The Oldest Serving Cruiseship

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 andrea-doria

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 , eBay, Etsy at or by contacting me direct at

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 

Posted in Compendium of the World's Passenger Ships, Compendium of the World's Passenger Ships 2017, Cruise ship, passenger liner, Southampton, Stockholm, Swedish america | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Compendium of the World’s Passenger Ships 2017


The Compendium of the World’s Passenger Ships 2017 is a 200 page book now available. ISBN 978-1-5272-0513-0 It is a data listing of 1886 liners, ferries and cruise ships; every passenger carrying ship over 10000 tons dating from 1858 to the newbuilds out to 2020. It lists the launch name and any subsequent names, the dates in service, length, beam, speed, number of passengers, shipping company, builder and launch location. There are also 80 ships on order or under construction. With all the name changes, there are 4150 entries as well as a complete index.

For copyright reasons it will not be available as a complete electronic file. However, for every paper copy sold I can provide a file with a hyperlink for every ship so you can click on a live link, like the one lower down the page, and see where it is in the world as well as photographs of the vessel. All the other ships have links to websites providing a more detailed history with additional photographs. This makes it unique as it will be up-to-date as will the photographs. The price is £12 plus post and packaging; which is £14 in the UK, £17 in Europe (Euro19) and £19 to the Rest of the World ($US23, $Aus30, $NZ32).

If you would like to buy your copy or just express an interest, please message me at to ensure that I have your mailing address. Payment can be made by Paypal to or to my UK bank account, details of which will be provided once I have a mailing address.

If you only want the list of ships with their hyperlink, that can be emailed to you for only £5 ($US6.10), enabling you to do your own research.

For example, the information provided – in tabular form in the book

No.  Name  Dates  Age  Tonnage  Owner  Builder & Location   Fate

Length & Beam Speed Passenger Numbers

No. Subsequent name  Date  Owner 

No. 22 Statendam 1898-1927 29yrs  10,491 tons for Holland-America Line by Harland & Wolff, Belfast  Scrapped Genoa

162.8m x 18.2m 15 kts 1375 passengers 

22a Scotian 1911 Allan Line 

22b Marglen 1922  Canadian Pacific


740 Willem Ruys 1946-1994 48yrs 23,629 tons for Rotterdamsche Lloyd by De Schelde, Vlissingen  Fire, sank Indian Ocean

192.4m x 25.1m 24.6 kts 900 passengers

740a Achille Lauro 1965  Achille Lauro  


1720 AIDABella 2007-  69,203 tons AIDA Cruises by Meyer Werft, Papenburg In Service

251.9m x 32.2m 21.8 kts 2566 passengers   


AIDABella 2008 69,203 tons 251.9m x 32.2m 21.8knots 2,500 passengers AIDA Cruises Meyer Werft, Papenburg In Service…

Where is this ship?

While you are here, please look at my pages of liner, cruise ship, ferry and troopship photos via my website at

Thanks for visiting – more ship histories to be posted soon.

Don in Lytham St Annes

Posted in Achille Lauro, Australis, Canton, Cape Town, Chandris Line, Chantiers de l'Atlantique, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, Compendium, Compendium of the World's Passenger Ships, Compendium of the World's Passenger Ships 2017, Cruise ship, Dutch, Emigrant Ship, France, Hospital ship, ISBN 978-1-5272-0513-0, Kaohsiung, Lloyd Werft, Bremerhaven, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Oranje, Orient Steam Navigation Company, P&O Line, P&O-Orient Line, Panama Canal, passenger liner, S A Oranje, Scrapped, Union-Castle Line, United States Line, Willem Ruys | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Compendium of the World’s Passenger Ships 2017

I became aware of passenger ships about the age of 6 from my father’s books. He was a soldier who had been brought up in Gibraltar and the Southampton area so ships played a large part in his life. He sailed in convoy in 1940 on the Oronsay which was soon bombed, and after returning to Scotland, left a month later for Egypt via the Cape on the Duchess of Atholl. He then sailed on many others troopers returning from WW2, to Palestine in 1946 and Singapore in 1949, presumably in better accommodation as he progressed through the ranks.

