Veendam (III) of 1973

(Veendam) TONNAGE: BRT: 23,372 NRT: 14,568 DWT: 5,552
BUILT AT: Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation of Pascagoula Mississipp, U.S.A.
BUILT IN: 1958 YARDNO: 468
ENGINES: Two sets of Steam turbines by the General Electric Company, Schenectady,
New York, USA.
ENGINE OUTPUT: 35,000 Shaft horsepower. PROPELLORS: Two (fixed)
SERVICE SPEED: 20.5 Knots. MAX. SPEED: Over 24 Knots
LENGTH OVERALL: 188.22 Meters
DRAFT: 8.41 Meters.
(Veendam) PASSENGER CAPACITY: 713 Passengers. CREW: 401
SISTERSHIPS: Brasil (later ss Volendam (II))
REMARKS: Bunker capacity 3369 tons of oil.
The Argentina on her maiden arrival to New York
Constructed as a passenger ship with four full decks and 3 cargo holds with a total of 360,000 cub.ft. in holding capacity. The construction was partly funded by a government grant so the ship could be quickly converted into a troop carrier might the need arise. For this reason there was extra watertight sub-division on the lower decks, not unlike a warship. The keel was laid on 18 October 1957 and the hull launched on 12 March 1958. Delivered on 9 December 1958 as the Argentina (14,984 Brt. 553 in one First Class only) to the Moore – McCormack Lines Inc. of New York. The ship commenced her maiden voyage on 12 December 1958 with a sailing from New York to Buenos Aires, calling at various ports along the East coast of South America.

On her first departure after the refit. Her sister can be seen docked in the background.
During a 1963 refit at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation of Baltimore, 61 new cabins are added on an extra deck and a new observation lounge above the bridge is constructed. The old lounge on front of the midships ventilation house is removed. (New measurements: 23,372 Brt. 14,444 Nrt. 5,590 Dwt. and 670 Passengers First Class). Returns to the South America service. With the air planes taking more and more of the regular business trade and the surging crew costs, the ship is laid up in Baltimore in 1969.

The Veendam arriving for the first time in New York in HAL colors.
Bought together with her sister in April 1971 by Holland America for U.S. $ 10 mln. but she remained laid up pending approval of the sale by Congress. As the ship had been built with a government grant, the sale needed governmental approval. When approval came through, the ship left Baltimore on 25 August 1972, heading for Bremerhaven to be refitted at the Hapag – LLoyd Werft (arrival 8 September). The conversion into a cruiseship cost the company 15 mln. Dutch Guilders. The interiors were completed at Rotterdam. Renamed in Veendam (3) and registered for the N.V. Cruiseship Veendam, Willemstad, Curacao.

The Veendam left Rotterdam on 17 June 1973 to sail for New York via Southampton and Cobh to commence cruising. At the same time the oil crises began the bite that caused high fuel prices and low cabin sales and the ship was laid up on 15 May 1974 at Hampton Roads. For the winter of 1974/75 a charter is obtained starting on the 15th. of December. Agencia Maritima Intermares S.A. of Brazil is the new operator of the ship offering cruises from Brazil for the Brazilian home market. The ship is also renamed in Brasil. The peculiar thing is, that this happened to the old name of the Veendam’s sistership when she was still sailing for Moore McCormack. Operated by a Dutch crew and with Brazilian stewardesses in the lounges the ship made cruises from Rio de Janeiro.

This charter ends on 21 April 1975 and after having reverted to the name Veendam, the ship starts a series of cruises from New York. On 1 January 1977 it commences sailing for a new HAL subsidiary called Monarch Cruises Lines of Miami under the name of Monarch Star. Registration is under Panamanian flag and a mainly Greek crew. (Measurement: 15,362 Brt.) As the independent management of the two ships by Monarch does not deliver the expected results, Holland America Cruises of Willemstad Curacao, assumes direct control over Monarch on 20 November 1977 and Monarch cruises is disbanded. On 8 January 1978 the ship is renamed to Veendam again with a registration for N.V. Veendam, Panama.

The Veendam sailing through the Inside Passage.
Due to the success of Holland America in Alaska after it took a share in Westoursand the ship is assigned to make Alaska cruises in May 1977. Officially chartered by Westours Inc. of Seattle, who sells the cabins and the tours but operated by HAL. This charter is repeated for the seasons of 1978, 1979 and 1980. In that year the ship joined and for 1981 replaced by the Rotterdam and the Statendam. Thus the Veendam returns to the Bermuda service for the summer of 1981. During the summer of 1979 the ship hits Ripple Shoal Reef in the Canadian inside passage and scrapes off half the thickness of her keel plates but due to the thickness (1.5 Inch on average) there are no punctures and no ingress of water. The ship anchors in Knox Bay until it is ascertained that the ship hull has indeed not been breached. The affected bottom plates are renewed at the North West Marine Iron Works in Portland Oregon.

