Sitmar Line - SS Castel Felice History - Page 1
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With Reuben Goossens
Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author
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 690 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
The Sitmar Ships
Please Note: Unless marked otherwise, photographs and images on this page are from the authors’ private collection
I certainly have enjoyed writing and compiling this very special feature on a company that I greatly love and have sailed with many times!
Thus now go and read all about … The Sitmar Ships.
Castel Felice, ex
It is obvious
that although at 12,150 GRT (Gross Registered Tons) Sitmar’s Castel
Felice was a relatively small liner, nut she had excellent facilities and
certainly a most pleasant, if not a somewhat classic profile, which was a
It is obvious that although at 12,150 GRT (Gross Registered Tons) Sitmar’s Castel Felice was a relatively small liner, nut she had excellent facilities and certainly a most pleasant, if not a somewhat classic profile, which was a pleasing one!
However, she was
originally built in 1930 for the British India Company as the
She offered sixty-six berths in First Class and Hundred and twenty in Second Class both having pleasant public facilities and ample deck spaces. In addition to this, there was also space for up to 1,700 Third Class, come deck passengers. This area offered the most basic of accommodations indoors as well a deck spaces, and was only sold only to Indian as well as African passengers many who would sail on short voyages.
A black hulled SS Kenya has just been launched on August 27, 1930
Seen as the British India Company - SS Kenya
In 1940 she was seconded and she was refitted as a troopship, but later she was again refitted as an infantry-landing vessel. She was renamed “Hydra” in 1941, and later that same year she was again renamed, “Keren.” With the war ended she was sold in April 1946 to the Ministry of Transport however, in August 1948 she was laid up in Holy Loch.
Early in 1949 the
Vlasov Group commenced negotiations to purchase the SS Keren, ex
In 1950 she was sold
and registered in
Here we see Sitmar Line’s first artist impression postcard of their new SS Castel Felice in 1952
Both her profile and interiors saw many changes. Her funnel was shortened, a new shapely raked bow was fitted and her promenade deck was extended fully aft. Her main masts were removed whilst a new mast atop the bridge and King posts with derricks added. Her interiors were completely remodelled, with many new cabins added to her old hold spaces. When complete she could now accommodate 1,400 single class passengers.
With her bright new look, this gleaning white line was finally renamed the “Castel Felice” in September 1952 and she was made ready for her maiden voyage.
SS Castle Felice
Here we see the Castel Felice as
she was first rebuilt and refitted in 1952 in
Forward Dinning Room
1955 air-conditioning was installed and accommodations were changed to accommodate
28 First Class, and 1173 Tourist class passengers. Upon completion the new look
Sitmar Line flagship departed
A gleaming white
Castel Felice berthed in
Late in 1957 Sitmar
obtained the lucrative contract to transport assisted migrants from
A postcard of the Castle Felice after her 1957 refit
A Luncheon Menu from Thursday November 21, 1957
Provided by Mr. Robert Kenneth Williams
1957 schedules -
Mini Photo Album
The Main Social Hall
Enjoying the ships ban in the Social Hall
Forward Dinning Room
Children’s’ play room could also be used as the Cinema
The author’s item of memorabilia a cigarette lighter from the Castle Felice
From the author’s private collection
eleven-year-old Chris Hemmings sailed on Sitmar
Line's Castel Felice with his family early 1965 from
I wish to thank Chris Hemmings for providing this above short story of his voyage to the UK, although be it a rather sad story, yet it is part of this fine ship's long history!
A wonderful Photo of the SS Castel Felice at sea
“I sailed on the TV Castle Felice from Auckland to Southampton November/December of 1965 for 6 weeks for just NZŁ125. It was an eventful voyage starting with a storm across the Tasman. I was one of only a handful of passengers able to get up on day two and I have some wonderful memories of huge seas, empty decks but the band named Atanasio and his Happy Boys, were still playing, but mostly to an empty Belvedere Lounge for the afternoon tea dance and I recall a little lady one morning at the refreshment urn and then she had to balance her cups as the ship levelled between rolls, and then having to dash along the promenaded deck until the ship lurched the other way, it was some sight, but she got there!
The Castel Felice was a wonderfully relaxed and such a happy ship with a most imposing tall and elegant looking captain. We particularly liked 'little things' that made it different. For example at midnight in the middle of a frantic dance if you put your hand out you might likely end up with a slice of hot pizza helpfully placed in it by a passing waiter.
Passengers were allowed to erect washing lines on the ship's prow so at times it looked more like a Chinese junk. Then there would be a heavy Italian voice over the loudspeaker warning all the “Laydees” that there was a rain shower approaching and to get the washing in. This was just absolutely priceless and that sort of thing would never happen these days!
On the negative side
whilst we were in
Our call to
In my teens I started to use an 8mm camera and I filmed the entire six-week voyage on 8mm film, this includes lots of on-board footage which I watch with great fondness now and then.
On a final point I still have a number of menus from this wonderful and most memorable voyage, some of these are shown below.”
Steve Mercer –
remained on the Australian (including some visits to
On August 15 of that
year whilst she was berthed in
Castel Felice is seen here during this final visit to Southampto in August 1970
Photograph by & © J.K. Byass
With a reduced number
of passengers, Castel Felice departed for her final voyage for
Finally she departed
Memories of a Greatly Loved Sitmar Liner!
is the very last postcard published by Sitmar Lines of the SS Castle Felice
This is the very last postcard published by Sitmar Lines of the SS Castle Felice
There is no doubt that the SS Castel Felice will be fondly remembered, like many Italian ships of her day, for she had wonderful style and typical Italian finesse, which is remembered by thousands of her past passengers!
Built: 1930 A. Stephen & Sons.,
Launched: August 27, 1930
Tonnage: 12,150 GRT
Length: 493ft - 150,3m
Beam: 64.3ft - 19,6m
Machinery: Geared Turbines
Speed: 16 knots
Passengers: 1,400 one-class passengers - (based on her final configuration)
The Castel FeliceINDEX:
Castel Felice-1 - History Page - This page.
Castel Felice-2 - Cabin Plan & the Robert Brinkhuis story 1965.
Castel Felice-3 -
My 1957 voyage to
Felice-4 - The Williams family
Castel Felice-4 - A family’s voyage to
Or Return to:…….The Sitmar Ships - INDEX - For all the Other Sitmar Ships!
Water Liners sailing to the distant shores.
I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”
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