The wheelhouse of the OCEANIC, original Binnacle, helm and clear vision screens.
The handsome looking bow, at Livorno. Image & Copyright Rob O'Brien 2008
The Italian built greyhound at night in Villefrance. Image & Copyright Rob O'Brien 2008.
Oh the curves! Looking up at the superstructure, a virtually unchanged face for over 40 years. Photo: Richard I. Weiss Collection
All photos Rob O'Brien Copyright 2008/09 Unless otherwise noted.
A brochure view of the ship, in early livery as noted by her stack with Premier Cruise Line. Rob OBrien collection
A magical image of the S.S. OCEANIC while at the pier with a Royal Caribbean cruise ship shares the berth in 1985. Photo: Ernie Arroyo / Rob O'Brien collection
Quiet time in the Library on Pool Deck looking aft on the starboard side.
The Actors Bar on Pool Deck looking aft, complete with Hollywood actors on the bulkheads.
One of the central stairwells leading up to Premier Deck to the Childrens Room (former Plutos Playhouse during Big Red Boat days.)
Double vision- mirror for Heroes & Legends Pub and the Starlight Cabaret.
Heros & Legends Pub looking aft and port on Lounge Deck.
The Starlight Cabaret, the nightlife of the ship for dancing looking aft.
The wonderful Seven Continents Resturant, featuring original artwork around the dome, looking forward on Restaurant Deck.
The Reception Desk on Atlantic Deck looking aft.
Band time at the Lucky Star Casino looking aft. Formerly the Aegean Room during Home Line days.
Looking forward on Lounge Deck's Lucky Star Casino.
The Home Line's vessel assisted by a Moran Tug in New York in 1982. Photo: Andy Kirk
The launching of the OCEANIC in Italy. Photographer unknown.
< The story of the this vintage liner begins with the keel laying ceremony on October 29, 1961 at the Cantieri Riuniti dell’ Adriatico shipyard located in Monfalcone, Italy. Situated on Italy’s northeast coast, the builders' yard assigned the forming vessel with a hull number of 1876, as a name had not yet been selected. She was intended to be not only Italian based Home Line's first new building, but a transatlantic liner with service to Cuxhaven, Southampton, Le Havre, Montreal, and Quebec City. In April of the following year, Home Lines announced she would be called OCEANIC, a name not used in passenger service for some 50 years. On January 15, 1963 under splendid weather, the new liner was launched under direction from a wife of one of the Home Line owners, Jeanna Simu. Her forward lines are said to have drawn inspiration from Lloyd Triestino’s GUGLIEMO MARCONI and GUGLIELMO GALILEO, the earlier of which had been built at the same yard and completed in 1963. This similar design consisted of the same cutter style bow and swan neck stem, and a bulbous bow below the waterline. What really set the OCEANIC apart from most other ships at that time was the combination cruiser and transom stern. The main purpose of this transom design was to increase propulsion efficiency by improving water flow below the stern. Later built alongside OCEANIC was her cousin the EUGENIO C for Costa Line which repeated the same overall design at the bow and stern when she was completed in 1966. Four decades later, the same design patented by Nicolo Costanzi was echoed in the stern architecture of the QUEEN MARY 2. The general arrangement at the weather decks drew the biggest inspiration from the P&O liner CANBERRA of 1961. These features included having the machinery located towards the stern and the lifeboats nested in recesses within (inboard) of the superstructure. Since the ship was intended for trans-ocean service, OCEANIC was constructed with the stringent requirements of North Atlantic wear and tear in mind. This included a hull strengthened for navigation through ice and having the shell plating below the waterline of the welded variety. She also meet regulations in accordance with those mandated by the S.O.L.A.S.(Safety Of Life At Sea) 1960 Convention. And much like the S.S. FRANCE of 1961, OCEANIC also meet the new so called Method 1 fire safety requirements. Eight months after her launch, Home Lines closed their North Atlantic service in response to airline competition as the skies continued filling with more shinny new planes.
