Documentary series going behind the scenes at the Port of Southampton. Cruise company P&O gathers its entire fleet of seven ships for a review by the Princess Royal.
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On the south coast of Britain lies a city within a city
that's fighting to keep the nation afloat.
The port of Southampton is a gateway to the world.
It's the cruise capital of the UK.
Hi. Welcome on board.
Seafarers from across the globe pass through here every day.
In tough economic times, the port is battling for its share of handling cargo.
This is how we make our money. This is how the shipping line makes their money.
Ready for the Christmas market. Batteries not included.
We are looking for Rolls-Royces
which are hidden amongst potentially 100 Bentleys.
Commercial ships and weekend sailors
wrestle for space in crowded sea lanes.
Turn round! Go that way!
It's not rocket science! The big ship is turning!
Passengers, ships and cargo.
Shaping the lives of the people that run one of the busiest ports in the world.
This is Sea City.
In this episode...
All I can do is apologise. We've had quite a challenge here today.
Seven cruise ships and a princess.
Can Dolly and Alan juggle passengers, royalty and a cake?
Try not to drop it!
How a maritime man of the cloth
keeps homesick seafarers in good spirits.
Every day I walk up that gangway and never know what's going to happen.
And motoring advice from an expert car handler.
For me, it's how pretty they look.
The engine doesn't really concern me!
It's 5.00am, and it's an historic day for the port.
Aurora BTS one cable on the reference line.
One cable on the reference line. Thank you.
And it's a historic day for cruise company P&O,
who are celebrating 175 years of operations.
All seven ships of the line are in port for a royal review.
'Think of me as a waterborne parking attendant. That's the nature of the job.'
Berthing officer Pete McKee
is one of the first to see the seven ships arrive.
'What I need to do is actually stand at the most critical point.'
That's 25 metres to go ahead now.
25 in. OK.
'I basically do a countdown for the pilot
'and then hopefully, they'll park the ship where I tell them.'
-15 metres ahead now. 1-5.
'Southampton is the home port for most of these ships.'
You just never see the whole fleet in on one day like this.
I guess when you see so many ships each day,
the romantic side kind of gets lost on you a little bit.
But it's nice seeing people go off on their cruises
and come back if they've enjoyed themselves.
That side of it's quite nice.
One metre ahead. One metre.
'In position at the gate now.'
With seven ships, there are over 15,000 passengers to disembark
and another 15,000 to get on.
There's a risk the port could seize up
so there's a plan for some of them to check in across town.
A temporary passenger terminal for two of the ships
has been set up on the edge of Southampton,
at the Ageas Bowl cricket ground.
We're used to doing this in a marquee on the quayside in Cape Town.
We've got a slightly better environment here!
Dolly Galliford is one of the masterminds
behind P&O's big day.
OK. All you can do is assure them that the taxis are arriving
and they're on their way.
'It's been two years in the planning'
since we planned the itineraries to coincide with the 3rd of July.
If you think all those ships and all the places they go in the world,
to plan that had to start two years ago.
So we're talking about an enormous amount of co-ordination
to do with this operation here at the Ageas Bowl,
all the people who work down here at the port,
the police, all the officers on board the ships.
To the right there.
Dolly's preparing for a juggling act with transport, passengers and luggage.
We've had about 7,000 pieces this morning that need to be picked up between the two ships.
There's a chap with a saxophone, as you normally do at the Ageas Bowl!
Back at the port, the seven ships are already attracting an audience.
The crew are getting ready for new passengers
with the royal freight review later in the day.
The pressure's on to have everything in place on time.
-No defects? All lights are working?
Can you just check that all the special diets are available at the back
for the guys that are looking after the special diets
and show the photographs of the VIPs that are having those.
Let me know when it's done. Thank you.
On board the cruise ship Oriana,
restaurant manager Alan Carr is looking after preparations for a special anniversary reception.
The Princess Royal is coming for tea and cake.
