Celebrity Eclipse & Silver Spirit Southampton Debut
Another new ship arrived in Southampton on the 7th May 2010.  Silversea's new 36,000grt Silver Spirit was due for 7.30am, staying overnight and due to sail on the 8th at 5pm.  She entered service on the 23rd December 2009 on a maiden voyage from Barcelona to Lisbon before crossing the Atlantic on the 3rd January, arrving in Fort Lauderdale on the 19thand being named on the 21st.  She did a 91 night cruise rounding Cape Horn before returning to New York on the 23rd April and re-crossing the Atlantic, calling at Boston, Halifax, St. John's (Newfoundland), Cobh, Cardiff and Plymouth, before ending up on my doorstep.  It had been three years since a Silversea ship had called and this was the first of two, Silver Whisper popping in later this year.  In 2011 they will have three ships calling, including this one. She is also the first newbuild possibly since Queen Mary 2 to have deck on the stern instead of cabins, though I'm prepared to be corrected.  It makes a change anyway.  Top marks Silversea!  We went down the marina, catching the first bus.  Celebrity Eclipse was already in and bunkering.  We were the only ones down there, which wasn't surprising considering the weather was more winter than spring. I have never know it so bitterly cold in May.  At 6.43am we finally saw her emerge from around the tankers at Esso.  She's so small we knew there was no chance seeing her at Calshot.  The sun was just coming up creating a slight sunrise among the dense cloud.
We went home to defrost.  If she hadn't been docking in QEII, we'd have left sooner.  In the afternoon I went back down alone.  Hotspur was tied up alongside for some reason with Ashleigh R borrowed from Blue Funnel again.  Why don't they buy another ferry?  Hotspur II had been for sale some time ago, had a complete refurb, but they ignored it.  I was picked up at the marina about 4.15pm and it was reasonable but quite bumpy as we pulled away and meandered around Southampton Water.
Despite having the radio on channel 12 according to regulations, we missed the pilot when he said Eclipse was shoving off.  We hadn't even heard her blast, but then it was still very windy.  It was only when he said they were at Pier Head buoy, we turned around and sped back to do our literal stalking.
They managed to get Hotspur working again and as we went behind Eclipse, we saw the gorgeous little ferry chugging away behind the larger vessel.
That's where we left her and we turned to drop me back at the marina, hitting her wash and being thrown around as we did thirty knots.  That made it very difficult to get a final shot as she passed Fawley but I managed a couple of fairly decent ones.  I then took one final shot from the marina as she rounded Calshot.
And so I went home in more pain than I had been due to an ongoing problem with my side, but sated I had a great literal stalking day.  To see photos of Silver Spirit sailing the following day, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 8th May 2010
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