A stern view comparison of the liner, on the left in the early 1970s, and virutally unchaged in the later 1990s, right. Sun Line
It was October 7, 1985 that four men representing the Palestine Liberation Front took hostage of the 23,629 ton ACHILLE LAURO and its passengers while on a cruise off Egypt, en-route to Port Said. The cruise industry was forever changed by this terrible incident, as security onboard cruise liners was credited to make things like 'Bon Voyage Parties' all but disappear.* The all familiar ritual of family and friends bidding the departing passenger and ship a well wishing party to the ensuring cruise became obsolete due to this incident and many folks who just wished to visit the cruise ships while in port also became more difficult. The safety and security of shipboard life was striken in years previous from the bomb scare on the QE2 back in 1972, while on a May North Atlantic crossing.Notwithstanding the tragic September 11 terrorist attacks has the cruise industry underwent changed in security protocols. This most specifically effected the STELLA SOLARIS as Sun Line decided to reposition the vessel in the American market. More specifically, the ship was displaced to the port of New York making her maiden arrival sometime at the end of May 1986 and subsuquent years until the event surrounding the ACHILLE LAURO became weathered and confidence in the market could be reestablished.
*In February of 2010, Princess Cruises announced they were bringing back this all but forgotten tradition, calling it the 'Bon Voyage Experience', but instead of the free admission that was accustomed to these farewell partys, the line will be charging up to $39 per guest.
To celebrate the long awaited return of Halley's Comet in early 1986, a celestial event that surely generated much interest at the time, Sun Line created a cruise itinerary that allowed passengers to witness the brilliant spectacle in the ideal observation conditions located in the Southern Hemisphere. inauspicious viewing conditions in the northern latitudes prevent an ideal view due to 'light pollution' from urbanization in the big cities. The comets return in 1986 was said to be the least favorable during the month of February as the comet and the Earth were on opposite sides of the Sun (making the apparition harder to spot as it appears fainter.) In fact, it was noted by Astronomers that year that these the worst viewing conditions in the last 2,000 years. Which hopefully made the first cruise in January alleviated this viewing problem. All depended, of course, on weather conditions the ship entailed and the aforementioned location of comet and Earth in relation to the Sun in the month of January.
The destinations also planned that year include the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers, the West Indies, South America, West Africa and Europe. Once again the flagship of the Sun Line, both the STELLA SOLARIS and not to mention her counterpart the STELLA OCEANIS were aptly earning the nicknames "Starships" for these special occasions of following the return of Halley's Comet and the voyages planned that year.
The first cruise that would start off this new season was a 30 day round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. By the time passengers were all aboard, a Friday departure was made at 8 pm from this port on December 20, 1985 and spending well over a day at sea until tied-up at Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic at 2pm on Sunday. A 7 pm departure was made here as the ship arrived at San Juan the next day and she spent overnight at this port, leaving in the very early morning hours of Christmas Eve. Six hours later the ship made a St Thomas arrival and by dinner time the ship was at sea for Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was celebrated at Antigua in the West Indies arriving there by 7 am and departing by 5. The next three West Indies ports of call followed including, Barbados, Grenada and Trinidad from the 26th until the 28th, from morning until evening except the last port as a departure for a Southerly sea course towards the Equator was made after Noon. By the 31st on New Years Eve, the ship was crossing the equator and arriving by New Years Day at Alter do Chao Beach and Santarem, Brazil by 4 pm. By Midnight on Thursday the ship was making way for the Amazon River and her next port of Manaus, Brazil on the 3rd, arriving by the morning. An interesting long stay was made for this port from that Friday and leaving by the same hourly arrival on January 7th. On Saturday the 4th, the cruise line actually began the 1986 season with the Amazon River / Halleys Comet cruise under the umbrella of the 30 cruise that started in December. By the 8th, the ship returned to Alter do Chao Beach and in the same day returned to Santarem , Brazil in the afternoon and was overnight in the port, leaving by 1 am and cruising the Amazon River and crossing the Equator the next three days. By Sunday Day 8 (or Day 23 depending on which cruise) the ship was back in Trinidad arriving at 9 in the morning and leaving the next day at 2 past midnight. Grenada, Barbados followed next on that 12th as well as the 13th. Gudeloupe in the French West Indies and St Thomas rounded out the last two ports, both a eight hour visit and a day a few days at sea on the 17th and 18th completed the cruise as the ship pulled into Fort Lauderdale on Sunday the 19th. Those passengers staying on board were enjoying the next seven days on the Amazon River & Yucatan Discovery Cruise that began, much like the Amazon River cruise began on the fourth in that same month(see below.)
Winter 1985 / 1986 Halley's Comet Cruise "Deluxe expeditions to greet the legend"
1986 Yucatan Discovery Cruise
It was in January of 1986 that the Sun Line offered future passengers a 7 day round trip voyage from Fort Lauderdale to experience the stunning architecture and great ruins of Mayan culture in ancient Mexico. Beginning on the 19th of that month the ship departed at 8 pm from Fort Lauderdale on a Sunday and on the next day would spend the time at sea before arriving at her first port of call of Playa del Carmen at 7. It was a very brief stop of a few hours before she made her way to Cozumel Mexico that same day at around 10.30 of the Tuesday the 21st. An overnight stay was made and the next day she left Cozumel at 6 am for a return to Playa del Carmen a few hours later, this time staying until that afternoon. Thursday saw a six hour anchor in Grand Caymen in the Caymen Islands before heading southeast to Montego Bay, Jamaica on Friday the 24th at 8 am. Just after noon that same day she left for Florida to return by Sunday at her point of origin in the morning hours of the 26th of January.1986
South & Northbound Rio Cruises Following the 22 day scheduled cruise ending on January 26th, the next cruise was planned for March 1st sailing from Fort Lauderdale by 7 in the evening and spending two days on a southerly route at sea. By the 4th, San Juan became the first stop along the way on what was the "Southbound Cruise to Rio." Upon disembarking this Pueurto Rico port after an eight hour stay, it was a Wednesday arrival at Martinique, leaving later in the night bound for Barbados in the West Indies. Belem, Brazil was seen on March 10th, with a preceding three days at sea as well as three sea days following departure from this port. On March 14th, Salvador da Bahia in Brazil became the fifth port of call arriving by morning and leaving by dinner time. Still following an arc course due south, on March 16th the city of Rio de Janeiro welcome the STELLA SOLARIS just after Noon and disembarked her passengers. The same of which stayed in deluxe hotel accommodation in this exuberant city for the remaining three days of the cruise. The ship herself departed Rio de Janeiro for the next group of cruising passengers on the "Northbound From Rio" Cruise commencing upon departure at 8 pm. What followed was a northerly track with two days of ocean travel and returning to Salvador da Bahia on March 18th at 4 in the afternoon. The vessel remained overnight and left for additionally ocean time just after Noon on that Wednesday. The same visit for Belem thirteen days prior was made on the 23rd and staying for the same duration as the last time. The 24th and 25th was spent navigating nearly due West towards Trinidad in the West Indies- with landfall there made by 2 pm on the 26th. Another over-nighter was performed here leaving earlier this time by 1 am and arriving by Noon the next day at San Juan. A 8 pm departure enticed the last port of call of Puerto Plata on Saturday, Day 17 of the cruise. It was 48 hours later that the ship returned to Fort Lauderdale by morning.
