Friday, 27 June 2014

How CMV's latest cruise ship earned her place in history



The cruise ship Azores has an even longer history than Discovery, the vessel it will replace in the Cruise & Maritime Voyages fleet next year. It’s a history that has seen excitement and tragedy in considerable measure.

While Discovery saw service as Island Princess, and was one of the locations for the Love Boat TV series in the 70s, Azores goes back much further.

To 1948, in fact, when she was built in Gothenburg, Sweden, for the Swedish American Line – a passenger and cargo shipping company operating Transatlantic crossings to New York.

After just over eight years of service, the Stockholm gained notoriety for its part in a significant maritime disaster, the 1956 sinking of the Andrea Doria. The two ships collided in thick fog off Nantucket, Massachusetts and the Italian liner, which was carrying 1,134 passengers and 572 crew, sank.

Some 52 people were killed, 51 of them during the initial impact when Stockholm was embedded in Andrea Dorea’s starboard side.  Repairs to Stockholm’s damaged bow were reported to have cost $1 million.

Less than four years later the ship was bought by the East German government, who renamed it Volkerfreundschaft (Friendship of the People) and continued to operate it as an ocean liner until 1985.

Sold to Italian investors in 1989 and towed to Genoa, she was nicknamed the “ship of death” by the Italian press. Nevertheless, the vessel was completely stripped back to its bare hull and rebuilt from the waterline up before being put into service in Cuba.

In 2005 the ship was acquired by Classic International Cruises and renamed Athena (above). On a passage through the Gulf of Aden in 2008, en route to Australia, she was surrounded by 29 pirate boats, who fled when high pressure hoses were turned on them.

CIC hit financial trouble in 2012 and its three ships were arrested. Athena was detained in Marseille for some months. But the vessel was put back in service with the formation of Lisbon-based Portuscale Cruises who are operating the ship this year and will be chartering her to CMV from next January.

AZORES AT A GLANCE:

Gross Tonnage: 16,144
Length: 525 ft
Beam: 69ft
Draft: 25ft
Cruising speed: 16 knots
Passenger Decks: 8
Cabins: Total 277
Ocean view: 228
Inside: 49
De Luxe cabins: 53 (incl 9 balcony suites)
Passenger capacity (double occupancy): 550
Maximum capacity: 600


Subscribe to World of Cruising magazine. Click here