Netherland Line MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, sold to become the TSMS Lakonia

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Author, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer and 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 well over 700 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information they are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure!

“Memories of the JVO

MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

Chapter Five

JVO the Cruise Ship

Flag of the Netherland Line - Royal Dutch Mails


The author, living in Wellington New Zealand during the early sixties, had been employed with Russell and Sommers, being the General Sales Agents of the Netherland Line and Royal Rotterdam Lloyd as an office boy. During this time, many happy hours were spent on the JVO, as well as the Oranje and Willem Ruys and many other ships, whenever they were in port. However, in December 1961, then employed with the Union Steamship Co of New Zealand, as a supply officer; I had the opportunity to enjoy a Christmas and New Year Cruise on the JVO. Only New Zealander’s were able to enjoy both celebrations on the one cruise, for Australian’s, would have Christmas on one voyage and the New Year the next cruise from Sydney. Those commencing their cruise in New Zealand enjoyed both events on the one cruise.


JVO in Wellington ready to depart for her cruise

Photo by & Reuben Goossens

Upon arrival at Queens Wharf on 20 December 1961, the JVO looked in a holiday mood, with flags strung out from bow to stern and a Christmas tree placed high on the forward mast. Being the traditional days of shipping, the band played out on promenade deck, adding to the excitement and festivities. Thousands of colourful streamers linked the ship to those down on the wharf. Then suddenly, three long blasts on the ship whistle, as we departed Wellington commencing a full two wonderful weeks aboard the beautiful MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, being utterly spoilt with superb service, the finest of food and for those days great entertainment, with one of the most popular and greatly loved Italian bands, as well as special guests!

Itinerary: Depart Wellington Wednesday December 20, 1961, Auckland Friday December 22, Melbourne Wednesday December 27, Sydney Friday & Saturday December 29 & 30, New Years Eve party Sunday Sea. Return to Wellington Wednesday January 3, 1962.

Thus we sailed north to New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. There, berthed at the next pier, was the great Huddart Parker Trans Tasman liner Wanganella. This two-funnelled ship with the traditional black hull looked rather old; yet, this ship was a number of years younger than the more modern looking JVO. After a delightful day in Auckland, we crossed the Tasman for a day in an extremely hot Melbourne, where I saw the very first "Drive-In" Cinema during our tour. We then sailed to Sydney for my first visit to the really big smoke. I think that everybody was up early to witness our arrival into this beautiful harbour. And we could see the skeleton of the Sydney Opera House that was still very much a huge concrete building site, but the the frames to hold up the sails had already gone up in part. The ship docked at the Wooloomooloo wharf it was certainly not the world’s best place to dock, and not very close to the city. But, all of us Kiwis really enjoyed the city and most of us took the lift to the top of Sydney's highest building, which was then the AMP building at Circular quay. The author lived in Sydney for five years from 1994 to December 1999, when he moved back to Brisbane up in Queensland, where he had moved in the mid sixtees.

A traditional Dutch welcome onboard!

Life on the JVO was full of excitement as many of its passengers were experiencing their very first cruise ever. Although some had travelled on ships in the past, mostly as migrants to Australia and New Zealand, but cruising was certainly a whole new experience, for both the service and cuisine was of a much higher standard than most had ever experienced on their migrant voyages. Meals were a daily highlight with a huge variety of culinary events. The cruise staff would add various delightful touches, like having souvenir flags of the ship printed with the evening’s menu on one side. These would a gift, one for each passenger. When a new item was presented it always came with a new surprise.

Pne of the typical Netherland Line flag menu


Boat Deck Port looking aft

Photo by & Reuben Goossens


Ocean Bar forward on the starboard side of Promenade deck

All nine hundred passengers enjoyed JVO’s many lounges and bars. Especially the Old World grandeur, of the fine timbered Smoking Room, the Writing Room, and the Grand Social Music Room., also called the Statesman Lounge.

For a more casual time, and a drink, there was the bright and modern Ocean Bar located on the forward (glass-enclosed) promenade. This venue proved to be popular day and night.

The elegant Smoking Room Forward on Promenade deck


Reading and Writing Room forward Port Side


The Statesman Lounge - previously the Music Saloon


The Author receives his Christmas gift in the Statesman’s Lounge December 1961

Was I ever that young???

