MSC Virtuosa, Britannia (II) & Iona UK Debut
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all cruise lines suspended operations from various dates in March 2020.  The brand new 184,089grt Iona made her long-overdue debut in her home port of Southampton on the 16th May 2021.  Originally due to sail on her maiden voyage on the 14th May 2020, the pandemic delayed the building, eventually being handed over in October.  In the interim, she has been in Bremerhaven, Skagen, Rotterdam and made an overnight visit to Kristiansand to test the shore power, arriving on the 29th April.  Returning to Skagen on the 2nd May, she remained for nine days then made one final call to Rotterdam on the 14th.  Her arrival was originally 7am but it was changed to 11am then 10.30am and finally 10am.  MSC Virtuosa had arrived on the 12th while Britannia returned in the morning.  The weather was atrocious but it didn't keep the crowds away, blocking people's views.  Moira Taylor and Stephen Brooke were also there.  She picked up the pilot at 7am and noisily made her way home, tugs Lomax and Svitzer Harty giving her a fireboat welcome. before Harty switched off and went to stern duties while Svitzer Eston attached to the bow.  The rain held off as she neared Hythe pier and Britannia greeted the new flagship.  I was chatting to some people whose son-in-law is First Officer and had been on and off for over a year.  The Hythe ferry, Jenny Blue, went out with Lee Rayment so he could get photos before returning to the pier.  When the rain came down again, complete with wind that time, most buggered off.  Britannia is staing until the 19th, Virtuosa the 20th and Iona the 25th.
For photos of the rest of the Coronavirus Southampton lay-up ships, go to 2020 and 2021 in the Southampton Stalking Index.

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© Patricia Dempsey 16th May 2021
Not to be reproduced without permission