Sitmar Line – SS Castle Bianco and the Family Karlsson sail to Canada in 1951

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author

Please Note: All ssMaritime and other related maritime/cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or any travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, although is now retired but having completed around 690 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information the are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure! Reuben Goossens.

The Sitmar Ships

Part One

Our Voyage to Canada

On theSS Castelbianco

By Mr. Kurt Karlsson

SS Castelbianco seen after her first major rebuild in 1950

From the author’s private collection

I hereby wish to thank Mr Kurt Karlsson or providing us with his story, regarding him and his patents sailing from Copenhagen to Quebec Canada in August 1951 on the SS Castelbianco. I am sure it will provide another insight into the effect these ships had on the lives of so many who sailed on them, and the Castelbianco transported countless thousands of people who were looking for a new life to Canada, America, as well as Australia!

Reuben Goossens.

“My name is Kurt A. Karlsson, I was born in 1942, Copenhagen Denmark. My father was Allan V. Karlsson (1920 2005), and my Mother, Kate L. Ludvigsen (1924-1993). We lived an average life as far as I can remember. During the early part of 1951 my parents applied to emigrate as so many Danish people did at that time. Their wish was to go to the United States. But at that time no immigrants were being accepted there. I think it had something to do with a limit of some sort. There were only two places that we could immigrate to and that was Argentina or Canada. They decided on Canada.

This is my Mother’s passport photo 

We lived on the main street of Copenhagen (Vesterbrogade 125) and took a taxi down to the harbour. Our relatives were there to see us off. They brought us gifts and were happy for us.

The Sitmar Liner, the Castlebianco was gigantic (well, in the eyes of a child). And we were very excited about our trip to a new country. We had a lot of luggage. Two large trunks made of cane (basket weave), and many suitcases.

 Mother’s passage ticket to Quebec Canada


Photographs of our Departure


 The Karlsson Family: My Father is seen on the right and Mother is standing

second from the left. I am seated on the left wearing a cap


 Getting ready to board the Castle Bianco – This was only our hand luggage


Going up the gangplank whilst waving goodbye to our family


 Boarding Castelbianco, which is about to take us to a new home far across the sea.


 Mother and I stand at the ships railings and we wait for the ship to depart

Once aboard the ship, we waved goodbye to our relatives, they took pictures of us and sent us copies (the ones seen on this page). We out waited on deck for what seemed to be hours. Then we departed. Leaving Denmark on August 31, 1951.

SS Castelbianco departs Copenhagen on August 31, 1951

“Finally we are pulling away from the wharf. Our adventure has begun!

The sleeping arrangements were as follows. The men were at one end of the ship in a large dormitory, with bunk beds, whilst the women and children were at the other end of the ship, also a large dormitory’s with bunk beds and cots. I remember that my mother had sewn a secret pocket inside my father's undershirt to hide our money.

Living on the ship was very exciting for me. Maybe that was because I was a boy with no worries. There were many children, and we would play all day long and collect soda bottles which we exchanged for chocolate and candy.

The cooks and kitchen staff were Italian and they really nice, they liked the kids. When we were hungry we would knock on the kitchen door, rub our stomachs because we only spoke Danish and they spoke Italian and English, thus, that was the only way to communicate. They would give us pieces of cake, buns and whatever they had extra. For me, that was the best part of the whole trip.

Most days were spent on deck reading, playing games and talking. It was cold, but sunny on most days. Everything went well for a while, but then when we were about half way across the Atlantic there was a terrible storm. It was very bad and we were all very scared. A lot of people got seasick it was not a good time. When it passed all went back to normal.

Then one morning someone was yelling look, look … and there in the distance we saw an iceberg ... amazing. Then a bit later we saw waterspouts shooting into the air … whales. Next we saw land. We were told that this was Canada and what we saw was Newfoundland.

Then we arrived in Halifax Harbour and berthed at Pier #2I. When we disembarked we entered a large hall and we waited on hard wooden benches for quite a long time to be processed.



Above & below: Mother’s and Fathers Canadian landing cards



When all documentation was completed we went to Quebec City and then onto our final destination Toronto.

Arriving in Toronto we came to Union Station. We had no place to stay but luckily it was early morning so we had time to look for accommodation. We walked up Yonge Street from Front Street to Carlton Street and then east across to a park called Allan Gardens. It was in this area where other Danish families had settled. My father saw a “Room for Rent,” sign at #9 Homewood Avenue and that became our home, up on the third floor overlooking the back yard, for the next 2 years. The room was 15X 15ft and had an icebox, two beds and a shared washroom down on the second floor, but we liked it because it was across the street from the park.

Then a new life began in Canada, which has been very good.

Kurt Karlsson.

All photographs and images (except for “SS Castlebianco seen after her first major rebuild in 1950”) were provided by Kurt Karlsson


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Or Return to:…….……………..The Sitmar Ships - INDEX.


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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