Cogedar Line MS Aurelia previously the MS Huascaran & Beaverbrae later Chandris Cruises MS Romanza & New Ambassador Cruises Romantica 

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With Reuben Goossens

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

Please Note: All ssMaritime and my other related ssMaritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues and I hope that the well over 600 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers ships I have written on will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts and continue a great deal of information and pleasure!

Cogedar Line

MS Aurelia

Other names: Huascaran, Beaverbrae, Aurelia, Romanza, Romantica

A fine photograph of the MS Aurelia seen during a cruise from Australia

 

Photographs on these pages are from the author’s private collection, unless stated otherwise!

The Ship as Built - MS Huascaran:

MS Aurelia was originally built as the 6,951 GRT (Gross Registered Ton), Hamburg America Line Passenger-Cargo Ship MS Huascaran. She was launched on December 15, 1938 at the Blohm & Voss shipyards in Hamburg on December 15, 1938. When completed and having undertaken her sea trails she was delivered to her owners on April 27, 1939. As built she offered accommodations for 58 First Class passengers in her relatively luxuriously appointed amidships superstructure. The Huascaran departed on her maiden voyage on April 29, 1939 from Hamburg to Genoa. Upon her return to Hamburg she commenced the service she was built for, the Hamburg to the West Coast of South America service and continued on this service together with her sister the MS Orsono and did so until 1940, for the war would change everything!

A waterline model of the MS Huascaran seen as built in 1939

Provided by www.shipmodels.co.uk

In 1940 she was taken over by the German Navy and converted into a submarine/U-Boat depot and later during the war as a Submarine repair ship, spending the majority of her time in Norway where she was finally captured, thankfully an unscathed ship by the British in 1945. She was taken to Liverpool in April 1945 where she was given a refit. Then, in June 1945 she sailed for Montreal as part of Canada’s war reparations and was allocated to the Canadian Government, and she was placed in service as a cargo ship under the management of Park Steamship Company until September 1947.

MS Beaverbrae:

On September 2, 1947, the MS Huascaran was sold to the Canadian Pacific Line and was comprehensively refitted at Sorel, Quebec in Canada. When she was completed her superstructure saw little to no change, whilst above on Boat Deck there were now 10 lifeboats as well as eight lifeboats far aft on her “Poop Deck,” all but two lifeboats, were double stacked or tiered. In addition, her yellow funnel now proudly featured the Canadian Pacific logo.

Canadian Pacific Line 9,034-ton MS Beaverbrae

Her new accommodations were as follows; she now offered new upgraded cabin accommodations for 74 passengers, however she also had dormitory accommodations for up to 699 persons. On February 8, 1948 she departed on her maiden voyage as the MS Beaverbrae, sailing from St John, New Brunswick Canada laden with cargo bound for Tilbury and she then continued to Bremerhaven where she would collect her passengers.

Therefore, Canadian Pacific Line intended at all times to use this ship to transport cargo from Canada to Europe and for the return voyage she would carry passengers as well as some cargo, from Germany (or other designated ports) to Canada. When returning to Canada, one of her holds would be completely converted and transformed into a number of dormitories and when in Canada, these were removed to be used as a hold again for her voyage eastward to Europe.

In due course, there was a decline in the passenger’s trade that suited this ship, thus the MS Beaverbrae as no longer required and she made her last migrant voyage when she departed Bremerhaven on July 28, 1954. Amazingly, this well built ship that already had two lives had made a good 51 voyages and carried over 38,000 displaced persons and other passengers to their new homeland Canada.

From Cargo Ship to Passenger Liner:

First Cogedar post card of MS Aurelia

The Beaverbrae was purchased on November 1, 1954 by the well-known Italian shipping Company, “Cia, Genovese do Armamento,” or as the company is better known, “Cogedar Line.” Having taken delivery they renamed her Aurelia and they took her to Monfalcone, Trieste in order to extensively rebuild her as a major passenger liner to be operated mostly on the profitable Italy to Australian service.

Her superstructure was stretched forward and aft making her more like a passenger liner. Topside on Sports Deck far forward there was a glass enclosed deck space offering views over the forward decks of the ship. Along the sides there were covered decks leading to a sports deck. One deck down on Lido Deck, or Lounge Deck, there were still some cabins far forward and lounges aft, but these were spread the full width of the ship. Aft of thee was the outdoor pool and further deck space. The next deck down was Promenade Deck, generally called Shelter Deck, and besides the main Lobby forward, aft was the main Dining Room.

She accommodated 1,124 passengers in cabins raging from 2 to 8 berth cabins. Forward on Lido Deck in the new added superstructure located between the eight lifeboats contained some 12 outside cabins that had a private toilet, with their own or shared shower facilities between two cabins. There was also 1 outside cabin that had use the shared facilities with the 4 inside cabins. The shared facilities were located close by. Air-Conditioning had been installed throughout the ship and she was registered in Genoa and as being 10,022 GRT.

