Saga Pearl II
The latest Saga saga came to an end in Southampton on the 8th March 2010 - Saga Pearl II finally arrived!!!!  Saga had trouble buying the former Astoria to be originally Quest For Adventure.  After deciding to retire Saga Rose (which at time of writing is still waiting for a buyer off Gibraltar), they changed their plans and released brochures and renderings for Saga Pearl II.  Before purchase was complete, her owner went bust and she, plus their other ships, were arrested so her maiden the day Rosie had her farewell was cancelled.  She was moved from Barcelona to Gibraltar and there, on the 4th August 2009, Saga made their purchase of Astoria.  I saw her on the 14th there and she left for a Swansea shipyard on the 6th September.  Saga wanted to bring her into line with their current ship and spent millions doing it.  Her new maiden was set for the 15th March but she kept being delayed by various issue in the weeks leading up to it. Then on the 6th March at 8.11pm she actually moved and headed towards open sea less than four hours earlier than scheduled!  Rather disappointingly this meant a 6am arrival into Southampton and one I couldn't get down for.  But she was so slow and passed my house at 5.51am so there was no way she would get up to 106, turn and dock in nine minutes.  Just another hour and things would be more cooperative, including daylight....  But at least she was here.
After getting a couple of hours sleep, since she didn't dock until 6.30am in the end, we went over to get some photos. Whoever decided to dock her up the end is an idiot! There are two perfectly good terminals (QEII and City) just sitting therre idle and not being used until after the 15th. It was freezing! It had been -3C at 6am and the wind had been at least force 6 so glad in a way we couldn't get down.
Then we went back for the ferry and into the warm. We just missed the 10.30am so waited until 11am. To see photos of her last call to the city as Astoria in September 2008, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 8th March 2010
Not to be reproduced without permission