AU REVOIR PRINCESS DAPHNE (Updated)

The classic lines of Princess Daphne

The classic lines of Princess Daphne

It is with more than a little personal sadness that I have to report that the former Classic International Cruises  stalwart, Princess Daphne, has left her lay up berth in Souda Bay, Crete, bound for the scrapyards of Alang.

The ship had been there since the collapse of CIC in October of 2012. While the other four ships were rescued and reorganised as the nascent Portuscale Cruises– including her Belfast built sister ship, Lisboa ex Princess Danae– there was sadly to be no reprieve for this classically beautiful ship.

Originally built on the Tyne in 1955 as the Port Sydney, a combination cargo/passenger ship for the Port Line, the ship was remodelled into a cruise ship in 1975 at great expense. For many years she sailed, along with her similarly rejuvenated sister ship, for Costa Cruises.

The Italian company in those days was a very different operation to the Carnival affiliate of today. The two sister ships, renamed Daphne and Danae respectively, were very high end, luxurious vessels that operated on long itineraries all over the globe. In the seventies and eighties, they were among the most sought after luxury ships in the world.

After years of bouncing around various budget operators, the two sisters were reunited under the banner of Classic International Cruises. Under the guiding wing of the brilliant George Potamianos, the two ships were brought back to a level of pristine cleanliness and aesthetic perfection that no large scale operator would have even dreamed of attempting.

Along with the rest of the CIC fleet, Princess Daphne offered an elegant, intimate seagoing experience that was a million miles removed from that found aboard the conventional mega ships. She was, in essence, a floating time capsule; long, lean and low, with gracefully sweeping lines at bow and stern.

There were no rock climbing walls or five story showrooms. Nor were they needed; the ‘theme’ of Princess Daphne and her sisters was simple; a well run. traditional ship on a timeless ocean. I had the pleasure of sailing on her twice, and she was, quite simply, a joy to be aboard.

The elegant cruiser stern of  Princess Daphne

The elegant cruiser stern of Princess Daphne

George Potamianos cared for each of his ships like babies, lavishing his own love and paternal care on them on a scale that would give most of today’s accountants a nose bleed. But his sad death in May of 2012 presaged the end of his elegant, Elysian dream. By October, the company had collapsed, and all five ships were arrested.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Rui Allegre and Portuscale Cruises, four of the original five ships were saved, restructured, and massively refurbished. Two are back in service, with work on the other pair- including Lisboa- proceeding apace.

Sadly, there was to be no reprieve for Princess Daphne.

Despite being repurchased by the sons of George Potamianos in 2013, the ship remained in lay up at Souda. Her sale to Indian breakers was, sadly, inevitable, and now her time has come.

3/6/2014: Princess Daphne is expected to arrive at Alang today, though it is unclear whether she will be beached immediately.

 

For some excellent historical information and photographs on Princess Daphne, may I recommend the first class SHIPS AND THE SEA blog by the always excellent Portuguese maritime authority, Luis Miguel Correia. Anyone wanting detailed information on these wonderful ships can do no better than look there.

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5 comments

  1. Dear Anthony, very sad indeed to see Georgios Potamianos final ship going to be scrapped. GPP did not like to have his ships sold. In 1995 he had to sell VASCO DA GAMA – the offer was too good to be declined – otherwise he always did his best to keep his ships going. He almost succed with FUNCHAL, but it was too late for him. In his final days in hospital fighting cancer, if he did feel a bit better he would immediately start plans to revamp his cruise business, days before passing away he sought he only had a sound business basis for three ships so ARION and PRINCESS DANAE should be sold for scrap and the remaining three ships should remain until the cruising environment could improve and permit CIC to renew the fleet with modern ships. It was all too late and like most Greek cruise ship entrepreneurs, Georgios lfe of work did not see continuity towards the next generation..

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    • Thanks for the additional info, Luis Miguel. I always felt that, sadly, time was up for Princess Daphne once she did not go to Portuscale with her sister ship. However, I will always count myself incredibly lucky to have sailed twice on such a unique and wonderful ship. For that, the late Mister Potamianos will always have my thanks and gratitude.

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      • Well, there was some talk about me doing that last year, actually, but I never had any follow up from the company on the subject. Of course I’d love the chance to do so if it were practical.

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