Independence of the Seas, Oriana (II), Azura & Astor (II)
On the 14th July 2012, a rare visitor would be arriving in the shape of Astor.  She usually calls at other UK ports so would be a very welcome sight in these waters again after too long.  Since I'd last seen her in Zeebrugge back in 2008, the original Transocean Tours went bust in 2009 and a new company was formed by Premicon called Transocean Kreuzfahrten.  Astor was kept on and given tiny makeover, adding suites, balconies and redesigning bars and restaurants.  Early start then, since she was sailing at 8pm.  Original the order was Indy for 5.15am as usual so doesn't count since they're far too early for action, Azura returning from their Grand Event cruise at 6.30am, Oriana fifteen minutes later and Astor making up the numbers at 7am.  Oriana decided she was going to do what she'd been denied at the Grand Event - lead!  She had already passed Fawley when I saw her, closely followed by Azura while Astor was around the Hook just after 6am so was going to be early girl.
As they were all more or less docked by quarter to seven we went home glad it hadn't rained!  Astor's 8pm departure time was changed from 8pm to 8.15pm and she moved a bit after that, taking her 444 passengers back home to Bremerhaven.  It was a shame the light was getting crap, partly due to the clouds.
It had been wonderful welcoming her back to Southampton after all these years.  It wouldn't be the last I'd see of her this year as there were two times coming in September.  To see a photo of Astor from a previous call in 1988, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 14th July 2012
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