P&O Cruises’s seven ships docked in Southampton on Tuesday to mark the cruise line’s 175-year heritage.
Adonia, Arcadia, Aurora, Azura, Oceana, Oriana and Ventura all gathered together in the home port for the first time to mark the ‘Grand Event’. Ballerina Darcey Bussell, who is a godmother to Azura, unveiled a plaque at Carnival House on Tuesday and also helped cut a cake specially basked for the occasion.
Bussell was also presented with seven captains hats, one for each ship, on the aft deck of Azura although a Red Arrows fly-over was cancelled due to the weather.
Later in the day, HRH Princess Anne was greeted by the seven ships’ captains at a special ceremony. Her Royal Highness, godmother to two P&O Cruise ships, joined a VIP reception onboard the Oriana with P&O’ s consultant chefs Marco Pierre White and Atul Kochlar and wine expert Olly Smith.
With 2,600 bottles of champagne and 1,750 whole lobsters loaded onboard the seven ships; passengers enjoyed the barbeques on deck as their ships left their berths in the early evening.
Once the seven ships were in departure formation, the ships were reviewed by the Princess from the Trinity House vessel Patricia, before she was escorted by the Royal Navy’s newest Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon.
After a ‘flutterfetti’ departure with streamers and pyrotechnics, the seven ships departed on their seven Grand Event cruises with 15,000 holidaymakers onboard. Despite the inclement weather the event attracted over 10,000 spectators who lined the shores to witness the event.
The Grand Event was a complex logistical operation which involved some 30,000 passengers embarking and disembarking the seven ships and the event is thought to have injected an estimated £17 million to the local Southampton economy.