I’ve been asked which is the oldest serving cruiseship in my book and which vessel has had the most name changes? Currently it is the same ship – sailing today the Astoria. What is remarkable about this vessel is that she hit the headlines in 1956 after a collision in the North Atlantic. This blog shows her different identities as she changed from a post-war transatlantic liner to a modern day cruiseship.
The Stockholm was launched in 1946 for Swedish-America Line by Götaverken of Gothenburg. She was 16144 gross registered tons, 160m long and 21.7m beam, a speed of 20 knots and accommodation for 395 people. She left Gothenburg on her maiden voyage to New York in February 1948.
In July 1956 the Stockholm collided with the Italian liner Andrea Doria with the loss of 52 lives. 46 were on the Italian ship which sank after 357 passengers were transferred onto
the Swedish ship. The Stockholm was able to reach New York under her own power
She was back in service after three months and after a further two years on the North Atlantic she was sold to East Germany as a cruise ship for workers to Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, a Trade Union organisation. Her new name was Volkerfreundschaft, meaning the People’s Friend.
She cruised as far as the Caribbean and was even charted by Stena Line. In 1985 the name was shortened to Volker, she was sold and laid up at Southampton for nearly a year.
In 1986 she was sold again and renamed Fridtjof Nansen, chartered by Norwegian interests to become an accommodation ship for refugees
in May 1989 the ship was sold to Star Lauro and towed to Genoa which was the homeport of the Andrea Doria. She was nicknamed La Nave Della Morte or the Ship of Death. She was renamed Italia, and four years later Italia I, and flew the Italian flag. By this time her
profile had completely changed, she was stripped down to her steel reinforced hull and completely rebuilt. In 1994 she was renamed Italia Prima for Nina SpA and then in 1998
Vultur Prima for Vultur Tourist. In 2002 she was sold to Festival Cruises and
renamed Caribe, operating in the Caribbean, but was not largely popular and was laid up. In 2005 she found another buyer and was renamed Athena for Classic Cruises. She even managed to hold onto this name for a further 8 years.
In 2013 she went under the management of Ambiente Kreuzfahren to be renamed Azores
appearing for the first time with a black hull – typical of an Atlantic liner. Her latest
incarnation since 2016 is as the Astoria for Rivages du Monde, and judging by the number of the photos of her on the internet, she seems as popular as ever. So there she is, aged 71
this year and still in service.
To see more of these ships, in fact 1886 of them, with their 4100 different names from 1858 out to the new builds of 2020, please see my book – Compendium of the World’s Passenger ships
available via Amazon at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1527205134 , eBay, Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/493960964/compendium-of-the-worlds-passenger-ships?ref=shop_home_active_1 or by contacting me direct at http://www.shiphistory.co.uk
To support the book is a file of 1886 hyperlinks, taking you either to the ship’s history or to Marine Traffic where you can see the vessel’s current location and additional photos – for example….if you want to read a detailed history of this vessel, my links will take you to Reuben Goossens’ site at http://www.ssmaritime.com/Stockholm.htm