P&O S.S. Arcadia 1954 to 1979

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On this page you will find that I will cover two P&O ships named the “Arcadia” (1) & (2), after which I will also briefly mention the third one. But I will not cover the fourth one, which I will explain at the very end.

Page One


S.S. Arcadia (I)

The “Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company” placed an ordered for their new liner on November 5, 1886 to be built by “Harland & Wolff”, Belfast. She was laid down in years No 202 and was launched on December 17, 1987.

On May 5, 1988 she was registered as the “Arcadia” at a cost of £186,216 pounds. She ran her trails on May 16, 1988.

A fine colour P&O Postcard of the S.S. Iberia (I)

She had accommodations of 250 First Class and 171 Second Class passengers. She had a crew of 238, being made up of 83 Europeans and 155 Asians. And there was a cargo capacity of 188,311 cubic feet - 5,738 cubic metres.

Photograph of the S.S. Arcadia (I)

On June 1, 1888 she departed on her maiden voyage to Australia, although she mainly operated on the Bombay India, service, as the S.S. Tasmania had been lost in April 1987.

She served well over the years, but she was finally laid up at Southampton in November 1914, and was sold in January 19, 1915, for £13,000 pounds to Abdool Husain Essajee & Co, to be broken up. Demolition commenced at Bombay, India in March 1915.


S.S. Arcadia (II)

From Construction to Her Sea Trials:

The “Arcadia” was built for P&O by “John Brown & Company” at Clydebank in Scotland, at an estimated cost of UK£6½ million. She was laid down in Yard 675 on June 28, 1951 and work continued until she commenced to look like the hull of a big liner.

She is seen taking shape covered in light snow in January 1952

And of course it was tradition that the ship would be known by their yard number until the ship had been officially named and launched, and thus she was  known as “yard 675”.

The fact was, for the British Shipbuilding Industry May 14, 1953 was a huge day, for not only was the “675” being launched at the Clydebank, but just several hours later at “Vickers-Armstrongs” at Barrow-in-Furness, the Orient Line’s new ship the “1021” would also be launched and she would be named “Orsova”.

The “Arcadia launching was a huge event with a massive number of people being in the surrounding region wanting to see her enter the water, as well as a large guest list. The ship was being named and launched by Mrs D. F. Anderson, the wife of P&O’s Vice-Chairman Mr. Donald Anderson (later Sir Donald).

Here we see the “Arcadia” heading down the slipway and enter into the River Clyde


The “Arcadia” enters the water for the very first time and

Will be taken in tow and take her to the “John Brown” fit-out berth.

During the next seven months the “Arcadia” took shape rapidly and before any knew her funnel was atop her and her masts and her cargo loading facilities were all fitted, she was such an attractive looking ship in every respect!

On January 20, 1954 the “Arcadia’ was able  to leave the Clyde under her own steam and head south for Gladstone Dock at Liverpool, where she entered dry-dock. Here she had her “Denny-Brown” stabilizers fitted and her underwater hull was also painted.

There were new innovations to her accommodations and it reflected the changes in sea travel since the “Himalaya’s” maiden voyage some five years earlier, in that her Tourist Class was larger than her First Class, with 735 passenger berths in Tourist and 675 in First. But now with the “Arcadia”, ‘P&O’ introduced three berth cabins in First Class and six berth cabins in Tourist Class, the latter proving to be popular with the Australia bound migrants as well as with holiday-makers who were bound for the United Kingdom. S.S. Arcadia’s accommodation catered for First Class passengers in one, two and three-berth cabins, including eight two berth Deluxe Staterooms. In Tourist Class, passengers were accommodated in two, four and six berth cabins.

She was powered as follows; the main engines installed were two sets of Parsons double reduction geared turbines, 42,500 SHP, and there were three Foster Wheeler controlled super-heat boilers of 600 psi.

Boiler room crew

As a twin screw ship she had a good service speed of 22.5 knots, but her maximum speed was better as we will see below.

When completed, she headed north again and on January 26, 1954, she commenced her official trials on the Clyde. These included speed runs over the measured Arran mile and she achieved an excellent 24.7 knots maximum speed, being well over two knots faster than her designed service speed.

The S.S. Arcadia seen during her speed trails, note her still unpainted funnel top.

