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There have been some interesting cruise ship happenings at Southampton recently.

(Image copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker, and used with his permission.)

First was the arrival of P&O’s new ship ‘Ventura’, described by the line as “The Superliner designed for Britain”. Well, OK – although it’s about the 8th or 9th ship based on the original ‘Grand Princess’ design, there are a lot of changes specifically to appeal to the British market. For example, Brits tend not to gamble on cruises, so they’ve reduced the casino to an area just a third the size of what it is on the Princess ships. And in the space they’ve put – a bar! Yes, they discovered that Brits like to drink on cruises. it must be all that gambling we’re not doing….. Alternatively, perhaps we just like to drink – any excuse and all that.

Ventura arrived on a cold 6 April, then did a pre-Maiden Voyage voyage (I mentioned this in an earlier blog), then entertained industry visitors before an official naming ceremony on 16 April, followed by the beginning of the official Maiden Voyage on 18 April. Here’s a link to some pictures of her during that period.

At the end of last week “Independence of the Seas” (IoTS from now on) arrived in Southampton. Sister to Freedom of the Seas – FoTS – and Liberty of the Seas = LoTS – (who dreams up these names?!?), IoTS and her sisters are the joint-largest cruise ships in the world, as regards gross registered tonnage. IoTS will be based in Southampton for this summer season, as will Ventura, the rest of the P&O fleet, plus of course ships from various other lines. There must be a lot of Brits going on cruises these days!

copyright Aad Hoogesteger and used with his permission

(copyright Aad Hoogesteger and used with his permission.)

But even the keenest fans of P&O and RCI will agree that the week’s most spectacular event was the meeting of the 3 Queens in Southampton on the 22nd. This wasn’t originally scheduled to happen – the after-dark encounter in New York in early January was supposed to be the only time it would – but I believe QEII’s schedule was amended by having some repair work arranged, and thus it came about that all three Cunarders – Queen Elizabeth 2, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria – were in Southampton at the same time. Unfortunately living in Yorkshire (and being at work) I wasn’t able to get to it, but I have been reading accounts, and looking at pictures, with great interest. Here’s a link to a good set of pictures of the event and here’s a link to John Heald’s blog (he was on QM2) which has an account of the day, and a lot of pictures. By the sound of it, it was an occasion to savour and remember. I suspect that pictures of the ‘3 Queens’ on April 22 2008 will be appearing for a long time.

There are some excellent pictures around of all these events – if I can get in touch with one or two of the picture-takers and ask nicely, I may be able to use one or two of them here.

One Response to “Ventura, Independence of The Seas, and the 3 Queens”

  1. […] The most recent Three Queens gathering at Southampton was on 22 April 2008. At that time the ‘Three Queens’ were Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and QEII, so it wasn’t quite the same as the forthcoming event. Also that gathering was unscheduled – QEII was only in Southampton because she was having some remedial or repair work done, and she should originally have been at sea. But she wasn’t, so the unexpected gathering happened. I blogged about it (and some other Southampton ship arrivals) here. […]

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