Rotterdam Lloyd MS Sibajak 1928 to 1959

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With Reuben Goossens

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


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 travel or cruise agencies, etc! Although having been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, I am now retired but having completed features on well over 1,350 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships, I trust these will continue to provide you the classic ship enthusiast the information you are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure!


An elegant and stately looking flagship of Rotterdam Lloyd MS Sibajak is seen having just been completed in 1928


Page Two - Part Two

Her Interiors - Deck by Deck


Please Note: Photographs of the MS Sibajak pages are from the author’s personal collection, unless otherwise stated!

However, I wish to especially thank for their kind cooperation of their excellent interior

and other photographs as seen on this page for they are very rare indeed.


Although you may have seen a few photographs of the Sibajak’s interiors on a previous page, however on this page, I will cover her interiors as well as her exteriors on a strictly “Deck-by-Deck” basis. You will note that I will always commence from topside of the ship and will commence from forward of each deck and slowly head aft.

I trust that this page will provide you with a fuller and a better insight of this once “Grand Old Lady of the Sea” that was at one time the Flagship of the Rotterdam Lloyd, later becoming the “Royal Rotterdam Lloyd.” I certainly trust that you will enjoy the beauty of this fine old passenger liner’s interiors, even though I feel that except for her top three grades that some of her cabins may have been rather basic!

Reuben Goossens.


1 - Sport Deck:

This part of the deck plan is from the Rotterdam Lloyd’s 1938 release

Topside, far forward was the original first class Sports Deck, although after she had a major refit in the 1935, which saw her Sports Deck extended aft towards the ships funnel, thus eliminating the previous Promenade, or Verandah Deck space below on Boat Deck. Thus the image above commencing with those three windows shows that original Promenade below. It was a place of relaxing for First Class passengers, and a little quoits and shuffleboard playing.

A view of Sports Deck after 1935, it had side wind protection and when in the tropics covers would be placed above to protect

guests form the scorching sun. A small section of the side covers can be seen on the right and it went far forward


An excellent view over her top decks looking forward after 1935


A starboard side-on view of Boat & Sport Deck above of Sibajak as built in 1928

showing the original Promenade on Boat Deck below commencing with its 3 sheltering windows

2 - Boat Deck:

Deck Plan valid from 1928 to 1935

The Bridge was located forward on Boat Deck but directly aft of the bridge on the starboard side was the Captain’s cabin and his lounge, followed by cabins for the First the Fourth officer’s accommodations. In addition there were five first class single cabins on the starboard side and one twin bedded cabin on the portside.

The Promenade:

Directly aft of the Bridge cabin housing was a partially covered Promenade (Verandah) Deck, at the front there was a three-panelled glass windows providing a space on both sides of the ship where there were cane chairs and tables with a spacious deck area. This special area was the ideal place of relaxation for First Class passengers as stewards would be at hand to serve coffee and tea, as well as other drinks, etc. And then there was always time to play a little quoits or some shuffleboard!

Boat Deck forward was the partially glass enclosed Promenade with cabins and the bridge forward


The same Promenade area is seen here on the Port side but looking aft


Impression by the late C.E.A. van Boeckel

The 1935 rebuilt forward Boat Deck

This part of the deck plan is from the Rotterdam Lloyd’s 1938 release

In 1935 RL decided that during her annual maintenance that the Sibajak’s accommodation would be modernised with upgraded facilities as well as some major alterations to be made to her Bridge/Boat Deck and the Sports Deck above. The area just aft of the Captains cabin and lounge and other officer’s accommodations, being the old First Class Promenade Deck disappear as a new somewhat raised deckhouse was built there and it extended as far aft towards the funnel was possible. This allowed for twelve new First Class cabins, such as; six twin bedded as well as six single bedded cabins, however none had private facilities, this remained reserved to those two Deluxe Suites and other upmarket cabins located on A Deck. Upon completion her new tonnage was 12,226 GRT. For interest, myself, the author sailed on the Sibajak from Rotterdam on May 17, 1958 and my mother had one of these new single cabins on the port side, being the second cabin aft.

The Sibajak is seen departing Rotterdam, my mothers cabin was located in

the raised superstructure aft of the Bridge and hers is the second window from aft


And here we see one of the new single bed cabins built on Boat Deck

Second Class:

Deck Plan valid from 1928 to 1935

Further aft, separated from the forward main superstructure is a partial deck that contains some derricks and the aft main mast, and this also served as part of the Second Class Open Promenade Deck.

