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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 inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for their pleasure!



Page Five

Pages One and Two of this special series cover the wonderful TSS Fairsea and Fairwind and their history, but these next two pages 5 & 6 will cover Sitmar Cruises other ships that were in their fleet between 1971 and 1988, even though they were a relatively new cruise company that commenced in 1971, however Sitmar was an old and a long established shipping company with a history of passenger liners that transported passengers and migrants from Europe, Britain to Canada, the United States, but mostly to Australia and New Zealand!

This page covers three ships three that are relevant of the time, and these are; TSS Fairstar, SS Fairsky and the ship that never sailed for Sitmar Cruises, but she was launched as a Sitmar ship, the M/V Sitmar FairMajesty and she was launched with that name, but sadly she was completed as the Star Princess for in July 1988 P&O had purchased Sitmar.

Ship One

HMTS Oxfordshire 1957 - 1962 / TSS Fairstar 1964 - 1997

In 1964 a new ship was about to join Sitmar Line on the Australian service, she was the completely rebuilt Bibby Line ship, HMTS Oxfordshire that departed on her maiden voyage on February 28, 1957. She was mostly a troopship, but she also carried passengers and later was also used as an educational ship for colleges, etc. However with changes taking place and many troops now being transported by air, the Oxfordshire was laid up in 1962 at the River Fal.

A fine aerial view of the troopship Oxfordshire

In 1963 the steamship Oxfordshire was chartered for six years to the Fairline Shipping Corp, being Sitmar Line. Soon she crossed the Channel and on May 19, 1963 the Oxfordshire entered the Wilton-Fijenoord Shipyard at Schiedam (Rotterdam) The Netherlands to commence a complete rebuilding and transformation into a comprehensive passenger liner as well as a part time cruise ship. The project was known as the “Conox Project,” which stood for the “conversion of Oxfordshire.”

However, due to a dispute between Sitmar and Bibby Line the project was taking longer that had been expected, but worse still it began to cost more than it had been originally quoted, which was around £4.5 million Pounds. Thus it was decided for all work to stop!

The just renamed Fairstar is seen here after work had been stopped for some time in Rotterdam, in March 1964

However, she is about to depart and cross the North Sea for Southampton to be completed in the UK!

With all the problems with Bibby Line, Sitmar decided to purchase the ship outright and did so on May 1964 as they purchased her outright and named her Fairstar as well as arranging for Harland and Wolff to complete the work and the fitting out work in Southampton. Thus she had to cross the North Sea once more for her rebuilding work to be completed.

Upon completion, The Fairstar certainly had become a handsome looking liner and she looked nothing like her former self as her superstructure had been lengthened both fore and aft, in addition her three pairs of cargo booms had been replaced by tidy electric cranes, she had a new and shapely signal mast and her funnel housing was redesigned and modernised painted in the traditional Sitmar colours with the large “V” for the founder’s name Mr. Vlasov.

Internally, the ship was completely and beautifully transformed, featuring a contemporary ‘One Class’ accommodation for a maximum of 1,868 passengers in 488 cabins. All cabins, except for just 68 were equipped with private facilities.

A gleaming white and a beautiful passenger liner, the TSS Fairstar on her voyage to Australia

TSS Fairstar’s New Interiors:

When completed the all-new Fairstar was an exciting and a modern ship for her day, as she featured some fine and spacious public rooms. Commencing far forward on Boat Deck was a venue that could only be reached via the forward stairs, and that was the “Jungle Room,” which was without doubt a young persons delight, windows overlooked the bow and on the port side aft wall there was the Milk bar and a jukebox along side portside complete with a dance floor with bench style seating along the forward wall. On starboard side, was an area where a good number of poles with two seats attached below and a small table for drinks, with metal twigs and leaves sprouting from the top of the poles it made this a very special venue for those who may have caught that shipboard “puppy love?” Directly aft of the lobby was an open deck area. There were two other public venues on Boat Deck, the forward one was the upper level on the ships Main Lounge, the magnificent Zodiac Room where you could look down to the lower level and there were two stairs located far forward going down walking towards each other. Aft in the room on the starboard side was the upper level Bar with the glass entrance doors on the portside.

Between the Upper Zodiac Lounge and the venue far aft where four de-Luxe suites amidships; portside they were named “Aires” and “Libra”, whilst on the starboard they were; “Gemini” and “Taurus.” The ten other cabins on this deck were all Twin bedded cabins, but each cabin had recessed upper berths if any were required.

Far aft was the very popular Surf Club with its vast aft wall of floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ships aft decks and the swimming pool. This delightfully furnished venue featured a unique walk around Island Bar, with stainless steel cladding and bar style seating on the aft side of the bar, thus with a view towards the sea. This wonderful venue was popular day and night!

Far forward on promenade deck forward was the Children’s “Play Pen” with its own deck and paddling pool. Again here was the far forward internal staircase to head up to the Jungle Room or down to the forward Dining Room on Saloon Deck and forward cabins.

The forward Main Lounge, being the lower Zodiac Lounge was simply huge and it was here where all the main activities took place. There was an Island Band Stand located forward angled on the portside with a large round dance floor. The whole of the forward wall, both downstairs and upstairs featured a massive colourful mural of all the star signs! Along the aft portside wall was the superbly dark timbered large angled bar! The multi level Zodiac Lounge was without a doubt one of the best-designed and most stunning venues afloat of the 1970’s!and it remained the perfect Lounge to the day she ended her career!

Directly aft across of the forward Lobby with the main stairwell and its two lifts, along the portside was an attractive well furnished and a very stylish Library and Writing Room, whilst on the starboard side along the main hallway was the Ships Shop followed by the male and female facilities.

Reaching amidships you arrived at the well-known “The Tavern” with its long and extended timber top Bar along the aft wall, the bar top was in fact a huge slice of a cut tree that covered the bar, but it extended meters past the bar and was supported by steel posts for drinkers to lean on. This bar had and interesting decoration at its front and it also had an opening into the portside located “Rainbow Lounge” that was a lounge just aft, but it was reached via the aft main lobby with its two lifts.

The Rainbow Lounge was a delightfully furnished and certainly colourful venue, with a wall of glossy multi coloured ceramic small tiles, yet it was a very peaceful small room and it had bar service as well!

Finally, far aft on Promenade Deck is the popular “Aquarius Lounge,” which at night turned into the ships exciting nightclub. The Aquarius Lounge was especially named this way because of the large oblong portholes in her mid-aft wall, providing a rather unusual view into the swimming pool and those swimming in the pool located above on Boat Deck. The pool was located just aft of the Surf Club and a very spacious deck surrounded it and there was ample shade as Lower Bridge Deck above provided covering at the forward section of the pool area as well as two long decks along each side that stretched a long way aft with stairs at the end coming down. Just aft of the pool on the portside was a bar with a unique roof made up of colourful intertwined carousel shaped fibreglass.

One deck below Promenade Deck was Saloon Deck that also offered sheltered deck space for walking along both sides of the ship and this was popular when arriving at ports, for often in those days there would be a band or a performance of some sort! Far forward this deck there were cabins, however the balance of this deck was devoted to the Ships Dining Rooms and the Galley’s amidships. The forward Dining Room was Named “The Waldorf” and the aft, “The Savoy.” Food in those days was a mixture of Italian and Continental cuisine and certainly well prepared and presented, in addition I found that the food tasted delicious!