Here we see her after her first refit into a passenger liner in 1954/55

On May 13, 1955 Aurelia departed Trieste bound for Sydney for her first voyage and joined her fleet mate the MS Flaminia that had departed only one month earlier, however Aurelia’s homeport would soon become Genoa and she departed from there for her first Genoa to Australia and New Zealand voyage on November 15.

The Aurelia is seen transiting the Suez Canal in 1958

Amazingly, Cogedar decided during the European winter months of 1958/59 that it was worthwhile to replace her original Man Diesels with a brand new pair of the same type. In addition The was given a comprehensive refit that saw some alterations take place throughout her interiors as well as to her exterior, which saw her profile further enhanced.

Forward above the accommodation superstructure between the lifeboats, up on Sports Deck area, an open-air glass enclosed Solarium deck and children’s pool was added. At a later date this section was partially covered and much later still, after her Chandris Cogedar days, this deck was completely rebuilt to contain cabins.

Forward, but below the bridge was the new Solarium deck and children’s pool

Directly below and aft of the cabins on Lido Deck was the main Lounge section of the ship with six wonderful Lounges and Bars as well as the Swimming Pool and ample Deck space located aft. Above the Swimming Pool there was an oval opening to Sports Deck where there was also a spacious deck space!

Lido Pool with slippery slide was located aft of the main lounges, however we do see the very popular Lido Bar

It is here were the author spent considerable time during his cruise and befriended famed New Zealand

and Australian Pop Star the wonderfully and talented Dinah Lee and she still is!

 

This is the original Album cover still in my collection, which I obtained in New Zealand, before meeting Dinah

There was no doubt that the Aurelia’s appearance had vastly improved and she did become a popular ship indeed! Upon completion, she was listed as being 10,480 GRT, but amazingly her passenger capacity remained the same.

A postcard with an artist impression of the new 1959 MS Aurelia

Aurelia had now been transferred to operate from Bremerhaven and Northern European Ports. She departed from Bremerhaven on June 12, 1959 for Sydney and she continued on the Australian service.

 

Above & below: these postcards clearly show the forward Solarium without any covering

Whilst in the postcard below we can clearly see that the forward section is now partially covered

 

However, the Aurelia was chartered by the Council of Student Travel for a single round Trans-Atlantic voyage from Bremen to New York, arriving June 27, 1960. This experiment was very successful and it was repeated in 1961 in 1962 and 1963 and she made a good number of Trans-Atlantic voyages whilst she was with Cogedar!

During 1964 the Aurelia had commenced to call into Rotterdam and there she collected many Dutch passengers, she would then head to Bremerhaven, continue her voyage to England and on Australia. However, on December 9 1964, the Aurelia departed from Rotterdam on the first of three around the world voyages sailing via the Panama to New Zealand and Australia and then returning via the Suez Canal. Thereafter she returned to her regular return voyages via the Suez Canal.

Trans-Atlantic Student Voyages:

In addition throughout her years she would be chartered to operate Trans-Atlantic student voyages from Channel ports always sailing to New York.

 

Above & below: we see the Aurelia in New York during one of the Council of Student Travel voyages

These images were sent in by a supporter without any details - Please see Photo Notes at the bottom of this page

 

SS Flavia:

In the meantime, Cogedar had obtained the Cunard passenger-cargo ship the RMS Media, which was completely rebuilt, which many call the greatest rebuild in history, for the original ship was to say the least somewhat of an ugly duckling and the SS Flavia, well you can see yourself in the photograph below. The SS Flavia as has been claimed to be, by many maritime designers as being “A Beautiful, Graceful, Sleek White Swan!” And I agree, as I sailed on this beautiful liner from Rotterdam to Auckland New Zealand in 1965.

Here we see the streamlined SS Flavia, being Aurelia’s modern running mate

The Flavia joined the Aurelia on October 2, 1962 and they continued on the Australian service. Both ships sailed on with considerable success for the next five years, although in due course there was change coming that would have an effect on them both.

Changes in the late 60s:

The first blow to all shipping was the closure of the Suez Canal in 1967, meaning that all ships had to sail around South Africa, which were a longer voyage and also a costly one. But at much same time there was also a decline of the migrant trade as well as passenger numbers returning to Europe for their return voyages, which was a very big part of their income, and this was mostly due to the popularity of air travel with airlines having commenced charter flights with cheap fears! And there were even special super cheap flights from Singapore to London or Europe, and various ships operated “Fly/Cruises” from Australian ports at excellent fares, offering a short ocean all inclusive voyage and return airfares.

