MV Astoria

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Astoria (IMO 5383304).jpg
MV Astoria in 2017
  • 1948–1960: Stockholm
  • 1960–1985: Völkerfreundschaft
  • 1985–1986: Volker
  • 1986–1993: Fridtjof Nansen
  • 1993–1994: Italia I
  • 1994–1998: Italia Prima
  • 1998–2002: Valtur Prima
  • 2002–2005: Caribe
  • 2005–2013: Athena
  • 2013–2016: Azores
  • 2016–present: Astoria
Port of registry
OrderedOctober 1944[3]
BuilderGötaverken, Gothenburg, Sweden
Yard number611[2]
Launched9 September 1946[2]
Christened9 September 1946[3]
Acquired7 February 1948[2]
In service21 February 1948[2]
Out of service2020
StatusTo Be Sold
General characteristics (as built)[2]
TypeOcean liner
Length160.08 m (525 ft 2 in)
Beam21.04 m (69 ft 0 in)
Draught7.90 m (25 ft 11 in)
Installed power
Speed17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph)
Capacity390 passengers
General characteristics (currently)[2]
TypeCruise ship
Tonnage15,614 GT
Installed power
  • 2 × Wärtsilä 16V32
  • 10,700 kW (14,300 hp) (combined)
Speed19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph)
Capacity556 passengers

MV Astoria is a ship that was constructed as the transatlantic ocean liner MS Stockholm for Swedish American Line, and rebuilt as a cruise ship in 1993. Ordered in 1944, and commenced service in 1948, at 73 years old, she is the oldest passenger liner still sailing in deep water routes. As Stockholm, she was best known for an accidental collision with Andrea Doria in July 1956, resulting in the sinking of the latter ship and 46 fatalities off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, United States.

During her seven decades of service she has passed through several owners and sailed under the names Stockholm, Völkerfreundschaft, Volker, Fridtjof Nansen, Italia I, Italia Prima, Valtur Prima, Caribe, Athena, and Azores before beginning service as Astoria in March 2016. Astoria sailed with Cruise & Maritime Voyages until 2020 when the company suspended operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was subsequently laid up for sale. In 2021, she was sold to an American group, led by Brock Pierce,[4] who then put the ship up for sale again in 2022 with same auction house, C.W. Kellock & Co. Ltd of the UK.[5]

M/S Stockholm[edit]

Stockholm as built

The ship was ordered in 1944, and launched 9 September 1946, as Stockholm by Götaverken in Gothenburg for the Swedish America Line (SAL). The ship was designed by Swedish American Line designer, Eric Christiansson, who worked as the technical director at parent company Broström.[6] She was the fourth ship named Stockholm for Swedish American Line, but the second of the four to actually sail under the name (See: MS Stockholm (1941)). When Stockholm III was sold to the Italians, the proceeds were initially left aside, but were later used to finance the construction of the ship after the 1941 Stockholm was sunk during the war.[6]

At 525 feet (160.02 m) with a gross register tonnage of 12,165, Stockholm at the time was the smallest passenger ship operating on the North Atlantic route,[7] but the largest passenger ship built in Sweden, with the largest diesel propulsion unit yet built in Sweden.[8] Originally designed to carry a total of 395 passengers, divided between first and tourist class, and a cargo capacity of 3,000 tons. Interiors were completed by Swedish artists, including Kurt Jungstedt.[9] When delivered, the ship would replace the aging SS Drottningholm, and run an alternating transatlantic service with MS Gripsholm.[8] She made her maiden voyage on February 21, 1948, under the command of Captain Waldemar Jonsson, from Gothenburg arriving in New York on March 1.[10]

Model of MS Stockholm, displayed at Sjöhistoriska Museet in Stockholm

The Stockholm would continue to sail the transatlantic route, later joined by the new MS Kungsholm (1952). A 1953 refit expanded Stockholm's capacity to 548 people by infilling the outdoor aft and forward end of "A" Deck with passenger cabins. Due to the small size, and not handling the North Atlantic seas very well during the colder months, the Swedish American Line scheduled her for occasional cruises starting in 1953 out of Morehead City, North Carolina cruising to Havana, Nassau, and Bermuda.[11] In February 1955, she was used to deport Arne Pettersen, the last person to go through Ellis Island, to Gothenburg, Sweden.[12] A later refit in 1956/57 added a cinema to the deck forward end of the main superstructure, and an outdoor pool aft.

