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Italian shipbuilding at it's peak: SS EUGENIO C. Peter Knego collection.


At one point in the mid-1960s, the Monfalcone yard of Cantieri Riuniti Dell'Adriatico (CRDA) was filled with a stable of brilliant newbuildings. The diminutive but handsome little Greek reparation trio of ADONIS, EROS (later Epirotiki/Royal Olympic's JASON), and APHRODITE (later Sun Line's lovely little STELLA OCEANIS); Home Lines' practically perfect OCEANIC; and, our subject, Costa Line's last true purpose-built ocean liner, EUGENIO C.

The 30,567 gt EUGENIO C was originally built to carry 214 first class and 1,445 tourist class (divided into tourist A and tourist B) passengers. She was 712 by 90 feet and had a rather deep draft of 28 feet, which in her final days at Alang would prove most frustrating for her ill-reputed breaker. She was powered by two CRDA De Laval turbines that produced a mighty 60,000 shp to drive her twin screws at a service speed of 28.43 knots. An early shipyard fire caused some superficial damage to the newbuilding liner, but it was extinguished and EUGENIO was launched on 21 November 1964 by the wife of Costa Lines' president, Angelo Costa.

In terms of size and speed, EUGENIO C was impressive. But her aesthetics were even more magnificent. Her bow was the trademark CRDA "swans' neck" with its distinctive curvature, ending with a slight bulb at its base. Her stern was like that of OCEANIC's, a lovely cruiser spoon set atop a transom for better sea-keeping, and was mimicked some forty years later by Cunard's new QUEEN MARY 2. Unlike OCEANIC, she had wondrous sheer and her semi-circular forward superstructure was crowned by bridge wings not unlike those of the French NORMANDIE. Her funnels were often compared to those of CANBERRA, but they were topped by winged lattice works that recalled MICHELANGELO and RAFFAELLO (for good reason since they were designed by the same people at Turin Polytechnic). EUGENIO's sculpted radio mast was, itself, a work of art, as were her wonderfully terraced afterdecks. She sported three swimming pools as built but one would succumb after her conversion to a one-class liner.

The prolific but underrated Nino Zoncada (one day it will be nice to not have to refer to his collaborations with Gio Ponti to get non-ship enthusiasts' attention) designed her interiors and even worked with Nicolo Costanzi on her outer appearance. Masterful artworks by Emanuele Luzzati, Enrico Paulucci, Massimo Campigli, and Marcello Mascherini graced the public rooms. Zoncada's modern, streamlined furniture and fixtures provided the finishing touches.

EUGENIO C served Costa's Genoa to Buenos Aires route from 1966 until 1977, when her main employment became pleasure cruising, although she did continue to make line voyages from time to time. Her average speed record of 27.5 knots on the South Atlantic run remains the fastest to this date. In 1987, following a major refit, she became EUGENIO COSTA. At that time, her interiors were significantly modernized and a prefabricated structure was added to her stern housing a new show lounge.

In 1993, she almost became the AMERICAN PIONEER for Costa's very shortlived subsidiary American Family Cruises, but the company was shut down before she was to be delivered. In 1994, she was sold to the Bremer Vulkan shipyard but chartered back to Costa until November of 1996, when she was laid up at Genoa. In 1997, she was chartered to Direct Cruises for British based cruising as the EDINBURGH CASTLE. The venture failed, in large part due to the ship's poor mechanical performance. A very brief charter for gambling cruises out of New York also fizzled. The Cammell Laird shipyard bought the ship and partially addressed her boiler and mechanical problems. She was next chartered to Premier Cruises who refurbished her public areas and renamed her THE BIG RED BOAT II. Plagued with mishaps and futher operational problems, she was laid up following the collapse of Premier after only four months of operation in September of 2000. A short charter to the U.S. government followed, and then THE BIG RED BOAT II was laid up at Freeport with most of her fleetmates. Although she was actively offered for further cruise service, the reality of her mechanical problems spelled her doom. At first, she was very well maintained, but after being sold to Argo Shipmanagement in 2003, her condition quickly deteriorated. When further trading was no longer a viable option, she sputtered across the Atlantic as the BIG RED BOAT II ("THE" was dropped for her delivery), leaving a trail of black smoke in her wake, finally arriving at Alang in June of 2005. It was then that her deep draft stranded the ship far from the breaker's beach, making her dismantling process significantly more difficult and time consuming. In late 2005, the breaker was being investigated by Indian courts for safety violations, further delaying the demolition of the once beautiful former EUGENIO C.


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