MONARCH STAR

MONARCH STAR

MONARCH STAR in the Inside Passage. Peter Knego collection.

SS MONARCH STAR

Monarch Cruise Line's MONARCH STAR was built in 1958 for Moore McCormack Lines as the ARGENTINA.

The 14,984 gt ARGENTINA and BRASIL were the last true American-built passenger liners and were designed for the New York to Buenos Aires run but were also built with an eye toward off season cruising. They featured platformed midships dummy funnels and, in a style reminiscent of the Holland America liner ROTTERDAM of 1959, their actual funnels were twin uptakes located far aft. This design is credited to American marine architect George Sharp, who first devised it on the 1940 conversion of the Great Lakes cruise ship JUNIATA into the streamlined ferry MILWAUKEE CLIPPER.

The ships were rebuilt in 1963 to increase their passenger capacity from 437 to 557 and tonnage to 15,257 gt. There was now an extensive observation deck located atop the bridge and new observation lounges offered panoramic views over the bow (similar rooms would be incorporated on Holland America's newbuilds NIEUW AMSTERDAM and NOORDAM in the early 1980s). Even with their increased capacities, the Moore McCormack twins were hard pressed to make a profit during their relatively short careers. Rising American labor costs and their fuel guzzling powerplants found the ships struggling by the mid to late 1960s, although their reputations for fine food and service seem to have been untainted all the way until their final cruises in 1969, when they were subsequently laid up at Baltimore.

Holland America Line bought both sisters and refitted them for cruise service in 1971. When they debuted in 1973 to replace the dowager 1938-built SS NIEUW AMSTERDAM, the ARGENTINA was renamed VEENDAM and the BRASIL became VOLENDAM. More modifications included the extension of portions of the aft superstructure and a new capacity of 671. Mainly due to different measurement standards, their gt increased significantly to 23,372.

The VEENDAM became BRASIL in 1974 for a brief charter, then VEENDAM again in 1975. In 1976, she became MONARCH STAR for Holland America's subsidiary, Monarch Cruise Lines. During this period, the MONARCH STAR spent winters in Caribbean cruising and summers in Alaska. In 1978, she was renamed VEENDAM again. In 1984, she was sold to Bahama Cruise Line and renamed BERMUDA STAR. In 1990, she went to Commodore Cruise Lines, who renamed her ENCHANTED ISLE. In 2001, she was laid up at Violet, Louisiana following the bankruptcy of Commodore. In late 2003, she was renamed NEW ORLEANS and sailed to Alang, India for scrapping.