Crowds bid farewell to huge Azura ship at South Shields seafront as it sets sail from River Tyne
Crowds turned out at South Shields seafront to bid farewell to the huge Azura ship as it set sail from the Tyne.
The gigantic Caribbean cruise ship had become a much-loved fixture of the South Tyneside skyline over the past six months, after it arrived on the river at the start of 2021.
Operated by P&O, the cruise ship travelled from Southampton to the Port of Tyne on Friday, January 15, where it remained berthed to undergo essential maintenance.
During its time on the Tyne it attracted a large number of people to both sides of the river wanting to take a look at the impressive vessel.
And hundreds turned out in the chilly evening air on both sides of the river to bid the ship a fond farewell – despite the scheduled departure time clashing with the closing minutes of England’s victorious game against Germany in Euro 2020.
The Azura had been due to leave Northumbrian Quay at 6.45pm, but set sail at around 7.30pm, its horn blasting and funnel smoking, as it made its way down the Tyne, passing the Herd Groyne, where many had gathered to say farewell.
The ship left the harbour before 8pm and is now heading for Belfast.
A P&O Cruises spokeswoman said: “We are so grateful to the local community in the Port of Tyne for the warm welcome Azura and her crew has received.
"We have very much enjoyed being there.
"Azura will now move to Belfast for an extended period prior to her return to service.”
Capable of carrying 3,100 guests and a crew of 1,250, the Azura would normally make holiday trips around the Caribbean.
But when the coronavirus pandemic pressed pause on international travel, P&O brought all of its ships home to the UK.
However, its home port of Southampton did not have the berth availability for all of its ships, leading to the Azura making the River Tyne its home for the last six months.
Built in 2010, the Azura measures 290 meters long and features 14 guest decks.
It features 10 restaurants and 13 bars and cafés on board, as well as four swimming pools, a spa, theatre and open air cinema.
Guests can also enjoy a casino library, art gallery and a range of sporting activities during their cruise.