Thursday, July 5, 2012

P&O Cruises celebrates 175 years of heritage in spectacular style with Royal fleet review

PandO Cruises - Adonia, Arcadia, Aurora, Azura, Oceana, Oriana, and Ventura Rendezous in Southampton
PandO Cruises - Adonia, Arcadia, Aurora, Azura, Oceana, Oriana, and Ventura Rendezous in Southampton
Southampton, July 4th 2012: P&O Cruises yesterday celebrated 175 years of heritage with a ‘Grand Event’ in its home port of Southampton.  The company’s seven ships were welcomed into port by ship’s Godmother Darcey Bussell for a day of celebrations. HRH Princess Royal later conducted a Royal Fleet Review as the ships departed in formation in the Solent, after a spectacular ‘flutterfetti’ and firework evening send-off.
The seven ships – Adonia, Arcadia, Aurora, Azura, Oceana, Oriana, and Ventura – with a combined gross tonnage of 569,000 tonnes, arrived into Southampton at dawn, marking the first-ever occasion all seven P&O Cruises ships have gathered together in their home port. 
On the aft deck of Azura, Darcey Bussell, who named the ship in 2010, was photographed with seven ship’s officers including the master of the ship, Captain Keith Dowds, and the commodore of the fleet, Steve Burgoine.
HRH The Princess Royal was greeted on the quayside and presented with a posy of flowers by Captain Ian Hutley's daughter, 12 year old Georgia. Later, HRH The Princess Royal was greeted by the seven ship’s captains in a special ceremony.  Her Royal Highness, godmother to two P&O Cruises ships, enjoyed a VIP reception on board Oriana, with P&O Cruises  consultant chefs Marco Pierre White and Atul Kochhar and  wine expert Olly Smith in attendance, as well as a special cake baked by celebrity patissier Eric Lanlard. 
With 2,600 bottles of champagne and 1,750 whole lobster loaded on board, passengers enjoyed deck parties as the ships sailed away. 
Once in formation, the ships were reviewed by HRH The Princess Royal, who was on board the Trinity House vessel Patricia.  HRH The Princess Royal was escorted by the Royal Navy’s newest Type 45 destroyer, HMS Dragon.   
After taking the Royal salute the seven ships went on their separate ways on seven anniversary cruises around the world, including the Mediterranean, the Baltic, Scandinavia and the Canary Islands. 
In a complex logistical operation, 15,000 passengers disembarked and 15,000 new passengers embarked throughout the ‘Grand Event’ day.  An estimated 30,000 spectators gathered at vantage points around Southampton Water to watch the departure of the ships. The whole event brought £17 million to the local Southampton economy.  
P&O Cruises managing director Carol Marlow said: “Our ‘Grand Event’ celebrations were a truly impressive spectacle, and we were honoured to be joined by HRH The Princess Royal, godmother to two of our ships, to carry out our Royal Review.  During our 175 years of heritage, the ships and crew have been at the cutting edge of maritime and cruising innovation, served with distinction as troop carriers in several wars, and, most importantly, offered our passengers a superb cruising experience year in and year out.
“We were delighted to see so many people lining the shore to witness our historical event – in spite of rather grey weather! The whole day was a fantastic celebration of the past and present, looking forward to the future of Britain’s best-known and best-loved cruise line.”

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