Farewell Nellie

It was a sad day for the Jubilee Sailing Trust and its supporters as their flagship, Lord Nelson, was decommissioned on the 11th October 2019. The weather that day summed up the mood, although it wasn’t as bad as the forecast had said with spells of light rain instead of constant downpours and 50mph winds all day.

She and Tenacious had completed the Battle of the Barques in the Solent instead of going further afield due to weather (Which the Nellie won) and just after 9am, they raised their anchors and headed home, Nellie leading the way. Her paying off pennant was unfurled as she was near Ocean Terminal.

The decommissioning ceremony was being held in Ocean Terminal between 2pm-6pm with both ships alongside and the Nellie open to view. Due to weather, it was held inside. There was a good turnout to say goodbye, supporters and those who sailed on either or both ships. I spoke to some people, disabled and able-bodied who loved the ships and enjoyed the opportunity they gave them.

Before the service began was the Battle of the Barques presentation. Duncan Souster, CEO, followed as he opened the ceremony, talking about the history of the JST, how they came to own the Nellie, right up to the present day difficulties due to various conditions which led to the decision to decommission their much-loved flagship. Some speeches couldn’t be heard very well, which was a shame.

Click to enlarge

The plaque reads: Original Oak from Nelson’s Flagship HMS Victory

The queue to visit the Nellie had receded after the buffet lunch so I took the opportunity to have a look around before heading home. It was easy to see why she is so beloved by those who sailed on her.

The Nellie is scheduled to leave her berth in Southampton and head to Bristol to be laid up by M Shed, where she will undertake maintenance until she is sold.

One thing I took away from yesterday was how they weren’t just passengers and crew yesterday, like when a cruise ship leaves the fleet. It was a family saying goodbye to a much loved member. That connection everyone involved has with the charity and vessels is unique and long may it continue.

More information about the Jubilee Sailing Trust or how to donate can be found on their website. https://jst.org.uk/

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Cunard World Club

Cunard is one of the last cruise lines to still decide loyalty tier based on number of cruises. When P&O took over management from the end of 2007 and changed many things, I was surprised this unfair system remained. Likewise when HAL Group subsequently became managers in July 2017.

Currently the tiers stand as this:

Silver – One cruise completed
Gold – Two voyages or 20 nights
Platinum – Seven voyages or 70 nights
Diamond – Fifteen voyages or 150 nights.

Many other lines changed theirs due to people booking mostly short cruises to rise up the tiers yet Cunard, with it’s numerous ones, has now far too many Diamonds.

There were rumours in 2012 of a revamp, going to points per night and introducing a Sapphire tier. Nothing happened.

Is it fair a Diamond, having accumulated 30 nights by only doing 2 night Hamburg cruises for example, receive the same benefits as someone with over 200 or 2000 nights?

I am currently Diamond with 93 nights. I don’t mind going back down to Platinum as long as there is a fairer system in its place, which is far too long overdue.

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Royal Society of Marine Artists Exhibition

Entry price £8. For free admittance for two, tell them you read about the exhibition on this blog at the gallery desk.

Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition celebrates the Sea and includes paintings depicting Cruise Ships and their destinations

Generations of artists have sought inspiration from the sea and that tradition continues today. The annual exhibition will feature some 400 works, by RSMA members and a new generation of artists who have discovered the fascination of the sea. These works, in a wide range of styles, sizes and media, capture the many moods of the sea and the coast and offer something to delight everyone.

Douglas Gray RSMA’s QE2 New York, shows the Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner arriving in New York. Designed for the transatlantic service from her home port of Southampton to New York, the QE2 was operated by Cunard as both a transatlantic liner and a cruise ship from 1969 to 2008. 

The Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA) is widely recognised as the focal point for much of Britain’s finest contemporary marine art and many of the country’s leading marine artists are elected members of the Society.

The common theme is the sea and tidal waters although, within that remit, members work is wide and varied. Subjects range from deep water shipping to coastal scenes, competitive sailing to quiet harbours, marine wildlife to still-life. Some members specialise in carefully researched historical paintings; others paint en plein air, attempting to capture the essence of the scene at a particular moment in time; yet others work in their studio from copious notes and sketches made on location.