With both MS Kungsholm and the new MS Gripsholm (1957) sailing, the smaller Stockholm was started to be seen as too small and not meeting the current standards of the line. The ship was sold in May 1959 to, at the time, an unidentified German company. The ship would finish out the year sailing with Swedish American Line to New York, before being transferred in 1960 to the new company.[13]

Collision with Andrea Doria[edit]

26 July 1956: After colliding with Andrea Doria, Stockholm with severely damaged prow, heads to New York
Damaged MS Stockholm entering port of New York

On the night of July 25, 1956, at 11:10 pm, in heavy fog in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nantucket, Stockholm and Andrea Doria of the Italian Line collided in what was to become one of history's most notorious maritime disasters.[14]

Although most passengers and crew survived the collision, the larger Andrea Doria luxury liner capsized and sank the following morning. Owing to the collision, 50% of Andrea Doria's lifeboats were unusable. However, a number of ships, including SS Ile de France, responded and provided assistance, which averted a massive loss of life.[15]

Five members of Stockholm's crew were killed instantly, and several more were trapped in the wrecked bow. Despite its having lost about 3 ft (0.9 m) of freeboard, the crippled Stockholm helped in the rescue and ended up carrying 327 passengers and 245 crew members from Andrea Doria, in addition to her own passengers and crew.[16]

After the ships had separated, and as Stockholm crew members were beginning to survey the damage, one of the crew came across Linda Morgan, who had been thrown from her bed on Andrea Doria as the two ships collided and landed on Stockholm's deck, suffering moderate but not life-threatening injuries.

After Andrea Doria sank, Stockholm sailed to New York City under her own power and arrived on July 27. There, the crushed bow portion was replaced at a cost of US$1 million three months later at Bethlehem Shipyard in Brooklyn, NY.[17]

An inquiry followed the events, with a settlement reached after 6 months between the Italian Line and Swedish American Line.

Wreckage from collision[edit]

The bell[edit]

Damaged bell from the bow of M/S Stockholm, salvaged from the wreck of the Andrea Doria and currently displayed on board the Astoria

Years following the collision, Andrea Doria would become a popular dive site. In 1959 the damaged ship's bell was recovered from the wreck site. Today it is displayed onboard in the ship's lobby.

Discovery of the bow wreckage[edit]

In September 2020, New Jersey-based Atlantic Wreck Salvage announced that their ship, D/V Tenacious, had discovered Stockholm's bow and anchors. The divers made the confirmation based on the presence and unique style of both anchors, internal bow reinforcements, accordion-style crumpling on the wreckage in the same pattern as seen in photos of Stockholm after the collision, and the location of the wreckage near Andrea Doria's final resting place.[18]

East German ship Völkerfreundschaft[edit]

The ship in 1961, sailing as Völkerfreundschaft

On 3 January 1960, Stockholm was transferred to the East German government, which renamed the ship Völkerfreundschaft ("friendship between nations") operating under the line Deutsche Seereederei (German Shipping Company), a precursor of Aida Cruises.

Völkerfreundschaft made her new maiden voyage on February 23, 1960, and was home-ported in Rostock, Germany eventually operating in tandem with the newly built Fritz Heckert. [19] When the Berlin wall went up in 1961, all ports were restricted to communist countries only, which greatly limited sailing routes. The ship made trips to Cuba, and would be one of the two ships that was en route to Havana during the Cuban Missile Crisis, where she was suspiciously watched by U.S. military planes and vessels.[19] The ship was already halfway to Havana, and it was necessary to continue to resupply and refuel, before quickly turning around back to East Germany.

In 1964 the ship was put under the management of the Free German Trade Union Federation, but would be chartered out to western European countries for a majority of the year. This would be expanded in 1967, with Stena Line chartering the ship for Swedish passengers for half of the year, doing within annually until the ship was sold in 1985.[20]

Norwegian barracks ship Fridtjof Nansen[edit]

In 1985 she was transferred to a Panamanian company, Neptunas Rex Enterprises. Her name was reduced to Volker, and by the end of the year she was laid up in Southampton, England. In 1985 the ship was renamed Fridtjof Nansen was later used as a barracks ship in Oslo for asylum seekers in Norway.

Rebuilding into a modern cruise ship[edit]

Conversion into a cruise ship at a Genoa shipyard in 1993
As Italia Prima In Genoa, Italy, in 1994

In 1989, ex-Stockholm was officially sold to the Italian Star Lauro Lines, who intended to convert the liner into a luxury cruise ship. The ship was still under charter as the Fridtjof Nansen, and so remained in Oslo until 1993.

The ship was towed to a shipyard in Genoa, Italy, Andrea Doria's home port; but when she arrived, the press labeled her "the ship of death" (La nave della morte) due to the collision with Andrea Doria.[21] During conversion, it was discovered that the ex-Stockholm was in a very good condition (except for the American-built replacement bow, which needed the most refurbishing).[22] She was completely gutted on the interior, and rebuilt from the promenade deck up. New diesel engines were installed, and a new bridge was built, extending the superstructure forward. The aft decks were built up, giving her a more modern cruise ship profile. A large ducktail was added that significantly altered the stern appearance.