My interest initially was in the Queens for their size and the United States for her speed. dbs

But then I saw the Liberte and the comment that it was the former NDL liner Europa. dbs1Also intriguing was the Italia, ex-Kungsholm, New York, ex-Tuscania and the Arosa Sun, ex-Felix Roussel. It was clear that ships were changing names; some due to war reparations and others due to emigrant fleets wanting second hand shipping, so these vessels had a history about them. I wanted to know more.

On my 8th birthday we flew as a family to Singapore for my father’s second tour of duty there and a chance for me to start ticking off the ships, sadly defacing the book. The cleaner images above are from a second copy of the Dumpy Book of Ships I bought many dps2

years later. I remember ships that had significant war service such as the Oranje, Canton, Tjitjalengka and Orion but it was during our time in Aden 1965-67 that I was noticing second hand ships such as the Australis, ex-America; Safina-E-Hujjaj, ex-Potsdam and Empire Fowey and the Angelina Lauro – not realising it was the Oranje mentioned earlier.

I bought Colin Worker’s The World’s Passenger Ships in 1967 and began to list the ships and their former names in a book, as schoolboys do. This was a timely read as it was after the Seamen’s Strike of 1966 when ships were often on the news such as the SA Vaal and SA Oranje – ships I’d never heard of. By 1973 I had joined the army and got a car and was making frequent trips to Southampton Docks and saw amongst others the former Matson liners Ellinis and Britanis. My database was vital to me as I’d seen Matson Line’ Lurline, one of a trio of identical sister ships, in Copenhagen in 1960. Later it was renamed Ellinis and the replacement Lurline was her sister the Matsonia, not to be confused with a similar looking Matsonia formerly the Malolo. There are many other examples too, such as the sisters Argentina (also in Copenhagen that day) and Brasil of Moore-McCormack and their nine name changes, including the Argentina being named Brasil at one point. You get the picture.

By the mid-seventies when at university on a young officer’s meagre salary I discovered Arnold Kludas’ 6 volumes and was buying them individually when I could afford to. I remember sitting in a lecture fleshing out my draft database using Kludas’ cut off of 10,000 tons. It would make the task manageable but an obvious problem is that eridan

ships such as the French liner Eridan at  9927 tons (1928-1956) are excluded. In fact this ship would be included if we used today’s definition of gross tonnage but I’ve used the definition at the time of launch or floating out.

In 1991 I left the military to join the aviation industry and lived in a B&B during the week. Using an Amstrad word processor I began to type out my first edition with the ship listed under the original owner and cross-referred them to their subsequent owners. It was  downloadpublished in 1992 with a few coloured photos of my own. Today I noticed a 1994 edition is still available on Amazon!

In 1999 I put the data on a CD using an html format incorporating many photos from friends. I continued to update it until 2008 but more time was being spent writing histories on individual ships, mainly for descendants of immigrants to North America and Australasia. Most of these ships were late 19th Century and below the 10000 ton threshold. With the development of the internet, the availability of free information (not always accurate) and me taking a job in my company’s Head Office which required a lot of travel, I restricted my activity to maintaining data, particularly monitoring new ship news.

However, recent developments have produced another unique opportunity for me. There are informative ship histories on the internet and I’ve linked every former vessel on my database to one of these. The new ship tracking websites have the advantages of providing their current name, the ship’s location and it gets around the copyright issue of other people’s photographs which are posted on these sites. Whilst I rely on various sources to find new ships, the maps are also useful to check routes and to see whether a ship is in service, laid up or at the breakers.

