Swedish American Lime MS Kungsholm IV - 1966

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Maritime Lecturer

Please Note: All ssMaritime and other related maritime/cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or any travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, although is now retired but having completed around 680 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information the are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure! Reuben Goossens.

An original SAL colourised publicity photograph of the MS Kungsholm IV, which is assumed to be of her maiden voyage


A Note regarding Photographs: Most images are from my private collection, although some photographs have been provided by other sources as noted or by supporters although I have not been provided with details of ownership of same. I have a special note under those images and I request to be contacted by their owners in order that due credit many be given, for I am a stickler for doing that which is right!

Page Two

 MS Kungsholm’s History from 1966 to 1975 with SAL

… Then from 1975 to 1978 with Flagship Cruises

Introduction to the MS Kungsholm IV:

A new Swedish American Line (SAL) ship had to be built as the previous 21,164 GRT (Gross Registered Ton) MS Kungsholm III, which had entered service on November 24, 1953 and concluded duties with SAL in 1965, required to be replaced by a new and by a larger and a superior luxury liner, come cruise ship!

The ship that became the elegant and supremely streamlined 26,678 GRT MS Kungsholm was a first for the company, considering that she was intended for a new role, operating both as a full-fledged ocean liner, but also as a cruise ship. However, considering her great popularity and her cruises being greatly loved, it was decided in due course that she would become a full-time luxury cruise ship!

Some of the greatest Swedish and International architects and Interior designers worked in preparation to getting the ship to the point of readiness, and then the contract of building the new ship was finally given to the famous shipyard of John Brown & Company in Scotland.

Here we see the ship in the John Brown dock whilst in construction

This superbly designed ship was launched on April 14, 1965 by the wife of the company’s owner DanAxel Brostrom, Mrs. Annabella Brostrom.


Above & below: Here we see the MS Kungsholm just prior to her being launched on April 14, 1965

& below we see her slowly leave dock as she will be towed to her fit out berth


However, what was unusual for a passenger ship at the time, especially for a ship that was built to a trans-Atlantic liner, she was fitted with slow-speed two stroke diesel engines and her two Swedish built nine-cylinder Gotaverken diesel engines having a combined output of 25,200 SHP, which were capable of giving her a service speed of 21 knots making her the fastest ship in the Swedish American Line’s history. However, during her sea trials on November 19, 1965, the Kungsholm reached an impressive top speed of 25 knots. However, during the sea trial’s a number of problems arose that required urgent attention and these problems would sadly delay her delivery considerably.

The Kungsholm is seen here during her trails as she passé the RMS Queen Elizabeth

Thankfully, her second sea trials were successful and she was duly delivered to the Swedish American Line on March 17, 1966, with everything been completed and having been thoroughly tested, thus now the ship was in perfect A1 order! She remained in port for just over a month when those who came to look at the new ship they found that the Kungsholm would follow the exterior trend set by her two earlier fleet mates, however a more streamlined profile with a superbly shaped bow and two stylish funnels and masts. Her interiors were without a doubt the most luxurious ever found on a SAL liner! In addition, the Kungsholm would also differ from all previous SAL liners, for this magnificent ship would be used almost exclusively for cruising and she would spend just a short time of the year on the Trans-Atlantic service.

Whilst the Kungsholm was operating the Trans-Atlantic crossings she would accommodate 108 First Class passengers and 605 Tourist Class passengers. However, whilst on her cruise duties the she accommodated just 405 very privileged guests in an all One Class configuration. Such a small number of passengers was simply amazing for a relatively large ship for her day, as she was a good 26,678 tons, thus she would have seemed more like an Intimate Private Luxury Yacht to her passengers and at the same time they were being superbly looked after by a crew of 438!

Having been delivered the company had sufficient time to fully prepare for her role as a luxury passenger ship, of course her crew boarded first as there was a great deal to do on board, such as stocking the ship with all her needs for her hotel and restaurant, the galley’s etc and then of course the vast amount of fresh, frozen, cold and a host of foods. But before her maiden voyage, there were a number of special and spectacular promotional events on board the Kungsholm and these were a huge success! Then all too soon came that time that she was ready to depart on April 22, 1966 for her maiden voyage from Gothenburg bound for New York.

