Southampton Shipwatch 42: Oasis of the Seas

This morning I headed off to Southampton on half days leave because due to arrive was one of the largest cruise ships in the world: Oasis of the Seas. The weather was overcast after a weeks rain, and as we approached the station I could see that there was mist over the harbour. The other cruise ship at Mayflower was MSC Magnifica, and I managed a glimpse of her as we came into the station. From Town Quay she was just a white blob in a grey sea/sky and this is all I really saw of her, certainly not enough for a shipwatch on its own.
 
Oasis was due to arrive at 9.30ish and berth at 101, she has some very peculiar berthing arrangements and this maiden arrival had had to be carefully planned. Apparently she only berths starboard side to and once she was ready to sail would have to be swung up at the swinging area by the container berth. She was due to sail at 23.59 but there was no way I was going to hang around that long! I headed across to Town Quay via Mayflower Park. There was already a crowd gathering there, and there was probably a mob gathering at Town Quay too. The weather was still lousy, and Hythe was almost hidden in the mist. Saga Sapphire was berth alongside at QEII so would provide an interesting comparison.
By 9.25 there was movement, and it turned out to be a tug with her water canons open, and there was a buzzing helicopter making excited movements as its occupants photographed the ship that was now emerging between the buildings and Saga Sapphire. It was hard to get an indication of what was coming along at slow ahead, but soon the bow emerged, and then the broad front of this huge vessel. There was an exchange of hooters and either Saga Sapphire or her had a wonderful old style ships hooter. And I am glad that at least that occurred because this is after all, a maiden arrival.
Then the ship was clear and you could see how big she was, or should I say how broad she was. This was a really big ship and my first impression was of a large superstructure on a small hull, with a huge overhang on either side.  She was not a pretty ship from this angle, if anything she looked like an ungainly one, but that was really because of the odd angle. As she came closer the foreshortening effect diminished and you could finally get a feeling for her length. She was big, very big, and would probably make Independence of the Seas look small!
As she came alongside you could get a sense of how high the accommodation was, with its cluttered upperworks. The stern interested me because I had never been able to understand what was going on there. It appeared as if there were some sort of fabric sails that hid the hole in the back. Unfortunately, with our low vantage point there was no real answer. I would have to try get other pics from Mayflower.
 
 

Strangely enough her hull was a baby blue colour which I will reserve judgment on until I have seen her in sunlight. Then she was past me and I headed off to Mayflower to join the crowds. She was berthing a bit further towards 102 than the ships usually do and was coming alongside without a tug. She was quick though, there was no fussing or messing around, from arrival to this point had probably been 15 minutes.
 
Then I got a chance to look at that stern. I can see a hang glider there, and a large logo…
I took my pics, checked my watch and decided it was really time to get back to Salisbury. I stopped at Dock Gate 8 and took a few pics, although could not get past the gate to get other images.

I was glad that I had made this trip, although to be honest she doesn’t really appeal to me, although I would love to go on board to poke around. But sail on her? probably not. There could be over 5000 people on board (that’s probably 10000 items of luggage that has to be moved between ship and terminal), and that is 4999 people too many for me.

The nitty gritty is that when she was built she was the largest cruise ship afloat, although her sister Allure of the Seas is a smidgen bigger. Awhile ago I explored large cruise ships in a blog post called Really Big Ships,  so will have to make a few changes to that one

 

On 30 October the latest of these mega ships is arriving: Quantum of the Seas will be here and occupy the same berth. By then they will have sorted out all the peculiarities involved with a ship this size and things should go smoother. It is unlikely that I will be able to go down to see her as I am changing jobs next month so my leave is all tied up. However, I will see how things go, I wouldn’t mind seeing her, after all, it is not every day that the opportunity arises to see such huge moving objects. Its just a pity the weather had not played fair.

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