SAPPHIRE (ex ITALIA, OCEAN PRINCESS, etc.) Double Decked! Part Two

This is the second installment in Peter Knego’s Decked! feature about Louis Cruises’ Italian-built MV SAPPHIRE, originally posted in September 2008 but lost in the transition to MaritimeMatters’ new host.  Along with many other early MaritimeMatters features, it has been restored to the new site.  Please note, the images appear smaller than usual.

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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2008, unless otherwise noted.

In 2007, an unusual framework of steel and canvas was added to shelter SAPPHIRE’s Lido Deck and Cafe de Paris from high winds.

Here is a top to bottom look at the ship as she appeared in September 2008:

SAPPHIRE departs Limassol, 29 August 2008.
SAPPHIRE departs Limassol, 29 August 2008.

Top Of House (8)

Over bow from top of house.
Over bow from top of house.
Facing aft from Deck 8.
Facing aft from Deck 8.

The top of the house (Deck 8) was basically a mast platform and was off limits to passengers.

Sun Deck (7)

Aft from starboard bridge wing.
Aft from starboard bridge wing.
Wheelhouse, facing starboard.
Wheelhouse, facing starboard.
Chart Room, facing port.
Chart Room, facing port.

Sun Deck (7) began at the bridge wings and contained the wheelhouse (which had a combination of original and modern equipment), chart room and radio room.

Sun Deck (7), facing forward.
Sun Deck (7), facing forward.

A large sunning terrace was situated aft of the deck house, overlooking the midships Lido.

Facing forward over Lido and pool area from base of funnel (Sun Deck level).
Facing forward over Lido and pool area from base of funnel (Sun Deck level).

Lido Deck (6)

Forward Lido Deck (6), facing starboard.
Forward Lido Deck (6), facing starboard.
Starboard Lido Deck, facing forward.
Starboard Lido Deck, facing forward.

Lido Deck (6) began with a small observation platform that continued via narrow passageways to the Cafe de Paris and pool area. Stairs from here also led down to an observation deck on forward Riviera Deck (5).

Forward Lido Deck stairs, facing forward/down.
Forward Lido Deck stairs tapestry, facing forward/down.

Internally, Lido Deck began with ten Category G Superior Outside cabins added in the OCEAN PRINCESS conversion, followed by a vestibule providing access to the outer deck and the Cafe de Paris, just aft.

Cafe de Paris, facing forward/starboard.
Cafe de Paris, facing forward/starboard.
Exterior portion of Cafe de Paris, facing port.
Exterior portion of Cafe de Paris, facing port.
Cafe de Paris, outdoor portion, facing forward.
Cafe de Paris, outdoor portion, facing forward.

The interior/forward portion of Cafe de Paris seats 75 and the outer portion accommodates 277. With meals served buffet style on the outer terrace, Cafe de Paris is generally used as a second dining venue in addition to the Four Seasons Restaurant. It is also the ship’s nightclub, offering live entertainment and programmed music and features both inside and outside bar areas.

Lido Deck, facing aft from starboard.
Lido Deck, facing aft from starboard.
Pool, facing aft.
Pool, facing aft.

The midships Lido area provided extra seating for the Cafe de Paris and the SAPPHIRE’s pool.

Beauty Salon, facing aft.
Beauty Salon, facing aft.
Spa treatment room, facing starboard.
Spa treatment room, facing starboard.
Deck 6 Playroom, facing port.
Deck 6 Playroom, facing port.

In the funnel casing, the Salon and Spa replaced the gym on the port side. There was a small playroom on the aft/starboard side. Internal stairs provided access to Riviera Deck (6).

Aft Lido Deck (6), facing forward.
Aft Lido Deck (6), facing forward.
Over stern from aft Lido Deck.
Over stern from aft Lido Deck.

Aft Lido Deck (6) featured a large sunning terrace overlooking the stern.

Riviera Deck (5)

Forward Riviera Deck (5), facing port.
Forward Riviera Deck (5), facing port.

 

Facing aft from forward Deck 5 platform.
Facing aft from forward Deck 5 platform.

