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Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd

Take a 'virtual' tour of ms Black Prince

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Sauna Deck 2

Steiner Salon, Fitness Centre, Sauna, Solarium, Indoor Swimming Pool, Table Tennis Area.

Marina Deck 3

Indoor Leisure Centre, Darts, Badminton Court, Golf, Marina Landing Stage & Boats.

Main Deck 4

Reception, Medical Centre, Ironing Room.

Lounge Deck 5

Royal Garter & Fleur De Lys Restaurants, Card Room, Photo Gallery, Shop, Aquitanne Lounge & Casino, Slot Machines, Neptune Show Lounge.

Lido Deck 6

Lido Lounge, Library, Pool & 2 Jacuzzis

Marquee Deck 7

Balblom Restaurant, Deck Chess, see through dome to Lido Lounge.

Sun Deck 8

Shuffleboard, Tennis, Quoits.

Click here for Photos of Black Prince

Black Prince was built for Fred. Olsen in 1966 at the Lubecker Fender Werft shipyard in Germany.
She is the second passenger ship in the company’s history of that name.

The Bow of Black Prince
Bow

Originally designed for a dual purpose role as a joint passenger and cargo vessel to the Canary Islands in the winter and in the summer as a passenger and vehicle ferry between England and Norway. She was converted to total passenger service in 1986 when part of the existing cargo hold was used for a Marina Park - which is taken out of the stern of the ship and floated on the ocean’s surface and used as a base for water sports. Additional space was created inside the stern and transformed into an indoor fitness centre with a heated pool, a large area for table tennis, badminton court and a children's room.

Stairwell Figurehead
Where from?

This was a pre-Christmas Mini-Cruise and she was full. At just 11209 grt, with 241 cabins, carrying 412 passengers (max. 451), Black Prince is a small ship with a rather 'odd' outside appearance . However, her public rooms are lovely, tastefully decorated, well laid out and functional. She has the best Neptune Lounge of the Olsen Trio. There is no wraparound Prom, and one can't even walk completely around her outside on Sun Deck. Being a 'cold' trip, the outside areas were little used, except when entering and leaving port, so whether she ever gets crowded on deck, I don't know, but probably not. The lounges were not crowded even with everyone inside. The Christmas decorations were up, making it all look extra special. Some 'interesting' Scandanavian Artwork in various places. Overall the ship seemed well maintained and 'cared for', no obvious areas of neglect anywhere, apart from the cabin decor.

Captain Thor Fleten was The Master, who is retiring in early 2002, first joining Fred. Olsen back in 1958. Looked very becoming donning a wooly hat on the bridge. All the crew were friendly and smiling, as were the passengers; I didn't see or hear anyone having a moan. Black Prince is 'cosy' and lends herself well to provide an endearing and relaxing atmosphere.

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Black Prince Royal GarterRestaurant
Royal Garter

There are two main dining rooms, Royal Garter [in pinks/reds] & Fleur De Lys [greens], both having 2 sittings in the evening at 6.30pm and 8.30pm with the same menu. They are both small, intimate [many tables for 2] and lovely, with seaviews to port and open 'windows' to the starboard 'walkway' where the shop/card room/photo gallery are located.

Black Prince Fleur De Lys Restaurant
Fleur De Lys

All meals were à la carte for dinner. You are allocated a specific table in for dinner, but open seating in either restaurant for breakfast and lunch when you could have the buffet, eat off the menu, or a mixture of both. No queuing at the buffets. There was plenty of choice on the menu, appetizers, soups, salads, main courses [about 5 and a couple of vegetarian], tasty desserts, fruit, cheese and biscuits, and an extensive reasonably priced wine list. Many bottles to choose from around the £10 - £15 mark [some less], and it seemed every table had one each night. Lots of fish dishes, always something for those with a spicey inclination [Indian, Thai], and something for the British palate. Items suitable for diabteics were marked too. The Surf and Turf was delicious. One could not fault the food, in variety, taste or presentation. Only light snacks are available through cabin service, soup, sandwiches, salads and omelettes, but we didn't use this service, nor for breakfast. Olav Pedersen was the Executive Chef.

Joseph the waiter was attentive and cheerful, his assitant was good too. The wine waiter always seems to be a somewhat difficult 'catch', so fill out the order form in advance, then he's there:) Only 3 nights, one of each Informal, Formal and Casual. However the Casual night was really more Informal as most people dressed up. The Captain's Welcome Cocktail Party (and Farewell I assume!) was after first seating on the 2nd night, free drinks again.

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Light  on the quay at the entrance to Le Havre's Port
Approaching Le Havre

There were a handful of children aboard, but apart from mealtimes one didn't see a lot of them. There is a children's room, Little Prince, but I didn't investigate. Quite a number of older teenagers too. Nearly all the passengers were British; did hear one American voice. Mainly in the 40 - 60 age range, but many younger and a 'younger' retired set, no 'Ancients'. Probably as this was a short trip, although some were staying aboard for the following 16 night Christmas Cruise to the Canaries.

