Haynes World - ships, ferries, a laugh on the ocean wave, and other interesting things...


Mona Lisa cruise 25th August 2009

Part 1
The sound of Nat King Cole singing “MONA LISA, MONA LISA” resounded over the decks of the good ship MONA LISA, as we left Bremerhaven’s Columbus Terminal in Germany on 25th August 2009. The last time I had been on board this ship was in December 1999-February 2000 when she sailed as VICTORIA for the Union-Castle Line Centenary Voyage.

I first worked for Union-Castle Line in the mid-1960s as a sea-going Purserette, sailing on such lovely ships as TRANSVAAL CASTLE, CAPETOWN CASTLE, REINA DEL MAR and EDINBURGH CASTLE, but eventually left the sea for a life ashore. Many years later, as one of the Directors of the re-launched Union-Castle Line, I was part of the team involved in the planning of the Voyage and had personally signed the Charter Party document on behalf of the Company. I was fortunate enough to have been a passenger on the 66 nights Voyage, and also worked by liaising most days with my Managing Director colleague back in the UK office.

I knew therefore this cruise was going to be a particularly emotional time for me, so I was glad I would be with good friends when I boarded the ship again.

Sunday 23rd August 2009
I’m always happy to travel somewhere by sea, so my itinerary started by getting a train to Doncaster, then going on the ‘flyer’ to Hull, in Yorkshire, ready to catch the overnight ferry to Rotterdam’s Europoort on P&O’s M/S PRIDE OF ROTTERDAM. She was built by Fincantieri in Venice, Italy, with Wartsila engines, gross tonnage of 59,925, was delivered on 12th April 2001, and made her maiden voyage on 30th April 2001 from Rotterdam to Hull. She can carry 1360 passengers, cars, units and double-stacked containers, has a service speed of 22 knots, and stabilisers.

Checking in and 5 p.m. boarding was easy, and despite this being “I.S.P.S. Land”, my friends and I had time to photograph the ship alongside the terminal building; I was amazed to see the mud of the river bed shelving down only a few feet from the hull of the ship, but all seemed well (her draught is given as 6.05 metres).

The cabins on deck 10 were comfortable and well appointed, and the aft decks gave us good views of the cars and lorries driving onto the ship. These included a couple of huge lorries from Childcare Chernobyl, to which we sent mental best wishes for their journey. Thirst for a cup of Earl Grey tea sent us to the Continental Café on Deck 9 starboard side, which is franchised to Costa Coffee Company, with its huge windows looking out over the River Humber.

We were interested to see the ship’s interior design by Tillberg Design/SMC London, the Art Collection from Enterprise & Art of Amsterdam, and the Show Lounge, bars, shops, casino, and 2 cinemas on board, spread over the passenger decks 8 and 9; cabins were on deck 10, and some on 8 and 9. I liked the Sky Lounge on deck 12 which gave panoramic views from the Bar and seating area. We had time to look at all of these areas before PRIDE OF ROTTERDAM sailed at 9.15 p.m. Overnight we were to sail the 204 nautical miles from Hull to Rotterdam.

I had previously booked dinner and breakfast meals with the tickets, so we could use them on board in either the Four Seasons Buffet Restaurant or, as we chose to do, in Langan’s Brasserie. The food (cooked to order) and service there were excellent, as we expected, and we could choose to pay the extra cost of another course, over our meal voucher value, if we wished.

Ships seen: Pride of York in the nearby lock, Cobel freighters over the other side of the River Humber

Monday 24th August 2009
After a calm sea crossing from Hull on board PRIDE OF ROTTERDAM, the day started loudly with a public announcement at 6.00 a.m., so we breakfasted early, ready to disembark at 8.15 a.m. in a sunny Europoort in Rotterdam. We had reserved coach tickets for the 25 mile journey into Rotterdam city but the bus was delayed, giving us a chance to photograph our surroundings whilst we waited: our ship and the nearby STENA PARTNER. Europoort seen from the coach was vast, and fascinating, with its mixture of gas and oil refineries, and I’m told it is the third largest port in the world, after Shanghai and Hong Kong. I did notice one large oil holder, which on its side said “Caster Oil”. Hmmm…

Rotterdam Train Station is still undergoing building work but we bought tickets and started our long journey from Rotterdam to Bremen in Germany.

We had to change at Amersfoort and Osnabruck, but the trains were comfortable and spacious, and it was interesting also to see the skyline of Utrecht (Treaty of, signed in 1713-14) on our way. The journey took about 5 hours. Bremen was as delightful as ever and after a sleep and shower, we were all ready for a walk and a good restaurant meal looking out over the main square.

Ships seen: European Trader, Stena Partner

(click on pictures to enlarge)

To be continued...