This page is CruiseHolidays
Updated 10TH July 2020.
Memories of fine ships and delightful destinations
Canberra at anchor off Istanbul on a grey day in April 1976
The attractions of a cruise are manifold. One drives to Southampton, unpacks once and then a succession of interesting places is brought to one’s door. Between ports, one is assured of a high standard of care, good food, a comfortable bed and entertainment on board ranging from string quartets to quiz games. If one wishes to be anti-social, one can stay in one’s cabin and read - there is always a good library on board - or relax on one’s balcony watching the sea go by. Moreover, even if one starts with no significant interest in ships, one soon gets caught up in the fascinating routine of ship-board life, especially during arrival at, and departure from, the various ports of call.
Here is a summary of our cruises over the years:
1976: Canberra Vigo, Naples, Athens, Istanbul and Palma
1991: Sea Princess Copenhagen, Gudhjem (Bornholm), Gdansk, Leningrad, Helsinki, Stockholm, Travemunde (for Lubeck)
1993: Black Prince Oslo, Bergen, Olden, Molde, Copenhagen, and Hamburg
1994: Black Prince Oslo, Ronne (Bornholm), Tallinn, Riga, Klaipeda, Kalliningrad, Elsinore, and Lubeck
1997: Black Watch Lerwick, Bergen, Molde, Honningsvag (for North Cape), Tromso, Svolvaer (Lofoten Is), Geiranger
1999: Oriana Lisbon, Vigo, Gijon, Brest, and St Peter Port
2005: Aurora Corunna, Bilbao, La Rochelle, and St Peter Port
2006: Artemis Kristiansand, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Gdynia, Warnemunde
2007: Artemis Bruges, Rotterdam (for Amsterdam) and Le Havre (for Honfleur)
2007: Queen Mary 2 Hamburg
2008: Arcadia Malaga, Cephalonia, Dubrovnik, Venice, Split, Bari, and Gibraltar
2008: Artemis Bergen, Eidfjord, Skjolden, and Stavanger
2009: Artemis Palma, Rhodes, Kusadasi (for Ephesus), Katakolon (for Olympia), Taormina, Lisbon and Vigo
2010: Aurora New York, Newport RI, Boston, Portland Maine, Bar Harbor, St John NB, Halifax, Quebec, St John’s NF
2011: Queen Elizabeth Amsterdam, Zeebrugge (for Brussels), Le Havre (for Rouen)
2012: Arcadia Malaga, Kotor (Montenegro), Venice, Koper (Slovenia, for Ljubljana), Dubrovnik, Corfu, Gibraltar
2013: Oriana Corunna, Casablanca (for Rabat), Cadiz, Malaga (for The Alhambra), Gibraltar, Lisbon
2014: Arcadia Lisbon, Gibraltar, Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga, Cadiz
2015: Adonia Tangiers, Palermo (Sicily, for Cefalu), Gaeta (for Pompeii), Civitavecchia (for Rome), Livorno (for
Florence), Ajaccio (Corsica), Lisbon
2016: Oriana Corunna, Bilbao, La Rochelle, St Nazaire
2017: Aurora Gdansk, Klaipeda, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Riga, Travemunde, Copenhagen, Oslo, Skagen
2017: Adonia Killybegs, Belfast, Greenock (for Glasgow), Kirkwall, Scrabster, Portree, Liverpool,
Dublin, St Peter Port
2018: Arcadia Bergen, Skjolden, Alesund, Kristiansund, Trondheim, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Olden, Haugesund
2019: Aurora La Coruna, Porto, Ceuta (N. Africa), Malta, Taormina, Sorrento (for Herculaneum), Rome,
Ajaccio, Alicante, Lisbon.
Black Prince sailed from Tilbury, Black Watch from Dover. All other ships sailed from (and returned to) Southampton
Aurora sails past Calshot in June 2013 – probably our favourite ship
Here are brief details of each of the ships on which we have sailed:
Canberra: (P&O): built 1961, 44,800 tons, 818 feet long, 1641 passengers, speed 27 knots. Scrapped 1997
Sea Princess: (P&O): built 1966, 27,600 tons, 660 feet long, 714 passengers, speed 21 knots. Sold out of service
Black Prince: (Fred Olsen Lines) built 1966, 11,200 tons, 470 feet long, 439 passengers, speed 18 knots. Sold out of service
Black Watch: (Fred Olsen Lines) built 1972, 28,600 tons, 674 feet long, 804 passengers, speed 20 knots
Oriana: (P&O): built 1995, 69,100 tons, 853 feet long, 1828 passengers speed 24 knots.
