MS Princesa Leopoldina - Later: MV Coral Princess then Millennium Queen & Millennium

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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 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 Leopoldina

Later to become the popular ~ MV Coral Princess


Page Four 


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

The photograph above was provided by Samuel Branson

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.

Here we see the first of the pair to be built, the MS Princesa Isabel

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 screws!

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 cabins (50 passengers) that were suitable as interchangeable cabins between First and Tourist as required.

Venues: There were fine 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. They were superbly planned and executed in every sense of the word!

Troubled Times: Since commencing their maiden voyage in 1962, their passenger loadings never reached their full potential and their owner had great expectations from these ships! But they for some reason they never reached their expectations.

In due course it was decided to introduce holiday cruises and these were reasonably popular, but somehow, neither ship ever proved to be a financially viable in the long run and thus the company was suffering!

Here we see Princesa Leopoldina during a cruise at anchor fully decked with festive flags for the cruise

Whist on the other hand this is unusual stern view of this fine ship!

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

New Owner and Service: It was decided in 1966 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 between Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, which continued until 1968.

There was one very special voyage of great note to all Brazilian’s, as the Princesa Leopoldina made a single return voyage to London, taking Brazilian football supporters to see the World Cup in 1966, and that voyage was at least one that was officially fully booked!

However, for all the other voyages, 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.

The Princesa Leopoldina is seen here during lay up, but just prior to be sold to the China Navigation Co

Part Two – MV Coral Princess:

It was not until June 1970 that the Princesa Leopoldina was sold to the China Navigation Co. (C.N. Co), part of the famous Swire Company. They took the ship to the Taikoo Dockyard in Hong Kong, where she received a massive conversion and a comprehensive internal refit to become an excellent cruise ship.

When she was completed she had become like a brand new One Class passenger ship renamed the Coral Princess and she now accommodated just 480 passengers in complete style. Other new additions included a brand new air-Conditioning plant, three new generators, a 500-seat Cinema and the Restaurant had been extended.

The all new MV Coral Princess seen in Hong Kong

Photograph by & © a ‘RobJ

The MS Coral Princess commenced C.N.Co. (part of the famed Swire Company) service in May, 1971, commencing a service out of Japan that specialised in educational seminar cruises as well as Japan-based luxury cruising to the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. For almost twenty years that she sailed under the C.N.Co., colours and she was known for the best, if not the highest safety record and she received fewer passenger complaints than any comparable passenger ship.

Coral Princess - Photo Album

Some of the following photographs were sourced from and we are most grateful this fine organisation!



Above & below: Two postcards, one obviously aimed at the Asian market and another a more general card of the all new looking Coral Princess




Above & below: Coral Princess seen in Milford Sound New Zealand




Above & below: I am told that she is seen here arriving and departing Auckland, New Zealand



A fine view over her aft section


 MV Coral Princess departs Sydney

There was no doubt that the Coral Princess was a ship that was greatly loved and admired, as she was well maintained and the service was excellent! But as time caught up with her, in addition for the elite Asian market sadly her age was catching up with her and thus it was decided to dispose of her and sell her.

Part Three – Her Final Years as a Tragic Gambling Ship:

The faithful MV Coral Princess, a ship that has served Swire’s, China Navigation Co. for a good twenty years, was sold to Universal Boss Ltd., (Universal Summit) Hong Kong in May 1990. The Universal Group renamed her ‘Cora Princess’ and placed her on short gambling cruises in the Far East. This continued for the next three years,

Here we see her renamed the Cora Princess

However, Universal decided that in 1993 they would place her under a new management team, named “Sembawang Johnson Management Pte” of Singapore, at the same time the “L” was placed back in “Coral,” thus she was the Coral Princess once again!

The Coral Princess continued her cheap gambling cruises for another six years, but in 1999, she was given yet another name. The question begs why? Later we discovered that she was getting a poor reputation and a name change was deemed to be a great idea, just if people would be fooled! Thus she was renamed Millennium Queen and she soon continued her cruises. But this was not going to last, for there was not doubt that the gloss had long been lost from this once superbly built and maintained ship, for gabling/casino ships in those days were rarely well looked after or maintained, and they would wait to get things done, if they could get away with it.

A small image of the MV Millennium Queen at sea just before she was laid up

Thus in 2000, this once beautifully built, but now completely worn out ship was laid up in Malaysia and placed on the market for a song. However, there were simply no buyers for this wreck of a ship, for by now she had more problems, be it in the engine room, plumbing, electric wiring and believe me she a fire trap! Thus she was even a danger for the breakers. And to move her anywhere would be a problem with the new SOLAS regulations coming up.

The truth is that the best thing for the now named Millennium was the breakers torches, for she had deteriorated badly and she could never sail again! Finally on June 28, 2001 she had been sold and arrived at the breakers yard under tow at Alang India to be broken up.

Even though during her last eleven years as the Casino ship MV Cora Princess, Millennium Queen did nothing for this once fine cruise ship, but all her days before this was most honourable, both as the superbly built Princesa Leopoldina and the greatly loved and usually booked out Swire’s Coral Princess, for in both guises she was well operated, managed and superbly maintained and both companies can be very proud indeed!

Sadly whilst she was in Brazil she may not have been a financial success, but she was their maritime architectural success, for both ships where simply sublime in design and “Cia. Nacional de Nav. Costeria” should be remembered for their excellence!

MS Princesa Leopoldina – Specifications – as built:


Builder:                                Cia. Euskalduna, Olaveaga, Bilbao.

Yard:                                   156.

Launched:                             March 17, 1961.

Maiden Voyage:                     October 1962.

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

Length:                                145.39m – 477ft.

Width:                                  18.645m - 61.17ft.

Draught:                               5.5m – 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 First Class, 280 Tourist Class.

                                           Fully air-conditioned.

                                           Denny-Brown Stabilisers.


As the Coral Princess ex Princesa Leopoldina sails away, we will remember her as having been built

As a perfectly balanced ship, without these ugly aft additions, but her passengers loved the ship and that is what counts!




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


Page Two                Odysseus - 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.”



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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.

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