Third Class:

Then far aft was what is in the shipping industry called the “Poop Deck” and this was the Third Class Open Sun Deck, thus each class did not just have ample covered deck space, but also open deck space!

3 - Promenade Deck:

The Sibajak was fitted with two electric lifts, which was still very much of a novelty in the 1920s and a great deal of thought had gone into the design of these lifts, and the result was an Art-Deco style with a glass and a steel sculpture styled door with glass sides. Each lift always had a bellboy in attendance.

Main Lobby:

Upon arrival on Promenade Deck the Lobby looked most stylish and impressive, for it had an exceptionally high dome with glass on the forward and aft sides as well as the dome itself allowing natural light to stream in. In addition there were some smaller panels of coloured stained class as well as leather trim below the dome, making it rather spectacular indeed! Like throughout her public venues, the Lobby featured some of the finest timbers which clad the walls and were used in the decorations and fittings along the walls. Together with the lifts, the grand stairwell and the exits to the Promenade Deck and the entranced to the two public venues  fore and one aft, this venue was simply stunning being a lobby fit for High Society, if not Royalty!

Here we see an artist impression created prior to her interiors being commenced of her spectacular forward Promenade Lobby


Forward Main Lobby between the Social Hall, the Main Lounge and the Smoke Room directly aft

Social Hall:

Forward of the Lobby was the refined and elegant semi circular beautifully timbered Grand Social Hall, that again featured a huge high glassed-dome with stained glass features and leather, whilst a grand piano stood directly below it! The Lounge was fitted with the finest imported wool carpets and the worlds best quality handcrafted and upholstered furnishings. This superbly beautiful lounge was created for MS Sibajak’s wealthy passengers to be suitably impressed. The Steinway Grand was well used, at times by talented passengers or the professional pianist aboard. The ship did have a small band having pianist with them and the band would play music for listening as well for dancing. Although at times, recorded music would also be played.

An artist impression of what would become the grandiose Social Hall


The Grandiose Social Hall with it huge glass dome



Here are some further views of what was indeed a spectacular Lounge! The image on

the right is seen after 1935, when the shields of the Dutch provinces were added


This photograph reveals the Lounge’s decorative ceiling and its amazing lighting for the time

Two Writing Areas:

Aft of the Social Hall were two rounded sections with two chairs in two writing tables, being the writing areas as seen below.

Smoking Room:

Just aft of the Main Lobby you would enter the rich ambience of the First Class Smoking Room with its bar along the aft wall. Obviously this was one of the favourite venues aboard during all of her days at sea, regardless of when she was a First Class, or a One Class One Class liner, which occurred in the 1950s! Much like the Social Hall, the Smoking Room had yet another grand dome, which was the theme for fine luxury liners of the 1920s! Spacious windows allowed light to stream in and make this beautifully timbered venue, topped with a patterned wallpaper and a delicately decorated bar, with a fine timber bar to sit at with high bar stools, and a room filled with the finest and most comfortable furnishings possible! This room was without a doubt equally spectacular!

And here is the artist rendering of the Smoking Room


The Smoke Room was equally elegant and also had a domed section in the center of the room as well as a Bar on the aft wall



Views after the 1950s:



Above & below: Here we see the Music Salon (ex Social Hall) completely refurbished for her duties as a One Class Ships


Passengers relaxing after embarkation in a corner of the lounge

The ship was extensively refitted to become a One Class Migrant and Passenger liner, for she would take Migrants as well as some full fare passengers to Canada, America or New Zealand and Australia in her final nine years, and regular passengers on her voyage back to England and The Netherlands.

Here public venues were certainly beautifully refurbished, but gone were all those glass domes from the first class public venues for the maintenance had become far too great! Yet both venues had not just retained their sublime beauty, but with a new look, the renamed Music Salon received a new even more modern ceiling and certainly far heavier and more comfortable furniture throughout the venue. Whilst the Smoking Room received all new and comfortable furnishings as well as some other special touches.

Here also we see the Smoking Room and bar that retained her grandeur, but just more comfortable and cosy furniture

Promenade Deck:

The forward Promenade Deck had a spacious glass enclosed promenade and obviously it was a wonderful place to meet friends and enjoy ocean views and have morning bouillon and afternoon tea, etc. But it could get rather crowded after 1950 when she became a One Class ship having more passengers.

