16 June dawned dark, dreary and wet. And, at City Terminal sat Explorer, originally built for the Royal Olympic Cruises (formerly Epirotiki/Sun Lines), she is one of two sisters that were built. If my memory serves me correctly they were did not perform according to spec and Royal Olympic would not accept them from the builders.
The ship was part of the Semester at Sea program, and typically the ship will call at 10 or more ports during a voyage. It is difficult to gauge the vessels looks from this angle, she is very slab sided with her superstructure very far forward and a very short and steeply angled bow. For some angles she looks almost twisted and I wasn’t too sure if I would get to see her sail to get a better view of her from another side. She does however have a very advanced hull form for a cruise ship, based on that of superfast ferries as opposed to conventional cruise ships.
Another piece of useless information is that the two sisters (Olympia Explorer, Olympia Voyager) were capable of very high speeds and at the time they were built were amongst the fastest cruise ships in service, (capable of 27 knots service speed and 33 knots at a sprint). They do have a very turbulent early history that is well worth reading. Due to sail at 17H00 on the 17th, she ended up running late and needed a tug to swing her from her berth at City Terminal. I have to admit, she is really strange looking with a distinct downward look about her.
However, it also gives the impression she is going somewhere fast, even when she is turning at her berth. The tug stuck to her like a leech and no matter how many Jedi Mind Tricks I tried she just would not get past and out of the picture.
And then she was past me and heading towards Southampton Water and the Solent. She was one ship I never expected to see, and she does look like quite an interesting vessel, hopefully she has found her niche with Semester at Sea, and long may she be with us.
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