Thursday, 26 January 2012

Oriana (1984)

  In 1984, while still a deck officer in the merchant navy, I decided to take a "Busman's Holiday" aboard P&O's Oriana (1960). I joined her in Sydney for a short Melbourne Cup Cruise. P&O have been running these cruises for years, in fact they now send two ships down from Sydney for the occasion, such is that cruise's popularity especially among the Sydney racegoing fraternity. In earlier years the ship would make an overnight call at Hobart, giving the desperate punters a night at Wrest Point Casino before arriving in Melbourne on cup morning. More recently, presumably because of the ubiquity of casinos around the country, the Hobart call has been dropped. Instead the ships leave Sydney on Saturday afternoon, spend Monday morning to Wednesday afternoon in Melbourne then arrive back in Sydney on Friday morning.

My father took me aboard Oriana several times in Melbourne, in her earlier years. That was in the early to late 1960s when the ship was still on her UK / Australia run. In those days Oriana was the second largest passenger ship to trade to Australia, only pipped at the post by her slightly larger fleet mate, Canberra. Of course we were awestruck by her size and internally she was luxurious (in First Class at least) and spotless. The 'A' deck, single berth, outside cabin with bath I had was very comfortable, reminiscent of its first class origins. Sadly however, by the time I got to sail aboard her, Oriana was nearing the end of her days and rather shabby. Also, in the 1970s and 80s British stewards were often sullen youths so service wasn't great. I always wondered why they took those jobs given their resentful attitudes. Give me a Filipino crew any day!

I took the following three pictures of Oriana at Circular Quay, Sydney prior to embarkation on 2nd November 1984.

I took the next three pictures on the following day off the NSW coast bound for Hobart

The Crow's Nest bar. This was formerly the first class lookout bar.

Looking down onto what was formerly the first class pool and pool bar

The next two pictures are of the ship at MacQuarie Wharf, Hobart on 4th November 1984.

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