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                                                                        Classic Cruise ShipsRegent Star,   Perosa Shipping

                                              

Built               1957                     Yard   Wilton Feijenoord,Schiedam, The Netherlands
Length            196m
Passengers      850
Crew               408
Cabins total     457
BRT                16192
Speed             19 knots
Former names  Statendam, Rhapsody

All text and photographs (unless stated otherwise) ©  Paul Timmerman

After the success of  “the economy twins”, Ryndam and Maasdam in the early fifties, Holland America decided to order a ship of basically the same design, but somewhat larger.

Ryndam and Maasdam were originally planned as freighters, but last minute (re)thinking of Holland America leaded to these ships being finished as passenger liners. Although carrying 39 first class passengers, both ships had accommodations for  842 tourist class passengers, quite a novelty then. Of course in these years, the number of emigrants to the USA was declining rapidly. HAL saw new opportunities in tourism, mainly Americans visiting Europe for sightseeing.

Both ships turned out to be very successful, and it was decided that a newbuilding was needed for this trade.

                                     

                                                                           Statendam, an early postcard

The new vessel, to be named Statendam had some significant improvements incorporated in her design, first because she was designed as a passenger ship from the start, and second because of her size, which would be around 24.000 grt, compared to 15.00grt of the Ryndam and the Maasdam.

Statendam was ordered from the Wilton Fijenoord shipyard and was completed by 1957. She was built in dry dock, which is now common practice, but surely was a novelty in those days.

During her trials, Statendam developed engine problems, something that would haunt her for most of her life. In her first year of operation sailing on the North Atlantic together with fleetmate Nieuw Amsterdam,  she proved to be even more popular than Ryndam and Maasdam.

In 1966, because of declining passenger traffic on the North Atlantic, Statendam, together with the company´s Rotterdam of 1959, were sent cruising in the winter months, leaving the Nieuw Amsterdam to operate this service alone. Statendam offered cruises from the west coast of the US to Australia, the Orient and Hawaii, and in January 1958 left New York for the first world cruise of Holland America. Rotterdam would operate HAL’s world cruises from 1961 onwards.

Statendam proved to be a popular cruise ship amongst her passengers.  Being of intermediate size, she could enter most ports without difficulty. In 1971 her interiors were thoroughly modernized, making her even more suitable for cruising. She received a new Lido Restaurant, and her enclosed promenades (to give passengers shelter from the angry North Atlantic) were now added to her lounges.

Furthermore she became a single class vessel for 740 passengers. Her hull was painted blue, and she was given an orange funnel with a new logo on it.

                                   

                                                                           Statendam after her 1971-refit

Uneventful, Statendam cruised on. A no-tipping policy and later a cashless system were introduced.

In 1982,  Statendam was sold to Paquet Cruises for a moderate price. Paquet  renamed her Rhapsody.  However the year before her sale, her boilers had started to become more and more troublesome. These boilers were experimental boilers, using new techniques and for that reason, HAL had been offered these for a bargain price…..

Paquet soon discovered that the Rhapsody had faulty engines. She suffered engine breakdowns frequently. And then, to make matters worse, in March 1984 she grounded at Grand Cayman in the Caribbean. It took 3 months before she was refloated and another three to get her back into service..

In 1986  Rhapsody was sold again for 12 million dollars, this time to Greek Regency Cruises who renamed her Regent Star. They decided to re-engine the Regent Star, using diesel machinery taken form a container ship. Her superstructure was stretched forward, spoiling her silhouette a bit.

                 

                                                                           Regent Star, Regency Cruises

Regent Star sailed in Alaskan and Caribbean waters, and it seemed better times had come for this beautiful ship.

Alas, Regency Cruises ran into serious financial problems and her ships were arrested for debt in 1995.

Some of her ships were sold to other companies and saw further service. Regent Star has not been this lucky, she was laid up by her new owners Perosa Shipping in Eleusis Bay, Greece as Sea Harmony. I saw her there in 2000, listing a bit to starboard, neglected with some of her windows broken.

Indeed in 2004, the scrapyard would be her following (and last) destination, a sad end for a graceful vessel.

                                                  

                                                                 Sea Harmony laid up in Eleusis Bay, Greece in 2000

 

  

 

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