An observation area atop the modular cabin additions on forward Riviera Deck (5) was accessed via forward Lido Deck (6). It was “open” at sea but usually the forward portion was chained off during port maneuvers to allow the ship’s gangway to be hoisted on or off the fo’c’sle.

Rendezvous Square, facing forward.
Rendezvous Square, facing forward.

The forward Riviera Deck (5) accommodation block included two Category K Deluxe Outside Cabins, ten Category I Premiere Outside Cabins, two Category H Premier Outside Cabins, four Category G Superior Outside Cabins, six Category F Standard Outside Cabins, sixteen Category D Premiere Inside Cabins and two Category J Standard Inside Single Cabins. The Rendezvous Square followed, which in tandem with adjoining Harry’s Bar, seats 53. A Duty Free Shop is now on the port side, occupying what has over the years been a Card Room, Shop, and Casino space.

Harry's Bar, facing forward.
Harry’s Bar, facing forward.

ITALIA’s inboard Bar was replaced with the outboard Harry’s Bar during the OCEAN PRINCESS refit. It was a wonderful nook with a view of the sea and the perfect ante spot before attending a show in the Marco Polo Lounge.

Starboard portion of Marco Polo Lounge, facing aft.
Starboard portion of Marco Polo Lounge, facing aft.
Marco Polo Lounge, facing forward.
Marco Polo Lounge, facing forward.
One of several tapestries remaining from the OCEAN PRINCESS era.
One of several tapestries remaining from the OCEAN PRINCESS era.

Sandwiched between the ship’s wonderfully canted outer bulkheads with grilled steel-framed windows, the Marco Polo Lounge show room seated 343 passengers. It retained its angular ceiling recesses from the original ITALIA design as well as its basic layout, with the exception of the bar in its aft/port section. The decor dated from the OCEAN PRINCESS era with AMK’s metallic lighting fixtures and tapestries.

Raffles, facing aft.
Raffles, facing aft.

Raffles accommodated 112 and, while it had a small area that could be used as a piano bar or disco, it was last used as the ship’s Casino. The bar on the forward/starboard side was original, as were the stylish, oversized brass porthole windows.

Card Room, facing aft.
Card Room, facing aft.

On the port side of Raffles, there was a small Card Room and Internet Center.

Winter Garden, facing forward.
Winter Garden, facing forward.

Accessed via the aft vestibule on the port side, the Winter Garden was one of SAPPHIRE’s most dynamically MidCentury Modern spaces. The angled outboard windows (reminiscent of Home Line’s OCEANIC’s promenades) contrasted quite exquisitely with the large porthole windows facing Raffles.

Pulitzer portal: an original door on aft Deck 5, between the vestibule and the gym.
Pulitzer portal: an original door on aft Deck 5, between the vestibule and the gym.
Gym, facing forward.
Gym, facing forward.

On the starboard side, in the space complementing the Winter Garden, there was the ship’s gym. It last contained some very battered cardio equipment and two weight machines (September 2008). Lido Deck (5) continues with a small terrace overlooking the stern.

Promenade Deck (4)

Aft from Promenade Deck (4) fo'c'sle.
Aft from Promenade Deck (4) fo’c’sle.
Port Deck (4) promenade, facing aft.
Port Deck (4) promenade, facing aft.

Promenade Deck (4) began at the fo’c’sle head and continued aft via very narrow promenades under the lifeboats to a small, crew-only terrace at the fantail. Internally, it contained thirteen Category K Deluxe Outside Cabins, two Category I Premier Outside Cabins, four Category H Premier Outside Cabins, ten Category G Superior Outside Cabins, six Category D Premier Inside Cabins and four Category C Superior Inside Cabins.

Four Seasons Restaurant, facing aft.
Four Seasons Restaurant, facing aft.
Totally random carpet shot (Four Seasons Restaurant).
Totally random carpet shot (Four Seasons Restaurant).

