Italia Line’s MS Giulio Cesare in 1952 to 1974

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Lecturer

Please Note: All ssmaritime and my other related ssmaritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues to write article on classic liners and cruise ships in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for their pleasure!


Page Two


“Italia di Navigazione S.p.A.

 “Italia Line”

MS Giulio Cesare

The graceful MS Giulio Cesare


Please Note: All images are from the author’s private collection, unless stated otherwise.

Most onboard images are from a 1954 brochure and other photos from postcards or other sources

Introduction to two Great Italian Liners:

MS Giulio Cesare was the identical sister to the MS Augustus, and both were built for “Italia di Navigazione S.p.A.” or as they are better known “Italia Line.” The Giulio Cesare was the first of the pair to be built and she was completed in October 1951 and she had the distinction of being was the very first large Trans-Atlantic liner to be built in Italy after World War II. Her identical sister, MS Augustus followed seven months later in 1952.

Design wise these ships were without doubt revolutionary and even though they were built as three class liners, amazingly each class had some of the finest passenger facilities to be found at sea of their days. In addition a very rare feature was that each class had their very own swimming pool. It was said that lounges and facilities in Tourist Class, which was the equivalent of third class, was as good as in Cabin Class (second class) on most Trans-Atlantic liners, if not as good as on some First Class ships! Some of the greatest architects and designers were used to create an ambience that was not just elegant, but besides being Italian, there were even touches of Scandinavian influences on board, and all provided an atmosphere that was a delight to the senses in every possible way! These ships were beyond beautiful and both ships offered the ultimate in Ocean going travel with the MS Augustus sailing with Italia line for twenty four years before she was sold to an Asian based Company.

Although I originally commenced these pages almost exclusively regarding the MS Augustus, but also cover the Giulio Cesare, but very much in a lesser degree, as you can see I have now decided to completely rewrite and update the entire feature, which in reality came about due to the tragic sale of the M/S Philippines, ex Augustus in September 2011, and her departure under tow bound for Alang India, thus I felt the need to rewrite this feature as well as that of this superb ship the MS Giulio Cesare, for I believe that she should also have a greater role, even though she had a shorter life in comparison to her sister. Thus this page, I trust will rectify my previous short comings and I* trust that on this page you will discover that there will be a co9mplete history as well as many fine interior photographs of this great liner. All these images are from my personal collection and I hope that you will enjoy the new feature more than ever - for there will be so much more for you to enjoy and to relive memories for all those who have had the privilege to sail on the MS Giulio Cesare or even just to have had the opportunity to see her in one of the many ports she visited. Enjoy!

Reuben Goossens.

Design, Building and History:

MS Giulio Cesare was one of the most luxurious ocean liners to be built for the Italian Line, especially considering she was the very firs after World War II. We already know that she would soon be followed by her identical sister the MS Augustus, which was launched in the same year but commenced sailing in 1952. The Giulio Cesare was built exclusively for the lucrative South America market like her sister. These two ships’ specifications and design were very similar; however their interiors would differ somewhat as artist like to have a free hand in expression!

Tragically during World War II, the Italian Line had lost some of their finest liners, including the grand 51,062 ton SS Rex and the superb 48,502 ton SS Conte di Savoia, thus the Company quickly had to plan to build two revolutionary new 27,000 GRT liners to replace their lost ships, as well as their surviving ships had to be refitted and repaired quickly and returned to passenger service as soon as possible after the war to keep the companies head above water. But, their ships such as the MS Saturnia and her sister the MS Vulcania and the SS Conte Grande with her sister the SS Conte Biancamano, were only able to carry small passengers numbers. And that was the reason for the urgency for the Italian Line requiring these two new liners for their South American service quickly! They placed an order with Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico to build these two new 27,000 GRT luxury liners, to be named Giulio Cesare and Augustus, and ensured as much publicity as possible, highlighting their luxurious appointments for that was going their big selling point, and we all know from history IT worked!

