Union Castle Line; RMS Pendennis Castle

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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 around 680 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.


Union-Castle Line 


RMS Pendennis Castle 


RMS Pendennis Castle departing Southampton for South Africa

From the author’s private collection


Paul Williams’ Voyage to Durban in 1975

I received several emails from Paul Williams and on August 5, 2011, he told me that he had sailed on the RMS Pendennis Castle from Southampton to Durban in mid seventies and obviously he had an enjoyable voyage on this delightful Union Castle liner! Paul stated that he had some photographs and that he would scan and send them. Obviously he did this and in result being this delightful page has now come about.

I trust that Paul’s story will provide the reader with some happy memories to all who may have sailed on this fine 28,582-ton liner, as well as for those who are classic ship lovers, for I am sure that it will provide a delightful insight of her ocean going days, which are now sadly long gone!

I hereby wish to thank Paul for adding his story for it adds another small insight into the eighteen years this fine liner sailed on the South African service, but it also adds to the company memory in general! Amazingly, Paul has been the first past passenger to add their story to this ship or any of the Union-Castle liners, whilst I have many past passengers stories associated to some hundred ships online to date. Yet, those who have sailed on Union-Castle Line for some reason are the least forthcoming whilst those who have sailed on Cunard, P&O, Shaw Savill and any of the other great Lines of the world are always ready to add their ocean going tales. Thus, I am grateful to Paul and thank him for adding his part to the RMS Pendennis Castle story, making it a much more personal and an interesting story!

From the author’s private collection



“Dear Reuben, I have managed to dig out and scan the photographs and other relevant material that I still have from my voyage on the RMS Pendennis Castle from Southampton to Durban in 1975.

Having graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering during the summer of 1975, Paul had been recruited by a South African company “Roberts Construction.” Apparently Paul soon after decided to migrate to South Africa and he was booked to go to Durban on the RMS Pendennis Castle.

He recalls that many of … “my fellow passengers were in the same situation and my fare was an assisted passage with the bulk of the cost being paid by the South African government. I shared a four berth inside cabin with three others. We departed Southampton on October 24, 1975 and we called in at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands on October 27, and she arrived at Cape Town on November 6. After our time in Cape Town we proceeded via East London and Port Elizabeth to Durban.”

Regarding his voyage experience Paul said: “There was the traditional Crossing the Equator Ceremony where one of the crew dressed as King Neptune and oversaw the ceremonial dunking of passengers who had not previously crossed the equator in the ship’s pool. It was all good fun.

Every evening during the voyage was crowned by a midnight buffet, as if the constant food throughout the day was not enough. Then, if hunger could possibly strike again, the steward’s pantry was always open for a sandwich in the small hours. The voyage also introduced me to the delights of “Pimms” that was made up properly with a fruit salad and cucumber. This is a summer treat that I still enjoy to this day!”

Paul’s Photo Album

Including a Menu & The Ships Log

As can be seen below, Paul provided a variety of photographs, a menu and the ships log as far as Cape Town, which is considered by Union-Castle as the turn around port, but all of these give us a good insight to Paul’s voyage! The photographs include a fancy dress competition … “I am the guy with a beard in the judo suit. In addition there is also a photograph of our table taken during the Farewell Gala Dinner the night prior to arriving in Cape Town and believe me, for a former student in the 70s, the menu was real luxury!”

Fancy dress competition – and yes, that’s me, first on the left with a beard


The Farewell Gala Dinner the night prior to arrival in Cape Town – Wednesday November 5, 1975

I am in the centre on the left – my shipboard friend Phil is seen on my right


The Farewell Gala Menu Cover


Farewell Gala Menu – “Wow that was a feast!


RMS Pendennis Castle voyage number 120 the official Log from Southampton to Cape Town, Oct 24 to Nov 6, 1975

Under the Command of Captain J. S. Catterall


Paul’s shipboard mate - Phil seen at the ships rail as we they arrive at Cape Town on November 6


RMS Pendennis Castle is seen berthed at Cape Town with Table Mountain as a spectacular backdrop

From the author’s private collection



RMS Pendennis Castle seen in East London, the next stop is Port Elizabeth and then it is Durban my destination!

“Early in 1977 I decided to return to the UK and thus I departed South Africa and although I would have wanted to return home by ship but I took a plane instead. However I will make it up next year (2012) and I have booked to sail on the P&O’s MV Arcadia from Cape Town to Southampton in April 2012. To date, I have now made a total of seven sea voyages and unusually six of them have been on the good old “Royal Mail Ships” which is a rare category. I have also been on the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 and RMS Queen Mary 2. Another unusual feature is that six of the voyages were using ships as a method of transportation rather than a cruise, including four Transatlantic Crossings as well as a short one to Kiel in Germany.”

Paul Williams.

Please Note: All Pendennis Castle images on this page were provided by Mr. Paul Williams UK, unless they were marked as “From the author’s private collection”! I hereby wish to kindly thank Paul for his excellent contribution!

Reuben Goossens.

Return to the Pendennis Castle mainpage


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

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