< After several delays, Home Line took delivery of the $35-40 million OCEANIC with a ceremony in Trieste, Italy on March 31, 1965. She ranked as the seventh largest passenger ship in the world at the time. Ironically, publicity material touted her as the largest vessel ever built exclusively for cruising. Due to her innovative design she was dubbed the “Ship of Tomorrow.” The highlights of that nickname was the sliding glass roof covering the pools and lido area amidships on the top deck. This allowed the outdoor swimming pools to be used even during inclement weather. The retractable roof weighed in at 50 tons and under the name Magrodome would actually be dublicated in numerous vessels in later years, beginning most likely with the QE2 in a 1983 refit and continuing on in dozens of current day cruise ships like P&Os 2000 built ORIANA and almost all of the Holland America Line fleet from the AMSTERDAM to the ZUIDERDAM. Upon her arrival in New York harbor in April of 1965, OCEANIC was given a traditional welcome of fireboats, along with tugs and helicopters above, as the ship made her way to Pier 84 on Manhattan’s West 44th St. She was meet with a mixture of responses including curiosity, pride and even dislike from those that saw her as a threat in the struggling market of cruising out of New York.
It is without question that upon her introduction, OCEANIC was one of the most stunning liners of the 1960s. Boasting a maximum of 1600 passengers she would indeed revolutionize the North Atlantic trade with her vast open-air spaces, indoor/outdoor pool, and her inclusion of private facilities in all cabins. OCEANIC quickly developed a loyal following among the travel community. In fact, she became an instant success and even an institution in New York waters for the next two decades. With an average occupancy rate of 92 percent for a substantial period of time, word had spread that the new OCEANIC was a magnificent ship sporting a wide range of facilities including a 700 seat dining room, a 400 person double level cinema and the famed Magrodrome. Her reputation was further enhanced and built more specifically on two important ingredients, namely her cuisine and the warmth of her staff. Manning the Italian ship with her native countrymen only made sense and their performance helped give the vessel a solid reputation to the traveling public as it helped develop the loyal following already mentioned. In fact, on one voyage it had been said that 793 of the 873 passengers onboard were sailing the ship for a second or third time. It was after returning from Jamaica that a fire broke out in one of the crew cabins as she was docked in New York on February 3rd, 1966. It took the efforts of sixty New York City firefighters to extinguish the blaze and resulted in smoke drifting through most of the ship. A more serious incident took place on November 11, 1968 when the OCEANIC experienced an engine room fire due to a rupture from a hydraulic oil pipe while beginning a 7 day cruise to Nassau. While off the coast of Florida, the damage was enough that the Captain decided to turn the vessel around back towards New York to disembark her 1028 passengers. According to one source, the flames had spread underneath the engine room floor and the ship came close to being lost. Repair work involved canceling four subsequent cruises and repairs were carried out in Newport News, Virginia.
Sometime in 1981/82, OCEANIC saw new changes including a new fleet mate, the 25,000 M/V ATLANTIC and an abandonment of the New York cruise market in favor of operating out of Florida. The Home Lines flagship did not perform well here and the liner spent the next two winters laid up at the Newport News yard. These were obvious signs that the end of Home Line was approaching. In 1983 she was said to be on the sales list with prospects including Greek operators, Chandris Line who wanted to rebuild her for North Atlantic cruises. Norwegian Caribbean Cruise line and Sun Line were also said to be interested in the pride of the Home Line fleet. In August of 1985, OCEANIC had been sold to Panama registered Premier Cruise Line. After leaving New York on November 21, 1985, she proceeded to Newport News for dry-docking during which her hull was painted red as part of her $10 million refurbishment, half of her purchase price. By the time Premier Cruise line took delivery of their new Port Canaveral based vessel, a 1977 refit from Home Line days already changed most of her original and modernistic 1960s style that Nino Zoncada was largely responsible for. Those same interiors, while their configuration had not changed, had been given a colorful, and contemporary 1980's look which still can be seen through some of the ship thanks to designer, Michael Katzourakis. Except for her red hull, OCEANIC's wonderful exterior luckily has remained unaltered, even to this day. Her name actually did undergo a few changes including the formal name, ROYALE OCEANIC for a short while, and eventually sticking with STAR/SHIP OCEANIC. For most of that time, the bow and stern was still clearly marked as OCEANIC. Beginning on April 25, 1986 the former Italian line greyhound set out on her new career with Premier Cruise Line. This company enjoyed a unique partnership with the Walt Disney World, which allowed her then 4 and 7 day cruises to be sold as vacation packages. When not given free access to Walt Disney World, passengers also enjoyed Disney characters while onboard.