1987 Holiday Cruises, Best of the Caribbean and Canada
The first archieved voyages of the year began on March 19th, setting sail from New Orleans, LA, the start of her "Mayan Temples and Monuments" 10 day cruise. The ship casted off at 5 pm on that Thursday and spent the next day at sea. On Saturday, the vessel was in Playa del Carmen, Mexico from 7 am until 9 pm. The next port was Cozumel, arriving there at 8 pm that same evening and spending overnight at this popular Mexican port until 3 pm the next day. It was that Sunday that she arrived back at Playa del Carmen by 5 in the pm that same day staying in port for a few hours. On the 23rd she was at Isla de Roatan in Honduras for seven hours, starting at noon. Day 6, the ship made a port stop at S. Thomas de Castilla in Guatemala from 7 am and departing at 10pm. By Wednesday, the ship was seen at sea with the next port of Montego Bay, Jamaica on Thursday. Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands rounded out the cruise before another sea day and a return to New Orleans by Sunday the 29th.
The next 10-day itinerary was a Mayan Discovery cruise picking up where the previous voyage left off in New Orleans, starting off things at 5 pm. Two days was spent cruising, necessitating a 7 am arrival at St Thomas de Castilla, Gutemala, leaving there two hours before midnight. This same itinerary was repeated twice that month, filling all of April 1987 with the so called "Mayan Discovery." The second took place on April 8th and lasting to the 18th and the third being completed on the dates April 18-28th.
Day 1 + 2: At sea Day 3: St Thomas de Castilla, Gutamala Day 4: At sea Day 5: Montego Bay, Jamaica Day 6: Grand Caymen Caymen Islands Day 7: Playa del Carmen, Mexico, 7 am - 9pm Day 7: Cozumel, Mexico( overnight) Day 8: Cozumel, Mexico Day 9: At sea Day 10: New Orleans, La (arriving at 9 am)
A "Caribbean Adventure" cruise began in New Orleans, LA at 5 pm on the 28th of April, cruising for the next two days. On the 1st of May, an arrival at Ocho Rios, Jamaica was a five and a half layover leaving just after Noon. The weekend was spent mostly in Aruba, arriving there at 8 pm on Saturday and leaving for the next port of Curacao at 1 am and arriving six hours later at said port. Monday, May 4th the ship spent overnight in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and leaving not long after midnight for her next port of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. This was the final port of call and on that Monday at 5 pm would depart, making her way towards Cape Canaveral, Florida- following a Northwest track and arriving two days later in the morning hours of Friday May 8th. Two Bermuda cruises were made in May, taking place on the 8th of May and repeated again on the 14th. The choice departure port was Port Canaveral, in fact the only known time she used this port during her long career was in the month of May, 1987. It was also an semi-unusual 1 pm departure time, steaming almost due east for Hamilton, Bermuda and spending three calendar days- on the 10-12th and again from the 16-18th. A westerly course was made to return to Cape Canaveral, Florida arriving there at 8 am on the 14th and 20th of May.
From June until August of 1987 a series of ten day round-trip voyages began and ended in New York City. The so called "Best of the Caribbean" was offered five times that year. The first two days was spent cruising south to the first destination- San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was overnight there until a St. Thomas arrival on Day 4, then it was onto Antigua, in the West Indies, then to the tiny outpost of France at St. Barts on Day 7 and finally St. Marteen rounded out the cruise before three relaxing days in Atlantic waters to return northbound back to New York.
It was on Tuesday June 2 that the first of these cruises started, and ending on the 12th. The second "Best of the Caribbean" began on that Friday June 12 and ended on the 22nd, and from that day until July 2 completed the third of the year. The fourth did not begin until July 18 on account of the Fourth of July "Holiday Cruise." By 8 am on the 28th, the fourth of these cruises ended and the last of these "Best of" cruises commenced on Sunday August 9th and concluded on August 19 in N.Y. Three round-trip "Holiday" cruises were planned in 1987, the first 4 day from New York taking place on May 22nd in honor of Memorial Day observation. It was each of these round-trip occasions from New York that the STELLA SOLARIS passed under the Verrazano-Narrows bridge sometime after 2 pm. The first day of the voyage was made steaming for Hamilton, Bermuda for an arrival by 8 am and leaving by the evening with another day at sea as the ship headed Northeast to return to her New York berth on the last day.
Following her Fourth of July cruise, the SOLARIS set sail on two very exciting and unique cruises, the first taking place on July 6th. This started what Sun Line called "most unusual itinerary"- the 12 day "Bermuda/Saguenay" cruise. It would be the first known occasions that the ship ventured North to the St Lawrence river, through the Saguenay Fjords, not to mention Quebec, Canada and Charlottetown at Prince Edward's Island, also in Canada. Like her two previous cruises, the ship left New York's Upper Bay by 2 in the afternoon and cruising to Halifax, Nova Scotia arriving there at 7 am on Day 2 and leaving later that night.
By Thursday morning at 6 am, she was in the locks of the Straight of Canso, completing the transition thru this area in a few hours. By the next day, the ship cruised south down the St Lawrence as passengers took in the natural beauty of the Saguenay Fjords for several hours on that Friday, beginning by the afternoon. The Cousteau Society was on board for what is written to be all three Bermuda/Saguenay cruises. This allowed passengers to learn the habits of the worlds largest mammals as they lay witness to several species of whales on their summer feeding grounds of the Atlantic and St Lawrence seaways. As explained by the issued Sun Lines literature, passengers will "also experience the deeply moving natural beauty of the Saguenay Fjords which is every bit as breathtaking as the fjords of Scandinavia. A southerly route was continued as Quebec became the next port of call lasting from 7 in the morning until that evening. On Sunday she cruised through and out the St Lawrence River in order to arrive at Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island by noon the next day. It was 8 pm that July 13th the she left for the locks of Straight of Canso the following day in the very early morning hours. Wednesday was spent cruising the North Atlantic as a Hamilton, Bermuda landfall was made at 8 am on Thursday. A course due west was made on Friday all day as July 18th arrival meant she was back at the port of New York.
The ship continued on two more Bermuda/Saguenay cruise commencing on Tuesday July 28. What differed here was a 2 pm departure at St. George's, Bermuda, the ship cruised to Hamilton, arriving on the 30t and spending ten hours in this Bermuda port. The next day, a course of due north was made as she entered the Straight of Canso, making her way through the locks by 6 pm on Saturday, August 1st. On Sunday she visited Charlottetown for eleven hours and cruising the St Lawrence River by the 3rd. An 8 am Quebec arrival was made on Day 7, leaving fourteen hours later. By sunrise, the ship arrived at the Saguenay Fjords and from there laid in a course the Straight of Canso by 1 pm. Halifax, Nova Scotia was seen on Day 10, preceded by getting through the locks of the Straight. Cruising at sea was made the following day and arriving on Sunday August 9th in the morning at the piers of New York completed the voyage. The same exact itinerary was followed on August on that Sunday leaving the same port at 2 in the afternoon, stopping along the way at the same ports for the same duration, and thus, completing the last of the 12 day Bermuda/Saguenay cruises.
