Grand Princess, Celebrity Eclipse & Oceana (II)
The 10th July 2010 was a lovely day.  We were having a better summer than the past three years.  I'd arranged to meet my friend Jeff Orme on Town Quay as he was down waving friends off on Grand Princess. We were originally meant to meet for a coffee on the 7th April when Azura arrived, only my mum had a fall and I had to get home.  My mum had another bad fall on the 9th July and admitted to hospital so we wondered if I'd end up having to cancel again.  My dad and a friend told me to go because after the crap week I'd had, it would do me good.  So I caught the 2.40pm ferry after a lovely stroll down the pier, so I could watch Oceana and Eclipse too.  Grand was listed for 4pm but to date, each time they did that she never went at that time.  She was also annoyingly starboard as usual when docked there.  Oceana was the usual 4.30pm with Eclipse fifteen minutes later.  On the ferry Phil was telling me about this huge container ship, CMA CGM Christophe Colomb, he'd seen arrive the night before then told other passengers.  It's roughly the same size as Norwegian Epic so must have been something.
Jeff was telling me about this would-be ship nut who had bored him as he waited.  This bloke insisted Oceana was leaving at 3.30pm.  Only the inaccurate cruise call schedule lists that.  Anyone who knows anything (and is a regular stalker) knows P&O is always 4.30pm like Cunard.  He said Oceana was one of the biggest Southampton gets.  Right so a 77,000gt ship was in port with 109,000 and 122,000 ones and competes with Indy, Mary, QV, Crown Princess, Ventura and Azura to name a few.  Hmm.  Interesting.  How do we make room for a ship of her huge size?  He also said people who cruise live in the lap of luxury.  With all the extra charges???  And they now have swimming pools you know.  Well I'll be blowed.  Surely he must have got that wrong.  That sort of gimmick will never catch on!  Shame I missed this fount of all maritime knowledge.  Anyway, as I was taking a photo of the very large Oceana, Jeff was being informed by his friend on Grand they were leaving now.  I'd mentioned in passing she never leaves on time and I'd be shocked if she did.  I was shocked!  She didn't blast at all though, which was a shame.
As we watched the Princess, I noticed a rather unfamiliar tug come from Eastern Docks.  The almost two year old Svitzer Sky, who I later learned had been here a week!  Two were built at the same time, her sister being Svitzer Sun.  Sky was a real cutie and here to assist with the behemoth container ship with Bentley, Surrey and Sarah before heading back to Avonmouth.  A shame   I want one!  Well they did take Lyndhurst away.  On the stern you could see her original port of registry painted out.
Oceana gave three blasts to indicate reversing after Grand passed.  The ship nut was close by, boring someone else about her supposedly sailing at 3.30pm so I said to Jeff hoping the bloke and the one he was talking to heard how she was just three minutes late.  Wasn't corrected by either of them but then the expert probably thought I didn't know what I was talking about.
As we watched Oceana sail away, Eclipse blasted behind us as she pulled away from the berth.  They always do that and I wish they'd be like Indy and do it in the lane.  There was a huge white van blocking the view so I couldn't get any photos until we went back to the other side and played dodge-the-fisherbastards.  They really don't give a monkey's about getting in the way but I bet they would if someone cut their line or threw their equipment in.  ABP do sod all about it so they may as well reopen the end.
And that was that after an unscheduled stalking.  There was no sign of our resident maritime expert which was a shame.  I was desperate to ask him something.  I caught the 5.30pm ferry back while Jeff drove home.  It was a good day and Jeff had cheered me up enormously.  Good friends and ships are the ideal tonic when you're down.

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© Patricia Dempsey 10th July 2010
Not to be reproduced without permission