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
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

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

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Tim. We also were on the Galileo in 1970 and I remember it well as a fantastic adventure.
    Wonderful photos!