MSC Opera, Ventura & Balmoral
MSC Opera was due to sail on her now second cruise from Southampton on the 27th May 2011.  Ventura arrived at around 7am while Balmoral was late, scheduled for noon due to bad weather.  I had a visit to MSC Opera that morning, courtesy of an invitation from MSC two days before so hopped over on the ferry.  Much to my disappointment Great Ex was back.  The weather was cold and windy, has it had been for days.  I just hoped it wouldn't rain!  It also gave me a chance to get close up pictures of Titan before she left later for anchorage.
I had a text from my friend Fay around noon saying Balmoral had passed Ryde, which answered my question about whether she'd arrived or not.  As I was going around Opera, I kept an eye out sand the best view was from the restaurant as we'd just sat down for lunch.
Afterwards I went to Mayflower Park to await Opera's sailing, which was still listed for 4pm despite inaccurate media reports saying she'd been detained.  The Maritime & Coastguard Agency report was dated the 25th but released that morning.  It hadn't said what they were concerned about so the media made things up, meaning the public believed wrongly the ship still had problems when it was the emergency drill they were reportedly unhappy with.  Despite an MCA spokesman saying as much on South Today that evening, the media failed to put the correct information out there.  I fully understood why MSC had been so angry over false reports two weeks earlier (which also the lazy media never corrected).  All they (and Paul Clifton, who had been at the terminal as we left after the visit) cared about was putting two and two together and coming up with crap.  While we were on the crew were going through their third drill since Wednesday and the MCA must have been happy enough to let passengers embark and do muster at 4.15pm, her new sailing time half an hour later.  Her time was changed again to 6pm so we decided to go home.  The cold had given me a sinus headache.  Balmoral was already listed to sail at 6.30pm instead of 6pm after her 1pm arrival and we'd already agreed not to wait for that, since she'd have to turn so it would be ages.  That left only Ventura, which was meant to go at 4.30pm but was moving as we waited to board the 5pm ferry home.
Balmoral let go at 6.30pm and passed us at 7.06pm.  Typically the flipping weather had vastly improved - grrr!  Meanwhile Opera let got at 6.50pm and was came into view at 7.14pm - hooray!  One in the eye for idiotic journalists who couldn't even get the time she sailed right!
To see photos of the visit to MSC Opera from earlier that day, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 27th May 2011
Not to be reproduced without permission