On May 19, 1964 the TSS Fairstar departed Southampton with a full load of passengers, most being migrants and a few tourists on her maiden voyage to Sydney, Australia sailing via the Suez Canal. She joined her older Sitmar liners, the SS Fairsky, MS Fairsea and the elder of the fleet, SS Castel Felice all of which had been operating the same service to Australia and to New Zealand. On their voyages back to Britain or Europe and Italian ports they carried immigrants that were heading to their homeland for a vacation to see their families as well as tourists heading off on their adventures. Sitmar was also very popular with Australian and New Zealand singers, bands and singing groups who would work on board for their passage and sail to England in hope to make their name. And certainly quite a few did, such as the much-loved “The Seekers,” the “Easybeats,” and who can ever forget the “Bee Gees” all of whom worked their way to the UK on a Sitmar ship!

The author was fortunate to sail on the Fairstar when she arrived in Australia and Melbourne in August 1964 for the second time. I had booked on this voyage and boarded her in Melbourne for her second ever voyage to Italy and then to Naples we called on Sydney, Brisbane (where I now live), Singapore, Colombo in Ceylon (today’s Sri Lanka), Aden and Suez being the port where we were at anchor and where we disembarked for our coach tour to Cairo and the Pyramids, etc., and re-boarded the ship in Port Said where she was again at anchor with small boats surrounding her with Egyptians selling their goods. From Egypt we sailed direct to Naples being the end of the voyage. From there I took the train to my destination, via Rome. But the Fairstar remained firmly imprinted into my mind and memory for she was simply wonderful and the memories will never be forgotten.

Although I sailed on the Fairstar many times since as a cruise ship in later years, but it was that very first Sitmar Line voyage was so much superior, and the P&O product was never as near as good for they simply did not have that Italian touch of magic!

Occasionally Sitmar would use the ship to operate cruises out of Sydney around the South Pacific. One of the first of these cruises departed Sydney on January 6, 1965 and this was a special charter by the big country industry organisation, “Massey-Ferguson” for their “Annual Convention.” She then returned to her regular liner duties to and from the UK and Europe. However later that year the Fairstar sailed on another cruise from Sydney on December 22, 1965 and visiting New Caledonia and Fiji. Thereafter she was cruising more frequently over the years and eventually the migrant trade had eventually diminished and in 1973, a decision had to be made by Sitmar Line that would change her future dramatically, for she was about to leave the UK and Europe permanently very soon!

Sitmar, the Genuine Australian Cruise Line, and NOT P&O!

However her liner days concluded when she departed Southampton for the very last time on July 1974, 1,280 passengers on board bound for her new permanent home Sydney Australia! She commenced her first official cruise as an Australian based cruise ship on August 24, 1974 and she became one of the most famous cruise ships ever, for the Fairstar set the trend in Australian cruising, what has now become the worlds fastest growing cruise market. Considering the population of this country it has grown from just one ship based here to P&O having three 70,000-ton and two 55,000-ton ships  based here and Carnival two 86,000-ton ships and Princess also having two 77,500-ton ships based in Australia. That is eleven ships in all and that is not counting the multitude of other ships that are here during our high season! During the high season the number multiplies, as Royal Caribbean has three ships, Holland America line another two ships, Celebrity two more ships and the list just goes on and we are now heading to ships around the 140,000-ton mark! And amazingly, all this started with just one Sitmar cruise ship, the 22,000-ton TSS Fairstar, no not a P&O, and that is what they want you to believe, NO, it was Sitmar Line and Sitmar Cruises from 1987 but it was Sitmar who was the true Australian cruise innovator, for P&O England only operated the occasional cruise and P&O never called Australia home and the big difference is that Sitmar was the very first to do so!

TSS Fairstar – Sitmar Australian Connection - 1974 to 1988 & P&O Holidays, P&O Cruises 1988 to 1997:

The third Sitmar Cruises ship was the Australian based cruise ship the TSS Fairstar that cruised year round out of Sydney Australia around the South Pacific, New Zealand as well as South East Asia, and she was so popular that she was usually a fully booked ship. The Fairstar retained her original name, as it was a greatly loved name and she was transferred to the newly formed P&O Holidays in Sydney and continued as the most successful ship in history and she continued sailing until 1997.

Here we see the Sitmar cruise ship Fairstar just before the P&O takeover Although P&O decided to retain

the Sitmar Cruises funnel and only reversed it later to a white funnel and a blue logo, which was unpopular!


This is the 1991 unpopular funnel but was soon replaced with the popular dolphin logo

The Fairstar was soon refitted and she received some popular new venues, such as the “Brasserie Delfino” being an Italian inspired Bistro and Pizzeria, which was located forward on Promenade Deck in a glass enclosed area, and aft on Officers Deck overlooking the Swimming Pool and ships wake there was the popular Al Fresco Café serving espresso coffee and a variety of teas and snacks. Her white funnel now featured a white jumping dolphin on a double blue disc background.

This is a photograph of the TSS Fairstar taken during her very last cruise in January 1997

For her next voyage would be to Alang, India to be broken up, named RIPA

Photographer unknown – Please See Photo Notes down the page

Sadly with this much loved ship aging, during the mid 1990s the Fairstar commenced to suffer a number of boiler and other problems that required constant attention. And it was also obvious that with the new SOLAS or the “Safety Of Life At Sea” requirements that would come in effect in 1997, this would mean that the Fairstar having been built back in 1957 would require massive upgrading, which would cost countless of millions of dollars. Therefore, late 1996, the Managing Director of P&O, Mr. Phil Young officially announced that sadly the Fairstar’s long career would have to end in January 1997 and that she would be sold.

When the news was broken to the public in the media, there was an outcry and when the final cruise was announced it was sold out within hours. Then, on Tuesday January 21, 1997 the much-loved “FunShip” the TSS Fairstar departed from her berth for her very last cruise. During this cruise she visited Amedee Island, Noumea, Lifou, Vila and Havannah-Boulari Passage, then returning to Sydney, the port that had been her home since 1974, to date the Fairstar remains the longest serving Australian based cruise ship ever to be based in Sydney!

On her return into Sydney Harbour she flew the traditional long slender white pennant from her mainmast. On board there was great sadness and weeping, something like there had never been seen before on this happy of all ships, for she had touched so many Australians since she first visited Australia in 1964, and the Author actually sailed on her second voyage from of Melbourne Australia later that year to Naples sailing via the Suez Canal!

The TSS Fairstar had been sold to Indian breakers at Alang and she was laid up at Garden Island with her replacement, the TSS Pacific Princess berthed directly behind her.

The TSS Fairstar is seen laid up at Garden Island Sydney, with her successor the TSS Fair Princess astern off her

Click the photograph above for a special reworked and enlarged version

Photograph was taken by the Author on February 10, 1997

All too soon the name “RIPA” appeared painted roughly on her bow, and this name according to many means; “Rest In Peace Always,” whilst many continue to believe that it really meant just what it said, and that is that she was to all Australian’s - “A RIPPA of a Ship.” Rippa is an Australian colloquial term for being “the greatest,” the “best” - even the “happiest.” She was reregistered and was flying the St. Vincent’s & Grenadines flag. No sooner had the name appeared and the greatly loved FunShip, the ex TSS Fairstar, Oxfordshire, very quietly slipped out of Sydney Harbour on February 12, 1997 and the RIPPA headed for the toxic ridden beaches of Alang, India, where she arrived on April 10, where this wonderful old Troopship, fine Liner and Australian Cruise Ship was broken up.

