Caribbean Princess, Adventure of the Seas, Balmoral, Azura & AIDAstella
An early start on the 24th May 2013.  I hadn't yet seen Adventure of the Seas or AIDAstella in Southampton as I was away for both of Stella's previous calls while missed Addy on the 5th and 7th because I was on Norwegian Breakaway to New York then 9th due to my body clock still being on US time after arriving home the previous day.  Addy was the typical Royal Caribbean early bird, as was Caribbean Princess, annoyingly docked the wrong way round in Mayflower Terminal.  That left us to get Balmoral, Azura and the AIDA.
We headed out into the cold and as we reached the cake shop, it started to spit.  Balmoral was rapidly approaching as we walked down the marina.  We spotted both of the swans were out rather than mother on the nest so wondered what happened to their babies.  There was also a Little Egret which appeared to be camera shy, hopping to another rock when I pointed the camera at it.  Azura was behind but we had plenty of time to get to the front for her.  This was the first time I had seen Addy in City Terminal and it looked like Indy had shrunk!  After five years of being used to Indy there, Addy didn't half look small.  Meanwhile, Caribbean Princess strongly reminded me of Grand as she sat there, handled arse facing Mayflower Park.  As Balmoral neared Addy to become dwarfed, the heavens opened and wind whipped up, which is no fun at the best of times but even less so with my back and knee.  There was something wrong with Hotspur, which was about to start the crossings from Hythe, only then Ashleigh R appeared from Ocean Village.  They had the Solent Rose there as back up so it was a mystery why they weren't using that.  Too small?  Too open?  Too crap in this weather?  AIDAstella was early, and would be docking earlier than her listed 7.30am.  I hadn't seen her either in Southampton up to this point, but did spot her in the distance from Aurora at the end of April.  It was constant musical pontoons as Hotty kept making way for Ashleigh R until they just moored her behind.  AIDAstella turning at Dock Head and went astern into QEII instead of turning in front of Azura and also brought the sun out as she did so.  Pity it clouded over again and rained but it was nice while it lasted.
Home and we were lucky to get the bus since it was about another hour's wait.  I had intended to go back down in the afternoon for the departures of at least four of them but the weather had worsened and it had been bad enough in the morning with my aches, so I waited by the windy window.  Caribbean Princess wasn't originally sailing until 5pm but it was delayed until 8pm, maybe because of Heathrow being closed after the emergency with the British Airways plane, and would require two tugs.  The AIDA wasn't going until 8pm, which left the rest at the usual 4.30pm.  Jordan Bailey was on Addy and ready for his next cruise.  First of all Azura was delayed to 4.45pm then Addy was, due to waiting for 'cargo', though would go at 4.45pm regardless.  Balmoral kicked things off by going first followed by Addy and finally Azura with the assistance of tug Ferriby, and had a horn battle with the AIDA.

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© Patricia Dempsey 24th May 2013
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