An original SAL colourised publicity photograph of the MS Kungsholm IV, which is assumed to be of her maiden voyage

When she operated as a Trans-Atlantic liner with just 713 passengers she proved to be one of the finest Trans-Atlantic liners on the service as she offered the ultimate luxury and comfort for passengers in both classes, with just 108 in the intimate super luxurious First Class and 605 in what a very high standard Tourist Class, which took over the majority of the ship. However, considering she would spend more time of the year operating as a cruise ship her passenger was a mere 450, which was just amazing and as I already indicated above, she had more crewmembers on board than passengers!

The Kungsholm seen in New York bedecked with pennants and ready for a cruise

Photographer unknown – *See photo notes at the bottom of page

It became obvious that she became greatly loved by many as she had that touch of Swedish style and service to match, however there is no doubt that the time was against her, as air travel had been steadily been on the increase and it was slowly becoming a genuine threat and a big competition each and every day to all passenger shipping companies around the world! However, the Kungsholm seemed to hold her own as she was without a doubt one of the most popular ship around! In addition, she had commenced further afield as far as New Zealand, Australia and Asia, and these would become very popular indeed.

Kungsholm is seen whilst on a cruise to New Zealand and Australia

It would be in 1967 that the Kungsholm would venture into the South Pacific and operate a Trans-Pacific voyage as far as New Zealand and Australia, where she arrived in Sydney for the first time ever, a port she would one day call home, on February 6. This voyage was obviously quite popular as she returned again in February 1968.

The Kungsholm is seen here departing Wellington New Zealand in February 1967

Thereafter it would not be until 1972 before she would visit Australia again when she arrived in Sydney on February 19, 1972. Although she was due to depart on the same day, she had to remain in port for several days as she was suffering problems with her generators and the ships air-conditioning systems was thus not working correctly, and this had to be fixed. However, in order to do this the ship was forced to move as the berth at the International Cruise Terminal at Circular Quay had already been booked by other ships and she was moved to the famed Woolloomooloo wharves, which today are very trendy and expensive housing overlooking Sydney harbour. As soon as the repairs were completed, MS Kungsholm set sail on February 22. Although she was also due to visit Brisbane on this voyage, this port had to be cancelled, thus instead she headed straight for Port Vila in Vanuatu.

MS Kungsholm Mini Photo Album


Please Note: The following images all hail from various “SAL” sources taken from their original publicity material from my private collection 

The photographs will ne shown deck by deck, commencing from the lowest Images I have, being A Deck and continue upwards, and always commence forward and head aft.

B Deck


Ahead of the forward lobby and lifts was the Beauty Parlor seen here looking to starboard


A Deck


The Forward section of the Dining Room

Thus the First Class Dining Room during Trans-Atlantic voyages


The aft section of the Dining Room

Thus used as Tourist Class on Line Voyages with two sittings.


Main Deck


The traditional twin bedded outside stateroom with a bedroom and a sitting area and a bathroom with a

full length bath and overhead shower, most rooms cane connect to a single/two berth cabin next door


Upper Deck


The Main Lobby and the Reception Desk, amidships


The Lobby, a view from a SAL brochure

All colour views below are from the same brochure


Veranda Deck


The ships Auditorium is located far forward and is flanked by the Library and the Card rooms


The Card Room with its delightful mural was located on the starboard side


The quiet softly timbered Library was on the portside


Looking forward at the delightfully popular Verandah Deck Cocktail Lounge


The warm and elegant Smoking Room is something that has long disappeared on ships


Promenade Deck


The spacious and elegant Forward Lounge offering views over the ships bow as well as to port and starboard


The outdoor Swimming Pool on Promenade


Bridge Deck


Here is an illustration of the Bridge made around 1962 by the ships architect, the amazing Mr. Claes Feder

New Zealand and Australia had been visited by the Kungsholm IV in February 1967 and again in 1968 & 1969, but then it would be three years later before she returned again and she arrived in Sydney for what was to be a one-night stay on February 19, 1972. However, whilst in Sydney she was delayed due to the ships generator and air-conditioning having suddenly broken down and she was moved from Circular Quay to Woolloomooloo wharves where repairs were made. When completed, she departed on February 22, meaning that her call to Brisbane had to be cancelled in order to catch up time.

