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Saturday 27 December 2014

Bergen to Barcelona aboard VIKING STAR

Sail on the world's newest and most unique all balcony ship!

An epic 15 day journey of contrasts on the world's newest ship that includes select excursions, beverages and port lectures.  You will feel very much like an explorer, not just a tourist.  Let the voyage commence!

Departs: 5 August 2015
Includes: Return flights, 2 nights stay Bergen, 14 night cruise, 3 night stay Barcelona
Ports of call: Bergen, Haugesund, Southampton, Le Havre (Paris), Cherbourg, A Coruña, Porto, Lisbon, Cádiz (Seville), Malaga (Grenada), Barcelona (overnight).
Package from: $10,199 pp twin share

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ms Astor Tilbury to Sydney

Join this unique and exciting voyage on the lovely ms Astor as you sail all the way from London to Sydney!

Extensively refurbished in 2010, Astor is fully stabilised and air-conditioned with accommodation for just 600 privileged guests. The unique size of Astor offers an intimate country house style allowing you to enjoy the camaraderie that comes from being among a select number of guests and to be pampered by the very attentive crew.
  • Inclusive:  Your package includes your flight to London, hotel stay and voyage to Australia
  • Discover:  The man made wonder of the Panama Canal
  • Explore:  Three delightful ports in the Caribbean including St Lucia with its famous 'pitons'.

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Tuesday 23 December 2014

History of P&O Oriana

 The Oriana was the first cruise liner purpose built for the British cruise market. She is specifically designed to operate world voyages and embodies the classic lines, comfort and ambiance of the traditional ocean liners of yesteryear. She was the fastest cruise liner built for 25 years and has an operating speed of 24 knots.

Like her predecessor, Oriana celebrates in her name the two great Elizabethan eras. The first Oriana in the P&O fleet entered service in 1960, for Orient Steam Navigation Company, her name connecting Queen Elizabeth I with our own Elizabethan era with Queen Elizabeth II. Early references to the name Oriana appear in 16th century romances where she was a British princess, heroine and poetic huntress. So virtuous was this literary figure that contemporary courtiers chose 'Oriana' as a title to honour Queen Elizabeth I. Today's Oriana honours her namesake predecessor (Oriana built in 1960) and continues to honour in her name the two great Elizabethan eras.

Design and Construction (1995):

She was built by Meyer Werft Ltd, Papenburg, Germany in 1995.
After a lengthy campaign, P&O Cruises were permitted to allocate the new Oriana with the call sign 'GVSN', which is the same call sign as her predecessor namesake (the Oriana built in 1960). One of her main designers, Robert Tillberg, spent a lot of the time onboard Canberra investigating the needs of British passengers and including as many features of Canberra possible into Oriana's design. The Oriana's single funnel is designed to have a resemblance to Canberra's twin funnels. She also has a single deck of balconies reserved for Suites, Mini-suites and Staterooms to cater for the growing desire for balconies onboard.

When she entered service Oriana was one of the largest cruise ships in the world, and also the largest ship built in Germany since 1914. Since then tonnages have boomed as the economies of scale dictate that a larger ships generates more profit. Nowadays most new cruise ships have a GRT of around 100,000 tonnes or higher.

The Oriana was named in a lavish ceremony in Southampton on the 6th April 1995 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

P&O Cruises era (1995 – Present): She then set sail on her maiden voyage on the 9th April 1995 which was a cruise from Southampton to Scandinavia. Since then she has enjoyed a successful career with P&O Cruises and throughout the spring, summer and autumn, Oriana sails to the Mediterranean, Baltic, Scandinavia and the Caribbean. January to March each year sees her undertaking her annual World Cruise, calling at nearly 30 ports of call and taking 90 days to complete.

