APRIL 2009 & SEPTEMBER 2009:
FRED OLSEN – BLACK PRINCE
I’ve taken two cruises on Fred Olsen’s Black Prince – the first was to Portugal, Spain and France in April 2009.
The second in September 2009 – a short 3 day sailing to Ireland. It was considered a farewell cruise as the ship was due to be retired. A number of modifications necessary to bring Black Prince in line with the new standards were economically unviable, particularly for such as small ship.
Black Prince wasn’t a fancy feature filled ship with climbing walls and theatres, however the simplicity of the ship added to it’s charm. It was filled with senior passengers and I think there were only about 3 of us onboard under the age of 50. Naturally I made friends with the other two – us youngsters had to stick together!
We were able to celebrate my Father’s 69th birthday during the Farewell cruise in September 2009, which was also his last birthday (and last holiday) before he passed away.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is a UK-based, Norwegian-owned cruise shipping line with four cruise ships. Black Prince, built in 1966, has just 441 berths, compared with the latest generation of ships, some of which can accommodation more than 4,000 passengers.
Black Prince had a traditional and initmate feel – there was a piano player and singer performing classic love songs in the bar area, and there was entertainment in the lounge every evening ranging from cabaret acts to comedians to magician shows.
The two restaurants were both lovely, with the waiters very charming. Around 70% of the crew were Filipino so we felt right at home. They were extremely courteous at all times and the food was very tasty and always nice presented. They offered breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper, together with tea/coffee with sandwiches and cakes mid afternoon! No chance of starving! They also provided a late buffet one evening with a marvellous display of food, all decoratively presented so you could really admire their artistry skills!
There were lots of excursions available for each of the ports but at no time did we ever feel pressured to take part in any activities or purchase any tours. We were free to do as we pleased whilst onboard and also when we arrived at each port of call.
DESTINATIONS – PORTS OF CALL
Leixoes (for Oporto), Portugal
Set on the banks of the River Douro, the UNESCO World Heritage City of Oporto is truly beautiful, with pastel-fronted houses with red-tiled roofs, neo-classical buildings and wonderful baroque churches. Famous for it’s Port Wine production, Oporto is home to a host of renowned Port producers including Cockburn’s, Taylor’s and Sandeman.
A short journey from Leixões takes you into the heart of Oporto, with its fortress-like Cathedral and the Baroque Church of Clérigos. Head to the historic Ribeira District, where the narrow, cobbled lanes wind their way down to the Douro River.
Oporto sits deep in the gorge of the River Douro and on the riverside – dominated by the two-level Luis I bridge – it’s possible to look up at the narrow streets of the old town. They climb out of the valley, lined with pastel-fronted houses with red-tiled roofs, mixed in with neo-classical buildings and wonderful baroque churches. Dominating the centre of the city is the fortress-like hulk of the Cathedral, which is worth visiting for the views alone.
Historic Honfleur is a charming little town with a warm, inviting atmosphere and a rich cultural and artistic heritage. One of France’s most visited towns, Honfleur – with its beautiful 15th and 16th century architecture and distinctive harbour – is a very popular tourist destination.
Honfleur’s greatest attraction is arguably the Vieux Basin (Old Dock). Located in the heart of the town, visitors descend upon the Basin to discover the lofty slate-and-timber fronted houses that overlook the colourful yacht and fishing harbour, and sloping cobbled streets that serve as a reminder of 16th century Honfleur. Be sure to visit Saint Catherine’s Church – a church constructed entirely of wood dating back to the 15thcentury – and Notre Dame de Grâce – a 17thcentury chapel containing various painting and models – where fantastic views of the town, the Seine estuary and Normandy Bridge are found.
A welcoming city with a warm atmosphere and special character, Dublin is one of Europe’s must-visit cities. Renowned for its vibrancy, nightlife and many tourist attractions, a trip to the Republic of Ireland’s capital is always full of excitement.
There are several museums and monuments in the city centre that highlight the vast history of Dublin and Ireland, as well as art galleries, exhibitions, cathedrals and castles to visit.
Its medieval buildings include 13th-century Dublin Castle and imposing St. Patrick’s Cathedral, founded in 1191.