Yard Union Naval de Lavante, Spain
|Former names Juan
March, Sol Christiana, Kypros Star, Olympic, Homeric
All text and photographs (unless stated otherwise) © Paul
The Spanish state owned ferry company Trasmediterranea ordered four new
ferries during the mid sixties, two of which were built in Valencia and two in
Balboa by Spanish yards.
This quartet of ships was called the Albatros-sisters, and they were meant to
sail on Trasmediterranea’s longer routes from Barcelona through Gibraltar
Straits to the Canary Islands.
The first one of these sister ships, the Juan March, was taken into service in July
1966. Driven by two powerful 7-cylinder Burmeister & Wain diesels, she carried a
100 cars loaded through side-doors and freight in partly refrigerated holds and
in tanks (for transporting vegetable oils).
Trasmediterranea ferry Juan March
Freight could be on- and off loaded by two crains. The Juan March was named
after one of the financiers of Trasmediterranea and in the main lounge
a bronze bust of him was placed. Their rounded sterns, graceful bow, twin funnel uptakes
and dummy funnel gave these vessels an elegant appearance. Apart from her regular passenger spaces,
the Juan March was fitted wit a chapel. She carried 125
guests in first class and another 376 in second class, mostly in 4 berth
cabins without private facilities. Apart from being used on the Barcelona - Canary
Islands run, the Juan March sometimes switched to the shorter overnight run to
Mallorca, in which case her passenger carrying capacity was augmented by
converting the cinema to sleeping quarters (sleeping chairs) for 250 extra passengers.
In her first years of operation her dummy funnel was used as a night club and
observation lounge, but later this was removed from the ship.
Because of more modern tonnage being introduced which had smarter interiors and
could on- and off load vehicles through doors at the vessels’ stern, the
Albatros-sisters became outmoded and were shifted to less important routes to eg
Ibiza or Menorca. Juan March was sold in 1985 to Cypriot based Sol Mediterranea
Services. This company wanted to introduce year-round services linking Cyprus
to Greece. Up till then, existing operators only served Cyprus during the
summer months when demand was high. During the calmer winter period they shifted their
ships to more profitable routes.
Juan March, now renamed Sol Christiana joined her sister
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
which had already been sold to the same company on the Greece-Cyprus-Israel run.
The venture was not a success however and within a year the Sol Christiana was
sold to another Cypriot shipping company, Opal Lines in 1986. She was renamed
Kypros Star and was now used on a slightly different route, Greece- Cyprus-
Egypt, but again, bookings were low and for the following two years she was
chartered out to Adriatica Ferries for service on the Brindisi-Patras route.
The Observation Lounge, Sapphire deck
The Lido Garden Verandah, Aquamarine Deck
In 1989 Chios Breeze Marine took over the Kypros Star, renamed her
and a complete rebuilding for future use as a cruise ship was started. Because of
lack of funds however this took until 1994. Now, the former ferry had been
totally adapted to her new role: she was reengined, her superstructure had been
completely altered, her funnel had been replaced by a very modern structure: two
uptakes converging at the top and of course her car deck had been replaced by
cabins, new lifeboats were placed on the ship, a new vacuum sanitary system was
installed and finally an air conditioning system as well as new kitchens
were added (one of the former Albatros-sisters, the Las Palsmas de Gran Canaria
was also converted to a cruise ship, the Don Juan but she was
later lost by fire in
2005). Ocean Majesty has been chartered out to different companies
Epritoki Cruises who used her as Olympic and Homeric.
Dining Room, Principal Deck
The Show Lounge, Emerald Deck
British tour operator
Page & Moy subchartered her from Eprirotiki in the summer of 1995 (this charter
has been repeated every year since then). Apart from this she has been chartered
by Belgian, Italian and Dutch operators. In 19.. the Dutch chartered her for a
cruise from Amsterdam to Indonesia in memory of the Indonesian war (1945-1949)
when Indonesia fought to became an independent state (up till then it had been
one of the Dutch colonies).
Even Orient LInes (owned by Star Cruises at the time and operating the former
Russian liner Alexandr Pushkin on soft expedition cruises) chartered the
Ocean Majesty for a couple of cruises visting Greek and Trukish ports
and In the
winter of 1999-2000 Marine Expeditions chartered her for the most diverse
world cruise ever, the first voyage to visit all continents.
Meanwhile Ocean Majesty’s life is quite uneventful, she just sails ons cruise
after cruise enjoying a loyal clientele amongst those who like to sail on no frill
smaller cruise ships as an alternative for the mega cruise liners which
dominate todays cruise market.
Ocean Majesty visiting the Norwegian fjords
Her only mishap took place on August 7th during a cruise to the Norwegian
fjords when she collided with Thomson Cruises' Thomson Spirit.
Ocean Majesty lost one of her lifeboats while Thomson
Spirit suffered bow damage.
Recently, apart from sailing for Page & Moy she was chartered to British tour
operator Voyages of Discovery to complement their Discovery for
the 2008 season.
Ocean Majesty offers her passengers 6 different public spaces:
discotheque, dining room, show lounge, main lounge, lido veranda and observation
lounge. Her dining room is very pretty, featuring some beautiful chandeliers.
The show room lacks a sloping floor and has pillars obstructing your view
(typical of a classic cruise ship), but it is spacious and is fitted out in light colors. On top, an
observation lounge is situated, which does not offer a view over the ships bow,
as it only has windows on both sides. But generally, this high density ship features
straightforward but nevertheless pleasant, attractive interiors, a far cry
from the glitzy public rooms found on many newbuildings nowadays.
on deck-plan to enlarge