MS Aurelia seen arriving in port from another voyage

Photographer unknown - *Please see photo notes at bottom of page

Thus those two events, with air travel and the slowing of the migrant trade by sea would bring about an end to a well established relationship between the Italian Cogedar Line that had operated its and Australia and New Zealand, for sadly Cogedar services were about to be cancelled. Although Cogedar did operate a number of cruises and did so with moderate success and the author joined one of these cruises on the Aurelia and had a wonderful time on this ship. However, the end for the Aurelia was in sight.

The Aurelia departed Rotterdam bound for Australia on September 23, 1968 and she would sail via Cape Town in both directions. Sadly for many, the Aurelia departed Sydney for the final time on October 29, 1968. The Flavia concluded about the same time.

MS Aurelia an Unsuccessful Cruise Ship:

Upon her return in Europe she was extensively refitted to become a full time cruise ship. Upon completion, her accommodations were reduced to 470 passengers. The Aurelia departed Southampton on February 5, 1969 on her first cruise to Madeira, but due to lengthy delays during the refit, her original first three cruises had been cancelled, and her cruises somehow did not prove popular or the public had simply lost trust in the company. The cruise series was cancelled in May.

The Aurelia seen in Valletta during her very short cruise season

The Aurelia was chartered in 1969 to operate a series of Trans-Atlantic sailings once again having been chartered; by “Council on International Educational Exchange” and her schedule was as follows:

Southampton (June 1), Le Havre (June 1), New York (June 10) - New York (June 11), Southampton (June 19), Le Havre. (June 20).
Le Havre. (June 21), Southampton (June 21), New York (June 30) - New York (June 30), Southampton (July 8), Le Havre. July 9).
Le Havre. (July 21),
Southampton (July 21), New York (July 30). Rotterdam. (Aug 9), Le Havre. (Aug 10), Southampton (Aug 10) New York (Aug 19) - New York (Aug 20), Southampton (Aug 28), Le Havre. (Aug 29). Le Havre. (Aug 30), Southampton (Aug 30), New York (Sept 8) - New York (Sept 9), Le Havre. (Sept 18), Southampton (Sept 18).

I wish to thank Mr. Charles Addington for providing the schedule above.

MS Aurelia made 34 Trans-Atlantic voyages during her career, but upon her return voyage from New York on September 18, 1969 she had been sold.

The wonderful MS Aurelia is seen here during her final voyage to Australia in September/October 1968

A New Direction - Chandris Cruises - MS Romanza:

A wonderful old slide from my collection of the MS Romanza, just after completion

Chandris Lines/Cruises had purchased her in September 1970, and renamed her Romanza. As soon as Chandris took possession of the ship they took her to her to Piraeus, Greece where she would be extensively refitted at to become a full time cruise ship. Internally she received 238 new cabins the majority of cabins having Private Facilities the previous children’s deck and paddling pool area was fully enclosed and became filled with new accommodations. All her lounges and Bars and Dining Facilities were remodelled. As she now accommodated just 650 passengers, thus she no longer required those 24 Double-Decker lifeboats, thus they were halved to just 10 in total.

When fully completed she had been internally beautifully appointed, as well as looking externally like a fresh new looking ship! MS Romanza departed Venice on her official first cruise on April 1, 1971 and she became a popular Mediterranean cruise ship over the next years!

 Chandris Cruises MS Romanza is seen departing Venice on her first cruise

Under Chandris she was listed as being 8,891 GRT, and proved to be a huge success in the Mediterranean. Although she also proved to be the perfect ship for Cruise & Travel Operators who would charter her for period of time. But late in 1976 Crown Cruises who chartered the Romanza suddenly wend bankrupt and the ship was returned to Chandris and they chartered her to another company who operated her out of Brazil. Later she would cruise the Mediterranean from April to October and the Indian Ocean regions from South Africa between November to March.

The delightful Chandris Cruises MS Romanza

However, in her later career she did have a number of mishaps. The first mishap occurred on October 17, 1979 when The Romanza ran aground on Dhenousa Island during an Aegean cruise, and she suffered substantial hull damage, passengers were transferred to another Chandris cruise ship that happened to be close by being the beautiful MV The Victoria. Considering that she had sunk at the bow, two days later she was raised and the Romanza was taken undertow and taken to Syros where she would be made safe to travel further. Later she departed for the long tow home to Piraeus for where she would be fully repaired.

When completed she returned to her Chandris Cruises weekly summer Mediterranean circuit as well as other charters whenever they arose during the offseason, when she could be used in South America or the Caribbean. But until 1997 she was kept as busy ship, but there were times that she was laid up at Piraeus for several months during the offseason.

The Romanza seen at Valetta, Malta

Lloyd Brasileiro Cruises Brasil:

Then in 1983 the MS Romanza was chartered to Companhia de Navegacao, or Lloyd Brasileiro being Brazil's state-owned shipping Company who gave her another refit which saw her new accommodation 707 passengers.