Although not very recognizable from her original appearance as Stockholm; many elements such as the bow and anchor, hull window arrangement, passenger lifts and stair locations, and the distinct double porthole dining room windows, were all visible traits from the original Stockholm design.

Cruise ship[edit]

As Athena in Split, 22 October 2011
As Azores in Tallinn, 2014
Azores with Cruise & Maritime Voyages in Liverpool, 2015

Italia I - Italia Prima - Valtur Prima[edit]

Following the completion of the refit in 1994, ship was named Italia I, then Italia Prima, she later sailed as Valtur Prima primarily to Cuba, and was laid up there in 2001.


Acquired by Festival Cruise Line in 2002 and renamed Caribe, she continued to sail to Cuba.


In 2005 the Caribe was renamed Athena, being registered in Portugal. She was reflagged to Cyprus operating for Classic International Cruises.

Pirate attack[edit]

On December 3, 2008 Athena was attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Reportedly, 29 pirate boats surrounded the ship at one stage until a US Navy P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft circled above which caused some of the pirates to flee. The crew prevented the pirates from boarding by firing high-pressure water cannons at them. No one was injured and the ship escaped without damage, continuing her voyage to Australia.[23]

In 2009 the ship was chartered to German cruise operator Phoenix Reisen and repainted in the company colors with a turquoise funnel and company logo.

On September 17, 2012, reports announced that she and her fellow ship Princess Danae were detained in Marseille, France, for unpaid fuel bills.[24]


Early in 2013 Athena was bought by the recently created Portuguese cruise company Portuscale Cruises and renamed Azores. As soon as her acquisition was confirmed, she was taken to a shipyard in Marseille, where she was revamped. She then entered Portuscale Cruises service after completing a charter for Berlin-based Ambiente Kreuzfahrten, from whom she was chartered to Classic International to join her fleetmate Princess Daphne. The charter began in March 2014 with a cruise from Lisbon, Portugal, to Bremerhaven, Germany, and concluded in November 2014 in Genoa, Italy. After Portuscale's collapse, the administrator of the ship's formal owner, Island Cruises — Transportes Marítimos, Unipessoal Ltda., secured a charter to Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV).[25] Her first voyage was from Avonmouth Docks to the Caribbean in January 2015.[26]


In March 2016 the ship was renamed Astoria by Cruise & Maritime Voyages and from May 2016 until March 2017 was subchartered to French tour operator Rivages du Monde.[27] Since 2016, Astoria is the last remaining vessel of the former Swedish American Line still afloat, after the former Kungsholm was scrapped in 2016.

In June 2016, it was announced that Astoria would be leaving the CMV fleet after her final cruise on April 27, 2017 from London Tilbury.[28][29] In February 2017, CMV announced that Astoria would remain in the CMV fleet until 2018. She would offer a mini-season from London Tilbury, before being charted by Rivages du Monde during the summer months.[30]

Astoria was scheduled to begin winter cruising the Sea of Cortez from the port of Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) Mexico from December 2019,[31] but this sailing did not take place until January 2020 due to unspecified delays in dry dock.[32] The 2020 cruise season was intended be the last for Astoria in the CMV fleet.[33]

The vessel was arrested by UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency officers in June 2020 following reports she was about to set sail and leave UK jurisdiction without arranging the repatriation of foreign crew members stranded in the UK by the COVID-19 pandemic.[citation needed] CMV entered administration in 2020.[34] Astoria was later moved to Rotterdam and put up for auction on 1 March 2021, with a minimum sale price of €10 million, but received no offers until July 2021.[25] The ship remained in custody pending decisions by owners and creditors.[35]

2021 sale[edit]