<! In 1990, OCEANIC changed registered ports for the first time to Nassau, the Bahamas (previously it had been Panama) and with the following spring Premier Cruise Line came very close to joining the Carnival Cruise Line brand which was looking to expand into the family vacation market. At the last minute however, this $372 million dollar deal was called off. In 1993, the ship underwent a $17 million refurbishment of rooms, cabins as well as engine repairs. Later that year, the Walt Disney World association had ended and a new partnership was forget with Warner Brothers, of which elements can still be found around a few public spaces as of late 2008. r-sourc In October of 1994, OCEANIC crossed the Atlantic for the 1st time in almost three decades for a two month refit that was carried out in her native country of Italy. It was while in Genoa there the engine room facilities where serviced, air conditioning plant was upgraded and the Tiki Bar at the stern was installed. She returned to service in January of 1995 receiving a total of yet another $17 million dollar in upgrades, sporting a change in her funnel livery as well. In 1997, Premier Cruise Line was acquired by a company called Cruise Holdings and as a result merged its two previous subsidiaries Dolphin and Seawind Cruise Lines. This spawned the name simply known as Premier Cruises. It was at this point, OCEANIC began to be marketed as the BIG RED BOAT and her hull was painted a truer red color with less orange. These changes came were indeed a surprise as the rest of the ships of the fleet had been given dark blue hulls. In June 1998, the ship was detained and her passengers disembarked and sent home after the U.S. Coast Guard determined that she did meet new S.O.L.A.S. (Safety Of Life At Sea) 1997 regulations. Most of these regulation forced many vintage liners to change configurations around staircases and include other firefighting methods. The proof that the company needed was provided, the issue was resolved and the cruise was allowed to commence three days later. While the ship alone contributed nearly $7.5 million to the cruise line in the first three months of 1998, this incident was a tale tell sign that the cruise line was struggling. In the spring of 2000, the ship received her last refit where the Casino, Show Lounge, and Reception area underwent refurbishment. While at the Freeport Grand Bahama shipyard, the Internet Café, a children and teen facilities were also added. Sometime in 2000, the former EUGENIO COSTA joined Premier as their BIG RED BOAT 2 and for the first time the sister ships sailed under the same house flag. However, this was not to last, and by September of 2000 Premier officially suspended operations. The entire fleet was seized, placing OCEANIC under arrest at Nassau, and sometime there after was later laid up in Freeport. Together with her near sister ship and former fleet mate, the BIG RED BOAT 2, both were laid up in Freeport in late 2000.