Upon completion of this itinerary the ship set sail on a 4 day "Holiday Cruise" cruising north after a New York City departure at Noon towards Bar Harbor, Maine. It was a late afternoon arrival at 4 in the afternoon and the STELLA SOLARIS left this port an hour before midnight on Tuesday, the first of September. The second port was a unique opportunity for passengers to visit Saint John, New Brunswick for twelve hours on the next day, the only known time she would venture this location. The next day was at sea as the ship cruised south to return to the passenger terminal at New York. One final 4 day "Holiday Cruise," cruise was made, this time in observation of Labor Day. In the same fashion as the previous Holiday cruises the liner visited Hamilton, Bermuda at the same times, round-trip from New York, NY. The "Golden Foliage" cruises ushered in the last voyages of the year. The first of these 11 day voyages from New York City commenced on September 8th. Once leaving the Big Apple, it was from morning until noon on Day 1, that the ship anchored off Newport, Rhode Island the only known times the SOLARIS ever visited this American port. For the better part of the next day the ship was in Bar Harbor, Maine. Further north on Day 3 was the call at Halifax, Nova Scotia. Resuming the itinerary of the previously completed Saguenay cruises, she ship returned to the Straight of Canso, passing through the locks on the early hours of Day 5. Cruising the Saguenay Fjords was made the next day past noon. Day 6 and 7 the ship saw nearly equal time in the ports of Montreal and Quebec, Canada. The ship cruised back through the St. Lawrence River in order to arrive the following day at the last port of Sydney, Nova Scotia; a Maritime Province known for its mighty fortresses. From that port, a final day at sea was completed before arriving back alongside the skyline of Manhattan. The first of these cruises ended by 8.30 in the morning on September 19th. From that same day, commenced a second of these exact cruises, and completed eleven days later on September 30th. The third and final "Golden Foliage" cruise began on the date exactly where the second one left off and on October 11 arrived at the passenger ship terminal of the Hudson River. Sometime thereafter, the STELLA bid farewell to the port in which she had called home for a couple of years, never to return to those same America waters.
STELLA SOLARIS as seen tied up at Bridgetown, Barbados in 1993. Photo: Richard I. Weiss, CT Publishing
1993 Greek Islands,Turkey,Egypt & Israel yet another Best of the Mediterranean season"
It was this year that she followed nearly the same courses to visit the same exact ports under the same duration as seen in 1989, not to mention the year before that. The first 7 day cruise began on May 3rd and one of the highlights of the cruise was claimed to be Istanbul, where "east meets west" as seen on Day 2. It was here that the ship arrived while the rays of the sun illuminate Constantinople's skyline of minarets. Time was also had to visit the Blue Mosque the Topkapi museum and get a hold of treasures at the Grand Bazaar. There was also a chance to walk the ancient streets of Ephessos while at the port of Kusadasi on Thursdays' port of call and climb the Acropolis of Lindos on Rhodes the next day. The option to explore the labyrinthine Palace of Knossos on Crete while the STELLA was in the port of Heraklion on Saturday and visit the sacred island of Delos, birthplace of Apollo on Sunday morning. While in Santorini also on Day 5 passengers can ascend the cliffs of this port by cable car. On Sunday, the last port of Mykonos in Greece allows a relaxing day at the beach before nightfall.
Additional departure dates also included: May 10, 17, 24, and 31. In June it was the 14th, 21st and 28th. July also had three on the 12th, 19th and 26th. August had four cruises including on the 2nd, 9th, 16th and 30th. September also echoed four on the 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th. October wrapped it on three dates
on the 4th, 18th and 25th.
Four cruises to visit the wonders of the ancient world of Egypt and Israel along with some stops to the Greek Islands was the itinerary of the cruises beginning with the June 7th departure date. Exploring the medieval city of Rhodes, once occupied by the Knights of St. John who set off to conquer the holy land during the crusades was seen at the first port. A chance to marvel at the Great Pyramids was the choice thing while on the second port of the cruise in Alexandria, Egypt. The treasures of King Tutankhamen in the Cairo museum was offered while in Port Said the next day. Samos, Greece and Kusadasi, Turkey was of course the last two ports before cruising west back to to Piraeus.
Several 14 day cruises was offered, again combining the two 7 day voyages, thus completing the majority of 1993 voyages for that year.
1995 Sun Line & Epirotiki Line merger
With origins stretching far back as 1830, the Greek operators, Epirotiki Cruise Line founded by George Potamianos had shown success and popularity in the 1950s- much like its domestic rival the Sun Line was experiencing as tourism in Greece was becoming mainstream and developing headway. While the popular and fast rising Carnival Cruise Lines were adding larger and larger ships, Epirotiki was committed to smaller, more intimate size vessels (as Sun Line would also duplicate to a slightly different degree in their small fleet.) However, by the late 1980s and early 1990s, Epirotiki suffered many severe blows to their fleet which by then was operating twelve vessels. This included a passenger fatality on the NEPTUNE, the sinking of JUPITER after a collision in Piraeus with the death of two passengers, an explosion on the company flagship, the PEGASUS in Venice harbor, the sinking of OCEANOS off the coast of South Africa, and the ODYSSEUS (future SOLARIS fleet mate) taking on water while off Portugal.
Determined to strike back the company added two more vessels with larger passenger capacity but by then it was too late. With the precedence of consolidation taking a strong hold over the cruise industry not to mention the collapse of tourism in the area due to the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War, the company was struggling. By 1993, rumors were placing the idea that the company would join forces with Sun Line, but instead the company partnered with Carnival Cruise Lines, exchanging the CARNIVALE for use in Greek waters, for a 17 percent stack in the company as the initial phase of the deal that would partake. A year
later that changed to 43 percent and eventually 49 percent through more negotiations as well as a plan for a transfer of second ship. However, all bets were off between Carnival and Epirotiki as Greek cabotage rules set in, requiring that all ships under the Greek flag must be owned by Greek citizens and manned by Greek sailors. By August 1995, both Greek rivals agreed to merge its operations forming a new company- Royal Olympic Cruise Lines(ROC).
Initially, the joint venture maintained the two names with the "blue" ships of Sun Line and the "white" ships of Epirotiki with the former said to be oriented towards a more affluent, older and generally American passengers, and the later was geared more towards a younger and diversified customer base.