Aurora: (P&O): built 2000, 76,100 tons, 885 feet long, 1868 passengers, speed 24 knots.
Artemis: (P&O): built 1984, 44,300 tons, 754 feet long, 1200 passengers, speed 22 knots. Sold out of service
Arcadia: (P&O): built 2005, 82,505 tons, 936 feet long, 1996 passengers, speed 24 knots.
Queen Mary 2 (Cunard Line): built 2004, 148,500 tons, 1131 feet long, 2620 passengers, speed 29 knots.
Queen Elizabeth (Cunard Line) built 2010, 90,400 tons, 964 feet long, 2058 passengers, speed 23 knots.
Adonia: (P&O): built 2001, 30,200 tons, 592 feet long, 710 passengers, speed 20 knots. Sold out of service
Here are three or four pictures from each of our cruises, giving a glimpse of the ships and of some of our favourite ports of call:
Our first cruise was on P&O’s Canberra in 1976. Although the ship was then regarded by many as almost the last word in cruising luxury, she had been built primarily as an emigrant ship and so most cabins were very tiny and some (not ours, thank goodness!) even lacked private bathrooms.
Our cruise took us from Southampton to Vigo (northern Spain), Naples, Athens, Istanbul and Palma.
High spot: wandering the streets of Istanbul where the sights and sounds of the mystic Orient mingled with more familiar western customs.
Ready to depart: Canberra at the old Ocean terminal at Southampton in April 1976.
Left: Robert and fellow team members celebrate with Champagne after winning a quiz in the Meridian Room.
Right: Barbara writes a postcard in our cabin: note the bunks!
The cabin was small – I was standing in out in the alleyway to take the photo. But it was a moderately superior cabin as it had an en suite shower and toilet, unlike most cabins on board.
Left: 1970s Istanbul: note all the vehicle advertisements and the male-dominated environment
Right: Dusk falls over Istanbul, seen from Canberra’s Promenade Deck while anchored in the Bosphorus
Traditional Istanbul: the Galata Bridge and Tower, steam ferries to Scutari (in Asia).
The scene was something like a Lowry painting, brought to life.
Then came a fifteen year absence from cruising while our two daughters grew up
We sailed on P&O’s Sea Princess to the Baltic Capitals, including Leningrad, then in the last days of the old USSR.
Our two daughters much enjoyed the on-board facilities for youngsters.
High spots: Tivoli on a magical warm summer’s night and Soviet Leningrad in the rain.
Left: Dining on board Sea Princess: Barbara, Ann, Mary and Robert, with waiter Tony
Right: Mary and Ann in our cabin: Ann is wearing a scarf bought that day at the Berioska shop in Leningrad
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, by night;
Restoration work in hand, slowly (!), at the Church of the Spilled Blood, Leningrad
In the 1990s we enjoyed three cruises to Scandinavia with Fred Olsen’s ships.
On the Black Prince to Norway, Denmark and Germany
The ship was very small, carrying only 400 passengers, but provided a comfortable and very friendly environment
High spot: the walk to the Briksdal glacier on a glorious summer’s day, passing spectacular waterfalls
Left: On deck on the Black Prince; Right: Barbara relaxes in a ship’s Lounge after dinner
En route to the Briksdal Glacier; Mary, Barbara and Ann with the vivid blue ice of the glacier beyond
On the Black Prince to the Baltic States
From some points of view, this was our most fascinating cruise of all time, visiting little-known ports still showing the evidence of years of Soviet rule and lacking any evidence of western commercialism.
High spot: Exploring the streets of Tallinn in Estonia, admiring the picturesque buildings, most with delicate pastel shades.
Black Prince by night at Oslo; a small dwelling in Tallinn
Some of the streets of old Tallinn
Our 1997 cruise was on Black Watch to the Fjords and North Cape.
A well-appointed and comfortable ship – just the right size, carrying 800 passengers
High spot: the glories of Geiranger Fjord
Fred Olsen’s Black Watch in Geiranger Fjord, seen from the tender taking passengers ashore.
