It was a sad day in Southampton on the 26th April 2011 when Artemis, which had flown the P&O flag since October 1984, sailed to Bremerhaven to begin her next career as Artania for Phoenix Reisen. She had been a regular in the city for over 10 years. Everyone knows she was named by the late Princess Diana (hence her name) and I honestly wish Princess had ditched the name when the ship was transferred to P&O. The name meant something the way Canberra had. It doesn’t for the current R ship (soon to replace her as Adonia) or the next one in two years time. After 6 years away from the ships due to various things between 1991 and 1997, I was slowly getting back into it all but still missed many. The first time I managed to catch her was in August 2001, when I went down for photos then filmed her sailing.
In May 2005 she ended her Princess career to become Artemis. She left late (not unusual!). It felt like a final goodbye even though it was just adieu.
June 2005 she returned, maintaining her tradition of lateness by returning two days later than scheduled – on the day of her naming! I wonder what P&O would have done if she’d still be in Bremerhaven or en route? She also sailed late for the naming. Artemis, for those who don’t know, is Diana in Greek or something so they kept that connection. It’s really no wonder I nicknamed her Hit & Miss because it was hit and miss whether she’d arrive or sail on time or at all!
I sailed on her in 2008 and went from not being a fan to being pleasantly surprised. I always intended to go again but price usually prevented that. And so we get to April 2011 and her final weeks under the P&O house flag, even though she had actually been sold in October 2009 and chartered back. Her farewell cruise began on the 12th where she again left late! This was over an hour.
She returned nearly 4 hours LATE on the 26th. Why am I not surprised??? She was down to leave for Bremerhaven at 6pm but guess what? Yep – she was late by nearly 45 minutes! But once she began, just like as Royal Princess, she slipped out and went forward rather than fully sideways.
So that’s the end of her P&O Princess life as she arrives in Bremerhaven on the 28th as she begins another stage in her long life. She won’t be a stranger though. She pops in twice this year as Artania and once next. When she does she will be completely transformed during the refit, emerging on the 25th May with new livery and a slightly new look ready for her maiden voyage on the 28th. They will add 96 balconies, redesign and modernisation several public rooms and cabins (bet they change the doors and/or handles to remove the current keyhole/card slot) and do a general overhaul. I can’t help wondering if she’ll still vibrate so much your teeth rattle – and that’s just in port! Sadly I’ll miss the next chapter in July as I’m on Aurora but intend to catch her second call so I can add the next chapter of Royal Artemis Artania Princess to my personal archive! Until then, I’m really going to miss that old rattletrap. An adorable bag of bolts with plenty of character.