The S.S. Arcadia was delivered to P&O at Clyde on January 30, 1954 having cost UK£6,664,000. However, there were still some 150 of the John Brown employees on board as there was still fitting out touched that required to be done. Interestingly her funnel dome was painted in the same colour as the funnel itself, but it needed constant washing off the soot, thus very rapidly it was decoded to paint it black, with a modicum of varnish for that sheen.

On the very evening the “Arcadia” was delivered, she departed on what was a 3 night trial voyage from Clyde to Tilbury departing on Saturday January 30, and arriving at Tilbury on Tuesday morning on February 2, 1954. On board were 300 High ranking guests, company officials, Government officials, the builder’s management, the Media, and the Travel Industry, etc.

There was no doubt that all guests were most impressed with the ship and her excellent Public Venues, and the deluxe Staterooms they had occupied as well as the fine First Class cabins, etc. Even the Tourist Class facilities were rates as being in a very high standard!


Tour of the Ship:

As always I will commence topside and far forward and will always slowly head aft and then go down deck by deck. First Class facilities and accommodations were all located six decks, being on Boat  Deck, Promenade Deck, as well as A to D Deck’s. Of course I will cover First Class First and then the Tourist Class, etc.

First Class

The Bridge and the two Associated Decks:

The Bridge is the place of 24 hour activity and it keeps the ship on course as there is a helmsman and an officer always on duty, as well as others including the Captain at various hours when he is not in his offices or doing any of his other many duties. The chart room is also attached aft of the Bridge.

Visitors on the Bridge, this time whist she was in port

Then there are two decks in this forward structure below the Bridge which houses The Captains private Quarters as well as his Office and Conference Room, also the First Officers Quarters ad other Senior Officers cabins, etc as well as the Radio Room.

For information: Far forward on the same level as Boat Deck but completely separated, is an “Observation Deck”, and this deck is located above the “Children’s Playroom”, which is located far forward on Promenade deck, and the Observation Deck can only be reached per the two stairways on the either sides outside of the playroom deckhouse.

Boat Deck:

Forward is the main arrival point to this deck, which is via the forward Main Foyer’s stairwell and it is certainly the best way of reaching Boat Deck. Beside the stairs are two Lifts (Elevators). (This stairwell commences at A Deck and goes up to Boat Deck on Adeck another stairwell in the same lobby goes down to D Deck).

There was no doubt that this was an extremely popular destination, and you may ask why? Well, it is because forward on this deck was the spectacular “Observation Lounge” and Bar!

Observation Lounge:

Large tall windows were set in the in the forward and rounded side bulkheads of the venue providing sensational views. Along the windows there were comfortable armchairs each having footrests. In the center of the venue on the aft bulkhead was the Bar and it was decorated on both sides with a large figurehead being a traditional representation of those that used to be betted on old day sailing ships.

The centre part of the “Observation Lounge showing the venue, windows, Bar and the figureheads

In addition there were also terrestrial and celestial globes in the venue, whilst the deck covering on either side featured maps of the two hemispheres.

This venue was wonderfully casual in feel, yet so exciting in so many ways, as the furnishings, although designed to look casual, all chairs were supremely comfortable, and thus this venue proved to be one of the most popular venue of the entire P&O fleet!

Here we see the starboard side and the map on the floor

Sports Deck:

Heading out trough the Foyer doors  facing aft on either side of ship, we arrive on the huge ‘Boat’, or better termed as Sports Deck!

A view forward with the doors entering Boat Deck from the Foyer

Note the sliding glass screens just out of view to the left.


This image of the “Arcadia” does reveal these sliding screens that run just below the life boats, all along the Boat deck!

This is a most spacious deck and it is fully screened by glazed screens that can slide open and be shut when it is windy, thus making the deck a very useful space for sports, or just relaxing, whilst on the exterior side of these screens becoming an excellent promenade.

The walking Deck outside the sliding glass screens



Above & below: Two fine views showing the port side with both the shuffle board games

and the deck tennis courts, with the bottom photo being taken from the Bridge wing


Carefully placed on the deck are four shuffle Board games on both sides of the ship, and a little further aft there are four Deck Tennis Courts on each side. These can be used as desired, or will be used during organised during the Entertainment Director’s Tournaments.

Although I mentioned that Boat Deck can be reached via the forward Main Foyer, however there are also stairs on both sides far forward and aft along the superstructure of the Promenade Deck.