By this time, Spanish Operator Pullmantur had became interested in purchasing a vessel of their own and inspected both ships and found the OCEANIC to be in superior condition. Mechanical and electrical problems plagued her sister ship, the former EDINBURGH CASTLE for Direct Cruises to the point that she could not find work and was forced to cross the Atlantic and arrive at the beaches of Alang, India in June of 2005. For her much luckier running mate, the OCEANIC was purchased by the 1971 founded company Pullmantur Cruises in 2001. Her first voyage under her new operators commenced on May of that year from Barcelona and made visits to the ports of Villefrance, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Siciliy, and Tunis during the first seven day voyage. The ship immediately became the most well received ship in the fleet and continued to be the most popular as she settled into her new home in the Mediterranean. In late 2001, the Sicily port of call was replaced by Malta and in 2003, Naples, Italy replaced Malta. In a move to expand its operations, Royal Caribbean International Cruise Line purchased the Spanish operators in September 2006. Pullmantur, however remained an independent brand under their new owners. It was not until January of 2008 that she received a slight change in her colors with the red funnel replacing the original blue color. With the intention to add four more cruise ships to its fleet by the end of 2009, OCEANIC was sold off to a Panamanian company with operations in Asia. By March of 2009, she had been made the new vessel for the Peaceboat Organization, a Japanese based non-profit, non government entity that promotes peace, human rights and respect towards the environment. Since 2004, they had been sailing the former EMPRESS OF BRITAIN and previous Thompson cruise ship, the TOPAZ. When that charter ended, they took interest in the former KUNGSHOLM of 1966 which had been sailing as the MONA LISA. There was also for a short time a charter with the CLIPPER PACIFIC, the ex-Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship SONG OF NORWAY before she was detained in New York harbor in July 2008 after numerous safety violations including an alleged crack in her hull was found. On March 19, 2009 OCEANIC departed her home of the past eight years, Barcelona, for the last time as she made way for an April delivery to Peaceboat. No doubt, under her new owners she will be visiting dozens of new ports, some of them maiden calls that she never dreamed of visiting while sailing under her previous owners. The future of this historic vessel and brilliant career continues.
Early brochure during the Inaugural season. Rob O'Brien Collection
The splendid S.S. OCEANIC at the pier in New York, in January 1967. Photo: Ernie Arroyo / Rob O'Brien collection
Two views in 1978. The left, a close-up view of her housing, including Veranda suites, & bridge wings. Notice the rare funnel view of the SS America in her short lived Venture Cruise Line in the background. Photos: Richard I. Weiss
A stern view departing New York in 1971, the North tower of the World Trade Center is under construction and can be seen over the bow. Photo: Ernie Arroyo / Rob O'Brien collection
The liner being assisted by the Teresa Moran in 1967 Photo: Ernie Arroyo/ Rob O'Brien collection
The Big Red Boat stands out as she enters Nassau as seen here in April 1990. Photo: Andy Kirk
Also in 1990 the OCEANIC being nudged into her berth by tug at the bow. Photo: Richard I. Weiss
The name painted at the stern when named the Star/Ship OCEANIC. Photo: Richard I. Weiss
A proud image of the OCEANIC at Civitavecchia, Italy. The stern of the ATHENA, ex-STOCKHOLM, the same ship that collided and sank the ANDREA DORIA can be seen behind. Image & Copyright Rob O'Brien 2008
The builders plate of the OCEANIC, obscured slightly due to its location. Image copyright Rob O'Brien/Staff Captain George Ciortan 2008
Looking aft from the monkey island station at the radar mast and funnel on a warm, sunny day in N.Y.
A wonderful vantage point, looking aft from the starboard side bridge wing.
Looking over the original cargo cranes and fo'c'sle from above the Navigation Bridge.
Passageways onboard Home Line's OCEANIC appeared like this with imitation wood Formica throughout the ship.
Sometime during Premier Cruise Line days, bulkheads were masked over with present day "wallpaper" as seen today.
The masking over the decor of the bulkheads also consisted with stairwells as seen in this one on Atlantic Deck.
S.S. OCEANIC TOUR Top to botton, fore & aft
Top of Navigation Bridge & Navigation Bridge
The siting area of Veranda Suite Gemini "S3" on the starboard side facing forward.
Looking up at the radar mast with crows nest.
The Panaromic Sunrise Lounge that over looks the bow, filled with ocean liner posters from yesteryear.
The Cafe Satellite on Pool Deck looking port.
The Galley of the OCEANIC is as spotless as they come, cleaner than most new cruise ships.
The Engine Room start/control station of the Steamship OCEANIC.
With special thanks to: Brad Hatry, J. Fred Rodriguez, Theodore W. Scull, Richard I. Weiss, S. Captain George Ciortan and Patricia M. for their assitance and contributions.
Pool Deck -- formerly Lido Deck (Home Lines)
Premier Deck -- formerly Belvedere Deck (Home Lines)
Lounge Deck -- formerly Riviera Deck (Home Lines)
A spacious cabin on Premier Deck complete with ocean liner artwork and sofa.