The glass enclosed section of the Promenade Deck and here we see the portside looking aft


A crowded Promenaded Deck after the 1950s

However, amidships there were four Twin bedded cabins which would be reached by the aft first class stairwell. However, as these cabins did not have private facilities, they did have to go one deck down to the public bathroom placed directly below the stairs especially for these four cabins! Although these cabins did have direct access to the promenade deck! The aft lobby beside the stails were door which was the entrance to the item below!

The Crèche and Children’s Facilities:

The First Class The crèche and children’s facilities were located just aft of amidships cabins, or reached via the aft first class stairwell. The venue was a long room but it was located from port to starboard with windows only on the latter side, as there was a pantry on the port side. Private facilities for the children only were also provided. Directly aft of the room was a spacious play deck.

The First Class Children’s Playroom


Second Class:

This was followed by a very spacious Second Class partially covered but open sided Promenade Deck that commenced on both sides with an enclosed three windowed section as a wind protection and where cane furnishing would be placed, ideal for relaxation and having morning bouillon and afternoon tea etc.

Amazingly, their children’s facilities were one deck down via the stairs on this deck space on A Deck. There was a spacious covered deck area that would be used at set times the second-class children’s play area, but at other times the gates were opened and it was the Third Class Promenade Deck.

Third Class:

Directly aft of the Children Play Deck was the Third Class Promenade, which was similar to the second class one, but all under cover, but located at the stern section. But here again the Promenade commenced with the three windows forward with the rest of the deck being open sided, however located aft but centred was their Smoking Room, which had their main timber stairwell in the very centre of the lounge going down to the cabins and their Dining Room.

A view of the Third Class Promenade, which is closed when it is in use

as the 2nd.class children’s playground, but when not in use the gates are is opened up

Seen is the Third Class Main Lounge, but it is called the Smoking Room


The Third Class Smoke Room

The Smoke Room was in reality the only Lounge for this class, and they also used their Dining Room as their other venue for relaxation playing games and reading, when not being set op for meals. But the Smoking Room had settees fitted around the four walls and there were ample tables and chairs. Right in the middle of the room was the Third Class Main Stairwell to the cabins and the Dining Room on B Deck. Sadly in this view the shutters were down, but normally there was ample light in the room! Of course there was bar service available, and considering there were never more that 75 passengers in this class, this was a rather pleasant venue.

1950s Refit into a One Class Liner:

The Third Class Smoking Room took a dramatic change when the Sibajak was converted into a Migrant/Passenger Liner in the earky 1950s, for this venue was not just stripped, but had to be fumigated to be cleansed from the smell of smoke as this room would become the ships main Children’s Play Room! With its own Play deck, the previous smaller deck space allotted that commenced directly at the rear of the deckhouse!

The Children’s Play Room in her final eight years

4 - “Brugdek” - A Deck:

First Class Acommodations:

We have now arrived at the deck with the peculiar name of Brugdek or Bridge (A) Deck. Far forward were the two deluxe Suites that very spacious and offered Private Facilities. There was one suite on each side of the ship that were the largest accommodations aboard. They had a spacious entrance hall and the main part of the Suite was separated into a luxurious lounge and a lounge and then there was a large bathroom. The bathroom offered a full bath, twin washbasins and a WC. Both of these Suites could be sold as an apartment as they had interconnecting doors in the hallway to twin bedded cabins who would then use the same bathroom accessible from the hallway and not from the suite. Also at far forward of the deck, but in the entre were two further twin bedded cabins both having a private bathroom, thus there were four cabins at the front, Numbered from port to starboard this time; Suite 20, cabins 18 & 21 and Suite 23.

An artist impression of the Deluxe Suite

In addition to the above, there were another four cabins with Private Facilities, located amidships. First there were the two deluxe cabins numbers; 46 and 49 and they were very spacious having defined sleeping and lounge areas, but not as large as the Suite of course, but far more spacious than all of the regular cabins! Their bathroom had a full bath, a Bide and a WC; the two washbasins were in the cabin. Then just aft of these were Cabins 48 and 51 being regular sized twin bedded rooms with a similar bathroom as the cabins next door and the washbasins in their cabins as well. These were the three of the superior styles of accommodations available aboard the Sibajak.

The rest of the forward three quarters of the superstructure was dedicated to the balance of the First Class accommodations, all being two bedded cabins, and of course every room on the ship had a window or a porthole if located in the hull.

