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Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author
Image from the
author’s private brochure collection
MV Italia 1967 to MV Ocean Princess & Sea Prince
SpA, a new subsidiary of the Italian Giacomelli (banking) Group decided on a
speculative venture by building a small yet revolutionary looking cruise ship
that would be built by Cant. Nav. Felszegi ship building at Muggia (near
Trieste) in yard no: 76. The ship building company was also controlled by the
Giacomelli Group. Her keel was laid on June 23, 1963 and she was named
“Italia” and was launched on April 28 1965.
Having been launched and towed to
her fitting out berth, it took another two long years before she was completed.
The ever-increasing costs had an effect, being the
reason that Cant.
was forced into bankruptcy.
Italia is seen here at her fitting
out berth, but close to completion
Over four years
after building commenced the superb looking MV
Italia was finally completed in August 1967.
Upon Italia’s completion
her new owners was the companies creditor, being the bank “Banca
Nazionale del Lavoro” who set up a new company “Crociere
d’Oltremare” who would handle the running of the ship and arrange
long term charter agreements, obviously hoping that she would have a long and a
successful life whilst under charter, and that there would be an opportunity
for a profitable sale in the future.
September 1967, the Italia successfully ran her sea trials in the Adriatic and managed
to reach a remarkable top speed of 21.6 knots.
Tonnage: 12,219 GRT (Gross Registered Tons
- 2,370 DWT)
Length: 150m (492ft)
Width: 20.7m (68ft)
Engines: 2 x 9-cyl Diesels
Sulzer Bros-Cantieri Riuniti dell’ Adriatico 11,050 kW
Screws: Twin 14,800 BHP
Speed: Service speed 19 Knots –
Max 21.6 knots
Passengers: 425 in
After her sea trials
Italia was officially handed over to Crociere
d’Oltremare on September
is no doubt that her designers took the some architectural ideas from other
ships being built at the time, especially, as was admitted at a later time, the
very much larger British liner SS Canberra. Like SS Canberra her lifeboats were
tucked inboard on a lower deck leaving more space on the upper decks.
this remarkable ship was conceived in the late fifties she was well ahead of
design wise she is
unique and certainly distinctive looking. It is that
individuality that has kept her looking delightfully modern to this day,
especially considering she was designed in the late fifties. Her
most odd feature is that odd-looking funnel. It is sharply curved aft to a
point, then it curves back looking a little like a sharp edged C. However, if
looking aft from the pool the funnel is totally flat on the forward mid section
and only comes together to a point top/aft. One of the photographs on this page
reveals this oddity.
Her interiors were designed by Gustavo
Boico, who also designed some of
the most magnificent interiors of great ships, such as the Augustus,
Homeric, Guglielmo, Marconi, Raffaello, and the
Oceanic. These are some of the finest liners known, and all this experience is
found here on this relatively small 12,000-ton cruise ship. Keeping in mind
this was 1967; all her luxurious cabins had private facilities, closed circuit
television, individually controlled air-conditioning, telephone, and piped in
music. Although she had 213 deluxe cabins, using her upper berth for families,
she would normally accommodate around 226 passengers. Bur could accommodate up
to 425 passengers with all her upper berths filled, which I doubt ever occurred
whilst she was the Italia! She had a crew of 252.
arranged a “bare boat charter” agreement with Costa Line for three
cruises in the Mediterranean. On
November 12, 1967 Italia departed Trieste for Los Angeles,
where Costa had sub-chartered Italia to Princess Cruises. On December 15, 1967
she commenced a new series of Mexican cruises for Princess. For the first year,
the Crociere d’Oltremare logo remained on the funnel, being a yellow and
a red triangle on a white funnel, however, this was replaced by the now
traditional Princess logo of the woman with the wind blowing through her hair,
known as the “Sea Witch”. As well as the Mexican cruises series,
the Italia also inaugurated the Alaskan cruise program for Princess cruises in
Italia also made one return Pacific voyage to Australia,
however due to lack of support it would be the first and last. Now, many years
later, we might say, how times have changed, for Trans-Pacific cruises, as well
as world cruises are regular occurrences!
Italia seen at the Sydney International Passenger
Terminal in 1969
Although as the ship
being advertised as “Princess Italia”
she was never actually renamed and only carried her original name
“Italia” on her bow. “Princess Italia”
became known as being one of the most pleasant and comfortable ships to sail
on, and it was well known that her public rooms were superbly appointed and
particularly spacious for a ship of her size. One of her most popular features
was her spacious topside lido deck and pool located amidships between bridge
and the funnel.
Italia Photo Album
images in this Album are from an Italia brochure from the Author’s
Italia for a smaller ship had a stylish Cinema
delightful Verandah on Lido Deck
Pool and deck is located between the funnel and the Bridge housing
from the lowest level and I will work up!
is an inside twin bedded cabin, yet quite spacious
is an outside twin bedded room with an additional upper berth should a family
member wish to join
spacious deluxe suite with a lounge and twin beds
The Princess Cruises sub-charter
agreement concluded in October 1973 and as Costa Lines’ Carla C would
soon be out of service to be re-engined, thus a ship was required to replace her,
thus Italia was given a refit, that included some modernisations of her
interiors, new cabins forward of the Observation Lounge as well as that typical
Costa Line big Blue C on her funnel. Italia commenced cruise duties of the Caribbean in February
with the Costa “C” of her funnel
various occasions the German Travel Company Neckerman und Reisen, as well as
Princess Cruises, chartered the Italia and undertook long distance cruising,
including round the world cruises with calls to Australia.
In 1977 Costa Line decided to purchase the MV
During the early eighties she
operated a variety of cruises including South American itineraries. By mid
1982, Costa Line was considering lengthening her by inserting a mid section,
but this proved to be too expensive, thus the decision was made to place her on
the market and work with larger ships.
ultra modern MV Ocean Princess looks splendid even in the historic setting of Venice
This photo was
taken prior her 1983 refit, thus no forward tenders
In 1983 Italia was sold to Ocean Cruise Line
Athens who renamed her Ocean Princess and she was reregistered in Panama.
She received an extensive refit at Perama Greece.
In May 1984 Ocean Princess commenced cruising in the Mediterranean. Whilst
operating South American and Caribbean cruises she was operated under the
auspices of Oceanic Endeavour SA, Panama.
Princess with her new tenders
Ocean Princess - Note the shape of her funnel
Ocean Cruise Lines was sold to Croiseires
registered under the ownership of Argimar SA, a company controlled by the
French Accor and Chargeurs, who are the parents of Paguet Cruises. Ocean
Princess came under this new management; however her cruise schedules remained
Croiseires Paquet MV Ocean Princess now with a
white funnel is seen at Geiranger in 1992
& © Hans-Jürgen Amberg
MV Ocean Princess sinks:
she had done well for many years, but all good things were about to come to an
end, for on March 1, 1993, during one of her popular cruises sailing up the
Amazon, the Ocean Princess struck a submerged object at Belem, which breached
her hull, and she gradually sunk up to the very top of her hull where her main
lobby was located, but her deck was still dry and passengers could transverse
it. She was raised up some three weeks later however a survey declared that the
ship was a “Total Constructive Loss.” With her hull patched up she
was sold by her insurers to Ellis Marine of Piraeus,
who renamed her Sea Prince. Then in 1993 with the underwater damage having been
patched up she departed Belem undertow heading for Keratsini
where she would be repaired.
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