Royal Interocean Lines; MS Tjiwangi and MS Tjiluwah later known as the “The Elegant White Yachts”
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Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Maritime Lecturer
Please Note: All ssmaritime as well as my other related maritime & cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960, but although retired and unwell, I occasionally attempt to write an article now and then, in order to bring enjoyment and pleasure to ship enthusiasts past passengers and crew.
History of the two Ships
With RIL from 1950 to 1974
MS Tjiwangi was the first of the pair to enter service
Please Note: All images are from the author’s private collection, unless stated otherwise
These two compact liners were considered the most
beautifully proportioned passenger cargo liners seen in Australian
waters, becoming the most popular ships to sail between
The long established Dutch
shipping company “Java-China Line” and the “Koninklijke
Java-China Paketvaart Lijnen” - (KJCPL), which from the
late 1950’s merged to become the “Royal Interocean
Lines” - (RIL) but they always had their headquarters in
Company background: After the turn of the century the
Koninklijke Java-China Paketvaart Lijnen (KJCPL) was founded in
In 1948 KJCPL decided to build two intimate 9,000 GRT
passenger cargo liners, and these ships were built by
Mini Photo Album of MS Tjiwangi’s launching and Sea Trials
Above & below: MS Tjiwangi is seen during her launching on April 29, 1950
Here we see a superb photograph of the Tjiwangi at her Fit-Out berth fully lit at night
The Tjiwangi is seen here heading off on her Sea Trials which were successful!
With the MS Tjiwangi having undertaken her sea trails she
was delivered on December 24, 1950 and soon she departed
Already in service was a
considerable fleet of ships, including the three popular larger liners, such as
the MS Boissevain, Ruys and the Tegelberg, being approximately 14,280-tons each
with 435 passengers in two classes. These delightful tree identical ships built
in 1937/38, sailed between
Built for KJCPL, but now operating for RIL, one of their larger passenger liners the 14,285-ton MS Ruys
For the next ten years, Tjiwangi and Tjiluwah operated on
the Dutch East Indies to Hong Kong service, until 1960 a decision was made to
change their service and place them on the
MS Tjiluwah a beautifully proportioned small passenger liner – a KJCPL postcard from 1956
In July 1960 with Tjiwangi having arrived in
A KJCPL postcard of the MS Tjiwangi - 1958
RIL Postcard of the Tjiwangi after 1960
Accommodations on the Tjiwangi and Tjiluwah as built: All cabins were outside with one or two portholes.
First Class cabins were located on B Deck, which had 2 single cabins with private facilities. 17 Twin bedded cabins all with private facilities, and 20 Twin bedded cabins that offered a sofa that converted into a third bed if required, as well as 1 two-berth cabin, but the 20 Twins with the sofas and the two berth cabin had share facilities. First Class was fully air-conditioned throughout.
Tourist Class cabins were located on C Deck and comprised of 40 four berth cabins all having shared facilities. Tourist Class had Gyro fan-forced air-cooling.
First Class Public Facilities were rather opulent, with the Main Lounge located forward on Promenade (A) Deck being surrounded by the wonderful and greatly loved Wintergarden. The Lounge was sumptuously furnished and just aft on the portside was a delightful Bar, whilst on the starboard side the Library and Writing Room. Directly aft was the exterior Verandah on the deck, which was popular at night as an entertainment venue and dancing, although the main lounge also had a more intimate dance floor! One deck up on Boat Deck was the First Class Swimming Pool!
In addition, these ships had that traditional ocean liner style Promenade Deck, lined with comfortable deck chairs with stewards constantly at your call. Then there was on further very special and an unusual feature for ships of this intimate size as each ship featured a magnificent Restaurant that was two stories high with a fine balustrade on the upper deck looking down on the Restaurant below, with a grand sweeping staircase down into the restaurant like the great ocean liners of yesterday!
The Tourist Class public rooms were equally decorative but having a more modest restaurant. Both classes offered ample deck spaces for relaxing, sun baking and sports activities, and each class had their own swimming pool.