Which leads me to announce the availability of my latest edition – the 2017 Compendium…book

It lists 1886 vessels from the Great Eastern of 1858 to the last vessel launched in December great-eastern-colour2016. There are 4150 different names with all the changes. They are traditional passenger liners, troopships, and cruise ships. Also the late 1970s saw the growth of ferries which also qualify for entry. When I was at school in Dover, the largest cross channel ferry was cache_7373446the 4000 ton Invicta and now, under today’s rules, the largest are the Spirit of France and Spirit of Britain at 47500 tons. I have also soff1

included 70 ships under construction and on order out to 2026, as well as a full index.dsc00141

For copyright reasons (to protect my data) I am not selling a copy of my master database but I can provide everyone who buys a paper copy with an electronic file with the ship’s name and the hyperlink, mentioned above.

If you are interested in buying my book, please look at my website at for more details and my ship photos.



Posted in Aden, America, Canton, Emigrant Ship, troopship, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Oranje and Willem Ruys – later Lauro running mates

Two interesting ships that began as rivals and ended up as near sisters (running mates). The Oranje was built for the Nederlandsche Stoomvaart Maatschapij (Nederland Line) in Amsterdam by the Netherlands Shipbuilding Company. She was launched by Queen Wilhelmina and named in honour of the Royal House of Orange on 8 September 1938. Her first major oranje-3

service was in the war and although sailing under Australian command, Oranje remained crewed by Dutch crew, and continued to sail under the Dutch flag. Oranje was the largest hospital ship operated from Australia, serving for five years including the Middle East, Indian and Pacific Campaigns. She made 41 voyages, carrying Australian and New Zealander soldiers.

The second ship’s keel was laid in 1939 at De Schelde shipyard in Vlissingen, Netherlands, for Rotterdamsche Lloyd. She was finally launched in July 1946, as Willem Ruys, named after the grandson of the founder of the Rotterdamsche Lloyd who was taken hostage and shot during the war.


So these two ships were not sisters or in the same company as sometimes quoted, but rivals on the Far Eastern service.  In January 1953 on a voyage outward bound Oranje collided in the Red Sea with the Willem Ruys homeward bound heading the opposite direction. On the abrupt and fast approach of Oranje, as the ships wanted to pass each other at close range for passenger amusement, Willem Ruys made an unexpected turn to port and the two ships collided. Oranje badly damaged her bows and due to the possibility she would be impounded for safety reasons, she was unable to call at Colombo as scheduled, and went directly to Jakarta. Willem Ruys suffered less damage. There was no loss of life involved. Later, it was determined that miscommunication on both ships had caused the collision.

I first saw the Oranje in Singapore in 1962. It was night time in Keppel Harbour and I oranje-1

still remember being close to her stern and the seeing the lighting of the 4 decks.

In 1964 the Netherland Line sold their flagship, Oranje, together with the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd’s Willem Ruys (1965) to the Italian company Flotta Lauro. The ships were rebuilt and respectively renamed Angelina Lauro and Achille Lauro,  after the company’s owner. During the conversion, the Angelina Lauro suffered a major fire in which 6 people died.


I had spent many happy days in Singapore, Aden and Dover looking at ships with my father and he took this photo of the Achille Lauro in Malta at Christmas 1973, a month before his sudden death. You can see how the ship has been transformed into a modern looking cruiseship.

Similarly the Oranje had undergone a major transformation. Although she had a single funnel she was the slightly larger of the two vessels which were now officially running mates.angelino-lauro-4

The Achille Lauro became world famous after her hijack by members of the Palestine Liberation Front in 1985. In other incidents, she also suffered a further serious collision in 1975 with the cargo ship Youseff and four onboard fires or explosions in 1965, 1972, 1981, and 1994. In the last of these the ship caught fire and sank in the Indian Ocean off Somalia.


In 1977 Angelina Lauro was chartered to Costa Lines for three years and marketed as Angelina.angelina-lauro

On 30 March 1979 she suffered a devastating fire whilst berthed at the US Virgin Islands. She was declared to be a total loss and was raised and refloated, to be sold for scrap in Taiwan. The burnt out hulk traversed the Panama Canal but she sank in mid-Pacific having cheated the breakers.