MS Kungsholm seen berthed in Sydney

It would be four years later when this greatly loved ship would return to Australia and New Zealand however she would no longer be a Swedish-American Line” ship, or flying the Swedish flag!

The Kungsholm retuned to the United States at the conclusion of her Grand Pacific Cruise and she continued cruising, but now operated mostly short cruises to the Caribbean out of New York.

Her Concluding Time with SAL:

We need to remember that the “Swedish-American Line” had been in operation since 1915 and they had become known for their reliability and with out a doubt their superb service and magnificent cuisine! In addition SAL always had ships that were superior to the majority of other companies. However, in 1975 due to the economic situation as well as the ongoing competition from the aviation industry and the ever increasing fuel costs as well as berthing and there were also ongoing strikes in the USA, this led to an economic crisis for the company. In fact it had become so difficult for the “Swedish-American Line” to function successfully any further, sadly dramatic steps had to be taken!

It was happening with many shipping companies, who had to rethink their ideas or closedown or re-designate which many did. For that very reason many shipping companies were either selling some or all of their ships or even closing down all together!

Swedish-American Line found that passenger numbers had dropped to such an extent that the Kungsholm was no longer viable to operate and thus the company had found themselves in dire financial straights, due to massive losses made over the past year. Thus SAL decided in August 1975 with great sadness to opt for the latter option to “close down all together” and sell their two last ships. They placed both the 1957 built MS Gripsholm and their grand flagship 1966 built MS Kungsholm IV on the market. I will cover their future in each of the next two categories!

MS Gripsholm

The older sister, the MS Gripsholm, had departed Gothenburg for her maiden voyage on May 14, 1957 and for most of her days operated regular Trans-Atlantic voyages as well as seasonal cruises. She was also placed on the market around August and she was sold to the Greek Magnate Mr. Michael Karageorgis in November 1975 and she was renamed “Navarino.” Eight years later she was sold to “Multi-Ship Italy” in May 1983 and was renamed “Samantha,” but she remained laid up. Sold to “Universal Glow,” Panama in July 1984, but in October she was towed to a shipyard at Perama, Greece for repairs. In January 1985 she was officially registered by the “Ridan Investment Trust,” Inc (Universal Glow Inc, Panama), and Renamed the Regent Sea.

The older 1957 built MS Gripsholm seen at full speed head!

The Regent Sea became a popular cruise ship with Regency Cruises. However, due to poor management, the company eventually went bankrupt in 1995 and she was laid up until sold by auction to be broken up at Alang India. Whilst under-tow to the breakers she commenced to take on water and in due course she sank of the coast of South Africa on July 12, 2001.

Farewell - Swedish American Line:

The sale of both ships officially closed operations of the Swedish-American Line and this was considered to be a national tragedy in Sweden. Even in the United States many past passengers were devastated when they heard the news, for the traditional means of sailing between the United States and Sweden for both Swedes and Americans who had come to love these ships, had suddenly gone forever! But the good news was that the MS Kungsholm did continue to sail out of New York for some time, but under a new owner.

A New Life for the Kungsholm.

The extremely expensive, super luxurious and beautifully appointed MS Kungsholm was purchased by “Flagship Cruises New York,” a company registered in Monrovia Liberia in August 1975 and amazingly they paid a mere 65 million Swedish Krona. Amazingly, this was only half of what SAL had originally paid to build her. Had this same ship been built in 1975 she would have cost, as it was said, at least 300 million Krona, thus Flagship Cruises managed to get them selves a great bargain

Stern view of the Kungsholm now registered in Monrovia & an “S” on her funnel, being her new owner’s logo

Photograph by & © Petteri Virtanen

She was officially delivered to Flagship as she arrived having arrived in New York on October 6, 1975 and Flagship increased her capacity to 600 one-class passengers and this could be done without requiring any rebuilding as the accommodations were already in place. She was returned to American waters as soon as she was rebranded and ready as well with promotions having done their job in the States, for it was there where she was not only well known and greatly loved. Thankfully the Kungsholm already had a cruise programme scheduled by Swedish-American Line before they decided to pull her from service, and considering she was well booked in advance, Flagship wisely decided to take up the service and continue this programme as originally planned and she departed New York filled with happy passengers as the Flagship worked hard to keep things on board as much as possible as they were with SAL! Her official American registration was 18,174 GRT.