The RIPA slips out of Sydney



Ship Two

SS Fairsky (4) – 1984 - 1988 / Sky Princess 1988 - 2000 / Pacific Sky 2000 - 2006

Sky Wonder 2006 - 2009 / Atlantic Star 2009 - 2013 / Antic 2013 … to breakers


A very early promotional postcard release by Sitmar Cruises of the TSS Fairsky

We are just going to look back a little, because with the massive success that both the TSS Fairsea and the Fairwind were having on the market in the United States, it became obvious that Sitmar was in need of a third ship to join them. A number of ships were considered, however one ship really stood out and she was the one considered!

This was the 19,393-ton Portuguese liner TS Principe Perfeito that was built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson in Newcastle, on the River Clyde in the UK in 1961 and when the modern ship noted for her rather a low superstructure commenced to sail, she operated on the Portugal to West, South and East Africa services until 1976 when she was laid up and renamed her “Al Hasa” and she was refitted by her original builders in Newcastle and departed on June 14, 1976 for Damman in Saudi Arabia where she would be used as an accommodation ship. For some reason she was not very successful in Damman for by 1979 she was for sale and then Sitmar decided to buy her in April of that year. She returned to Italy where, as Sitmar had announce they would give her a US$40 million refit and turn her into a 5 Star luxury cruise ship fit for the demanding American market and that she would be named “Fairsky.”

This is an artist impression of what Fairsky 3 could have looked like, but it was not to be!

However all too soon, Sitmar realised as they went through the Al Hasa a good number of times, that the ship was simply was too small for their future needs and they would have to start looking at some very new options! Sitmar sold the ship, having renamed her “Vera” in 1982.

Having experienced the Principe Perfeito come Fairsky 3, it became very clear to the Sitmar directors that they should consider building a brand new, but a much larger ship and thus Sitmar’s owner who was a maritime design genius, Mr. Boris Vlasov together with his superb team of maritime architects commenced working on new plans of the new ship. When the blue prints (plans) were completed something very special had been accomplished, for her designers ensured that layouts of her lounge decks were based and somewhat similar to the Fairsea and Fairwind, but with many improvements! The reason for this was as follows; both the Fairsea and Fairwind were such a massive hit in America and it was wise for this new ship to have some familiarities and thus the passengers would feel immediately at home as they boarded the all new Fairsky. Then, when walking around the ship, they would also discover so many exciting and new features on this new luxury ship, for she would have more lounges, bars and facilities than ever before! What was also new, this would be Sitmar’s largest ship ever, as she would be a good 46,314 GRT (Gross Registered Tons), and that is more than twice the size of the ships that she will be joining on the US market, which are just 21,985 GRT each.

The contract to build the new ship was given to “Constructions Navales & Industrielles de la Méditerranée” (or Chantiers de Nord et de la Mediterranee) at La Seyne-Sur Mer, France – in Yard No: 1426.

The keel of the Sitmar Cruises new flagship was laid down on July 15, 1981 and on November 6, 1982 she was the one of the last ships to be traditionally launched stern first down a slipway into the river, but unusually she was not named at this time, even-though her bow did have her intended name “Fairsky” clearly on it!

The Fairsky is seen gliding down the slipway at Le Seyne France on November 6, 1982, note her bulbous bow

Photographs provided by & © Sitmar Cruises

There was no doubt that for the early 1980s she was one of the most modern and technologically advanced ships, yet for some strange reason Sitmar had decided to fit her with traditional steam turbine engines, whilst every other company had turned to the more economical diesel motors, rather than steam engines. She had two sets of “General Electric Co” Steam Geared Turbines, operating twin screws sailing at a good speed of 22 knots.

Sadly her fit-out was greatly delayed due to strikes by the yards workers, being entirely due to there being rumours of the yard closing down; However, eventually this magnificently designed cruise ship that cost US$150 million was completed in 1984.

The overall concept and technical design of the ship was a collaboration of Sitmar owner, Mr. Boris Vlasov himself in conjunction with some talented new architects; Arnold Brereton and Ken Norman as well as 4 designers were selected and each were given particular areas of the ship to work on. Considering that she would be working the American market, it was decided that suites, mini suites and cabins would be allocated to; 1. Barbara Dorn Associates of San Francisco, whilst her many lounges and Bars would be looked after by; 2 .Dennis Lennon & Partners who also designed the QE2, as well as; 3. Giacomo Eramo Morrola of Genoa and the brilliant; 4. Clas Olof Lindqvist of Helsinki.

In order to agree in regard to overall styles, colour and ideas these four designers would all have regular meetings together with Arnold and Ken and thus ensure of the style and the flow of the ship!

Finally the elegant looking all white, but as yet unnamed cruise ship, successfully undertook her trials early in April 1984 and she was officially delivered to her owners in Italy on April 12, 1984 and then after the ship having stored as well as manned she departed with Captain Rodolfo Potenzoni as her very first master and she made her Atlantic crossing and transited the Panama Canal. During this voyage her crew were busy getting the vessel shipshape and ready for the VIP’s when she arrived in LA, as well as her passengers for her maiden voyage, for she would be the perfect ship in every possible way, and she was!

She arrived at Los Angeles on May 2, 1984. She was officially named complete with a bottle of champagne on May 5, by her godmother, Ginny Ueberroth who is the wife of the Los Angeles Olympic Organising Committee president, Mr. Peter Ueberroth. Then in the afternoon, she departed on her official maiden voyage, being a ten-day cruise to the various resort ports of Mexico.

The brand new TSS Fairsky has been named in the morning of May 5, 1984 and in

the afternoon she is seen departing Los Angeles for her maiden voyage a cruise to Mexico

A Sitmar Cruises publicity photograph – from the author’s private collection

After her series of Mexico cruises she headed off for her summer season cruising to Alaska. These proved to be exceedingly popular and by 1987 the three American based Sitmar Cruise ships, the TSS Fairsea, Sitmar FairWind and the SS Fairsky over the years had made new inroads into Alaskan as well as a number of routes that other companies now jealously followed!

Princess Cruises – Sky Princess:

Then, as we have already learned on the previous pages of this feature, it was on July 14, 1988 that all of Sitmar Cruises was obtained by P&O and thus the delightful SS Fairsky was also transferred to Princess cruises and she renamed Sky Princess and was re-registered in London. The reason for this was that Princess Cruises had decided that she would be most suitable to sail on more exotic itineraries and thus head further afield as well as operate world cruises.

The delightful SS Fairsky is seen here as the P&O/Princess Sky Princess

*The seawitch logo first came about in 1968 on the chartered ship the chartered Costa ship, the Carla C, renamed

for promotional reasons only as the Princess Carla, she was the first ship ever to feature the seawitch on the funnel!

Sadly, when the Fairsky became the Sky Princess one of the biggest blows to the crew was that P&O/Princess in the UK suddenly decided to replace all the ships original superb and super efficient Italian officers with British ones and sadly that changed her atmosphere on her! There was no doubt that it lost Princess many of this ships past passengers, for “We will never sail on her, or P&O, Princess ever again, for they took the very heart and soul out of the beautiful Fairsky, a ship we love so much!” This was part of a letter by a passenger who with her husband had sailed on her frequently! But as it always does, a new travelling public took to her in due, British, American and Australian, etc. There was no doubt that her new and exciting itineraries ensured her popularity as well as the fine design of the ship, for the newer Princess designed and built ships all have major design faults, and errors in placement of their buffets topside, that are located far forward, for they should be aft, directly above the galleys! Also their current ships have some of the worst cabins afloat, unless you have a suite, etc, but most cabins are simply far too small and bathrooms, are known as broom cupboards!

