One Hundred Years Ago – The Allan Line’s Alsatian, later Empress of France – Trans-Atlantic – Trans-Pacific – World Cruises

CalgarianAt this time a century ago, Glasgow’s Allan Line, a very innovative company that was among the first to stretch many of its passenger liners by adding new midsections in the 19th Century, was preparing to introduce two new trend-setting ships to the North Atlantic in 1914. The first of these, the 18,481-ton Alsatian, was built by William Beardmore & Sons in Glasgow, while the 17,515-ton Calgarian was completed by the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd of nearby Govan.

Ordered as quadruple-screw turbine-propelled vessels, these ships had advanced turbine propulsion for their time and were the first on the North Atlantic to be equipped with the new warship-like cruiser stern instead of the traditional counter stern. With a capacity for 1,750, of whom 250 travelled in first class, 500 in second and 1,000 in third, they were the largest liners yet built for the Canadian route between Liverpool, Quebec and Montreal, with winter service to Halifax and Saint John when the St Lawrence was closed by ice.

An Allan Line publicity piece described the ships while they were being built: “The fittings of the general rooms, which occupy the entire structure on A Deck, harmoniously blend luxury and comfort, the decorations being entrusted to firms whose names are world-famous. The public rooms comprise the Lounge, Library and Reading Room, the Card Room, and the Smoke Room. On the Upper Promenade Deck there is a Cafe, Smoke Room and Gymnasium. The promenade decks – which constitute a special feature of the ships – are of great length and spaciousness, with extensive closed-in Promenade for recreation in all kinds of weather.”

The Alsatian departed Liverpool on her maiden voyage on January 17, 1914, for Halifax and Saint John, while the Calgarian would follow on May 22 to Quebec. But their initial service to Canada was but brief.

That summer, with the onset of the Great War, both ships were requisitioned by the Royal Navy for use as armed merchant cruisers. Regrettably, the Calgarian was sunk by a U-Boat off the cost of Northern Ireland on March 1, 1918. This ship had been at the scene of the Halifax Explosion on December 6, 1917, when her crew had assisted in the rescue and medical relief after the French ship Mont Blanc, loaded with explosives, and the Norwegian Imo were in collision in the harbour. More than 2,000 people died in the resulting explosion.

During the conflict, the Allan Line was taken over by Canadian Pacific and in 1919 the Alsatian was refitted as an Atlantic Empress, taking on the new name of Empress of France. Her maiden voyage as an Empress left Liverpool on September 26, 1919, for Quebec. In 1923, she became one of four ships to circumnavigate the world from New York, following Cunard Line’s 19,695-ton Laconia by only a few weeks. The Empress of France made a number of world cruises in the 1920s, as did her fleetmate, the 24,581-ton Empress of Scotland.

In May 1922, the Empress of France became one of the first Canadian Pacific ships to serve Southampton, when her route was changed from Liverpool to sail between Southampton and Quebec via Cherbourg, to which the port of Hamburg was soon added, before Southampton.

Empress of France in VancouverAs well as seeing the Pacific on her world cruises, the Empress of France spent a year in the Trans-Pacific trade when in October 1928, she sailed from Southampton for Suez, Hong Kong and Vancouver (where she is seen above in this Walter E Frost photo). There, she substituted for the 1922-built 21,517-ton Empress of Canada, first of the name, which was sent to Fairfield’s to be re-engined for more speed. The Empress of France sailed Trans-Pacific until October 1929, when she left Hong Kong again for Liverpool.

In September 1931, Empress of France made her final voyage from Southampton to Cherbourg and Quebec.  Having been displaced by the new 42,348-ton Empress of Britain, she was laid up in the Clyde and finally scrapped at Dalmuir, where she had been built, three years later. In all, the first Empress of France had a career that spanned twenty years, which in addition to her war service included ninety-nine Trans-Atlantic voyages, five Trans-Pacific voyages, and eight cruises.

The Cruise People still book world cruises today, not only on Cunard Line but also with other carriers such as Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, with their 28,890-ton Europa and several other lines, as well as on cargo-passenger ships. For further details please call us in London on +44 (0) 20 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk 

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The Best Ship of 2013 – Changes In Expedition Ship Operations – One Hundred Years Ago: The Allan Line’s Alsatian

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 30th December 2013..

