Saga Rose, Saga Ruby & Arcadia (IV) World Cruise Departures
The 5th January 2009 was unfortunately during a cold snap when we even had snow during the night.  It had been about twelve years since the UK had weather so cold and for so long.  It was the last time Saga Rose and Saga Ruby would depart together on their respective world cruises since Rosie will be retiring at the end of the year.  Because of a lay-up in 101, both were docked in QEII which was excellent.  We'd been to all their send offs except 2008 when I was on Aurora.  As usual the time for fireworks was 9.30pm with Rosie sailing at 9.45pm with Ruby fifteen minutes later.  Arcadia was sat in Mayflower, due to sail at 5pm.  During her post-refit cruise, she experienced generator failure in Barcelona which led to them missing Vigo on the way back.  Since we didn't do it in 2007, we decided this year we would get photos of them from the ferry after getting a quick shot from the Promenade.  I have no idea what the wind chill was but it was really sub-zero temperatures.  My dad and I had been the only ones on deck, with him going inside for the return trip after we'd got some shots from Town Quay.

On the way back to Hythe, we went closer to the ships than we normally would have due to RFA Lyme Bay returning to Marchwood after an aborted trip to Portland.  She was passing the Sagas when we were on the Prom waiting to photograph them so hadn't expected her back so soon.

We went back down for the fireworks and sailings.  By now it was even more bitterly cold, making me dizzy.  Arcadia was still in port.  Her departure was originally delayed until 6.45pm then 9pm meaning she would sail while we were there.  Time marched on and there was no sign of her even preparing to leave so we guessed if she was going it would now be after the fireworks or sailings.

A few people turned out, having waited in their cars.  A elderly woman arrived with her dog and camera, asking if they'd had the fireworks yet and had heard on the news this was Rosie's 200th world cruise.  Gary appeared in the night complete with batteries in case they ran out like two years earlier.  As we were chatting the show began!

What a spectacular show Saga had put on once again.  They should be applauded.  I can only hope when it's time for Rosie to fly her paying off pennant it's a proper one rather than the pathetic joke Cunard made for the QE2.  The vast majority of people now left, including Gary.  Unfortunately we had a taxi booked for 10.30pm so had to wait in the freezing cold risking hypothermia.  There was no movement from Rosie and they took their time turning her party lights off.  With the cold it created illusions of movement.  Ruby was now not sailing until 11.30pm while Arcadia had been moved to 11.59pm.  We were chatting to a man who was giving it until 10pm then a bit longer.  He had been down in October when the QE2 had reversed into the Itchen but was on the Southampton side so peeved she hadn't turned so close.  I told him I'd been on it and explained how they'd been doing that since June.

The bloke had gone, leaving just me and my shivering dad.  Finally at 10.15pm we saw Rosie was moving and this time it was no illusion!  With the taxi due in fifteen minutes and her having to turn, this was a race against time.  Bloody uncooperative ships!  Wouldn't have them any other way, just not in Arctic winds.

The taxi arrived and the driver (who had been the one who took us down) agreed to wait until Rosie had passed so parked up.  Rosie was taking a little too long.  The tug left her but she seemed not to be moving.  Slowly she made her way forward and blasted three times to Ruby as she passed, Ruby responding with three of her own.

We went home then to warm up and defrost.  My dad was cold but I'm always affected by it more than him.  We've stalked in some cold weather before now but it was never this bad.  Even Arcadia and Aurora in December wasn't this bad and it was similar weather  Ruby slipped out just before 12.10am while Arcadia finally sailed on her first world cruise at 4pm on the 6th.

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© Patricia Dempsey 5th January 2009
Not to be reproduced without permission