Ocean Village Two, Aurora, Oceana (II) & Liberty of the Seas UK Debut
Another big day for the port of Southampton on the 22nd April 2007.  Aurora arrived for 5am and docked in 106.  Oceana was due for 6.30am while the second Freedom class vessel, the 160,000grt Liberty of the Seas, was down for 9am.  There was no way we were going down for 4am so we went to the marina for Oceana, arriving at 5.50am just as she was passing Hythe pier.  The weather was mild and chilly, the sun just starting to rise.  There were a few people there already having read in the Echo Liberty was arriving at 7am.  It was also quite misty, with Aurora partially obscured.  Ocean Village Two was in Ocean Dock where she'd been moved the day before.
Oceana headed to the turning circle at the entrance to Ocean Dock.  Anyone watching on a webcam would have had an excellent view of Ocean Village Two.
After she straightened up she slowly made her way towards the QEII Terminal
By now the mist was slowly beginning to lift as the sun got stronger.  It was also getting much warmer.
After Oceana docked she began to raise her flags and then the waiting game began for Liberty of the Seas to arrive.
Haze had added to the mist making visibility dreadful.  The marina was fairly packed by 8am but nowhere near as much as last year for Freedom of the Seas.  Either people couldn't be bothered as they look the same or they went by the wrong timings and decided they weren't getting up so early.  It was very difficult to see but after a while of umming and ahhing it was decided about 8.20am what looked like a ghost ship on the horizon was indeed what we'd been waiting for - Liberty of the Seas!  The crowd surged to the edge and down the front to look.  Good job we were in our usual spot already then! Surprisingly there was no fire tug this year and Liberty didn't make the same sort of entrance as her sister.  In fact, she was rather too quiet.
Now we got some action, courtesy of a P&O!  Oceana blasted three times.  Liberty replied with three.  That was it.  Very disappointing.  Last year you couldn't shut Freedom up and it was wonderful!

After that muted arrival, we couldn't help wondering what they'd do when Independence of the Seas arrives next year for the season.

We went back down in the afternoon for the departures of Aurora and Oceana.  The marina was heaving like last year on the day Freedom of the Seas arrived, and under the impression Liberty of the Seas was sailing.  One man pointed at Aurora and said to another in all seriousness she was Ocean Village Two!  That was as funny as when I overheard a man saying in the morning Oceana was Millennium.  Oceana, never one for dilly-dallying, cast off just after 5pm to an echo of horn blasts from her and Ocean Village Two as she pulled out.   

Aurora finally cast off at 5.25pm and unusually blasted a lot instead of the usual three.  She made her way out from 106 and greeted Liberty of the Seas.  Remembering a similar scenario last year when Arcadia greeted Freedom of the Seas and got nothing back we were surprised to hear a sound from Liberty!  And not just once.  Although Liberty's deep burr akin to Freedom was quieter than Aurora, the joint blasting lasted a couple of minutes.
More horn blowing.  Wonderful!  As Aurora was approaching Ocean Village Two the horns blared out across Southampton and surrounding areas again.  Aurora can be a bit staid when it comes to greeting but today whoever was pressing the button must have been inspired by their equivalent on Oriana!
And then there were two.  We occasionally get one left in port due to repairs, back from refit or whatever but rarely get two.  Tuesday is a big day for the pair of them.  Ocean Village Two is renamed and Liberty of the Seas leaves for two nights.
For Liberty of the Seas with QM2, Oriana and Ocean Village Two and fireworks click here.  And for her meeting Navigator of the Seas before departing for America click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 22nd April 2007
Not to be reproduced without permission