Aurora & Ventura Arrival
P&O's new 'Superliner designed for Britain' was due to arrive in her home port of Southampton on the 6th April 2008.  This 113,000grt vessel is the third of the next generation Grand class Princess ships, her sisters being Crown Princess, Emerald Princess and, later this year, Ruby Princess.  However the weather wasn't so good.  It was snowing after 7am making visibility dreadful.
Well we braved the first heavy snow in the area for years and went to the marina, sheltering near the old public toilet block which is now for berth holders only.  Because of the weather, the original intention to take the new camera was changed and I took the old one as I could hold that with one hand and fight an umbrella.  Of course, as it was a last minute change, I forgot to put the spare batteries back in the bag.  Who knew how long this would last as I'd used it a lot on Monday.  I braved the wind and snow to get the below picture of Aurora, who was today docked in QEII Terminal.
Rather annoyingly the bad weather didn't keep the fairweathers away.  So many called Ventura a boat for one thing.  And when the snow came down heavy again, they had no idea they were looking at a building at Calshot.  They thought it was the ship regardless of the fact it wasn't moving.  As usual they all crowded around the end blocking everyone's view.  If they bothered the rest of the year they'd know there's no need.  I had a mutual moan with a regular about these people.  These were also the only ones impressed by Ventura but it must be pointed out many of them also thought Aurora was Arcadia.  Around 10.10am she was sighted in the mist but at least it had stopped snowing.  Everytime I tried the zoom the battery would conk out so I had to use it sparingly and have long shots.
One comment I heard from the fairweathers was, "It's not as big as I thought it would be."  Maybe if they bothered more they'd have seen a Grand class before.  A man behind me was a regular who said she looked like a container ship.  It was very easy to tell who was who because the locals and regulars hated the look of the ship, especially the funnel, having seen the Princesses since 2005.
Now the two ships blasted to each other.  We heard faint cheering which we assume came from Aurora's remaining passengers or crew.  The blasting lasted several minutes.
Just as we decided to go home and defrost, they blasted again then we left.  Ventura will have a two night 'Party Cruise' on the 11th, which has angered a lot of passengers on the maiden voyage as they were led to believe they would be the first fare-paying.   Ventura would be in and out, named by Dame Helen Mirren on the 16th then have her maiden voyage on the 18th.
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© Patricia Dempsey 6th April 2008
Not to be reproduced without permission