No detail is too small.
We'll have a bottle of water available.
One chilled and one room temperature.
The speciality about the china is it's on loan to us.
It's Royal Albert. All Royal Albert.
So we've got it just for the day.
And then it's all going back.
There's going to be a plaque behind here. Of course I can't unfold that.
That's Her Royal Highness's job, not mine!
So she'll be doing unveiling of the plaque there,
she'll be cutting the celebration cake that's being brought in at 12 o'clock.
They've spelt "grand" wrong!
Wonderful. Everything's working... to plan!
But later in the day,
not everything goes as smoothly as Alan would have liked.
More than half a million new vehicles
ranging from cars to diggers
are handled by the Port of Southampton every year.
Every one of them has to be driven on or off the ship.
I've driven Land Rovers, Range Rovers,
Georgie Cunningham has been working at the docks for over six years.
And there's nothing she can't shift.
BMW X Series. All of them.
A ship like this one can carry as many as 7,000 vehicles
of all types.
Like parking a car.
I can park these better than I can probably park cars, though!
Ships in dock don't make money,
so every second counts when it comes to loading them up.
For me, it's how pretty they look,
under the engine doesn't really concern me!
Today, Georgie's task is to unload a batch of 50-grand BMWs.
There's always a chance of accidents.
It depends how alert you are
and making sure you keep to the standards you've been told in the briefs.
Make sure you keep your distances.
It's much better than driving my Peugeot!
But I do like big cars. The bigger, the better.
I don't see it as a privilege any more. I see it as part of my job.
But speaking to other people that don't work in these surroundings,
and they say, "What do you do?" I say, "I drive cars on and off the vessels."
"Really? Do you drive all those cars?" "Yeah." They say, "I'd love to do that."
With the BMWs safely off the ship,
Georgie's next job is to pick up vehicles from the port's most exclusive car park
and load them on the ship dent-free.
We're on the most expensive level
of any multi-deck that we've got.
Because we are looking for Rolls-Royces
which are hidden amongst potentially 100, if not more, Bentleys.
In the history of us shipping out Rolls-Royces,
there's ever only been one known damage.
And that was down to the deck heights being given wrong.
So when we went to load it on a deck, it should have fitted.
But when the Rolls-Royce went on, it kind of almost made it a convertible!
Which I think is what gave Rolls-Royce the idea to make the Cabriolet!
But I can't be sure!
You can't even hear it!
No, nothing like my Peugeot!
No. Much nicer.
When I first started here,
there wasn't many 22-year-olds
that could say they've gone to work and driven a Rolls-Royce today.
But now I've told the story so many times, people are bored with it
so I tend not to talk about it very much any more.
At P&O's temporary cruise terminal at the cricket ground,
passengers are trying to find their luggage and head home.
Are you B101?
I'm not going to North Wales. We're going to Chester.
Dolly Galliford has helped plan P&O's grand event.
She's on the front line of customer relations and complaints.
'It's an absolute shambles. We've now got to go back into Southampton to pick our car up.'
Right. I will feed that back to head office, you know...
-Yes, if you will, please.
-I will do.
There's no rhyme nor reason to the luggage...
It's laid out in decks, as they would be normally in the port.
The rain, of course, really doesn't help us today.
Ooh, look, a bit of sunshine as I said that.
-Thank you. I hope you have a safe journey home.
They're checking down here somewhere.
If you go down... Through the concourse here. I'll show you where to go.
-Why did your people tell us to come back again?
'Passengers want to know where they need to be.
'We've had to consider all kinds of onward transport.'
Coaches, taxi, private cars.
As long as you can focus in what that passenger specifically needs,
then that's all you can do, really.
Make sure you focus on them.
That's all anybody wants to know. Where they're supposed to be and how to get there.
Across town at the Oriana, they're getting ready for passengers.
And for a royal visit.
Just one moment.
Can we have four of each? So four there and four here.