With its deck-and-a-half height, the 324-seat Four Seasons Restaurant was arguably, the most dynamic space on board SAPPHIRE. The shape of the room and the moulded ceiling recess were reminiscent of the dining room on Home Lines’ OCEANIC but the stained glass skylight, Art Deco-style polished brass and etched glass were the result of the ship’s OCEAN PRINCESS incarnation. Most meals on SAPPHIRE were served buffet style.

Deck 4 fantail, facing starboard/aft.
Deck 4 fantail, facing starboard/aft.

Pacific Deck (3)

Main Lobby, facing forward.
Main Lobby, facing forward.

Pacific Deck (3) was largely devoted to accommodation, including thirty nine Category H Premier Outside Cabins, seven Category F Standard Outside Cabins, six Category E Standard Outside Cabins, seventeen Category D Premier Inside Cabins and six Category C Superior Inside Cabins.

The Main Lobby was midships and housed the Cruise/Shore Excursions Office, Information Desk, and Hotel Manager’s Office.

Belvedere Deck (2)

Thirty two Category F Standard Outside Cabins, eight Category E Standard Outside Cabins, four Category J standard Inside Cabins and twenty Category C Superior Inside Cabins comprised the accommodation on Belvedere (2) Deck.

Capri Deck (1)

Five Category J Standard Inside Cabins, thirty seven Category B Standard Inside Cabins and seventeen Category A Standard Inside Cabins were located on Capri (1) Deck.

Cinema Deck

Cinema, facing forward.
Cinema, facing forward.

The layout and framework of the 174 seat Cinema remained largely as it was in 1967, when it premiered “Valley Of The Dolls”.

Sapphire Accommodation

There were eleven cabin categories on SAPPHIRE, ranging from Category A Standard Insides to Category K Deluxe Outsides. All cabins had private facilities, shower, individually controlled air conditioning, telephones, radio, and television. A sampling of some of the cabins can be seen below. Primarily, the layout and decor dated from the ship’s OCEAN PRINCESS conversion, although some vintage elements such as the circular vanity mirrors remained from the ITALIA incarnation (some of these were purchased by the author for his MidShipCentury venture). Some chairs from PRINCESA VICTORIA (also designed by Pulitzer) were transferred over when that ship was sold for scrapping and could be found in various cabins on board SAPPHIRE.

Category K Deluxe Outside Cabin 436, facing starboard.
Category K Deluxe Outside Cabin 436, facing starboard.
Cabin 436 totally random carpet shot.
Cabin 436 totally random carpet shot.
Category I Premier Outside Cabin 534, facing starboard.
Category I Premier Outside Cabin 534, facing starboard.
Category I Premier Outside Cabin 406, facing starboard.
Category I Premier Outside Cabin 406, facing starboard.
Category G Superior Outside Cabin 431, facing port.
Category G Superior Outside Cabin 431, facing port.
Category G Superior Outside Cabin 429, facing port.
Category G Superior Outside Cabin 429, facing port.
Category E Standard Outside Cabin 366, facing starboard.
Category E Standard Outside Cabin 366, facing starboard.
Category D Premier Inside Cabin 403, facing aft.
Category D Premier Inside Cabin 403, facing aft.
Category C Superior Inside Cabin 420, facing aft.
Category C Superior Inside Cabin 420, facing aft.
A view over the CRDA Sulzers, facing forward.
A view over the CRDA Sulzers, facing forward.

The SAPPHIRE was still capable of 15 to 16 knot speeds and ran on her original CRDA Sulzer diesels.

MV SAPPHIRE at Limassol, 29 August 2008.
MV SAPPHIRE at Limassol, 29 August 2008.

Special thanks to: Captain Andreas, Martin Cox, Iliana Marangou, Maurizio Eliseo, Captain Kavalierakis Dikaos Fokas, Chief Engineer Klironomos Ioannis, Christopher Kyte, Bianca LeMoeul, Katya Makaveeva, Paolo Piccione

References: Costa Line materials, “The Costa Liners” by Maurizio Eliseo and Paolo Piccione, “Great Passenger Ships Of The World Today” by Arnold Kludas, Louis Cruise Lines materials, Ocean Cruise Line materials, Princess Cruises materials

Originally Posted: 11 September 2008

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego
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