Crown Princess (II) Southampton Debut & Queen Mary 2
An early start on the 16th May 2008 as Crown Princess was uncooperative. This 113,000grt sister of P&O's Ventura was the first of the latest modified Grand class, debuting in 2006, and the second ship to bear the name.  The previous was currently operating as Ocean Village Two. This would be her first visit to Southampton, her home during the 2009 season, but she would be docking starboard at Mayflower Terminal and not leaving until 7pm, two hours after Queen Mary 2.  We decided to go down for her arrival instead as both were due for 7am.  We booked a taxi for 5.30am and he was on time.  It was the Thomson cruiser Gary again so we had a nice chat on the way.  By the time we arrived, Crown was already coming around Fawley.  Crikey it was cold!  Quite a change after the glorious weather the previous weekend.  There were a couple of other people out with cameras but didn't take many photos.
About 10 minutes later we saw Mary on the horizon.  Visibility was crap but at least she wasn't entirely white so slightly easier to see.
There was no doubt the Princesses look better than what they did to Ventura.  The funnel makes a ship and if it's wrong, turns what could be pretty into something hideous, as in the case of Ventura's bikini wax.  Talk to many cruisers or locals and the vast majority hate the look of Ventura.  They may have shot themselves in the foot there and have another on order!
As Mary passed Hythe pier, Hotspur left and rocked as the larger vessel created a wake.  Passengers onboard trying to take photos wouldn't have had much fun.  Glad I wasn't one of them!
Crown began to dock when, as she was so early, could have turned after all.  Meanwhile as Mary neared the turning circle, a couple arrived who clearly weren't local or regulars and must have known someone aboard.  The wife asked her husband if Mary's rear lights were for reversing.  He started laughing and making jokes about her backing up but didn't say they weren't.
For some inexplicable reason, the couple decided to get in their car and drive further down to see her dock when they could have stayed put and seen it.  Then they drove off before she was even halfway in.
Once they had begun to throw Mary's lines and she was almost in, we called it a day as we were both frozen stiff.  Crown was safely tucked up down the other end and bunkering.  I couldn't help be reminded of when we'd gone that early for Star Princess and Mary in May 2005 the weather was much better.  Nice to have a look at Ventura's sister though as we've had the handle for three years now.

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© Patricia Dempsey 16th May 2008
Not to be reproduced without permission