Two remarkable former Dutch liners that lived such parallel lives

Posted in Achille Lauro, Aden, Amsterdam, Angelina Lauro, Breakers, Collision, Cruise ship, Dutch, Emigrant Ship, fire on ship, Hospital ship, Kaohsiung, Keppel Harbour, Malta, Nederland Line, Netherlands, Oranje, Panama Canal, passenger liner, Queen Wilhelmina, Red Sea, Rotterdamsche Lloyd, Scrapped, Singapore, Suez Canal, Sydney, troopship, US Virgin Islands, Vlissingen, Willem Ruys | 6 Comments

The Chusan of P&O

I have fond memories of the Chusan of P&O Line, built in 1949 by Vickers Armstrongs at Barrow. She was 205.1 m long x 25.6m beam, with a service speed of 22 knots and had chusan

accommodation for about 1000 passengers. At 24, 215 tons, she was slightly smaller than the other post-war liners in the fleet; Himalaya, Iberia and Arcadia. I mentioned earlierchusan-5

that my father would often take me to see the ships at Keppel Harbour in Singapore after school. For special ships we would get the free ferry to Brani Island, then covered in a jungle canopy. It is now a container port but in those days it was very tropical. But this trip in 1962 was so that my father could photograph the ship even if we blocked the view. chusan

The Chusan was refitted in March 1960, which involved the installation of air conditioning throughout the ship. For most of her working life, she carried passengers between London, Bombay, and Japan. She was transferred to P&O-Orient Lines in May 1960. Chusan was taken off Far East passenger service and began to make cruises, before being again transferred to a regular service from Australia to Yokohama, with an intermediate port of call at Hong Kong. From 1963 she operated to Sydney, Australia from the UK, which meant that i was again able to see her in Aden.  In October 1966, she was again transferred back to P&O Lines. Passenger capacity was again changed to 455 in first class and 517 in tourist class, sailing from the UK to Australia.


As aircraft were taking more and more passengers, the Chusan began P&O’s first cruises starting from Cape Town in 1971 to early 1972


In 1973, she retired from service and was sold to be scrapped at Chou’s Iron and Steel Company in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

She was known as The Happy Ship. I was once sailing on a P&O ferry from Hull and sitting in a lounge under a painting of a white P&O liner. I got talking to a pensioner who sailed as a crewmember on the Chusan. ‘Ah, The Happy Ship’ I remarked. ‘It’s not what I bl**** called it’ he replied.

Posted in Aden, Barrow, Brani, Cape Town, Chusan, Cruise ship, Emigrant Ship, Hong Kong, Japan, Kaohsiung, Keppel Harbour, P&O Line, P&O-Orient Line, passenger liner, Scrapped, Singapore, Southampton, Suez Canal, Sydney, Vickers Armstrongs, Yokohama | Leave a comment

Orient Line’s Oriana of 1960

On the same day in 1974 when I saw the Pretoria Castle in Southampton harbour I saw an

oriana-2old favourite in the distance and took this photo using a telephoto lens. She was built in 1960 for Orient Line and originally had a corn coloured hull. Here she is in the Suez Canal.


After the merger of P&O-Orient Lines she was painted with a white hull and I first saw her here in Aden in June 1965. We had just arrived out there for my father’s 2 year posting and when I saw the ships I couldn’t wait to go past Steamer Point every day to see what surprise was awaiting me


It didn’t matter that I couldn’t get her all the photo as I was so close. Some ship enthusiasts have been unkind about her profile but she was unique, fascinating and she had a huge fan base. I loved her.