Central Station - Antwerp
Central Station - Antwerp

Biscuits mid-morning and cakes mid-afternoon are served with tea and coffee in the Lido Lounge, with after dinner coffee in the Neptune Lounge for those at first seating. The Balblom Restaurant is conservatory style and used for eating Al Fresco in warmer climes. A bit too chilly in The Channel I'm afraid. It was however the venue for a nightly quiz. There was a Late Night Buffet each evening in the Royal Garter, but never got there.

The seas were like a millpond and we barely felt a ripple, so can't comment on how she copes with rough/heavy seas. No noticeable engine vibration.

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Model of Black Prince
Black Prince Model

There is a lovely model of Black Prince outside the Fleur De Lys, much admired. The Photo Gallery caused a bit of a blockage in the walkway, as did the Boutique, but this was because with so few hours actually 'at sea' they were only open for short periods in the morning and evening, so everyone made a beeline for them at the same time. Only one Boutique, but well stocked.

The Card Room seemed to be well utilised. The Library was small and I never really got around to seeing exactly what books it had, but looked nice anyway. One entrance led straight onto the deck, so people did just use it as a walk through room. No internet access. The Reception area is smart, with friendly staff, and a stairwell adorned with large portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

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Main Stairwell
Main Stairwell

 

 

Aquitaine Lounge
Aquitaine Lounge

Only one nightly show* in the Neptune Lounge around 10pm, but plenty of seating for all. It doesn't contain a stage as such, but a dance floor with the orchestra behind and staircases on either side curving up to the Lido Lounge. There are some pillars obstructing the view, but they are thin and didn't cause a problem. The dance floor is open to the Lido Lounge so you can also view from there around the edge. The Shows, or whatever is going on, is filmed and shown in the cabins as well on two large screens on either side of the Lido Lounge.

Port Talks, Early Cabaret and Comedy took place prior to the show. Always something going on; line dancing or just the orchestra playing.

Looking Aft - Starboard
Looking Aft - Starboard

The Aquitaine Lounge [blues] has a bar with dance floor and contains the casino, which seemed to be well used on this trip, although there's only a couple of tables, Blackjack and Roulette. Brits don't gamble that much. A small room containg slot machines adjoined the casino area. Evening Piano Melodies in here, which made it a pleasant lounge for a drink.

Indoor Pool
Indoor Pool

I didn't use the Beauty Salon, Fitness Centre [which looked well equipped], the Solarium or the Sauna in the Indoor Leisure Centre, but this whole area is really something for a small ship and would be great on a longer cruise. The indoor swimming pool is a good size and was well used. There are loungers on the carpet surround and a table tennis table on one side.

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It would be nice to cruise on Black Prince to warmer countries and experience the Outdoor Marina. I had a good look around and there is a speedboat for water skiing, sailing dinghies, inflatables, sailboards and 'Sunfish' type sailing boats, all of which are used from two pontoons from the stern and port side. Snorkling too.

There's also a badminton court which doubles for playing darts and golf putting.

Darts/Badminton
Darts/Badminton

We booked a last minute Inside Guarantee, and that's what we got. Cabin 456 on Main Deck. It was a good size, bigger than I was expecting, but the bathroom was small, tiny even. A bag of Gilchrist and Soames toiletries was supplied, and the shower kept a steady water temperature. There was ample storage space in the cabin and bathroom. Enough for 4 people for 2 weeks I imagine, but this was a 2 bed. There were however 4 'keys' in the slot, but couldn't see where any drop down bunks could have been if it ever was once a 4 berth. The lack of a porthole/window didn't make as much difference as I thought it would, especially with having a view from the bridge on the TV. The Stewardess kept everything in order and clean, beds turned down with good mattresses and duvets, chocolate on the pillow, iced water in a thermos jug etc. She was in there the minute we left in the morning, so ready when we returned from breakfast.

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Dave and Pam Dining
Dining

 

Dave and Pam at Embarkation
Embarkation

The decor of the cabins is in my opinion awful. 1970's teak veneer, outdated lampshades, generally 'drab' and dull, and they really need upgrading. Most of the other cabins I peered in were extremely small. The outsides tended to be smaller than the insides and a fair number had 2 berths [bunks] instead of beds. There are quite a few singles, which didn't look any smaller than the 2 berths. I didn't get a look in one of the suites, but through the door on the last morning one looked as though it may have had a refit and quite smart/spacious.

No Guest Laundry, but there is an Ironing Room. There are a couple of lifts which looked small, but never used one. Only really needed by people in wheelchairs or with walking difficulties.

Cabin 456
Cabin 456

We didn't go on any tours preferring to wander about on our own; but those who did, enjoyed them, even if they felt they were a bit pricey.

*The Entertainers were Singer Laurie Bennett, Comedians Don Reid [excellent] and George King [didn't see], and Déjà Vu & Company, singers/dancers, along with the Black Prince Orchestra. The final night Auld Lang Syne was sung by the audience and cast at the end of the evening's show. Also Angelito the Pianist and DJ Les Sinclair. Port lectures were by Elsbeth Buchanan. The Cruise Director was John Marvin.

I am sure I have forgotten to mention numerous things. Please email me if you have any questions.

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The Itinerary

Photographs

Cruise Intro

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