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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author


MS Angelina Lauro

 The Tragic end of the ex MS Oranje

March 30, 1979


The Costa Lines “Angelina” seen in her last days

Please Note: All Photographs (except for postcards above and at bottom of page) of the burning ship were taken by Neil Whitmore, Maitre d'hotel on MV Sun Princess. They were taken between 4.30 & 11.30pm on March 30, 1979, and the final ones of the listing wreck one week later after the Sun Princess had returned to St Thomas as well as the arrival of the Island Princess taken from the stern of the Sun Princess.

On March 30, 1979, whilst on a cruise, Angelina Lauro was berthed at St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, when suddenly a fire broke out in her aft galley, which rapidly spread forward through the restaurants and passenger accommodations. Even though the well trained crew did everything possible to contain the fire, the task was too great and soon flames roared from her top decks. Thankfully, most of her passengers and crew were ashore when the fire broke out. All those onboard managed to disembark safely.

Fire has forged its way forward. Note activity still taking place on the gangplank

A number of attempts were made to tow her away from the wharf; however this failed due to the weight of the water that had been pumped into the ship. Slowly she ended up sitting on the shallow bottom with a list to port. Thankfully there was no loss of life.

Neil Whitmore, Maitre d'hotel on Sun Princess adds the following to the story …

Most of the ships in port that day were on the final day of their seven day Caribbean cruise having commenced from San Juan. As a result, passengers from the Angelina Lauro were divided into groups between the various ships in port taken and aboard for an overnight voyage back to San Juan.

Most of Angelina’s passengers had been ashore in shorts and tops and had lost all their belongings in the fire thus, some of our passengers gave them items of clothing. Sun Princess took 400 of Angelina’s passengers and provided them with a substantial self service buffet dinner and a continental breakfast the next morning before they disembarked in San Juan where they were flown home to the mainland of the USA. It certainly stretched our catering facilities.

Angelina Lauro was declared to be a total loss and remained dockside for some three months. Eventually the German salvage company, Eckhardt & Company of Hamburg was awarded the contract to raise her from the bottom and have her refloated. This was achieved on July 2, 1979.

Having been sold for scrap to Taiwanese ship breakers, she departed under tow on July 30. She successfully navigated the Panama Canal and headed across the Pacific towards Asia. However, on September 21, being mid Pacific, Angelina Lauro’s fire affected warped hull plates began to take on water, which saw her slowly listing. Even though her list increased, she remained afloat for three days, but, by the evening of September 23 she was fully on her side. It was not until early the next morning, just before sunrise, that Angelina Lauro, ex Oranje, slowly sank.

MS Oranje departed on her maiden voyage on September 4, 1939, 20 days after her 40 year milestone, she passed beneath the waves. Her previous running mate Achille Lauro (ex Willem Ruys), which became well known for the terrorist attack in Egypt, continued cruising until November 1994, when she caught fire and sank on December 2, 1994.


Passengers and local watch dockside 


A proud ship nears her end


 At 11.30pm, although tragic, Angelina Lauro provides St Thomas with a spectacular light show


 One week later she has burned herself out and is a tragic sight


 To look at her here, it is so hard to believe this fine liner has given so many the voyage of a lifetime!


Note the oil slick protector surrounds the ship


A dramatic photograph of the Angelina Lauro, whilst the Island Princess enters the port


This fine ship gave 40 years of excellent service to both the Netherland line as MS Oranje, then Flotta Lauro Line as MS Angelina Lauro! To this day, past passengers email me with stories of their voyage on the Dutch liner or the Italian Liner and later a cruise ship. All had joyful memories and simply loved to talk about her features, experiences and not to forget the many love stories. No doubt, they, and all who sailed on her as a passenger or crew member, will always fondly remember her.

MS Oranje in the 1950’s


MS Angelina Lauro in Sydney


Page One: The Oranje Story

Page Two: The Angelina Lauro Story

Page Three: Angelina Lauro Photo Page

Page Four: Angelina Lauro’s demise

Page Five: Angelina Lauro Deck Plan

Page Six: MS Orange – Passenger list of her very first voyage/cruise 4 Aug 1939

Provided by passenger Dieuwertje Goedkoop


Visit our Main Index for features on other Dutch liners, such as the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Sibajak, Willem Ruys (Achille Lauro), the TSS Rijndam and Maasdam, SS Rotterdam and SS Nieuw Amsterdam, the simple migrant ships such as the Waterman, Groote Beer and Zuiderkruis, as well as the famed “Elegant yachts” of Royal Inter Ocean Lines ships, and many other Dutch Passenger/Cargo ships, all of which can be found on my Main Index.



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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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