MS Princesa Isabel Later: MTS Marco Polo, then Aquamarine, Odysseus & Lucky Star

Please Note: Firefox and Google Chrome are not suitable - Use Internet Explorer & old Google for this page to load perfectly!

Click the logo above to reach the ssMaritime FrontPage for News Updates & “Ship of the Month”

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 over 700 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.


-d-Cia. Nacional de Nav. Costeria Autarquia Federal-d-


MS Princesa Isabel

Later the: MTS Marco Polo, Aquamarine, Odysseus & Lucky Star


Page One


The elegant MS Princesa Isabel is seen as built

Please Note: All photographs are from the author’s private collection, unless mentioned otherwise!

Part One - History of MS Princesa Isabel & Leopoldina:

The superbly designed sister ships, the 9,696 GRT (Gross Registered Ton) MS Princesa-Isabel and Princesa Leopoldina were built for a Brazilian Shipping Company named; “Cia. Nacional de Nav. Costeria Autarquia Federal” based in Rio de Janeiro. Both ships were built in Spain by “Cia. Euskalduna, Olaveaga” shipyards at Bilbao in 1961, whilst their diesel engines were constructed by: Soc. Espanola de Const” also in Bilbao.

The Princesa Isabel was the first to be launched on January 18, 1961, upon completion she ran her speed trials and she attained 17.5 knots. She was delivered to her owners in August 1962, and soon she departed on her maiden voyage along the South American Coast between ports on the River Amazon and  the River Plate, with ports such as; Manaus, Belem, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires.

Just two months after the launching of the Princesa Isabel the Princesa Leopoldina was launched on March 17, 1961 and in October 1962, she commenced her maiden voyage on the identical route. The grand total of building these two delightful ships was ten million dollars.

Princesa Leopoldina

As one looked at these ships were it became immediately obvious that these ships most pleasing to the eye considering their delightful long soft flowing lines, as well as their beautifully flared bows combined with a well-balanced superstructure topped with a shapely modern funnel in company colours of dark blue with the company’s traditional yellow “La Croix Pattée” or the “Patee Cross.” Then there was that elegant radar mast above, but located just aft of the bridge. There were two forward cargo holds, having a capacity of a good 72,500 cu. ft. The Company made it well known that heir lifeboats were notable considering there were the following; 2 X 40 person’s sea boats, as well as 2 X 80 person motor boats, but also 6 X 80 person boats that had the “Fleming” mechanically operated

Accommodations:  These fine ships could accommodate some 200 passengers in a superb First Class having 29 twin bedded cabins, as well as 46 three-berth cabins. Tourist Class had facilities for 280 passengers, some of cabins were two or three berth cabins but the majority were four berth cabins. In addition, there were 25 two/twin bedded cabins, which were interchangeable between First and Tourist classes as required.

Venues: There were fine and spacious lounges, such as Main Lounge, Smoking Rooms, Library, Card/Games Room, Bars and Dining Rooms for both classes. In addition there was a separate swimming pool for each class as well as ample deck space, etc. These two ships were superbly planned and executed in every sense of the word!

Troubled Times: Since commencing their maiden voyage in 1962, their passenger loadings sadly never reached their full potential even though their owners had high expectations from these two fine ships! Yet for some reason, they never reached expectations.

Therefore, it was decided to introduce a new cruise programme and these did prove to be reasonably popular. Yet again, neither ship ever proved to be a financially viable in the end and therefore the company was suffering and they decided to seek new employment for them!

New Owner and Service: It was decided in 1966 that both ships would be taken over by the Brazilian Government owned and subsidised shipping company, “Cia. de Nav. Lloyd Brasiliero” and they were reemployed on the South American service between Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, which continued for only two further years, until 1968.

Princesa Isabel during her final days

However, passenger numbers were just never good enough to support these two ships financially, for the problem was all too obvious, for all passenger shipping worldwide such as the great liners to the smaller more humble ships were all feeling the pain of the Jet travel revolution, thus the ocean travel was rapidly being replaced by air travel and many ships were becoming obsolete and many older ships were being sold to be scrapped.

It was decided late in 1967 that the Princesa Isabel would be laid up I March 1968 and placed on the market. During lay up in the first month the company removed certain parts from the ships, such as machinery and other parts and used them on her sister the Princesa Leopoldina. However, late in 1969 the Princesa Leopoldina was sadly also laid up and placed on the market.

Please Note: The MS Princesa Leopoldina story continues on her own page! Use the link at the bottom of this page.

MS Princesa Isabel – Specifications – as built:


Builder:                                Cia. Euskalduna, Olaveaga, Bilbao.

Yard:                                   104.

Keel Laid:                             January 1, 1961.

Launched:                             January 18, 1961.

Maiden Voyage:                     August 30, 1962.

Tonnage:                              9,696 GRT - 4,623 Nett.

