Posted on Monday, September 6, 2010 by Peter Knego
As this MONA LISA/KUNGSHOLM Decked! is revisited eight years on, the lovely liner is dead-headed to Piraeus to destore fittings prior to being sold. It appears that two attempts to bring the ship to Sweden (the first to her former home port of Gothenburg and the second, to Stockholm) have officially collapsed. The ex KUNGSHOLM, which just finished off her final active incarnation as MONA LISA in the German cruise market, now has a very uncertain future. Scrap merchants are eyeing her, although steel prices are in a lull that could give the ship a little bit more time if her owners are hoping to obtain a better price.
Let’s turn the pages back a bit to our initial tribute to the vessel when she was still P&O Cruises’ VICTORIA, originally posted on MaritimeMatters in 2002.
When this story first appeared, P & O had revealed that their classic MV VICTORIA( ex KUNGSHOLM, future MONA LISA) would be leaving their fleet in the fall of 2002.
A product of the John Brown and Company yard at Clydebank (number 728), the 27,670 gt KUNGSHOLM’s keel was laid down in 1964. In April of the following year, she was launched, and in April of 1966, she entered SAL’s transatlantic and cruise service.
The fourth SAL ship to carry the name, KUNGSHOLM was named for the Kungsholmen (Kings Isle) sector of Stockholm where the City Hall is located. The twin screw 660 by 87 foot liner was built with two Gotaverken direct drive, slow speed diesels capable of 25,200 BHP for a service speed of 21 knots. On transatlantic voyages, her capacity was divided among 108 in first and 605 in tourist class with 37 interchangeable berths. However, for cruising, she carried a mere 450 passengers in one class. Her crew numbered 450.
Within her strikingly modern yet aesthetically magnificent hull were many features that raised the bar for luxury, comfort, and safety. The fully air conditioned, stabilized KUNGSHOLM was the first SAL liner with a bulbous forefoot, sporting twin five-bladed bronze and nickel screws (the first to utilize this alloy), and push-button controls of all essential safety and navigation equipment, including watertight doors.
Her 62 foot radio mast was telescopic, the top half of which could be hydraulically lowered to allow passage underneath low bridges. The four tenders had two-way telephone links with the bridge and most of her lifeboats featured motor-powered two-way radio equipment. The ship also had shallow and deep water echo sounders and no less than three separate telegraphs to communicate with the engine room.
KUNGSHOLM’s spacious public rooms utilized a variety of paneling, from beechwood, rosewood, Oregon pine, and oak, to cherrywood. The artwork on board emphasized Swedish heritage and was commissioned by the nation’s leading artists.
KUNGSHOLM had eight passenger decks, beginning at the top with Sun Deck, featuring a forward-facing observation deck (not shown) and a screened in midships platform overlooking the pool area.
Promenade Deck began with the first class Forward Lounge overlooking the bow and a glass-enclosed Verandah on either side. Inside, the cherry paneled forward vestibule led all the way down to the indoor pool on D Deck. The remaining portion of Promenade Deck had a feature exclusive to SAL ships, which frequented both cold and warm climates.
A double indoor/outdoor promenade continued aft on either side to the midships pool (where First and Tourist Class met) and all the way aft to an open terrace overlooking the stern, where an enclosed Sports Room (mainly for ping pong) was concealed.
The forward, First Class portion of Verandah Deck began with the beautifully paneled Library on the port side, which adjoined the Forward Cocktail Lounge, just aft. Forward of the vestibule was a handsome, tiered Auditorium, and on the starboard side was the First Class Card Room, First Class Verandah and First Class Shopping Center.
The Tourist Class portion of Verandah Deck began with the Main Lounge, which spanned the width of the ship. Just aft on the port side was the Tourist Class Library and on the starboard side, the Tourist Class Card Room. The midships vestibule followed, leading to another suite of Tourist Class Rooms surrounding the funnel casing. On the port side, there was the Verandah Lounge and on the starboard side, a Cocktail Lounge, both of which looked out onto glass enclosed promenades.
The Aft Smoking Room concluded the enclosed spaces on this deck, which continued a bit further aft with another terrace overlooking the stern.
Upper Deck began with First Class cabins that continued to the midships Entrance Hall and vestibule.
From the Entrance Hall aft, Upper Deck was devoted to Tourist Class accommodation. This level also featured an open fantail.
Main Deck was entirely devoted to Tourist Class accommodation. Subtle cabin comforts included beds that were at least 6 feet 7 inches long by 3 feet wide, wall to wall carpeting, dial telephones, individually-controlled air conditioning, private facilities (93% with full bath tub), abundant storage space, and a controllable loud speaker system. Special, strategically-placed catering kitchenettes on each deck facilitated faster and better room service, and neighboring cabins could be adjoined by the use of a single outer foyer door.
A Deck began at the forward vestibule which led aft to the First Class portion of the Dining Room, which could be separated from the larger Tourist Class portion via sliding screens.
The aft portion of A Deck was devoted to Tourist Class Dining Room and accommodation.
B Deck began at the forward vestibule with a Beauty Parlor and Barber Shop, continuing aft with Tourist Class accommodation and the hospital.
D Deck featured an indoor pool, gymnasium, vapor bath and massage room.
Unable to continue operating at a profit and unwilling to compromise its standards, Swedish American Line withdrew from the passenger ship business in August of 1975 after 60 glorious years. KUNGSHOLM was sold to Norwegian-owned Flagship Cruises and continued in worldwide
cruise service, but only for three years.
During that time, although she was largely unaltered, she sported a golden seahorse logo on her funnels. But she never quite lived up to her Swedish American Line reputation.
In 1978, Flagship sold her to P&O, who intended to rebuild her as a replacement for the retiring 1954-built Sydney-based SS ARCADIA. She was sent to the Bremer Vulkan yard at Bremen, Germany for the addition of 86 cabins and other structural modifications that would extend her after decks with the installation of a third passenger pool, more public rooms, and the new accommodation.
The aft funnel was raised and the forward dummy funnel cut down to a stump. Although many felt she was scarred, the ship was still quite lovely when she emerged in January of 1979 as the 840 passenger SEA PRINCESS.
Further refits over the years modified SEA PRINCESS only slightly, and she retains much of her original Scandinavian charm and glowing woodwork. She was later switched from Australia to the U.K. and from 1986 through 1991, donned the “sea witch” livery of American-based Princess Cruises.
In 1995, she was renamed VICTORIA, releasing her “Princess” name for the third unit of the 77,000 gt SUN PRINCESS quartet.
Special thanks: Martin Cox, Don Martin