The MONTEREY was built by Bethlehem Steel of Quincy, Massachusetts in 1952 as the "Mariner" class cargo ship FREE STATE MARINER and completely rebuilt at Willamette Steel in Portland, Oregon in 1956 as the deluxe 365 passenger liner MONTEREY for Matson Line's South Seas service. She and her twin sister MARIPOSA (ex PINE TREE MARINER) were designed by Gibbs and Cox with a streamlined profile and somewhat spartan MidCentury tiki-inspired stylings that were perfect for their Pacific service.
With the sales of the LURLINE in 1963 and LURLINE (ex MONTEREY, MATSONIA) in 1970, MONTEREY and MARIPOSA gradually undertook Matson's Hawaii service in addition to long cruises from the West Coast until being transferred to Pacific Far East Line in 1972. Under PFEL, they sported deep blue funnel liveries with a California "golden bear" logo, possibly their best look of all. The twin "M's" remained virtually unchanged, carrying on in cruise service until their U.S. subsidies ran out in 1976. They were laid up at San Francisco, then Alameda until MARIPOSA was sold to China in 1983 to become JIN JIANG (she was broken up at Alang in 1996 as HENG LI) for Hong Kong to Shanghai voyages. MONTEREY lingered longer, until finally being purchased for Aloha Pacific Cruises deluxe Hawaii service. This entailed a rebuilding at Tacoma with an aircraft carrier-style extension of her promenade (both fore and aft) and an internal outfitting at Abo, Finland in 1988, expanding her capacity to 661. Her return to Hawaii was less than successful and the company went bankrupt within six months. MONTEREY was subsequently sold to Star Lauro, which became MSC Cruises after the loss of ACHILLE LAURO in 1994.
Under MSC, the MONTEREY was immaculately maintained and very popular although a complete fleet modernization in the early 2000s meant she was on borrowed time. In her latter years, only the Library (last used as an internet room) and the beautiful promenades were recognizeable (although the handsome teak decking was a latter day addition that would never have been approved by Gibbs and Cox when the ship was in American service). Aside from a few anodized aluminum and glass doors, her cinema, wonderful stairtower tiki column (removed by MSC before her final sale), some fittings in the cabins and the fixtures in the bridge, very little was left of the once chic ex-Matson Liner when she steamed off to Alang in late 2006 as MONTE
EMPRESS OF CANADA ENCHANTED ISLE EUGENIO C FEDOR SHALYAPIN FESTIVALE FIESTA MARINA FRANCONIA ISLANDBREEZE IVERNIA IVORY JEAN MERMOZ LURLINE MADAGASCAR MARDI GRAS MARGARITA L MARIANNA VI MARIANNA 9 MAYAN EMPRESS MERMOZ MONARCH STAR MONTEREY MS PHILIPPINES OLYMPIA OLYMPIC PRINCIPE PERFEITO PRINCESA VICTORIA REGAL EMPRESS RENAISSANCE RHAPSODY REGENT STAR S. A. VAAL SAPPHO SERENADE SHOTA RUSTAVELI SPERO STATENDAM STELLA MARIS II STELLA OCEANIS STELLA SOLARIS TAHITIEN THE BIG RED BOAT II
Matson Line's SS MONTEREY. Peter Knego collection.
Although built up with deck extensions, MONTEREY still had her good angles.
A bowless MONTE at Alang in early 2007. Copyright www.midshipcentury.com 2007.