Also calling into Bergen over the weekend was P&O's Oriana. Currently mid-way through her livery change to bring her in line with the company's new branding, she is sporting the new royal blue funnel but is yet to receive the enormous stylised Union Jack across her bows.
The sun shone as she made her way into town in the morning, giving some great views of her gliding in towards her berth at Bontelabo.
Oriana was built by Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, and entered service in 1995. She was the first purpose-built cruise ship specifically for the British market, and with a tonnage of 69,000 was one of the largest in the world at the time. As such, she attracted considerable attention during her launch and the related celebrations, and was named by Queen Elizabeth II in Southampton.
She can carry 1,900 passengers served by a crew of around 800. Her designers ensured she was suitable not only for short cruises in warmer climes, but also that she could stand up to rough ocean crossings, and provide a comfortable and spacious environment on the world cruises she undertakes each year.
Oriana proved immediately to be a very popular ship, and has remained well-loved by many throughout her 20 years of service to date.
An extensive £12million refit in 2006 brought her facilities up to speed with the rapidly developing and demanding tastes of the British cruise market, but she has retained her reputation as a beautiful but comfortable ship.
There were large numbers of passengers taking in the impressive views of their ship in the sunshine at Bontelabo before boarding. Those that we spoke to were full of praise for the interiors, the crew and (perhaps most importantly) the food. It was hard not to envy those stepping on board to get ready for another night of relaxation.
Oriana has not escaped without incident in her career so far. A string of propulsion problems caused havoc at times during her first years in service, and in 2000 she was hit by a freak 40-foot wave during a transatlantic crossing between New York and Southampton. In this instance, despite sustaining considerable damage, with smashed windows and flooded rooms, she rode the storm well, and was able to return all of her passengers and crew safely to Southampton under her own power.
Despite now being the oldest ship int he P&O fleet, Oriana has an attractive, well-balanced profile, and seems overall to be in a good state of repair.
Oriana's sailaways from Bergen (and I assume other ports) are marked by festivities on deck, with a lot of music, singing, dancing and flag waving. Though perhaps a little tacky, these events bring a smile to many faces, and add a sense of occasion to her departure.
Unfortunately Oriana was around 45 minutes behind schedule, and we had to leave before she pulled away from her berth. Bergen was the final call on her Norwegian Fjords cruise, so it was back across the North Sea for her passengers, who would be disembarking in Southampton after one last day at sea.
|Oriana looked fantastic in the morning sun|
|Oriana turns as she comes alongside her berth|
|The sun catches the side of Oriana's new royal blue funnel|
|Berthed at Bontelabo later in the afternoon|
|Oriana's imposing superstructure towers over the quayside|
|Reflections in the buildings at Bontelabo|
|Oriana may be small by today's standards, but she still makes quite an impact|
|The sea casts some nice reflections on her white hull|
|A tender being tested that afternoon came alongside to pick up a crew member|
|Oriana's tiered aft superstructure makes her instantly recognisable|