The Sky Princess seen in Sydney, during one of her visits to Australia

Photograph by & © the Author, Reuben Goossens

There was no doubt that the Sky Princess stood out from all her newer fleet mates although she may not have had an atrium, but she was a better ship by far and she retained her popularity for let us be honest, no matter who was operating her, she was perfect because she was a well designed and built “Sitmar ship!” Amazingly the famed Sitmar style and quality showed as it continued in the next three Sitmar designed ships that would follow, but were all completed by P&O/Princess Cruises. These are the M/V Sitmar FairWind, renamed Star Princess 1988, currently the Pacific Pearl, MV Crown Princess 1990 currently the Pacific Jewel, and the Regal Princess 1991 Pacific Dawn, all the aforementioned ships are now with P&O Cruises Australia. I shall be covering the Sitmar FairWind briefly below the Fairsky story, as she was launched under that name!

P&O Cruises Australia – Pacific Cruises:

TSS Pacific Sky - a P&O Cruises promotional image

Pacific Sky’s modern facilities made her a popular ship with the Australian cruise passengers and between 2000 and 2004 she was home ported in Sydney operating cruises around the South Pacific and New Zealand. Then in 2004 she was relocated up north to Brisbane, Queensland and she operated the popular seven-day northern coastal cruises along the Great Barrier Reef up to Cairns and other ports along the popular tropical Queensland coast! Also seven-night and longer cruises around the Pacific as well as New Zealand. However from October 20, 2005 she operated seven cruises around the South Pacific and New Zealand from ten to 16 days, and from December 7, 2005 Pacific Star operated four South Pacific Cruises from Auckland New Zealand.

After a minor refit she headed for Singapore where she commenced a new schedule of cruises, being seven-day cruises of the Strait of Malacca visiting ports in Malaysia and Thailand returning to Singapore, then the next cruise another seven-day cruise of the South China Sea again visiting the western ports of Malaysia and Thailand. These cruises could be combined to make fourteen-day cruises.

However, the Singapore venture was cut short for in May 2006, P&O decided to sell the ship to Pullmantur Cruises who renamed her Sky Wonder. The truth was that the Pacific Sky had presented P&O Cruises with a number of problems in the past year and her being a steam ship certainly did not help in the more economic modern age of motor ships!

An excellent stern view of the Pacific Sky

Since the TSS Pacific Sky arrival in 2000 she carried an amazing 275,000 passengers on around 200 cruises thus there is no doubt that her popularity somehow did commence the expansion of the P&O fleet in Australia, for by now it also included a Carnival built ship named MV Pacific Sun, that had been built as the Jubilee in 1986 and she arrived in Australia in 2004 and remained until 2012. Another Carnival built ship followed and she was named the Pacific Star and was built as the Tropicale in 1981, and she was with P&O from 2005 to 2008. Both of these two were based in Brisbane for a period of time and the author did cruise once on the Pacific Sun, which was quite good!

Of course today there are three other ex Sitmar designed ships owned by P&O Cruises and these are the following MV Pacific Dawn from November 2007, built as the Regal Princess in 1991, MV Pacific Jewel Joined P&O in 2009, but built as the Crown Princess in 1990, and the MV Pacific Pearl joined P&O in 2010 and she is the subject in the next part of this feature the M/V Sitmar FairMajesty!

But during the days the Pacific Sky was in Australia and even though she was a magnificent ship, her image was badly tarnished all due to a P&O Cruises Australia disgraceful promotional campaign to capture a younger market! What P&O Cruises did was nothing short from being shocking and to be honest, it was completely disgusting to say the least. P&O actually postcards to individual members of all football and other sports clubs with pretty but rather scantily clad young girls sunning themselves on the ships pool deck combined with the following copy; “Seamen Wanted.” Although, the wording looks harmless, but of course it was all based on the pronunciation and obviously these postcards were directly aimed at the young sexually oriented studs and heavy drinkers with dirty little minds. In a way what P&O could be saying is, we have the girls you want for your pleasure, although they did not actually say so! But sadly this campaign, combined with other very poor advertising and offering super cheap fares in share quad cabins, a tragedy was waiting to happen and sadly a hideous tragedy did occur on the Pacific Sky. This was related to a horrifying case on board the Pacific Sky of rape and murder of a lady who had her drinks spiked, for drugs were rife on board the Pacific Sky and security was extremely poor and barmen serving drinks to those who were already far too drunk was rife on a P&O ship!

SS Sky Wonder:

The Pullmantur SS Sky Wonder with a blue funnel 

Sky Wonder was registered in Valletta, Malta and she was placed on the South American cruise market being operated under charter by CVC Cruises. However, in January the Sky Wonder with 1,600 passengers aboard ran suddenly aground on a sandbar in the Rio Plata, around 3 kilometres from the port of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although there were no injuries, but there was a male passenger who suddenly suffered a heart problem and he had to be treated ashore. Several hours later the Sky Wonder was freed by tugboats at high tide and she was able to reach her destination of Punta Del Este in Uruguay. The official report stated that the grounding was “a navigational error made by her captain.” She was able to continue her cruises after some minor repairs.

Amazingly, the Sky Wonder once again ran aground on March 25, 2008 whilst she was attempting to berth in the Turkish resort of Kusadasi. There are two thoughts on why this occurred for there were some choppy seas and harsh winds and one of the tugs assisting malfunctioned, thus control was lost, allowing the ship to drift towards the shore. Although was an unverified report from the crew, that the Sky Wonder’s “reverse gear had a severe problem at the time and this affected the ships steering.” Whatever the case, she seemed like an unlucky ship for this had now happened two times in two years in a row!

The Sky Wonder is seen berthed, but this time with her new red funnel and a different logo

Photograph by & © William Mayes

SS Atlantic Star:

From March 2009 on, Sky Wonder was laid up in Piraeus, but in April 2009, she was renamed for the very first time without the famed “Sky” part of her name, thus losing her Sitmar connection! She became the MV Atlantic Star and Pullmantur Cruises placed her in Lisbon to operate, on what they hoped, to create a new Portuguese cruise market, but sadly it was not to be as sales were extremely low and she was, to say the least uneconomic to operate, thus after a few cruises, she was laid up in Marseilles France and other deposits and fares paid were refunded.

However, soon enough the Greek-based Kyma Ship Management obtained the 46,087 GRT Atlantic Star in August 2009 but remained laid up at Marseille until a good year later. It would be during September and October 2010 that she was chartered for a cruise where she visited a number of ports including Gibraltar, but upon her return she was laid up again. Amazingly this was her very last cruise ever!

A gleaming white SS Atlantic Star is seen at Gibraltar during her final cruise in October 2010

Photographer unknown – Please See Photo Notes down the page

Considering that she suffered numerous problems with her steam turbines throughout her career she was laid up again and new plans were being made for her. Thus Kyma Ship Management decided to replace her engines with some unused Wartsila diesels that had originally been earmarked for the now failed rebuilding project of a ferry the Stena Baltica, into the cruise ship that was to be named the Regent Sky. It was said that the German operator “Lord Nelson Seereisen” had planned to charter the SS Atlantic Star and rename her the “Mona Lisa II” for the summer 2012 but they suddenly pulled out of their contract citing the high costs of converting the ship to diesel, which was so sad, for the magnificent TSS Fairsky would have still been with us to this day!

