Adonia (II), Grand Princess, Celebrity Eclipse & Aurora
Grand Princess returned for her fourth Southampton season on the 21st May 2011 only there was something a little different about her.  Well a LOT different actually - she'd become Decapitated Princess after they removed Skywalkers, her world-famous handle during her April refit in Freeport, Bahamas!  I had booked a cruise for later this year specifically so I could watch the world go by from inside the handle and they chopped it off!  Must've known I was coming - hehe!  My friend, the late journalist Steve Read, had reported back in December it would happen but Princess refused to comment, only telling him there would be an announcement in January.  During the final, middle of the night conversation I had with him just before he died suddenly at the beginning of February, he was convinced he'd be eating humble pie.  Despite my saying if he was wrong, he could say he was reporting a rumour but if it WASN'T true, why didn't they deny it, he wouldn't be convinced.  Five days after that conversation they announced it and he had been right!  Oh for just another five days, Steve!  They had made several other changes internally too as well as losing 200grt from her 109,000 tonnage.  So her return today was somewhat bittersweet since there had been such a huge connection with Steve and I really wished he had been here today with his huge and very heavy camera doing another Video Diary using her as a backdrop!  Mind you, he'd have had to do it either before boarding Adonia or from her because was named at 3.30pm by Dame Shirley Bassey. Aurora and Eclipse were also in on this wonderful day, weatherwise.  Eclipse was in the news this day but for a sad reason.  A thirty-one year old Filipino crew member jumped overboard near Cherbourg, apparently because his contract ended today and he didn't want to go home.  Adonia would be sailing the following day while Grand was 4pm and the other two half an hour later.
Okay, well being ship nuts yourselves you know things NEVER go to plan!  First of all a car carrier left at 4pm and we thought Grand would go next.  We should be so lucky!  She had better timekeeping before she was decapitated!  Grand finally singled up about 4.30pm then just stayed put for another fifteen minutes as Florida Highway left, gave one miserble fart - I mean parp, then edged away from the berth.  I couldn't help thinking of my first Aurora cruise in September 2007 when Grand was also docked there, we passed and blast mania ensued, unlike this time when both were annoyingly silent!  Lost her voice as well as her handle???  A few minutes later, Eclipse moved too.  Trying to take the attention away from Grand?  Sorry, all focus was on the decapitated one!  Finally, as Eclipse neared the gorgeous one, she threw her lines and began to back out.
The sky really was that colour and I'm proud to say no photoshop was used to create it.  These days it's overused, making things look fake.  I don't even own a copy and never will.  I prefer things natural since that's what a video will show as well as the naked eye.  To see photos of Grand as she was, just click on any link in the stalking index between 2007 and 2010.

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© Patricia Dempsey 21st May 2011
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