Many people will have sailed on board the liner
when she soon retires
from service, but only those with a love of her history will know what her
story is and how she hit the headlines in 1956. With a white hull and single
funnel, she is operated by the company Cruise and Maritime Voyages out of Astoria to
destinations all around the world. Portugal
At over 16,000 gross tons and 525.1 feet long, she is in 2020 on her 72nd year of service making her oldest liner in the world still going. She is not a huge liner like the ones that are made famous by their size, but she can still hold 550 passengers and take them on a voyage of discovery.
Gothenburg, Sweden, she was launched on 9th September 1946
as the Stockholm for the Swedish-America Line
transatlantic routes to .
Although she was the largest ship built in New York she was actually the
smallest liner on this route, but that didn’t stop her making trip after trip
with success. Sweden
On 25th July 1956 she left
and sailed into dense fog off Nantucket.
Sighting another ship on her radar she followed the correct procedures to pass
the ship on her port side. But for some reason the mystery ship suddenly turned
to port instead of to starboard, right into the path of the . At 2310 hours the bow of the Stockholm Stockholm ploughed into the side of what they now knew was
another liner – the Italian vessel Andrea Doria inbound to New
York from .
Over the next 11 hours the rescue operation went with success, over 1000 people rescued before the liner rolled over and sank. The death toll in this disaster was 46 including five people who had been killed on the
The ship limped into
with the survivors and was repaired in around three
months with a new bow section. It is here that the ship carried on her journeys
until 1960 when she was sold to an East German company and renamed
Völkerfreundschaft where she operated out of her new owners country until
she was then laid up in New
York , for several
Over the decades she was taken to
to be used as barracks, going through a host of name changes as Volker,
Fridtjof Nansen, Italia I, Italia Prima, Valtur Prima, Caribe, Athena, Azores (below with yellow funnel)
and finally .
She was completely rebuilt at Astoria Genoa in , the home
port of the Andrea Doria – a fact that the local press quickly picked up on! Italy
In 2008 as Athena she came under attack by pirates off the coast of
but this was repelled by water cannon being fired by the crew and also a
coastguard aircraft shooing them away. Somalia
She was renamed Astoria in 2016 and sailed out of London Tilbury for several years before once again she made the headlines when it was revealed in June 2020 that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, some of the crew of Astoria (and several other liners owned by the same company) were being held on board without being flown back to their respective countries, some even claiming to be on hunger strike while at the same time not being paid. The Maritime Coastguard Agency prevented the ship from sailing while an inspection was carried out after concerns for the crews welfare was highlighted by the All Indian Seafarers Union.
As it stands the
Astoria – ex
still officially a fully functioning cruise ship, but for how long now nobody