April 23, 2007
The article below appeared on the shippingtimes.co.uk about the visit bu the "liberty of the seas" to Southampton (Currently the largest crusie ship at sea. It refers a lot to current and past Cunard ships.
"Southampton enjoys busy week and a feast of passenger ships - by G.Russell and B.Biddulph
It's like a return to the golden age of passenger shipping in Southampton these days. We thought that perhaps a rough ship-spotters' guide to the vessels arriving in the port this busy week may be of interest to readers.
Today (Sunday 22nd April) saw the arrival of the LIBERTY OF THE SEAS at the UK's premier cruise ship port, one of the the world's largest cruise ships. At 1112 feet long she is not as long as the QUEEN MARY 2 but at 154407 grt she beats the Cunarder's tonnage of 151400 grt.
Also in port today are the AURORA, OCEANA and the OCEAN VILLAGE TWO and with further arrivals expected over the course of this week, the very names in some cases, if not the sheer size and number of vessels calls to mind the glory days of passenger liner shipping.
P&O Cruises, owned by Carnival, operate the AURORA and OCEANA. The former was built for P&O in 2000 and is more or less a modern take on the P&O white hulled and buff-funnelled ships of old. OCEANA however, is rather a different vessel, having been the OCEAN PRINCESS and sporting what many consider to be a rather hideous arrangement (there is no word to describe it!) instead of a conventional funnel.
On that tack, detractors of modern cruise ships complain about the less than classic lines of some of the vessels today, but the same grumbles were made in the early days of the 'classic' liners when bowsprits, counter sterns and teak cabins were jettisoned for clean lines, cruiser sterns and steel deckhouses.
Where the modern vessels beat their predecessors is in their proportions. Nowadays a cruise ship is considered 'small' if it is the size of the QE2!
The feast of passenger vessels continues tomorrow, 23rd of April with the arrivals of the ARTEMIS and the ARCADIA. The ARCADIA is a bit of a novelty, for shipping buffs at any rate, as she has the distinction of being a P&O vessel that was once a Cunarder! She was originally ordered from the famous Italian shipbuilders Fincentieri as a vessel for the Holland America line, but then Carnival decided she would become the QUEEN VICTORIA. Indeed publicity photos of her were issued showing her in Cunard livery, but another change of thinking saw her emerge in April 2005 as the ARCADIA for P&O Cruises. At 83,000 tons she is the largest in the P&O fleet.
The ARTEMIS too was a transfer, prior to 2005 she was the ROYAL PRINCESS.
As for OCEAN VILLAGE TWO she was also a former Princess. She debuted as CROWN PRINCESS in 1990, became the A'ROSA BLUE in 2002 and then the AIDAblu in 2003. On the 24th she will be at the centre of attention when she will be officially christened by the celebrity sisters Jodie and Jemma Kidd who have been invited to become the vessel's joint Godmothers.
Also on Tuesday 24th ship-spotters along the Solent will catch two vessels with the ultimate in classic pedigrees, name-wise and in looks. They'll need to be up early if they want to see them dock though, as at 05:30 the QUEEN MARY 2, the world's longest passenger liner, will dock in Southampton, followed at 06:30 by P&O's ORIANA.
The Cunarder is of course well known to nearly anyone with a passing interest in shipping, but little is heard of the ORIANA. She made her maiden voyage on the 9th of April in 1995. Like her fleet sister AURORA she carries with her an air of the old P&O vessels, and is topped by a gigantic buff funnel aft
Wednesday 25th April sees the arrival of one of your author's favourites, the 90,228 grt CONSTELLATION. Like QUEEN MARY 2 she was also a product of the French shipbuilders, Chantiers de l'Atlantique in St Nazaire and was delivered in 2002.
She arrives at 6am and an hour later the SAGA RUBY enters dock. This is a vessel that will get the old enthusiasts drooling, for although she is tiny by modern standards (at only 24,492 grt), she stands out as one of the most beautiful classics of the late 20th Century. Built by Swan Hunter (at the Wallsend yard that has finally, and very sadly, gone out of existence this year) in 1973 she was the VISTAFJORD for Norwegian America Line. In 1983 she transferred to Cunard and retained her name until 1999 when she re-emerged as the CARONIA. She became the SAGA RUBY in 2005.
Thursday looks set to be a great day too, with the return of the LIBERTY OF THE SEAS and also the SAGA RUBY's fleet sister SAGA ROSE comes in at the same time as the gigantic cruise ship, 7am. SAGA ROSE shares the same history as her sister SAGA RUBY, except in that she is a little older being built in 1965 by Soc. des Forges de la Méditerranée. A quirk of history here is that her builders no longer exist - her build cost the shipyard so much money she put them out of existence! She joined Cunard along with her sister in 1983 but she left their employ a good deal earlier than SAGA RUBY, being for a brief time chartered to Transocean as GRIPSHOLM and then in 1997 going to Saga and getting her new name.
And then at 11am will dock the NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS, the 138,000 ton fleet sister of LIBERTY will share the same port and no doubt their sirens will blare across the whole of Hampshire! She made her maiden voyage on 14th December 2002. She will depart Southampton for a short two day cruise to France before returning on Saturday.
Friday sees the BOUDICCA, operated by Fred Olsen. She has had a long and varied career and started off as the ROYAL VIKING SKY in 1973 built by Wartsila, Finland. In 1980 she had an additional 93 feet added to her length in a rebuild carried out by A.G Weser. In 1991 she went to NCL as the SUNWARD, in 1992 to Birka Line as the BIRKA QUEEN and in 1993 to 1996 she was with Princess Cruises as the GOLDEN PRINCESS. After that she went to Star Cruises as SUPERSTAR CAPRICORN. In 2004 yet another change of ownership this time operated by Iberojet as the GRAND LATINO. Fred Olsen purchased her finally in 2006.
All in all Southampton will be the place to be for seeing the world's greatest ships this week and if you have any photos you'd like to share with your fellow readers of Shipping Times, we'd be very pleased to hear from you.
Incidentally, if you are not an early bird, have no fears, all of the vessels with the exception of the LIBERTY OF THE SEAS on the 26th, are slated to leave port at 5pm."