The 1995/1996 season began with a series of cruises starting with the 22 day "Exoctica West Transatlantic" cruise. On November 28, 1995 while in Piraeus, Greece she embarked for the ports of Civitavecchia, (Nice) Villefranche, Plama de Majorca, Gibraltar, Lisbon, Casablanca, and stopping at Madeira on December 11 before the six day transit across the Atlantic. The voyage continued to St. Thomas, San Juan, and finally Fort Lauderdale arriving around 8 am on December 22. An 11- day Christmas and New Year's cruise immediately followed departing Florida at 6 pm for Nassau, followed by two days at sea before arriving at the West Indies and the ports of St. Barts, St. Maarteen, Guadeloupe, Barbados, then leaving St. Croix on December 30th with two days at sea before her January 2, 1996 arrival in Fort Lauderdale. From which point, an 14 day "Amazon River Southbound Cruise" started with a scheduled departure of 4 pm bound for St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, as well as Soufriere, and Castries in the providence of St Lucia in the West Indies, as well as making final stops to Barbados, Grenada, Tobago before a two day transit to the Amazon River Entry in which she crossed the Equator and made visits to the Brazil ports of Curua-Una, Boca da Valerua, and arriving at Manaus on January 16th. Among the on board highlights of this voyage were the expert lectures that were designed to enrich the voyage to the Amazon, the most notable quest was Captain Loren McIntyre the explorer, author and photographer who made leaps and bounds by documenting the many plants, animals and people of the largely unseen area. Also on board for this January 2nd cruise was the 'Sail with the Stars' program that the Sun Line promoted as a celebration of theater at sea. Guests of honor included Sandy Duncan, Anne Jackson, Jean Stapleton, and Eli Wallach.
The Northbound 13 day "Amazon River Cruise" departed where the Southbound left off at Manaus, leaving that port on the 17th at 8 pm and stopping at Boca da Valerua, Santarem(Alter do Chao) in Brazil. STELLA SOLARIS crossed the equator once more and spent two days at sea before arriving at the ports of Trinidad, St. Vincent, and Antigua in the West Indies. Then it was off too San Juan with two more days at sea before arriving at Fort Lauderdale on January 29th. Lectures by Loren McIntyre and other experts in Amazon realm continued, as she repeated the voyage once more with the Southbound commencing on January 29 and ending in Manaus on February 12th. The final Northbound began the next day at 8 pm and arrived in Florida on the 25th February at 8 am. Passengers had the option of extending the voyage by three days as the ship made her way west to Galveston, Texas arriving there on the 28th of February on the final Northbound into what was a 16 day cruise.
As part of the "Grand Amazon Adventure Cruise", there was the option for her passengers to enjoy two of the above mentioned South and Northbound cruises and combine into one on the same dates listed above. Additionally, there was also the 30 day Grand Amazon Adventure Cruise that added the voyage to Galveston on the final Northbound cruise, which began when leaving Fort Lauderdale on February 25 around 5 pm and enjoying two more days at sea before her 8 am arrival in Texas.
On February 28th the ship departed Galveston, Texas for a 12-day Panama Canal cruise with two days in transit towards the port of Grand Caymen, with another day at sea and then onto Cristobal, before making her way thru the Panama canal on March 4. Once she was thru the Gatun Locks, first among planned visits was that of the San Blas Islands, then Port Limon, with one day at sea as she made stops at Cozumel, Mexico, then Playa del Carmen and finally arriving at Galveston on March 11th. A 7 day Western Caribbean Cruise was offered beginning on March 11 visiting Cozumel, Grand Caymen Key West and then back to Galveston with 24 hours at sea between her second and fourth ports of call.
1989 Greek Islands, Turkey, Egypt & Israel -another "best of the Mediterranean season"
With the ship sitting (or sailing) comfortable well into her normal schedule, cruises to enjoy magical entertainment, the best cuisine of the international variety and pleasurable moments on this five star stately ship continued in 1989. In fact, it was a repeat of the previous season with the breakdown as follows:
Monday Piraeus, Greece 7 am arriveSunday Mykonos, Greece 1.30 pm arrive 11 pm departSunday Delos, Greece 7 am arrive Noon depart*Saturday Santorini, Greece 4.30 arrive Midnight depart* Saturday Heraklion, Greece 7 am arrive Noon departFriday Rhodes, Greece 7 am arrive 8 pm departThursday Kusadasi, Turkey 2 pm arrive 9 pm departWednesday Istanbul, Turkey 7 am arrive 7 pm departTuesday Dikili, Greece 8 am arrive 1 pm departMonday Piraeus, Greece departing at 7 pm 7 day cruise Greece and Turkey Sailing dates April 24, May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5, 19, 26 July 10, 17, 24, 31 August 7, 21, 28 September 11, 18, 25 October 2, 9, 16, 23
*This port of call was with weather permitting7 day Greece, Egytp, Israel, Turkey
Departing Monday at 7 pm and back a week later at 7 amSailing dates June 12th, July 3rd, August 14th and September 4th
Day 1 Rhodes arrived @ 10 am departed @ 5pm Day 2 Alexandria arrived @ 2 pm departed @ 6pmDay 3 Port Said arrived @ 7 am departed @10pm Day 4 Ashdod arrived @ 7 am departed @ 8pm Day 5 Cruising Day 6 Samos arrived @ 7 am departed @ 11am Day 6 Kusadasi arrived @ 1pm departed @ 7pm Day 7 Piraeus, Greece
14- day cruises that year merged the two above voyages for the Greek Islands, Egypt, Israel, and Turkey, encompassing all of these ports: Dikili, Istanbul, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Heraklion, Santorini, Delos, Mykonos, Rhodes(2), Alexandria, Port Said, Ashdod, Samos and Kusadasi and cruising on Day 12. It was during this same year that the August 1989 issue of Cruise Travel featured the STELLA SOLARIS on the cover and following article boasted her as "Cruise Ships of the Month." It was a lovely five and half page spread, written by Brook Hill Snow. A few brochure images were included, not to mention a few striking overhead shots on the cover and the first two pages.
The STELLA SOLARIS set sail on a series of 7 day round trip cruises. With Piraeus as the departure port, the weekend was spent at Istanbul, Turkey. By Monday she docked in Mykonos, Greece, the next day at Kusadasi,(for Ephessos) Turkey and with weather permitting also made a stop at Patmos. Rhodes was the
Wednesday port and Heraklion the next and, again weather permitting, at Santorini. Friday she would be back in her home port. 25 of these cruises were performed from May until October. In April of that years she did a slight deviation and sailed on a four day cruise visiting just the ports of Patmos, Kusadasi, Istandbul and Mykonos. The August 9th cruise saw a two segment option that allowed for a 14 day round trip from the port of Athens. The itinerary saw the ports of calls mentioned in the 7 day voyages, but there was also Santorini, Heraklion(for Crete) a day at sea on Sunday and onwards to Port Said and Ashdod. On Wednesday it was a day at sea and then Kusadasi with the option to visit Patmos if weather permitted.
Winter 1996/ 1997 Christmas/New Years Cruise
Royal Olympic Cruises rounded out the year 1996 with a 12-day Christmas/New Years voyage, initiating at the port of Miami, Florida on the 21st of December at 6 pm. The next day, Sunday, the ship was in Nassau from morning until Noon and Monday was spent traveling the seas towards Puerto Rico. The second port of San Juan was an arrival by 1 pm and setting sail by 8, spending another sea day before being welcomed by the port of Curacao for almost a twelve hour visit. The subsequent port of calls included a Friday arrival at La Guaria in Venezuela, Trinidad in the West Indies on Saturday, and Sunday was shared between the ports of Soufriere in St. Lucia for on hour and Castries in the afternoon. Monday was a day spent at St Thomas from around two in the afternoon until the evening. New Years Eve and the first day of 1997 were among the two days spent traveling the ocean before arriving back at Fort Lauderdale on January 2nd.