Promenade Deck:

Children’s Playroom:

As I already mentioned earlier far forward is the location of the Children’s Playroom and their own spacious screened off deck space. To reach this facility, there was a staircase on the starboard side far forward near the second cabin from the front, but on the interior side that went up into the playroom.

The Playroom is divided by a wall with five windows in it, into two separate spaces for this enables the hostess to separate children of different ages, the starboard section was for the younger set, and the port side for those that were somewhat older. WC facilities were available for the children and outside the play area was retained to the middle of the deck. This was done so that passengers could reach the “Observation Deck” or use the front stairs to the Boat Deck.

Like everything in First Class the forward Main Foyer and its Stair Well and it lifts were the means of reaching everything on the ship. Although there where stairs on the port and starboard sides amidships in the hall between the Lounge and the Ballroom.

Writing Rooms and Library:

Located directly forward of the Promenade Deck’s Main Foyer were the Writing Rooms, which were located on both sides of the ship, and yes there were two, and in the centre was the larger venue the Library.

The Library was the only one that was open to the Foyer, as it had a balustrade and two round columns which made the entrance. On the two sides were large bookcases, and with a large carpet covering most of the venue and the comfortable furnishings the venue was very pleasant indeed!

The Library

The furnishings were in shades of lichen and moss green, with contrasting gold, orange and beige. In the evenings the curtaining provided a wonderful expanse of colour in a contemporary design.

The Writing Room were of course enclosed venues and its furnishings were of sycamore and walnut, and there were single and double writing desks, with occasional tables and chairs. Whilst the colour scheme was the same as the Library.

The Writing Rooms

As we return to the Foyer, we continue aft and in the short port and starboard passageway are wide doors which lead into the large Lounge.

The Lounge:

As soon as one enters it is most notable of the vast number of windows along the sides of the venue. One on the rooms special features was on of a special feature of the ceiling was a circular shape with a panelled perimeter all arranged to carry concealed lighting for general illumination. This was so new for the times!

The Main Lounge

The room had varied areas that inlaid relief’s including one of a mural featuring an ‘Arcadian’ scene.

A colour view of the Lounge

Aft of the room on both sides were the two short hallways with stairs down, and doors that led into the Ballroom.

The Ballroom:

This venue was without a doubt a large venue, and like on all P&O ships it was decked with teak timber, the same as the exterior decks, and the sides were the folding timber framed glass screens that could be opened during fine weather, or kept shut. The Musicians platform was located at the forward end between the two entrances. Also forward but on the starboard side was the steward service only Bar that serviced the Lounge, Ballroom and the deck outside when passengers were relaxing there.

The Ballroom was obviously the main dance venue, as well as the space foe games such as Horse Racing, and so many other fun shipboard games that are held during a long voyage! Fancy Dress parties, for adults and children are held here, etc, thus it is a venue well used!

A special Children’s party is being held


Ballroom looking aft

Aft of the venue were large sliding glass doors that led into the wonderful Verandah Café.

Verandah Café:

This beautiful venue served as the first Class Main Bar as well as the Smoking Room. It had two wide bay windows, with panelled, pillared surrounds, which were outstanding features of the room. The centrally located Bar faced forward to a decorative panel representing a chart of the world.


Pool Café: 

The Bar being the same one as in the Veranda café as it was located in the middle of a very large venue, and the front was the in Verandah Café, and the aft in the Pool café.

Two Panels on the front of the Pool side of the Bar depicted scenes of the Grand Canal of Venice and it was spectacular! The room had much the same look as it had much the same furnishings, etc.

Swimming Pool:

Directly aft of the Pool Café was the pool, which was surrounded and sheltered by male and female changing rooms and an attendant room.

The Pool

Promenade Deck:

The Arcadia was blessed with so much open and covered deck space, with an extensive Boat Deck, then the Promenade Deck and directly below, on A Deck there was another fully covered deck for walking.

Starboard Promenade Deck and here we see the Ballroom screens that can open or stay shut


Another view of the deck, but of course when it is warm weather

it is filled with deck chairs for passengers to relax in!

A Deck:

First of all the Stairs from Boat, Promenade Deck down to A Deck, with the two Lilts at its sides ends on this deck, whilst the Lifts continue of course, but a new stairwell commenced just forward on this Foyer that goes down to B, C and D Decks.

This deck offered an excellent variety of well appointed cabins, from single bed cabins with either a shower or a bath, or twin bedded rooms with either private or shared facilities.