Which is front and which is back?
-Front is this way.
-Right. You're the back way. You're at the back.
No, I'm at the back, you're at the front.
Restaurant manager Alan Carr
has a specially commissioned anniversary cake to get on board.
I'm going to take it up to the crow's nest.
And then we'll unpack it.
-Please try not to drop it!
Weighing 35 kilos and standing four tiers high,
the plan is to deliver the cake on the quay
and then carefully wheel it up a steep gangway.
It dawns on Alan that the plan might not work.
-That's going to be steep, coming up with that.
That's just a nightmare to get up there.
But there's another problem. The cake is a security risk
and must be checked out first.
-We can't put a dog over it, cos he'll eat it.
-It's not in a box.
-The cake's not in a box?
-It's just actually on a...
-There should be a...
-Go and have a look. It's big!
It's not practical to carry it up here. It's just too big.
You'll have to go up in the lift on the other side.
They'll see if they can get it on the Avery and take it through the air bridge.
Where does the air bridge come out at?
It'll come out midships.
-Just hold on. They're checking the route first
-to see if it's viable.
-Is it massive?
-It is massive, yes.
Back at the temporary terminal at the Ageas Bowl cricket ground,
passengers just off their ships have finally got away
and new guests are checking in.
Despite the unusual surroundings,
there's a cruise to look forward to.
Everyone's in a party mood.
This is a special event, isn't it,
175 years of P&O.
We've been on a few, but we always come back to P&O.
X marks the spot. Well done. Enjoy yourselves.
We've never done anything like this before.
I was just trying to think it's the same as any other check-in
but just in a different location.
The biggest worry is that everyone gets checked in on time, basically.
Because the ship sails, no matter what.
# ..if it ain't got that swing
# Doo-wa-de-wah Doo-wa-de-wah
# Doo-wa-de-wah Doo-wa-de-wah #
But it's not all plain sailing for Dolly.
In the car park, passengers are having problems trying to drop off their cars and bags.
Aurora in the right-hand lane, OK?
-Aurora, right-hand lane.
Down here, left-hand lane.
It's absolute chaos!
Sorry for your delay. We're just trying to clear the backlog.
-These lines of vehicles haven't moved in two hours.
-As I say...
-These are constantly going through.
That is stopping this happening.
It's happening right in front of your eyes!
It's these guys munching sandwiches and sipping coffee
while everybody else is sitting in cars.
Nothing compares to this. This is a rush.
Ain't on top of it at all. Every single last bag.
-It's on top of us.
-Yeah, on top of us.
All this luggage getting wet!
People are pulling up, they're taking their luggage and putting it in the wagon.
All ours have been stuffed over there.
So we'll all have wet-suits!
-That's been sitting there for over two hours.
-We're doing the best we possibly can.
I hope you're telling P&O.
Honestly, we're doing the best we can.
-Can you get some tarpaulins?
-I'll get some of these on the lorry now.
Otherwise, can you get tarpaulins?
All I can do is apologise.
-We've had quite a challenge here today.
-You knew this was going to happen.
The guys here have been told several times by many people
how to do this.
Eventually, the traffic starts flowing again
and the last passengers can finally check in.
Here at last!
It's been a long day for Dolly already.
And for Alan Carr on the Oriana.
He's still hoping the special cake will arrive
before the Princess Royal gets on board for tea.
Catch you later.
-It's not in a box and it's not covered.
The tiers are exposed.
So when you see the cake coming, go and get the lift.
-Don't let anybody else get into it.
We need to go all the way to the crow's nest.
The moment's arrived.
With the alternative route, the cake's coming through the main passenger door.
That'll go underneath, won't it?
That'll pass, pass, pass.
Take it easy! Take it easy!
You've got it. You've got it.
OK, can we x-ray it, please?
The Princess Royal is making more stately progress
as she heads towards the VIP reception on board ship.