All works are for sale.

Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition
10 to 19 October, 10am to 5pm 
Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1


Images: Douglas Gray RSMA QE2 New York
Paul Banning RSMA The Road to Point Radix Trinidad; Douglas Gray RSMA Autumn Light, London; Fred Beckett RSMA Porto Rafael, Sardinia

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Saga Sapphire & Spirit of Discovery in Dover

The 4th July 2019 had the former Saga flagship meeting the new one in their only time in either of their homeports before Sapphire leaves the fleet in May 2020.

Since I had seen Sapphire and Ruby on the same date in 2013 and the final joint departure of Sapphire and Pearl eleven months earlier, I headed to Dover to see this occasion.

Discovery had sailed on her showcase at lunchtime a day late on the 3rd and returned for 9pm after sailing past Saga HQ and tootled about. Sapphire arrived at 1am on the 4th and sailed almost three hours late.

Discovery is being named by The Duchess of Cambridge on the 5th but, unlike other ceremonies worldwide, there will be no fireworks and she’s already had what is usuallt the press jolly.

Instead she will sail on another showcase on the 8th followed by the fireworks at 9.45pm as she sets out on her maiden voyage on the 10th.

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New Visitor Centre Plans at Greenock

Plans have been approved for an iconic building on the banks of the Clyde at Greenock to welcome cruise ship passengers.

The plans, approved today (03.04.19) by Inverclyde planning board, are for a new visitor centre, restaurant and gallery at Greenock Ocean Terminal.

The overall project, led by Inverclyde Council, is part of the Glasgow City Region City Deal and aims to provide a new berthing facility and visitor centre to boost cruise ship passengers welcomed to Scotland through the Greenock facility operated by Peel Ports.

Now a key milestone, planning permission, has been granted.

In addition to the state of the art visitor centre welcoming cruise ship passengers from across the world, the plans also include a purpose built gallery celebrating the work of Inverclyde resident and artist George Wyllie (1921-2012) and a new restaurant with panoramic views across the Clyde.

As part of the outline business case published by Inverclyde Council, it is estimated that over 150,000 passengers could pass through Greenock Ocean Terminal delivering £26m in annual visitor and crew spend to the Scottish economy.

Inverclyde Council Leader Councillor Stephen McCabe said: “Planning application approval is an important milestone in the delivery of this project as part of the Glasgow City Region City Deal. The aim of the project is to boost the capacity at Greenock Ocean Terminal for cruise ships.  The addition of a restaurant and Wyllie Gallery will help to provide a year round attraction for visitors to Greenock and Inverclyde at this iconic building on the banks of Clyde.

“As a key City Deal project, the new visitor centre at Greenock Ocean Terminal aims to make a significant contribution to economic growth and international tourism across the wider city region area.”

Councillor David Wilson, Inverclyde planning board convener, welcomed the approval of the planning application. He said: “This is a welcome application and one the board where wholehearted in their approval. Inverclyde has a great deal to offer the visitor whether coming to Scotland by cruise ship from all over the world or visiting from other parts of the United Kingdom.  The new visitor centre, gallery and restaurant will enhance the offer to domestic and overseas visitors. The economic value of the cruise ship sector to Scotland is a key part of this project and its value to the country, particularly with the potential to substantially grow in future years, should not be underestimated.”

The proposal for a new Wyllie Gallery showcasing the life and work of the artist will also stage important exhibitions and events celebrating contemporary artists from across Scotland and further afield.

When the planning application was submitted, artist George Wyllie’s elder daughter, Louise Wyllie, said: “Inverclyde Council’s vision in realising this complex project is to be applauded.

“It has always been an ambition of The George Wyllie Foundation to celebrate and mark my father’s life and work in Inverclyde; an area which he loved and which was the lifeblood of all his art works.

“This exciting development at Ocean Terminal in Greenock marks a sea-change in the Foundation’s on-going voyage to mark his legacy as a ground-breaking artist and to make more people aware of his life’s work.

“Although making and creating art – be it music, plays or sculpture – was always a big part of his life, my father worked as a Customs and Excise officer for many years in this very spot. I know he would be thrilled that an world-class art space, designed by award-winning architect, Richard Murphy, was going to be part of a bigger picture which aims to inject new life into this area of Greenock.