A single bedded cabin on A deck with a bathroom

Whilst aft of the Foyer were several ships Shops, followed by the Men’s Hair Dresser and the Beauty Parlour. Whilst amidships on both sides there were stairs that went up to Promenade Deck and down to B and C Decks.

This is just one of the shops

Then far aft of the cabins was another foyer, although the stairs here could only be used to go up one flight to Promenade Deck, for the rest of the stairs below were all for Tourist Class. On the starboard side of this aft foyer there was a narrow entrance, into what was a new innovation for a P&O ship, for the “Arcadia’ had been fitted with a dedicated Cinema. Sadly no photograph is available.

B Deck:

On this deck there were eight Deluxe Staterooms, which were fitted with retractable beds thus the room could be converted into a spacious sitting room. Also these rooms were interconnecting, thus they could be booked as one large suite if required and all were fully air-conditioned as were all the First Class inside cabins.


Above & Below: Two views of the Deluxe Staterooms


Further aft was the location of the Pursers office, which was so located that it was assessable to both the First Class on the forward side and the Tourist Class on the aft side, but neither could see each other. The aft staircase was only used in the Tourist Class section.

C Deck:

The Foyer here happened to be the First Class Entrance Hall, thus being very spacious. Forward of the Foyer was a block of cabins, and those aft of the Foyer only reached to just amidships. Then on the portside was a large Medical Centre and Doctors office and his Surgery, etc, apart from this not much of interest here.

The Entrance Hall looking to port, with the staircase forward

And the two Lifts are on either side of the centre bulkhead artwork

D Deck:

Again cabins were forward of he Foyer but the Min feature n this deck was what was directly aft of the Foyer.

Dining Room:

The Dining Room was entered from the Foyer through two rotating doors located on the either sides on, although they could be folded away to make an fully open entrance if required. The Dining Room occupied the full width of the ship and was close to 1,000ft in length. The venue was able to seat 366 guests at tables for two, four and six, and there was a raised central section, which enhanced the feeling of spaciousness.


Above & below: The Dining Room



Timber was heavily used throughout the room, and the floor had large two tone vinyl tiles, the ceiling featured concealed lighting throughout and it had an overall pleasant effect!

A bookmark obtained from the Writing Room



Tourist Class

A popular postcard obtained on board

Tourist Class facilities and accommodations were all located aft on seven decks commencing on Promenade Deck, and A to F Deck’s.

Promenade Deck:

Pool and Deck Space:

Between the First Class Bulkhead and the back of the Pool Changing Rooms that actually face to the rear, was the entrance to the Tourist Class far aft stairwell, which commenced here on Promenade Deck and went all the way down to F Deck.

Aft on this deck was the Tourist Swimming Pool with the changing rooms located forward of it, bat as I already said faced aft. The pool was surrounded a very spacious deck and there was ample room for lazing in the sun and enjoying sports activities!

The Pool

B Deck:

As I already mentioned earlier forward of the Tourist Class section, being also the aft of the First Class on this Deck, was the Pursers Office, which had an opening on both sides thus serving both classes. There were no Tourist Class cabins on this deck, however there was the aft Tourist Foyer with the Stairwell and a single Lift that went down to F Deck.

However B Deck did have several public venues!


The first venue directly aft of the Foyer was the Ballroom, which was very similar to the one in First Class, having teak planking and the band stand was located on the forward bulkhead and there were glass folding screens along both sided, so they could be opened or closed. Aft on the portside was the steward only service Bar. Sadly there is no image available.

Verandah café:

Wide glass doors from the Ballroom on both sides allowed entry into the Verandah Café and this venue was decorated by light-coloured veneers of zebrano and ash and pale grey-green leather-covered panels.

The Verandah Café

In the middle of the room there were curved alcoves which had built-in divan seats.

Of course outside there was a covered Promenade Deck

Aft of the Café was the Children’s Nursery.

Children’s Playroom:

This playroom was decorated with native Australian native birds and animals. It had a slide on the forward bulkhead, a rocking horse and ample tables and chairs. There was an exterior playground, again well screened for their safety. The usual facility were also includes of course.

The Playroom

C Deck:

Aft of the Foyer, besides a spacious Promenade Deck, there were two spacious venues, the forward one was the Tourist Class Lounge.

The Lounge:

The Lounge featured large casement windows on the two sides overlooking the covered Promenade deck and the sea. The timber panelling was in figured French birch, with contrasting elm, whist the windows were framed with sycamore.

