As the SOLAS 2010 saftey deadline looms for ships, it will soon be time to say goodbye to another mature vessel -- Fred. Olsen's Black Prince. The cruise line announced today that the 441-passenger ship, built in 1966, will retire in October 2009.

The SOLAS regulations demand that all ships comply with modern safety requirements by 1 October 2010. Many older ships will therefore need to undergo substantial and costly upgrades or retire from active service. As Fred. Olsen said previously that it's not prepared to update Black Prince, the beloved ship is being forced from service. Black Prince will sail several farewell cruises, beginning 9 September 2009, including:

A 10-night round-Britain cruise departing from Liverpool

A three-night mini-cruise from Liverpool to Southampton

A 10-night "Historic Home Ports" cruise roundtrip from Southampton

A final 14-night Canary Islands cruise roundtrip from Southampton

Black Prince will return to Southampton on 16 October 2009. Fred. Olsen has not announced what will happen to the ship at this point, but Seatrade Insider reports that in 2007, the company's marketing director said it was more likely Black Prince would be sold intact rather than sent to the scrap heap.

--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor