Sunday, 7 June 2015

End of May - Nautical bits!!

Well the last couple of weeks have been dominated by things nautical!
Staring off with the visit by 'The Three Queens' to Liverpool to mark the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Cunard company in Liverpool.
The city of Liverpool and it's surrounding areas, I have no problem with the term 'Bay area' by the way, is jam packed full of people that blatantly have salt water in their veins and most (!) of them were out on Monday. It was great to see so many people out and although the weather was a tad grey - great fun was had by all!

Nicki's Dad was a VIP guest of Cunard at 'Home' at Woodside which had been commandeered by the company because it was and still is, LOL!, almost immediately opposite the iconic Cunard building, only problem is that the 12 Quays development prevents a good view along the river.
The reason I am telling you all that is because of the irony of him having to ring his daughter and I who were in the cheap seats, so to speak by Seacombe ferry to ask if we could see the ships on their way!! Which we could!!

Another slight irony was that the filming of the event for the online streaming was done from Seacombe, the programme content full of things like, This is the Liverpool waterfront and Welcome to Liverpool..... for future reference broadcasters, that was the Wirral where you were!!! The only place in the world from which you can see the Liverpool waterfront World Heritage site, properly!!

Me Mum would have been horrified at the non nautical phrases being bandied about though! Things like parking boats on the right side facing the front......

Another source of amusement to the smart assed side of Wilko News concerned the red arrows, who had never mentioned anything other than a fly past. Which they did!  The skilfully manoeuvred three mighty ships in line with the Cunard building across the river, just in time for the flypast which was performed on their way to a display in Blackpool with supreme accuracy and efficiency!
It must be noted however that we didn't ring Nicki's Dad to see whether they were lined up properly!!
Fly past Liverpool - display Blackpool - seems straight forward enough to me!! However more than 50% of the crowd local to us had different interpretations of those two phrases.
"Of course, they will be back.... they always do a display."
"Yeah up to Blackpool and then display on way back."

Fact one..... Cunard were paying for that flypast, a very substantial four figure sum, they were not paying for a public display.
Fact two.... Displays over cities have been completely disallowed since 9-11.
Fact three.... The Red Arrows logistically could not do those two displays back to back because geographically there was nowhere to refuel as John Lennon airport was closed to additional traffic because of the helicopter movements..... why? Oh that'll be to do with the visit of the 3 Queens!!

Some people did get a good pic of the Arrows.... oh and a seagull!!

So then it was Southampton and P & O's flagship Britannia in its maiden season.
Well I ran out of superlatives and words to generally describe this amazing ship very very quickly! Probably about 20 minutes or so after I first saw it or about 5.35am on a Saturday morning!! In fact by the time Mr Grumpy Gateman had told me it was too early to take photos of her!! WTF doesn't come close to what I thought about that!!! 

In disgust I took a pic through the mirror on the end of his little hut!!

Fortunately Mr Happy Gateman in his little hut 40 yards away wasn't affected by the same personality disorder!

Everything about ships of her genre has probably already been written but a floating luxurious five star hotel doesn't really cover it!! 
Knee deep carpet in the passenger sections and bare metal and no false ceilings to cover the pipes and wiring in the crew section, that may be closer to the truth.
Two words in the English language that crop up everywhere and you would never see at one time and now are over used and usually together are logistics and solutions! 
Here are some logistics to which P & O or put more precisely Carnival Corp Plc have had to come up with solutions for, with specific reference to MV Britannia. Food and drink for 3,500 passengers and 1500 crew for a 14 day cruise. 
24 hour customer service for all the fully inclusive, full board passengers. Disembarking all the passengers by 10am and embarking the same number by 5pm on any given Saturday in Southampton. Entertaining/keeping passengers occupied - all the time. Ensuring that they get every passenger to spend every last penny they have while on board... photographs, souvenirs and shore trips to name a mere few......... They have succeeded and the whole experience leads to seamless luxury and a fantastic time had by all. 
But enough of all that this ship is fantastic from every aspect!! I know we only visited for a couple of hours but in that time thanks to our tour guide - Wilko News team member and member of entertainment team on board, Matt, >>>>>>> one half of Matt and Sarah, duo extra ordinaire we got a terrific insight in to the workings of the ship and its passengers (and crew)! 

Meanwhile Sarah and Nicki had a photocall on one of the upper decks..........  

The ship is just pure splendour and very relaxed, the atmosphere is one conducive to luxury holidaying and 100% enjoyment.
Dimensionally she is big in every respect. Far too big close up but not big enough from a distance - especially when it's early!!
Theatres, live venues, a pub and restaurants that would be at home in a medium sized town and an air of pride and professionalism that any local authority would be proud of.
Would I cruise on her? Well I just might!! Would I go on board her again, oh yes! 
One final thing.... not about Britannia but about Southampton. For all it's protestations this Hampshire city makes about Liverpool wanting to be a final destination for the major cruise companies, it really has very little to offer the non passenger. No clear uninterrupted views from the water side or quayside unless the ships are arriving or departing and looking a little bit closer the Ocean terminal is a fine building - worthy of a classy port or even airport but as for the old port quays that give Southampton the extra capacity they look a bit ropey. No actually a lot ropey!

So Britannia left but we also witnessed quite a few more nautical bits as shown here.


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