Thus the poor ex TSS Fairsky remained laid-up and the main reason was of course the original decision by Sitmar Cruises to place steam turbine engines in her, which was a brave, but not a wise move economically and also these engines did prove troublesome considering parts were hard to come by later!

Then in March 2013 it had been reported that the Atlantic Star was seen undertow and that she was bound for the port of Suez in Egypt. That kind of news makes maritime historians shudder in horror, for this news usually means that the ship is really on her way to one of the ship breakers at Alang, India or possibly to be used as an accommodation ship in Jeddah. However, the news soon arrived that a ship named the “Antic” (Atlantic) arrived at the ship breakers yard at Aliaga in Turkey on April 14, 2013 and that she had been the Atlantic Star.

A very young ship, now named Antic is seen at the ship breakers yard in April 2013

Sadly here at the breakers we have come to the end for what was a superbly beautiful ship with extraordinary and well-designed interiors, which was mostly based on the TSS Fairsea and Fairwind. There is no doubt that during her TSS Fairsky days she was the ultimate luxury cruise ship, for she had the 5 Star class of Sitmar Cruises, As the Sky Princess she was also a wonderful and a superbly run ship and much loved, but sadly her P&O Cruises Australia days were badly tarnished by a great deal of bad publicity and errors made by P&O and of course rape and murder on board this ship. Although, this ship suffered ongoing alcohol problems for drink ran wild and drunkenness was a disgrace and during her days with P&O, and all that seems to have returned in 2014, as my recent cruise on the MV Pacific Dawn has proved

To see the ex SS Fairsky at the breakers was very sad indeed, for she had been a simply brilliant cruise ship. Tragically her major fault were those steam engines, which were a poor decision, had she been given diesel motors, she still be sailing today!


Ship Three

M/V SitmarFairMajesty 1987 - 1989 / Star Princess 1989 - 1997

MV Arcadia 1997 - 2003 / Ocean Village 2003 - 2010

MV Pacific Pearl 2010to present


This is what the beautiful grand M/V SitmarFairMajesty would have looked like had she sailed as a Sitmar Cruises’ ship!

Today she is the P&O Cruises Australia MV Pacific Pearl, a poor 2.5 star version of what was originally a luxury 5 Star super luxury Cruise Company!

As Sitmar had such a great success with their three ships, including their new TSS Fairsky, Mr. Vlasov and his team quickly embarked on plans for an even larger ship to meet their ever-increasing American market, which was to say the least, sky rocketing! Therefore Sitmar commenced planning for a new concept and a ship on a far grander scale. A general plan came to be realised but they continued on her exteriors and a few ideas were realised and then slowly perfected in what would be just right!

This is just one of the drawings to come to light of the proposed new cruise ship!

The stylised “V” was the first idea for the new Sitmar Cruises logo, but a whole new idea came about!

Boris Vlasov and his team commenced on the interior work and her layout showed touches of the three previous ships, but with some grand new ideas, such as a three deck Atrium featuring the Pursers Office and a Café on the lower level, a superb Lounge and Bar on the starboard side and shops on the middle level, whilst on the top level you have reached the Promenade Deck. Far forward on Promenade was a huge multi level showroom reaching up to the deck above. Whilst located on Deck 12 were the two swimming pools and a number of Jacuzzis with the Buffet located aft with dinning available indoors as well out on deck forward and aft out on deck.

Then on the next deck above, known as Deck 14 there was a superb circular lounge named “Windows to the World” that had an amazing 360° views of the ocean and it was a very popular venue, with it having a Bar and at night being a great entertainment venue. Below are just a few of the designers proposed interiors and one of her deck-spaces.

There would be one other major difference with this ship compared to all previous Sitmar ships and that was the three-deck high lifeboat recess along the sides of the ship, with two boats forward and five aft. This type of lifeboat layout is part of the modern safety design and is standard and compulsory to this day!

Here we see the proposed Atrium and the delightful metal artwork that was an actual feature on board!


Deck 12 looking aft: There is another pool behind the Jacuzzis and we then see the sit in the pool “Splash Bar” 


At the top we see a Suite and below a de-Luxe Veranda Cabin – All cabins have walk in wardrobes

and private facilities with a bath or a shower


Sitmar Cruises released this model of the new SitmarFairMajesty revealing officially for the first time

The Companies new funnel and the blue and red stylised waves painted on her hull, but it was to be pained above the waterline! 

In 1984 negotiation commenced between Sitmar Cruises and Fincantieri and Chantiers de l’Atlantique to build their new 63,500-ton ship with a name not as yet decided. The contract was officially signed on June 25, 1986 and the keel of the new ship was laid in their Saint-Nazaire shipyard, mid 1987.

Although steam turbines had been considered during the very early stages, but Mr. Vlasov was very interested with the outcome and the success of the QE2 new diesel engines and therefore decided that it would be best to install a diesel-electric propulsion system in her, and thus she the Diesel-Electric plant was built by the builder, consisting of four-engines operating twin screws sailing at a cruising speed of 21.5 knots, with a maximum speed of 23 knots.

Whilst she was being built her name was being selected by the Sitmar board of Directors from a host of names that had come from Sitmar employees as there had been a competition to “Name that ship.” Eventually the name “FairMajesty” was the winner, however in addition, Mr. Vlasov had already decided that from now on all Sitmar ships would have the prefix of “Sitmar” added to all ships names with a logo separating the two parts. The first ship to receive the new name was the TSS Fairwind, for in 1987 she was reregistered and renamed the SitmarFairWind. Whilst in dry-dock she received a general overhaul and the work was completed in March 1988 complete with her new Sitmar Cruises livery.

The SitmarFairWind seen after her refit – Her story is on Page One

This grand new, but still with just a rust protection covered paint ship was floated out on May 28, 1988 with the name of “Sitmar FairMajesty” proudly showing on her bow. But, sadly Mr. Boris Vlasov was not able to witness this great event, for he passed away on November 2, 1987 whilst he was in Japan, just seven months prior to her launching, one of his greatest triumphs!

The SitmarFairMajesty was floated out of her dock and is seen here being towed to her fit-out berth

Note her new name on her bow that sadly would remain there only until July!

As for the author, one of my great joys is that at least this splendid ship was launched as a Sitmar Cruises ship and named the SitmarFairMajesty in May, for just two months later things were going to change greatly for this wonderful ship and Sitmar Cruises!

For genuine ship lovers, it was a tragedy when Mr. Boris Vlasov passed away, for somehow we knew that the family would not hold onto his beloved Company for their heart was never as much into the trade as he was. In fact, they placed the Company on the market and P&O obtained Sitmar on July 14, 1988 and officially took over their all their ships on September 1, of that year whilst the Sitmar FairMajesty was still being completed at her fit-out berth, but she would soon be renamed..

P&O/Princess Cruises - MV Star Princess:

P&O transferred the SitmarFairMajesty to Princess Cruises who were in need of a larger ship in order to compete in a strong market of newer ships and she was perfect. She was renamed Star Princess and it was not long before she undertook her deep-sea trails in February 1989, reaching an excellent speed of up to 23 knots on the official measured mile, and she handled extremely well and the report stated that she was a quiet ship and that there were no vibrations recorded!