But Alan's still steering the cake
towards the restaurant upstairs.
That's going to go in. Just.
I hope she's hungry, because there's plenty to go round.
One final lift to get the cake safely into position.
One, two, three, lift.
Is that OK?
Let's have a look.
That's fine. Excellent. Well done, guys. Thank you very much.
Well done. Excellent.
The scene is now set for a royal review of the fleet.
Sometimes, we're the only friendly face that goes onto a ship.
Because other times, people want things. But I don't want anything when I go on board.
Except to offer a hand of friendship and a warm smile
to the people who visit our shores.
GREETS MAN IN TAGALOG
Good man. Good man. There we are. Chocolate.
Dozens of ships arrive in the port of Southampton every week.
Each one brings a small crew who are often far from home.
How long have you been on board now?
-I already five months and 15 days.
-How long is your contract?
Reverend Roger Stone works for a charity called Apostleship of the Sea.
It supports seafarers who visit our shores.
Every day, walk up a gangway and never know what's going to happen.
It's great to meet people from so many different countries.
GREETS MEN IN TAGALOG
Welcome to Fawley.
What have you done to your glasses?
-It's not broken.
Oh, they're magnetic!
Today, Roger is on board the Bodil Knutsen at the Fawley oil refinery
on the outskirts of Southampton.
I'll tell you what's available in Fawley.
Right. I've finished that!
Nothing, basically. There's nothing here, OK?
Southampton is 30 minutes away by car.
'It's information sharing and making sure they feel welcomed.
'The most important word for them is homesickness.'
They really feel homesick such a lot of the time.
I'll leave that with you, Captain.
You are the captain, aren't you?
-You should be the captain!
-Captain of the galley.
Captain of the galley, yeah!
Lovely. That's traditional Filipino food!
My goodness me!
'I bring faith materials with me onto the ship.
'That's not to push it down their throats.
'But it's there on offer'
and if they'd like something, a prayer book or a Bible, whatever,
then we supply them, all free of charge.
It's in English and in Tagalog.
So you can read in both languages at the same time.
Get the translation.
I'll leave my contact details here.
It's got my "pangalang", my number, and my email and Facebook address.
Then we can stay in touch, if you want.
I don't know what drives me to do this, really. I just know that I love it.
Roger's charity provides a bus service into town
and a base where seafarers can let off steam
and relax away from their ship.
'About 560,000, would you believe it,
'seafarers come into the Port of Southampton every year.
'This building exists so that they've got somewhere safe to come.'
Help yourself to a beer. Do you want the laptop?
I spend a lot of time listening to seafarers.
That's probably the most important thing of all that I do.
"Two of these, one of these", our motto as it were.
'They're away from home for such a long time, sometimes.
'Eight, nine months at a time.'
Working every day. Never have a day off.
Never a day off.
There's a saying which I've heard many seafarers use.
"Every day is Monday."
Willie Persigas has been away from his family for over six months.
-You're all seafarers?
How old was he?
Were you able to go home for his funeral?
'We see the ships coming in,
'but we don't actually see the seafarers on the ships. Very rarely.
'But it's not ships that bring things to this country.
'It's seafarers on the ships.'
Cruise company P&O is celebrating its 175th anniversary.
The entire fleet has gathered to take a salute from the Princess Royal.
Restaurant manager Alan Carr
has been worrying about getting a big cake on board his ship
for a VIP reception with Princess Anne.
Take it easy!
That'll go in. You've got it.
After finally getting it in place,
it's got the royal thumbs-up.
I can relax now. Have a cup of tea!
Across town at the temporary passenger terminal for some of the ships,
celebrations planner Dolly Galliford has had a testing day, too.
All I can do is apologise. We've had quite a challenge here today.
You knew this was going to happen.
'It's been quite challenging. It's the rain as well,
'it always makes an event harder to deliver.
'But everybody's been checked in, and they're all on the ships'
or on their way on buses to the ships.
