Saturday, July 07, 2007

Cruising again but for Americans

This time the cruise is around the British Isles in a super cruise ship called the Grand Princess. In 2005 we saw her sister ship, Golden Princess. That was when our taxi drivers were being trained to smile and say "Have a nice day!" The Princess cruise line was then establishing the merits of a call at Holyhead on its itinerary. It has now become a regular event in the harbour. There was an occasional blip two years ago with poor weather early in the cruise season causing Holyhead to be excluded. You see, if the liner calls she has to be able to land her passengers. At Holyhead there are no facilities for her to tie up so she anchors in the outer harbour from where she launches her transfer boats.

Yesterday, Pauline and I decided that we would take advantage of the long dry period after the last few weeks of intermittent showers and drive out in search of something worth photographing. First we called at Cemaes Bay and took lots of harbour shots as the tide was in and all the small boats were afloat. We then went over to Holyhead to get some items from a store there. As we drove over I noticed a ship in an unusual position in the harbour. I said "Oh, there's the ferry turning in the harbour at Holyhead." It was only as we reached Holyhead that I could see it was the cruise liner. We drove down to the port and the harbour front but each angle offered obscured a good view of the Grand Princess. There was even a ship on the Anglesey Aluminium jetty getting in the way!

We therefore had to keep driving round until we found an uninterrupted view of her. It was quite a learning curve as we wound round a large housing estate by the ferry terminal looking for a good view. Eventually we discovered the huge green overlooking the out harbour where locals must have great fun on hot days. I walked all the way to the shore and took my photos. She was still only a small part of the original photo and the shot you see here was really contrived with the use of various tricks available through digital manipulation on a PC.

I read in the press later that the transfer boats could not operate until lunchtime which severely limited the options for the passengers as she was due to sail at 1800 hours. But as I watched there were many of them plying between the ship and the harbour. I hope those who left for a pleasant afternoon got what they wanted. It was the first time this was really possible after the recent rain. Any intrepid passenger had to get across the island before they could set off for places like Caernarfon or Betws y Coed. I doubt there was sufficient time. But it was nice to see the ship. In the photo you can see the fast ferry or catamaran setting off for Ireland. It usually looks a large ship but yesterday was dwarfed by the liner which weighs in at about 115,000 tons displacement. Imagine that all you folks who used to marvel at the Queen Elizabeth who weighed 86,000 tons as the world's largest liner in her day.

These ships are getting bigger and bigger as the naval architects add more and more facilities to their creations. This particular ship has a small golf course on board! I think this is probably the case where ships sail in cooler waters like ours. Such amenities are needed when you can't land in rough seas and you could otherwise go stir crazy! It is a far cry from the tiny MV Balmoral sailing up the Menai Strait!


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