Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Fairstar (1992)

In 1992 my work bought me a cruise aboard Fairstar, as a bonus. By then the ship was nearing the end of her highly successful career (she was on full time cruising from Australia 12/1974 - 01/1997). She worked very well at the budget end of the market and her fares offered good value at the time. However, because of her popularity, P&O charged a 100% supplement for solo use of a double cabin (there were no singles) so the fare my company paid for me was appropriate for a much higher standard of ship. Still, the ship was well run and, as always, I had a good time. My only criticism of  the ship was that the on board security staff and restrictive measures they put in place were sometimes overbearing. It seemed that because of previous regular out of control behaviour of some of the younger crowd she attracted, everyone was tarred with the same brush. I found the head security guy, a long time employee in that role to be particularly bitter and unpleasant Perhaps he'd been there way too long.

The ship at Vila on 15th. March, 1992.

At anchor off Mystery Island, Vanuatu on 16th. March, 1992.

Mystery Island
The last tender (lifeboat) returning to the ship.

Photos taken during a bridge visit.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Achille Lauro (1991, 1992)

In 1991 and again in 1992 I took a cruise on Achille Lauro, a ship I knew from her migrant trade days (1966 - 1972) from Northern European, U.K. and Italian ports to Australia and New Zealand for Flotta Lauro Line. From 1972 until she caught fire and sank 125 miles off the coast of Somalia on November 30th. 1994, she was engaged in full time cruising (apart from some periods when she was laid up due to her owners' fiancial woes).
The ship, though now one-class, was fairly much as I remembered her from a couple of on-board visits in Melbourne in the early 1970s. Still a ship of some character, she seemed to fairly well maintained externally, but was somewhat grubby and cockroach infested (in parts) inside. Though I didn't think she was particularly well run, I enjoyed the 1991 cruise enough to return in 1992. Unfortunately, that season she quickly developed a deserved reputation for poor service and unhiegenic conditions (indeed, in 1992 a NSW Department of Health inspection reported an alarming list of defects including 'stalactites' of congealed fat hanging from equipment in the galley) . The crew was made up of Italian officers, Italian senior ratings and a cosmopolitan mix of junior ratings (junior seamen, junior stewards etc.) drawn from countries such as Peru and The Philippines. Whilst the 'international staff' was mostly pleasant, the Italian staff were largely surly, bad tempered and seemed to regard the passengers as an annoying irrelevance. Particularly unpleasant was the resentful attitude shown by the Italian staff toward their 'foreign' juniors. Following the 1992 season, the ship returned to cruising out of Italy and South Africa, never to return to Australian waters.

The following photos are a compilation of shots I took during both cruises. 

At Circular Quay, Sydney on 11th. February, 1992.

Passing Lord Howe Island, 20th. March, 1991.

At Noumea, 22nd. March, 1991.

My dining table, March 1991.
Arriving at Vila, March 24th., 1991.

Arriving at Suva, CTC's Belorussiya already alongside. 3rd. February 1992.

Disembarking via ship's tender, Yasawa-I-Rara, Fiji, 4th. February 1992.

The ship at anchor, Yasawa-I-Rara.

The beach at Yasawa-I-Rara.

The Lautoka pilot boards, 5th. February, 1992.

Heading ashore at Vila, 7th. February, 1992.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Oriana (1984)

  In 1984, while still a deck officer in the merchant navy, I decided to take a "Busman's Holiday" aboard P&O's Oriana (1960). I joined her in Sydney for a short Melbourne Cup Cruise. P&O have been running these cruises for years, in fact they now send two ships down from Sydney for the occasion, such is that cruise's popularity especially among the Sydney racegoing fraternity. In earlier years the ship would make an overnight call at Hobart, giving the desperate punters a night at Wrest Point Casino before arriving in Melbourne on cup morning. More recently, presumably because of the ubiquity of casinos around the country, the Hobart call has been dropped. Instead the ships leave Sydney on Saturday afternoon, spend Monday morning to Wednesday afternoon in Melbourne then arrive back in Sydney on Friday morning.

