All text and photographs (unless stated otherwise) © Paul Timmerman
For interior photographs of the Regina Maris, click here
The Regina Maris, or Queen of the Sea, yard number 558, was delivered by the German yard Lubecker Flender Werke to her new owners Lubeck Linie in 1966. This company had owned - apart from some small freighters - one small passenger ship until then, the Nordland of 1800 GRT, a former Hurtigruten vessel Ragnvald Jarl. The Nordland was the first passenger vessel since WWII specifically converted to cruising and was quite a success. Encouraged by this, Lubeck Linie ordered a brand new vessel which was launched in 1965. She was powered by two MAN 10-cylinder diesels giving her a speed of 20 knots. This ship would become the Regina Maris. She was marketed as a cruise ship but in fact could carry 40 cars on her cardeck. The brochure stated this was to give passengers the opportunity to bring their car along on their cruise.
Regina Maris was fitted with stabilisers, featured luxury appointed public rooms , a swimming pool and a sauna. She carried 276 passengers. Her short funnel was instantly recognisable because it had a large smoke deflector.
The little ship gained a large following, sailing in Western European waters, around Britain and to Scandinavia. She even went as far as Brasil and the Indian Ocean. Later (1967) she visited the Western Mediterranean and the Canary Isles.
Then, as fuel prices soared in the early 1970's, Lubeck Linie was forced to sell her to Canadian interests in 1976. She was renamed Mercator One and was registered in Bermuda. She was sent on Caribbean cruises and cruises from Canada were also scheduled. This however, never came to pass as bookings for these cruises remained at a very low level and not much later Mercator One was arrested for debt. She spent some time in lay up, but soon a buyer was found: German ship owner Peter Deilmann acquired the ship.
Deilmann, who at the time owned one small expedition cruise ship, the Nordbrise which he used in Scandinavian waters and cruises to Greenland, had at the time just placed an order for a new cruise ship of 8000GRT. He renamed the Mercator One Frankfurt, but before the overhaul she was given had been completed, he changed it to Regina Maris, her original name while she was operated by Lubeck Linie, until then the most succesful episode of her career.
In 1980, she started cruising for Deilmann in European waters, but at the end of the year she was chartered out to a German tour operator for cruises out of Singapore. This charter was abruptly ended a year later. In 1982, another firm wanted to charter her from Deilmann, Sun World Cruises from Missouri USA, but this never came to pass. Instead she embarked on a schedule of cruises on the St. Lawrence river, Canada.
Shortly after the start of these cruises, it became clear that the Regina Maris was used as a gambling ship. At the time gambling was forbidden in Canada and the ship was arrested and all gambling equipment was removed from the ship. Next, Sun World Cruises tried cruises from Bermuda, but bookings were so low that finally she was laid up at St. Georges, Bermuda.
In 1983 Deilmann ordered Regina Maris back to Germany and again tried to charter her out. She made some trips to Scandinavia that season.
Later that year she was suddenly sold to Greek shipping tycoon Mr. Latsis who, one could say collected passenger ships just for the fun of it at the time. He used his ships to transport pilgims to Mecca now and then but mostly they remained in lay up. One of his other passenger ships was the former Union Castle liner Windsor Castle which he usually kept in lay up in Eleusis Bay near Athens and which he used as his "summer cottage", having the whole ship just for his family and himself....
Mr. Latsis sent the Regina Maris to Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven and had her converted to a luxury yacht for just 12 passengers! There was absolutely no press allowed near the ship, but rumour has it guests live in extreme luxury on board. In later years he made the ship available to the Saudi Royal family, to Prince Charles and Diana and statesmen like George Bush to name but a few. Her schedule is always kept secret, but she has been spotted on various locations in the Mediterranean on occaisions. Apart from these trips, the Alexander as she has now been renamed, spends most of her days in lay up in Eleusis Bay. In fact she has become a kind of mystery ship.....
However, recently she appeared on the yacht charter market. It seems that after Mr. Latsis has passed away, his son who has taken over his fathers' business has decided to operate her commercially again. She can be chartered for 90.000 euro a day, a real bargain.... On these trips she has a capacity of 80 passengers who are pampered by a crew of 57.