 

Europa 2 StairwellThe year 2013 has seen the arrival of the best new ship to join the world cruise fleet in some time, one that immediately achieved the top score in the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships. This week we therefore bring you a brief photo essay of the Europa 2, taken on one of this year’s pre- inaugural cruises from Southampton (see one of her stairwells on the right). Elsewhere, we look at recent changes in the world of expedition cruising with the Sea Explorer and Sea Spirit. We also have a historical look at the introduction of the Allan Line’s turbine-powered cruiser-stern Alsatian one hundred years ago next month. This ship became Canadian Pacific’s Empress of France in 1919 and one of the first ships to offer a full world cruise in 1923.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                    (See previous columns)

Funchal Re-Enters Service On Sunday – American Cruise Lines Orders Four Riverboats – The Sunborn Gibraltar

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 23rd December 2013..

Funchal

Sunday December 29 sees Portuscale Cruises’ traditional liner Funchal (above) rebuilt and departing Lisbon on her first cruise for her new owners in a revitalization of the Portuguese passenger fleet. Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, American Cruise Lines have announced orders for four new 150/200-berth riverboats to be delivered between 2015 and 2017. And in Gibraltar, the final touches are being put to the 15,000-ton floating yacht hotel Sunborn Gibraltar, which is due to open in February.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                     (See previous columns)

Last Voyage of the Saga Ruby Rerouted – STX Finland Secures Finance – Limit at Tampa – Cruising’s Slow Recovery

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 16th December 2013..

Last week the news broke that the Saga Ruby, on her last cruise in a career spanning forty years, was stranded in Tenerife on her way to the West Indies, with generator problems that would preclude the operation of her air conditioning in the Caribbean. Instead, she will now cruise the Mediterranean. In Finland, troubled STX Finland has secured financing that will enable it to complete its second ship, Mein Schiff 3 (above), for TUI Cruises. Tampa reveals that it has an air draft limitation that will preclude it from accepting mega ships. And New York-based PhoCusWright reports a slow recovery in the mainstream cruise market.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                     (See previous columns)

Mona Hedlund Looks After Cruise People Enquiries During The Holiday Period And New Year

MonaA warm welcome goes out today to Mona Hedlund, who once worked at The Cruise People Ltd. Mona will be filling in for Miri Lopusna on bookings and enquiries this week and again in early January. Clients having questions are welcome to consult Mona direct. Please also feel free to e-mail for any new enquiries. Mona will also be on hand from January 6 to 11, 2014, and Miri returns from her Christmas and New Year’s leave on January 13, 2014. In the meantime we wish a Happy Christmas and Prosperous 2014 to all Cruise People customers and suppliers.

The Cruise People Ltd, 88 York Street, London W1H 1QT
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7723 2450   E-mail: cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk

Century To Move To Croisières de France – NCL Shares vs Facebook – MSC’s New 902-Footers

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 9th December 2013..

CenturyLast week Croisières de France announced that in 2015 it would be acquiring Celebrity Cruises’ Century (above), to become the largest ship devoted to the French cruise market since the s.s. France was withdrawn in 1974. Croisières de France and Celebrity Cruises are both Royal Caribbean brands. So this week we have a quick look at the French cruise market for any further prospects of growth. Meanwhile, as Norwegian Cruise Line has announced the sale of 22 million new shares, we revisit our comparison of NCLH and Facebook share prices of earlier this year. And MSC Cruises confirms that Fincantieri Palermo will lengthen all four of its MSC Lirica class ships to 902 feet.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                    (See previous columns)

Anthem of the Seas To Be Southampton-Based – Insignia To Become 180-Day World Cruiser – P&O Cruises Questions & Answers

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 2nd December 2013..

InsigniaRoyal Caribbean has announced that it will base its second 167,800-ton “Quantum” class cruise ship Anthem of the Seas in the UK from 2015. She will be a fifth larger than P&O Cruises’ new 141,000-ton flagship Britannia, due to debut in the same year. She is Royal Caribbean’s contribution to the head-on-head battle for supremacy in the UK market from Southampton between Royal Caribbean and its Celebrity brand, on the one hand, and Carnival UK, with its P&O and Cunard brands, on the other. Elsewhere, Oceania Cruises has now scheduled two 180-day world cruises for its 30,277-ton Insignia (above), making her a year-round world cruiser. And we have a quick look at what’s happening on P&O Cruises’ blog.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                (See previous columns)