A light and bright Lounge

The cupboards in this venue had decorative marquetry set into the door fronts as well as the sides of the central casing. Decorative features were to be found along the walls. A grand Piano was locates near the aft bulkhead.

Aft of the lounge was there was another smaller lobby, being the aft lobby.

Smoking Room:

The Smoking Room was furnished in light grey, powder blue and ivory. The chairs were covered in leather, and leather was also used in the wall features panels that were set in the bulkheads.

The Smoking Room

These lighter colours were perfectly matched with the darker timbers along the walls, making this an elegant venue!

Of course so far there have been no Tourist Class Cabins as yet, but these come on the next deck.

D, E & F Decks:

Using the far aft stairwell and go just one deck down, you would arrive in the D Deck lobby and aft there are cabins, and forward was the Dining Room.

The other entrance to the Dinning Room would be for those who would have used the forward Foyer’s stairwell or aft lift (the one just aft of the Pursers Office) this would have seen you arrive very much in the middle of the Dining Room. This room was panelled in fine timbers, relieved by designs in quilted turquoise-coloured leather. There was seating for 376 guests at tables for four, six and eight.

The Dining Room

Aft of the Dining Room on D Deck and on E and F Decks were all the Tourist Class cabins, which were made up of two, four and six berth cabins, all with shared facilities. I only have an image of a two berth cabin below, but all cabins looked similar but were much larger of course.


A Two berth Cabin


An artistic postcard of the S.S. Arcadia

Now we have had a good look at the ships interiors and exteriors we will return to her history and of course I will commence with her Maiden Voyage and continue to her final days as a popular cruise ship!


S.S. Arcadia’s Maiden Voyage:

She returned to Tilbury on February 2, 1954 from her three night trial voyage with her pampered guests and once everyone had disembarked, the crew commenced to get the ship ready for her big day, being of course her maiden voyage which was scheduled for February 22.

S.S. Arcadia arrives on February 2, 1954, at Tilbury after her 3 night trial cruise

The soot already darkened the aft of her funnel

It would take a good 19 days to get her ready for her maiden voyage as she had to be made completely ship-shape, first of all she was fully manned, and stocked up with all the haberdashery items etc, also cargo was loaded and when the time was right all foods were brought on board and correctly stored in the right placed, etc, and cabins perfectly made up just prior the the departure date. She had to be in perfect condition for her departure, and indeed she was perfection on the day!

S.S. Arcadia awaiting her maiden voyage at Tilbury Landing

S.S. Arcadia departed on February 22, 1954 on her maiden voyage from the Tilbury Landing stage, under the command of Commodore G C Forrest, and she sailed via the Suez Canal, Aden, Bombay and Colombo to Fremantle in Western Australia, and continued via Adelaide and Melbourne to Sydney. Of course immigrants to Australia occupied the Tourist Section of the ship and they were surprised how great it was, many said, “wow this is so luxurious”, for some ships migrants had travelled in second class, it had not been that great, but P&O’s Tourist Class was very well fitted out to say the least.

S.S. Arcadia is see arriving at the port of Adelaide South Australia

Not much later that year the “Arcadia” had an almost identical sister ship being the S.S. Iberia built by “Harland & Wolff”.

S.S. Iberia made her maiden voyage on September 15, 1954

She is seen her at Hong Kong

Following her return to Australia, she commenced a series of cruises from Southampton before returning again in October 1954 to the Australian service. This mix of liner and cruise trade was expanded in 1959.

However on October 25, 1954 when the “Arcadia” was about to depart, the 1946 completed, 233 GRT steam tug the “Cervia” was employed at the Tilbury docks in the undocking of the S.S. Arcadia, towing her stern first away from the landing stage. But during this manoeuvre, the “Arcadia” was forced to move full ahead to avoid a collision with the P&O liner “Orcades’ and the resulting wash caused “Cervia” to be dragged over and she capsized and sadly sank. Despite their valiant efforts to release the towing hawser the “Cervia’s” Captain Russell, MBE and five of her crew tragically died.

Visit: https://www.thesteammuseum.org/cervia.html

Another Watkins owned tug, the “Challenge”, managed to rescue three of “Cervia’s” crew. The subsequent court of enquiry into the case, recorded that the deaths were accidental, and the sinking was caused by the failure of a quick release pin on her towing hook. The S.S. Arcadia was able to continue her voyage to Australia.

