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Relative calm after a rough night and a winter North Sea storm.
(right) Luggage tags evoke the era of "traditional cruising"
16th December
- Fly to Hamburg, Germany
& embark Caronia
Friday-at sea
18th December
-Southampton, UK

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This was technically the "maiden voyage" of Caronia, following its conversion from Vistafjord; it was actually her delivery voyage to Southampton ahead of her advertised Maiden Voyage, billed as the "Millennium in the Caribbean". We had mountainous seas in the North Sea and a power failure in the night, just as we were heading out into the North Sea. Luckily, none of the other passengers seemed to notice. I was nearly sick but I wished I had taken my video-camera, if only to prove how rough it was; some of the sights of passing ships would make your hair stand on end!

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A Wintry Welcome Franconia Dining Room Franconia Dining Room Gift Shop & Library Model of Caronia
Verandah Deck Lobby

It may be because of the rough seas and wintry weather but I was not impressed with Cunard's new look for Vistafjord. Even fresh out of refit, a lot of the new wood trim along the corridors was scuffed and scratched; the colours chosen for the new decor seemed dark and sombre - more in the style of an English Country Hotel. The weather was so rough during the morning that we were not allowed on deck and this just added to the claustrophobic feeling fostered by the dark decor.

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Cabin 663 Garden Lounge In Southampton In Southampton

Cunard wanted to recreate the days of grand and elegant cruising but it seemed to me they couldn't make up their minds which ship they wanted to be; the Franconia (as in the Dining Room); the first Caronia (as in the luggage labels and external colour-scheme); or the second Caronia (the famous "Green Goddess" - of which there was a splendid model in the lobby). It's true I had lost my love of Vistafjord in 1990 and she now barely resembled her but in a strange way, I would still have preferred her the way I remembered her.

Perhaps then, it is not surprising that Vistafjord's new identity lasted only another 4 years before she was sold to Saga Cruises, to re-emerge as Saga Ruby in 2005, to sail again alongside her life-time sister, Sagafjord, by then renamed Saga Rose.

See Detailed Mileage Log for this cruise >>

Cruise Mileage: 505 nautical miles
Total Mileage to date: 71,237 n miles

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