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Happy 21st birthday, ladies


Joint celebrations were the order of the day when guest Charlotte Miell and her parents joined Oriana for a memorable Mediterranean cruise.

Newspaper cuttings of three-year-old Charlotte Miell on Oriana, with her parents

Pictures of Charlotte and her parents celebrating Charlotte and Oriana’s third birthdays in 1998, which featured in the Southern Daily Echo

On Wednesday 6 April 2016, two special ladies celebrated their 21st birthdays at sea. One was Oriana, who was launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on that day in 1995. The other was guest Charlotte Miell, a graphic design student from Totton near Southampton, who has a rather special relationship with the longest-serving ship in the fleet. So much so that she playfully calls the elegant P&O Cruises grand dame her ‘sister’.


Their story goes back to 1995. The day Her Majesty The Queen conducted Oriana’s naming ceremony in Southampton, Charlotte was born in the city’s Princess Anne Hospital. Parents Mary and Dave placed an announcement in the Southern Daily Echo to mark the occasion. Jump to 1998. P&O Cruises asked the Echo to help them find a child who shared the ship’s birthday and Charlotte was invited to come on board for a VIP day, during which she met the Captain and wore his hat. Three years later, the family joined Oriana for their first cruise holiday to the Canaries to celebrate Charlotte’s sixth birthday. From that moment they were hooked and have since enjoyed 11 holidays with P&O Cruises, nine of which have been on their favourite ship, Oriana.


‘When we first stepped on board for the VIP tour, we were wowed but never thought we would get to sail on her. Then look what happened!’ says mum Mary, who has watched with pride as her daughter has sailed through many happy birthdays on board. ‘Charlotte’s loved cruising ever since that first holiday. There would be tears at the end of each cruise because she didn’t want to go home.’


Joint celebrations

There were no tears on their most recent cruise, though. Just a lot of fun and a few surprises. Charlotte’s parents booked the 17-night cruise to the Mediterranean to celebrate Charlotte’s 21st birthday and even stayed in the same cabin as their first ever cruise.


‘On the second day of the cruise we got a call in our cabin to say that the crew had a birthday present for Charlotte,’ explains Mary. ‘A couple of officers came down to surprise her with the news that she could have her own stateroom for this cruise, which was a lovely treat.’ 


Charlotte and Oriana’s shared birthdays were made public by the Captain over cocktails at the first gala dinner. The family chose to go to town with birthday festivities on the last gala evening on the 4 April, which was also dad David’s birthday, enjoying cake, singing and the opportunity to meet Captain David Pembridge and wear the Captain’s hat once more.


‘Everyone was so nice,’ says Charlotte. ‘That’s the wonderful thing about Oriana. All of the crew are very friendly and everyone treats you so well.’


The ship is something of a second home, now. ‘I love Oriana,’ says Charlotte. ‘She’s so familiar, which is great. The minute I get on board I know exactly where everything is. And this cruise was really memorable. I got treated to lots of special things, not to mention seeing some amazing places for the first time, such as Venice. We did absolutely everything, including a gondola ride. Sailing in and out of Venice was pretty amazing, particularly in the sunshine on the way out.’

Charlotte and her parents re-enact the pictures that were taken in 1998

Charlotte and her parents celebrate the 21st birthdays by re-enacting the pictures that were taken in 1998

Birthday poem

To mark her celebration cruise, Charlotte wrote a poem, which she performed in front of a packed audience on the night of the Passenger Talent Contest. Her words below sum up the many moments that made this cruise one she won’t forget.


Celebrations at Sea

By Charlotte Miell, April 2016


Seventeen nights to the Med have we

Seven ports and nine days at sea

Not forgetting my special birthday away

Shared with the ship on the very last day


Sailed to Cadiz, Valetta, Sarandë have we

Dubrovnik and Venice, Dad’s birthday at sea

Messina in Sicily and the Rock of Gibraltar

We've seen lots of sights and plenty of water


Spent time in Cadiz reaching the heights

Touring round Malta on "six must see sights"

Paddled in the sea in Sarandë what fools

In Dubrovnik we walked the old city walls


In Venice we saw everything and walked a long way

But the best was the Gondola I have to say

In Messina we watched the astronomical clock chime

In Gibraltar try the cable car, if you don't fancy the climb


You don't know how much I love to cruise

Packing the posh frocks and party shoes

Quizzes and parties and lots of fun

All the way through 'til the cruise is done


Ents hosts Tom, Garry, and Tara

Sarah in the pool with running mascara

Adam had a hair cut, now its all spikey

Not forgetting Graham, Donna and Mikey


Different acts performed on each of the nights

Victor, Mark, Lisa and the Flyrights

Headliners plus Bernie, Roy and Suzanne

Better arrive early, get a seat while you can


The dinners were tasty, I tried a new dish

Had some steak and some duck and even some fish

So many choices I couldn't make up my mind

So much variety on board you can find


What a great way to end this fab holiday

Photos round the ship, it's my 21st birthday

Presents, balloons, cake and waiters that sing

Had an amazing time away, I loved everything