My father took me aboard Oriana several times in Melbourne, in her earlier years. That was in the early to late 1960s when the ship was still on her UK / Australia run. In those days Oriana was the second largest passenger ship to trade to Australia, only pipped at the post by her slightly larger fleet mate, Canberra. Of course we were awestruck by her size and internally she was luxurious (in First Class at least) and spotless. The 'A' deck, single berth, outside cabin with bath I had was very comfortable, reminiscent of its first class origins. Sadly however, by the time I got to sail aboard her, Oriana was nearing the end of her days and rather shabby. Also, in the 1970s and 80s British stewards were often sullen youths so service wasn't great. I always wondered why they took those jobs given their resentful attitudes. Give me a Filipino crew any day!

I took the following three pictures of Oriana at Circular Quay, Sydney prior to embarkation on 2nd November 1984.

I took the next three pictures on the following day off the NSW coast bound for Hobart

The Crow's Nest bar. This was formerly the first class lookout bar.

Looking down onto what was formerly the first class pool and pool bar

The next two pictures are of the ship at MacQuarie Wharf, Hobart on 4th November 1984.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Braeside (1968)

In January 1968 my dad took me on a surprise trip from Melbourne to Sydney on Burns Philp's Braeside. She was a comfortable 12 passenger cargo liner operating on the Australia / New Guinea service at the time. It was my first voyage on a cargo ship and, of course I loved it. A highlight for me was being allowed to steer the ship several times (under the watchful eye of a quartermaster).

                                                      Gordon, the Purser's son (L) and me, both age 11                                                                                                          (Photo by G. W. Noble)
After we left the ship at 6 Walsh Bay, Sydney we flew home from Sydney's Mascot Airport to Melbourne's Essendon Airport aboard a TAA Vicker's Viscount. 

(Photo: Michael Robertson)

(Photo: Michael Robertson)


built by Barclay Curle & Company Glasgow,
Yard No 718
Engines by JG Kincaid & Co Greenock

Port of Registry: Glasgow
Propulsion: oil 2SA 6cy 4500bhp 13 knots
Launched: Monday, 21/03/1949
Built: 1949
Ship Type: Passenger Cargo Vessel
Tonnage: 5867 grt | 3266 nrt | 7980 dwt
Length: 455 feet 4
Breadth: 58 feet 0
Draught: 24 feet 10
Owner History:
Burns Philp & Co Sydney
Status: Scrapped - 16/04/1974

1949 (Nov) first voyage to Indonesian
         and Malaysian ports.  The vessel was
         in the Singapore-Malaysia-Indonesia
         trade for fourteen years. 
         1964 (Jan) Burns, Philp stopped calls
         at Indonesian ports because of the
         problems caused by Indonesia's
         Confrontation  policy towards
         Malaysia and Singapore
         1965 transferred to the Melbourne-
         New Guinea route
         1970 sold to a Panamanian subsidiary
         of a Philippines company r/n Sula
         1972 after grounding at Bassein in
         Burma the vessel was refloated and
         taken to Rangoon and left there
         1974 sold to a Liberian company,
         and resold to Taiwan ship breakers.
         The vessel was towed to Taiwan
         for scrapping.

In 1883 Burns Philp and Company Limited was formed by amalgamating the various businesses in Sydney and Queensland carried on in the names of James Burns and of Robert Philp and Company. With James Burns as chairman of directors

the company expanded rapidly and lines of steamers were run from Australian ports to the many Pacific islands in the main, with Singapore Auckland and Hong Kong also as ports of call. Robert Philps was Managing Director of Queensland Operations. Diverse business interests included the Copra plantations and the pearling industry. Many vessels were registered at the main ports' of their most frequented call. South Seas Division was created after a complete takeover of their subsidiary Robbie, Kaad & Co, being re-titled and removing area (pacific) control from Sydney to the Fiji headquarters specific to the Islands' trades. Other subsidiaries as Hong Kong and PNG (Papua-New Guinea) Ltd as suffixes also existed. The changing times of 1960's with airline competition, Union demands for Australian crewing and an ageing fleet saw the Parent Company cease all Australian shipping operations by 1970. Notwithstanding, they held an established name in Australian Shipping History
(From: http://www.flotilla-australia.com)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Galileo Galilei to N.Z. (1967)

Where it all started.

                                                Me at Princes Pier, Port Melbourne 1964 - age 8                                                                              (Photo from G. W. Noble)      

 From January 10 to January 25 1967, my family took a cruise aboard Lloyd Triestino's Galileo Galilei from Melbourne to Sydney, Wellington, Auckland, Sydney, Hobart and back to Melbourne. The ship was less than four years old at that time and in immaculate condition. Although she was a migrant ship for the Italy / Australia trade, the standard of her accommodation was far ahead of her time.

