MS Golden Iris
MS Golden Iris in Rhodes 2011
|Port of registry:|
|Acquired:||30 October 1975|
|Maiden voyage:||March 1977|
|In service:||March 1977|
|General characteristics (as built)|
|Class and type:||Cunard Countess-class cruise ship|
|Length:||163.56 m (536 ft 7 in)|
|Beam:||22.80 m (74 ft 10 in)|
|Draught:||8.30 m (27 ft 3 in)|
|General characteristics (as rebuilt, 1997)|
|Length:||164.90 m (541 ft 0 in)|
|Beam:||23.20 m (76 ft 1 in)|
|Draught:||5.80 m (19 ft 0 in)|
|Notes:||Otherwise the same as built|
MS Golden Iris is a cruise ship owned an operated by the Israel-based Mano Maritime. She was built 1975 by the Burmeister & Wain shipyard in Copenhagen, Denmark for Cunard Line as MS Cunard Conquest, but her interior fittings were subsequently installed at the Navali Mechaniche Affini in La Spezia, Italy. Following re-delivery from Navali Mechaniche Affini in 1977 the ship was renamed MS Cunard Princess. In 1995, the ship entered service with StarLauro Cruises (later rebranded MSC Cruises), briefly retaining her previous name before being renamed MS Rhapsody. Later during her career with MSC Cruises the ship came to be marketed as MS MSC Rhapsody, but her official registered name remained Rhapsody throughout her MSC career. The ship was sold to Mano Maritime in 2009.
Concept and construction
The ship that eventually became known as the Cunard Princess was originally one of two ships ordered by the United States-based Overseas National Airways. Unusually Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, was involved in the design process of the ships, envisioning them as "floating Playboy Clubs". Order for the two ships was placed with the Burmeister & Wain shipyard in Copenhagen, Denmark. However, during construction the ships were sold to the United Kingdom-based Cunard Line. Although better known as luxury cruise operators, Cunard decided to maintain the original informal cruise concept developed for the ships by Overseas National Airways.
Cunard Conquest, the second of the two sisters, was launched from drydock in December 1974. Instead of having the ships completed at Burmeister & Wain, Cunard decided that once the hulls of the ships were complete they would sail to the Navali Mechaniche Affini in La Spezia, Italy, where interior fittings would be installed. Therefore, following delivery to Cunard on 30 October 1975 the Cunard Conquest sailed to La Spezia, where she arrived on 6 November 1975. While the ship was being fitted out Cunard decided to change her name to Cunard Princess. Following delivery to Cunard in early 1977 the ship sailed to New York City, where she was renamed and christened by Princess Grace of Monaco.
1977-1995: Cunard Princess
Cunard Princess set on her first cruise from New York City to Bermuda in April 1977, joining her elder sister MS Cunard Countess in the Caribbean cruise service after the Bermuda run. Cunard Princess sailed out of Ft Lauderdale, then after a charter to Lauro Line in 1979 she sailed a Caribbean run out of San Juan,in the summer of 1981, she did Alaska cruises. At the time the Cunard Princess was registered in Southampton, but in 1980 she was moved to the Bahamian registry, with Nassau as her homeport. Later during her career with Cunard, the ship started cruising around Europe, while the Cunard Countess remained in Caribbean service.
During the Gulf War the Cunard Princess was chartered to the United States Armed Forces Recreation Center as a recreational facility for troops involved in the conflict. The ship arrived in Bahrain on 24 December 1990. Initially the plan was to operate the ship on three-day cruises around the Persian Gulf, but for economic reasons she was permanently moored in Bahrain instead. Following the end of her service in the Gulf War, the ship was docked at Valletta, Malta on 23 September 1991. She re-entered normal service with Cunard on 19 October 1991.
In 1993 the Cunard Princess was moved to the fleet of Cunard's newly created mid-market subsidiary Cunard Crown Cruises, joining her sister Cunard Countess and three ships chartered from EffJohn. Cunard Crown Cruises proved to be short-lived, and in 1995 the Cunard Princess was chartered to StarLauro Cruises, who were in need of a replacement for their MS Achille Lauro that had sunk following a fire in 1994. Initially the Cunard Princess kept her older name in StarLauro service.
After a short time under charter to StarLauro, the company acquired the Cunard Princess. Initially the ship was planned to be renamed Harmony, but in the end she was renamed Rhapsody. Coinciding with the change of ownership the ship was re-registered in Panama. Initially she was used for cruising around the Mediterranean out of Italy. Shortly after acquisition of the Rhapsody StarLauro was rebranded as Mediterranean Shipping Cruises on 1 October 1995. Subsequently the company further rebranded themselves into MSC Cruises.
2009 onwards: Golden Iris
Following the sale to Mano Maritime, Rhapsody was renamed Golden Iris. She entered service with Mano Maritime on Mediterranean cruises from Haifa on 31 May 2009, following the completion of a refit. As of 2013 she was sailing from Haifa to Cyprus, the Greek Islands, Montenegro, Italy, and Croatia.
Cunard Conquest was designed with a heavily raked bow and a tapering stern. She has a low superstructure that extends slightly outward from the sides of the hull. The open-winged bridge is located two decks above the top deck of the hull.
Like her sister ship Cunard Countess, at delivery Cunard Princess appeared in the traditional red/black Cunard funnel colours, complimenting a white hull and superstructure. In addition, a red decorative stripe was painted between the hull and the superstructure. In StarLauro service her funnel was repainted in that company's livery of blue with a black top and a white five-pointed star in the centre. Following the eventual new owners' rebranding into Mediterranean Shipping Cruises, her funnel was repainted white with a dark blue top and gilded MSC logo centrally, while the blue decorative stripe was divided so that top half of the stripe was navy blue and the bottom half grey. Subsequently the funnel colours were altered into dark blue with MSC Cruises' blue/white "compass" logo replacing the earlier MSC logo.
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