Yesterday 16th August saw one of the UK’s favorite cruise ships depart from Southampton to start a new life in China. The former P&O Cruises favorite Oriana sailed under her new name Piano Land, which is the English translation of Gulangyu Island, situated in Xiamen, China and her new home port.
Sold in June 2018 to the new Chinese (state-owned) cruise company Well Star Travel Cruise, a joint venture between China Travel Services International (CTS) and COSCO Shipping Group. The new cruise line plans short-break roundtrips from Xiamen in China to ports in Japan and Southeast Asia including Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Indonesia with operations starting in mid-October 2019.
On 9th August she arrived in Southampton at the end of her final cruise for P&O Cruises, and once the last passengers disembarked work started to change her identity and prepare for her voyage to China. Together with work to de-store her exterior work included removing Oriana’s name plate’s from below the funnel, painting over the union flag on the bow and the P&O Cruises logo on the stern. Her former name was painted over and replaced with Piano Land just a day before sailing.
On the day of her departure the former fleet mate Ventura and near sister Aurora were both in port and as she sailed gave farewell blasts from their horns.
On the same day as her departure two former fleet mates, Ventura and near sister Aurora were both in port. As she sailed both exchanged farewell blasts from their horns.
Enjoy these images of Piano Land sailing from what was her home port for 25 years.
Some images of the icon that was Oriana
It wasn’t often Oriana was in port overnight but ahead of my three day cruise to Guernsey on hear she was in port overnight so I took the opportunity to get some night photos.
© Andrew McAlpine
Following her departure it was confirmed that Astro Ocean had officially taken over operations. She is now heading to Piraeus where she will make a technical stop and will receive a new livery on the bow and new logo. She is due to arrive in Hong Kong at the end of September and begin a series of short cruises from nearby Shenzhen from October and November before moving to her winter home port of Xiamen.
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