During one voyage on December 30, 1957 there were several passengers and crew injured in due to wild gales in the Bay of Biscay, which kept the ships doctor busy for a short time. All were well taken care off and the injuries were thankfully not serious!

On April 1, 1959 she arrived at “Harland & Wolff” in Belfast, for UK£500,000 refit which would include full air-conditioning throughout the ship and all cabins received an update. On April 7, she suffered a brief fire in one of the aft holds during her refit, but it was quickly extinguished. Then on June 11, 1959 her refit was completed, and she soon headed off to Australia once again.

S.S. Arcadia is seen departing bound for Australia after her refit fully air-conditioned

In November 1959, the “Arcadia” made her very first cruise from an Australian port, departing from Sydney on a cruise to New Zealand and she was the first cruise ship ever to call at Picton at the South Island off New Zealand. Then in December she departed on another cruise to San Francisco.

The “Arcadia” visits New Zealand during a cruise

During the 1960’s she kept very busy, both as a liner and cruise operations, she had now become a ship that was cruising visiting so many new ports and the Arcadia was the perfect ship for a great vacation as she seemed to offer a relaxed and yet an active holiday with heaps of fun on the way! She was known as being the “Happy Ship” and we heard that over and over again from her passengers!

The “Arcadia” continued the pattern of line voyages interspersed with cruises from Britain and Australia, but soon it would also include trans-Pacific services, some of which took her through the Panama Canal.

Then in May 1960, management and operations was transferred to the new name of “P&O-Orient Lines”.


The “Arcadia” is leading the convoy south in the Suez Canal in 1961

In June 1961, the “Arcadia” hove to off to embark a troupe of Polynesian dancers at Okahu Island, Hawaii., and as she made way to dock failed to make the tight turn required and ran onto a coral reef, where she was stuck fast for just two hours but thankfully with little to no damage, but local tugs managed to move her fast enough.

In February 1963, the “Arcadia” suffered some engine trouble and this saw her forced to have a two-day delay whilst she was in Bombay.

In December 1968 P&O was given clearance by the US authorities to undertake cruises from the USA to the Caribbean.

S.S. Arcadia the Cruise Ship:

In April 6, 1970 the ‘”Arcadia” went to “Thornycroft” at Southampton for a three week refit. Her mainmast (aft mast) removed and her foremast was shortened by 18 ft - 5.5m to clear the low cables in Alaskan harbours as she was about to commence her new cruise duties on more on a fulltime basis.

S.S. Arcadia is seen cruising along the Alaskan coasts and towns

On April 26, 1970 the “Arcadia” departed Southampton for Sydney, then she headed for San Francisco. From there she made a series of cruises to Alaska trough to October, and then she cruised to Mexican ports. Thus, she now became the first large ship to cruise along the Alaskan coast. She also worked the west coast of America making a series of summer cruises to Alaska and winter cruises to Mexico.

S.S. Arcadia is seen arriving at a Mexican port

Then, on October 1, 1971, there was yet another management change with a new marketing name restyled; “P&O Lines”.

Then in June 1973, the Arcadia was given her biggest refit of all and she became a One Class Tourist Ship, with her accommodations reduced to 1,350 berths.

In October 1974, the 1949 completed S.S. Himalaya was withdrawn from the Australian cruise trade, and it was decided by P&O to replace her in Australia with the very popular S.S. Arcadia.

The cruise ship “Arcadia” is seen berthed at Vancouver on June 30, 1974

She departed the Southampton, UK, for the very last time ever on May 17, 1975, and the “Arcadia” was thereafter based permanently in Sydney and she commenced cruises to the South Pacific and New Zealand as well as Asia.

The much loved “Arcadia” became a regular sight in Sydney as it had become her home port!

Unlike her sister, the S.S. Iberia, the “Arcadia” was a good and a reliable and above all an incredibly popular ship, and whereas the Iberia” became the first of the post war fleet to be scrapped in 1972 and amazingly the “Arcadia” sailed on to become the very last of these ships to remain in service.

The “Arcadia” is seen at ‘Cid Harbour’ at the Whitsundays (Great Barrier Reef) in 1975

Then in the early hours of Friday June 2, 1978 the “Arcadia” ran into a wild storm coming back into Sydney and she was hit by a huge rogue wave which caused extensive damage to the ship. It folded the life raft stairs in half. It also flooded the ship down to C Deck. The damage was so bad that the “Arcadia” had to be sent to Asia for repairs to be undertaken, before she could undertake cruises again.