Immediately following this, the ship embarked on two 14 day Amazon River Southbound cruises as well as two Amazon River Northbound cruises. The first taking place on the 2nd of January and leaving port at 4 pm. The first two days were cruising days, heading south towards and returning to the port of St Thomas. Requiring a 2pm departure allowed for a Soufriere and Castries in the West Indies arrival, with the former arriving at Noon and the later arriving a few hours later at 3pm until midnight. What came after was a call at Barbados on Day 5, Grenada on Day 6 and Tobago completed the West Indies ports on Day 7. The following two days were spent at sea and the Amazon River entry made at the very early hours of January 12 (and February 8th) and the equator crossing was made an hour before noon on the same day. A Cuca-Una, Brazil landfall was made on Day 10, and the port of Boca da Valeria followed on the next day. Manaus, in Brazil was the final port arriving on January 15th (& February 11) by morning, and disembarkation procedures were completed the next day.
1997 Amazon River Cruises (Northbound and Southbound)
This 1,000 mile journey that would encompass along the Amazon River began again on a Northbound 12 -day cruise taking place on the 17th of January (& February 13th) at 8 pm with embarkation actually taking place the day before ( thus allowing for a total of 13 days.) Boca da Valeria was seen in on Day 1, and embarkation was made on tenders as passengers enjoyed the native Amazon culture of a typical nearby Cabocio village. Santarem (for Alter do Chao) was seen from 7 am 0 6 pm the next day. Adding to the interest and magnificence of the adventure, passengers were given the chance to attend some enrichment lectures by Captain Loren McIntyre, by then the National Geographic Society's chief consultant on South America. On day 3 the ship crossed the equator and made an Amazon River exit (at 1 in the afternoon and 8pm respectively) on January 16th (& February 16th) Day 4 and 5 was spent at sea on a course north for Trinidad, staying at this West Indies port for ten hours before an morning arrival at Bequia on the first half of Day 7. On the same day the port of St Vincent was visited for the duration of the afternoon. The Antigua welcome at six hours made the last West Indies port as San Juan, Puerto Rico was the port of call on Day 9. Two days of ocean travel north to return to Fort Lauderdale at 8 am on the 29th of January (& February 25th) completed this voyage. For those staying on board to take advantage of another two days of sea time would leave the same day to arrive at Galveston, Texas for the second of the Northbound cruise during this year.
1997 Grand Amazon Adventure Cruises
A unique opportunity offered that year was a chance to combine the Northbound and Southbound cruises, and therefore take in 2,000 miles and nine days of Amazon River cruising. The first Grand Amazon Adventure joined the January 2nd to 16th cruise with the 16th -29th voyage, and allowed for a visit of nine different Caribbean islands. The second was actually a 30 day cruise as it combined the 29th to February 12th Southbound with the February 12th -28th Northbound and also encompassed the three calendar days as the ship landed at Galveston, Texas. It was only during the Grand Amazon Adventure (and for an extra $375 dollars per person) that a very exciting shore excursion was planned for the Amazon rain forest. Quests could spend an overnight in the actual rain forest at an authentic jungle lodge amidst the tree tops, surely a rare opportunity. An alligator "hunt" was also planned after the lodge experience and by the next morning a view of birds and butterflies of this mighty rain forest for those who could rise early enough to see some rare species. A final hike back to the ship and all, meant for space on this excursion was strictly
1997 Panama Canal Cruises
Starting on February 28th a 12-day round-trip cruise combined the visits to Caribbean and Latin America, the transition through the Panama Canal and the Maya ruins of the Yucatan Peninsula into what was planning to be one exciting year in itineraries. Two of these same exact voyages were completed in 1997. Here is the breakdown:
Friday Feb 28 Monday March 3 Galveston, Texas 5 pm
Sat. March 1 Tuesday April 1 At sea
Sun. March 2 Wed. April 2 At sea
Mon. March 3 Thur. April 3 Grand Caymen, Caymen Islands(April) 7 am 3 pm
Montego Bay Jamaica ( March ) 2 pm 7 pm
Tue. March 4 Fri. April 4 At sea
7 am Cristobal, Panama Sat. April 5 Wed. March 5 2 pm
Panama Canal Gatun Locks 2 pm 10 pm
Thu. March 6 Sun. April 6 San Blas Islands 7 am 1 pm
Fri. March 7Mon. April 7 Port Limon, Costa Rica 7 am 6 pm
Sat. March 8 Tue. April 8 At sea
Sun March 9 Wed. April 9 Cozumel, Mexico2 pm overnight
Mon March 10 Thu. April 10 Cozumel, Mexico5 am
Playa del Carmen, 7 am 1 pm
Tue. March 11 Fri. April 11 At sea
Wed. March 12Sat April 12 Galveston, Texas9 am
1997 Maya Equinox, Temples & Monuments Cruise
A return to the celebrate the Maya Equinox for the cruise beginning on March 12th 1997 repeated a similar made nearly a year before. The difference here laid primarily in that this was a 12- day cruise, with more options to tour Mayan places like Tikal, Copan, Altun Ha, Tulum, Guirigua, and San Gervasio. Additional guest lectures as well as renowned historians and astronomers were also booked for the cruise. Those planned to attend included Dr. Anthony Aveni, George T. Keene, Dr. Edwin C Krupp, Dr. Mary Ellen Miller, Dr. Rebecca Storey, Dr. Barbara and Dr. Dennis Tedlock, Dr. Randolph J Widmer and Dr. Warren Young. The round trip voyage began and ended on Galveston, Texas, casting the lines and the pilot sometime after 5 pm for two days at sea. Arriving at March 15 at 8 in the morning, the ship was greeted by Grand Caymen in the Caymen Islands and passengers tendered to the shore. Another ocean day followed as Puerto Cortes in Honduras was seen 48 hours after arriving at the first port of call. Here, a day trip was planned for the Mayan ruin city of Copan- said to be the fairest of all Maya sites for its heroic sculpture. By midnight on Monday March 17th, the ship departed for Santa Tomas de Castilla in Guatamala and remained there for fifteen hours. The excurions to Tikal or Quirigua were seen here. The Bay Islands, an archipelago found thirty miles off the coast of Honduras and the largest of the Bay Islands, Isla de Roatan was the port of call on the 19th. Tendering to this incredibly picturesque and unpolluted port was a treat for all as this is part of the worlds second largest barrier reef system, offering some of the most superb diving and snorkeling in the world. Belize City in Belize on the 20th, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, both in Mexico on the 21st and 22nd made for the last ports as a sea day was made for the arrival back to Texas at 9 am.
1997 Western Caribbean Cruise
A 7 day round-trip from Galveston immediately followed the 12-day discussed above. Passengers embarked and the ship disembarked Texas at 4 in the afternoon on March 24. Nothing but ocean was seen for the next day as a brief hour and half tendering at Playa del Carmen was the day activity on Wednesday the 26, with a 1.30 arrival at Cozumel and 4 pm departure completed the first two ports in Mexico. Grand Caymen and tendering by boats in the Caymen Islands was planned from 3- 8pm on Day 3. An arc line voyage Northbound to Key West was made as the ship swung around Cuba arriving in Florida at 7 in the morning on Saturday the 29th. During lunchtime the ship left for the ocean travel back to Galveston as Easter was spent at sea.
