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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
She was completed in 1962 by John Brown at Clydebank and this shot by Hugh Lauder shows her fitting out on 28 May 1961.
In 1966 she transferred to Safmarine and became SA VAAL and the second shot shows her departing from Southampton on the Mail run on a particularly nasty day in March 1977.
She had a further long career as a cruise ship under different owners following the end of the South African Mail Service and was scrapped in India in 2003 under the inauspicious name of BIG RED BOAT III
 

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She achieved her 15 minutes of fame when a passenger fell over the side in the vicinity of the Canaries. The ship back tracked and by some miracle found him floating in the sea, severely sunburnt, about 24 hours later (Big Red 1?).

A Second Mate I sailed with in another company who was on board at the time told me he was placed in the ship's hospital with a guard on the door - they were worried he may end up back in the water! More to that story than came out in the Daily Mirror.

John T.
 

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Festivale

I worked the Festivale (ex Transvaal Castle) for Carnival Cruise Lines for parts of 1995 and 1996 as the onboard computer officer. She was a classic ship and once in a while, in an out of the way location, a sign in Afrikaans could still be found.

Bob
 

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Transvaal Castle

As built she carried 728 passengers and 426 crew and a lot of cargo. She was the third ship that Carnival bought. They sent her to Kawasaki in 1977 and she joined the Carnival fleet with accommodation for 1,432 passengers and 579 crew. In those days the ideal fleet size was three ships and Carnival operated their two ex-Canadian Pacific ships on the Miami to Western or Central Caribbean routes and the Festivale on the longer haul to the Eastern Caribbean.
She was an excellent work horse for Carnival and later changed her home port to San Juan until she was chartered to Dolphin Cruises in 1996 as Island Breeze, before being sold to them a year later. She continued to operate out of San Juan for her new owners. Dolphin became Premier Cruise and Island Breeze was chartered to Thompson until the end of 1999 operating in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. In 2000 she was renamed Big Red Boat III and began operating out of Houston. She never worked for Disney as they had their own ships by this time.
This Houston period was not entirely trouble free but Premier's fate was sealed when they made the huge mistake of chartering the Edinburgh Castle as Big Red Boat II. This ship, originally the Eugenio Costa, was owned by Cammell Laird through a front Bermudan company and refitted by their Tyne yard. Delivered late in a unusable condition, obliging Premier to refund its intending passengers. Finally accepted two weeks later at the end of July 2000, she then broke down on every cruise she attempted until Premier became bankrupt in September.
This fiasco was probably the worst liner refit in living memory and I am sure was a major factor in Carnival's decission not to trust Cammell Laird to cut their newly acquired Costa Classica in two chunks. Sorry if this offends the Mersyside guys but that is the way it was.
All the Premier ships were laid up. Big Red Boat III was eventually scrapped.
Fred
 

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Festivale/Island Breeze/Big Red Boat III

When I worked the Festivale (or Fest as we called her), we were doing 7 day cruises out of San Juan for Carnival. Premier Cruises had a tough time later - they were operating older ships with maintenance challenges competing against the big modern ships that Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Princess were sailing. Those lines could cut their fares to such an extent that the smaller lines like Dolphin and Premier could not compete.

I have included a picture of the ship in dry dock in Norfolk, Virginia in 1995. The second photo has been removed.

Regards, Bob
 

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Transvaal Castle

With the current price of bunker fuel it is even more difficult for a steam turbine powered ship to compete with modern diesels.

Fred
 

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Regarding the picture of TRANSVAAL CASTLE being scrapped. I am not sure it is the same ship. TRANSVAAL CASTLE had a rounded stern as in the view of FESTIVALE next to it. The scrapping picture seems to have a flat transom and also the remains of the accommodation seem too far aft. I sailed in TRANSVAAL CASTLE in 1965 on her last voyage under that name, then I completed two voyages in the ship as S.A. VAAL before moving on to WINDSOR CASTLE for 1 1/2 years.
 

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Scrapping Photo

I see what you are saying but I believe that part of the stern has already been removed at the time the picture was taken. That would explain the remains of the superstructure being too far aft, the transom rather than rounded stern, and the absence of any shafts or screws showing.

However I am certainly not an expert on shipbreaking.

Regards, Bob
 

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As the rudder is visible, the extreme end of the stern is still there and even below water, the shape was curved and not flat. Also, the port propeller shaft is visible and there was no substantial superstructure that far aft.

Regards

Bob
 

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Alang Photo

Shipbuilder,
Thanks for your inputs - I have removed the photo as I am no longer sure of the vessel identity.

Regards,
Bob
 

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The scrapping picture tallied in most respects to the hull of the TRANSVAAL CASTLE, even to the guard over the propeller. The only thing that made me wonder was the apparent flat transom which still appeared to be painted red, and the height of the superstructure aft although this might have been an illusion after the removal of side plating. I wonder if anyone else has any views on this as I am by no means emphatic that it is not the remains of TRANSVAAL CASTLE. Here is a picture of the vessel in her prime. I took it in the tropics in 1965 on the voyage before we became S.A. VAAL.
 

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Transvaal Castle

Regarding the picture of TRANSVAAL CASTLE being scrapped. I am not sure it is the same ship. TRANSVAAL CASTLE had a rounded stern as in the view of FESTIVALE next to it. The scrapping picture seems to have a flat transom and also the remains of the accommodation seem too far aft. I sailed in TRANSVAAL CASTLE in 1965 on her last voyage under that name, then I completed two voyages in the ship as S.A. VAAL before moving on to WINDSOR CASTLE for 1 1/2 years.
Was on her in 1965 to 1968 as boy rating Captain Lloyd was in charge. On her when stewardess went over the side in Port Elizebeth, Liam Mccann was messman,on there when Stratford Johns from Z-cars was on there, Vincent Price,Smith the Rhodesia prime minister. Can you remember anyone else, memories a bit foged.(Cloud)
 

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SA VAAl

Was on her in 1965 to 1968 as boy rating Captain Lloyd was in charge. On her when stewardess went over the side in Port Elizebeth, Liam Mccann was messman,on there when Stratford Johns from Z-cars was on there, Vincent Price,Smith the Rhodesia prime minister. Can you remember anyone else, memories a bit foged.(Cloud)
Trying to send picture. Ahhh, it works..Here you are ...SA VAAL
 

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She achieved her 15 minutes of fame when a passenger fell over the side in the vicinity of the Canaries. The ship back tracked and by some miracle found him floating in the sea, severely sunburnt, about 24 hours later (Big Red 1?).

A Second Mate I sailed with in another company who was on board at the time told me he was placed in the ship's hospital with a guard on the door - they were worried he may end up back in the water! More to that story than came out in the Daily Mirror.

John T.
This happened northbound on my first trip on SA Vaal as a junior purser. The passenger's name was Joseph Honeywill from Johannesburg, and the date was August 28th 1970. The amazing navigation by the deck officers took into account currents and tides north of the Canaries. He was spotted as we passed within 200 yards of him - his Timex watch was still working ! Yes he was locked in the isolation hospital for fear of reprisals from other passengers.
 

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And the Master was a Captain Freel (I hope that is correct).......i was 15 at the time and remember him being interviewed on T.V. News.

i hope the memory isn't playing tricks.
 
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