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STELLA SOLARIS departing Piraeus. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 1997.


The magical STELLA SOLARIS was built in 1953 as Messageries Maritimes CAMBODGE for Marseilles to South Asian service. A handsome combiliner in her own right (I recommend the tour of the ship on if more information is desired), the CAMBODGE was sold to Greek-based Sun Line in 1971. The Kesseoglou family owned and oversaw every aspect of the small company and spared no expense in the fitting out of their ships. The CAMBODGE underwent a two year transformation into STELLA SOLARIS at the Mariotti Shipyard under the guiding hand of Nino Zoncada. Solid, stylish, and comfortable furniture by Cassina and beautiful artwork by the Italian masters Emanuele Luzzati and Enrico Paulucci graced the SOLARIS. When she debuted in 1973, aside from her old steam turbine power plant and the shell of her hull, the SOLARIS was a virtually new vessel. Her spacious cabins, large public rooms with extra ceiling height, warm and homey decor, expansive lido and beautifully terraced decks, coupled with Sun Lines excellent food and service made STELLA SOLARIS one of the top rated cruise ships in the world for the next few decades. She was even featured in a few episodes of THE LOVE BOAT television series when a Mediterranean locale was sought.

In the mid-1990s, Sun Line merged with its former rival, Epirotiki, forming a new venture called Royal Olympic Cruises. Royal Olympic did its best to maintain the STELLA SOLARIS at her former level, but soon ran into financial difficulties. By 2002, the STELLA SOLARIS had begun to suffer from deferred mechanical maintenance and the post 9-11 tourism glut. She was laid up and, sadly, sold for scrap along with her smaller fleetmate STELLA OCEANIS and the British-built APOLLON in 2003. She arrived at Alang in late 2003 under the delivery name S SOLAR.


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