Length:                                145.90m - 477ft.

Width:                                  18.65m - 61.17ft.

Draught:                               7.4m – 18.ft.

Engines:                               2 x B&W Diesels, 2 stroke, single acting, 8 cylinders per engine - 9,200 BHP.

Screws:                                Two.

Speed:                                 17 knots cruising speed – Max 17.5 knots.

Passengers:                          480 / 200 in First Class & 280 in Tourist Class.

Air:                                      Fully air-conditioned.

Stabilizers:                           Denny-Brown Stabilisers.

The Princesa becomes a Discoverer, the MTS Marco Polo:

Having been laid up for an extended time finally the ‘Dominion Far East Line,’ being a joint venture with ‘John Swire’ and ‘H.C. Sleigh’ in Australia, purchased this fine ship in October 1969. She was towed from Rio de Janeiro to the River Clyde were she received an extensive seven month refit as well as having her aft decks extended. The transformation saw her change from being an all white ship to a rather smart looking cruise ship having a grey/blue hull, with a white superstructure wit red boot topping and a red and black topped funnel. However her radar mast, kingposts, derricks and small aft mast were all painted in a dark reddish brown colour.

Her interiors received contemporary and a stylish modern décor. All her cabins and public venues received the best facilities as well as new furnishings that were of the highest quality! All five-passenger decks received new names, commencing from topside with Boat Deck, Promenade, Ivory, Jade and Topaz Deck. She now had two spacious Deluxe Suites, single, twin, triple and four berth cabins.

Upon completion, her passenger capacity had been reduced to just 375, thus she was now a far more spacious cruise ship than ever before, and even compared to any other ship of her size. Having been renamed Marco Polo, she was the very first ship to carry this name since the Adriatica Lines SS Marco Polo, which they purchased in 1936 and was broken up in 1950.

The delightful looking all new MTS Marco Polo departed the Clyde, Scotland under the British flag and she sailed without any passengers via the Cape for her delivery voyage to Melbourne Australia where she arrived in June 1970.

Here we see the all-new MTS Marco Polo arriving in a port whilst she was en route to Australia having been refitted in Scotland

Photographer unknown – *Please read the Photo notes at the bottom of the page!

Upon arrival, she was fully stored and stocked up and made ready for her new role and she departed for her maiden Australian cruise to the Pacific on June 26, 1970. Her voyages consisted of the ever-popular South Pacific cruises circuit as well as the extended voyages to the Asia, which would become the main part of her future programme and her longer Asian cruises would prove to be extremely popular! The Marco Polo became a much loved cruise ship and she was a very successful ship indeed, being very much due to her delightful intimate atmosphere on board, combined with fine service, excellent cuisine and the great range of ports called on!

The superb looking Dominion Lines MTS Marco Polo

Photograph by & © John Darroch

H.C. Sleigh also knew very well that the two extremely popular Dutch ships the Royal Interocean Lines MS Tjiluwah and Tjiwangi had been taken out of service and sold to a Singaporean Company, and they had been very popular on the Orient service for countless years, thus they were able to take over many of their repeat passengers with this newer larger ship, yet still offering such a small capacity, which on a twin bedded loading would normally be around 200 to 250 passengers at the most. And in fact this theory worked and many did come over.


Here we see the schedule for a special tropical Queensland coastal cruise, as well as a 2 night Sydney to Melbourne

or a Sydney or Melbourne to Auckland, New Zealand voyage

Of course, it should not be forgotten that Dominion/H.C. Sleigh did operate two smaller ships, which the Marco Polo in replaced, these were the two delightful 7,743 tons SS Francis Drake and the George Anson which were taken out of service in 1971 and sold to be broken up.

A postcard of the delightful SS George Anson

In her time, the MTS Marco Polo visited more ports around the Pacific, new Zealand, Asia and around Australia, which other cruise ships just did not call on. Thus, for Australian’s and New Zealander’s who loved cruising they were looking for longer voyages that offered greater adventures, thus she was a ship better suited and gained great popularity. However, it in 1977, when she made her very first visit to Shanghai in China, which in those days was certainly far off the beaten track for Australian’s. The Marco Polo was made very welcome by the Chinese officials with a special ceremony and after her introduction visit there, she became a regular sight in Shanghai, to the delight of Australian’s!

MTS Marco Polo seen in 1977

I would assume that it is needlessly to say, that by the mid seventies, the larger P&O Lines, Shaw Savill, Sitmar and CTC cruise ships, including I must say my own ship, competed in the same market, and thus the more intimate Marco Polo was beginning to find it more difficult to compete with these ships considering they offered massive promotions in Newspapers and TV with the big budgets that came with it, promoting their grand international entertainment acts from around the world, and the restaurants and buffets, etc. It all sounded so grand, even though it may not have been quite as good as the Marco Polo was in some ways! Yet her bookings remained quite good. Then without notice came a sudden announcement!

