It’s too late now to book a berth on Cunard’s QE2, which will sail on November 11 to her retirement berth in Dubai.
There’s still time, though, to grab one of the final voyages on two other popular ships which will soon be pensioned off.
New safety regulations which come into force in 2010 will put veterans Saga Rose and Black Prince out of action.
Both ships are tiny by today’s standards. The Rose, which sailed its maiden voyage in 1965, carries about 600 passengers; the Prince, which started life as a freight and passenger ferry in 1966, and was converted to cruising in 1987, carries 450.
They have an avid following of regular passengers who will struggle to find anything like the cruise experience they have grown used to among the mega-ships now plying the oceans.
Saga Rose’s final voyage is a 37-night marathon which leaves Southampton on October 30, 2009 and visits some of the most interesting and historical sites in the Mediterranean, including Rome, Venice, Dubrovnik, Alexandria and Casablanca before coming home on December 6.
Black Prince’s lengthy farewell will begin on September 9, 2009 with a 10-night cruise around the UK from Liverpool, then a three-night mini cruise from Liverpool to Southampton.
The season continues with a 10-night Historic Home Ports cruise from Southampton back to Southampton, followed by her final cruise of 14 nights to the Canary Islands. The ship returns to Southampton on October 16, 2009.
Saga are confident that the Rose will, like the QE2, have a future as a floating hotel. They have also announced that she will be replaced by Saga Pearl II, a 450-passenger ship which formerly sailed as Astoria, and which had originally been bought to be converted as a sister ship for the Spirit of Adventure.
Fred Olsen has not yet announced what will happen to Black Prince, nor are there any immediate plans for a replacement, with the company’s fleet now a total of five ships with Black Watch, Boudicca, Braemar and Balmoral.