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A favorite post card view of STELLA OCEANIS. Peter Knego collection.


I really miss the STELLA OCEANIS! My final view of her was heartbreaking, as she lay in pieces at Alang on a sweltering day in February 2004. Like a Jack the Ripper victim, she was literally quartered: her funnel and forward superstructure on its side in one piece; the aft lido area in another pile; her hull without superstructure on the embankment; and various bits strewn about with an army of acetlyene-equipped cutters reducing her into plate sized morsels. Cameras were forbidden, but the scene remains scorched in my memory along with the acrid odor of burning metal. The sleek little STELLA O was my first cruise ship in the Greek Islands and gave me more happy memories in three short days than most other ships could provide in a lifetime.

Built by Cantieri Riuniti dell Adriatico as an Italian war reparation to the Greek government, she entered service in 1965 as the relatively ordinary ferry APHRODITE. In 1966, she was acquired by Sun Lines and given a top to bottom refit at the Mariotti shipyard, which improved her profile and gave her a degree of elegance and modernity that raised the standards for Greek passenger ships of the time. Nino Zoncada oversaw the design, which included artwork from Emanuele Luzzati and Enrico Paulucci. Luzzati, especially, did some extraordinary work for this highly underrated ship. Most of his pieces tell the tales of Homer with a heavy slant on ancient Cretan symbology.

After the merger of Sun Lines and Epirotiki which formed Royal Olympic Cruises in 1997, the little STELLA O was basically surplus. She operated sporadically until being laid up in 2000. Following the attacks of 9-11 and the dire financial state of ROC, it became evident that the pretty little blue ship would never return. In late 2003, she donned the delivery name S OCEAN and motored her way to Alang along with the legendary STELLA SOLARIS and the classic APOLLON in a triple scrap sale that broke shiplovers' hearts around the world. Royal Olympic declared bankruptcy months later.


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