ex Azores, Athena, Caribe, Valtur Prima, Italia Prima, Italia I, Fridtjof Nansen, Volker, VolkerFreundSchaft, Stockholm
Roy Thornton Collection
Steel twin screw motor vessel built in 1948 by Ab Gotaverken, Gothenburg (Yard No. 611) for Swedish – America Line, Gothenburg
- Original Cost: $150 million
- Length: 160.08m (525 ft)(1948 – ), 144.78m
- Breadth of hull: 21.04m (68.9 ft)(1948 -)
- Draught: 7.90m (24 ft)(1948 – )
- Tonnage: 11,700 (1948), 12,165 gross (1953),12,442 (1960), 12.068 (1972),12,644 (1992), 15,614, 16,144, 6,040 net (1948), 6,450 (1992), 4,700 deadweight (1948), 4,800 (1992)
- Engines: Two 8-cylinder GV diesels (1948), Two Wärtsilä 16V32 diesels.
- Power/Propellers: 12000hk/2 (1948), 10664kW (1992)
- Speed: 17.0 knots (1948), 19.0 knots (1992)
- Capacity: 113 1st – 282 tourist class passengers (1948), 86 1st – 584 tourist class (1953), 568 (one class)(1960), 670 (1992), 556
- Crew: 220 (1948), 280 (2006)
- Navigation Officers: European (2006)
- Passenger Decks: 7 (2006)
- Call Sign: SEJT(1948), DAYP(1960), ICZU (2002), CQRV (2006 – )
- IMO Number: 5383304
- MMSI Number: 255801380
- Registry: Gothenburg/Sweden (1948), Rostock (1960), Panama (1985),Portugal, Italy (2000), Madeira/Portugal (2006 – )
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September 9th 1946: Launched; first transatlantic liner to be launched after the war and the largest passenger ship ever built in Sweden.
October 1947: Sea trials.
February 7th 1948: Delivered to Ab Svenska Amerika Linjen, Göteborg.
February 21st 1948: Maiden voyage Gothenburg – New York.
1953 – February 12th 1954: Major refit at AG Weser, Bremen. Accommodation restyled.
1955: First-Class accommodation reduced.
February 1956: Rumoured to be transferring to newly-formed Denmark-America Line for Copenhagen – New York service; never materialised.
July 25th 1956: Rammed and sank ANDREA DORIA position 40 30 n and 69 53 W off Nantucket; 52 casualties.
1956: Repaired at Bethlehem Steel, New York.
December 8th 1956: Returned to service.
May 15th 1959: Sold to Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, Rostock, East Germany (Registered to VEB Deutsche Seereederei, Rostock) for delivery in 1960.
© Brian Fisher
January 3rd 1960: Taken over by the new owner and renamed VÖLKERFREUNDSCHAFT and commenced year-round cruising from Rostock. Became the world’s first trade-union holiday ship.
© Brian Fisher (left) © Robert J Smith (right)
August 1960: Grounded at Sandhamn.
© Bob Scott
1974: Registered to VEB Deutfracht/Seereederei, Rostock, East Germany.
April 1985: Sold to Neptunus Rex Enterprises, Panama. Renamed VOLKER and laid up in Oslofjord.
December 11th 1985: Under tow, arrived at Southampton for further lay up.
December 20th 1986: Renamed FRIDTJOF NANSEN and towed to Oslo by BAMSE.
December 25th 1986: Arrived in Oslo where she became floating accommodation for refugees.
May 1989: Sold to Star Lauro Societa per Azoni, Naples, Italy.
May 6th 1989: Towed to Genoa for refit.
May 27th 1989: Arrived in Genoa and laid up.
1989: Intention to rename her SURRIENTO according to other sources POSITANO.
1992: Major rebuild commenced at Varco Chiapella yard Genoa, Italy.
1993: Renamed ITALIA I.
October 1994: Renamed ITALIA PRIMA.
October 1994: Registered to Nina Cia. di Navigazione, Naples, Italy.
October 31st 1994: Maiden cruise in the Mediterranean.
December 22nd 1995: Chartered for five years to Neckermann Seereisen.
December 1995: Maiden cruise in the Caribbean.
January 6th 1998: Neckermann Seereisen collapsed and she was laid up in Genoa.
1998: Chartered for five months as an exhibition ship in Lisbon.
September 1998: Chartered to Air Maritim Seereisen (Valtur Tourist) and renamed VALTUR PRIMA and began cruising in the Caribbean.
2001: Laid up in Havana, Cuba.
December 2002: Sold to Festival Cruises and renamed CARIBE, but planned cruising between Havana – Mexico – Cayman Island never materialised and she was laid up in Havana.
© Benoit Donne
October 2004: Laid up in Lisbon, Portugal.
2004: Sold to Nina SpA, Lisbon, Portugal.
January 7th 2005: Renamed ATHENA. 2005: Began cruising for Classic International Cruise.
© Aleksi Lindström (both)
© Jens Boldt (both)
May 2009: Chartered to Phoenix Reisen.
© Ken Lubi (both)
2010: Registered Owner; First Quality Cruise. Inc (since 2008). Registered Manager; World Cruises Agency (since 2008)
© Jens Boldt (both)
September 2013: Sold to Island Cruises Transportes, Lisbon, Portugal and renamed AZORES. Chartered to Classic International
© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic)
© Mike Jackson (all)
June 27th 2014: It was announced that for 2015 she would be chartered to Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) to replace the MV Discovery.
“British based Cruise Operator, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), is pleased to announce the introduction of the 550 passenger classic cruise ship Azores to their fleet in 2015.
Azores will replace Discovery as CMV’s second ex-UK cruise vessel operating alongside Marco Polo and will also be dedicated to the British and English speaking markets and positioned as an adult only product (16 years plus). Azores will operate year round sailings commencing operations from Bristol Avonmouth on 26th January 2015 with a 30 night CMV maiden voyage to the West Indies.
Azores will also be sailing from Hull and London Tilbury with programme highlights including; the Solar Eclipse & Northern Lights, Seville Fiesta, Summertime Gardens & Medieval Cities and a Scottish themed Edinburgh Festival cruise, plus all the perennial favourites.
The Azores has been chartered from Lisbon based, Portuscale Cruises on a long term basis. All crewing and ship management services will be handled directly by CMV in line with the services provided by Marco Polo and Astor.”
2015: Entered long-term service with Cruise & Maritime Voyages, with her first voyage from Avonmouth Docks to the Caribbean in January 2015.
© Erwin Willemse
March 1st 2016: Renamed ASTORIA
© Steven Brown
July 1st 2016: It was announced that the Astoria will leave the CMV fleet in 2017. The vessel will sail its farewell season out of Tilbury between March 9 and April 27, 2017, culminating with a 10-night round-Britain itinerary. It is understood that the Astoria will be chartered to the French cruise line Rivages du Monde.
We would like to thank: Jens Boldt, Steven Brown, Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic), Benoit Donne, Brian Fisher, Mike Jackson, Aleksi Lindström,Ken Lubi, Robert J Smith and Erwin Willemse for their assistance in producing this feature. All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for errors and omissions.