On the 30th September 1997, CANBERRA arrived in her home port of Southampton for the final time. The decision to retire the ship had come a year earlier and her last arrival was met with a spectacular welcome, rivalled only by CANBERRA's return from the Falkland Islands on 11th July 1982.
In a 36 year career, CANBERRA had sailed more than three million miles, carried nearly a million passengers and been home to thousands of her crew. She had for a time 'shaped the future' but, like the Straths before her, the same drive for progression which first created CANBERRA would eventually overtake her.
With her actual fate then undecided, work began immediately to destore the ship and to salvage what could be saved of her sixties art and design. In a two week operation P&O Heritage were able to painstakingly remove the Ruskin Spear panels and displays from the Cricketers, the melamine murals from the former Nurseries, the Maori war canoe and inlaid balustrade from the Pacific Dining Room and many other original artworks featured in this exhibition. There were some items that couldn't for practical reasons be retained including, lamentably, the works by Julian Trevelyan on the First Class stairs. Despite a very thorough search, no hint of the Hockney's could be found!
On the 10th October 1997, CANBERRA sailed for the last time leaving in her wake a legacy to classic British design and construction, that was appreciated and valued by all who were lucky enough to have sailed in her.