Sailing on “The Friendly Ship”

Sailing on “The Friendly Ship”


Quick: Which ocean liner was “The Friendly Ship”?

Well, according to this promotional film, produced sometime during the 1960s, it was Union-Castle Line’s Transvaal Castle. Actually, for a ship engaged in ocean liner service (Southampton-Capetown/Capetown-Southampton) rather than cruising, the journey does look like a lot of fun. Elegant, too.

Built by John Brown & Company at Clydebank, Transvaal Castle began her maiden voyage from Southampton to Durban on 18 January 1962. Transvaal was fully air conditioned (important for a vessel that would reguarly transit the Equator). Unique for an ocean liner at the time, Transvaal Castle was designed to be an experimental “hotel” ship with all passenger accommodation in a single class.

Like ocean liners serving every route, Transvaal Castle began facing stiff airline competion by the mid-1960s. In 1977, she was sold to Carnival Cruise Lines (“Friendly Ship-to-Fun Ship?”). Refitted and renamed Festivale, she re-entered service in 1978. In 1996 the vessel was sold to Dolphin Cruise Line and renamed IslandBreeze. In 1998 the ship was sold to Premier Cruise Line and renamed Big Red Boat III. Following Premier Cruise Line’s bankruptcy in 2000, she was laid up until 2003 when she was sold to  breakers in Alang, India.

It’s too bad there’s no room in today’s booming cruise market for a “friendly ship” like Transvaal Castle. But then, bigger is always better. Throw in a few dozen balconies, a roller coaster, casino, race car track, and a bow-to-stern zipline, and you’re all set for a relaxing journey to paradise.

Video highlight: A famous ocean liner photobombs the video behind the deck officer at about the 30-second mark.

Please help keep Ocean Liners Magazine afloat. Any amount will be greatly appreciated. —Regards, John Edwards Editor/Publisher.