A long cabin hallway to a wide range of cabins, many having interconnecting doors


Here we see a twin bedded cabin, which tended to be somewhat larger


A regular two-berth cabin

First Class had two Main stairwells; one forward and other located aft of the First Class part of the ship. The forward stairwell had its two lifts, a luxury for the time when the ship was built.

Second Class:

Directly aft of the First Class accommodations the spacious Second Class Promenade Deck commenced and the deckhouse offered doors and window frames that so richly featured the most beautiful fine dark waterproofed timbers that together with the walls were always kept perfectly clean at all times, as was the entire ship for that matter as the Dutch are famed for being the “Spotless People.”

A Deck Second Class Promenade Deck, Port Side looking aft to the Third Class promenade

As we head inside again on the starboard side was the children’s playroom that had its own pantry just like the like the first class playroom, and again their own private facilities.

The Ladies Lounge:

Whilst directly opposite on the portside there was what was called the “Ladies Lounge” yet it was used by both ladies and men for the truth is that it was also the writing and games room, in addition there was a piano along the wall, thus passengers with some talent would be able to entertain the guests little.

 The venue that was officially named the “Ladies Lounge” but was used by makle and females

Directly aft of the Ladies Lounge and the Children’s Playroom was the Second Class Main Lobby and stairwell which offered access up as far as Boat Deck, being their Sun Deck, and down to B Deck the Dining Room and further cabins.

Smoking Room:

But aft of the Lobby was the magnificent spacious Smoking Room with a separate section aft with the bar. As was so typical of the time, the venue was magnificently timbered with the finest timbers gathered from around the world, the side walls offered on each side eight extra large windows looking out to the sea, just look at their Promenade Deck photo above! And like in First Class the furniture was the best of the best and sourced from the finest hand crafted furniture makers!

The artist impression of the Second Class Smoking Room on Brugdek - A deck



Above & below: The beautifully designed and well executed with the finest of warm timbers

is reflected in the Second Class Smoking Room that is seen here in its early days


The Smoking Room in the 50s:

As we know the Sibajak received a massive overhaul in the 1950s and the aft Smoke Room, being the old second-class one was greatly lightened up and the heavy dark furniture was removed and was replaced by a more casual style of furnishing cane furniture. Other lounge up forward had a completely differed change with deep comfortable sofas and arm chairs etc, thus this was a major change, however with the bar this became more of a place to have a drink and a snack, much like a Dutch Café.

Here we see the ex second class Smoke Room, but refurbished in 1950 as the aft Smoke Room

Third Class:

Directly aft of the Second Class Promenade commenced the Third Class Promenade Deck, and for such as small number of passengers there was a huge amount of deck space allotted for just up to 75 passengers.

Inside there was accommodations which was accessible via the Third Class main Stairwell and there was four 2 bertd cabins,  four 3 berths cabins and two 4 berth cabins, with a total of 28 berths. There was a female and a male toilet on this small deck, but the actual bathroom was one deck down the Third Class Main Stairwell aft on B Deck. Right aft was a freestanding deckhouse that contained the all-electric Laundry as the Sibajak was one of the early all electric Liners!

5 - Bovendek - B Deck:

First & Second Class:

From the Second Class Lobby there were doors out to a narrow deck that commenced just there and continued all the way to the Forecastle, although there was a gate at the First Class section. Far forward like on A Deck there was the massive two-deck verandah above the First Class Dining Room. Which was at any time of the day a spectacular view, for it was fronted on every deck by the Grand Lobby and its amazing lifts! On the portside, just forward of amidships is the First Class Pursers Office.

The amidships Pursers Office

Second Class:

Further aft the Second Class Pursers Office was located portside in the aft Entrance Hall. Whilst on the starboard side there was the both the ladies and gent’s hairdressers that was available by appointment to First, Second and Third Class passengers..

The aft Second Class Pursers Office seen during boarding and there are so many questions?

The rest of the deck from forward to just up to the aft Main Lobby was occupied with first class cabins, from single cabins with a sofa that converted into a bed if required, two berth cabins, or up to four berth cabins. Along the starboard side there was a section from the Main Lobby to amidships where cabins were interchangeable with First or Second Class.

Third Class:

Far aft of B Deck was the Third Class Dining Room that had five long tables and its single narrow timber stairs that commenced from up on Promenade Deck in their Smoking Room and it will still go down one more deck. The dining room was tastefully furnished and the tables were always correctly dressed! Their Galley was located on the starboard side just forward on the Dining Room.