In July 2021, the ship was purchased by an American group, which also acquired the MV Funchal. The new owners intend to use the Astoria for conversion to a hotelship.[36][37][38] The plans were abandoned and the ship was again made available for sale, never having left port in Rotterdam.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Stockholm (5383304)". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Asklander, Micke. "M/S Stockholm (1948)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Retrieved 2008-02-27.
  3. ^ a b "SAL Timeline". A tribute to the Swedish American Line. Archived from the original on 2008-03-09. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
  4. ^ "Astoria Bought By American Group, Will Cruise Again", Cruise & Harbour News, 24 July 2021. Retrieved 25 July 2021
  5. ^ "Astoria Set for the Auction Block Once More".
  6. ^ a b Dawson, Philip S. (2000). Cruise ships : an evolution in design. London: Conway Maritime. ISBN 0-85177-660-4. OCLC 43419400.
  7. ^ "STOCKHOLM SETS RECORD; Swedish American Liner Makes Speed Mark to Goeteborg". The New York Times. 1948-03-15. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  8. ^ a b "NEW SWEDISH SHIP DUE HERE MARCH 1; Comfort Rather Than Luxury Is Keynote on Motorliner Stockholm, Line Reports". The New York Times. 1948-01-04. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  9. ^ Wealleans, Anne (2006-09-27). Designing Liners: A History of Interior Design Afloat. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-18939-7.
  10. ^ "Shipping News and Notes; New Swedish American Liner Stockholm Scheduled Here Today on Maiden Trip". The New York Times. 1948-03-01. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  11. ^ "North Carolina state ports". Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  12. ^ Smolenyak, Megan (2021-03-18). "We Finally Know What Happened to Arne Pettersen, the Last to Leave Ellis Island". Medium. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  13. ^ "STOCKHOLM SOLD BY SWEDISH LINE; Identity of German Buyer Not Disclosed -- Delivery Will Be Made Next Year". Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  14. ^ "CAPTAIN ARRIVES, SILENT ON CAUSES; Lauds Crew and Rescuers --Gives No Clue to Crash Andrea Doria's Haggard Captain Arrives, But Gives No Clue to Cause of Collision". The New York Times. 1956-07-27. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  15. ^ "SHIP BUILT TO TAKE COLLISION SAFELY; Andrea Doria Hull Divided to Give Stability--Lifeboats Could Carry 2,000 SHIP BUILT TO TAKE COLLISION SAFELY". The New York Times. 1956-07-26. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  16. ^ "SWEDEN SALUTES STOCKHOLM CREW; Line Also Expresses 100% Confidence in Ship's Role in Doria Collision NEW DAMAGE SUITS FILED $500,000 Asked by Brooklyn Shoemaker--1,500 Attend Mass for the Dead Expert Seamanship Hailed Suits Charge Negligence Lines Decline Comment SWEDEN SALUTES STOCKHOLM CREW". Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  17. ^ Times, George Hornethe New York (1956-07-27). "Safety Men Puzzled By Failure of Radar To Prevent Collision; SURVIVORS ASSAIL THE DORIA'S CREW Unit Had 6 Ranges". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  18. ^ Carino, Jerry (15 September 2020). "Andrea Doria wreck discovery: Millstone captain finds bow of ship that sunk her". Asbury Park Press. Neptune Township, New Jersey. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  19. ^ a b Schwerdtner, Nils, 1978- (11 July 2013). German luxury ocean liners : from Kaiser Wilhelm der Gross to AIDAstella. Stroud. ISBN 978-1-4456-0474-9. OCLC 832608271.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ Smith, Peter (31 March 2014). Cruise Ships: The Small-Scale Fleet. Barnsley, S. Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-7815-9281-6.
  21. ^ Shammas, Brittany. "'Ship of death': A floating piece of cruise history may be nearing its final voyage". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  22. ^ "Stockholm (III) – TGOL".
  23. ^ Langmaid, Aaron (2008-12-04). "Pirates attack luxury cruise ship bound for Australia". Herald sun. Retrieved 2008-12-07.
  24. ^ "CIC Ships Arrested - Cruise Industry News | Cruise News". Cruise Industry News. 2012-09-18. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
  25. ^ a b Boonzaier, Jonathan (4 March 2021). "Nobody wants to buy the world's oldest cruiseship". TradeWinds: Cruise & Ferry. Oslo: TradeWinds AS. Archived from the original on 16 June 2021. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  26. ^ "CMV to replace Discovery from the UK". TravelMole. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  27. ^ "Cruise & Maritime Voyages Announce Sub-Charter Of Azores To French Cruise Operator". Cruise Capital. Jordan Bailey. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  28. ^ "Astoria Set To Leave The CMV Fleet In 2017". Cruise Capital. Jordan Bailey. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  29. ^ "World's Oldest Cruise Ship to Leave Cruise & Maritime Voyages".
  30. ^ "CMV Make U-Turn Decision And Keep Astoria In Fleet For 2018". Cruise Capital. Jordan Bailey. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  31. ^
  32. ^ Yeager, Melissa. "Inaugural Rocky Point cruises canceled for December, rescheduled for January". azcentral. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  33. ^ "The World's Oldest Operating Cruise Ship Is Getting Ready to Retire". Travel + Leisure. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  34. ^ Calder, Simon (21 July 2020). "CMV cruise line goes into administration with thousands of forward bookings". Independent. London. Archived from the original on 1 March 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  35. ^ "Sale of cruise vessel Astoria". Lloyd's List. 2 February 2021. Archived from the original on 15 June 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  36. ^ "Brock Pierce, o criptomilionário que um dia quis ser presidente dos Estados Unidos". TVI24.
  37. ^ Portugal, Rádio e Televisão de. "Paquete Funchal ganha nova vida". Paquete Funchal ganha nova vida.
  38. ^ Cabrita-Mendes, André (August 24, 2021). "Empresário norte-americano gastou sete milhões para comprar e transformar paquete Funchal em hotel de luxo". O Jornal Económico.

External links[edit]