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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author

 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 to write article on classic liners and cruise ships in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for their pleasure!

SS Oriana


Page Five

1st Lady of the Sea

By Neil Whitmore

Neil (Bob) Whitmore, Oriana’s Maitre d’Hotel (1976 to 86)


Oriana at anchor during a South Pacific Cruise

This title was given to the Oriana when she was cruising from Australia, as a result of a song written about the ship, by ‘Sir Deuce,’ a New Zealand group who entertained our passengers when we were at sea. This was a fitting title for what was a much-loved ship. She was also the fastest ship in the P&O (Orient Lines) fleet, and above her bridge, she proudly displayed a brass cockerel, having made the fastest crossings of both the pacific and Indian oceans.

After passenger numbers declined, due to air travel, Oriana commenced a new career as a cruise ship. She proved to be very popular with Australians, and she mostly departed Sydney with a full capacity of 1500 passengers.


Dry-docking in Singapore

Please Note: All photographs by & © Neil Whitmore



Oriana in a Singapore Dry dock

Every March and September, she made a Far East cruise, while the rest of the year was spent cruising around the Pacific Islands. The September Far East cruise was planned to include the yearly visit to the dry docks at Sembawang in Singapore. One year she would have about nine days in dry dock and the following year 14 days. General maintenance was carried out on her engines, and the hull was cleaned and re-painted. The rudder, propellers, stabilizers, and side thrusters units were also checked and any repairs required were carried out. Various other equipment, had safety checks including anchor chains and the davits, from which the lifeboats were hung. The passenger accommodation also received a face-lift with new carpets and furnishings being fitted, service areas were constantly improved, and a lot of painting was carried out. With work completed she would sail back to Sydney with some of the passengers who had sailed to Singapore and others joining for the return trip.



From Top: ss Oriana in a Singapore dry-dock - One of her screws and the rudder -Starboard Stabiliser fin


“Child of Bounty”

In the pictures on this page are two pictures of the exact replica of the longboat (built in New Zealand & called ‘ Child of Bounty’), in which Captain Bligh, and 18 of his crew were cast adrift on April 28th 1789. The replica and its crew were taken from Sydney to Tonga by Oriana, arriving in Nuku’alofa on the 5th April 1983. It was then planned to sail the boat, leaving Tonga on the 28th April, over 3,000 miles to Jakarta. Filming was planned to take place during the voyage.

Child of Bounty onboard Oriana



A Tongan Fun Run

Many of Oriana's crew, including the captain, took part in fancy dress charity fun runs and other events, raising money for the island charities. Pictures from one of the fun runs, held in Nuku’alofa, are shown here.



Robin Mason Interviews Captain Phillip Jackson dockside


Fun Run Participants dressed to kill – literally!


Interior shots

Other pictures show one of the foyers with items presented to the ship by officials at ports of call and also the Midships Bar, which, in the evenings featured a popular sing along group ‘nostalgia’ who also did the luncheon show at the plough tavern.


Oriana’s “Hall of Fame”


The Midships Bar



I worked on Oriana, where I was known as Bob, from September 1976 until she was withdrawn from service in March 1986. I also sailed on many of the other P&O ships having joined the company in 1951. Should anyone wish to contact me, my e-mail address is

 Neil Whitmore

Tuesday June 24, 1986

A tragic sight, as Oriana’s passes under Sydney Harbour Bridge for the last time 


SS Oriana - Main Index:

Part One         The building of a liner:

Page 1:           The building of SS Oriana

Page 2:           The launching and fitting out of SS Oriana

Page 3:           Sea trials and Oriana’s maiden voyage

Page 4:           Deck Plan, Rare Photographs and other Images

Part Two        The Ships History, Photo Pages & Stories:

Page 1:           History and Images of the Oriana 

Page 2:           Oriana Postcards issued in 1960

Page 3:           Oriana Photo Album - Page 1

Page 4:           Oriana Photo Album - Page 2

Page 5:           Oriana “Lady of the Sea by Neil Whitmore

Page 6:           The Paul Oliver Collection

Page6b:          Paul Oliver Story

Page 7:           Dalian - See the sad photographs of SS Oriana damaged during a storm

Page7b:          Oriana at Zhangiagang shipyard in China - Taken 29 July & 9 September 2005



This is recommended reading!

Orient Line – A Fleet History

Is available for £23.50 plus p&p from “Ships in Focus”




Also Visit our Features on the following Orient Lines/P&O Ships

Orient Lines: RMS OrcadesSS Oronsay - SS Oriana - RMS Orion

P&O: RMS StrathairdSS Iberia - SS Canberra



Return to the ssMaritime MAIN INDEX &

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


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Please Note: ssmaritime and associated sites are 100% non-commercial and the author seeks no funding or favours of any shape or form, never have and never will!

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.

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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