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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author


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Author’s private collection


MS Port Sydney

Later names: Akrotiri Express, Daphne, Switzerland, Ocean Monarch

Currently cruising as the MV Princess Daphne


The John Whitehead Story


Postcard of the Port Sydney

From the ssMaritime collection


Life as an Engineer on MS Port Sydney

By John Whitehead

Page Two


Off Duty Comments

The Indian Ocean is great place to observe the stars at night, especially if one owns a pair of 10*50 binoculars. It was because of this experience, I started to make an astronomical telescope, one of the photographs show a picture of myself grinding an 8 inch mirror using a bollard as a support, having bought all the fine grinding powders ashore when the ship reached Sydney.

Grinding the mirror on a bollard was perfect for providing access all around my work

To this day I still have a strong interest in astronomy and designing and building an astronomical telescope. The present project is a 6” refractor for which I have high hopes when it is finished.

Some of the passengers were very interesting people, so of course on a long passage to Australia lasting at least three weeks, it was possible to engage in quite fascinating discussions of their life and careers, as they were usually retired. One passenger who was called Mr Hull told me he had been involved with the game of billiards most of his life, and told me that he had invented some part or a modification to the game the details of which I cannot recall after so many years. Perhaps one day I may read that he was quite a famous person?

Passenger and billiard player, Mr. Hull

The ships swimming pool was designed to be dismantled when the ship was in port, but at sea it was in demand by everyone, including the passengers, officers and crew. So times were set out when the pool could be used by whom; ordinary sea water was used, the temperature being particularly enjoyable in the tropics.

The pool was a great place to cool down and relax!


Ten young crew members enjoying games in the pool


Having a midnight dip!

There was very good camaraderie amongst the engineers on the Port Sydney which made it a “Happy Ship”. The occasion of the 5th engineer’s birthday party was a good example. The crew was always pleasant and ready to help in any situation and they also made very good use of the swimming pool as can be seen in the photographs above.

Meals on the ship were generally very good and also similar to what the passengers were eating, however the variation of the meals followed a fixed pattern, much to my delight after leaving port, the menu always included sherry trifle.

Here we see the crew sun baking whilst off duty


Off duty Engineers relaxing whilst the ship was sailing through the Suez Canal


A musical interlude from some of our deck crew


Engineers and Deck Officers sunbathing on sport deck


A game of cards amongst the Engineers

Four footed passengers on board the Port Sydney

The passengers would have a most leisurely voyage to Australia and frequently there would be those that would bring their pets with them, which usually meant the deck cadets had to look after the animals and to exercise them. This kind of travel is in contrast to the modern air travel and people ending up with jet lag. However the cost of the voyage must have been considerably greater pro-rata in comparison to today’s air travel, which of course in the long run contributed to the demise of the British merchant fleet and liner travel in general. But at least the cruise industry has flourished worldwide!

One of the dogs cabins on board. Notice someone’s remarks about the dog’s intentions


Hi Puss! - Deck cadets had the job of exercising all the pets on board


A Poodle enjoys a little sun baking


 This dog would much rather run around than this lead being tied to the kennel


Black poodle having a late meal

Views of the Ship

Below we see the Bridge, which is a view looking aft. This photograph was taken from the Crows Nest, which is the highest point on the ship that has reasonable access. It is around 50 ft, or more high. But it is certainly a great shot. The second photograph below was also taken from the Crows Nest, but it is looking forward to the bow.



Below is another view of Sports Deck on port side looking forward. This picture shows one of the winches for the derrick above it, and one of the life boats. Boat stations were always the place where boat drill colloquially called “Board of Trade sports” took place.

The spare propellers for port and starboard were stored on the aft deck as shown in the picture below. They are painted grey to hide the bright Manganese Bronze metal surfaces.

In addition in the photo above, four electrically driven deck winches can also be seen and you can see the port and starboard derricks for unloading the cargo.

To be continued on the “John Whitehead Story” Page ThreeAlso see the Port Sydney INDEX below for other pages!


Port Sydney lives on as the …

Classic International Cruises

MV Princess Daphne


The classic ship that has become the elegant MV Princess Daphne

From the collection

Port Sydney - INDEX

Part One:                  Read about the history of the Port Sydney

Part Two:                  John Whitehead Story - Page One - Story & photographs by John Whitehead 3rd Engineer 1959/60

                                          John Whitehead Story - Page Two – The story continues

                                          John Whitehead Story - Page Three – Online in the near future

                                  Dave James Story        Page Four – Dave an engineer sails home to Australia

Part Three:               Discover her as a modern, but classic cruise ship – (on my cruise site -

Part Four:                 Princess Daphne DECK PLAN - (on my cruise site -

“Classic Ocean Voyages”

Why not Cruise on this Ship, or one of the superb Classic Ships still sailing today

Believe me it is worth it!



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Who is the Author of ssMaritime?

Commenced in the passenger Shipping Industry in May 1960 &

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Save The Classic Liners Campaign & Classic Ocean Voyages pages

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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. I know what it is like, I have seen a multitude of my own photographs on other sites, yet these individuals either refuse to provide credit or remove them when asked, knowing full well that there is no legal comeback when it comes to the net. However, let us show these charlatans up and do the right thing at all times and give credit where credit is due!

This notice covers all pages, although, and I have done my best to ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this notice is displaced on each page, that is, when a page is updated!




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