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.)
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 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, with a name still being determined. She was to be Italian-based Home Line's first new building and 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. Finally, on January 15, 1963, under splendid weather, the new liner was launched under the direction of the wife of one of the Home Line owners, Jeanna Simu.
Her forward lines are said to have drawn inspiration from Lloyd Triestino's GUGLIELMO 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, swan neck stem, and a bulbous bow below the waterline. However, the combination cruiser and transom stern set the OCEANIC apart from most other ships at that time. 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 meets 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 meets 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 shiny 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 built exclusively for cruising. Due to her innovative design, she was dubbed the "Ship of Tomorrow." The highlights of that nickname were the sliding glass roof covering the pools and lido area amidships on the top deck. This moving roof allowed the outdoor swimming pools to be used even during inclement weather. The retractable roof weighed in at 50 tons. Under the name, Magrodome would be duplicated in numerous vessels in later years, beginning most likely with the QE2 in a 1983 refit and continuing in dozens of current-day cruise ships like P&O's 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 met 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 revolutionize the North Atlantic trade with her vast open-air spaces, indoor/outdoor pool, and inclusion of private facilities in all cabins. OCEANIC quickly developed a loyal following among the travel community. The Italian beauty 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, 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. Their performance helped give the vessel a solid reputation to the traveling public and 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.
After returning from Jamaica, a fire broke out in one of the crew cabins as she was docked in New York on February 3, 1966. It took the efforts of sixty New York City firefighters to extinguish the blaze, resulting in smoke drifting through most of the ship.
A more serious incident occurred 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 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.
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 the 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 1985, OCEANIC changed ownership 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 had 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 1980s look, which still can be seen through some of the ships thanks to designer Michael Katzourakis. Except for her red hull, OCEANIC's wonderful exterior, luckily, has remained unaltered, even to this day.
Her name did undergo a few changes, including the formal name, ROYALE OCEANIC, for a short while, and eventually sticking with STAR/SHIP OCEANIC. However, most of that time, the bow and stern were 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 Walt Disney World, which allowed her then four 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 ended, and a new partnership was forged with Warner Brothers, of which elements can still be found around a few public spaces as of late 2008.
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 were serviced, the 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 came under the ownership of a company called Cruise Holdings and, as a result, merged its two previous subsidiaries, Dolphin and Seawind Cruise Lines. This change spawned the name simply known as Premier Cruises. 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 color changes were a surprise as the rest of the fleet's ships 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 regulations 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, 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 thereafter, was later laid up in Freeport. Together with her near sister ship and former fleet mate, the BIG RED BOAT 2, they were both laid up in Freeport in late 2000.
By this time, Spanish Operator Pullmantur had become interested in purchasing a vessel of their own, inspected both ships, and found the OCEANIC to be in superior condition. Unfortunately, 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 in May of that year from Barcelona. Making visits to the ports of Villefranche, 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 its 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 the previous Thompson cruise ship, the TOPAZ. When that charter ended, they took an 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.
Those aforementioned ports of call never before dreamed of lasted until May of 2012 when OCEANIC sailed to Yokohoma on its last cruise. The vessel was subsequently returned to her owner, Pullmantur. Peaceboat's next charter was the OCEAN DREAM, the former 1981-built TROPICALE for Carnivale Cruise Line. In July of that same year, OCEANIC made a one-way voyage to China for scrapping.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
S.S. OCEANIC returns to New York Originally said farewell to N.Y. in November 1985. On June 26th, 2009 she once again graces the North River as the OCEANIC on the 66th voyage for the Peaceboat Organization.
The original Promenade deck, looking forward on the portside. Lifeboat stations for most of the passengers onboard.
The ship is being assisted by the Miriam Moran in this photo in what would be an unusual position. Rob O'Brien Copyright 2009
The Lee T. Moran is positioned at the stern to assist in this manuever. Photos & Copyright Rob O'Brien 2009
OCEANIC THROUGH THE AGES
Tied up in Civitavecchia, Italy. Photo: Rob O'Brien Copyright 2008
Tied up in New York, N.Y. Photo: Rob O'Brien Copyright 2009
Enterable from Bahamas Deck is the Hollywood Theater, shown here in a state of disrepair.
Looking aft from the Broadway Showroom located towards the bow of the ship.
Ready to surf in the Internet Room looking starboard.
Entrance to the Restaurant, a piano at the forward end sets the tone for the room.
This gorgeous profile shot was taken on August 18th 1984 as she makes her way down the North River. Photo: Theodore W. Scull
The spire of the famous Woolworth Building can be above her bow in this August 18th 1984 view. Photo: Theodore W. Scull
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At Naples, complete with original Pullmantur livery of blue funnel as well as original logo on side of hull. Photo: Copyright Rich Turnwald.
The OCEANIC makes a rare appearance at the Bayonne Drydock for repairs to the hull. Photos: William J Donall