The P&O Arcadia cruise ship is back at its favorite anchorage in Torquay. The skeleton crew and captain of the ‘adults only’ 11-deck ship fell in love with the bay because of the way locals welcomed them for 18 months forced into Babbacombe Bay.
And now that it has returned to cruising sailing, the Arcadia can no longer stay away from its second home. The passenger ship which holds around 3,000 people returned to the bay for the Jubilee weekend and returned yesterday morning and was heard ringing three times, much to the delight of ship watchers. She is to sail to Portland this afternoon.
Poignantly, the Arcadia was the last to leave the fleet of “ghost ships” numbering up to 11 ships to leave the bay. And when she left, Captain Ashley Cook – who describes herself as ‘an Exmouth girl’ – sent a message of thanks to locals who showered them with Devon hospitality, Christmas gifts and welcome messages.
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She wrote on the Ships in Torbay and Lyme Bay Facebook group at the time: “Since we arrived in Babbacombe last year you have gone out of your way to make us feel so welcome (Christmas presents were so caring) and it was truly touching to see your excitement and enthusiasm around our movements (and noises! I don’t think Arcadia has ever been photographed so much! You have provided us with a safe and beautiful place to shelter us while we waited for the green light to sail again and absolutely loved our time here, as much as we wanted to sail around the world!
“We have really enjoyed being part of your community, and as a girl from Exmouth myself, I am happy that two weeks ago some of our guidelines changed which allowed many members of our crew to go ashore and experience brilliant Devonshire hospitality.
The message added: “On behalf of Arcadia Captain Ashley Cook and all officers and crew, we would like to thank the people of Torbay – and the members of this Facebook group – for your kindness, enthusiasm, your generosity and your warm hospitality, during 18 very trying months.
“But sadly, now is the time to leave you, and it is all the more moving as we are the last ship to leave. I am sure that all the ships that have passed here share my sentiments as well. Newcastle tomorrow afternoon in order to start preparing for sailing again. Around 2 p.m. we hope to be able to say goodbye properly with a pass of sail and a few blasts of the ship’s whistle. If any of you come to see us leave, we will wave to the right once again thank you all, we will miss you!”
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