Queen Mary 2 & MSC Opera
Queen Mary 2 arrived at the ridiculous hour of 4am on the 15th August 2011 after leaving Hamburg half an hour late two days before, her twentieth visit.  She had arrived an hour late due to passengers in Kristiansand so docked the wrong way round.  Mind you, being a liner as opposed to slam-dunk cruise ship, she's good for making up time when allowed to use the accelerator!  My friend Gabriele Goldbeck from Facebook and hers, Winnie Ng, were aboard for the transatlantic, having embarked in Hamburg.  Gabriele and I had been unable to meet the previous times she was in Southampton but, because of being in transit, made plans to this time.  I headed over to Town Quay on the 12.20pm ferry, having suggested 1-1.30pm to meet.  On the train going down were four bloke with chips (yum!), with two discussing digital cameras then the topic went onto cruise ships.  One said he saw on the ferry board Mary was in on the 15th so I reminded him that was today.  He asked if we'd see her from the ferry so I replied you couldn't miss her!  He took photos as we went by and I saw the Royal Mail pennant was flying.
It was Phill on duty - yay!  I wouldn't be bored waiting.  So many of the staff have come and gone there's only really Phill left I know so it's nice to see a friendly face.  We had a natter between ferries then Gabriele arrived, recognising Phill from her last ferry trip in June.  Before the ferry came, I asked him if he'd take photos of us, which he did in three different places first with my camera, then Winnie's and finally Gabriele's (once she remembered to take it out of her bag).
Then it was onto the ferry for their photo op and my return home.  It was amazing just how the weather had changed in a mere hour, wind beginning to whip up as well, making it cooler.  I just hoped it would continue to be sunny spells and not rain for the sailaway.
And so, after just over an hour resting my back at home, it was out again for the departures.  Opera was due to go at her usual 4pm with Mary half an hour later.  We went to the Prom, since it was less of a walk than to the marina and we hadn't got Mary from there in all these years.  As we waited, we saw the swans minus babies so it looks like they lost them.  Awwww.  I also overheard a lad say to his girlfriend or whatever about Mary that she was, "an enormous cruise ship longer than Hythe itself".  You couldn't make it up.  Absolutely classic!  We were also surrounded by idiots yet again.  Once Mary began to move, this bloke told his wife she was going backwards and wouldn't accept it was sideways then forward.  Another told people he was close to her this morning (his measurement was about two feet) but was told he needed a government pass and had two weeks to get one.  Huh????  She belongs to Carnival Corporation, not the Ministry of Defence!  From what he was saying about this bloke onboard being his son's best man, just did Norway, back to back transats then not knowing where he was going after that, I assume he's crew in which case he should organise a CUNARD pass for him then problem solved.  However, if said bloke onboard is just a rich bastard then he'll never get on!  Anyway it was getting like The Birds so I was glad of some shippy action despite the rain.
And who should begin to peek over the marina flats?  The late Opera!  It appears they left around the same time.  Just as Opera got in front of me, the batteries in my camera so a mad rush with a bad back to change them!  Thankfully the rain turned to the odd spit but when I'd finished, it became drizzle again.

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© Patricia Dempsey 15th August 2011
Not to be reproduced without permission