September's Indian Summer
After a disastrous August weather-wise, with less than a third of her sailings running as scheduled, Balmoral’s September programme got off to an equally bad start. On the first day of the month her cruise from Lydney and Sharpness was terminated at Penarth and with rapidly deteriorating conditions she retreated to the shelter of Avonmouth docks, where she remained until Saturday 6th 2008. There then followed a few days of uninterrupted sailings, with a planned off service day in Swansea on Monday 8th September. On Wednesday 10th sea conditions led to the cancellation of both Clevedon calls as well as the evening one at Penarth, with passengers returning home by coach from Portishead. Then, with the late cancellation by the charterers of an event planned for the next day the ship once more retreated to Avonmouth docks.
Emerging once again on Friday 12th September Balmoral was able to complete the remaining ten days of her Bristol Channel programme without any further disruption, other than not being permitted to cruise Bristol City Docks due to filming constraints (12th).
Highlights included two trips to Lundy Island (14th and 18th), “Senior Citizens” day to Ilfracombe (16th) and Lydney and Sharpness to Ilfracombe (17th). Good loadings were achieved throughout the final weekend on the Channel in beautiful autumnal weather – the final day seeing Captain Davies taking the ship beyond Worms Head into Rhossili Bay in stunning weather conditions.
After resting overnight in Swansea, Balmoral headed north to take up her well established weekend of sailings on the Clyde, arriving into Largs on the morning of 24th September before continuing to Glasgow on the evening of the following day. There followed three very successful days with over 500 passengers carried on both the Friday (Senior Citizens to Dunoon and Rothesay) and Saturday (Millport Illuminations) and first calls at both Clydebank (by the Titan Crane) and Lochranza on the Sunday – all achieved in generally fine autumnal weather.
Balmoral was due to commence the final sector of her season following the QE2 around the Irish Sea. However, bad weather returned with strong north-westerly winds. The first special sailing had been planned to take place at Cork, but the adverse conditions put paid to this plan.
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