Louise, who is also a trustee of the George Wyllie Foundation, added: “Giving access to arts for all was always part of my father’s approach to creativity and we can’t wait to get started on a host of exciting arts-for-all projects.”

The Greenock Ocean Terminal project to create a visitor centre and berthing facility is expected to cost £14.7m as part of the £1bn Glasgow City Region City Deal which is funded equally by the Scottish and UK governments.

The proposal for a new visitor centre landmark building for Greenock is being developed by Richard Murphy Architects, one of Scotland’s most celebrated architect firms. The company has won an unprecedented 22 RIBA Awards.

The visitor centre is scheduled for completion in 2020.

This link will take you to a digital fly through of the proposed new visitor centre.

The Glasgow City Region City Deal is an agreement between the UK Government, the Scottish Government and eight local authorities across Glasgow and the Clyde Valley. It will fund major infrastructure projects, create thousands of new jobs and assist thousands of unemployed people back to work, as well as improving public transport and connectivity, driving business innovation and growth and generating billions of pounds of private sector investment. The eight Scottish local authorities in the Glasgow City Region City Deal are: East Dunbartonshire Council; East Renfrewshire Council;  Glasgow City Council; Inverclyde Council; North Lanarkshire Council; Renfrewshire Council; South Lanarkshire Council and West Dunbartonshire Council.

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Carnival Comes to Southampton!

Finally, after having Carnival UK & pkc based in the city, the port of Southampton finally gets to see another Carnival ship after Fascination in 1994!

When they have sailed from the UK in the past, Dover has been their base. They return there briefly in June 2020 with Carnival Legend.

But three months later, on the 9th September, their newest ship, Mardi Gras, visits the home of Carnival UK!

A sister to Iona for P&O, she will no doubt berth in Ocean Terminal, which is currently undergoing phase 1 of a million pound upgrade to welcome Iona in May 2020, paid for in part by Carnival.

After a 9 night inaugural cruise from Denmark, she sets sail from Southampton on a 14 night trip across to New York.

I look forward to seeing the whale tail over the port!

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras Inaugural

Mardi Gras Crossing

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ABP Southampton & Carnival Revamp Ocean Terminal

ABP have announced Ocean Terminal will be expanded to accommodate larger ships, including P&O’s new Iona, which enters service in May 2020. All ships scheduled to use that berth after Queen Mary 2 on the 4th November 2018 have been moved to another.


A £12 million package of investment to support further growth in the cruise sector is due to begin in October at the Port of Southampton.

The Ocean Terminal is being upgraded to accommodate the growing demand from cruise lines for ever larger ships to call at Southampton. This work, which will take just over a year to complete, will further strengthen the port’s position as Northern Europe’s leading cruise port.

This project, being carried out in partnership with Southampton-based Carnival UK, will enable P&O Cruises’ newest flagship to home port in Southampton from Spring 2020. Iona will be the next generation of P&O Cruises ships, and is the first British cruise ship to be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas), paving the way for the future of cruising. Iona is currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and will be launched in May 2020.

ABP Southampton director Alastair Welch, said: “We continually invest in the port to adapt and develop to meet our customers’ growing needs, and we are committed to ensuring that this growth happens in the most environmentally sustainable way. We are very supportive of cruise lines embracing LNG power for their vessels.”

Carnival UK VP port & shore operations, Steven Young said: “Bigger ships introduce greater operational complexity and we are pleased to be working alongside ABP and our port community on this series of improvements to the terminal ahead of welcoming Iona in 2020.”

Iona is the first of two new vessels of this class for P&O Cruises, with the next ship on order to be delivered in 2022. The additional work to accommodate these new vessels, each of them with a capacity of 5,200 guests, will increase the passenger capacity at the terminal by 50%.

Along with infrastructure improvements to the quayside and within the terminal itself, the existing 2,000 roof-mounted solar panel facility will be expanded, further improving the port’s environmental credentials.

The Port of Southampton currently welcomes over 2 million passengers each year on more than 500 cruise calls. Each visit to the port generates around £2 million for the local economy. 

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