When she returned, she was welcomed back by being her next short cruises were well booked, but sadly her days were now numbered.

S.S. Arcadia bunkering at Sydney’s Circular Quay Passenger Terminal

S.S. Arcadia’s final official Voyage:

Some 29 years after P&O had taken delivery of the “Arcadia” but today she was getting ready at the Pyrmont wharf for her next cruise, which was scheduled to depart on January 29, 1979. But, this was not just another cruise, no, sadly this was going to be her very last passenger voyage ever! The cruise had been marketed as a “36-Day Eastern Adventure” which was a voyage on her and in Singapore passengers had to transfer to P&O’s newly acquired ship the 27,670 GRT, M.S. Sea Princess, the former ‘Swedish American Line’ ship the M.S. Kungsholm that had been completely rebuilt.

On January 28, the S.S. Arcadia was getting all ready and was bunkering and being fully stocked up for her cruise, it was such an emotional time on board the ship, but her crew was being very busy as they had to do everything at their best ability, as their guests would board her tomorrow and when they would leave her at the end of their “Arcadia” section of the cruise, this voyage simply had to have been the very best and the most memorable cruise ever! For in Singapore, they would have transfer to P&O’s new ship.

Soon enough the day had arrived, and besides the passengers having boarded, there were huge crowds everywhere at the dock and people crowding around the wharves and at the Sydney Opera House, and as far as the Sydney Heads as they wanted to see their beloved S.S. Arcadia sail though the Heads into the ocean and turn to port and head north for Brisbane, her next port of call!

Arcadia’s” final day in Sydney had certainly been a hectic as she had disembarked 1,250 passengers and then embarked her 650 passengers for this her very last cruise ever! She was commanded by Captain Anthony Dallas and he was asked during a media interview; “What are you feeling captain at this sad time”; “My first thought’s, as always, will be for the safety of the ship, but if there is a spare moment I will feel rather sad, that this beautiful ship has come to come to the end of her day’s”.

Then the time had arrived as she slipped her moorings and thousands of loud cheers filled the air with the people ashore all clapping their hands, and the pipe band commenced playing “Scotland the Brave” obviously recalling her ‘Clydebank’ origins. Then as she slowly pulled away came that moment when countless of those multi coloured streamers started to break until that very last one, the final link between the Arcadia and Australia suddenly broke and that was a sad, sad moment, which many did not forget!

The S.S. Arcadia was fully dressed overall and she had her 25-ft paying-off pennant flying ever so proudly from her mast!

For the last time she steamed majestically into the Harbour and sailed gracefully under the Sydney Harbour Bridge being accompanied by an escorting flotilla of tugs, ferries, fireboats, yachts and pleasure-craft of all varieties. Countless thousands gathered at vantage points along the harbour’s edge to wave her a last goodbye.

She looked very beautiful as she passed the Opera House and headed for the Sydney Heads.

Farewell beloved old Girl, the Arcadia was such a much loved Ship in Australia and around the World!

The S.S. Arcadia was fully dressed overall and she had her 25-ft paying-off pennant flying ever so proudly from her mast!

It was a nostalgic goodbye from a city which had grown to love the ship, and the evening air resounded to a cacophony of whistles and car horns as “Arcadia left for the last time.

The small craft, and a fine old steam yacht, and the tugs followed her almost to the heads with never ending sounds of whistles, car horns, and the other ships in port also let the “Arcadia” know that they were saying goodbye. This was without a doubt one of the emotional final departures I have ever seen in Sydney

S.S. Arcadia is seen going through Sydney Heads but at an earlier time

Sorry that this is such a poor photograph, but it is the best available

She first headed for the semi-Tropical State of Queensland (and Tropical a little further north) and it’s Capital City of Brisbane. After a stay and tours to the famous Gold Coast and the nearby scenic Mount Cootha, she headed off and sailed north to Papua New Guinea and to Rabaul and visit the wondrous local villages with performances of local dances, etc, Next came Manila and then the great Harbour City of Hong Kong arriving of February 10, where there was a longer stopover, from there it was turning around and head from Hong Kong and head to the Island State of Singapore after the passengers final night on board the “Arcadia” in Singapore and they having had a good number of amazing farewell parties on board, but now was the time they and most of “Arcadia’s crew, had to transfer to the M.S. Sea Princess, which they did on February 17, and then continue their cruise in this new ship.