The Oriana currently holds the Golden Cockerel trophy for the fastest ship in the P&O Cruises fleet. Previously held by the S.S. Oriana (1960) it passed to S.S. Canberra after that Oriana's retirement in 1986. On Canberra's final cruise in 1997 the Golden Cockerel was handed over to the new Oriana when both ships were anchored off Cannes and sent boats out to perform the handover.
In December 2006 a £12 million refit was undertaken on the Oriana in Bremerhaven, Germany. During the refit she was reflagged from the British Red Ensign to the Bermuda flag in order to enable Weddings at Sea to be held on board. Also a new Oriana Rhodes restaurant, designed by celebrity chef Gary Rhodes was introduced. Created in what was formerly 'The Curzon Room', the 96 seater restaurant has been introduced due to the success of the Arcadian Rhodes restaurant on fleetmate Arcadia. Other modifications included the extension of the popular Lord's Tavern bar, festooned with cricket memorabilia and refurbishment of the children's play areas. In addition all of her cabins have been restyled to include one of four new colour schemes, new curtains, carpets, beds, linen and duvets.

Today she continues to sail for P&O Cruises and remains a firm favourite with the British cruise market.

History of P&O's SS Himalaya

SS Himalaya in Manila 1962

Back in 1945 P&O had ordered its first new passenger liner of the postwar period. The Himalaya finally emerged in 1949 and was a splendid ship and the fastest and largest ship P&O had ever owned until that time. She had a top speed of 25 knots.

Design & Construction (1945 - 1949):

She had been ordered in March 1945 and she was built by Vickers Armstrong Ltd, Barrow in Furness. Her keel was laid on the 26th February 1946 and she underwent sea trials in August 1949. She was delivered to P&O on the 1st September 1949. She was the first liner equipped with a Weir evaporating plant for distilling water. She was named after the Himalaya mountains.

P&O Himalaya under the Sydney Harbour Bridge

P&O Years (1949 - 1970):

She sailed on her maiden voyage on the 6th October 1949 from London (Tilbury) to Bombay via Suez. The Himalaya was a contemporary of Orient Line's Orcades and these ships marked a gradual coming together of the new liners of each company in the postwar era. She was a record breaker and cut the UK to Bombay passage by 5 days and reduced the overall voyage to Australia from 38 days to just 28 days. Indeed the six ships worked closely together on their Australian service with their sailing schedules organised so that sailings alternated between P&O and Orient. Thus they formed a Southern Dominions "Big Six" fleet.

On the 30th August 1956 an explosion occured in a domestic refrigeration chamber when she was in the Mediterranean bound for Australia. Four crew were killed and 12 injured.

In January 1958 P&O and Orient services to Australia were extended across the Pacific in a joint service marketed as Orient & Pacific Line. The Himalaya inaugurated the operation and sailings continued from Sydney to Auckland, Suva, Honolulu, Vancouver and San Francisco. On the 12th January 1959 she departed London on a round trip of 79,000 km (49,250 miles) to Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Japan and Singapore, which in the process opened the Orient & Pacific Lines US / Japan service. In winter 1959 / 1960 she was refitted and air conditioned in the Netherlands.

In May 1960 her management and operation was transferred to P&O-Orient Lines. In October 1960 Stephen Bradley, who had abducted and killed an 8 year old son of the first Sydney Opera House lottery winner, was taken off the London bound ship at Colombo and flown back to Sydney by Comet airliner to face trial.

In 1963 she was refitted by R & H Green and Silley Weir Ltd in Tilbury for one class operation with 1,416 passengers. On the 21st November 1963 she set sail from London bound on her first one-class voyage to Australia. In 1966 her management and operation transferred to P&O Lines.

The Final Years (1970 - 1974): 

P&O SS Himalaya 28000 tons
Official P&O postcard

In the 1970s she was primarily occupied on a long programme of cruises from Australia and New Zealand with a shorter period cruising from Southampton in the Spring, the two linked by "positioning" voyages. On the 27th March 1973, she arrived in Southampton with 1,400 passengers of whom no less than 950 were women on a World Discovery tour organised by the Australian magazine "Women's Weekly". In October 1971 her management and operation were transferred to the P&O Passenger Division. 

On the 30th October 1974, she arrived in Sydney at the end of her final commercial voyage. She was retired from service and sold to Mitsui & Co. who in turn sold her to Tong Cheng Steel Manufacturing Co. Ltd for scrapping. She arrived at Kaoshiung, Taiwan on the 28th November 1974 and demolition commenced in January 1975. A sad end to a fine ship.