They saw seven ships go sailing out as Princess Royal reviews P&O Cruises fleet
P&O Cruises has 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 Azura’s Godmother Darcey Bussell for a day of celebrations on Tuesday(July 3), and later in the day the Princess Royal reviewed the fleet as it departed in formation in the Solent after a spectacular ‘flutterfetti’ evening send-off, and a display by seven jets of the Red Arrows.
The seven ships – Adonia, Arcadia, Aurora, Azura, Oceana, Oriana, and Ventura – with a combined gross tonnage of 569,000 tonnes, sailed into Southampton at dawn, marking the first-ever occasion all seven P&O Cruises ships have gathered together in their home port.
The Princess Royal reviews the P&O Cruises fleet from the Trinity House vessel Patricia as they prepare to leave Southampton
On the aft deck of Azura, Darcey Bussell, who named the ship in 2010, was presented with seven captain’s hats – one for each ship in the fleet – as jets from the Red Arrows performed a flypast over the ship.
Later, the Princess Royal, godmother to two P&O Cruises ships, was greeted by the seven ship’s captains in a special ceremony. She joined a VIP reception on 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.
Darcey Bussell with the captains of seven ships of P&O Cruises
With 2,600 bottles of champagne and 1,750 whole lobster loaded on board, passengers enjoyed barbeques on deck as the ships leave their berths in the early evening.
Once in formation, the ships were reviewed by Princess Anne, from the Trinity House vessel Patricia which was under escort by the Royal Navy’s newest Type 45 destroyer, HMS Dragon.
After a ‘flutterfetti’ departure with streamers and daytime pyrotechnics and a display over Southampton Water by the Red Arrows, the ships took the Royal salute. They then wentheir separate ways on seven Grand Event cruises around the world, including the Mediterranean, the Baltic, Scandinavia and the Canary Islands.
Darcey Bussell waves one of the seven captains’ hats that she received on board Azura
P&O Cruises managing director Carol Marlow said: “Our Grand Event celebrations promise to be a truly impressive spectacle. 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.
“With so many passengers and spectators joining us, we are sure that the day will be a great opportunity to celebrate the past and present and look to the future of Britain’s best-known and best-loved cruise line.”
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