Earlier this month we had not only a Southampton first, but a UK one, when Silversea did a turnaround on the same day with Silver Cloud and Silver Whisper. They were bow to bow in Mayflower Terminal and it was a fantastic day. On the 28th we have another first when Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas meets sister line’s Celebrity Eclipse in their home port. It’s been a loooooooooooooooong time coming, mainly because it’s only in the past few years we’ve had anything based here.
Our first Royal Caribbean visitor was Monarch of the Seas in October 1991 and up until Jewel in May 2004, they would either just pop in or be named here (such as Vision and Jewel). Then it was announced we’d have a ship – yay!!!! Legend did two seasons (2005 and 2006) before being replaced by the larger Navigator for the 2007 season, which I took my first Royal Caribbean cruise on (and third cruise in total). We still had callers in the shape of Freedom (or Freezer as I nicknamed her because once she arrived the temperature dropped, only getting warmer when she left so we blame the ice rink!) in April 2006 and Liberty in 2007. In fact, we had another first then when Navigator arrived for her first cruise the day Liberty sailed for America so, after setting off from Mayflower and turning around, Liberty eased herself alongside the dock in front of Navigator who was in City and they saluted each other madly! Heck, even Liberty was important enough for Saga Rose to toot at her. Sales for Navigator must have been good because, before she’d even graced us with her presence, it was announced we would have the brand new Independence of the Seas the following year and she’s still here, now all year round for as long as she makes money in winter (Book! Book!). Indy ALMOST met Brilliance the day after arrival, only the latter left for refit an hour late so just turned and went. We’ve also had Voyager, but she didn’t meet anyone except Bouddica!
The following are what I have managed to record of our illustrious visitors, either photos or video (what I have seen in other ports isn’t included).
Now we get onto Celebrity! How come I can have my steak how I want it with them but not Royal Caribbean unless I pay extra? Anyway, 2010 was Celebrity’s 20th birthday – yay!!!! If you had been on a cruise like I was, you would have been given a pin and invited to their booze up. These too were rare visitors. The first I saw was Mercury sailing on the 18th October 1997. When she, Century and Galaxy were ordered, they were still under Chandris ownership but in 1997 they came under RCCL. The photo I’ll use will be larger due to the crap camera I used. Now Mercury is Mein Schiff 2 for TUI, and we were the first call on her maiden voyage in May. Millennium was in her original colours in June 2000 but sporting current livery for her return in April 2007. This is when everything changed for Celebrity in Southampton. After years away, we had two in a month! Millennium headed to refit on the 2nd April, returning on the 21st for her repositioning to the Med. Four days later, Constellation would arrive after a change of itinerary. Usually it was a repo to Dover for Baltic cruises. This time it was repo to Southampton, five night cruise then off to refit, returning to Dover afterwards. Connie’s mini-break was my first Celebrity cruise and only second at all. The following year we saw Summit do the same as Millennium and 2009 glimpsed our first Solstice class in the form of Equinox, which I sailed on when she repositioned to Rome. From 2010 we have had Eclipse for the summer.
Not as many as the parent company but always great to see them. Though I need Infinity to call to get the set. Seeing her in another country isn’t the same (hint hint). 😉
And so we come full circle and the meeting of monsters! Next week seeing Indy and Eclipse together is very special to me because, as well as sailing on first fare-paying cruises of both, if RCCL hadn’t come to Southampton it’s unlikely I would have had such wonderful times onboard with a future cruise with each line to come. Both Constellation and Navigator were the first holidays I had taken alone and was never bored, which is why I return at least once a year to one line or the other. Whether you’re 8 or 80, there’s something for everyone regardless of ship size and how many gizmos they have. I hope a good show is put on and they don’t just slink off as usual. Roll on Wednesday to find out!!! 😀