MS Romanza is seen arriving at Rio de Janeiro whilst she was chartered to Lloyd Brasileiro Cruises

Whilst the MS Romanza was in service with Lloyd Brasileiro Cruises she proved to be a successful, as well as a profitable ship for the company and she remained with them for a good eight years to 1991, for the company decided to look for new and larger tonnage that had come available!

During her career right up to 1991 the Aurelia, Romanza had proved to be and excellent and a most reliable ship, considering she was now aged a good 37 years, from when she rebuilt from a humble cargo ship into a full scale Passenger Liner, the MS Aurelia, or 52 years since the ship was originally built as the German MS Huascaran! At all times she had remained in excellent condition, for she was meticulously maintained throughout her days and she had been constantly updated with the latest safety and navigation equipment, facilities and officers and crew received ongoing training. MS Romanza was classified as being A1 by Lloyds of London and all her certifications were up to date. There is a very good reason I mention this at this stage, the reason is that things are about to change for this amazing ship as she was about to leave the Chandris stable as she was sold to a new owner in 1991!

New Ambassador Leisure Cruises:

In 1991, she was sold to New Ambassador Leisure Cruises of Cyprus who renamed her, Romantica and she was to operate on the company’s new Limassol-based short cruise program to Egypt and Israel. At first the Romantica was a resounding success, but then a new Cypriot based Company came on the scene they with an aggressive programme simply overtook New Ambassador Cruises for Louis Cruise Line offered considerable competition. In addition, Louis had also obtained the luxurious Chandris MV The Victoria, which they renamed Princesa Victoria as well as other ships. Thus, just four years after the Romanza was purchased New Ambassador Cruises went bankrupt in 1995, and MS Romantica was taken over by Amnesty Shipping Company, Limassol and the just laid her up at Piraeus, where she remained for almost two years.

Paradise Cruises and the End of a Fine Ship:

Finally the Romantica was sold early in 1997 to the Cyprus-based Paradise Cruises, and she was again refurbished. The company owned the very popular cruise ship the MS Atalante and they intended that both she and the Romantica would operate their popular two and five day Mediterranean cruises that could also be taken as a seven-day voyage.

Aurelia-Atalante

Paradise Cruises’ MS Atalante

 

This is a postcard of the very short-lived New Ambassador Cruises MS Romantica

However, tragically the Romantica would have a very short life with her new owner, for her passengers one cruise was no Paradise, but more like a horror movie, for during one of her early cruises, on October 4, 1997 the Romantica caught fire off Limassol and the fire completely gutted and destroyed the ship.

Thankfully, it was her old Chandris fleet mate that had rescued previous; the MV Princesa Victoria came to her aid once again and rescued all passengers and crew. The wonderful old ship completely burned out and this once proud liner sank and was declared constructive total loss.

A tragic sight of the fire ravaged MS Romantica

Having been raised and awaiting her fate, finally in April 1999 the ex MS Huascaran, Beaverbrae, Aurelia, Romanza & Romantica was towed to Alexandria, Egypt where she was to be broken up.

Here we see her raised and ready to be towed to Egypt to be broken up!

 

Specifications

Built:                           Blohm & Voss Hamburg

Yard #:                        518

Launched:                    December 15, 1938

Hamburg-America Line:     April 27, 1939

Tonnage:                      10,480 GRT - Aurelia

Length:                        148.7m - 487 feet

Width:                         18.4m - 60 feet

Draft:                           6.7m – 21 feet

Engine:                        Diesel-electric (3 MAN type diesels)

Screw:                         Single

Speed:                         17 knots

Passengers:                  32 First Class

Passengers:                  1,124

Crew Aurelia:                28

                                   Fully air-conditioned

 

Three photographs of Aurelia & Romanza in her better days

 

MS Aurelia seen arriving at Station Pier Melbourne on November 18, 1962

Photograph was kindly provided by Yvette Meijer, daughter of the late Jacoba Meijer, nee Ris & is © Copyright.

Read Jacoba’s story on her own page via the link below!

 

A fine aerial photograph of the Chandris cruise ship MS Romanza

 

MS Romanza passing through the Corinth Canal

 

MS Aurelia & Cogedar Line INDEX:

 

Page One:      MS Aurelia – history page - This page.

 

Page Two:      The Bulthuis Family Story.

 

Page Three:    MS Aurelia - Photo Page.

 

Page Four:      Jacoba Ris-Török Story.

 

Also read:     Other Cogedar Line ships

 

                     MS Flaminia - The Old Cogedar Liner.

 

                     RMS Media / SS Flavia - The last of the Cogedar Ships.

 

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

 

****************************

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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 www.ssmaritime.com only), in order that due credit may be given.

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