MTS Marco Polo final stormy Cruise:

After years of excellent cruise operations, Dominion Line suddenly announced in May 1978 that the Marco Polo had been sold to a Greek (Kavounides Shipping Co) owned Hong Kong Company, known as Aquamarine International. The reasoning behind the announcement was beyond my personal understanding, considering I had contacts in the company and I was told that bookings were still very good as was her advance bookings, but the head office overseas had disposed of her and then advised Australia.

Marco Polo’s final cruise departed Sydney on June 7, 1978. However, unknown at the time to her 192 passengers, that this would be a cruise never to be forgotten!

Her Asian itinerary included ports in Japan, then to Hong Kong, Singapore as well as Bali. However, whilst she was sailing in the China Sea, between Nagasaki and Hong Kong, Marco Polo was caught in the grip of a massive typhoon and she suffered a wild battering not for one day, but for five long days and she had to ride it out as she was not able enter to enter any port for they were all closed! Sadly this resulted in a good number of injuries amongst her passengers. Finally upon arriving in Hong Kong the injured were taken good care off, and those who required hospitalisation were taken care off, but thankfully most passengers were able to return to the ship or remain on board, being cared for by the ships doctor if needed.

However, Marco Polo also needed to have some injuries to be taken care of before she could continue her voyage and return to Sydney. There was no doubt, she had been really been battered around during those harrowing days at sea as well.

The Marco Polo returned to Sydney on August 23, 1978 where she was de-commissioned and handed over to her new owners. She soon departed, sailing via Singapore and she headed for Greece.

Marco Polo is sold to become the MS Aquamarine:

She has an extensive refit in Greece, which included her forward Boat Deck superstructure being extended forward, and she was renamed Aquamarine. Having received an extensive refit and looking a beautiful ship with brand new facilities, she headed for Hong Kong and commenced 14-day Asian cruises with her first departure being on April 16, 1979.

The all white MTS Aquamarine

Her new cruise schedule being Hong Kong to Japan and China, competing directly with her sister ship the MS Coral Princess, ex Princesa Leopoldina, which that had been obtained by the Hong Kong based Swire Group, the China Navigation Co in 1970. A number of Australians flew to Hong Kong to cruise on their much-loved ex Marco Polo, for she remained without a doubt a popular ship and American and Australian travel companies had special packages arranged for Fly/Cruise packages, as the Aquamarine operated rather unique voyages that allowed her quests longer stays in various ports, thus more excursion times and this proved to be exceedingly popular!

Although she was in competition with her ex sister ship, which had cornered the Asian market, which was doing very well and she would operate for Swire’s China Navigation Co’s, for a good twenty long years.

Marco Polo’s once identical sister, the rebuilt MV Coral Princess

Yet, having proved to be so popular in 1978 and in 1979, but suddenly in March 1980 the Aquamarine was laid up in Hong Kong, then on the April 7, the Aquamarine was arrested non payment of accounts, etc. On July 7, the Commercial Bank of Greece a major creditor purchased the ship at auction at a bargain basement price.

Change of Ownership:

Her new owner attempted to arrange a charter agreement for her and they finally came to an agreement in October 1980, with the Rasa Sayang Cruise Company to operate her for four years cruising out of Sydney, Australia. Thus, it seemed that this good faithful old friend would be coming home very soon, but all too soon the agreement came to nothing, which was most sad indeed!

Her owners attempted to sell the ship, but each attempt failed, thus they decided to bring the MTS Aquamarine home to Greece where she was laid up at Eleusis Bay near Piraeus in 1981 and there she remained until 1988. Thus this superb cruise ship laid idle, for a full seven years, which was tragic!

A New life as the MTS Odysseus:

Having been laid up in Hong Kong and Greece, the ship was finally purchased in 1988 by the famous Greek company that commenced in 1850, being the famed Epirotiki Steamship Co, later known as Epirotiki Cruises.

To be continued on Page Two - see the INDEX below:

Here we see Epirotiki Cruises newly obtained ship, the MTS Odysseus

Photograph by & © Mike Godden



Page One                Princesa Isabel - Later: MTS Marco Polo, Aquamarine & Lucky Star.


Page Two                Odysseus, ex Aquamarine, Marco Polo & Princesa Isabel. Later: Lucky Star & Lucky.


Page Three              Odysseus Photo Page & Deck Plan.


Page Four                Princesa Leopoldina. Later: MV Coral Princess & Millennium Queen & Millennium.




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



Visit our ssMaritime Main INDEX

Where you will discover over 700 Classic Passenger & Passenger-Cargo Liners! &

Where the ships of the past make history & the 1914 built MV Doulos Story


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, in order that due credit may be given.

ssMaritime is owned & © Copyright by Reuben Goossens - All Rights Reserved