The Veendam docked at the passenger terminal in New York during one of her Bermuda cruises.
During the winter season of 1979/1980 part of the space in hold no 3. is converted into Passenger cabins which increases the capacity with 46 while the ship remains in service. It commences on 20 May 1981 the first New York Bermuda cruise and will continue to run this service every summer until the sale of the ship in late 1983. Sailing every Sunday from New York. In 1982 the registration of the ship is moved from Panama to the Netherlands Antilles for Holland America Cruises Inc. of Willemstad, Curacao. (New measurement: 23,819 Brt.)

The Bermuda Star in her first livery after the sale.
Sold in October 1983 to the C.Y. Tung group of Hong Kong for U.S. $10 mln. and registered for the Billinghurst Shipping Limited of Panama. Delivered to them on 22 May 1984 in Newport News during the hand over dry-docking. The ship is managed by the Bahama Cruise Line and renamed in Bermuda Star. (Measurement: 14,208 Brt.) It leaves on 9 June 1984 for the first cruise, sailing from New York to Bermuda while in the winter it is deployed on cruises from Miami to Mexico. Near the end of 1984 a re-registration takes place and now the Island Navigation Corp. of Panama is the official owner. In October 1987 the operating company is renamed to Bermuda Star Line and the ship makes starts in January 1988 winter cruises from San Diego to the Mexican Riviera.

New Name, Queen of Bermuda and a new hull color.
Shortly after the ship is renamed in Queen of Bermuda. This is a name swap with her sister, so that the name “Bermuda Star” can continue its presence on the Bermuda service. A year later in 1989 it reverts back to the name Bermuda Star and is now registered for the Argentina Caribbean Shipping Company Limited of Panama. (Guess where that name came from) The Bermuda Star Line is taken over by Commodore Cruises (A subsidiary of the Swedish Eff-John group. The ship runs aground on 10 June 1990 at the entrance of the Cape Cod Canal and sustains a 155 feet gash under water. Returns to service after repairs.

The Enchanted Isle late in her career.
Commodore decides on rebranding all their ships with the pre-fix enchanted and so the ship I renamed in September 1990 in Enchanted Isle. (Measurements: 23,395 Brt., 5,472 Nrt. 8,706 Dwt. 731 passengers and 325 crew) On 17 April 1993 the ship leaves San Diego for the last time to start a 16 night Panama Canal cruise and then sails empty from Miami to St. Petersburg to be used as an Hotelship called Commodore Hotel. Before it arrives there, it is deployed on 9 Baltic Cruises under the banner of Baltic Lines (managers are Eff- John) The first cruise starting on 28 May. For the ship retains its white hull but in a Gdansk shipyard the shipboard power adapted to the European standard of 220 volts (instead of 110 volts) Manned by a Polish crew. The ship arrives in St. Petersburg on 24 September 1993 and will remain there until 21 August 1994. As an hotel is was docked on the river Neva in downtown St Petersburg, offering 375 rooms with pricing starting at $ 140,– a night.

It continues to operate as a floating hotel but now in Bremerhaven where it is temporarily used to house British workmen employed on the refit of the Queen Elizabeth 2. Upon completion the ship returns to cruising in the Caribbean under the previous name of Enchanted Isle. On 26 December the ship suffers a 15 hour long black out and has to be towed into San Juan, Puerto Rico. Back in service on 1 February 1995 with Bridgetown Town Barbados as the homeport for cruises in the South Caribbean.

Then on 30 December 2000, Commodore suspends all operations and files for bankcrupty. The ITF union had the ship arrested on behalf of the crew for outstanding fines. Also Silja of Sweden is still owned $ 3.7 mln. of outstanding payments for the vessel. The ship is laid up at Violet in Louisiana. At an auction on 6 December 2001 in New Orleans, Effjohn, the mortgage holder buys the ship back for a little over $2.6 million. A new company is started up, World Explorer Cruises Ltd., and the ship is to be renamed in Universe Ambassador with a registration for Hemisphere Cruises and Tours. Plans are to operate the ship in Alaska in the summer and in Central America in the winter. This World Explorer Cruises Ltd. was formed by Finnish firm Silja Line and a group of private investors which acquired the ship on a lease/purchase arrangement from Eff-john.

Nothing comes of these plans and on 25 October 2001, the ship departs from Violet at 12.20 pm. With a crew of 28 on board it is heading for the scrap yard in Alang, India under her final name of New Orleans. The ship arrives there on 4 December and is beached on the 9th for the start of the demolition.

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