BLUE AEGEAN Blog, Part Four: AEGEAN Blog

In this restored Sea Treks quintet of blogs from 2007, Peter Knego embarked on pair of cruises in the Aegean aboard two since-scrapped cruise ships, Monarch Classic Cruises MV BLUE MONARCH (ex RENAISSANCE, WORLD RENAISSANCE, etc.) and Golden Star Cruises SS AEGEAN tWO (ex AUSONIA, IVORY). This fourth blog begins aboard the gorgeous AEGEAN tWO in Piraeus and Mykonos catching some fascinating ships along the way.

Keep up to date with Peter Knego on Twitter by clicking here

THE SANDS OF ALANG: Peter Knego’s new DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2007 unless otherwise noted.

Golden Star Cruises SS AEGEAN TWO was built in 1957 for Adriatica Line as the AUSONIA, in many respects a miniature maritime follow up to Italia's ANDREA DORIA/CRISTOFORO COLOMBO duo and a precursor to Italia's LEONARDO DA VINCI. She is shown above as built for Adriatica's Venice to Alexandria and Beirut liner service. Peter Knego collection.
Golden Star Cruises SS AEGEAN tWO was built in 1957 for Adriatica Line as the AUSONIA, in many respects a miniature maritime follow-up to Italia’s ANDREA DORIA/CRISTOFORO COLOMBO duo and a precursor to Italia’s LEONARDO DA VINCI. She is shown above as built for Adriatica’s Venice to Alexandria and Beirut liner service. Peter Knego collection.

Friday, August 24, 2007:

Sleep was elusive at best, so when the alarm buzzed at 6:45, I was ready. We headed up to the BLUE MONARCH’s buffet for our final breakfast, collected our passports and walked down to the terminal (B) to get our luggage. A shuttle bus took us to the main terminal (A) where we were able to utilize the free WiFi to get e-mail and work on this blog.

At 9:00, we walked to the other end of the terminal to embark AEGEAN tWO. It was great to see Golden Star Cruises’ rep, Chantal Lundgren, an effervescent young Audrey Hepburn, who gave us a warm and enthusiastic welcome.

Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.

Nicolo Costanzi, the brilliant Italian architect behind ships like GALILEO GALILEI, EUGENIO C, and OCEANIC, would be proud to know his AUSONIA had such a successful and long career. Aside from the vintage characteristics and design elements that personally excite me, the ship, then called AEGEAN tWO, was a marvel of functionality and quality construction.

The Athena Deck pool, facing forward. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
The Athena Deck pool, facing forward. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
The wraparound promenade on Bahia Deck, facing forward along the starboard side. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
The wraparound promenade on Bahia Deck, facing forward along the starboard side. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Midship stairs, facing up. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Midship stairs, facing up. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.

She had a nice lido area (with a typically MidCentury Italian egg-shaped pool in an obtuse basin), a large whirlpool, a large forward observation deck, a full wraparound promenade, tastefully decorated public rooms (redone from the brilliant original Nino Zoncada interiors in the mid-1980s by the respectable Studio de Jorio of Milan). Gone were rooms full of angular furniture, acres of linoleum, and jaw-dropping artwork by the usual Italian “ship of state” stable of maestros (Luzzati, Moscherini, Majoli, and Paulucci). In their place was a line up of spaces with pleasingly restrained and tasteful décor that was on par with or better than most public rooms on today’s mega ships. The cabins ranged from plush former first class suites with original wood paneling and vintage fixtures to remodeled suites and comfortable, if basic, insides. She was built as a small ocean liner and made the transition to classic cruise ship beautifully. Her owners, Louis Cruise Lines, kept her in excellent cosmetic and operating condition and her charterers, Golden Star, staffed her with one of the friendliest and most accommodating crews in the Aegean. This little jewel of a ship was “doomed” in 2010, thanks to SOLAS, but I had hoped that Golden Star would continue their charter up until the very last.

Port Bahia Deck passage, facing aft. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Port Bahia Deck passage, facing aft. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Cabin 39, facing aft. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Cabin 39, facing aft. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.

We stepped into the purser’s lobby on Corfu Deck 6, where I was immediately relieved of my laptop and back pack by a friendly steward who escorted us to Cabin 39 on Bahia Deck 7, up one level on the forward stairtower (which still had elements of its original Zoncada design) and aft along the port passageway past rows of honey-hued wooden doors offset by the pleasing powder blue bulkheads. Our cabin was an unusual configuration with two single beds each in its own fore-to-aft compartment underneath a classic Italian arched window. There were two large closets, a large bathroom, stylish dressers next to each bed, and best of all, a sea of glowing birch, cherry wood, and mahogany to knock on for the next three days.

We visited the friendly maitre’d, Georgios Stivaktas, he assigned us a table for two, first sitting, then we wandered about. I was so happy that well-traveled Christopher agreed about AEGEAN tWO: “Our wood paneled cabin, the restrained colors in the dining room and lounges, the cheerful staff, delicious food and beautiful architecture are among the many features I already love about this ship.”

Kontiki, facing forward. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Kontiki, facing forward. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Discovery Lounge, facing forward. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Discovery Lounge, facing forward. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Candid carpet. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Candid carpet. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.