This photo was a runner-up in Fred Olsen’s photo competition and has been much used in their publicity.
In the Lofoten Islands, Robert takes a dip in an inlet from the Arctic Ocean.
The water is fortunately warmed by the Gulf Stream – but that is snow on the hills at the left!
Back to P&O: this time on their new Oriana, built in 1995 and the first newly-build ship intended specially for the British cruising market with a very high standard of comfort and decor. We enjoyed a week’s cruise including calls at Lisbon, Vigo (Northern Spain) and Brest.
High spot: climbing through the alleys and back streets of Lisbon to St George’s Castle with its views over the city and the River Tagus.
On board Oriana: Barbara and Robert on deck; Ann in the Tiffany Lounge
Lisbon: climbing the alleys to St. George’s Castle; at the top, Ann and Barbara enjoy the view over the River Tagus.
On Aurora to more ports in northern Spain and France
Aurora is a spacious, well-appointed and stylish ship and is still our favourite
High spot: the coach drive through the Rioja vineyards for a tour of a Bodega culminating in a magnificent lunch.
Aurora’s spectacular atrium with a Lalique style waterfall. The cellars of a vineyard in Rioja
Rioja country, with vineyards, a hilltop village and the mountains of northern Spain beyond;
We sailed on Artemis to the Baltic Capitals, including St Petersburg
Artemis was somewhat smaller than other ships in the P&O fleet with a more intimate atmosphere: she became our favourite until sold out of service in 2010.
High Spot: The tour of Romanov Palaces in St Petersburg plus a night at the ballet
Artemis at Copenhagen; St Petersburg skyline: 11 pm
Catherine Palace, St Petersburg;
Firstly, a short cruise on RMS Queen Mary 2 to Hamburg
High Spot: her vast size and amazing facilities ensure that the Queen Mary is herself a destination in her own right
although with the penalty that she seems rather impersonal when compared with smaller ships.
Scenes on board R.M.S. Queen Mary 2
A glimpse of Queen Mary 2, seen at Hamburg
2007 (continued): A short cruise with the family on Artemis to Bruges, Amsterdam and Le Havre (for Honfleur)
High Spot: An afternoon absorbing the French atmosphere in Honfleur
Ann, Robyn, Will and Mary on Artemis as she sails out of Le Havre; Robert and Barbara at Honfleur
The harbour at Honfleur
With the family on Artemis to the Fjords
High Spot: Late evening in Sognefjord
Sailing down Sognefjord, early evening
Mary, Barbara, Ann and Robyn admire the sun at 11pm; Midnight buffet: Barbara, Robyn, Ann, Mary and Will
2008 (continued): on Arcadia to the Adriatic Sea with two days in Venice
Arcadia is a very comfortable and well-equipped ship, but lacks the fine style of Oriana and Aurora
High Spot: sailing into Venice and wandering the quiet backwaters of the city
Venice seen from the deck of Arcadia as she arrives in the early morning
Barbara pauses at a quiet spot near the Arsenale
On Artemis once more, sailing to the Eastern Mediterranean, including Rhodes, Ephesus, Olympia and Sicily
High Spots: Looking at the blue Mediterranean from Lindos and the view to Etna from Taormina
Blue sea and blue sky: the view from the Acropolis at Lindos on Rhodes.
The fabulous panorama of Taormina and Giardini Naxos, with Mount Etna looming beyond, seen from the Greek Theatre.
Back on Aurora for our longest cruise to date (by way of celebration of Robert’s 70th birthday), to nine ports on the eastern coast of the USA and Canada.
A wonderful cruise – perhaps our finest holiday yet!
High spots: The sheer panache of New York and the delightful views over Maine from the summit of Cadillac Mountain
(not forgetting Blueberry Pie on our return from the peak!) plus Quebec’s French style
On board the Aurora: our home for almost four weeks, showing our cabin and Barbara on deck with New York’s skyline beyond.
We enjoyed two days of the vibrant pizzazz of New York:
Robert and Barbara on top of Cadillac Mountain, Maine
Quebec, showing the Chateau Frontenac and looking out to the St Lawrence River
On Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth for a short cross-channel cruise enabling us to visit Amsterdam, Brussels, Le Havre and Rouen
High spot: The remarkably fine Baroque buildings of Brussels – such a contrast from the modern E.U. sector!
