Mein Schiff 2 (I) UK Debut & MSC Poesia
On the 17th May 2011 we were originally due some return visitors.  MSC Opera was now doing cruises, MSC Poesia made her Southampton debut eight months earlier but the main attraction was Mein Schiff 2, which last visited these shores as Mercury for Celebrity Cruises in 1997.  It was almost a year to the day Mein Schiff (now known as Mein Schiff 1) had called.  Mein Schiff 2 had ended her Celebrity career after docking in Baltimore on the 26th February and, after destoring, headed across the Atlantic on the 2nd March to Lloyd-Werft shipyward in Bremerhaven where her conversaion to the new role would take place from the 14th March-20th April.  The maiden voyage was the 15th May, with Southampton as the first port on it.  She would be arriving first for an annoying 7am followed by Poesia at 8am and Opera 9am.  And speaking of Opera, she failed to return from her first Southampton cruise after an engine reportedly blew up on either the 13th or 14th, depending on which contradictory media source you read.  The earliest AIS history showed her with a problem from 0105 UTC and she was eventually towed to Nynäshamn in Sweden by Svitzer Trym, where she anchored on the 16th and tendered the passengers.  I had planned to see her first sailing but my swollen feet caused by a previously undiagnosed underactive thyroid prevented that.  MSC were downplaying the incident but not the way John Heald spouted rubbish after Carnival Splendor's engine problem about six months ago (the report proved what was written in the blog to be untrue) so you knew it was major.  Naturally the next cruise for Opera today was cancelled.  MSC said it was "in order to maintain its high standard of security, quality and comfort."  Truth is, being stuck anchored off the coast of Sweden instead of being at sea en route from Copenhagen today she couldn't get home in time so why not just say that?  What has security got to do with anything?  On Twitter, they replied to young Ben Montgomery with, "Hi Ben, we sorted the problem out. All passengers will ripatriate from Stochkolm today." (sic)  When I asked if they had any idea when she's be back in Southampton, I got the party line of: "Next cruise has been cancelled, in order to maintain its high standard of security, quality and comfort."  I received a reply asking if she'd be back for the 27th May or 4th June. "Yes I do.It should not be any problem on 25th May or 4th June.Anyway, we will keep you all up to date." (sic)  The 25th was my mistake because I have it on the brain, probably because it'll be six months since my mum died.  They issued this after 6pm: "We have read that there was an explosion onboard MSC Opera on the 14th May but, just to clarify: There was no explosion on board.  The engine power was lost on Saturday as a result of a drop of tension that caused an electrical panel problem. The short circuit might have resulted in some noise, but NO FIRE NEITHER SMOKE WERE INVOLVED. Passenger and crew were never in danger."  That's us all told!  But will the media pay attention or continue exaggerating?

Anyway, back to the ones who actually arrived this morning.  Both remaining ships were due to pick the pilot up at 5am according to the AIS.  Mein Schiff 2 was due first at 7am and was originally going to be starboard in Ocean Terminal.  Poesia was always second, scheduled for 8am, they had her half an hour earlier and then 7.45am. Opera, had she been okay, woould have been last for 9am.  When I was jumped on by dogs at 4.30am, I checked the AIS and saw Mein Schiff 2 already had the pilot and was just by Portsmouth - cheeky cow!  Poesia was still a while away.  Due to being unable to get a taxi before 5.45am if we were lucky and no buses until after 6am, we decided to walk.  The usual twenty minute journey took over half an hour due to my dad's legs and my back.  All these hills plays havoc with it.  Think the physio will accept photographing ships as part of the exercises she gave me?  It was nice and mild, Hythe like a ghost town apart from one van going through.  When we reached the marina, she was coming around Calshot while Poesia had her pilot.  As Mein Schiff 2 docked, Poesia was in sight at Calshot.  Unless there were people the other side of the lock, we were the only ones down apart from a couple of joggers.  We sat on the wall to shelter from the wind and I realised it was where I'd been for the last visit of Poesia, when my dad had to stay with my terminally ill mum and I did my first solo stalking.  This time he could see the MSC in all her full-length glory instead of part-hidden by trees and a house!

Poesia docked before 7.30am in the end and left at 5pm. Mein Schiff 2 sailed at 8pm but both would return in September.  Meanwhile in the Baltic, Opera and her tug, Svitzer Trym headed to Gydnia, arriving late the following night.  To see a very bad photo of Mein Schiff 2 as Mercury, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 17th May 2011
Not to be reproduced without permission
12th April 2017