Tjiluwah is seen arriving in
Above & Below: The elegant
The Wintergarden surrounded the Main Lounge - starboard looking aft
The Bar was located on the Portside just aft of the lobby
(At the same location starboard was the library/card/games room)
The First Class Restaurant was for a small ship, quite extravagant
Note the differences between the décor above and below
The staircases differed on the two ships as one was placed forward & the other aft of the Dinning Room
Twin bedded cabin with a sofa that converted to a third bed
And here is the wonderful MS Tjiwangi in the early 1960s
The delightful Main Lounge and Bar was located within the hull of the ship
Later a comfortable and more casual Tourist Class Verandah
Lounge was installed on the starboard side of Promenade Deck
The swimming pool
Outside Twin Tourist Class Cabin
Cover of a Cabin Plan
See the official Deck Plan link at the bottom of the page
Service speed: 16 knots.
Passenger Decks: Four.
1950/1963: 98-First Class – 160-Tourist Class.
1963: 104-First Class – 118-Tourist Class.
. First Class only was fully Air-Conditioned.
1963: Ships refitted & now fully air-conditioned.
Livery 1950/1963: Black hull / white superstructure with red boot topping.
. black funnel Dutch flag with white triangle & gold crown.
Livery 1963/1972/74: White hull & superstructure.
MS Tjiluwah seen in 1963 after her refit – Such a graceful and intimate liner
In 1962/63, both ships received a refit, and had their hulls painted white, after which they became known as the “Elegant White Yachts.” The after end of the starboard Promenade Deck was glass enclosed creating the delightful Tourist Class Verandah Lounge.
Even though Tjiwangi and Tjiluwah had considerable competition from the well established Dominion Lines George Anson and Francis Drake, later the Chitral, Aramac and other vessels, however, the two Dutch flagged RIL ships were the more favoured, for they were renowned for their refined atmosphere and superb service.
Today these wharves have now been rebuilt as upmarket apartments, boutiques, cafes and restaurants
whilst the famed historic wool stores have been converted into luxury apartments
Photograph by & © ssmaritime.com
The Australian to
Tjiwangi seen in
Photograph by & © Graham-Emery
In November 1973 RIL finally decided to sell the Tjiwangi, which was sold by Singaporean PIL, and she was handed over at the end of January 1974 and was duly renamed Kota Bali and she joined her sister Kota Singapura.
With the sale of the two popular “Elegant White
Yachts” as ship lovers called the Tjiluwah and Tjiwangi,
MS Nieuw Holland, ex Randfontein operated for just over three years
MS Tjiluwah and Tjiwangi offered the very best in traditional cruising with an emphasis on comfort, service, and excellent food. Entertainment was minimal to today’s standards, but both ships had a small band and a pianist. The emphasis was very much a voyage of quiet relaxation, enjoying the ships excellent facilities, comfortable lounges, two pools and the spacious decks. It was a time where we enjoyed a drink on the promenade, reading a book in the Wintergarden or enjoying a drink in the bar and the main lounge engaging in interesting conversations with those who had cruised the world, or on their very first ocean voyage. Tjiluwah and Tjiwangi offered the very best in traditional cruising. I certainly will never forget my days aboard these elegant small liners!
Many of today’s vacationers would not enjoy this style of elegant cruising as the preference these days is to be entertained all day and night, private balconies, towering atriums, rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, etc, etc, and sailing with a herd of 2,000 to 6,500 passengers on a floating hotel/resort which can hardly be described as ships.
Two fine photographs of Tjiwangi in Newcastle © by Mr. Stan Evans
superb looking MS Tjiwangi seen on one of her rare visit’s to
view of the pristine MS Tjiwangi in
If you have enjoyed this article on these two remarkable small and elegant ships, and if you have sailed on them feel and may have something of interest to add, be it a story, photographs, I would love to hear from you. Please .
MS Tjiwangi and Tjiluwah will always be remembered as the “Elegant White Yachts”
Page One: Tjiluwah – Tjiwangi History Page.
. Tjiluwah – Tjiwangi - RIL - Deck Plan.
Page Three: RIL Memorabilia – A host of RIL memorabilia items.
Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”
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