An original Flagship postcard of the MS Kungsholm

MS Kungsholm’s schedule included another Trans-Pacific voyage to Auckland New Zealand and Sydney Australia in January 1976. She arrived in Sydney on February 25, and although the ship would visit Sydney many more times in the future, sadly she would never visit looking as beautiful as she did on this occasion, with her two proud yellow funnels and her long sleek and elegant lines and stature, nor would she have that wonderful name “Kungsholm,” for all too soon she would be renamed and totally rebuilt into what many, myself included, would call a monstrosity, for it was the destruction of beautifully designed ship and not just of her time, but still to this day, for she was and is perfection! But sadly, she became what can only be called a completely unbalanced looking ship, for she looked nothing like the streamlined ship that was built, to be honest, she was hideous! Her only saving grace was that parts of her interior beauty were retained. At least whilst she was with Flagship she retained all her original glory as well as her proud Name, but P&O robbed her of her great history!

The Flagship Cruises Kungsholm is seen here at anchor during one of her Island cruises

Photographer unknown – *See photo notes at the bottom of page

After departing Australia she headed back to New York and continued on a series of cruises to the West Indies. But sadly, Flagship Cruises also fell into financial difficulties and they decided to place the Kungsholm on the market, but continued to operate her until sale in 1978. Her story will continue on Page Three!



Built by:              John Brown & Company, Scotland 1965.

Yard:                  728.

Tonnage:             26,678 GRT.

Length:               201.2m – 660ft.

Width:                26.3m – 86.3ft.

Draught:             8.56m - 28.1ft.

Engines:              Two direct drive Gotaverken 9 cylinder

                          slow speed two stroke diesel engines - 27,700 SHP.

Screws:               Twin.

Service speed:     21 knots – 25 max speed.

Passengers:         108 First Class - on Trans-Atlantic voyages.

                          605 in Tourist Class.

                          450 First Class - when cruising.

Crew:                  438.

.                         Fully Air-Conditioned.

.                         Denny Brown Stabilisers.


Memories ~ The Way She Was - for she was about to be Molested!


A superb design – the MS Kungsholm seen in Auckland New Zealand in 1967

The photo was provided by Jack Bishop however, I do not have the name of the photographer!

*If this is your image - Please see photo notes at the bottom of page

I trust you have enjoyed reading this page on this fine and this much loved passenger liner & cruise ship. In addition if you have sailed on her I would like to hear from you, and if you have any photographs I would greatly appreciate some, especially those of the interiors and out on deck. Email Me - the link is only located bottom of the page at www.ssmaritime.com.

PLEASE NOTE: I receive hundreds of requests for Passenger/Crew Lists and Sailing Schedules. I hereby wish to advise that I am unable to assist due to time restrains and as most shipping companies have long gone these lists/schedules are no longer available. I regret to advise that any request for these will no longer be answered regardless of the circumstances presented!


MS Kungsholm IV INDEX:


Page One      Kungsholm Advance 1965 Promotional Brochure


Page Two       History - MS Kungsholm from 1966 to 1975 with SAL.

.                       And 1975 to 1978 with Flagship Cruises.


Page Three   Sea Princess, Victoria, Mona Lisa, Oceanic II,

.                       & Hotel Veronica. Sold in 2015 to breakers in Alang.


Page Four     MV Mona Lisa Photo Album & Deck Plan.


“Blue Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”



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Please Note: ssmaritime and associated sites are 100% non-commercial and the author does not seek funding or favours and never have and never will.

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

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