As some of the P&O fleet were being withdrawn, she was converted to a one class cruise ship in 1974 and then she operated out of Sydney from 1981 to 1986. She was sold and went to Osaka in Japan to be a hotel, then a museum at Beppu until being sold to China in 1995. She became a hotel and tourist attraction in Shanghai until 2002 then was moved to Dalian. In 2004 Oriana was damaged in a typhoon and leaned over severely. She was beyond economic repair and was broken up in China in 2005 aged 45 – what a great innings.

I have great affection for the P&O-Orient Liners and will feature them all here in the new year.

Posted in Aden, China, Cruise ship, Emigrant Ship, Japan, Oriana, Orient Line, Orient Steam Navigation Company, P&O Line, P&O-Orient Line, passenger liner, Scrapped, Southampton, Suez Canal | 2 Comments

Pretoria Castle of Union-Castle Line

Union-Castle had attractive liners on the South African service. They were long and sleek pretoria-castle

compared to the high decked cruise ships of today.

Pretoria Castle 1947-1975 aged 28 28,705 tons built for Union-Castle Line by Harland & Wolff, Belfast
227.8m x 25.6m 22 kts 756 pax

Renamed S.A. Oranje in 1966 for South African Marine Corp Scrapped in Kaohsiung

I took this photo in Southampton in 1974 when she was the SA Oranje15

Posted in Kaohsiung, Pretoria Castle, S A Oranje, Scrapped, South African Marine Corporation, Southampton, Union-Castle Line | Leave a comment

The America of 1940

I was familiar with the America of United States Lines from a drawing in my only shipping book – the Dumpy Book of Ships 1956. One day on the way to school in Aden in 1965 I sawaustralisthis wonderful sight, the Australis of Chandris Line en route to Australia with British and Italian migrants. I wasn’t aware that she had changed hands so it was an unexpected treat to see her. Here is her rather glamorised post card saying she was largest single class ship in the world at the time


She was still recognisable as the old America from her transatlantic days, like a prototype for the larger and faster United States of 1952. (sorry about the tug in the way)america-16

She struggled a bit with the white hull and soon after her hull was grey, then later dark blueaustralis

Here is a summary of her history – No.633 in my database. America 1939-1994 aged 55 33961 tons, built for United States Line by Newport News at Newport News. 220.4m x 28.4m, 28.4kns 1851 passengers

West Point 1942 for US Navy

American 1946 United States Line

Australis 1964 Chandris Line

Italis 1978 Chandris Line

Noga 1984 Cia Noga

Alferdoss 1984 Silvermoon Ferries

American Star 1993 Thai Owner

Aground off Canary Islands and was wrecked.

Posted in America, Australis, Chandris Line, passenger liner, United States Line, USS West Point | 1 Comment

The Canton of P&O Line

19No.609 in my book. The Canton of P&O Line built in 1938 by Stephen, Glasgow 171.5m x 22.3m 20 knots and capacity for 480 passengers. She had an impressive war record, sailing 250,000 miles as an armed merchant cruiser and 21,000 miles as a troopship, carrying 6825 troops. This ship probably had the most profound effect on me as I watched her final departure from Singapore for the breakers in Hong Kong. I was 8 years old and became hooked on ship histories.


Posted in Canton, P&O Line, passenger liner, Singapore, troopship | Tagged | Leave a comment

The France of 1960


Chantiers de l’Atlantique kindly sent me the photo of the France at St Nazaire just before her maiden voyage. There are also two images of the launch by Madame De Gaullelaunch


I never managed to see the France at Southampton during her transatlantic service but when I was stationed in Germany in 1979, I was able to photograph her during her conversion to the cruise ship Norway at Lloyd Werft, Bremerhaven.


No 913 in my database. France 1960-2006, 66348 tons, 315.5m x 33.7m 35.2 kts 2044 passengers. Renamed Norway in 1979 for Klosters Rederi A/S and Blue Lady for her final journey to the breakers at Alang in India.

Posted in Chantiers de l'Atlantique, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, France, Lloyd Werft, Bremerhaven, Norway, passenger liner | Tagged | 2 Comments