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    Royal viking star & her sisters

    4 Comments by Doc Vernon Published on 11th July 2018 11:55 PM
    by Bill Miller
    I am often asked, usually aboard current cruise liners, about the whereabouts of some long-ago ships. Sometimes it is the ship from that very first, indelibly remembered cruise. But occasionally, we do go back farther, to the great and grand age of Atlantic liners, ships used on those magically memorable summertime trips to and from Europe. One of the more popular, highly remembered ships was the Royal Viking Line trio: Royal Viking Star, Royal Viking Sea & Royal Viking Sky.
    “The Royal Viking Line was perhaps the finest company we have ever cruised with,” said Mr & Mrs Jerome Katchman. “They were impeccable, the very finest in their time, possibly the best ships ever. Their three original ships --- the Royal Viking Star, Sky & Sea – carried no more than 550 passengers, which was so clublike, friendly, intimate and even cozy, and which altogether meant one sitting for meals in the restaurant. We just love one-sitting! There’s no rushing, no time restriction, no strict regimentation in the evenings. And the food as well as the service on Royal Viking was impeccable. They employed the finest staff – from the officers to the cruise directors to the waiters and stewardesses. Everyone seemed to have been handpicked. In fact, many of the
    officers and hotel staffs and even entertainers of current luxury cruise liners started at Royal Viking. Captain Reidulf Maalen, the first master of the Crystal Serenity in 2003, began at Royal Viking. He added, “They were an excellent training ground. And, of course, they also had constantly changing itineraries. Guests loved that. They could stay on two or three cruises and yet not repeat the same ports. And the ships traveled just about everywhere in the world.”
    (Photo: Royal Viking Star departing Pier 40, New York, Oct 1973. Author’s Collection)


    Royal Viking, based in Oslo but with operational headquarters in San Francisco, was created by three Norwegian ship owners to fill a void in the luxury, high-end cruise market in the early ‘70s and also to meet the expanding demands of the growing international cruise market, but particularly in the United States. Their three new ships were the grand successors to the likes of Cunard’s impeccable Caronia. That renowned, all-green, world-roving cruise ship carried up to 600 passengers per cruise and which were looked after by 600 top, handpicked staff and crew. It was just about one-to-one. However, the 1948-built Caronia was retired from service in 1967.
    By the Seventies, newly formed Royal Viking’s prime competitors were such gold-plated ships as the Kungsholm & Gripsholm of the Swedish American Line (but which sadly left the sealanes in 1975) and then the Sagafjord & Vistafjord of Norwegian America (but then sold to Cunard in 1983). Built by the Wartsila Shipyard at Helsinki, the 21,847-ton Royal Viking Star was the first of the new trio, being commissioned in June 1972. Twin sisters, the Royal Viking Sky followed in June ’73 and the Royal Viking Sea in that November. They soon established sterling reputations and developed loyal, repeater followings. Their itineraries ranged from two to as many as twenty weeks.
    But inevitably, by the ‘80s, the cruise business grew more and more competitive and as passenger ship operational costs not only increased, but soared. (It was often rumored that Royal Viking Line actually never earned a profit for its Norwegian parent owners.) Eventually, however, profitability or at least potential profit had to be rethought. Greater, increased capacities were seen as a route, especially by eager, often worried home office accountants. And so, in 1982-83, the three 550-ft long ships were
    sent off to Bremerhaven, West Germany and were “stretched” --- they were fitted with 120-foot long midsections and which increased their capacities and supposed profit-making capacities to 812 passengers in all. But, alas, the ambience, that cozy charm and those single sittings were suddenly gone --- and along with some loyalist, early Royal Viking followers. “Things were never quite the same again,” according to the Katchman’s.
    (Below: New York in August 1989 – Enchanted Isle (far left), then Royal Viking Sea, Queen Elizabeth 2, Horizon & Sky Princess. Moran Towing & Transportation Co photo)



    A larger version of the three original ships, the 37,000-ton Royal Viking Sun, was added in 1988 along with a small, yacht-like, but generally misplaced ship, the Royal Viking Queen, which carried only 200 passengers. At about the same time, Royal Viking itself was sold off to other Norwegians, the Kloster Group, which owned
    Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Lines. With 5 ships now in the Royal Viking fleet, there was soon some shuffling and then reshuffling of tonnage. And, once again, there were changes to the gold-plated, paradise-at-sea world of Royal Viking.
    The Royal Viking Star was transferred, in a sort of Viking demotion, to the Norwegian Cruise division in 1991 and became the mass-market Westward before going over to yet another Kloster arm, Royal Cruise Lines, in 1994 and changing to Star Odyssey. She was later sold off completely, in ’96, to the Fred Olsen Line, also Norwegian but which used England as the base of its cruise operations. The former Star currently sails as the Black Watch.
    (Photo: Black Watch at Le Havre by Philippe Brebant)



    There were changes for the Sky as well when she began dividing her time in 1991: summers in the Baltic Sea as the Birka Queen and then, with a quick coat of paint, for the remainder of the year out of Florida (and to more tropic ports) as the Sunward.
    Unsuccessful, however, she was chartered within two years, in ’93, to Princess Cruises, who sailed her for three years as the Golden Princess. In ’96, she was swung over to NCL’s new parent, Malaysia-based Star Cruises, and began sailing in Asian waters as the Super Star Capricorn. Her itineraries were diverse and, at least in 1998, included overnight “dinner & gambling” cruises out of New York. Next stop: Later in 1998, she was chartered to the South Koreans, Hyundai Merchant Marine Lines, who were anxious to develop a local Far Eastern cruise business. Now, she was the Hyundai Kumgang. Less than a success, she went back to Star Cruises in 2001, reverting to Super Star Capricorn, but had little work and was then laid-up for over two years. But European cruising and for Europeans began to boom by 2004 and so she was chartered to the Spanish, to Iberojet, who sailed her out of Barcelona as the Grand Latino. But a year later, she was sold off -- going, and like the former Royal Viking Star, to Fred Olsen and who extensively refurbished and upgraded her as the Boadicea, but soon renamed as the present-day Boudicca.
    (Photo: Boudicca at Rotterdam by Phlippe Brebant)

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    Default Re: Royal viking star & her sisters

    Vernon, please to see you have put some of these up for members to see.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
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    Default Re: Royal viking star & her sisters

    John
    I get there in the end mate! Sometimes I am too busy to Transfer the PDF Files as it is somewhat of a long winded task,as there is no way that we can just add the PDF ,has to be sort of Doctored before upload!
    Cheers
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    Default Re: Royal viking star & her sisters

    I know some I send you are very large and I do not expect you to put them all on but am sure the members like what you do put up.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
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    Default Re: Royal viking star & her sisters

    Viking Royal sky. Yes yes, I know the ship, one of those livestock carriers, I should never get the job on her, it is now more than forty years of the even as embarked to that no seamanship business which meant that I signed as ab aboard the Viking's sky. It appeared to be a hell of vessel, full of landsmen, nor any culture of the merchants navy. The crew was360 all told and all landsmen, the vessel carried no a sailor, Food was bad just porridge of fish full of bones,(snakr nors oc pisa fish) and the line long outside the messroom. We were - Ben and I, cargo sailors and accustomed good meal and some drink sometimes. The only job to onboard that royal had a clearing job,we cleared the freshwater tanks, every day we descended down to keel.-line and into tanks, and there we were when the vessel grounded off the coast of north Norwegian, Was luck the bottom didn't hit the rock under the tank we were in, if so, we probably were drowned in that tank
    Last edited by Manfar Tuck; 19th July 2018 at 11:14 AM.

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