As some of you may know, as well as being a certified cruise-a-holic, I am also something of a ship spotter. Yes, I confess. I get up at silly-o’clock even in the depths of the darkest, coldest winter mornings to catch a glimpse of the days arrivals into my local port of Southampton. Mostly cruise ships of course but some others sneak in now and again.
Armed with a Thermos flask, woolly hat, gloves, a camera or two and Marine Traffic loaded up on my smart phone, I’m good to go. All that’s missing is my assistant. Unfortunately that involves waking my good wife up in the middle of the night from her deep slumber and dragging her along.
Despite her protests, I’m sure she secretly likes putting on two, maybe three layers of clothing and being ushered out the door at 4:30 AM to then stand on the shore for hours in sub zero temperatures whilst I take hundreds of pictures. She is normally rewarded with a full fry up in a local café on the way back home which helps to soften the initial blow.
As the weather gets warmer and the cruise season swings into full flow there are of course more and more opportunities for getting up with the morning lark and heading to the docks to capture images of a large variety of cruise ships.
Whilst I probably have pictures of all the regular visitors to Southampton, this year the port will see quite a few interesting arrivals. My spotting schedule for the year is already populated with all the must see ships, including several brand new vessels stopping off at Southampton en-route to their home ports. The first such appointment I have is on March 23rd when AIDAstella, the newest member of German cruise company AIDA, sails into port.
Next up will be a mammoth event. Having followed her construction keenly on the Internet, including watching her reverse up the River Ems from the shipyard live via web cam; I am quite excited by the prospect of Norwegian Breakaway stopping off overnight from April 29-30 before she heads across the pond to her new home in New York. For her I will be taking the day off work to get a good vantage point as she heads up Southampton Water, probably setting up camp with hundreds of other ship enthusiasts at Calshot Spit. I will then relocate to Mayflower Park to get close and personal to her whilst she is alongside at City Terminal.
The next big event is the arrival of Royal Princess in June. She will be in and out for several days on press sailings and preview cruises before departing on her official maiden cruise down to Barcelona, never to be seen on these shores again. As with Breakaway I will be making the most of her visit and hope to get plenty of good pictures of her from numerous locations around The Solent. The best ones will, I hope, be from on-board when I join her for one of the preview sailings.
Another date in my diary is with Hapag-Lloyd’s classy looking medium sized new-build from the STX shipyard, Europa2, which pays a fleeting visit in May.
Then there’s a whole feast of different visitors to Southampton for me to spot throughout the rest of the coming season, including Adventure of the Seas, Marina, AIDAmar and Crown Princess to name but a few.
Rest assured come rain or shine I will be there capturing the moment these beauties glide in or out of Southampton. If that’s at 5 AM on a cold, wet morning and I have to drag the wife along to hold my camera bag, so be it. After all, as a ship spotter it is my duty and she did agree to marry me for better or for worse!
Author: Scott – All images also taken by Scott.