RMS Empress of Canada (1961)
|Name:||1961-1972: Empress of Canada
1972-1993: Mardi Gras
1994: Star of Texas
1994-1995: Lucky Star
|Operator:||1961-1972: Canadian Pacific
1993-1995: Gold Star Cruises
1995-1998: Royal Olympic
1998-1999: Direct Cruises
1999-2003: Royal Olympic
|Port of registry:||1961-1972: London, UK
1972-1995: Panama, Panama
1995 onwards: Pireaus, Greece
|Launched:||10 May 1960|
|Maiden voyage:||24 April 1961|
|Identification:||IMO number: 5103936|
|Tonnage:||27,284 GT (gross tonnage)|
|Length:||198 m (649 ft 7 in)|
|Beam:||26 m (85 ft 4 in)|
|Draught:||8 m (26 ft 3 in)|
|Installed power:||6 x Pametrada-Vickers steam turbines|
|Propulsion:||2 x fixed pitch propellors|
RMS Empress of Canada was an ocean liner built in 1961 by Vickers-Armstrongs, Walker-on-Tyne, England for the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company. This ship, the third CP vessel to be named Empress of Canada, regularly traversed the transatlantic route between Canada and Europe for the next decade.
The Empress of Canada was an ocean liner planned for the transatlantic route from Liverpool to Canada for the Canadian Pacific Line. She was planned to be a sister ship and running mate for the Empress of Britain and Empress of England on the route from Liverpool to Montreal. This was one of the most hazardous routes for a vessel to navigate because of unexpected fog.
She was planned to have a gross tonnage of 27,284 tons with a length of 650 ft (200 m) along with a beam of 86.5 ft. She was designed to be a twin propeller vessel capable of reaching an average speed of 21 knots. Her accommodation was planned to have 192 first class passengers and 856 tourist class.
The order for the vessel was signed in 1958 with the Vickers-Armstrong yard in Walker on Tyne in England, which had built the Empress of England on the same slip four years previously. Her keel was laid in January 1959, she was launched on May 10, 1960 and entered service in 1961.
On April 24, 1961 she left Liverpool bound for Montreal on her maiden voyage, which proved to be a success. She did her first winter cruise in December of that year, which again proved to be a great success since she was fully air-conditioned like her sister vessels.
Time had trouble ahead for the transatlantic route which resulted in famous ships leaving or never sailing again such as the SS United States and RMS Queen Mary. The reason behind this was the increase in air traffic. Because of World War II there were huge developments in aviation design which resulted in faster flights across the ocean. As time went on the Empress did fewer and fewer trips across the Atlantic and by 1969 she completed only seven Atlantic voyages and spent the rest of her time in the Caribbean. In 1968 Canadian Pacific modernised her look, changing their house flag, colour schemes and new funnel design.
After completing 121 voyages for the Canadian Pacific line she was laid up. Captain Leonard H. Johnson OBE was the last CP master of the Empress of Canada. In his career, he had survived the sinking of the Empress of Asia en route to Singapore in 1942, leading crewmates to safety; but the changing world caused ship and master to retire at the same time in 1965.
Other ship lines
Plans were made to sell the Empress to the Shaw Savill Line, the same company which had bought her sister the Empress of England, but the sale did not take place.
Instead she was sold and transferred to the Carnival Line and after a few internal changes and an update on her colour schemes she was put back into service as the Mardi Gras, Carnival's first ship. She sailed for her new owners until 1993, by 1975 joined by her sister the Empress of Britain.
By 1993 Carnival wanted to update their fleet by ordering new tonnage so she was sold to Epirotiki in that year, and was renamed Olympic, Star of Texas, Lucky Star and finally Apollon. For a while she sailed for this line and was later chartered by Direct Cruises for voyages around the United Kingdom. Direct Cruises was purchased by the airline Airtours. Carnival took some interest in the line but later pulled out and in 2000 all voyages planned for the vessel were cancelled and she was returned to Greece where she would be laid up for a little while.
In 2001 she was put back in service for three- and four-day cruises out of Piraeus due to late delivery of the Olympic Explorer. She operated alongside the new Olympic Countess before being laid up for good in 2003. She was sold for scrap later the same year, having been in service for 42 years.
- Bamberger, Werner (1 April 1965). "Empress of Canada's Skipper Ending 43-Year Career at Sea; Johnston Sails for England -- Began as Deck Cadet With Canadian Pacific in '22". New York Times.
- Musk, George (1981). Canadian Pacific: the Story of the Famous Shipping Line. Newton Abbot, Devon: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-7968-2.
- T/S Empress of Canada
- The Role of the CP Ships in World War II
- Ship List: Canadian Pacific, description of White Empress fleet
- Empress of Canada at Simplon