People travel from all over the world to Southampton in the UK to join their ships for cruises or simply to watch the liners come into port. Southampton is regarded as the cruise capital of Northern Europe and plays host to over four million visitors a year.
P&O came into existence in August 1837, when the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company won a contract to carry the Royal Mail to naval ships in the Admiralty. They have been based in Southampton, UK for the past 175 years. To celebrate this milestone, they arranged a meeting of their whole fleet to berth overnight and then sail out together the following day.
And what a sight it was, seven of the biggest ships in the world, sailing in convoy out of Southampton docks. Surrounding each ship was a flotilla of boats, ferries, dingys and jet skis filled with people wanting to be a part of the celebrations. They were treated to pyrotechnics, New York style ticker tape and the sound of a fantastic party aboard the cruise liners.
And what a party it was with ships taking on an additional 2,600 bottles of champagne and 1,750 lobsters! This was extra to frozen and chilled food totaling around 400 tonnes, 240 tonnes of veg and fruit and 250 tonnes of dried foodstuffs.
Food on P&O cruises is renowned for it’s quality, but the chef’s really ‘pushed the boat’ out for this special occasion, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Adonia, P&O’s smallest ship at just 710 passengers led the way at around 6pm and was first to the Royal Review by HRH Princess Royal, who was aboard the Trinity House boat, Patricia.
“This is a unique day for us. It has taken 18 months to organise, as we had to make sure all of the ships were on cruises which brought them back to Southampton on the same day, then we had to co-ordinate everything with the Border Agency, the city council and the port authorities so we could go ahead with it.”
– Carol Marlow, managing director of P&O
A temporary customs port had to be put together in the Rose Bowl, Hampshire’s cricket ground for those disembarking in Britain.
The British weather unfortunately had to play its’ part with torrential rain and low cloud which meant a special formation fly past by the Royal Air Force aerobatic team, the Red Arrows, was unable to take place. However, the public refused to be put off, and with true British spirit, the thousands of well wishers who lined the port enjoyed the pyrotechnics displays and festivities. It is estimated that around £17m will have be put into the Southampton economy over the two days.