Our April Artifact of the Month is a poster, donated by Lew Powell, advertising cruises from Morehead City on the M.S. Stockholm.
When this travel poster was created, the M. S. Stockholm was a slim young 12,000-ton ocean liner with a yacht-like profile. The ship, which was owned by the Swedish America Line, began sailing in 1948. The Stockholm provided regular service between Scandinavian ports and New York City during an era when crossing the Atlantic by ship was gaining in popularity — despite the growing availability of transatlantic air service.
Designed to provide comfort and intimacy rather than luxury for its passengers and crew, the Stockholm was the smallest passenger liner on the North Atlantic route. Due to its slim hull and initial lack of stabilizer fins, the ship quickly gained the reputation as the “worst roller on the North Atlantic.”
Partly in response to the vessel’s lively behavior in the rougher northern seas, the Swedish America Line scheduled the Stockholm for a series of four cruises originating at Morehead City, North Carolina, with Havana, Nassau, and Bermuda as destinations in the autumn of 1953. As local newspapers reported, North Carolinians took advantage of this opportunity, with the first cruise being occupied almost entirely by about 400 members of the North Carolina Academy of General Practice physicians and their families. The departure from Morehead City was postponed by one day while Hurricane Hazel roared ashore. The October 23rd cruise to Bermuda included a convention of North Carolina livestock Feed Dealers.
The Stockholm has subsequently led a long and eventful life.
On the foggy night of July 25, 1956, the eastbound Stockholm collided with the much larger luxury liner and pride of the Italian Line fleet, the Andrea Doria, near the Nantucket lightship. A fourteen-year-old girl was catapulted from her berth in the Andrea Doria onto the deck of the Stockholm. The girl survived. But the Andrea Doria sank eleven hours later. Between the two ships, fifty-one lives were lost.
The Stockholm after its collision with the Andrea Doria. Image from John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Australia.
The bow of the Stockholm was repaired, and the ship was placed back into service. Since then, the vessel has experienced a considerable series of changes of ownership and name.
- Sold to East German government. Renamed Völkerfreundschaft. Operated as an ocean liner for fifteen years.
- Transferred to a Panamanian company. Named shortened to Volker. Laid up in Southampton, United Kingdom, in 1986. Then renamed Fridtjof Nansen. Served as a barracks ship for asylum seekers in Oslo, Norway.
- Sold to an Italian company, which rebuilt it as a modern cruise ship from the waterline up. Renamed Italia 1, then Italia Prima, then Valtur Prima while providing service to Cuba. Laid up in Cuba in 2001.
- Purchased by Festival Cruise Line. Renamed Caribe. Sailed on the Cuba route.
- Sailed for Classic International Cruises. Renamed Athena. Attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden on December 3, 2008, but the ship’s crew and a U.S. Navy patrol aircraft drove the pirates off.
A 2011 photograph of the ship then known as the Athena. Photo from the Wikimedia Commons.
- Bought by a Portuguese company, Portuscale Cruises. Renamed Azores. Conducted charter cruises.
- Scheduled for long-term service by the Cruise and Maritime Voyages company. The ship once known as the Stockholm will be 67 years old in 2015.