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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author


Three Dutch “Victory” Ships


SS Groote Beer & Zuiderkruis

I received an interesting email from Dr. Barbara Wollman who sailed on both the SS Groote Beer and the Zuiderkruis in 1955. She describes her voyage and the people on board, but I decided to mostly use my own words, but at all times remain true to the story as provided.

Part One - SS Groote Beer

New York to Rotterdam


SS Groote Beer seen in the USA

Photo by Victor Scrivens – from the Rich Turnwald collection

Myself and a close friend Ancella (Andy) Weinstein, who had just obtained her B.A., and I was between sophomore and junior year, sailed on the SS Groote Beer from New York to Rotterdam in June/July 1955. We had a cabin up on the top Deck, which was the equivalent to first class.

There was an interesting group of passengers on this deck and many are now well known. One of these is a man who was from 1977 to 1981 the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, and he is currently President Obama’s top security advisor, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski. He and his wife Mushka were just two of the notable passengers who sailed on this humble ship up on the top deck.

Dr Zbigniew and his wife Mushka Brzezinski, seen in 2004

Photographer unknown - *See photo notes at bottom of page

Another well known passenger on this voyage included Professor. Hans Rogger who at the time was a professor of history at either Harvard or at Sarah Lawrence, with him was his wife Claire, and Dr. Wollman. In addition, if she recalls correctly, a Mr. Loic Bouvard who is currently a member of the French National Assembly. She recalls three other people who were accommodated up on top deck, but she is not 100% sure of their full names. One she believes was Ruth Bazelton, and then there was Philip (?) who was a fine pianist, and Jane (?) who was a student at Sarah Lawrence.

“Zbigniew, Mushka, Hans, Claire, Jane, Andy (her friend) and her played Botticelli every evening after dinner, over a single bottle of wine each time, the question is, “how did we stretch it that far?” The lower decks were filled with groups of people mostly under twenty years old. The crew on board was Dutch.”

Part Two - SS Zuiderkruis

Rotterdam to New York


SS Zuiderkruis

Author’s private collection

Amazingly when Dr. Wollman and her friend Andy returned to America on one of the sisters of the Groote Beer, the SS Zuiderkruis in August they discovered that Dr. Zbigniew, Mushka, Hans and Claire were all on board. Again they played Botticelli each evening, however on this voyage they discovered that the crew (stewards) were Indonesian and not Dutch as it was on the Groote Beer. “Considering that Indonesian stewards are small in stature compared to the young American men down on the lower decks, they frequently took advantage of them by snatching food trays from the crew and generally, it is sad to say, but our American boy’s behaved abominably!”

On this voyage the Atlantic crossing took a long nine and 1/2 days, as the ship hit a severe storm. The people on the top deck did not seem to get seasick, but everyone was tossed about violently in their bunks at night. The kids on the lower decks were extremely ill for a few days until the ship sailed out of the storm. Consequently very few people showed up for meals. Dr. Wollman remembers once being allowed out on deck during the storm and she could see the horizon high above the antenna as the ship pitched fiercely.

Both these were voyages to be remembered for so many reasons!


Page One The history of these three ships.

Page Two Ships – General Photo Album.

Page Three Theo Kroon Story - They sailed from Amsterdam to Wellington - September 1956 - Lots of great photos!

Page Four Passenger List for the SS Groote Beer, Rotterdam, Halifax, New York on January 16, 1957. Provided by passenger Simon de Vente – Two other (SS Waterman) passenger lists are also available on THIS page via links provided.

Page Five Here is another passenger list, but this time for the SS Zuiderkruis sailing from Holland to New Zealand and Australia. She departed on December 9, 1960. It was kindly provided by Mr. Gabriel-Bosch.

Page Six SS Groote Beer Passenger Lists from 1951 to 1962. Provided by Mr Hugo Schouten!

Page Six-B Hugo Schouten’s voyage on the Groote Beer including, Groote Beer passenger lists from various voyages. This link takes you to Hugo’s own story on his website.

Page Seven Passenger Dr. Barbara Wollman sailed in 1955 on the SS Groote Beer from New York to Rotterdam and returned on the Zuiderkruis.

Page Eight Bob ter Haar kindly provided the passenger list of his voyage on the SS Zuiderkruis from Amsterdam to Australia, January 16, 1959. He came to Australia with his family.

Page Nine This is the story of soldier Frank Lovell who finally returned home, having fought so many battles during WW2 throughout many parts of Europe on the SS Costa Rica Victory, (later the Groote Beer) in September 1945. The three parts are by Franks daughter Mary Lovell, Frank himself, through his Dairy, and myself using Mary’s notes. This page has countless actual photographs of the Costa Rica Victory, most of which Frank took on board!

Passenger lists currently available online

Passenger List dated 25 April, 1955

View it online


Also SS Waterman departed from Rotterdam on Friday April 1, 1955



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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address may be found on only), in order that due credit may be given.

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