SWEDISH AMERICAN LINE
Under SAL flag:
John Brown & Co Ltd.
Sea Princess, Victoria,
Mona Lisa, Oceanic II
26677 / 27670 (refit 79)
713 / 750 / 840
Scrapped 2015 (Alang)
The Kungsholm III and Gripsholm II continued the combined cruises and liner voyages until 1965 when the Kungsholm III was sold to Norddeutscher Lloyd and renamed Europa. The Gripsholm II remained a lone SAL-ship on the traditional Göteborg-New York route since the smaller 1948-built Stockholm IV had been sold in 1960. Operating only one ship was unimaginable for SAL, and they already had a new ship on the drawing boards.
The new ship would have a gross tonnage of somewhere in-between 26,000 and 27,000 – meaning it would be the largest ship ever operated by SAL. Back in 1940, they had had a 30,000-ton liner completed, named Stockholm, but she was sold to the Italians before deliverance to SAL because of the war, and was therefore never used by the Swedes.
The contract of building the new ship was given to the famous shipyard John Brown & Company in Scotland. On April 14, 1965, the new ship was launched and christened Kungsholm by Mrs. Annabella Broström. At the time of the launch it was evident that the Kungsholm would follow the exterior trend set by her earlier fleet mates. She would sport a white hull and two, ‘France-like’, funnels. The inside of the ship would be the most luxurious ever on a SAL-ship. The point where the Kungsholm would differ from older SAL-liners, was that she would be used almost exclusively for cruising with only little time of the year dedicated to the trans-Atlantic trade. On a trans-Atlantic crossing she would be able to carry 108 Cabin Class passengers and 605 in Tourist Class. On a cruise the entire compliment was down to a mere 405.
The Kungsholm was powered by two nine-cylinder Götaverken Diesels, capable of giving the 26,678-ton ship a service speed of 21 knots – the fastest ship in the Swedish American Line’s history. However, on the first sea trials, which occurred on November 19, 1965, the Kungsholm reached the very impressive speed of 25 knots.
On March 17, 1966, the Kungsholm’s fitting out was completed and she was delivered to the Swedish American Line. Three days later she arrived at Göteborg harbour where cheering crowds and waterborne vessels heartily welcomed her. The breathtaking elegance of the Kungsholm was now evident to everyone. The two funnels were stepped, with the first one being slightly higher than the second. In order to take away some wind resistance, both funnels had a small wing on the backsides, soon giving them the nickname ‘firemen’s hats’. Fortunately, these wings were very discrete – SAL did not want to end up doing the mistake the French Line had done with the France’s funnels. The whole Kungsholm had been given generous curves and the stern was considered by many as the most beautiful on the seas for many years. Its shape was close to the fantastic Normandie’s with the infalling superstructure over the hull. The Kungsholm was surely a white beauty of the seas, and would become known as ‘the vessel of the ages’. On April 22, 1966, the new ship started her maiden voyage in Göteborg. The destination was New York.
Text courtesy of www.thegreatoceanliners.com / Pictures courtesy of Tommy Stark and own collection.
The fabulous interiors were of an entirely new breed for the Swedish American Line. The 300-seat auditorium had been moved up to the Veranda Deck where all the public areas were. The largest of the eighteen group facilities was the main lounge or the ‘Stora Salongen’. The room was an impressive 570 square metres and could accommodate 400 people.
Just as on the Gripsholm of 1957, the ship’s two classes – Cabin and Tourist – were merged into one on cruises. The aft smoking room, which belonged to the Tourist class on an Atlantic crossing, had a splendid view out over the large aft deck. The room was decorated with a maritime tapestry composed by Marianne Richter of the House of Märta Måås-Fjetterström.
The famous Intarsia wall ”Gestalter och byggnadsverk i Sveriges historia” by Rudolf Persson situated aboard the Kungsholm III was transfered aboard the Kungsholm IV as she was ready for delivery.
The entire spacious swimming pool was lined in mosaics, shimmering of fantastic colours. Carl Harry Stålhane of the Rörstrand company had done the setting. If you cared to take a more private bath, you probably did not have to rent the entire swimming pool, since more than 90 per cent of the staterooms on board had bathtubs. The rest were equipped with showers. Burglar alarms were another feature that every cabin held.
The ship also had a grand outdoor swimming pool on the Lido Deck. This was the natural gathering space for the cruise passengers. Obviously, the pool was less used on the more chilly Atlantic crossings.
