After disembarking Ventura, I walked from Mayflower to City Terminal in the rain. Too many people from Ventura didn’t follow instructions so the road was too busy. Halfway along I passed people going from Oriana to Ventura. The walk took longer than normal due to the ruddy traffic (especially empty coaches) blocking my view of the ships, talking to people en route and struggling with the trolley on and off those high kerbs. I did get a bit of help with the second one after my case fell off and into a puddle.
Thankfully they let me leave it in the terminal so off I went to meet my friend Fay and my dad for the harbour tour. As I was leaving, I saw Tracey and Ali who were already there waiting to check in. I was ruddy soaked by the time I reached Town Quay and thank goodness the bag I’d bought on Arcadia two years ago was waterproof! We got a taxi to Ocean Village and it was the same driver who’d taken me home after MSC Opera. Bumped into Phillip Gordon at the café by Blue Funnel then we went to join the now long queue, which was getting longer by the second. As we set off towards the Test, the rain poured and straight in our faces. On the dock was a tender 16. Could it be QM2’s replacement, which was removed in Australia back in February after being damaged?
The horrible wet stuff did stop again by the time we reached Ventura and made our way back.
After dropping my dad back off at Town Quay, me and Fay went to our lovely ship via a very busy Mayflower Park, saying hello briefly to Andrew and Donna Cooke, who were on their way out. We’d noticed AA signs omitted Adonia at Dock Gate 4 and Aurora in Western Docks.
I picked up my case from behind the desk and we dropped them off before going through security and check in. Obviously in this terminal they were NOT strictly adhering to the check in times. It was boiling and took at more than an hour to get through security and to the desk. Ours had been 12.30pm so by the time we arrived it shouldn’t have been anywhere near as bad but no one asked what time you had. They let everyone through. Princess Anne hadn’t arrived but police and officials were waiting outside for her. I was given Pacific Tier info for the Peninsular Club, so wondered whether the office had emailed the ship to say I became Atlantic on Ventura. I’d mentioned it back in April so wouldn’t be surprised of they’d forgotten. I’d have to ask. We grabbed some lunch in the Conservatory after dropping our hand luggage then a wander round the deck.
Now rather annoyingly, muster was at 5.45pm despite the Grand Event kicking off half an hour earlier, and they were advertising the sailaway party, buffet open etc from 6pm in Horizon. Aurora’s muster was a little while before ours but we only had an announcement a short while before it. One of the security guards said it was because of the VIPs. We took our lifejackets onto the Prom deck to watch the beginning at least before being herded into the casino. HMS Dragon set off towards the Solent.
Afterwards, we dashed outside to get back to proceedings, taking the jackets with us. We weren’t the only ones. P&O made a big thing of EVERYONE being part of it yet had to be stuck inside for part. Ventura was already out and following Adonia.
I don’t know about the other ships, but announcements on ours were rarer than blue diamonds with green spots! It was only after we’d started moving out once Aurora passed we were told about firecrackers and stuff on the dock, meaning everyone starboard watching things had to go the other side. The rain was as bad as the morning, and unfortunately was coming port side. It was great though, streamers, flutterfetti, Carol Marlow recording on the tannoy saying something no one was listening to. The crew on the open decks were loving it as much as we were, and probably louder than all the passengers put together! The atmosphere was electric, much better than the Cunard Jubilee cruise, and the weather, while annoying and meaning the Red Arrows were cancelled again, didn’t spoil anything. As each ship passed between Hythe and Netley, they had a 2 minute firework display from a barge.
They splitting into two lines after rounding the Brambles in the Solent for the fleet review by Princess Anne, who was on THV Patricia. Former Cunard Captain, Ian McNaught, was with her. But that was another minus point. No one knew which side they’d be on. I asked a security officer who said starboard and FINALLY, a few minutes away, it came over the tannoy so those who’d gone in returned to the open decks.
Then we decided to go in around 8.40pm as the light was fading. A buffet was laid on instead of the usual dinner but our feet were hell so we ordered room service. For some reason, each time the room service button was pressed on the phone, we got accommodation. We rounded off the day watching the We Are the Champions, the show with Queen’s music in the Pacific Lounge. I’d missed this on Aurora a year before when we had the 85 knot winds off Cape Farewell so was looking forward to seeing it. Pity it was a bit naff. Or maybe I was just tired, having only two hours sleep on Ventura. And then much-needed sleep after a very long but absolutely fabulous day.
A small postscript. My Dutch friend Ben van Zeijl sadly passed away on the 26th June and his funeral was this day. He loved Holland America Line ships but two of his favourite non-HALs were Oriana and Aurora, which used to call into his home town of Rotterdam. I knew him a couple of years before we met when I arrived on Aurora and it was apt I was on Oriana.