Queen Victoria & Aurora
On the 14th May 2008 while on a Mediterranean cruise, the latest 'curse' to strike Queen Victoria occured.  As she was being taken into Valletta by pilot, for some reason her stern hit the dock.  The pilot blamed it on the throttle but others say it's the Curse of Camilla because of the bottle not smashing.  She ended up staying overnight, cancelling the call to Tunis.  Aboard was Micky Arison, head of Carnival Corp, whose company decided to use a Vista/Spirit as a Cunard Queen.  They said she had a reinforced hull which made her a liner as opposed to a cruise ship like her HAL, P&O and Carnival sisters.  Where was it reinforced then?  Bulbous bow?  She sailed for Gibraltar having been patched up somewhat.  Upon her earlier than expected arrival, they quickly threw the tarpaulin over and painted the damage in mismatching red.  From there she was subsequently anchored until departure while Micky Arison boarded his other toy.  Bet that's an original.  Home she headed where she arrived at 5am on the 20th.  As of two weeks previously, Aurora was also in port.  I was getting a strong sense of deja vu.  So out of curiosity we decided to take the Hythe ferry across to check out the damage and left it late so we wouldn't be hanging around too long for the sailings.  It was Hotspur IV - excellent!  She should be used more often, especially in good weather.  Course this day wasn't but as Great Expectations was off being repaired yet again it was great to sail across and back on a legend.  She's not only fabulous but also perfect for ship stalking as you have the bow to stand on and loads of deck space.
When the US Cunard site finally acknowledged the meeting in Southampton of the three Queens, a moron in the Santa Clarita office wrote, "The three ships are the only passenger vessels in the world with Southampton on their sterns."  Oi!  What about Hotspur???  Proudly flashing her stern for 62 years while you, Mary and the Vista mongrel weren't even figments of Micky's imagination, mates!  Darken her hull and you have Queen Hotspur IV, a Classic Cunarder.  Well if they can claim a HAL/Carnival is then why not?
Bloody Red Funnels!  Thanks to this inconsiderate beast coming along at the wrong time, we ended up farther out than usual.  We needed to be close to the dented one!  Then things got worse caused by the other passenger vessels with Southampton on the stern.
Before the view was completely blocked, we noticed little men near the dented one's dent.  What could they have been doing?  We were about to find out as soon as these damn Red Funnels moved it!  We even slowed to let the ferry pass then went behind.
What the hell was that?  Looked like a giant plaster (Band Aid to non-Brits).  Still had the curled lip at the base.  Why on earth did they bother with the paint then?  That sticks out like a sore thumb and makes that ship more of a laughing stock than she is already.
The gorgeous one was on the move as we headed back from Town Quay.  We didn't hear a blast.  Not many people stood on the bow with us.  Also, as she came into view, we could see the plastered one also on the way.  Silence from her too it seemed.
I was really disappointed neither ship blasted.  I could understand Queen Victoria as that was clearly shame.  Either that or the vibration would knock the plaster loose and it would fall into the water.  Can't Fincantieri just get one off the shelf and send it?  With so many ships the same there should be several lying about ready for such incidents as these.  They could have a new TV show - When Cloned Cruise Ships They Pretend Are Liners Go Crunch!  Doesn't bode well for Queen Elizabeth or the Costa Luminosa sister.  Aurora then cheered me up by blasting four times.  Yay!
That was that and quite a fun day considering what they did to hide the dent.  And to think they're getting rid of the less disaster-prone QE2.  I can't wait to see what the following seven months hold as already in her first five Queen Victoria has had criticism over her layout, cabins and deck, £20,000 worth of damage due to the weather on her maiden voyage, norovirus on said cruise, bad Atlantic crossing and now this.  We'll find out as the months progress if she's a lemon or not.  Sorry, Queen Lemon or not.

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© Patricia Dempsey 20th May 2008
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