During the fabulous world cruises the Kungsholm did later in life, the main lounge was used for enormous smörgåsbord-parties. The room was certainly suited for such a large event, with its ceiling, overlaid with 24-carat gold. At the end of the room, the artwork ‘Midnight Sun’ decorated the room.
The Kungsholm led a very charming life in the fleet of the Swedish American Line together with the 1957-built Gripsholm until 1975. For some reasons, the main office in Göteborg then expected heavy losses within short and wanted to shut down SAL’s passenger business. The American branch protested and showed evidence that both Kungsholm and Gripsholm were, and would continue to be, highly profitable. But, as if it was God’s decision, the head office did not reconsider, and the Swedish American Line was dissolved during the latter half of 1975. The Gripsholm was sold to the Greek Karageorgis Lines and was renamed Navarino. The Kungsholm went to the Norwegian-owned Flagship Cruises under shipowners Per Lorentzen and Øivind Lorentzen. The price was given at 65 million Swedish Kronor – certainly a real bargain for Flagship Cruises. The Swedish American Line had paid circa 130 million kr for the ship in 1966, the ship was only 9 years old!
Flagship Cruises continued to operate the Kungsholm, bearing her original name and colours, until 1978 when they sold her to the famous P&O Line. They transferred the ship to British flag, and on September 4, 1978 the vessel arrived at Vegesack, Germany for refitting by Bremer Vulcan. On January 15 the following year, the ship was renamed Sea Princess. A month later, on February 16, she made her maiden cruise for P&O with a gross tonnage of 27,670. The voyage went between Hong Kong and Sydney.
The refit P&O did to the former Kungsholm was by many considered as incredibly boneheaded. In order to ‘modernise’ the ship, P&O decided on removing the forward funnel and rebuilding the after one into a bizarre and inefficient cone. This alteration transformed one of the most beautiful liners ever to sail the oceans into a mediocre, strange looking cruise ship.
In 1982, the Sea Princess underwent yet another conversion. Additional accommodation was built in by Vosper Limited at Southampton, increasing the passenger capacity to 840 people. After her return to service, she was removed from the Far East and Australian cruise routes and placed in European waters. Between 1986 and 1991 she sailed under Princess Cruises’ banner alongside
with the Canberra, but after that she once again gained P&O’s buff funnel.
In order to free the name Sea Princess for a P&O-newbuild, the ship was renamed Victoria in April 1995. She was the second P&O vessel with that name. The first Victoria had been the first of the four ‘Jubilee Class’-liners commissioned in 1887.
In December 1999, the revived Union-Castle Line chartered the Victoria for a voyage celebrating the company's centennial anniversary. She was selected because of her resemblance to the old Union-Castle steamers. Like so many previous Union-Castle ships, the Victoria’s voyage went down the west side of Africa to Cape Town returning via East Africa and the Spice Islands of the Indian Ocean. Some 750 fortunate passengers resided on the Victoria during this historical voyage. After the voyage, Victoria was returned to P&O.
By late 2000, rumours about that the Victoria would be sold was circulating. The future for the 34-year-old ship did not look very bright, as P&O was not very interested in selling the profitable ship to any of their rivals.
But, in 2002 a new stage of the old Kungsholm's career begun. She was sold to Paris Katsoufis and has since then been chartered to the German company Holiday Kreutzfahrten, with the contract ranging to 2007. Renamed Mona Lisa, she now sports a new livery, featuring a reproduction of her namesake painting emblazoned on her funnel.
Due to new SOLAS regulations that took affect in 2010, Mona Lisa was taken out of traffic as extensial wood removal would have to be done in order to comply with the new regulations.
She was sold to DSME (Daewoo) in South-Korea, in order to be used as a floating hotel in Duqm, Oman. They upgraded her for 15 million usd, but left most of the public rooms intact.
After only 2 years in operation, the hotel was closed due to a new hotel complex being ready at shore in Duqm, and the need for the Veronica was no longer there.
A group of Swedish and international investors wanted to purchase the ship and bring her home to Gothenburg as a floating museum and hotel, but no suitable berth could be allocated and the Veronica was sent for scrapping in late 2015.
She spent her 50th birthday at the beach of Alang, India..
The famous Intarsia wall was aboard until the last day, and removed from the ship for safe keeping. The Intarsia re-appeard in 2017, and was sold to the new SAL.
© Rederi Swedish American Line AB if not other mentioned. All Rights Reserved.