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!  

Royal Rotterdam Lloyd

M.S. Sibajak

Page Six

--Our Voyage Half Way Across the World--

By Catharina Schaake van der Biezen


Please Note: Photographs were provided by Catharina Schaake van der Biezen, unless stated otherwise 


Postcard of MS Sibajak

Postcard from the Author’s private collection

We were a big family, 11 persons in all who had decided to leave our homeland, Holland and immigrate to Australia on the other side of the world. In order to do that we had to take a ship and the one chosen was the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd liner MC Sibajak.

The family saying their final farewells inside the wharf

Finally the day came as we all got ready, with everything packed and all our family and friends to see us off we went to the wharf to board the ship on 17 March 1959, and the great adventure was about to begin!

As we boarded we left our home and headed for an adventure to a far away country

Let me tell you who was in my family; There was my …

Father: Cristianus van der Biezen.

Mother: Maria Giebelen.

Sister: Catharina (me).

Brother: Johannes.

Sister: Connie.

Sister: Petronella.

Sister: Leonie.

Brother: Hedwig.

Brother: Henk.

Brother: Rudy.

Brother: Tonny.

Thus as you can see from the list there were nine children, four girls and five boys, and for Mother and Father I am sure that must have been quite a handful at the time sailing all that way on a ship!.

After the formalities we were on board and then we could see all our family and friends ashore. The goodbye's from family and friends was bad and very sad because in your thoughts you would realise that possibly you may never see them again, and how hard that was for a 17 year old girl? It was certainly devastating for me! But as I never seen any other country than Holland it was a great experience to travel so far afield and that was at least exciting.

The van der Biezen family wave their family and friends goodbye

Apparently this was Sibajak’s second last voyage to New Zealand and Australia before going to Asia to be scrapped which was sad, for the was so lovely. We had 2 cabins my parents had one and they shared with the 5 boys, starting with the baby just 7 months old, then there was the 2 year old, the 4 years old and the 6 years old. The 4 girls had a cabin to them selves, great.

M/S Sibajak seen departing Rotterdam

From the Author’s of ssMaritime private collection

The ship left Rotterdam and it was all exciting, but a few hours later as we entered the North Sea misery struck, yes seasickness hit many of us. The next day everything was still spinning and we decided to stay in the cabin. When the cabin boy came in to clean he saw my misery, and he went out and soon came back with some eau de cologne and put some on my head that was relief.

The people what cleaned and all the staff on the ship were absolutely perfect, such beautiful service and so very friendly they went beyond the call of duty to be kind to us. The food on the ship was excellent as was the great service that came with it.

There were so many things to do on board like, going to the movies, dancing, playing games out on deck or up on sports deck and enjoying time in the swimming pool, there was certainly no time to get bored a word what was not common in that time.

The family enjoying some time out on deck

The ports we visited were just like magic, as I said before, I had never seen any other country, only Holland. We called in at England, Willemstad Curacao of the Netherland’s Antilles where it was so warm and a fascinating place to visit! Then it was through the Panama Canal and the City of Panama. The next port was beautiful and lush Papeete in Tahiti the Pacific and this was just like a dream Islandwith fragrant flowers everywhere and markets in the street.

Sibajak seen in port

From the Author’s of ssMaritime private collection

In New Zealand all of us went ashore and went to a phone box to phone a friend of mine, who left the year before to get married in New Zealand. We got hold of her and had a delightfully long talk together. As she lived somewhat too far out of Wellington to be visited the phone call had to make do, and we enjoyed our time together! However, over the years I lost contact and I have never seemed to find her again and I have tried very hard. Maybe she will read this and make contact?

From New Zealand the Sibajak crossed the Tasman Sea to Australia and Sydney. Our voyage took 7 weeks as we had some bad weather along the way, thus it took a little longer than as per the schedule.

The van der Biezen family seen in Sydney

Then came the day when we finally arrived in Melbourne on 1 May 1959. It somehow seemed if we arrived at the end of the world for it was a very strange feeling. As we left the ship, it sort of felt as if you were leaving your life and safety behind you, for let’s face it; the Sibajak was a part of Holland and she was flying the Dutch flag from her stern.

I will certainly never forget that wonderful voyage on the MS Sibajak as long as I live, even though, there were some rough patches, like the seasick days, but that was only sometimes, but I will remember the many good times, the wonderful crew, the warm smiles, the ports and the family together and an adventure as we sailed half way around the world on the Sibajak!

Catharina Schaake van der Biezen.

Postcard of the M/S Sibajak

From the Author’s of ssMaritime private collection

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 - See Page 3b.

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

Page Four:…………………….Ships Chef H B Hulspas story, a floor show 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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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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