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10th January, 2015

Southampton, England

We arrived at the Pilot station at 0400 in the morning in storm force winds. We embarked the pilot and made our way up the channel. As we went the wind, quite contrary to the forecast, was blowing at over 70 knots and we considered aborting our arrival. After discussion with the pilot we agreed a plan, and at certain points in the passage we would review the weather and either carry on or turn around. This is all part of our training and we carried on. The Queen Mary 2 was ahead of us and she being much bigger would be more affected, so I slowed the ship and watched how she manoeuvred around the tight turns and when I saw her clear, we built up speed (as this makes the rudder more effective) and steered the ship around the twisting channel buoys. We employed the use of 2 tugs and had to angle the ship so the wind was not blowing on the side of the ship but only on the stern to reduce drift. Once I got the bow alongside we let the stern drift in slowly, with the tugs gently assisting. I have to say the operation for arrival this morning required my Bridge Team and the Pilot to work as a team, and all did a marvellous job. Even the pilot commented how professional the team was, which I knew anyway!!

We were all fast alongside by 0715. This marked the end of our 19 night Christmas cruise. Once all the passengers had disembarked the ship’s company set to work to prepare the ship for our next cruise. Embarkation began at 1pm and our new passengers started to arrive on board.

Once we had finished loading our supplies for the upcoming cruise and all passengers and their luggage were aboard, we made our final preparations to embark on this 15 night voyage to Morocco and the Canary Islands.

Once we had carried out the obligatory lifeboat drill we set sail. It was a different view from the bridge as the wind had calmed down, visibility was better, and the skies clearer.

Passengers settled into their cabins and were made to feel welcome in the Dining Room for their first dinner on board. This evening the entertainment featured a selection of performances including music from our Resident Pianist Martin Orbidans and our classical musicians The Rosamunde String Quartet who gave a flavour of what’s in store for this upcoming cruise. This was followed by music for dancing with the Sapphire Orchestra.

We will spend the next 3 days at sea, with lots of activities, performances and speakers to keep our passengers entertained as we make our way south to our first port of call, Funchal.

Captain Alistair Mclundie

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