Aurora & Queen Victoria Maiden Voyage
After being docked four days and having been named the day before where the bottle didn't smash, Cunard's new Queen Victoria was due to set sail on her maiden voyage on the 11th December 2007.  As well as Mayflower Park in Southampton, Hythe was also planning a Victorian themed evening which ran from 5-7pm.  The following couple of photos I took as they were setting it up.
Then we headed for the marina and there were already quite a few people waiting, although several then 'went for a walk'.  It started to build up with spectators complete with hot drinks and food.  Aurora was also in, having arrived back from a three-night cruise on the 10th and going nowhere until the 14th.
Despite the schedule saying Queen Victoria would set sail at 5pm, with the fireworks due at 5.10pm there was no way she would.  It was absolutely freezing by now and hundreds turned out lining the marina.  Some irritating people decided to plonk themselves on the rocks in people's way and we weren't the only ones fed up with the father standing, sitting, standing, sitting.  Queen Victoria's horn had sounded just after 4.15pm for muster and it was peculiar again.  When she finally cast off and blasted again at 5.15pm it soundedlike QM2's but a deeper tone.  There's just no consistency with it.  Aurora blasted back.  She moved away from City Terminal, her home since arriving Friday morning and backed up.  Some people behind thought she was going to turn but thought the only turning circle was by Ocean Dock.  One even said they'd turned her that day!  The fireworks started twenty minutes late and lasted ten minutes.  As they lit up the Southampton sky, Queen Victoria very slowly made her way forward.
Smoke filled the air like a giant bird in flight and drifted our way.  Queen Victoria blasted again and was surrounded by a flotilla of small boats as she made her way out of the docks.  Many people made iceberg comments.  One man said, "I hope it's not sailing into any icebergs otherwise it will plunge to the bottom quickly".
Once she'd reached Netley she blasted again but we were making our way back to Hythe village centre by then absolutely frozen.  It was the first time we'd had to queue to get over the bridge at the entrance to the marina and Hythe was completely packed.  The bus turned up so we got that rather than more photos of the Victorian night.

So that was the last Southampton stalking for me of 2007.  A year which began with fireworks to celebrate the 25th world cruise of the
QE2 and ended with them to launch her replacement into the world.

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© Patricia Dempsey 11th December 2007
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