Messageries Maritimes - MS Polynesie

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & 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 any travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, although is now retired but having completed around 680 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information the are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure! Reuben Goossens.

Messageries Maritimes

MS Polynesie


Polynesie was an attractive looking ship; here she is seen in her earlier days

Image from a Messageries Maritimes brochure

Messageries Maritimes has had a long history operating ships between Sydney and Noumea, going back to 1882. Ships used were mostly small and older vessels. In 1938 a 1,422-ton ship was purchased and was named Polynesien, but she laid idle during the war and returning to service in 1947. This small ship offered only a few berths, but soon it became obvious that a more substantial vessel with a greater capacity was needed. In 1953 Messageries Maritimes ordered a fine small 3,700-ton ship to be built by S.A. des Anciens Chantiers Dubigion, Nantes France. She would be the last ship of the Messageries Maritimes post war rebuilding programme.

Polynesie was launched on September 17, 1954 and was completed and delivered in June 1955. With the new ship to commence her duties in June, the Polynesien was sold to Hong Kong breakers in April.

Polynesie looked very smart with her black hull with a white ribbon and a black funnel as she departed Marseilles for Noumea, sailing via the Suez, making calls at Colombo, and Singapore before arriving in Noumea on July 15. After five days in port she commenced her maiden Pacific voyage to Sydney where she arrived on July 25.

Having been purposely designed for the Australia New Caledonia service, she offered limited but excellent facilities. The Lounge, Bar and passenger promenade was located forward and along portside of D (Boat) Deck. The Dining Room was located in the forward part of B (Bridge) Deck. She had twenty cabins accommodating 36 passengers in single or twin bedded cabins, located over three decks, most on C and D Decks, with others topside on E Deck just behind the Bridge. All cabins were outside and had a private bathroom. She had three cargo holds and t’ween decks.

Although Polynesie operated the Sydney Noumea service, the New Hebrides was soon included in her duties making visits to Port Vila and Espiritu Santo. In due course her hull and funnel was painted white giving her a more pleasing and tropical appearance.

 Here we see the Polynesie at anchor in the mid sixties looking splendid with her tropical white livery

Photo: Charles Trotobas

Polynesie became a popular little ship; especially with those who were looking for a different experience and many Australians enjoyed a seventeen day round voyage on her, or those of French origin would take one way journeys to visit family or friends in Noumea or the New Hebrides (Vanuatu). Polynesie served on this route for twenty good years.

A Messageries Maritimes brochure


Postcard of the Polynesie

Author’s Private collection

By the mid seventies passenger numbers were declining worldwide, for this reason Messageries Maritimes had been slowly dispensing with all passenger services. Polynesie became Messageries Maritimes very last passenger ship, and it had been decided in 1975 to withdraw her from service. Her final voyage from Sydney commenced on October 22, 1975, and she sailed via Port Vila to Noumea where she was duly laid up and placed on the market. Her cargo service was immediately taken over by a chartered ship.

Seen with her aft hold open

Photo: Charles Trotobas


An excellent photo of her superstructures aft decks. Out on deck is Alain de Bressy

Photo: Charles Trotobas

Fourteen months later, on August 1, 1976, she was finally purchased by the Singaporean Company Guan Guan Shipping Ltd., and was renamed Golden Glory. However after arrival in Singapore she was placed at anchor and remained idle until she was sold to a Taiwanese breaker three years later. She arrived at the Gi Yuen Steel Enterprises shipyard in Kaohsiung on June 14, 1979 and was duly broken up.

Polynesie seen in the harbour of Port Vila in 1965

Photo: Charles Trotobas


“Blue Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”



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