Oriana (II), Grand Princess, Independence of the Seas & Saga Ruby
Four glorious ships were in Southampton on the 23rd May 2009.  It was almost a carbon copy of the 9th with Saga Ruby replacing Oceana, plus Grand Princess and Oriana were in different berths.  Oriana was at the new Ocean Terminal this time while Grand Princess was in Mayflower, Ruby in QEII and Indy in the usual City.  Oriana and Grand were down to leave at 4.30pm, Indy at 4.45pm and Rubes at 5pm.  We decided to try the ferry since with all these different times we were bound to get some decent shots.
We waited on the pier for Oriana only to see on VTS when I checked the phone she was now 4.45pm, Grand and Indy were the hour with Rubes 5.30pm.  With the Gruesome Twosome blocking the view it was hard to see when Oriana moved.  Just before 5pm she blasted lots and we knew she was at last.
Several minutes later a low blasting came from somewhere but we weren't sure where.  Then I noticed Grand heading up slowly towards the turning circle.  She would be some time so we decided to focus on Oriana.
The best ferry we have, Hotspur IV, arrived and after the throng of people got off, we boarded and headed to the bow.  Once we set off, we went way over rather than go along the starboard side as usual so we moved to the other side of the ferry.  The ferry man Andy accused me of abandoning them since the last time he saw me was the 11th November for the QE2 farewell.  I'm surprised he remembered the exact date!  Although I have been on since, not when he has.
As Grand finished her turn and emerged slowly, Indy began to position herself in the lane and follow Oriana towards the Solent.
As we waited at Town Quay while passengers disembarked and new got on (we were the only ones staying on), some people were discussing Indy as she passed and wondering whether she had cabins other than balcony.  I told them she does and I'd done her last year.  They had to leave and slowly the ferry filled up.  Apart from the photography aspect making Hotspur superior to Great Expectations, there's also the matter of summer when many want to be outside and there isn't the room on the catamaran.  They should run Hotspur from May-October and the other the rest of the time.
As Indy neared Rubes, she blasted to the older ship.  Rubes returned the gesture.  No idea if there were any more since we began to move and head back to the pier.  Meanwhile along Town Quay came the Princess!  Unusually again the ferry didn't go behind then tootle down the starboard side and passing it.  We stayed behind the entire way!  I love this ferry skipper for giving us great photo opportunities!
We waited on the pier for Ruby's sailing and didn't have to wait too long.  No sooner than we found a spot, she cast her first ropes.  We moved down a bit as she threw the rest.
That was the end of that.  We walked back down the pier after a fantastic day.  The weather had been warm but cloudy and shortly before the ships began to move, the clouds dispersed making conditions, especially visibility, perfect.  It's not every day we see them as clear at Calshot as we saw Oriana.  This will take some beating!

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© Patricia Dempsey 23rd May 2009
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