Queen Elizabeth’s spectacular atrium.
One reason for Belgium’s fame: a chocolate shop! A restaurant in Grande Place
Sunday afternoon in Grande Place
On Arcadia to the Adriatic
High Spots: The sail into Venice (with distant views of the snow-capped Dolomites), the fjord-like scenery of Kotor in Montenegro and, possibly best of all, the delightful, almost Viennese flavour of Ljubljana (Slovenia’s capital).
Montenegro: departure from Kotor and a view from Arcadia as we pass by the village of Perast
The Mediterranean off the coast of Puglia, from our balcony on Arcadia
Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia: Congress Square with the castle visible through the trees, and a quiet corner of the city
Sailing home: on the deck of Arcadia in a benign Bay of Biscay
On Oriana to Spain, Morocco and Portugal
High Spots: The tours from Casablanca to Rabat (the Royal capital of Morocco) and from Malaga to the fabulous Moorish palaces of The Alhambra in Granada.
Rabat, the Royal capital of Morocco;
left: the Hassan Tower and remains of the great Mosque destroyed in the 1755 earthquake
right: Islamic building in the former Roman city of Sala Colonia
Rabat: the entrance to the Kasbah
The Alhambra, Granada
left: the Courtyard of the Lions; right: Islamic plaster and tile decoration
The Patio de la Acequia in the Generalife Gardens at The Alhambra
On Arcadia to Portugal, Gibraltar and Spain
High Spots: The historic centre of Valencia and the gardens of Cadiz
Arcadia steams steadily through the Bay of Biscay on a glorious sunny day
Valencia: The Cathedral and Archbishop’s Palace
Cadiz: scenes in the delightful gardens
On Adonia to Tangiers, Italy and Lisbon
High spots: Pompeii, the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Florence and a tram ride around Lisbon
The ruins of Pompeii, with Vesuvius looming in the background
Adonia, berthed at Ajaccio in Corsica Ann, Robyn and Barbara relax after dinner in Adonia’s Library
Market scene in Tangiers Vatican ceiling, seen en route to the Sistine Chapel
In Florence, David manages without an umbrella, unlike his admirers Our tram pauses at Basilica da Estrela during our tour of Lisbon
On Oriana to Northern Spain and Atlantic France
High spots: Chateau Courbon and a Muscadet Vineyard
Chateau Courbon, visited from La Rochelle
The Chereau Carré vineyard, Muscadet
On Aurora to the Baltic States and Russia
High spots: Re-visiting Tallinn, Riga and St Petersburg and seeing the new Opera House in Oslo
The Hall of Peter the Great in the Hermitage, St Petersburg. The Peterhof Palace, St Petersburg
Street scene in Tallinn, capital of Estonia
Scenes in Riga, capital of Latvia
On Adonia to ports including Ireland and Scotland
High spots: Giant’s Causeway, Dunrobin Castle, Dunvegan Castle and Dublin
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland Dunvegan Castle Gardens, Skye
Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland The Oscar Wilde Memorial, Merrion Park, Dublin
On Arcadia to the Norwegian fjords including calls at Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, Geiranger and Olden
High spots: Alesund and the drive from Geiranger to Mount Dalsnibba
View over Alesund from Mount Aksla
On Mount Dalsnibba
View over Geiranger, with Arcadia at anchor
On Aurora to La Coruna, Porto, Ceuta (Spanish North Africa), Malta, Taormina, Sorrento for Herculaneum,
Rome, Ajaccio, Alicante, and Lisbon
High spots: The Douro Valley visited from Porto and Herculaneum (despite torrential rain).
Low spot: the extraordinarily high seas and strong winds which prevented us going ashore to visit Rome
Amarante visited during our tour to the Douro Valley
Herculaneum: Elegant and cheeky Roman remains
The rough sea at Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, which prevented us going ashore.
Seen from Aurora which was safely tied up for the duration.
Our planned cruises
because of Covid-19
the end of a glorious holiday
You might also be interested in some of our other web pages:
Robert’s memories of the 1940s and 1950s (with photos) at www.robertdarlaston.co.uk/MemoryLane2.htm
Colour photos of life in 1959 at www.robertdarlaston.co.uk/1959Revisited.htm
A selection of family photos from the 1940s to date, at www.robertdarlaston.co.uk/Family Photos.htm