Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Emerald Princess

I have always been intrigued by the fact that Southampton is one of the biggest ports in the UK, yet it is cut off from the City of Southampton by virtue of high walls.

The best bet for viewing ships coming in and out of the port is to take the 10 minute ferry ride from Town Jetty, Southampton over to Hythe where, from the promenade, there is a clear view of Southampton Water and the approaches to the docks. I did a little research and found that there are a number of different harbour cruises operating out of Southampton than enable passengers to view most of the port. I booked a two hour trip on the SS Shieldhall.

What better way to explore the Port of Southampton than on board a real steamship. SS Shieldhall operates a programme of short cruises from Southampton from May to October each year. The ship was built in Glasgow in 1955 as a sludge carrier/passenger ship for Glasgow Corporation, carrying passengers during the summer months. She performed the less than glamourous operation of dumping treated sewerage at sea in the Clyde until 1977 when she was sold to Southern Water. She operated out of Southampton until 1985 and in 1988 was bought by Solent Steam Packet Ltd who operate her as a registered charity. SS Shieldhall is Britain’s largest operational historic steamship and is powered by two triple-expansion steam engines. She is 268 ft in length and has a service speed of 9 knots. All the crew are volunteers.

I boarded the ship for my cruise at No 48 berth, Southampton which was near the cruise liner terminal. My first impressions were that this was a real ship. Teak decks, brass portholes, derricks, etc. It looked, felt, smelled and sounded like the ships I had sailed on as a young man in the early 1970’s. It was to be a good day for ship spotting with no less than three cruise ships in port.

We were berthed very close to Emerald Princess (113,561 grt Bermuda 2007) operated by Princess Cruises (part of Carnival group). I am not a fan of modern leviathan cruise ships with their on-board theme parks which, to me, look like apartment blocks turned on their sides.

As we slipped out of port, we passed a cruise ship more to my taste, the comparatively modest Braemar, formerly Crown Dynasty, Cunard Crown Dynasty, Crown Majesty and Norwegian Dynasty (24,344 grt Bahamas 1993) operated by Fred Olsen.

Next to the cruise berths was the vehicle carrier, Morning Calypso (59,432 grt Panama 2013) operated by South Korean company Eukor. These are not pretty ships, but one has to marvel at the logistics involved in loading and unloading of 6500 cars and other vehicles. Southampton is the biggest vehicle import/export port in the UK and vehicle carriers can usually be seen in port.

We headed down Southampton Water past Netley before turning around and heading back up towards the River Test. Southampton Water is a busy stretch of water and I noted several of the Red Funnel Isle of Wight car and fast passenger ferries operating a regular service from Southampton to Cowes.

The star attraction of the day for many ship spotters would have been, Independence of the Seas (154,407 grt. Bahamas 2008) operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises. At the time of writing, she is the 11th largest cruise liner in the world. I watched with interest as the port tender Seagreen moored alongside her and began loading empty pallets and bundles of waste cardboard. Rubbish disposal is one of the less glamourous sides of cruise ships and one most passengers would not notice.

As we sailed further into the port, we saw the general cargo vessel Arina (3,826 grt Lithuania 1989) operated by Afalita. She was berthed by an aggregates wharf. Shieldhall did not go up as far as the containers berths.

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - April 2017 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!


Most Popular

  • 1
  • 2

Top 10 Books and DVDs 2017

Maritime Log

  • River Barges Go Electric +

    Electric River Barge The Dutch inland barge operator Port-Liner is working on Europe’s first electrically-powered inland container ship with the Dutch electrical firm Read More
  • Noah's Ark Caught in Storm +

    Noah's Ark During the winter storms that crossed parts of western Europe in early January, the Noah’s Ark was swept from her Read More
  • Start on New Felixstowe Storage Area +

    Port of Felixstowe Work is now underway on the latest expansion project at Felixstowe after the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling performed the formal Read More
  • Pier Head Memorial to Battle of the Atlantic +

    Battle of the Atlantic Memorial A campaign has been launched to raise £2.5mn to build a national Battle of the Atlantic Memorial at the Pier Read More
  • Benefits of Shipping Power Station Parts by Sea +

    Power Station Boiler Two new 110 tonnes heat exchangers to be used in refitting Centrica’s power station at King’s Lynn, arrived at the Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Commanding Officers Face Collisions Courts-Martial +

    USS Fitzgerald The US Navy destroyer Fitzgerald, which lost seven of her crew and was seriously damaged in a collision off Yokosuka, Read More
  • Anti-Drugs Patrols Seize Cocaine Worth $721m +

    USCG Stratton The US Coast Guard unloaded more than 47,000lbs of cocaine worth more than $721mn from the cutter Stratton at San Read More
  • Shipping Caught in Severe Winter Ice Storm +

    Winter Storm Grayson The east coast of North America from Florida to Canada and including the Great Lakes were affected by the severe Read More
  • Ship Adrift in Port +

    Helsinki Bridge Port tugs and members of the US Coast Guard, the Massport Fire Department, Boston Police Department and the Massachusetts State Read More
  • Services Mark Four Chaplains Tragedy +

    Dorchester Services are being held in many communities in the United States this month to mark the 75th anniversary of the Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3


  • World’s First Cyber Container Ship Completed +

    COSCO Area The first container ship to have an energy management system that has been cyber-certified by the classification society Lloyd’s Register Read More
  • Two New Ferries Ordered for Bass Strait Service +

