Another ship that I was fortunate enough to visit was Island Princess. She called in Durban on 25 March 1996, and was the first of 3 ships that we visited in a week. I had always taken a fancy to her and her sister, they were very attractive vessels, and of course they were famous for their role in the TV comedy “The Love Boat.”
Originally built as Island Venture (sister was Sea Venture/Pacific Princess) in 1971, she spent most of her early life sailing for Princess Cruises as Island Princess. They were both products of Rheinstahl Nordseewerke, West Germany and had a gross tonnage of 19907 GRT. Principal dimension were 551x79x25, with a capacity of 644 passengers.
Because we were going on a cruise we actually arrived a day early, and managed to wangle a trip out to her with the pilot boat. The weather was grey and gloomy out at sea and sadly the photography was not great.
We followed her into the harbour, and she was one of those ships that really does look like her images. She berthed at “N” Shed and then the long wait began to get on board her.
Once on board we set about our mission of exploration. The ship was doing an “Around Africa” voyage and this must have been the first time we had seen a Princess ship in our waters in years. We just hoped that this would become a regular occurrence, I would really have liked to have sailed on her.
The decks were starting to come alive and the buffet on deck was gradually being more frequented. Interior wise the ship was smaller than I expected, although I had heard this from other sources. She also had a very different feel to other ships I had been on, and this had to do with the American passenger market.
A friendly steward noticed us and introduced us to breakfast at the buffet. And, I don’t think I have ever tasted such strong coffee in my life! It kept me awake for the rest of that day and most of the night!
Then it was almost time to leave. We had a visit to the Bluff organised and had to be there to meet our contact. We bid the ship a fond farewell and promised to see her off later that afternoon. I was particularly looking forward to her sailing as I was less than pleased with the photography that morning.
Once we arrived at the Bluff and gone through the security we were in an area that had been unavailable to us before. We climbed up into the signal station and the view was incredible. The operator on duty did warn us to avoid photographing too much while we were there as the area was still restricted, but we could photograph the harbour side, and we decided we would wait out Island Princess from there.
It is quite easy to picture the photographer that took so many images of the harbour and vessels like SA Vaal in the channel. It was a spectacular place to photograph from, but being the days of film we could not go crazy the way we do today with our digital cameras.
Then we saw tugs heading to “N” Shed, Island Princess was on the move. It was time to put that long lens to use.
There was something satisfying seeing her clearing the harbour mouth from this viewpoint. The next day would see us standing on board Rhapsody doing the same thing. I would have really preferred to be on Island Princess though.
Island Princess was eventually sold by Princess and had a somewhat odd career until she ended up in service as Discovery. Sadly, her sister fell on hard times while operating for Quail Cruises, structurally she was not in a great condition and there was talk of her being sent for breaking up. At the time of writing she was in layup, her future uncertain.
Sadly Pacific Princess made the trip to Aliaga for breaking up under the name Afic. On the way to the breakers she started to take in water, and by the time she arrived was listing badly. Attempts were made to pump the water out, and two workers lost their lives in the process. The ship has since been stabilised, but is still listing and this may slow down the demolition process until she is stable enough.
And, regretfully Discovery did not outlive her sister by much, and her life ended at the breakers in November 2014.
© DRW 2015-2018. Recreated 13/03/2016. Images of Discovery courtesy of Hugh Knapton