ship's own onboard newspaper they and a letter frm
ORIANA's Master Commodore Ian Gibb, welcoming them on board and sharing
some of the effection which the crew and company had already come to see
|A warm welcome from Commodore Gibb|
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
With passengers boarding at 4pm the first entertainment held onboard
ORIANA for her fare paying passengers began with Piano music on offer in
The Crow's Nest some or for different tastes there was music being
played in both Harlequins and The Pacific Lounge followed by the obligatory
safety drill held at 5pm and shortly after 6pm to the sound of The
Horn Pipe played by The Band of the Royal Corps of Signals.
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 traditions before departing for the Canary Islands.
In her 24 year service she would become a familiar sight in those destinations with Madeira in particular having an affinity with the ship over her career.
ORIANA's Maiden Voyage proved to be resounding success and helped to birth a new short lived era for the company before it demerged the cruise operations 5 years later leading to eventual meger with Carnival to form faceless by the numbers Carnival PLC/UK.
ORIANA arrives makes her Maiden Call at Funchal, Madeira :Luís Filipe Jardim
In the years since a number of P&O Cruises ships have entered service all promising to be the next generational leap for the company, with the exception of AURORA in 2000 none of the others lived up to the promise ORIANA brought to P&O and the UK cruise market.