1997 Primavera 97 Transatlantic Cruise
With the year already filled with exciting ports of call, the STELLA SOLARIS would make a eastbound Transatlantic crossing to return to her home in the Greek Islands. But stopping along the way to visit the countries Portugal, Spain, France and Italy is was what really made this voyage perhaps the highlight of the year. The Primavera cruise of 1997 began on April 12th and ended on May 5 in Piraeus. Here is the breakdown- from her departure port of Galveston, Texas- day by day on this 20 day cruise (with 2 nights in Athens to make a total of 23 days )
The 2000 introduction of the mono-hull and unusually fast 27 knot speed of ROCs OLYMPIC VOYAGER came as a surprise to the traditional nature of the Greek firm to acquire older ships and upgrade them. Surely, the company was banking on new bookings as the cruise industry was more and more turning to non-traditional and boxier design in cruise ship new builds. This became more evident in 2001 as the company took delivery of the sistership, OLYMPIC EXPLORER, later joining the fleet after the line requested technical changes made. By this time, the tragic events of September 11th soon created a state of stagnation for the business of cruising and tourism essentially came to a virtual standstill. By 2002, both the STELLA's were laid up, pending a decision on their futures.
In the months following the September 11 terrorist attacks, dismal economic conditions, rising fuel and steal prices as well as the over-production of modern cruise ships sent many historic and veteran liners heading towards the breakers. The scrap yard (or beach in this case) capable of handling the hazardous nature of ship breaking by then was a shanty beach town called Alang, India whom by then was handling ships of all shapes and sizes. ROC would soon took advantage of the scrap value that could be had for laid up ships and in order to survive in economically troubling times and manage the operations of the two newer vessels, Royal Olympic Cruises sold off the laid up STELLA OCEANIS, APOLLON ( ex-EMPRESS OF CANADA -see MARDI GRAS section) as well as the beloved STELLA SOLARIS. With anchors returned to their housing, both STELLA's made preparations for departing Eleusis Bay on November 12, 2003. The ship was renamed S SOLAR sometime before her final voyage to the graveyard of Alang. Almost a month later on December 11, the former STELLA SOLARIS arrived on the shores of the beach to be broken up and turned into a memory, piece by piece.
The STELLA SOLARIS tied up in San Juan in December of 1999. Photo: Andy Kilk Copyright 1999
The same liner at anchor off Villefranche in December 1999. Photo: Andy Kilk Copyright 1999
The STELLA SOLARIS in Piraeus, Greece with fleetmate OLYMPIC (ex-CARNIVALE) in June 1996. Photo: Rob O'Brien Copyright 1996
Another image of the two classic liners together in Greece. Notice the both liners and their wonderful profiles. Photo: Rob O'Brien Copyright 1996
A image of the ship in drydock. Notice her stern markings are in the language of her native country. Sun Line
A splendid shot of her stern, and once again in the area of the Panama Canal. Sun Line
Tiered after decks and deck sheer, all elements in "real" ship design in this profile image. Sun Line
The Sun Line "blue" ship as seen to the right, into the newly formed Royal Olympic Cruise Line. Rob O'Brien collection
2001-2003 Final Seasons & Laid up
1998 Greek Islands, and the Mediterranean " The Classic Cruise Experience"
On July 20th and August 10th the ship set sail on two 7 day "Holy Land" cruises leaving Piraeus by 7 pm on the corresponding Mondays and arriving at Kos, Greece to tender her passengers by 8 am. Just after high noon she was making her way for Antalya, Turkey by 1pm with an early morning arrival on that port of call on Wednesday. By 5 pm she was bound for Haifa, Israel, with a duration at this port for 10 hours. By Friday the SOLARIS was in Ashdod ( for Jerusalem, Israel ) for a total of 12 hours. The weekend saw the two ports of Limassol, Cyprus and Santorini, Greece if weather cooporated, with the later anchoring sometime by 2.30 pm until 7 pm. By 7 am the next day she had returned to Greece to offload her passengers.
On July 13th and August 4 the STELLA SOLARIS was engaged in two 7 day "Black Sea Adventures", leaving the same port at the same time as the above mentioned "Holy Land" cruises this time arriving at the first port of Mytilini (for Lesbos), Greece at 8 am and weighing anchor by 4 pm on Tuesday. The next day, and at the same arrival as before, found the ship in Istanbul, Turkey until midnight. The third port was Nessebur, Bulgaria tendering the first batch of passengers sometime after 9.30 am and bringing in the last sometime by 2.30. On Friday at 9 am the ship was seen in Odessa, Ukraine from nearly the same time as her previous port and leaving by 6 pm. Saturday and Sunday the ship was visiting Yalta, also in the Ukraine and cruising ( but not stopping ) near Bosporus until her usual 7 am arrival in Piraeus on Monday.
A total of twenty three 7 day Mediterranean Odyssey cruises were offered leaving her home port on Mondays at 7 pm and returning by seven in the morning a week later. The dates were as follows:
May: 4, 11, 18, 25
June: 1, 8, 18, 25
July: 6, 27
August: 17, 24, 31
September: 7, 14, 21, 28
October: 5, 12, 19, 26
The first port of call was Heraklion, Greece, docking there at 7 am and just a few hours later would navigate towards her favorite anchor port of Santorini, Greece- only if the weather permitted of course and tendering the last of the passengers by 4 pm. Wednesday the liner was in Rhodes, Greece by the same time as her previous port, leaving there by 6 pm. Again, if the weather permitted Thursday saw Patmos, Greece for almost four hours and it was then on to Kusadasi, Turkey making landfall by 2.30 in the afternoon and leaving three hours before midnight. By day four she was cruising the Dardaneels from 11.30 until just after high noon where Canakkale (for Troy) was seen until 6 in the evening. On Saturday the port of Istanbul, Turkey saw nearly a twelve hour lay over before making way for her last port of call of Mykonos on Day 6. An hour before midnight, the ship disembarked Mykonos, Greece for the return back to Piraeus.
In July and August of 1998 three 14 day cruises were offered, the first being the "Ancient Wonders" in which the "Mediterranean Odyssey" and "Black Sea Adventure" were respectively combined into one voyage, allowing passengers to stay on the ship once she returned from the 7 day "Mediterranean Odyssey" cruise. This 14 day cruise was offered twice in 1998, both in July, on the 6th and the 27th. The second choice among the printed brochures was a 14 day cruise so called the "Treasures of Antiquity" in which the "Black Sea Adventure" and the "Holy Land" itineraries were combined to form one on the dates of July 13th and again in August on the 3rd. Thus allowing future passengers the "chance to see the riches and relics of Jerusalem, Nazareth and Galilee." A 14 day "Cradle of Civilization" cruises was offered up on the 20th of July and again on the 10th of August. This particular cruise joined forces of the 7 day "Holy Land" with the 7 day "Mediterranean Odyssey." A special offer was made for those wishing to sail 21 days on the STELLA SOLARIS the aptly named "Voyage of Discovery" wrapped up the extended cruises offered in 1998. The dates included July 6, 13, 20 and 27 as well as August 3rd. The "Voyage of Discovery" essentially paired up the 14 day "Ancient Wonders" and the 7 day "Holy Land" itinerary to from the mother of all voyages during that year.
