Today started pretty early for me, 3.45am to be exact. I met my coach at 5.15am and we were on our way to Southampton. The trip down was as good as can be expected from a 7 hour journey. We made pretty good time, actually arriving early into Southampton by roughly 30 minutes or so.
As we approached the dock area, one by one yellow funnels became ever clearer across the skyline. This is when the atmosphere started to change and become increasingly celebratory. Every single person was there to share in P&O Cruises special and spectacular day.
We arrived at the Mayflower Terminal and I made my way towards check-in, I have to admit that this was the swiftest and most organised check-in experience I have ever been a part of. Considering the passenger load in total I was through check-in and security and onboard Ventura in less than 25 minutes.
This is when the fun really started, although the weather was pretty poor to say the least the atmosphere onboard was electric and the music flowing down the dock from the other ships also heightened the excitement of what was to come.
After locating my cabin and attending the muster drill it was time to really get this party started. At roughly 5.45pm Adonia started to push away from her berth, she is the smallest of the P&O ships and was first to leave. She sailed down past her sister ships before turning and coming back along to greet them once more before heading out into the Solent. Next it was our turn; we pushed away from the dock to the sound of Arcadia’s deck party and a pyrotechnic display on the dock side which covered the port side of Ventura in streamers and white confetti.
We slowly sailed past the other P&O ships. First we passed Arcadia, now this ship was buzzing, everyone onboard was on deck, the music was blaring out from her terrace area and she definitely seemed to be the heart and soul of the party. Next was Aurora followed by Oriana, Azura at the Ocean Terminal and then finally we passed by the beautiful Oceana.
Each ship was a hive of activity and genuine excitement. The weather by this point was terrible. It was cold, wet, misty and just pretty rubbish to be honest. That however did not stop everyone standing on deck greeting one another from ship to ship. Some of the people on Ventura at least were soaked to their under garments I am sure! But we braved it and kept on smiling.
People were shouting, whistling, singing, it truly was an amazing experience and not one person was complaining about the weather, can you believe it!? All those Brits in one place and NOT ONE were moaning!! That in itself was a celebration.
Our captain, Paul Brown, admitted he liked to sound the ships whistle and he certainly did not disappoint as we left Southampton. Although each ship had a good old’ blast on the horn I guarantee most of the ones you heard were coming from Ventura’s funnels. It’s amazing how even little things like this can also enhance the excitement within you, the more the whistle sounded the more hyper us passengers became, it really was awesome.
As we slowly sailed our way out up the Solent we were surrounded by smaller vessels, each wanting to also join in with the day’s celebrations. Just past Oceana we were also treated to the visual delight of a firework display, this was nice and added some colour other than grey briefly to the sky.
Once we got a little further out and I could see each ship had left the dock I decided to head back to my cabin to change. By this point I literally was soaked to my bones. I had not been able to feel my feet for over an hour so decided it was best to change into dry clothes and then do it all again.
By now all seven ships were sailing perfectly in formation and heading out towards THV Patricia for their fleet review by HRH Princess Royal. We sailed gracefully past and saluted one another along with HMS Dragon and then we were on our way, sailing towards a Grand Event cruise that would hopefully bring us some much needed hot and sunny weather……………………
I could go on and on about this day but I think to appreciate it you need visuals from the day so see below some video footage (there are also a few more on my YouTube page so have a look) and a link to the Grand Event photo album I have created.
Grand Event Photo Album – http://on.fb.me/SNdb2O