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Last Steamship Sold

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2011 by

FAIRSKY on her maiden voyage from Los Angeles, May 5, 1984, Photo (c) by Shawn J. Dake

Pullmantur Cruises has sold the ATLANTIC STAR (ex FAIRSKY, SKY PRINCESS, PACIFIC SKY, SKY WONDER) to an undisclosed buyer who intends to rename the vessel MONA LISA II.

Although unconfirmed at this time, the likelihood is the ship would operate on a charter basis for German passengers, replacing the previous MONA LISA built in 1966 (ex KUNGSHOLM, SEA PRINCESS, VICTORIA, MONA LISA, OCEANIC II).   Late in 2009 , perennial entrepreneur Paris Katsoufis expressed an interest in acquiring the vessel for his Kyma Ship Management.  If this company is the buyer, the last turbine steamship built and entering service in 1984, would be re-engined ending her career under steam.  The 46,087 gross ton ship is costly to operate and has been plagued by mechanical problems over the past decade.  Much of her recent career has been spent in lay up although the ship was reactivated August 29, 2010 to replace the PACIFIC DREAM (ex HORIZON, ISLAND STAR) which suffered a major engine failure.

When introduced in 1984 as Sitmar Cruises first newly-built ship, the FAIRSKY was among the most attractive vessels of her generation.  Owner Boris Vlasov simply liked steamships and was used to having that means of propulsion in his other three passenger vessels, so intended to keep the fleet consistent, even though no passenger steamships had been built since the HAMBURG and QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 in 1969.  Sitmar Cruises remained an outstanding company until being taken over by Princess Cruises in 1988, when the ship became the SKY PRINCESS.  September 24, 2000, the SKY PRINCESS departed San Francisco, California on what would be her last voyage for Princess, a 28-day trans-Pacific crossing under steam to her new home in Sydney, Australia.  Once there, she was quickly converted into the PACIFIC SKY for P&O Australia, replacing her former Sitmar fleet mate FAIR PRINCESS (ex CARINTHIA, FAIRLAND, FAIRSEA, CHINA SEA DISCOVERY).  During the next six years the ship carried 275,000 Australian passengers, greatly expanding the popularity of these voyages, so that today more and larger ships are finding success in that market.  After a series of mechanical breakdowns, in May, 2006 the ship was sold to Spain’s Pullmantur Cruises and renamed SKY WONDER.  In 2009, she was renamed again, finally losing the “Sky” part of her name by becoming the ATLANTIC STAR.  The hope was that the ship would create a new market for Portuguese passengers.   Instead the aging vessel was mostly redundant to the company’s needs.   The sale brings with it the good news that this ship, now into her 27th year, will continue to see further service, while tinged with the knowledge that this will probably result in the elimination of  another of the ever-dwindling number of steamships still in service.

52 Responses to Last Steamship Sold

  1. David Sheer

    September 26, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    This all brings back some very pleasant memories. My wife, mother, and I sailed on the Fairsky to Alaska out of San Francisco in September 1986. It was a terrific cruise with Sitmar, and the ship was exquisite – still like brand new at that time. Interesting to hear what has befallen her after all these years.

  2. Shawn Dake

    September 27, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Looking back at this article with two and a half years of hindsight, it makes me rather sad that there was not, in fact, a future career remaining for this very attractive and in some ways remarkable ship. I loved the fact that she was a steamship of course, but even more so that while being quite modern at the time it was built, it still maintained the very traditional elements that made Sitmar Cruises so great. The teak decks surrounding the pools on the terraced aft decks and promenade, the dining rooms and double-decked theater low in the ship, the pizzeria and the huge indoor whirlpool with the mural of space. Most of these elements were directly lifted from her fleetmates FAIRSEA and FAIRWIND, of which FAIRSKY was a greatly expanded version. As SKY PRINCESS, the ship continued to maintain an outstanding reputation. It was only after the ship left North American waters that serious problems kept cropping up. In my opinion, this was one of the two best ships of the 1980’s along with Home Lines HOMERIC. I was there the day of her christening and maiden voyage, and her last voyage to Australia under the Princess banner was my honeymoon. Yes, I am sad to see her disappear, but since memories are now all that is left, those are very pleasant reminders of both my own past and what outstanding cruise ships were still being built up through the 1980’s.

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