Sea Princess (II), Arcadia (IV) & Asuka II Southampton Debut
What a cold, wet and slightly windy day it was on the 21st May 2007 for the arrival of Asuka II to Southampton.  Asuka II was due to arrive at 1pm and dock in City Cruise Terminal.  Arcadia had returned from a weekender to Zeebrugge (for Bruges) many hours earlier.  The 48,621grt Asuka II began life for Japanese company Nippon Yusen Kasha (NYK) in 1990 as Crystal Harmony, the first of the Crystal ships, and whose Godmother was Mary Tyler-Moore.  In 2006 she was tranferred to Japan to replace the much smaller Asuka (currently Amadea for Phoenix Reisen) as demand for cruising grew. Today's call is part of her first world cruise where she'll stay overnight and leave at 10pm tomorrow.  We decided to go to Mayflower Park for a change as there wasn't anything up our end apart from Sea Princess still flashing her backside at people.  Like Saturday they seemed to be doing things with the tenders.    
As we waited I decided to get a pic of the new gangway seeing as there wasn't anything blocking the view - yet.  Also one of Arcadia docked in 106.
Asuka II was late.  We missed being at the marina and able to see all the way down the water.  Finally at about 12.45pm her funnel was visible over the buildings at Town Quay and she began to emerge from behind the QEII terminal a few minutes later and the dozen or so people waiting got out of their cars.
As she got closer to the dock, we heard bagpipes.  There were three pipers on the dock in full Scottish regalia.  Once that tune was finished as her ropes were being tied, after a brief pause another started.
At 1.40pm we decided to head back to the ferry as she was almost secure.  It was lovely seeing her as I'd never seen her as Crystal Harmony.  I know she's not returning during the 2008 world cruise but I hope we see her again one day, preferably when one of her sisters is also in.

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© Patricia Dempsey 21st May 2007
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