    Spirit of Tasmania II The TT-Line has ordered two new ferries for its Bass Strait service between Melbourne and Devonport on Tasmania’s north coast. Read More
  • 32 Killed in Tanker Fires After Collision +

    Sanchi All 32 crew of the Iranian tanker Sanchi, 164,154dwt, died in a fire that swept the ship following a collision Read More
  • Protests at Certificate for Bangladesh Yard +

    Chittagong Shipbreaking Trade Unions and non-government organisations have protested following the move by the Italian classification society RINA to issue the PHP Read More
  • Automated Port Tested +

    Yangshan Deepwater Port Trial operations have begun at the world’s biggest automated container terminal at Shanghai, China. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • Russian Minesweeper Fleet Expands +

    Alexander Obukhov Russian News By 2027 the Russian Federation Navy is expected to have acquired a total of ten Alexandrit class minesweepers Read More
  • New Patrol ship for Danes +

    HDMS Lauge Koch Danish News On 11 December, in a ceremony held at Naval Station Korsør, the Royal Danish Navy commissioned the third Read More
  • Royal Navy ‘Cannibalising’ Ships for Parts +

    HMS Artful UK News Once again, the Royal Navy was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the closing months Read More
  • New Oiler for Canada +

    Asterix Canadian News The Royal Canadian Navy’s long wait for a new replenishment oiler for the fleet is nearly at an Read More
  • HMS Queen Elizabeth Arrives at Home Port +

    HMS Queen Elizabeth British News An event following the 2010 Defence Review many thought would never happen occurred on Wednesday 16 August when Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Estonian Arrow +

    Arrow Viv Llewellyn’s image of the IOM Steam Packet’s chartered Arrow at Poole indicates how advantageous her long term charter to Read More
  • A Classic Calais Blockade +

    Spirit of Britain A sign of worse to come? The 25th of January this year, saw French fishermen blockading the Port of Calais Read More
  • Lake Cruising +

    Western Belle In the English Lake District, on several of the Lakes, there are lake operations all year round. Read More
  • Wrestling Gales +

    Pride of Kent The sight of the familiar P&O ferry Pride of Kent blown aground while leaving Calais for Dover, is a shock. Read More
  • Indonesian Focus +

    Doro Landa To the Far East – PELNI (Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia) is Indonesia’s national shipping company, state-owned and operated, serving the entire Indonesian Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Nellie +

    Nellie The 75ft stumpie barge Nellie can be sailed single-handed by her owner Prof Diana Montgomery, because she doesn’t have a Read More
  • Ocean Troll +

    Ocean Troll Meanwhile, as the oil price is showing signs of recovery and the future of other oil and gas fi elds Read More
  • West Coast Drama +

    Fame High drama off the coast of Harris in December, when the small Norwegian flag freighter Fame, long a familiar presence Read More
  • Pickle +

    Pickle After the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson in 1805, the Royal Navy sent their fast schooner Pickle Read More
  • Cargo by Sail +

    Tres Hombres and Morgenster At the beginning of October the brigantine Tres Hombres sailed from Den Helder, North Holland, to Zaandam, Amsterdam before beginning Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • Medway Queen +

    Medway Queen As a result of a contact made thorough the Steam Boat Association of Great Britain in 2017, artist Mick Dean Read More
  • Berge Bulker Named In Honour of The Isle of Man +

    Dick Welsh I was delighted to learn that the latest in a series of ships for the bulk carrier giant, Berge Bulk, Read More
  • QE2 50 Years Later +

    QE2 Double Room Fifty years ago, the Queen Elizabeth 2 – the last Clyde-built trans-Atlantic liner – set sail from Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ Clydebank shipyard Read More
  • International Salvage Union: Challenging Times +

    Costa Concordia The International Salvage Union (ISU) is the global trade association representing marine salvors, its members provide essential services to the Read More
  • Hunterston Port Secures Energy Decommissioning Investment +

    Hunterston Port Hunterston Port and Resource Centre (PARC) in Ayrshire has been awarded grant funding from the Scottish Government that could pave Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • The Beauty In The Beast +

    Ngoni The world of superyachts lost a great designer when Ed Dubois died in 2016. Read More
  • Slice Of The Action +

    YachtQuarters For those who find reading about yachts is not enough, and seek a slice of the action, here is news Read More
  • Innovative Itineraries That Make The Difference +

    Scenic Eclipse Whilst it is true that the majority of new cruise vessels emerging from the world’s shipyards fit into the category Read More
  • Hamburg Highlights its Harbour and Cruise Callers +

    Grand Hamburg Cruise Days Parade There are a number of ports around the globe who promote and celebrate their harbours on a fairly regular basis. Read More
  • Pedal to the Metal? +

    Norwegian Bliss NCL has announced that their new build, the Norwegian Bliss, the company’s 16th ship, is set to launch in June Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

SS Manipur

A Troubled Voyage on the SS Manipur

The last of my three deep-sea trips on the Brocklebank ship SS Manipur was as Junior Third Engineer offi cer Read More

The Burning of the “Holmburn”

Caught below decks amid accelerating smoke, flames and heat, outbreak of fire has always been a particular dread for men Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

USS Nautilus

The Electric Boat Company

The Electric Boat Company in Connecticut has been at the forefront of naval innovation since its foundation in 1899. Patrick Read More

Clews, Bunts & Reefs

With celebrations being planned next year for the 250 year commemoration of Captain Cook’s first landfall in New Zealand, I Read More
  • 1
  • 2