Artemis, Ventura, Queen Victoria & Saga Ruby
Artemis was starboard side in the QEII Terminal on the 18th September 2009.  That meant she would reverse into the Itchen to turn when she sailed.  I couldn't remember the last time she'd been in that terminal and, with rumours of her being sold imminently resurfacing, it may be the last time she was.  Anyone with half a brain would know Carnival had no long-term plans for the former Royal Princess and we'd even discussed it on the Yahoo Group back in January.  She is the ONLY ship to return from refit minus the new dreadful P&O Cruises logo branding (Aurora hadn't had one since 2005).  The branding began on Ventura renderings but only Oriana (the first in 2006), Oceana and Arcadia (both 2008) were given it.  Artemis came back spruced up in December 2007 but retained the P&O lettering.  Doesn't take a genius to work out no branding = ditched as soon as they get the right price like the QE2 and forcing everyone onto their Grand class Princesses.  One of those Princesses was in Ocean Terminal.  Ventura was facing inwards.  Queen Victoria was staboard in Mayflower while the smallest and doubtlessly most gorgeous, Saga Ruby, was in City.  The three P&O-run ships were listed for 4.30pm while Rubes was 5pm.  The weather was cool, grey and miserable without a sign of the sun forecast.  I decided to go over to take pics from the ferry and as I walked down the pier, a hovercraft turned up and entered Hythe Marine Park.  Also I noticed the ferry had advertising on the sides and front.  This, I learned from Andy later, was because of the boat show.
I hadn't noticed at the time I took the photos, but they were testing the lifeboats on Artemis.  Pity the crew and their endless drills!  I learnt a lot from Patrick about what's involved and how those without their lifejackets avoid going into the boats, even though the jacket is mandatory.
As I was near the end of the pier the train passed!  It wasn't supposed to come along with passengers until the ferry was nearly there.  But it was still by Town Quay so ridiculous.  I still managed to be first in the queue and was talking to a bloke who used to work on the second Arcadia.  He had a few stories to tell about the '£10 Poms' and how many just used it for a cheap holiday, getting back on the ship when the ship returned to Sydney from a bit of cruising.  He said former employees don't get cruise discounts and there was a rumour at the beginning of the year onboard that Artemis would be sold.  This, apparently, led to uproar among her loyal passengers, many of whom said they would go elsewhere.
As we neared QEII, I noticed something rather unusual and thought I was seeing things.  Lady Madeleine was tethered with Surrey, Sussex, Sarah and Lyndhurst instead of with Bentley.  There was a lot of tuggy double parking going on, only Lyndhurst solo.
Coming back we went wider than usual.  That was because Andy took over at the helm for a bit while the skipper went to the toilet.  I noticed something on the wall near Ventura's funnel which I'm sure wasn't there a year ago.
I bought some chips and went for a wander after eating them to kill some time before my dad came down.  There was no point me going home only to turn around and come back again.
As we waited at the marina it gradually built up quite a lot despite the gloomy weather.  We had a brief glimpse of the sun shining on Artemis but then it hid again.  One bloke turned up with his other half and insisted Queen Elizabeth was in.  I know it's easy to confuse clones when they're in service but I've never heard of someone getting confused with something in a shipyard which hasn't even touched water yet.  Someone else kept saying it was Saga Rose to his elderly companion, even though Rosie had been in the previous day.  Artemis did her eight bells just after 4pm.  Would she still leave as scheduled or would Ventura go first?
Almost on time, Artemis threw her first lines but took their time dropping the others.  When she had, she blasted three times to let traffic know she was about to reverse.  Meanwhile Lady Madeleine was returning from a job at Hamble and ducked out of the way as Artemis went backwards.
As Artemis slowly backed up, Ventura cast her own lines and edged away from the dock.  QV didn't budge at all while Rubes was still being loaded.
Fifteen minutes late, QV blasted and began to move towards the turning circle.  A damn boat had pulled up some time before and made it difficult to get decent photos with its mast in the way.
QV blasted and to our surprise Rubes replied.  Since Saga, like Fred Olsen, tend to only respond to their own, this was lovely.  Perhaps Ian McNaught knew someone on Rubes from her Cunard days.
When she was out the way, Rubes began to finally move.  She blasted as she edged away from the dock and move herself into the channel.
There was one tiny blue patch among the clouds but even if it brightened up, it was too late for the ships.  Visibility was not good towards Fawley.
Rubes looked lovely with her few lights on.  We then went home.  Thankfully it hadn't rained but we could have done with it being a little brighter.

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© Patricia Dempsey 18th September 2009
Not to be reproduced without permission