Black Prince (II) & Black Watch (III) Say Goodbye
The forlorn looking Black Prince was joined in Southampton on the 18th October 2009 by her (still current - just) fleet mate, Black Watch.  Despite my aches we decided to go down since it was meant to be the only time they were together before Black Prince left for Venezuela.  However, with her date changed from the 23rd to 27th, who knows what would be going on when Black Watch returned?  It's very unusual to have two Fred Olsen ships in Southampton together anyway.  Boudicca and Black Watch were supposed to be twice during 2010 but they changed Boudicca's itineraries.  The marina was pretty much deserted, the few people milling about would leave although a small handful did watch.  Lady Madeleine was unusually in 39 instead of with Bentley.
Black Watch was due to leave at 4.30pm and she began moving shortly after that but took nearly twenty minutes to turn which was unusual indeed.  By now the weather had become colder.
As Black Watch was slowly edging away from the dock a coastguard helicopter flew overhead.  No idea what it was for but we hope whoever was onboard didn't have anything serious.
The helicopter went back the way it came and shortly afterwards Black Watch gave three very loud blasts to Black Prince.  Fred Olsen, like Saga, tend to only blast to their own.  This year Black Watch has at least done it to rivals.  As she was blasting her passengers gave very loud cheers.  Black Prince replied with three of her own, the passengers still making more noise than anything else around.  Then we heard over the tannoy the cruise director shouting, "Hip, Hip!" with the passengers finishing with, "Hooray!"  It was quite emotional and even I had stinging eyes at this Fred Olsen farewell to their old ship.
One more blast from each with the passengers still going wild but they soon calmed down as she continued on her way past and towards the Solent.
And so Black Prince went back to being all forlorn and alone.  Black Watch was due to return on the 25th.  Would her fleet mate still be Black Prince then or Ola Esmeralda?  The forthcoming week was going to be interesting.  To see photos of Black Prince arriving back two days before from the farewell cruise, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 18th October 2009
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