Not being wealthy, we traveled in Tourist Class, in a six berth, inside cabin, without private facilities, on E Deck. The fare was $200 for each of my parents and my two older brothers and $100 for my sister and me. As a ten year old boy, very excited to be aboard the ship, the modesty of our accommodation was the last thing on my mind. For me and some of my new found mates on the ship, being the age that we were, sneaking in to first class was a favourite pastime (forbidden fruit?). I still remember five or so routes, mostly surreptitious, that we used for these forays.
I recall that my parents found the standard of service and entertainment rather poor though the Italian food was good. The ship and her twin sister, Guglielmo Marconi, though beautiful were never particularly happy ships as far as I am aware. However, I loved the Galileo and loved being aboard her.

In 1974, with the children off their hands, my parents went to Europe and back aboard the Galileo, outwards via Panama Canal and returning via Cape of Good Hope. This time they were able to travel in first class. They enjoyed the ship more this time although there were several disruptions due to strikes on board.

Because this style of ship hasn't existed for decades, I've included some pictures from various sources to try to recreate the feel of these vessels (Galileo Galilei and her twin sister Guglielmo Marconi).

                                                       Galileo in Wellington, January 1967                                                                                         (Photo from G. W. Noble)      
The following photos are from a Lloyd Triestino brochure (unless stated otherwise):
                          A typical tourist class cabin - relatively luxurious for a migrant ship in the 1960's                         

                                 One of the tourist class lounges (there were only two plus the Lido bar)        
           The other tourist class lounge 
                    The tourist class Lido bar     

       The tourist class dining room  

The tourist class gallery

The tourist class lido bar

                            The tourist class lobby with a mural depicting the ship's original route from Italy                                      to Australia via the Suez Canal and Singapore.
The theatre (balcony for 1st class, stalls for tourist)
The chapel (available to both classes)
Another view of the tourist class Promenade Deck, this time looking forward from the starboard aft docking  bridge.                                                                                                                                                                                 (Photo from Seapixonline.com)
The tourist class promenade deck (starboard side). This photo was taken after the ship became Meridian for Celebrity Cruises. (Photo from a Celebrity Cruises brochure)
Dawn arrival off Acapulco. This was taken by my father in 1974 when my parents travelled to and from Italy aboard her.
       (Photo from G. W. Noble) 

The ship at anchor off Acapulco.
       (Photo from G. W. Noble) 

The First Class promenade deck
(Photo from G. W. Noble) 

Another view of the first class promenade deck, this time in the Panama Canal
(Photo from M. Robertson)

In the Panama Canal
(Photo from M. Robertson)
The following photos are from a Lloyd Triestino brochure (unless stated otherwise):

                                    The first class Winter Garden - galleries on each side of the ship    

                                                      The first class lounge (Marconi)                                                                                           

                                       The first class Verandah Grill -lido bar / nightclub (Marconi)                                 
                           The first class Lido and nightclub (behind the windows overlooking the pool)                   
The first class swimming pool  

                                                         The first class dining room                                                
                                                   The first class dining room at night                                                
                                                              A first class cabin                                              
                                                     Another first class cabin                                             
                                                    Galileo at Naples in 1965                                                                                               (Picture from http://boards.cruisecritic.com)

I happened to be in Singapore in late 1997 when the Galileo, now Sun Vista for a Singaporean company made her first arrival at the cruise terminal after dry docking in Jurong, Singapore and I took the following photos. Still easily recognisable as Galileo, she had extra passenger accommodation added forward where a first class games deck had been and the stern had been totally rebuilt to incorporate a new show lounge. These modifications were done when she was Meridian, owned by Chandris' Celebrity Cruises and deployed on Carribean cruises.
As Sun Vista she was employed on seven day round trip cruises from Singapore until,sadly, on the afternoon of May 20, 1999 while returning to Singapore after a cruise to Phuket, Thailand she succumbed to an engine room fire that spread through the ship. All the passengers and crew took to the lifeboats. The intense heat of the fire caused her hull plating to open up and at 01:22 May 21, 1999 she sank about 60 nautical miles south of Penang Island in the Strait of Malacca in 200 feet of water. There were no fatalities and only minor injuries.
disembarked in lifeboats and on