It was a murky old morning as P&O’s seven ships arrived in Southampton for their big day. As Carnival UK chief executive David Dingle remarked to me as we stood in the rain, waiting to be interviewed for the BBC1 Breakfast Show, it was a very British event, being celebrated under very British weather.
As luck would have it, Bob Diamond’s resignation from Barclays Bank scuppered my TV appearance. If it had been announced just 10 minutes later I would have been home and dry, but the late-breaking news took over.
I had to be content with a recorded piece to camera which may surface on the BBC News website.
Dingle had been on air earlier, stressing the cruise industry’s safety record to business reporter Ben Thompson who was keen to discover what effect the Costa Concordia sinking had had on bookings.
Some 15,000 passengers were disembarking the ships this morning, with another 15,000 going aboard later in the day. Princess Anne will be taking afternoon tea on board Oriana with the seven captains, before she boards Trinity House vessel Patricia to review the P&O fleet as it sets off into The Solent.
Her Royal Highness, godmother to two P&O ships, will be joined on Oriana by fellow godmother Darcey Bussell – who named Azura – and two of the line’s consultant chefs Marco Pierre White and Atul Kochhar, together with wine expert Olly Smith. They will be treated to a special cake baked by celebrity patissier Eric Lanlard.
Weather permitting, the Red Arrows will stage a spectacular flypast; I’ll be back in Southampton later with my fingers crossed – but carrying a waterproof coat, just in case.
Picture by Ben Fitzpatrick/Newscast CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE