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The Fleets

Chandris Line / Charlton Steam Shipping Company / Celebrity Cruises

The Founder of Chandris, Mr. John D. Chandris was born in Chios, then part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1915, after years of experience in the shipping industry, he bought his first ship, the sailing vessel Dimitrios (1).
By World War I his fleet comprised three steam ships: Dimitrios (2), Vlassios and Eugenia with his scope of trade, in and around the Greek islands.
In 1922 he started passenger shipping with the steamer Chimara, a 300-tonner that ran a coastal service between Piraeus and Corinth.
In 1936, he bought his largest ship so far, the 1,306-ton Corte II from the French owners Fraissinet and renamed her Patris (1). This was actually the very beginning of a Chandris passenger service, although the Patris (1) was not operated under the Chandris Lines name. Carrying 161 all one class passengers, she operated a combination passenger / cruise service out of Venice to other Adriatic ports, the Greek islands and Piraeus, and as far as the Holy Land. Under British flag, the Patris was sunk by bombing in Piraeus on 16 April 1941. Following the outbreak of World War II, John Chandris followed the exodus of shipowners from Greece. He moved to London were he died in 1942, but his two sons, Anthony and Dimitri, then living in London, continued the company.

At the end of World War II in April 1945 the Charlton Steam Shipping Company dating back to 1892 was acquired by Chandris with the purpose of starting emigrant services from war weary Europe to South America, Australia, Canada and the United States in cooperation with Swiss based International Refugee Organization, and two ships the Prince David and Prince Robert which had been built in 1930 and 1931 for Canadian National Steamships were purchased in 1946, they were towed to Belgium and converted into passenger ships renamed Charlton Monarch and Charlton Sovereign.
The Charlton Monarch was plagued by mechanical problems and was laid up in 1948 and scrapped in 1951. The Charlton Sovereign went to Fratelli Grimaldi Lines in 1951.
In 1950 a slightly larger ship the 8,178gt Empire Bure ( ex- Elisabethville for Compagnie Maritime Belge) was purchased from the British Government, she was also refitted in Belgium and renamed Charlton Star. She was mostly used transporting troops. In 1957 the Charlton Star was laid up at La Spezia and was sold to Maristrella Naviera S.A., Liberia and renamed Maistrella and scrapped in 1960.
In 1959 Chandris bought the Union Castle motor ship Bloemfontein Castle with the intention of inaugurating a service to Australia. Operating under the name of the Greek Australia Line the company sent the ship to Newcastle-On-Tyne, England, for an extensive refit. Renamed the Patris (2) (16,259 tons ) she made her first voyage from Piraeus via Suez to Freemantle, Melbourne and Sydney in November 1959.
The Bretagne (16,644 tons) a twin-screwed, single-reduction geared turbine vessel built in 1952 by the Penhoet, St Nazaire, France was first chartered by Chandris, in 1960 she was later refitted and began her service from Piraeus, Greece, to Australian ports in 1961 as the Britanny. This was the beginning of the company's long association with the Australian migrant and tourist trades.
Another major purchase was the American Lurline, which became the highly popular Ellinis, and which started the Chandris around-the-World service in 1963.
Sailings to Australia went outbound via the Suez (and later South Africa) and then returned via the Panama Canal. After this, more and more attention was given to developing cruise services as part of the Chandris operation. More purchases and so more conversions followed.

Chandris lines bought the Queen Frederica in 1966 and after fully modernising her with room for 1200 one-class passengers she left for Southampton in October 1966 to join the rest of the Australian fleet. She left service in January 1971, and was scrapped in 1977. But perhaps the biggest expansion came in 1969-1970 when four ships joined the fleet within a matter of months: the Fiorita, the Romanza, the Atlantis and the Britanis. A few years later, by 1976, Chandris had the largest passenger-cruise fleet in the world, surpassing the prior records held by the likes of Cunard, P&O and Union Castle. That year, there were thirteen active Chandris passenger ships in all: The Australis, Britanis, Ellinis, Patris, The Victoria, Amerikanis, Romanza, Regina Prima, Bon Vivant, Fiorita, Romantica, Fiesta and finally the little Radiosa.

While Chandris turned to Greek hotels on shore in 1973, they also began to strengthen their American cruise operations.
In 1975 the Victoria ex- Dunnottar Castle was purchased from the bankrupt Incres Lines, refitted and renamed The Victoria, she started her Mediterranean service in June 1976, she served Chandris well until sold in 1993.
A partnership called Chandris-Fantasy Cruises started in the early 1980s and later was divided into two separate arms of the Chandris Group, Fantasy-Cruises and then the more up-market Celebrity Cruises.

In the mid eighties, the third generation Chandris Chairman John Chandris foresaw the growth of the cruise trade world-wide especially concerning the upper class of the USA's mass market.
This segment was the most competitive on the market, with well established operators such as Royal Caribbean, Princess, HAL, etc.
For Chandris Cruises, as budget cruise operator, it was quite difficult to follow the marketing strategy of its Chairman.
A new image had to be created and so Chandris formed with the Overseas Shipholding Group Celebrity Cruises. Later Chandris bought OSG out and became sole owner of Celebrity Cruises.

The Italian Liner Galileo was chartered in 1980 and 1981 and was finally purchased in 1983, refurbished and started on 1-7 days cruises out of New York and Miami and became a very popular ship. In 1988 when Chandris founded Celebrity Cruises she was rebuilt and renamed Meridian for Celebrity Cruises.
In 1990, Chandris commissioned their first brand new in Germany purposely-built ships, the sisters Horizon and Zenith.
The Horizon soon developed fame as one of the most elegant, spacious and best designed third generation cruise ship.
But they were rather small in the era of 70,000 GRT fourth generation cruiseship.
The early nineties were years of strong growth in the cruise industry as well, specially in the American market, and the need for more and bigger cruiseship for the Celebrity fleet soon become evident.
And so three even larger luxury cruise ships were followed in 1995 (Century), 1996 (Galaxy) and 1997 (Mercury) for Celebrity Cruises. This was the big step of the Celebrity expansion, after which they became the fifth cruise operators in 1997. By the mid 90s, Celebrity began to loose money in the face of a slowing down of the American market and heavy discounts, its future became uncertain. Celebrity was too small to compete with the three big cruise players: Carnival, RCI and P&O-Princess.

Celebrity Cruise Line was sold to Royal Caribbean International in June 1997 (some months before the delivery of the third Century's series cruiseship, the Mercury). This $1,3 billion operation formed the second largest cruise operator, with a combined fleet of 20 ships, in total over 38,000 berths by the year 2000. RCI maintained Celebrity as a separate branch, and soon began to design the next generation of Celebrity's cruise ship, the Millennium series ( Millennium 90,228 gt, 2000, Summit 90,280gt, 2000, Infinity 90,228gt, 2001 and Constellation 90,280, 2002).

In May 2007 Azamara Cruises was founded by Celebrity Cruises as a new venture in the luxury cruise segment.

Charlton Steam Shipping Company Chandris Line Celebrity Cruises

Many thanks to Henk Jungerius and Ted Finch for their assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

Funnels & Flag:

Fleet: (Passenger ships only)

Funnel Funnel Flag
    Charlton Steam Shipping Company  
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Charlton Monarch 1930 built by Cammell Laird & Co., Birkenhead | ex- Prince David, ferry, 1946 purchased from Canadian National Steamships Co. refitted renamed Charlton Monarch, 1948 laid up, 1951 scrapped. 6,892
Charlton Sovereign 1931 built by Cammell Laird & Co., Birkenhead | ex- Prince Robert, ferry, 1946 purchased from Canadian National Steamships Co. refitted renamed Charlton Sovereign, 1951 sold to Fratelli Grimaldi renamed Lucania, 1962 scrapped. 6,723
Charlton Star 1921 built by J. Cockerill, Hoboken | ex- Elisabethville built for Compagnie Maritime Belge, ex- Empire Bure 1947, 1950 purchased from British Government refitted renamed Charlton Star, 1957 laid up, 1958 sold to sold to Maristrella Naviera S.A., Liberia renamed Maistrella, 1960 scrapped at Osaka. 8,178
    Chandris Line  
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Amerikanis 1951 built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast | ex- Kenya Castle, 1967 purchased from Union Castle Line and converted into a 920 passenger one-class, maiden voyage on 8th August 1968 from Pireaus - Messina - Naples - Lisbon - Halifax - New York, 1970 transferred to cruising only with a passenger complement of 617 and operating inexpensive 3, 4 and 7 day cruises out of US East coast ports and the Bahamas, 1996 laid up, 2001 scrapped. 17,041
Ariane   see Bon Vivant.  
Ariane II   see Fiorita.  
Atlantis 1944 built by Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Kearny, New Jersey | ex- General W.P. Richardson standard ship type P2-S2-R2 built for United States Maritime Commission, 1948 chartered to American Export Lines, rebuilt renamed La Guardia, 1951 reverted to USMC and laid up, 1955 sold to Hawaiian Steam Ship Co., renamed Leilani, 1958 laid up, 1960 sold to American President Lines and rebuilt renamed President Roosevelt, 1970 sold to Chandris, Greece renamed Atlantis, 1972 sold to Eastern Steamship Lines, Panama renamed Emerald Seas, 1992 renamed Funtastica, 1992 renamed Terrifica, 1992 sold to Seafest Cruises, Liberia renamed Sapphire Seas, 1994 laid up, 1998 used as a hotel ship, 1998 sold renamed Ocean Explorer I, 2004 scrapped as Explorer. 17,951
Australis 1940 built by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Corp., Newport News | ex- America, ex- West Point 1941 for US Government as a troop transport, ex- America 1946, 1964 purchased from United States Lines, refurbished renamed Australis, 1978 sold to America Cruise Lines, Panama renamed America, 1978 reverted to Chandris renamed Italis, 1979 rebuilt one funnel removed, 1980 sold to Inter Commerce Corp. renamed Noga, 1984 renamed Alferdoss laid up, 1993 sold renamed American Star, 1994 while in tow to repair yard broke lose in storm stranded and lost. 26,454
Bon Vivant 1951 built by Swan Hunter, Wallsend on Tyne | ex- Patricia built for Swedish Lloyd, ex- Ariadne 1957 for Hamburg America Line (Hapag), 1960 sold to McCormick Shipping Co., Miami not renamed, 1972 purchased 1973 chartered to Freeport Cruise Lines renamed Freeport II, 1974 renamed Bon Vivant for Chandris Bon Vivant Cruises, 1978 renamed Ariane, 1989 sold to Tanfil Shipping & Trading SA renamed Empress Katerina, 1997 renamed Empress 65, 1997 scrapped. 7,764
Bretagne 1952 built by Penhoët, St. Nazaire | ex- Bretagne, 1960 chartered from Société Générale des Transports Maritimes à Vapeur (SGTM), refurbished, 1961 sold to Chandris Line for Australian emigrant service not renamed 1962 renamed Brittany, 1963 damaged by fire, 1964 scrapped. 16,335
Britanis 1932 built by Bethlehem Steel Co., Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts | ex- Monterey built for Matson Navigation Co., 1941 troop transport for US Government, 1946 laid up, 1952 sold to US Government, 1956 reverted to Matson Navigation Co. rebuilt renamed Matsonia 18,655gt, 1963 renamed Lurline, 1970 purchased rebuilt into a one class ship renamed Britanis, 1998 sold renamed Belofin 1, 2000 while in tow to breakers capsized and sank. 18,644
Brittany   see Bretagne.  
Carina (1) 1945 built by Cammell Laird & Co., Birkenhead | ex- Mona’s Queen, ferry, 1962 purchased temporarily renamed Barrow Queen from Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, rebuilt into combined passenger ferry ship renamed Carina, 1964 again rebuilt into a cruise ship renamed Fiesta, 1975 laid up, 1981 scrapped at Perama. 3,659
Carina (2)   see Carina II.  
Carina II 1930 built by Wm. Denny & Bros., Dumbarton | ex- Princess Helene, ferry, built for Canadian Pacific, 1963 sold to Marvic Nav. Inc., Monrovia renamed Helene, 1963 sold to Chandris Lines renamed Carina II refitted into a cruise ship, 1967 renamed Carina, 1972 laid up, 1977 scrapped. 4,055
Ellenis 1931 built by Bethlehem Steel Co., Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts | ex- Lurline, 1963 purchased from Matson Navigation Co. renamed Ellenis, refurbished, 1980 laid up, 1987 scrapped at Kaohsiung. 18,563
Fantasia 1935 built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast | ex- Duke of York, ferry, built for London, Midland & Scottish Railway Company, ex HMS Duke of Wellington 1939, ex- Duke of York 1945, 1963 purchased from British Transport Commission temporarily renamed York, later renamed Fantasia rebuilt as a cruise ship, 1976 scrapped after being damaged by fire. 4,325
Favorita 1950 built by Barclay, Curle & Co., Glasgow | ex- Daressa, 1964 purchased from British India S.N. Co. renamed Favorita, 1968 sold to Guan Guan Shipping Co., Singapore renamed Kim Hwa, 1974 scrapped at Hong Kong. 5,180
Fiesta   see Carina (1)  
Fiorita 1950 built by John Brown Ltd, Clydebank | ex- Amsterdam, ferry, 1969 purchased from British Rail, refitted into a cruise ship renamed Fiorita, 1977 laid up, 1978 used as a hotel ship for oil drilling crews in North Sea, 1980 renamed Ariane II and laid up, 1983 again used as a floating hotel at Turkish port of Fethiye, 27 January 1987 broke away during storm and capsized. 5,092
Galileo 1963 built by Cantieri Riuniti dell’ Adriatico, Monfalcone | ex- Galileo Galilei, 1984 purchased from Lloyd Triestino renamed Galileo, 1990 refurbished and transferred to Celebrity Cruises renamed Meridian, 1997 sold to Metro Holdings renamed Sun Vista, 21st May 1999 sank after engine room fire. 27,907
Horizon 1990 built by Jos L. Meyer GmbH & Co., Papenburg | Built for Celebrity Cruises, 1997 Celebrity Cruises sold to RCI, 2005 sold to Island Cruises, Nassau renamed Island Star. 46,811
Italis   see Australis.  
Patris (1) n/a ex- Corte II, 1936 renamed Patris. 1,306
Patris (2) 1950 built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast | ex- Bloemfontein Castle, 1959 purchased from Union Castle Line renamed Patris, after a refit at North Shields ownership changed to the National Greek Australia Line and sailed for Australia where, by 1972, she was cruising out of Sydney and then operated on the Sydney-Singapore service. In February 1974 she became an Australian Federal Government accommodation ship for nine months after typhoon 'Tracy' had virtually destroyed Darwin in the Northern Territory. 1976 converted to carry 260 cars though large side-loading doors for the Venice-Ancona-Patras service, 1980 sold to the Michail A. Karageorgis Group and renamed Mediterranean Island, 1981 renamed Mediteranean Star on the Piraeus-Alexandria run under the same owners but registered as Star Navigation Corp and was later transferred within the group to Consolidated Ocean Transports, 1987 sold to St. Vincent owners for breaking up renamed Terra. 18,400
Queen Frederica 1926 built by W. Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia | ex- Malolo, ex- Matsonia 1937 built for Matson Navigation Co., ex Atlantic 1949, ex- Queen Frederica 1954, 1965 purchased from National Hellenic American Line (a Home Lines subsidiary) not renamed, 1970 laid up, 1978 scrapped. 17,226
Radiosa 1947 built by Wm. Denny & Bros., Dumbarton | ex- Winchester built for Southern Railway, 1970 purchased from British Railways and temporarily renamed Exeter, rebuilt later renamed Radiosa, used as a day excursion ship, 1982 sold and laid up, 1988 scrapped at Perama. 1,149
Regina 1939 built by Bethlehem Steel Co., Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts | ex- Panama built for Panama Railroad Steamship Co., 1941 to US Government for troop transport renamed James Parker, 1946 returned to owner renamed Panama, 1948 remeasured 9,978gt, 1953 company restyled to Panama Canal Company, 1957 sold to American President Lines renamed President Hoover remeasured 10,603, 1964 purchased renamed Regina, 1967 renamed Regina Prima, 1976 laid up, 1985 scrapped at Aliaga. 10,603
Regina Magna 1939 built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, St. Nazaire | ex- Pasteur built for Compagnie de Navigation Sud-Atlantique (CSA), 1940 placed under Cunard-White Star Management, 1945 returned to owners, 1957 laid up, 1957 sold to Norddeutscher Lloyd renamed Bremen, 1971 sold to Chandris Line, renamed Regina Magna, 1974 laid up, 1977 floating hotel at Djeddah renamed Saudiphil 1, 1980 renamed Filipinas Saudi 1, 6th June 1980 sunk in tow to the breakers. 29,253
Regina Prima   see Regina.  
Romantica 1936 built by Blythswood Shipbuilding Co., Glasgow | ex- Fort Townshend built for Furness, Whithy & Co., 1952 sold to Mohammed Abdullah Alireza, Jeddah renamed El Amir Saud, 1956 renamed Mansour, 1960 purchased from Royal Saudi King Saud renamed Romantica, 1982 scrapped at Aliaga. 3,488
Romanza 1939 built by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg | ex- Huascaran built for Hamburg America Line (Hapag), 1945 ceded to Britain renamed Beaverbrae for Canadian Pacific, 1954 sold to Cogedar Line renamed Auralia rebuilt into a passengership, 1971 sold to Chandris renamed Romanza, 1979 laid up, 1991 sold to New Paradise Cruises Cyprus renamed Romantica, 4th October 1997 burnt out and wreck scrapped in 1999. 6,951
The Azur 1971 built by Dubigon Normandie SA, Nantes | ex- Eagle built for P&O, ferry, ex- Azur 1975, 1982 rebuilt into a cruise ship, 1987 purchased from Nouvelle Compagnie de Paquetbots, Marseilles renamed The Azur, 2004 sold to Cruise Eloise, Monrovia renamed Eloise, 2004 sold to Mano Maritime renamed Royal Iris. 14,717
The Victoria 1936 built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast | ex- Dunnottar Castle built for Union Castle Line, ex- Victoria 1959, 1977 purchased from Incres Steamship Co. renamed The Victoria, 1981 transferred to Victoria Maritime S.A., Piraeus not renamed, 1984 transferred to Phaidon Nav. S.A., 1999 laid up, 1993 sold to Inerorient Nav. Co., Limassol renamed Princesa Victoria, 1994 transferred to Louis Cruise Lines, 1999 laid up, 2004 renamed Victoria 1 and scrapped at Aliaga. 15,007
Zenith 1992 built by Jos L. Meyer GmbH & Co., Papenburg | Built for Celebrity Cruises, 1997 Celebrity Cruises sold to RCI, 2008 transferred to Pullmantur Cruises. 47,255
    Celebrity Cruises  
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Celebrity Constellation   see Constellation.  
Celebrity Infinity   see Infinity.  
Century 1995 built by Jos L. Meyer GmbH & Co., Papenburg | 2006 rebuilt 72,458 70,606
Constellation 2002 built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, St. Nazaire | 2007 renamed Celebrity Constellation. 90,280
Galaxy 1996 built by Jos L. Meyer GmbH & Co., Papenburg 76,522
Horizon   see Horizon.  
Infinity 2001 built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, St. Nazaire | 2007 renamed Celebrity Infinity. 90,228
Mercury 1997 built by Jos L. Meyer GmbH & Co., Papenburg 76,522
Meridian   see Galileo.  
Milleninium 2000 built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, St. Nazaire 90,228
Summit 2001 built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, St. Nazaire 90,280
Zenith   see Zenith.  

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