Our first stop was the Kontiki Club, where we had our morning cappuccinos, then down to the Discovery Lounge, which was part of a modular section added to the ship in her 1980s rebuilding. It is a study in pale turquoise, white, and brushed steel and has a bar with private alcoves at its entrance.

The Orangerie, facing aft. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
The Orangerie, facing aft. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Pharoah's Restaurant, facing forward. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Pharoah’s Restaurant, facing forward. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Voyager Bar and Nightclub, facing starboard. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Voyager Bar and Nightclub, facing starboard. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
The Casino, facing aft. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
The Casino, facing aft. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.

The Orangerie was originally the starboard promenade and was transformed into a winter garden of sorts, traversing the length of the handsome Pharoah’s Restaurant to link fore and aft parts of the ship. At the front of the restaurant was a large embarkation lobby which continued forward to the elliptically shaped Voyager Room and the Casino and shops on the starboard side. A dedicated Cinema was down two levels on Ephesus Deck, which also contained a gym.

Opening and closing the solid wooden cabinets and drawers in Cabin 39 was such a pleasure as I unpacked, then we both headed up to deck to watch the sailing. OCEAN MONARCH was the first one out, leaving the Kanellos basin earlier than her scheduled 11:00 departure time. CRISTAL, which was just ahead of us, thrust out and pivoted away. Then, as tugs guided AEGEAN tWO from her berth, the friendly PERLA made a quick exit, posing with her current and former fleetmate, ORIENT QUEEN, before exchanging salutes with the AEGEAN tWO. Melting like Icarus in the sun, I sought shelter in the covered promenade, propped my cameras on some solid mahogany caprail, and enjoyed the beautiful sail-away.

Buffet, olé! Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Buffet, olé! Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.

Christopher and I wanted to enjoy lunch in the dining room and were early enough to secure a lovely table on the port side against the full length windows. The courses were beautifully presented and tasty, but we craved some of the alternative and authentic Greek salads and cuisine at the buffet. I think Christopher has finally been enlightened to the pleasures of stewed eggplant, green beans, and tomatoes.

MaritimeMatters aboard the AEGEAN TWO. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
MaritimeMatters aboard the AEGEAN tWO. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
What a window and what a view! Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
What a window and what a view from the AEGEAN tWO! Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Storm in the Aegean. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Tempest in the Aegean. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Over the stern and into the Aegean. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
Over the stern and into the Aegean. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.

I returned to the cabin to cuddle up with the laptop and enjoy the creaking of the woodwork and the high pitched gentle hum of those CRDA turbines while I tried to get up to date on this blovious blog. We began to pitch and roll noticeably, encountering some fierce seas (a Force 7) about half way to Mykonos. I went up top to witness Poseidon’s fury as rollers slammed into our port side, sending spray over the boats. On the starboard side, a rainbow of mist glowed in the sun as our sturdy little liner, which was designed to cross such seas, plowed onward. It was far more intense than my Drake Passage crossing last February and only lasted about two hours before we were in the lee of Tinos.

The staff and crew of AEGEAN tWO were engaging and eager to please. There was a palpable sense of pride and caring on this vessel, which was spotless and even smelled fresh and clean. In every possible aspect, I loved this ship!!!

EASY CRUISE ONE in her updated livery at Mykonos. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.
EASY CRUISE ONE in her updated livery at Mykonos. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2007.

As we neared Mykonos, another excellent, if familiar, gathering awaited us. OCEANIC II lay at the terminal with the little EASY CRUISE ONE (sporting her tempered-down livery of gray and orange). The GRAND VOYAGER crossed our bow and anchored off our port side. To starboard, the OCEAN MONARCH was dropping anchor. As the rattling of the winches began, tenders came alongside to take us to shore. By the time we arrived via bus (7 euros round trip) in Mykonos town, we only had two hours before the last bus back to the tender at 10:15. We sat on the terrace of the Blue Blue Club and had a drink with a twilight view of the bay, refreshed by the moderate breeze. It was a warm night in Mykonos, but still significantly cooler than our visit the prior week. Some blogging with Blue Blue’s fast WiFi connection and a quick, delicious chicken gyro were all we had time for before we returned to the AEGEAN tWO.

Through the curtains of the Discovery Lounge, we could see the lights of OCEAN MONARCH and OCEANIC II as AEGEAN tWO slowly made her way out of Mykonos harbor. The seas picked up again, but not to the extent we experienced earlier. We decided to see the show, “Around The World”, a similar international revue to that on the BLUE MONARCH, but this one was like deja-vu for an entirely different reason. I recognized the mostly Romanian singers and dancers from my February 2006 cruise aboard REGAL EMPRESS. On the larger stage of AEGEAN tWO, their show was superb. This troupe is classically trained, attractive, and extremely talented. We both agreed that at 45 minutes, the show was a bit short, however. Perhaps it is always best to leave us wanting more…

From our respective, wonderfully creaky alcoves in the cabin, we enjoyed some late night chatter as the former AUSONIA hummed and pitched gracefully along.

End of Part One

Much More To Come…

Special Thanks to Martin Cox, Christopher Kyte and Bianca LeMoeul

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

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

MENU
login