There was no doubt that during the fifties became a time when it had become what many will call “a new era for the Italian Line,” as they built some fine new ships,” for not long after the MS Augustus entered into service, the TN Andrea Doria on her maiden voyage on January 1954, and her sister the TN Cristoforo Colombo on July 15, 1954. Then in 1958, these ships were followed up followed by SS Leonardo da Vinci. SS Michelangelo and her sister ship SS Raffaello; sadly they would be the last as well as the largest liners for once great Italian Line. Other Italian shipping companies were of course also building new liners and Italian shipping was doing extremely well! Both the Augustus and the Giulio Cesare were powered by Societa Anonima Fiat diesel engines. These engines were the largest and most powerful ever built, and they produced 35,000 HP, driving the twin screws, providing a maximum speed of 23.31 knots, or a service speed of 21 knots, which would prove to make these ships very popular.

MS Giulio Cesare was built by the famed Italian shipbuilder at Monfalcone, “Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico,” and she was fitted with two “FIAT” of Turin engines, he was launched on May 18, 1950 in the presence of Md. Donna Ida Einaudi, wife of the President of Italy.

The first of the sisters is ready to be launched

MS Giulio Cesare was completed in September 1951 and made her maiden voyage on October 27, 1951 from Genoa to Naples and then to Buenos Aires.

A fine aerial photograph of the MS Giulio Cesare, also note her “Robot” “ventilator” located further aft of the funnel

The exterior design of Giulio Cesare and her sister attracted many passengers as the MS Giulio Cesare and the Augustus were to become the impression of power and of great beauty, being ships that had superbly rounded bows, beautifully curved superstructures, no mainmasts but just six kingposts and a slender tall radar mast atop their Bridge. In addition there was a rather large stately looking funnel, and a graceful stern. Although there were also a few strange and evocative items, such as the nape the aft of the funnel base, and that strange looking tall trademark “ventilator” located further aft of the funnel, that was given the nickname “Robot” due to its strange shape and the top looked like a robot’s head – see the photo above and it is quite clear.

She had a vast range of accommodation available. First Class offered a great deal of passenger space as possible that was well achieved in the ships public rooms as well as her staterooms. She offered four elegant deluxe suites complete with private lounges and spacious bathrooms, each having every possible comfort imaginable. Other accommodations were either single bedded rooms or two bedded all with ocean views, and all having private facilities and a telephone! Cabin Class offered from single, two beds, to four berth cabins. All had private facilities as well as a telephone, and remember phones in cabins were rather new on board ships and a novelty in those days. Whilst Tourist Class offered from two, four to six berth cabins as well as some dormitories for migrants. There were no phones in Tourist cabins and all cabins and dormitories had shared facilities.

Having operated on the South American trade from 1951 to September 1956, the MS Giulio Cesare was given a new Trans-Atlantic schedule due to the recent sinking of the great Italia liner Andrea Doria, and thus she was transferred to the Genoa, Cannes, Naples to New York service with her first departure being on June 29 1956. Then after having operated a good 32 round voyages, sailing until 1960, she was returned to her original duties, being the Italy to South America service. But four years later she was due for a refit.

Giulio Cesare is seen in Boston around eight weeks after the sinking of the TN Andrea Doria

Photo Album

First Class


The Social Hall


The Bar


Main Lounge and Ballroom


Reading Room


Card and Games Room


Dining Room


Twin bedded stateroom


The pool


Cabin Class


Main Lounge and Ballroom


The Bar


Dining Room


Cabin Class four berth cabin


Tourist Class


Main Lounge and Ballroom


The Bar


Tourist Class two berth cabin

Refit and her latter years:

She remained on this service for the rest of her working life, being some thirteen years. However in 1964 she received a comprehensive refit. After the refit, sadly the magnificent First Class Social Hall was torn out and replaced by a new auditorium/cinema. In addition she became a two class liner. Therefore they combined her Cabin and the Tourist Class dining rooms, thus now she operated with a First and Tourist Class having a passenger capacity as follows: 325 First and 858 Tourist Class passengers, although many cabins were interchangeable, the size in each class could vary from sailing to sailing. Many new bathrooms were installed into cabins that previously were without and facilities were improved throughout, in order that the old Tourist Class cabins were of a much higher standard! But for some reason passenger numbers for both MS Giulio Cesare and the Augustus very rapidly began to decline. However, as we now all know with hindsight this was mostly due to the ever increasing popularity of air travel, but also due to the newer and far more modern ships that had been built in the late fifties, ships such as the superb Italia liners Michelangelo (launched 1962) and Raffaello (launched 1963) or the 1963 Adriatico Lines SS Oceanic, which by the way is still sailing for the Japanese PeaceBoat Organisation. And then there was the 1964 built Costa liner TN Eugenio C. There was a huge onslaught in the trade of ultra modern ships, as well as the heated competition from an unexpected source which was doing extremely well on the South American trade and had become extremely popular with their smaller intimate luxury liners the Portuguese ships.

MS Giulio Cesare’s bow seen in the Bay of Naples

The end is near:

She developed problems with her rudder on January 14, 1973 and had return to Naples. The Italian Line decided to sell her for scrap. She was laid up at Naples on January 14, and departed on April 20 for the Terrestre Marittima Shipyards, La Spezia, Italy where she was broken up, the first post-war built Italian liner to be scrapped.

A section from a 1954 Italia Line brochure

MS Giulio Cesare details and specifications:

Names and owners:

1 …       1952 - 1974: Giulio Cesare - Italia Line.

2 …       1974 – Departed Naples February 20 to breakers – “Terrestre Marittima Shipyards”, La Spezia, Italy.

Details and Specifications:                        

Built at:       Cantieri Riuniti dell’ Adriatico, Trieste, Italy.

Yard Number:       1756.

Owner:       Italia Line.

Registered at:       Genoa Italy.

Launched:       May 18, 1950.

Maiden Voyage:       October 27, 1951.

Tonnage:       27,078 GRT.

Length:       681ft - (207m).

Beam:       87.2ft – (26.6m).

Draught:       28ft – (8.5m).

Engines:       Two 12 cylinder “Societa Anonima Fiat” Diesels 37,000 BHP.

Screws:       Twin.

Speed:       Service speed 21 knots - max 23.31 knots.

Passengers:       178 First Class, 288, Cabin Class, 714 Tourist Class.

From 1964:       325 First Class and 858 Tourist Class.

Crew:       493.

Fully Air-conditioned

Routes served:

1 …       1951 – 1956 – Genoa - Buenos Aires.

2 …       1956-1960 - Genoa-New York.

3 …       1960-1973 - Genoa-Buenos Aires.      


In Conclusion:

Obviously the MS Giulio Cesare did not last the same kind of distance as her sister, which continued until late in 2011, that is a good 59 years in and out of service, but remember, the years that the “Giulio” did serve, she did so with great pride and distinction and she was greatly loved by those who sailed on her, and I know this from the countless emails I have received over the years I have been writing on classic liners, which now account to some 420 ships!

With the recent sale of her sister the Augustus, which seems to be her end, unless a last minute reprieve comes to hand, which I doubt, this will be the end of an end to a great era of a fine chapter of Italian passenger shipping, and we should all be very sad indeed!

Farewell old girl, as we remember both the MS Augustus and her older sister the MC Giulio Cesare!

Reuben Goossens.

Liner with Let us Remember this Great Fondness!

A fine photo of a great Italian liner

From the author’s private collection 

MS Augustus & Giulio Cesare INDEX:

Page One …       MS Augustus.

Page Two …       MS Giulio Cesare.

Page Three        MS Giulio Cesare & Augustus - Photo Album.

Page Four        M/S Philippines.      

Page Five        M/S Philippines – Photographs taken whilst for sale.

Also Visit …       SS Michelangelo & Raffaello Feature.




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