The Third Class Dining Room was really very good and is seen with its 5 long tables set for the evening meal

Aft of the Dining Room was two 4 berth cabins,  two 3 berth cabins and one 2 berth cabin with a total of 16 berths having ample public facilities close at hand.

6 - Tusschendek – C Deck:

The main feature on this deck was the two restaurants, which were located, the First Class one forward and Second Class aft. The original first class Dinning Saloon, featured a grand two deck high atrium, reaching Bridge (Brug) B Deck. Aft of the Second Class dining room was occupied with Second and Third Class cabins with two, three and four berth cabins.

First Class Dining Room:

Forward was one of the ships most grandiose features, being her 32 table First Class Dining Room as the actual venue was toped by a two deck high walk around verandas, with each deck having balustrades of the most intriguing wrought and metal feature inserts combined with special lighting features. The two deck above were First Class accommodation decks. Forward of the Dining Room was the Grand Lobby that by itself was grand, and it featured those wonderful electric glass and metal decorated lifts, I have described in great detail on Promenade deck! Directly aft of the Dining Room was the first class own Galley and bakery.

The Spectacular First Class Dining Room


The tables were always brilliantly set

Second Class Dining Room:

The first item we come to is the Second Class Galley for each class had its very own galley! The Main fine dark timber stairwell came down directly into the 25 table Second Class Dining Room, which was a pleasantly decorated venue with fine timbers on its walls, although a riveted steel ceiling; yet it was a pleasant venue. Like first class the dining room’s tables were always set perfectly pending the occasion, Breakfast may have been more simple, Lunch would have been better, but the Evening meal the tables were always perfectly set!


Above & below: the Second Class Dining Room was a most pleasant dining venue



A family being served lunch by the Javanese stewards


This was the aft Galley in which, during my voyage as a young man I gave an occasional hand


Starboard side there were ten cabins, six two berth and four three berth cabins. Whilst on the portside there were eleven cabins, seven two berth and four three berth cabins.


Third Class Cabins:

These cabins were located aft and on each side there were a total of six cabins having; two cabins with 2 berths and four cabins with 4 berths on each side, thus there was a total of twelve cabins a total of 36 berths.

Sibajak the One Class Liner of the 1950s:

Although I have spoken of the ship at this time earlier, but although I have been searching for many years and have asked the Rotterdam Maritiem Museum and other for a copy of the Sibajak’s last 1952 Deck Plan, I have sadly never managed to locate one. And as I personally sailed on her during that time, I wish I could locate it! Possibly one day before it is too late for I am getting old.

But you have already seen some of the changes to her Lounges above, as I will have showed them above in their appropriate locations. But not any of the newly refurbished cabins of her final years, and I will show these below as well as several fine images of this delightful old Liner!

MS Sibajak in Cape Town


A rare photograph of MS Sibajak seen at Cape Town in 1956


 Cabins From her Final Years


A three-berth cabin with a window on A Deck 


Four berth cabin aft on B Deck


Four berth cabin on C Deck


This is an AA type dormitory for migrant trade



Above & below: This is the public bathrooms all over the ship and they are quite very large and rather public but always spotless!



This is always my favourite photograph of the Sibajak as I would watch her depart Wellington

New Zealand being my new home from 1958 to 1963


MS Sibajak Index:

Page One:…………………….MS Sibajak had long career from 1927 to 1959 - This is her complete story!

Page Two:…………………….Brochures, Deck Plans, Photographs Menus and Memorabilia.

Page Two-b:…………………The Ships Interiors, Deck by Deck.

Page Three:………………….The Author’s voyage on the Sibajak from Rotterdam on May 17, 1958.

Page Three-b:………………The Family Salden-Van Mulken sail to Australia on May 17, 1958.

Page Four:…………………….Ships Chef H B Hulspas story, a floorshow programme and a farewell menu dated 1955.

Page Five:…………………….Family van der Net and their voyage to Australia in 1956.

Page Six:……………………...Family van der Biezen sailed on her second last voyage in 1959.

Page Seven:…………………The Nieborak Family’s voyage to Australia in 1959.

Page Eight:                Mr & Mrs Petzold sail from Rotterdam to Cape Town on October 25, 1949.


Also visit the Three other Dutch Liners on the New Zealand - Australian Service


MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt - MS Oranje & MS Willem Ruys


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I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”



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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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