P&O Cruises Grand Event
(Backdated Article published 1 Jan 2013)
On Tuesday 3rd July 2012 P&O Cruises celebrate 175 years of proud P&O history. Having been a fan of P&O since I sailed on the Canberra Christmas Cruise 1992-1993 this was an event I was determined to be a part of.
I pre-registered for my cruise before it went on sail, which was lucky as it had sold out very quickly. There were a number of options but as my “best bit” was going to be the sail out from Southampton I opted for the short cruise on Oriana going to Amsterdam and Zeebrugge.
The time edged closer and more details were being provided of the plans and understandably my excitement grew. All seven ships currently in the P&O cruises fleet together in the port of Southampton on the same day. That takes planning and effort. Naturally I too had planned and had a clear day off prior to my cruise to allow time to pack and get ready. This was important as the Grand Event came hot on the heels of my cycling challenge and the Sky Ride!
The day had arrived and I took a taxi to the terminal ready to board the ship. Albeit a little early in the day. After waiting to Check In and then waiting again to embark the ship, because they were preparing cabins to be ready for when we boarded. I then got on board. A brief stop at the cabin to drop my things and then to the aft decks I took. Staking out my position in the Terrace Bar. A number of people had gathered there over the afternoon and I would soon recognise them as regulars at that venue throughout the cruise.
Assorted smaller ships were busy sailing past at intervals taking the opportunity to sell tours showing off the P&O fleet. The weather was wet and breezy as though it were a typical British Bank Holiday. Those looking upon the ships were not deterred in the slightest, although they were damp. Princess Anne arrived to a special function on Oriana and soon sounded the ships whistle and the other ships all replied. At this point the rain became more persistent and left me taking shelter under a beam of the ships structure. This was until I could make it back to the cabin and get my jacket and umbrella.
Come sailaway I had the umbrella clamped under my arm and holding down the edges with my iPad in hand recording. The ships all processed out with much whistle blowing, this is the part I love the most. Even to the extent that I was jumping on the deck of the Oriana for “more whistles” despite there having been an extraordinary amount of noise being made as we sailed. We had a special treat with the HMS Dragon waiting for us as the ships performed a formation sailpast of two ships, the second being the THV Patricia on which the Princess Royal was taking a review of the fleet. As you would expect we then sailed on into the evening and began to think about something to eat!
An extremely enjoyable day and one that I am proud to have been a part of…
See my view of the sailaway here!