So it looks like we're on schedule to sail the ships as planned.
We've had a very long day!
Dolly's heading for a small inflatable boat
to watch the royal review from a grandstand position.
'Give us a shout when you approach
'and we'll do a quick swap-over here.'
Also on the water is marine officer John Highland.
He's been keeping the sea lanes clear at the port for 25 years.
He'll be at the front of the fleet of seven giant ships
and escorting them safely out to sea.
There's been a lot of planning. A lot of people have put a lot of input.
I think it's all coming together.
Touch wood we've had no incidents.
Everyone's behaved themselves.
There are plenty of spectators, too,
despite the awful weather.
A day out in sunny Southampton!
I told you it were going to be nice!
We're British. We don't get put off by the weather!
I've never seen rain like it. But this is a one-off thing, so... We had to come and see.
Red Eagle, BTS. Afternoon, Captain.
This is the duty watch manager.
Due to the conditions, I would prefer it if you would stay south of dock head.
Everyone at the port is pulling together to make the grand event happen smoothly.
Nathan Rousle and his team in the traffic control tower
are in charge of shipping movements today.
It's a bit like a winter's day, really.
Almost getting into our reduced visibility protocols!
We don't want that.
Your level of security for the Port of Southampton?
It's not just the weather that Nathan's team have to deal with.
A wayward radio transmission may scupper a smooth operation.
Someone's got their VHF set permanently transmitting
which is blocking out our port control frequency.
Particularly for this day and the cruise ships,
it could cause absolute chaos because they could be trying to call us and we can't hear them.
The control tower puts out a call on the emergency frequency.
All stations, all stations, all stations.
This is Southampton BTS.
All stations are requested to check their equipment...
There's probably thousands of boats out there watching. We're not sure who it is.
John Highland has seen something that's got him worried.
I'm not too sure what this yacht is doing here.
I'll just go and investigate.
I'd prefer it if he was out the other side of the channel.
Just the sight of John in his patrol boat is enough to get the yacht moving.
As long as you can catch these incidents early,
you know, everything's fine.
Come on, let's get our champagne out!
At last, Dolly can start celebrating
the end of nearly two years' hard work and planning.
It's funny. It's all sort of calmed down.
It's really sad that it's over, actually.
I've been thinking about it for so long.
It's been fantastic. Really fantastic.
And even the radio gremlin seems to have gone,
which is a relief for Nathan.
Thankfully, the interfering frequency disappeared
without any intervention.
So obviously our broadcast, touch wood, has cleared it.
For P&O and its passengers on the seven ships, this has been a day to remember.
A unique display that's relied on hundreds of people pulling out the stops.
But the port takes it in its stride.
It's all in a day's work for Britain's cruise capital.
I've worked in the port for many years, 25-odd years.
You get a bit blase about it. You think, "Oh, more ships."
But actually, looking at it, it is actually quite a sight.
DOLLY: It's been exhilarating,
it's been exasperating, it's been fantastic.
I honestly feel so proud. Looking back on those ships
as we were coming back into Southampton,
I had a real lump in my throat.
We're going to go and have a party, now!
They love that, don't they? Look at them!
I often do that. Go round the stern and wave, and they wave back.
You think, "That's nice. They're on holiday."
Next time, on Sea City...
It's Cowes Week and John's back on the water,
saving sailing boats from certain disaster.
They think we're the bad guy, but we're only trying to avoid collisions, that's all.
And how guiding in big ships
can make even the experts anxious.
A wet and windy blowy night, you're not human if you're not a bit nervous!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
In one of the port's biggest events of the year, cruise company P&O are gathering their entire fleet of seven ships for a review by the Princess Royal. It is a testing time for cruise and Southampton staff as they juggle passengers, luggage and logistics.
The programme also meets port chaplain Rev Roger Stone and shows how one of the few female stevedores handling cargo deals with getting luxury cars loaded dent-free.