Part Two of Peter Knego’s Double Decked! Feature aboard the still very elegant but endangered 1955-built Turkish liner AKDENIZ, now serving as a classroom and training ship at the Istanbul Teknik University in Tuzla, continues with a look at the ship’s lower decks: A Deck, B Deck, C Deck, D Deck and the engine room.
Thanks to its pronounced sheer, the tip of the AKDENIZ’ bow on A Deck is practically a deck higher than where it begins at the base of her superstructure. Surrounding two cargo holds and lined in teak, one can only imagine what it must have been like in the ship’s express liner years, crammed to the rails with humanity, cars and exotic cargoes.
Those balmy Sea of Marmara waters are very alluring to jellyfish. On my last two visits to AKDENIZ, they hovered around the ship like an incandescent veil.
The Bergama Social Hall may have the better vantage one deck higher but the Kekova Lounge is one of the most gorgeous vintage rooms still afloat.
The Kekova is decked out in glowing mahogany paneling with brass fittings (not the cheap lacquered stuff one finds on modern cruise ships), hide and all sorts of crescents and curves that were such a part of mid-1950s architecture.
A bar occupies the center/aft portion of the gently sheered room.
The interior portion of A Deck continues with a lobby that sports a glass kiosk, a reception desk and that elegant staircase from days gone by. It’s all about the detailing and craftsmanship — the flare of the ceiling recesses, the carved woodwork and those subtle curves.
Port and starboard alleyways lead aft through seventeen first class staterooms with brass framed picture windows that look out onto narrow promenades. Each is furnished with two mahogany framed lower beds, mahogany cabinets, rich maple or mahogany paneling and private bathroom with shower.
Narrow sheltered walkways continue aft on either side of A Deck to an open deck with a pool and wading pool atop hatches three and four.
In the aft superstructure, a staircase leads down from A Deck to the Tourist Class accommodation.
Directly aft of the staircase, the dedicated Tourist Class Lounge, now called the Halikarma Lounge, is now in use as a classroom.
Even this relatively modest space has its share of impressive craftsmanship and materials…
…not the least of which includes an S-shaped mahogany bar.
A narrow terrace and stairwell concludes the aft portion of A Deck.
On this visit, we didn’t access the forward portion of B Deck, which houses crew accommodation and a shelter deck.
The former first class Capadocia Restaurant is accessed via the forward stairtower and spans the width of the ship. Although the furnishing and light fixtures are modern additions, much of the room’s original framework and paneling remain.
That wonderful forward stairtower slinks down as far as the B Deck lobby leading to the Capadocia Restaurant. Port and starboard alleyways continue aft via first class accommodation to a block of tourist class staterooms in the stern.
At the far aft end of B Deck, there is an infirmary and sick ward.
Narrow walkways wrap around either side of the infirmary.
B Deck concludes at the fantail.
C Deck begins with more crew, dormitory and tourist class accommodation.
On the midships port side, there is a small gym and sauna that were added in the 1989 refit.
Farther aft on the port side is the Perce Restaurant, a modernized version of the original tourist class dining room.
D Deck is divided into forward and aft sections of crew and tourist class accommodation on either side of the engine room and cargo hold recesses.
AKDENIZ’ machinery is still fully intact, although a comprehensive dry docking and overhaul would be required to bring the engines back to running condition.
So much is packed into this relatively small ship. At one point during our afternoon exploring, Mike commented at “what a big ship this is”. Somehow, with all of her nooks, crannies and varied accommodation, the AKDENIZ seems five times her size but even then, she would be considered “intimate” by today’s standards.
I‘ll never get enough of this grand lady of the seas. Although I never had the chance to sail in her, just visiting AKDENIZ has been like taking a voyage back in time. When we left Tuzla, I was keenly aware that this may have been my last opportunity to enjoy this masterpiece of MidCentury maritime craftsmanship and engineering.
When we finally were delivered to the Kadikoy terminal, there was just enough time for a fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice from one of the local vendors before we hopped onto the ferry for our ride back to the European side of Istanbul.
What a fascinating, electric city, especially in the fiery embers of a setting sun. Some places may steal hearts, but like the little AKDENIZ, Istanbul captures the soul.
End of AKDENIZ Double Decked!
With very special thanks: Hacki Akka, Dr. Ata Bilgili
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."