Solway Shipping    


A cruise on P and O's "Britannia" to Guernsey, Zeebrugge and ending in Rotterdam, Europe's largest port for 2 days, departed from Southampton on June 1st.

Once on board the first job was to check out the cabin, which was none too shabby, so with a good weather forecast for the cruise as well, things were certainly looking good.
Leaving the berth at 6pm the ship made its way past Esso Petroleum's 330 storage tank oil refinery where a couple of large tankers were discharging their cargo into the facility.   "SC Draco"  and "Turmoil"
and the smaller "Epic St Thomas"
Leaving Fawley behind we passed the huge 1207 feet (368m) long container ship "AFIF" inbound. With a 153148 gross tonnage she certainly looked impressive.
Once clear of the channel we could see Portsmouth's Spinnaker tower and below it the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier "Queen Elizabeth" and on  the right the 1860 built "HMS Warrior" which at the time was the Navy's first iron hulled warship and also its fastest and largest.
With the overnight run to St Peter Port, Guernsey it was time to check out the rest of the ship and to my surprise/delight I came across this.
but at £7 a glass I gave it a miss and settled for the complimentary bottle of champagne in the cabin.
One of the best places I found was the "Crows Nest" at the forward end of the ship which gave panoramic views ahead and a bar behind...perfect!
Arriving off St Peter Port the following day the ship dropped anchor and passengers went ashore by tender.
St Peter Port is a delightful place but there was not much shipping activity while we were there.
The ambulance service have their own vessel for emergencies on the many small islands around Guernsey
The UK-Jersey-Guernsey ferry "Condor Liberation" passed us outbound, she is capable of carrying 800 passengers + crew at an impressive 39 knots (44 mph)
Wakening up the following morning in Zeebrugge, Belgium the ship was docking ahead of the "Costa Pacifica"
across the dock was a navy base with several small warships moored, these two mine hunters departed shortly after we had docked.
The German vessel "Weilheim" M1059
and the Dutch mine hunter "Willemstad" M864 leaving stern first
There was steady activity throughout the day, Zeebrugge as the largest LNG terminal complex in Europe and is a major port for the handling of Europe's car industry.
Pictured below is "Ysaline" being manoeuvred into position by the tugs "Union Ruby" and "Union Coral", both owned by Kotug Smit they have a bollard pull of over 60 tons each (this is a measure of how much power a tug has got, the higher the number the more powerful the tug...60 tons is a good figure.)
container ship "Oland"
and roll on roll off (ro-ro) cargo ship "Catherine" with a full load.
"Autopremier" a vehicle carrier running between Zeebrugge and Grimsby
Next port of call, the highlight of the cruise for me, was to Rotterdam, Europe's largest port, for two full days.  The port handles some 30,000 seagoing vessels and some 110,000 inland vessels evey year which amounts to about 465 million tons of cargo being transshipped through the port.   Access from the North Sea to the city centre is via the Nieuwe Waterweg (New Waterway) As we entered the waterway around 6-15 am with the pilot on board we made a steady 6 knots for the 2 hour run into our berth.
Although we were travelling slow because of the size of the ship this passing tanker "Philipp Essberger" came past at full speed lit up by the fiery red sun.
The weather wasn't looking promising so I left the ship in Captain Dunlop's capable hands and decided on a lie in for an hour or two. On waking later I was surprised to find we were not in the city centre cruise terminal berth by the famous Erasmus Bridge but a small commercial dock some miles away, apparently that berth was booked already on the second day so we were put in the "fruit terminal" berth, one never used for cruise ships before and that created quite a lot of local interest as the ship photographers were out in force taking their pictures of the event all day.
Looking out to see where the smell of fumes was coming from this "smoker" "Crown Garnet"  was heading out of the next dock
I think the ships officers were even amazed by the sight and smell on Britannia's bridge.
After breakfast it was time to get the free shuttle into the city centre.
This one was of the first sights...the cube houses!
Near to the cube houses in a small marina were these two enjoying the weed on the boat hull's
and over the road a floating hotel room!

Heading towards Erasmus Bridge takes you to the "Spido" harbour tour office. Its a very well organised company with very clean modern looking

vessels. We boarded the 600 seater "Abel Tasman" for the 75 minute trip.

Passing the "Ronez" well known in British waters, she was built in 1982 and is now a cement carrier.
Everywhere you look were the Rotterdam black and yellow coloured water taxi's, travelling at speeds from 30-37 knots.

A exhibit at the Maritime museum, the suction dredger "Stadsggraanzuiger No.19" built in 1927. The location of the Maritime Museum is where the port of Rotterdam first originated around the mid 13th century.

a typical dock scene
and some ships a bit older
there were lots of these yellow floating cranes about loading cargo from ship to ship
Holland America Lines original headquarters founded in 1873 and is now the hotel New York
and just a short distance away is Holland Americas cruise ship from 1959 SS "Rotterdam" The elegant liner is now a floating hotel.
The Russian cargo ship "Zapolyarnyy"                              This was just a very small sample of what was seen on the highly recommended tour.
Departing form Rotterdam after two wonderful days in the city it was time for the long run back down the waterway to the North Sea.
The 1952 built vintage tug "Holland" passing
The crude oil carrier "Eagle San Jose" weighing in at an impressive 157,512 dwt.
The "Britannia's" slow speed down the waterway soon caused a backlog of ships behind.
salvage work recovering wreckage off the seabed going on in the middle of the channel
a change from the scores of oil tankers, the bulk carrier "New Orleans" 958 feet (292m) in length dwarfing the small vessel alongside her.
nearing the end of the waterway is the Stena Line ferry terminal
and next to it is the Rotterdam pilot boat base, a webcam giving live views of the base and waterway is available to watch the comings and goings.
finally, as we sail out into the open sea the "future land" container docks (or a small section of them)
because of a very adverse weather forecast due to hit when we were due back at Southampton the captain decided to proceed directly there in a bid to miss this storm, which meant we had the last night tucked up safely in our berth in Southampton instead of still being at sea, which, looking at the colour of the sky above these two ships was a good idea!
I was rather pleased watching "Mein Schiff 5" departing it wasn't us!
this has been just a very small selection of the many ships and sights seen, I could highly recommend a cruise to Rotterdam.