As the cabotage rules would cease by 1999, so did the beginning of the end for R.O.C, as the company could plan for public offering to prepare for these rule changes. Additionally this meant that capital could be raised,. Nearly $98 million in fact by 1998, which allowed them to order for the first time two new build cruise ships from Germany's Blohm and Voss shipyards. They would become the OLYMPIC VOYAGER and the later planned sister, OLYMPIC EXPLORER.
Rough seas ahead would cause much headache for R.O.C. as the war in nearby Kosovo created a collapse in the Greek tourism market. Stocks had deteriorated and as a result, another cruise operator took interest in the form of the Cyprus-based Louis Cruise Line. Sometime at the end of 1999 Louis Cruise Line bought the majority(70% in fact) of the shares of the Royal Olympic Cruise Line, which already had eight cruise ships in their fleet.
Winter 1998/1999 Exotic South America, Maya Equinox, Panama Canal
"The Fine Art of Cruise Adventure"
The SOLARIS wrapped up 1998 as she set sail for a 14 day Amazon Caribbean cruise southbound to Brazil. Departing Fort Lauderdale at 4 pm on Sunday December 21 she would spend the next two days at sea until an 8 am arrival on Day 3 at St Thomas in the U.S.V.I. (United States Virgin Islands) which lasted until about 2 in the afternoon. From which point she arrived the next day at Soufriere in St Lucia in the (W.I.) West Indies by lunchtime and leaving an hour later for a 3 pm Castries arrival, also in the W.I., until midnight. Barbados was the next of three W.I. visits from 9 am until midnight on Day 5, and by Day 6 Grenada welcomed the ship until Day 7 when the classic liner anchored for the port of Tabago on Day 7. Nearly 48 hours of sea time followed as the ship steamed southeast making an Amazon River Entry by 3 am on new years eve day.Just before noon on that same day the liner was crossing the Equator and on the first day of 1999 had arrived at Curua-Una, Brazil by 8 in the morning and would leave by 5 pm that night. Boca da Valeria was the port of call on Day 12, briefly visiting until just after noon. The next day, the Brazilian port of Manaus finished the itinerary as it allowed passengers who booked this cruise to stay overnight on the ship until disembarkation preceded the next day.
This cruise was repeated again on January 17 of 1999 and ending on the 31st of that same month following the same exact times and ports. In both cases and indeed on most Amazon cruises passengers had the opportunity to attend lectures by Captain Loren McIntyre discoverer of the Amazons source. Not to mention cross the Equator and sail almost 1,000 miles along the Amazon River.
Immediately afterward these two cruises were completed, its two Northbound counterparts began, a 13 day Amazon Caribbean cruise, with the option to extend the voyage to 16 days as the ship made her way towards Texas in March of 1999. It was at 8 pm on 4th of January (and March 1st) that the ship left Brazil bound for Boca da Valeria, arriving there at 2 pm and casting off four hours later for Santaren in Brazil. She arrived at this port for Alter do Chao at 7 am and would leave eleven hours later. On the 9th of January and March 4th would cross the Equator by 1 in the afternoon and existing the Amazon River later than evening. On Day 5 and 6 the ship was traveling north in the Atlantic towards her next port of call of Trinidad, the first of four planned ports in the W.I.s The Trinidad port was seen from 9 am until 7 pm where Bequia and St Vincent were the next two ports, with the former being a anchor port for a few hours until an hour before noon. Antigua was seen on Jan 13(& March 9) for nearly six hours before arriving at St Thomas the next day at 9 am. By 6 pm the ship was leaving for Day 11 and Day 12 sea travels towards Florida, arriving at Fort Lauderdale by 8 in the morning on Jan 17th (and March 13th.) An additional two days was spent at sea for those who extended their cruise to sixteen days on March 14th and 15th, arriving at Galveston, Texas the next day by morning.
For those wishing to make the SOLARIS their home for almost a month, ROC offered a 27-day "Grand Amazon Adventure" therefore combining the North and Southbound voyage for a round trip cruise from Fort Lauderdale. Essentially, crossing the Equator twice and taking, lectures, nine Caribbean islands and 2,000 miles of Amazon River cruising.
In between that Northbound Amazon Caribbean in March were two itineraries including a 15 day Amazon Carnival Southbound and a 13-day Amazon Carnival Northbound, visiting a few new ports along the way. The 15-day cruise began on February 1st departing Manaus, Brazil at 8 pm and sailing towards Boca da Valeria where she tendered passengers from 2 in the afternoon until 6 in the evening. By Wednesday the 3rd she was at Santaren also in Brazil for almost the entire day from 7 am until 6 in the evening. By the next day she crossed the Equator just after Noon and made the exit from the Amazon River. Friday through Sunday were all sea travel days until a Monday arrival at Recife, Brazil from 8 in the morning until midnight. Next day was also traveling in Atlantic waters where she arrived on the 10th at Salvador da Bahia, Brazil staying for twelve hours once arriving there at 8 am. The 11th and 12th was again treks at sea where a Santos, Brazil landfall was made by 7 am. It was by 6 pm that the ship left for a Sunday 8 am arrival at exciting Rio de Janeiro. Passengers stayed overnight until Monday as that port concluded the cruise.
The 13 day Northbound segment departed where the last cruise left off, actually allowing newly arrived passengers to stay on-board overnight at Rio de Janeiro from the 15th embarkation and setting sail the next day at 5 pm. Wednesday the 17th the ship was in Vitoria, Brazil from noon until 8.30 in the evening. The next was sea time as she arrived at Salvadoe da Bahia was made on the 19th by 8 am and leaving for the next port of Recife by 2 pm. Arriving at that port was completed by 4 pm on Saturday. By midnight, the SOLARIS spent the next 48 hours at sea arriving at the Amazon River entry at midnight on Tuesday. Crossing the Equator and its ritual was made by 1 pm the next day. By Thursday the 25th, Curua-Una welcomed the ship at 8 am, and leaving nine hours later. According to the literature, the line for this port only allowed passengers with shore excursions to disembark. The next two ports of Boca da Valeria and Manaus, Brazil were both 8 am arrivals with the former being a five hour stay and the latter finishing the cruise as an overnight stay until passengers walked the gangway on the 28th of February at an undisclosed time.
A 29 Day "Grand South America Southbound" cruise was offered covering nearly 7,000 miles from North America through the Caribbean. It combined the 14 Day "Amazon Caribbean Southbound" with the 15 day "Amazon Carnival Southbound" mentioned above. It covered many things included; crossing the Equator, nine days and 2,000 miles of Amazon River cruising, overnight in Rio de Janeiro, Grandstand seats for the Carnival Parade, and optional Jungle Lodge Adventure- a shore excursion which involved going into the rain forest (and living on a lodge built atop the treetops) as well as an alligator "hunt" and various hikes. It was considered by the brochure to be an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime voyage. In conclusion it departed Florida on the 17th of January and covered that cruise already mentioned and tied up at Rio de Janeiro on Valentines Day and passengers were off the ship the next day.
