PRINCESA VICTORIA

PRINCESA VICTORIA

PRINCESA VICTORIA at Limassol. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 1997.

MV PRINCESA VICTORIA

Louis Cruise Line's PRINCESA VICTORIA had one of the longest and most glorious histories of any passenger ship. Built by Harland and Wolff of Belfast in 1936 for Union-Castle Line as the DUNNOTTAR CASTLE for the company's round Africa service from London, she was a modest combination passenger cargo liner who served her owners well. She and her sister, DUNVEGAN CASTLE, were requisitioned for armed merchant cruiser service in World War Two, but the DUNVEGAN was far less fortunate and was torpedoed off Ireland with a loss of 24 lives in 1940. DUNNOTTAR continued in war service as a troop transport, her most noteable duty carrying British soldiers to Normandy in 1944. She continued in repatriation service after the war until 1949, when after a quarter million miles and troops carried, she was returned to Union-Castle.

DUNNOTTAR CASTLE resumed her round Africa service and was joined by a series of newer vessels in the early 1950s. In 1958, she was offered for sale, and, quite remarkably, bought by Incres Lines who were seeking a solidly constructed ship to rebuild into the ultimate luxury cruise liner. DUNNOTTAR CASTLE sailed to Rotterdam, where a complete rebuilding was performed at the Wilton-Fijenoord shipyard, transforming her into the sleek, deluxe MV VICTORIA. She was given a new bow and stern and a vastly enlarged and modified superstructure. Her B&W diesel engines were replaced with brand new Fiat engines. The only original parts of the ship left were the hull and inner portion of her upper superstructure, where the bridge and officer's areas still retained their Union-Castle features.

Gustavo Pulitzer-Finale was responsible for VICTORIA's chic interior stylings, which were replete with fine wood paneling and trend-setting midcentury Italian furniture. Her decks were named after precious and semi-precious jewels and color coordinated accordingly. On Amber Deck, one would find amber colored bannisters and carpeting. Same for Coral, Sapphire, and Emerald, etc. VICTORIA had a dining room with a barrel shaped domed ceiling and musician's balcony as well as a two deck high auditorium. Emanuele Luzzati created most of the artworks, which were based on Roman themes and in media ranging from metallic panels to elaborate ceramics.

Like many other cruise ships, VICTORIA was a victim of the fuel crisis and high operating costs. Incres Line folded in 1975 and the VICTORIA was laid up at Brooklyn. Chandris Cruises purchased the then 39 year old ship for spare parts and furniture for their other vessels, but after reexamining her, they realized she would make an excellent asset to their cruise fleet. Instead of stripping her and selling her for scrap, they refitted the ship and gave her the slightly amended name of THE VICTORIA. Her capacity increased from 430 to 548 passengers.

THE VICTORIA was a huge hit with budget-minded passengers and became a renewed fixture in Caribbean and European cruise service. She stayed in the Chandris fleet until 1993, when the Cypriots purchased her for the burgeoning cruise market from Limassol to Egypt and Israel. Her new owners, Louis Cruise Lines, renamed the ship PRINCESA VICTORIA and kept her in excellent condition for the next ten or so years. In 2001, she was laid up at Eleusis following the glut in European tourism caused by the terrorist attacks of September 11. By this time, her nearly 60 year old hull and forty year old machinery were in need of expensive maintenance. With the rise in scrap prices, it was inevitable that the PRINCESA VICTORIA would meet her end at Alang. Under the delivery name VICTORIA I, she sailed off from her Greek anchorage in the spring of 2004, arriving at Alang that summer.

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