Azura Maiden Voyage
A lovely day for the maiden voyage of Azura on the 12th April 2010.  Well it started that way.  As the afternoon wore on, the wind came up and clouds came over making it colder.  Southampton's newest girl was due to leave at 4.30pm, so I headed down to the marina.  At the bus stop was a lady going down to watch the sailing, as well as another on the bus.  It was fairly crowded when I arrived at the marina by 4pm but really chilly.  Two tugs, Sussex and Maddie, headed towards Ocean Dock, Sussex have a little test of the water spouts before carrying on.
And so we waited and waited and waited after I was picked up on the boat, getting hit badly by wash from the ferries and Red Jets.  There was a delay due to stores being loaded meaning her new departure was 6pm.  She'd been there since the 7th so no excuse!  Meanwhile we heard the band and saw them marching on the quayside as they played on and on and on and on and on.
Since the sailaway was late we asked one of the crew of Pathfinder, the new Southampton Patrol vessel, if we could just head up into Ocean Dock for some pics, since we were on the verge of packing in. No, we were told, then they proceeded up that way to stop anyone going in!
Good news!  She would now be leaving at 5.40pm - yay!  But we'd still have to go soon.  I phoned my dad earlier and he headed to the marina to meet me when I was dropped off.  Finally, bang on time, movement from the tugs and some ropes thrown from Azura.  I know she's a Southampton girl, but she doesn't need to be a diva like QE2 and QM2!  She's even more of a youngster than Mary so needs to earn it, but the spirit of the late Lizzie lives on!
Again nothing!  She still had a rope attached and was taking the piss now.  Ten minutes later the last rope was cast and she gave three blasts to signify reversing, then actually moved! My dad phoned, asking where I was.  "By Sussex," I told him.  I was meant to be dropped back at the marina by 6pm but there was a change of plan now things were actually happening.  Sorry, dad!
The spurting started as Maddie escorted Azura backwards and we kept moving back to avoid getting in the line of fire from Sussex when she edged towards us.
As Maddie and a Red Jet were disappearing from view, Azura blasted away but sadly it wasn't much.  Then she went forward, Surrey and Sussex continuing as her wet escorts.
And so that was that.  I was dropped off at the marina, jumping onto the pontoon before my friend whizzed off, and up to where my dad had been waiting then headed home.  As we left, we bumped into Geoff.  Been a fast four years since waiting for Freedom of the Seas! To see photos of Azura's arrival, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 12th April 2010
Not to be reproduced without permission