A second 29- day cruise was also offered as the counterpart to the Southbound- and not surprising- exactly where the Southbound left off. The "Grand South America Northbound" essentially took the 13 day "Amazon Carnival Northbound" that began on the 15th of February and ended until the last day of the month on the 28th and joined it with the 16 day "Amazon Caribbean Northbound" that departed Manaus, Brazil on the first of March 1 and concluded on the 16th of March at Galveston, Texas. Since it was technically a 26 day cruise that concluded at Fort Lauderdale and offered three extra days to cruise west to Galveston, it was not touted as exciting, but equaled its counterpart in longevity in miles traveled and bullet points in what was offered. The Southbound actually spent a couple of more full days at sea, however, with a total of 10 compared to the 8 of the Northbound.
Please note: Data is not guaranteed. The dates and ports here were complied from various brochures and do not reflect actual transpired times, dates and port of calls as they were subject to change due to unforseen conditions, such as: weather, mechanical issues and political stability in the regions.
A proud photo of the vessel as she glistens while anchored at Bermuda in 1987. Photo: Andy Kilk Copyright 1987
At New York, the STELLA SOLARIS as seen in November 1986. Rob O'Brien collection
1997 7-day Greek Islands and Turkey Cruise -Extension
Absent from her home waters for the past year, the STELLA SOLARIS was back to the more familiar ports of the Greek Islands and Turkey starting on May 5. This 7 day cruise was in lieu of the 2 nights in Athens, a post cruise option that extended the previous 27 days for a deluxe hotel stay in the capital of Greece. The cruise began on a Monday with the sailing from Piraeus at 7 pm and arriving at Heraklion for Tuesday morning and Santorini in the afternoon, if weather permitted. Then it was on to Rhodes on Wednesday, Patmas (weather inherit) and Kusadasi in Turkey on Thursday. Dikili for Pergamum on Friday and Istanbul and Mykonos on the weekend with a Monday on May 12th on her return to home port.
The uncomprising loyality that was given by her crew- the lifeblood of any ship- was reflected in the service given to the passengers who would, time and time again, book passage in gracious numbers. With renowned art and decor, fine cuisine that is largely unmatched, and crew "family oriented" hospitality that is difficult to duplicate, it is not surprising that the charm of this vessel is still remembered and often the topic of conversation, even today. While the STELLA SOLARIS is no longer with us, she still remains one of the most beloved and magnificent cruise liners that will forever live on in our hearts and minds.
Anchored at Eleusis and under the new name- S SOLAR the once glorious STELLA SOLARIS is about to make her final journey. From the collection of Philippe Ramona.
The stern of the 'S SOLAR'. Notice the R.O.C. markings are still on the funnel and superstructure. To her starboard side with visible prow is the FORTUNE. She arrived there in 1995 and is currently being converted to the super yacht, CZAR ( a fantail shot of this ship can also be seen in the above image.)
At Santorini tendering her passengers in the Summer of 1998. Photo Copyright: Capt. Benoit Donne
The third variety was a "Black Sea" 7 day cruise, navigating the first day at sea on Tuesday and arriving at Constanta, Romania by 8 in the morning on Day 2. A 7 pm departure was necessary to make way for Odessa, Russia the next day, arriving their twelve hours later. On Day 4, Yalta Russia was a seven hour stay, leaving by 4pm and cruising on Saturday. The last port was Volos, Greece as passengers enjoyed Meteora from 8 am until 7 pm. 24 hours later the ship was disembarking her passengers. 16 cruises under the "Greek Islands and Turkey" were completed in 1988; three in May, June and October. Two in July, August and September. 9 voyages under the "Greek Islands, Egypt, Israel and Turkey" round-trips, two in May, July and September as well as one taking place in the months of June, August and October. Two of the "Black Sea" cruises were seen in August. As in each and every case, the cruises started on a Monday. Three different types of 14 day cruises was seen during this year as well. "Greek Islands, Egypt, Israel and Turkey" combined the first two aforementioned 7 day cruises, beginning in April and ending in October, for a total of 16 altogether. In August, two 14 day cruises featuring the "Greek Islands, Turkey, and Black Sea" had been offered combining the 7 days of Greece and Turkey with the "Black Sea" itinerary. The final and third Mediterranean voyages merged the 7 days of the "Black Sea" and its Romania and Russia stops with the seven days that made calls in Greece, Egypt, Israel and Turkey - the second variety cruise mentioned above. The "grand Mediterranean odyssey" was a 21 day cruise aboard our five star ship. Encompassing the ports of Diliki, Kusadasi, Pergamum and Ephessos and Istanbul. Then calling at the Greek Islands of Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Delos, Mykonos, Samos and Volos- the port of Meteora. Alexandria, and Port Said in Egypt, and the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem while in Ashdod. And lastly the Romanian ports of Constanta as well as Odessa and Yalta in Russia. Essentially, what was offered here (both in July and August) was a chance to sail the ship on all 7 day cruise itineraries already mentioned.
Sometime during this year, the SOLARIS returned to the home waters of the Mediterranean and her registered port in Greece to rejoin fleet-mates STELLA OCEANIS and STELLA MARIS. On Monday, April 25 she would once again settle into the itinerary that she was most accustomed with before her displacement to the New York market. This was the first of the offered 7 and 14 day cruises, departing Piraeus at 7 pm and taking on the pilot for Dikili, Turkey at 8 am on the next day. The Turkish ports of Istanbul, and Kusadasi followed next, with the former calling for 12 hours on Day 2 and the later for seven hours after a 2 pm arrival. Rhodes, Greece from 7am to 8 pm was seen on Friday. Heraklion was a brief stay on Day 5, leaving by noon. If weather was cooperating, the ship made a Santorini call sometime around 4 pm and weighed anchor by midnight. The same could be said of Delos, Greece on Sunday, as it too was a brief stay until lunchtime. Otherwise, Mykonos, Greece was the last port staying until 11 in the evening. As in all cruises, the ship returned to her home port at 7 am. This was part of the "Greek Islands & Turkey" 7 day cruise, the second variety that year also took a wider scope and included Egypt and Israel. As in every single cruise in 1988, it was a Monday departure at 7 in the evening, with Rhodes to the east being the first port of call in this seven day cruise. Alexandria, Egypt was seen briefly on Day 2 allowing all to visit the Great Pyramids all in the four hours the ship called here. Port Said was seen on Thursday, and it was much longer- from 7 in the am until 10 that night- thus allowing a chance to see more of Cairo. Ashdod, Israel was the port on Day 4, and nearly the same duration at the pier was seen as Port Said. By that Friday evening, the ship cruised until a Sunday arrival at Samos, Greece arriving at the same time as the Ashdod port and departing just before noon. Kusadasi, Turkey was seen an hour later on the last day. By 7 pm she set sail from this port and 12 hours later was back in Piraeus.
1988 Summer time in the Mediterranean: Greek Islands- Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Black Sea
The STELLA SOLARIS at New York preparing to sale for Bermuda as seen in May of 1987. Photo: Theodore W. Scull