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Southampton sees seven P&O cruise ships come sailing in for Grand Event

03July2012_P0_CruisesPhoto by Echo UK

03-July-2012. Southampton saw seven ships come sailing in today to take part in the biggest maritime spectacular in the port's history.

Every vessel of the city-based P&O Cruises' fleet was lined up along the waterfront in a unique occasion to mark the shipping line's 175th anniversary.

Never before has this number of P&O Cruises ships, with their gleaming white hulls and distinctive, buff coloured funnels, been in port on the same day.

The Princess Royal was due to make it a day to remember by taking the salute as Southampton's "Magnificent Seven" set sail at the end of a day of celebrations early this evening.

Former prima-ballerina Darcey Bussell was one of the first to greet the arrival of the ships in Southampton when she visited the 115,000 ton, Azura, the vessel she officially named in the city during 2010.

Despite a persistent drizzle and low cloud, sightseers in their thousands were out in force at the city's Mayflower Park as well as all the vantage points along Southampton Water to see the remarkable sight of more than half a million gross tons of shipping at their berths in the Eastern and Western docks.

The dismal weather conditions forced the RAF's aerobatic display, the Red Arrows, to abandon plans for a low-level fly-past over the ships just before mid-day.

Now organisers of the event, which has taken almost two years to organise, are keeping their fingers crossed that the weather will improve at about 7.15pm when the Red Arrows are due to stage a 25-minute display during the royal fleet review.