MV Star Princess is seen on her sea trails in February 1989

Photograph © Chantiers de l’Atlantique

The ship was delivered to P&O on March 4, 1989 but she was officially christened and named in Miami, Florida on March 23, by the now late actress, Miss. Audrey Hepburn. After the official ceremony the Star Princess commenced a seven night Caribbean cruise. In relation to Miss Hepburn, Princess Cruises company spokeswoman M/s Julie Benson stated;

Before Audrey Hepburn a mega actress had never been used to christen a ship. She was truly a princess and a goddess and everyone was in awe of her. Unlike most godmothers, Hepburn actually sailed on the ship after the ceremony, dong a seven night Caribbean cruise. M/s Benson recalls Miss Hepburn as being rather quiet and one of the most elegant people she had ever met! “We were looking for women who were considered Royalty, so we looked towards the entertainment industry. We choose someone who had a legacy, someone who was truly a star,” M/s Benson added.

The Star Princess operated a range of cruises, from the ever-popular seven or fourteen day Caribbean cruises, as well as during the summer the growing market with the Alaskan voyages, combined with land tours.

A fine view of the Star Princess in Port 

There were the popular Panama Canal cruises and voyages to South America as well as Alaska in the summer. On June 23, 1995 there was a mishap whilst on a cruise in Alaska and the ship was in need of repairs, thus after all passengers were offloaded, she headed for Portland for repairs. However, as there was a brand new ship on the way that would be named Star Princess, the current Sitmar designed Star Princess’ time with Princess Cruises would be relatively short for in November 1995 after an incident in Alaska and having had repairs in Portland, she would leave the fleet and be transferred to P&O UK.

P&O UK - MV Arcadia (3):

Let me set the scene why P&O UK was in urgent need of a new ship as P&O was retiring their grand old “Dame of the Sea,” being the beautiful classic liner, the 1961 built 45,270 GRT, SS Canberra. She departed for her very last “Grand Around the World Cruise” on January 6, 1997 sailing via the Suez Canal and Asia, arriving in Sydney on February 22, departing Australia for the very last time ever to one of the grandest farewells any ship has ever seen and she sailed via the Pacific to Vancouver, San Francisco, Mexico, through the Panama Canal, the Caribbean and home to Southampton arriving on April 7, 1997. And yes, I still have my “Farewell Canberra” souvenir cap being a part of my voyage on her to this day, as well as the one from my 1996 world cruise. When she returned to Southampton, she resumed her regular cruises from Southampton until she was withdrawn (as planned) from service in September 1997 and she was sadly sent to Pakistani breakers.

SS Canberra seen berthed at the Circular Quay Passenger Terminal, Sydney on February 22, 1997

Tomorrow, the 23rd.she will depart Sydney for the very last time for Southampton sailing via the Panama Canal

Countless thousands will be there to say goodbye to a wonderful old girl, a real ship that will be no more soon!

Therefore, the Sitmar designed MV Star Princess headed for the Harland & Wolff Shipyards in Belfast, the very builders that built the SS Canberra and they would completely transform the ship into a beautiful English cruise ship!

She arrived in November 1995 and soon they commenced her extensive and lengthy interior transformation turning her into a beautiful British style cruise ship, featuring the finest of timbers on her walls, floors, bar fronts as well as so many other traditional touches, including marble and stone touches and superb shell light fittings and heavy elegant drapes on those spacious windows. Upon completion, internally she was without a doubt one of the most elegant and beautiful cruise ships afloat! She was named MV Arcadia, being an old company name and she would be the third ship to feature this proud name on her bow and stern! The first ship dates back to 1888, the second was in 1954 and now the next one would sail into a new generation.

A postcard of SS Arcadia (1) – 1988 to 1916


Postcard of the SS Arcadia (2) - 1954 to 1979


Here we see the Arcadia (3) at the Harland & Wolff shipyards undergoing her transformation

Into a full-fledged British cruise ship in December 1997

A Harland & Wolff photo


Externally the only visible change would be the funnel colour, now the traditional P&O buff, or yellow and the additional satellite domes forward atop the “Horizon Court,” which was previously named the; “Windows to the World.” She was completed late in September 1997 and she took over what would have been SS Canberra’s cruise schedules and she was named as ‘Arcadia, the New World Voyager” for as P&O stated “The superbly elegant Arcadia makes her maiden voyage Around the World in 1998.”

It was during this voyage that the author came to know the MV Arcadia very well as I actually sailed on what is called a “sector” of the “Maiden World Voyage.” She departed from Southampton on Monday January 5, 1998 and sailed via the Suez Canal via a wonderful range of ports to Fremantle and Adelaide to Sydney arriving on February 24, where I obviously disembarked as I lived in Sydney from 1994 to 1999, and took the photograph of her at Darling Harbour Cruise Terminal, Sydney as seen in the photograph below. There was no doubt that this, the third ship to bear the name Arcadia was plush and one of the most glamorous ships in her days and personally, I liked her even better than the interiors of the QE2 and that is saying a lot. I am well aware that traditionalists will be up in arms, but the truth is that her interiors were simply sublime!

The wonderful and ever-so-British Arcadia seen at the Cruise Terminal in Sydney January 24, 1998

Photograph by & © the author Reuben Goossens

Please Note: Click the following link for a special MV Arcadia Photo Page by the author.

Upon returning to England, The recommenced her yearlong series of cruises and she only made one more around the world voyage in 1999 visiting Australia and Sydney in February 1999.

Here we see the author during MV Arcadia’s final visit to Australia in February 1999. However, later this wonderful

ship would return Down Under in 2010 under the new name of Pacific Pearl and operated by P&O Cruises Australia!

Photo taken by my associate & © Mr. Hun-Eng Tan

Although the Arcadia was a beautiful ship, but passengers who sailed on her during two around the world voyages felt that she just did not have enough number of lounges compared to the new MV Oriana or the old and wonderful SS Canberra! Although everyone agreed that the Arcadia was without a doubt very luxurious and beautiful interior wise and she remained popular on short cruises, but she was simply not the right ship for world voyages and P&O ships had to go on these long voyages! She only operated only two World Cruises, her maiden “Around the World Voyage” in 1988 and one more in 1999. Then in 2000 the brand new P&O MV Aurora operated the world cruise!

Two Concluding Photographs of the MV Arcadia


The P&O MV Arcadia seen in Tenerife

Photographer unknown – Please See the Photo Notes at the bottom of Page


The Arcadia is seen at Anchor during a South American cruise

The photograph is © Harley Crossley

The MV Arcadia continued cruising with P&O UK Cruises for just five years and then once again, P&O decided on another internal transfer in 2003.

However in 2003, something was afoot within P&O, and personally I think it was the worst thing ever to happen. I call it the Americanisation of a Historic British Company! For some time negotiations had been going on, but then suddenly it all happened!

The Carnival Corporation Takeover on P&O:

Let me be completely honest, I and many others were completely disgusted with P&O’s Lord Jeffrey Maurice Sterling, who is also; Baron Sterling of Plaistow in England and frankly we considered him and the board of P&O as being traitors, for back in 1997 they refused to sell the Canberra to a private company or an organisation for the use as a luxury Hotel with some flimsy excuse that not one of their ships could be used in such a way. The truth was they rather had this great ship ripped apart then receiving a far greater payment for it by a company who would have respected the ship!