M.S Sea Princess

Once everyone who had to leave the ship had left, the “Arcadia departed Singapore under the command of the captain and proceeded to Taiwan, arriving in Kaohsiung on February 28, where she was officially handed over to the Taiwanese ship breakers where she was soon broken up for her scrap metal. Strangely enough, The “Arcadia” was only officially sold during this final cruise, which was very unusual, for apparently there were a number of buyers at hand.

S.S. Arcadia is looking rather sad, for she is seen here at the breakers yard

There in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, awaiting her final demolition


A sad sight of what was such a fine looking ship!


Her memory remains, as her bell is located at the Southampton Maritime Museum

A Note of Interest: During “Arcadia’s” amazing twenty five year career as a Passenger Liner and a Cruise Ship she had steamed, 2,650,000 miles and carried over 430,000 passengers.


There was a third “Arcadia” and I sailed on her Maiden World Cruise, and I will show her here.

M/V Arcadia (III):

‘Sitmar Cruises’ was building a revolutionary ship which was to be named the “Sitmar FairMajesty”, but with the passing of its famous owner, his family decided to sell the company and P&O purchased Sitmar on July 14, 1988 and officially took over their all their ships on September 1, of that year, whilst the “Sitmar FairMajesty” was still being completed at her fit-out berth.

An artist’s impression of the SitmarFairMajesty

P&O transferred the “Sitmar FairMajesty” to Princess Cruises who were in need of a larger ship in order to compete in a strong market of newer ships and she was perfect, thus she was renamed “Star Princess”.

However in November 1995, the “Star Princess” headed for the ‘Harland & Wolff’ Shipyards in Belfast where she was given a massive makeover and a refit as she would to replace the P&O  S.S. Canberra, and she was going to be renamed M/V Arcadia (III). She was completed in February 1989, and she departed for her maiden Around the World Cruise from Southampton to Australia on She departed from Southampton on Monday January 5, 1998 and sailed via the Suez Canal via a wonderful range of ports to Fremantle and Adelaide to Sydney arriving on February 24, where I obviously disembarked as I lived in Sydney from 1994 to 1999, and took the photograph of her at Darling Harbour Cruise Terminal, Sydney as seen in the photograph below.

M/V Arcadia (III) is seen at Sydney’s then Cruise Terminal on January 24, 1998

Photograph © R. Goossens - the author

I, the author came to know the M/V Arcadia (III) very well as I actually sailed on what is called a “sector voyage” of her Maiden World Voyage and she was really a fine ship considering she was one of the early modern ships, but her interiors were simply sublime, you can view my special ‘Sitmar’ - ‘P&O’ pages which will show all her interiors being photographs I took during my wonderful time on board!

This page below has some other ships prior the “Arcadia” (II) but it is worth going through it


The next page (link at the bottom of the said page) has all her interiors!



Arcadia IV:

Although there was a fourth, but it being a typical Carnival (‘yuk’)Vista’ Class vessel she simply does not fit into ssMaritime’s style of ships! She is an Italian built ship, completed in 2005 and is 84,342 GRT and carries 4,364 people. Thus sailing on her is going to be a holiday with a huge crowd. They are no longer ships but floating hotels and resorts and money making venues, for these days, just about everything so much comes at an additional cost on board!

The Arcadia (IV) looks more like a box on a pontoon, the a pointy end forward, the bow

But compared the earlier Arcadia’s that really looked like ships, she just does not do it!

Please Note: Page Two contains Deck Plans, Menus, as well as items of S.S. Arcadia’s Souvenirs and Memorabilia and most importantly the Ships Specifications & Details. The link to Page Two is located below the next photograph.


Remembering the Much Loved
S.S. Arcadia II


A photograph of the much loved S.S. Arcadia departing Sydney on yet another popular cruise


 Enter Page Two - Here



 “Blue Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.


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For interest: Sadly an email service to ssMaritime is no longer available, due to the author’s old age and chronic illness as well as being disabled, etc. In the past ssMaritime received well over 120 emails per day, but Mr. Goossens can no longer handle same. He sincerely regrets this!


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The Author has been in Passenger Shipping & the Cruise Industry for well over 60 years

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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by; the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned.

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