Jewel of the Seas
The wonderful Jewel of the Seas made a welcome return to Southampton.  Her arrival time from Hamburg after a refit had been changed several times for the 28th October 2007.  Firstly it said 11.59pm which was changed to 10.30pm and finally 11pm.  As she passed the house all beautifully lit up just after 10.40pm, she wasn't going to make it for 11pm.  The last time I had seen her in Southampton was the 5th May 2004 when she was brand new before sailing to Harwich to be named and do cruises.  Of course I had seen her in Plymouth last year but she was anchored too far away and sailed in the haze.  I had only got video of her previous Southampton visit so now was a chance to make up for that laziness.  We'd planned to go over to Mayflower Park as the clocks had gone back Saturday night so it would be getting dark as she sailed.  When we discovered parts of Hythe were cordoned off due to a fire at a boatyard and Meridian TV said the ferry would face disruption we didn't know what to do.  Well the ferry wasn't facing any disruption and the woman in the ticket office wasn't amused when I told her what they'd reported.  So we boarded and headed over.
As I took the following photo most of her flags had been removed.  Once taken we headed for Mayflower Park.  The weather was fairly mild for end of October and gloriously sunny.  It had been like that since her arrival after a really miserable and wet Sunday.
Compared to her sisters Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas who have all docked there, she did look little.  People have said Royal Caribbean used the Radiance class hull on the Celebrity Millennium class ships but if they look really closely they will notice a lot of external differences between them.  I like the Radiance class, which are less boxy than the Millennium class, and would like to sail on one in the future.  As we walked around to get closer Whitchallenger had finished bunkering and was pulling away.
Her departure time was listed as 4.45pm (hur, hur!) so as we waited I took some photos of this georgeous girl as it will be a long time before I get this close again.
On the starboard side there was a strange bit of paintwork only on her starboard side which we found odd as she had just had that refit.
At 4.30pm we heard the very loud eight bells for lifeboat drill so it was obvious she would be going at 5pm instead.  The park was slowly building up with ship stalkers and those with friends and/or family onboard.  I had to smile when a rather nice Indian lady said to her husband about Jewel being Navigator's "little brother".  I got chatting to them later on and we discussed the Royal Caribbean ships. He asked if Jewel was bigger than Titanic and thought Titanic sailed from there.  By now it was getting colder as the sun had gone down and at 4.58pm the first ropes were thrown.  Once she was free she moved slightly, stern first, away from the dock.
And so that was Jewel of the Seas who rather disappointingly didn't blast at to the freezing crowd as she passed.  Still nice to see her again though and I hope we will another time.

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© Patricia Dempsey 28th July 2007
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