Yet here is the so-called great Lord of the Realm selling a great British Shipping company down the drain to the American Carnival Group headed by Micky Arison. But sadly the Americanisation of P&O would without a doubt destroy all that was good in this great company, for the American’s are known for several things; The “Mine is BIGGER than YOURS” attitude, which is rather sick, and this really means they will always out build bigger ship that the competition! Sadly, now P&O will have two new ships of a massive 142,000-ton each, something they really do not need!

The Second thing is where once your fare was all inclusive, but today there are countless optional extra’s and I do not just mean your photographs, shore excursions and drinks, no, for today there is a massive marketing campaign on all ships, selling the many Spa features, optional Gym activities, Yoga and other optional activities, even certain dance and cooking lessons. Then there is a host of optional restaurants from the less expensive to some that cost around $100.00 or more plus the wine and/or drinks, and all these will be continually pushed during the cruise as well as the ever-present wine packages. And there is so much more that is new, and what used to be a restful cruise vacation can now become a painful experience because of the continual marketing on board! Tragically, Americanisation has produced one thing on the majority of cruise ships today and that is – “SHEER GREED”!

The New York Times made the official announcement and I then have nothing more to say on this very sad subject that has destroyed so many great shipping companies Carnival has taken over!

New York Times - April 17, 2003: “P&O Princess Cruises said its shareholders approved the Carnival Corporation’s $7.8 billion purchase of the company, enabling Carnival to remain No. 1 in the industry. P&O Princess said 99.7 percent of proxy votes were for the acquisition by Miami-based Carnival. The vote was carried on a “show of hands” at a special meeting in London, P&O Princess said, ending a 17-month takeover battle. Carnival’s shareholders approved the purchase on Monday.”

MV Ocean Village:

Ocean Village Cruises was formed in 2003 as a sister company to P&O Cruises, thus providing as a kind of alternative cruise experience that would target a new market, such as families and those looking for a more casual dress on board and fun events as opposed to formal dining experience on the P&O ships.

The MV Ocean Village seen at anchor

The MV Ocean Village was very much marketed to the younger market, from the 30 to 50 year old’s and the cruise concept being one of freedom and flexibility on board in regard to food, dress as well as entertainment. Another market aimed at was families for the ship now had extensive family and children’s facilities. The company’s slogan was “the Cruise for people who don’t do cruises.” The Ocean Village sailed the Western and Eastern Mediterranean in the summer and to the Caribbean and Mexico in the winter as well as a number of extended voyages to the Holy Land and Egypt, etc.

In 2007 the MV Royal Princess, being one of the two Sitmar designed ships that was completed as a Princess ship was transferred, and she was renamed the MV Ocean Village II.

However, on October 30, 2008, a sudden announcement was made that the Ocean Village brand would close its operations late in 2010 and that both ships would be transferred to P&O Cruises Australia, for Carnival Corp had forecast P&O Australia as having a far better growth potential, in fact Australia has the fastest growth in the cruise industry in the world! Obviously, this sudden decision took those who had cruised with Ocean Village once or more times quite by surprise, but it was said to have come as a result of the global financial meltdown that commenced mid-September 2008 for cruising was suffering worldwide, except in Australia where they managed to keep it at bay!

MV Ocean Village II left the Ocean Village fleet in October 2009, after a major overhaul and refit she headed for Australia renamed the MV Pacific Jewel, whilst the MV Ocean Village completed her final cruise in October 2010 and entered dry-dock for a comprehensive refit to become the MV Pacific Pearl.

Here we can see her beautiful lines, which will look even better once all that horrid hull paintwork is taken away!

P&O Cruises Australia - MV Pacific Pearl:

After completion of pre-fabrication works in July 2010 at Mivan's manufacturing facility in Northern Ireland, the renamed Pacific Pearl underwent installation work in Singapore at Sembawang Shipyard, a subsidiary of Sembcorp Marine.

A gleaming white bow of the renamed Pacific Pearl, a superb ship for a budget cruise line now catering for

mostly drunks, wild teenagers, drugs, sex and booze. She has gone from 5 Star to a mere 2.5 star, what a shame!

The work commenced in November 2010 and took well over a month. In Singapore over 1,800 people were engaged to deliver the ship before Christmas. The scope of work involved creation of new restaurants and bars, including Luke Mangan’s the Salt Grill and the updated Waterfront restaurant, the Connexions lounge and the Oasis Bar and brand new Choc Café.

The Pacific Pearl became like a new ship with new carpets, soft furnishings and countless changes to almost all areas of the ships 11 passenger decks. Even the ships hull was also given a new look, having been repainted with the very latest high-tech and eco-friendly silicone paints.

Up on the pool deck is the newly installed 7m wide and 4m high big TV screen. Indoors the three levels Atrium was refitted into a more multipurpose entertainment area complete with its café, lounge and bar as well as retail spaces. In addition, the all refreshed MV Pacific Pearl also features a reverse osmosis (RO) plant and a digital propulsion system.

With all work having been completed and the ship looking like new, she headed for Auckland New Zealand where she would commence a series of introductory cruises. She arrived at Auckland on January 9, 2011.

A wonderful view of the ex Sitmar FairMajesty, Pacific Pearl arriving very early in the morning in Auckland around 0630 AM

She remains a beautiful ship indeed, but I just wish she had been obtained by a more upmarket cruise company!

P&O Australia was once an excellent company, but sadly it has a massive turn backwards as I have already indicated above. In addition as I have discovered recently, their passenger loads can be rather a rude and a wild one at times. Thus, even though I did try a cruise with them and there were some parts that were reasonable, but their ships maintenance was simply terrible with extensive rust problems, huge holes rusted through up on deck 12, and windows so encrusted with salt that you are unable to see anything through them at all!

The Pacific Pearl is without a doubt a superb ship, however what is such a great shame that she, a ship that was designed to be a 5 Star luxury cruise ship for the great Sitmar Cruises, the dream of Mr. Sitmar, Mr. Boris Vlasov and she was launched as the elegant SitmarFairMajesty, a ship that was destined  to offer her passengers the ultimate of fine cuisine of the freshest Lobsters the worlds finest Caviar and champagne and service and facilities beyond compare, tragically she has ended up with P&O Australia that is really nothing more than a 2.5 company, if that, a budget cruise line that mostly caters to what many would call the drinkers crowd, or the booze artists of Australia. When I was aboard the Pacific Dawn in May 2014 tragically there were countless wild teenagers running around who were underage, and although their room card identified them as such, yet they were drunk, there was disorder & wild behaviour due to far too much booze to all ages and the barmen just keep on pouring when people are just far too drunk and some of the younger women are a disgrace on board, and when they end up in someone’s bed, they will call out with a complaint, but for what you see on the nights, they are so sexually available, it is disgusting and the ship is like a brothel!

Thus the fact is that this once great ship, the Star Princess has gone from being a 5 Star cruise ship to a mere 2.5 Star ship and that is a great shame and Mr. Vlasov would be horrified to see what has happened to his beloved ship! During my cruise on Pacific Dawn, there were some senior folk onboard but like me, they were certainly not happy with their P&O cruise experience! Read my review at Pacific Dawn 2014 Review.


 A wonderful view of the unusual stern of the Pacific Dawn, which is at least not completely

flat like all modern cruise ships today and she still looks like a real ship!