Shipboard photographer & used by permission


A colour image of the superb Statesman Lounge


The Pilsander Lounge


The Pilsander Bar

The Pilsander Lounge and bar was originally the second-class main lounge, was also well frequented, although it was the more casual of the interior lounges on promenade deck. Mid ships on Promenade deck was the Cinema come Wintergarden and the third dance venue on board. The Christmas Eve Ball was held here with passengers receiving a gift. These gifts consisted of Dutch chocolates and a small Delft Blue clog or a wall tile. This room was decorated with all the usual Christmas trinkets including a fully lit Christmas tree.

Cinema / Wintergarden


Christmas Ball

Photo by & Reuben Goossens

Each evening, the nightclub, Neptune’s Tavern, on Upper Deck was a huge success. The pianist or band would play for entertainment and dancing. New Years Eve was spent in this club, and together with many revellers, we joyfully ushered in the New Year. On this warm and calm night, the ship stopped just before midnight. Then at the end of the countdown to midnight the ships whistles loudly announced to all and sundry that 1962 had arrived.


Neptune Tavern aft Veranda

The very popular Neptune’s Tavern nightclub

The popular Mimmo Bruno Orchestra provided music. Mimmo a pianist and vocalist was well supported by his wife Speranza a songster of note, and a trio consisting of bass player, violinist and drummer. Another vocalist and pianist on board completed the musical entertainment. Mimmo Bruno became so popular with Kiwis and Australians they recorded an album at the HMV Studios whilst in Wellington in 1962. It became a top seller on board and throughout New Zealand.

Mimmo Bruno was a huge hit not only on board but also in New Zealand

Shipboard photographer & used by permission

The LP cover featured a large colour photograph of the fabulous JVO. I have kept my copy of the album to this day. Certainly modern ships provide a superior variety of entertainments, but JVO for her day was a happy ship, providing all the usual on board activities, and it was enjoyed by all.

My record of Mimmo Bruno purchased on board and fully signed by the band on the back

The Album is from my personal collection


Folding windows were fastened on the ceiling on warm days, or folded down in the cold

Promenade Deck: The exterior spaces of the promenade were quite unique and very well planed; as the forward Promenade Deck had a glass enclosure with floor to ceiling windows and on the starboard side there was the delightful Ocean Bar. The next section going as far back to the aft section of the amidships cinema/ballroom had timber framed floor to ceiling windows (with a central handrail), thus they would be lowered from the ceiling in colder climes or lifted up and fastened securely above. Thus, the deck would be open and sunshine and a delightful warm breeze would be available! To those who love to spend time on the Promenade!


Above & below: Here we see the windows both up and down. As the ship was in port, it was windy on one side, thus they were closed on that side

Photographs by & Reuben Goossens


The aft section of the Cinema/Lounge, the decks were open as the image below shows and they were very wide and spacious and it also had the main entrance to both the Pilsander Lounge and the Bar as well as the aft stairwell.

Aft, open Promenade Deck starboard side, located next to the Pilsander Lounge and Bar

Photo by & Reuben Goossens


A pool was placed in the aft Hold. Forward of the pool was the popular Soda Fountain

Photo by & Reuben Goossens



Above and below: The Soda Fountain



Looking forward on the Pool/Lido Deck aft on Boat Deck

Photo by & Reuben Goossens


A typical two-berth cabin without a private bathroom

Private facilities were only available in the suites


The Shop was located forward on Main Deck with a Lounge area


The Forward Restaurant Entrance on B Deck


Bandstand and surrounding Terrace is located above on A Deck above Restaurant


The Author (first right) Xmas Eve 1961 starboard side the forward Restaurant

The two timber and chrome panels slide over to cover the portholes at night

Shipboard photographer & used by permission


My Menu Cover on our second evening of the cruise, Thursday December 21, 1961

had this beautiful painting of ship on the cover and the meal was simply superb!


The Aft Restaurant on B Deck with its surrounding beautiful timber balustrade one deck up on A Deck


Sun Deck with the raised Sports Deck aft

Photo by & Reuben Goossens


 I am looking from the aft of the Bridge towards the indoor swimming pool that had dressing rooms and a Bar

However, as can be seen above there was glass sliding panels at the top that would open in warmer climates

Photo by & Reuben Goossens


Arriving in Sydney (Wooloomooloo Wharf) December 29, 1961


Chapter 6 - Goodbye JVO


Or the - JVO Index



“Blue Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
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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 only be found at in order that due credit may be given.

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