Azura, MSC Magnifica, Saga Sapphire & Oasis of the Seas Southampton Debut
Almost five years late, Oasis of the Seas finally came up Southampton Water on the 15th October 2014.  Despite media reports saying it's her first time in the UK, she actually picked up the pilot at Nab Tower on the 2nd November 2009 and dropped two hundred ship yard workers off in the Solent near Portsmouth.  So it's actually her first time IN Southampton.  Before that, three others were due - Azura for 6.30am, Sapphy at 7pm and Magnifica half an hour later.  There was fog so thick despite many forecasts not mentioning it while one which did said light mist.  Due to a bad fall I had on the 1st October, I was using crutches and, with a swollen and bruised left knee and shin plus agony trying to walk on my right foot, I would be unable to stand to get any photos so we went early to bag a seat where hopefully cretins would have some consideration and not block my view.  We caught the bus, hearing Azura blasting her fog horn.  Once in Hythe, we heard Azura still plus Magnifica pretty nearby yet, despite being able to see the lights at the end of the marina and pier, we could not see a 95,000grt cruise ship.  Magnifica was thirty-five minutes early, which hadn't helped.  There was still Sapphy, who we heard from miles away but didn't see until she had passed the pier.  Her timing was better, daylight coming plus the fog lifting.  Once Sapphy began to swing before going astern to dock, the Red Jets enjoyed a return to normal speed until the fog enveloped everything again!  Some people turned up, not realising there was another three hour wait for the main attraction, but the bloke was fascinated playing 'Spot the Sapphy' with us before going home for over an hour.  John and Roz Kennedy arrived and we had a chat before being joined by Anthony Marshall and Jordan Bailey.  By now, a few more people were arriving, fog had lifted but it was absolutely freezing as the wind had picked up.  No cretin had blocked my view until Daniel Gosling got there and, after a brief chit chat, promptly set up his tripod in the way, followed by Jordan while Anthony made up the trio.  Despite telling them they were going to be in my way and I can't stand to take photos, Dan scoffed and they all stayed firmly put.  As a result of this surprising selfishness from people who had known about my injury since it happened and I'd believed were considerate, I had to move onto a rock, balancing myself with my bad foot.  Afterwards, Dan asked if I'd got it and despite my berating him for what he did, he offered no apology for causing me so much extra pain and discomfort.  All three also offered no apology, preferring to ignore, as they returned to the ferry for the trip back to Southampton.  Thanks to them, I was in too much pain to go over to Mayflower Park so headed home, hoping I would be able to sometime that day.
After resting my foot and knee as much as I could, it was time to head out to a hopefully quieter Mayflower Park for photos.  Thankfully by then too the pontoon wasn't as risky for me as it had been in the morning but I had to walk down the pier since getting off the train would have been a nightmare!  Now I could see this baby close up.  Having previously seen her in the Solent in 2009, Port Everglades in 2011 and at sea in the middle of the night in 2013, it was only once alongside the summer home of Independence and Adventure you could really get a decent size comparison.  I had to get my usual Dock Gate framing pic, which I began with Freedom in 2006 and noticed others have done since.  I had major trouble getting this done since I couldn't crouch but with a little help, it was recorded.  I look forward to the day normality returns but you certainly find out just how uneven pavements and roads are using crutches.  Mayflower Park in particular needs serious work done caused, probably, by the bloody boat show.  Thankfully most of the path back to the ferry has been and it's bliss!  Because I'm now even slower getting around than my dad, we missed the 3.30pm ferry so waited for the four o'clock.  Quick hello/goodbye to Fay Jordan (I'm instantly recognisable with crutches) as we went for our ferry and she awaited the next Red Jet, then I noticed Sapphy began to drop her lines as the ferry arrived but thankfully hadn't got far by the time we moved off.  She gave three blasts which were difficult to hear in the wind then was obscured by Red Eagle as we neared the pier.  I could do the train back and take my time getting off, but still had to go down the ramp in the rain than steps.  We waited for Azura, who we knew would be late as muster had been 4pm then caught the bus home.
Since Magnifica was scheduled for 6pm and had to turn, we went home.  As it was, she left thirty-five minutes late but at least the rain had cleared.  We also decided not to go back for the midnight sailing of Oasis due to my injuries.  She too had to turn and didn't reach my house until 1am.
To see photos of Oasis in the Solent back in 2009, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 15th October 2014
Not to be reproduced without permission