From Sitmar to P&O:

Considering that the ships covered on this page all ended up with P&O Holidays that became the Carnival owned P&O Cruises Australia was once a very good company. However, if we have to judge by the cruise I sailed on in May 2014, as well as from countless emails I receive, sadly P&O Cruises Australia has gone downhill rapidly and is no longer the fine cruise company it once was, which is mainly due to cost cutting as well as poor maintenance of their ships!

At the bottom of this page I have provided a complete listing of their ships from 200 to 2014 including where they are based, be it in Sydney New South Wales for the southerners to board a cruise, or Brisbane the capital of sunny Queensland, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Pacific Islands!

The last Two Sitmar ships in building in early 1988:

As we learned above, Sitmar Cruises commenced an ambitious new building programme for the North American cruise market in 1985. Following an abortive attempt to order ships from the Italian based Fincantieri Shipyards in Monfalcone, the company placed an order for their first ship with Chantiers de l'Atlantique Shipyard in France and as we know she was launched named the Sitmar FairMajesty, but was completed as the Star Princess for Princess Cruises in 1989!

But, what I have not covered is that Sitmar Cruises had already planned and ordered two additional ships, and the Italian government who are the owners of the Fincantieri shipyards were eager to have these two ships built by an Italian shipyard. Following negotiations between Sitmar and Fincantieri Shipbuilders, the former placed an order for two 70,200 GRT cruise ships with them, to be delivered in 1990 and 1991. Sitmar’s brilliant designers decided that it was best to keep as close as possible to the layout of the Sitmar FairMajesty, but their exteriors would be completely redesigned by the famed Italian architect Renzo Piano.

Both ships had a gross tonnage of 70,285, and the following dimensions:

Length: 245.08m - 804.1ft. Beam: 32.25m - 105.10ft. Drought: 7.90m - 25.11ft. These ships became well known due to their distinctive forward curved profile, which is often referred to as the “dolphin-Head”, which was of course designed by amazing Renzo Piano.

Then in July 1988, whilst the two ships were already in the early stages of construction, Sitmar Cruises was sold to the P&O Group and all three Sitmar ships under construction were transferred to the P&O’s subsidiary the Princess Cruises fleet, as well as the three ships in service, being the TSS Fairsea, Sitmar FairWind and SS Fairsky and the one ship in Australia the TSS Fairstar!

MV Crown Princess:

The first ship completed was the MV Crown Princess, which was built in yard number 5839. She was launched on May 25, 1989 and delivered to P&O/Princess Cruises on June 29, 1990 and after her sea trails she made her maiden voyage on July 8. However, twelve years later in 2002 she was transferred to A’Rosa Cruises and was renamed the A’Rosa Blu. Then in 2004 she was once again transferred to another German cruise line, AIDA Cruises and was renamed AIDAblu and sailed with this German operator until 2007 when she was again transferred and became the MV Ocean Village Two for the next two years. Finally in 2009, Carnival transferred her once again, but this time to P&O Cruises Australia and after a comprehensive refit she became the Pacific Jewel.

The MV Pacific Jewel is seen in Sydney Australia, but she was originally laid down as a Sitmar ship

Note the unique rounded dome far forward, known as the “Dolphin-Head”

The second completed was the Regal Princess, which was built at Fincantieri Yard Number 5840. She was launched on March 29, 1990 and following successful sea trials on June 5, 1991 she was delivered to P&O/Princess Cruises on July 20, 1991 and made her made her maiden voyage early in August. However, unlike her earlier sister, she remained with Princess Cruises until 2007, when Carnival Corp transferred her to P&O Cruises Australia to become the Pacific Dawn.

Here we see the MV Pacific Dawn, being the first of the two ex Sitmar ships to be based in Australia in 2007

Here we see a beautiful ship at anchor off the Island of Lifou, New Caledonia in the South Pacific! But, sadly looks is not everything!

Today, all of the last three Sitmar designed ships are now part of the P&O Cruise Australia fleet. But the trend will change in November 2015 when two Holland America Line ships, the ms Maasdam & Ryndam will join the fleet. These ships are to be renamed Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, thus late in 2015 there will be five Carnival - P&O Cruises ships based in Australia as well as two Carnival Cruises ships and three Princess Cruises ships, all based in Australia. Then there is a host of companies that have more than one and up to three ships based her from October to April each year, being our high season!

Below is a list of P&O Cruises Australia ships from 2000 to 2014.

Past P&O Cruises Australia Ships:

Pacific Sky based in Sydney: 2000-2004.

Pacific Sky* based in Brisbane: 2004-2004.

Pacific Sun based in Sydney: 2004-2008.

Pacific Star* based in Brisbane: 2005-2008.

Pacific Sun* based in Brisbane: 2008-2012.

The 47,262 GRT - MV Pacific Sun & the 36,674 GRT - MV Pacific Star were both built for Carnival Cruises as the MV Jubilee in 1986 & Tropicale in 1981. Both ships were sold by P&O Australia and continue sailing for other companies.

Current P&O Cruise Ships:

Pacific Dawn based in Sydney: 2007-2009 (ex Regal Princess a last Sitmar designed ship - 1991).

Pacific Jewel* based in Sydney: 2009 – current (ex Crown Princess a Sitmar designed ship - 1990).

Pacific Dawn based in Brisbane: 2009 - current.

Pacific Pearl* based in Sydney: 2010 – current (Launched as the SitmarFairMajesty renamed Star Princess in 1989).

Please Note: *Ships marked with an *Asterisk are also based for short periods in Auckland New Zealand, Melbourne, Fremantle or other ports as per demand.

New ships to be added in 2015 are two smaller, but superbly beautiful 55,500-ton Holland America Line S-Class ships:

The m/s Statendam and Ryndam, the are to be renamed Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, thus late in 2015 there will be five Carnival-P&O Cruises ships based in Australia. Personally I feel that these two new ships are just too good for P&O Australia for they are in reality 5 Star de-Luxe cruise ships and P&O, well let us be honest, P&O Australia operates very basic peoples ships and not much more than 2 to, if that, a 2.5 star cruise company, aiming at a very basic cruise public, being what is known as a “typical Carnival drinkers party crowd.”

This will be the new P&O Cruises Australia fleet in 2015, including the newly named Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden!

But all ships will have an all white livery, and the new ships will have new names!



This Feature’s INDEX is Located Below


Remembering What Could Have Been!

M/V SitmarFairMajesty


Sitmar Cruises INDEX:


Page One        The Ships History - From Liners to Cruise Ships!


Page Two        Deck Plans - 1972, 1973/74, 1985 & 2000.


Page Three      Brochures, Photographs & Other Items.


Page Three B  Sitmar Cruises Final Brochure for 1989, but these cruises never eventuated.


Page Four       Sitmar Memorabilia and Menus.


Page Five        Other Sitmar Cruises Ships to 1988.


Page Six         MV Arcadia, launched as Sitmar FairMajesty

.                         with a 1998 Author’s Photo Album!



Return to the ssMaritime Main INDEX &

Where up to 700 liners of the past make history & the 1914 built MV Doulos Story


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. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me in order that due credit may be given. NOTE: My email address will be located on alone.


This notice covers all pages, although, I have done my best to ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this notice is displaced on each page, that is, when a page is updated!

Cruise-Australia is owned/operated and © Copyright by Reuben Goossens - All Rights Reserved