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SS Veracruz


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zim-theoher.jpg

 

ss Theodor Herzl (1957-1991) Built in 1957 by Deutsche Werft, Hamburg, Germany as Theodor Herzl, she was part of a special reparations pact between what was then West Germany and the state of Israel. She was designed for Mediterranean service

 

Named in honor of the founder of the Zionist movement, she operated for Zim Israel Navigation Company aka Zim Israel Lines on routes from Marseilles, Naples and Venice to Haifa, carrying both immigrants and budget tourists. In the winter season, she could be found on Mediterranean cruises. She also had at least one season to the Mexican Riviera as well as a celebratory maiden voyage to New York and, in later years, made several immigrant crossings to South America, to Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

 

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During the 1958-1959 winter season, Zim entered the international cruise market from the United States to the Caribbean Islands with three cruises per season. In 1964, she was converted into a one-class cruise ship, which saw all cabins converted to two bedded/two berth cabins, all having private facilities, She completed her final voyage for Zim on on 27 November 1969 and was sold to the American International Service Travel Services (AIST) - Yes, there is a Ted Arison/Carnival Cruise Line connection here - who renamed her Carnivale (not to be confused with the later CCL Carnivale, the former Empress of Britain) and employed her in the Caribbean as a floating luxury hotel. Nothing else came to pass for her and she did not sail again until as late as 1975, when she was sold to the New Horizons Shipping Ltd. who renamed her Freeport, rebuilt her, and used her on the Miami-Nassau-Freeport run.

 

In 1976, she was renamed Veracruz I and was largely responsible for making New York via Eastern Canada to the St. Lawrence River cruises popular.

 

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In 1978, New Horizons Shipping Ltd became Freeport Cruises Lines and she became Veracruz Primero and in 1985, under Bahama Cruises Inc./Bahama Cruise Line management, just plain Veracruz.

 

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In 1987, Bahama Cruise Line became the Bermuda Star Line and in 1990 was bought out by Commodore Cruise line. That same year, Veracruz was sold to Festival Shipping & Tourist Enterprises and was renamed Sun Ambassador however this did not last long and she was laid up in Florida.

 

Then in 1991, newly-formed Greek-based Fiesta Cruise Lines came calling. She was brought over to Greece as "Fiesta" and, once moored in Perama Bay near Piraeus, her resurrection began. She was to emerge as yet another "new" cruiseship, taking travelers around the Eastern Mediterranean in summers and in Caribbean waters in wintertime. But it all went astray when on 24 October 1991, she caught fire, burned out and then, overloaded with firefighters' water, capsized.

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  • 2 months later...
My wife and I booked our first cruise on the Vera Cruz in 1978 it was thru Strand Cruises out of Toronto they advertised it as go bananas as they had a Vacation resort in Montego Bay in which you had a choice of a 1 week cruise and 1 week at the resort we opted for a 2 week nostalgic cruise thru the Caribean featuring the Peter Duchin orchestra and Helen Forest and There was a blind famous jazz pianist whos name escapes me, we had a blast I think we were the youngest couple on board at that time, it was just at the end of the hurricane season and it pretty rough a couple of days in fact one night the dining room was almost empty, I remember the main dance floor had large support poles and when the shiplisted you had to grab a pole. My pet name for it was the African Queen.

 

I was in my early 20's and took a 2 weeks cruise out of Barbados and had 11 port of calls.

One of them was Haiti and I went through the Pamnama Canal. I do recall we had a day or two of really rough sea and the bartender helped me by giving me ginger ale.

 

I don't recall the cabin being small. I think when I signed up, I was supposed to share the cabin with another female but ended up alone. Do remember having a fruit basket in the cabin and the room stewart was really great.

 

Just before going on my second cruise with my husband, I discard the mementos from this cruise. Do anyone have info on this cruise.

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Our first two cruises were aboard the old Veracruz, the first in 1980 around the Caribbean, and the second a few years later. The ship was small beyond belief and everything about it was fabulous, almost beyond belief. I now measure all present day cruises against that ship and, as good as some are, none measure up to the Veracruz. The food, the service, the entertainment, the value, all great. I have some photos of the ship, but I particularly treasure a full set of menus from the seven day cruise we took aboard. Ah, those were the days.

 

This was the ship that got me interested in cruising. Please share your pictures and menus. I was a naive young person who went on her first cruise alone!

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The VeraCruz was a great time for me. I worked on board as a wine steward for about a year. 1976-1977 anyone out there remember those days post a reply it would be cool to chat.

The ship went all over the Caribbean during that time. 11 ports 14 days. Whew! busy for the folks working on the boat.

The parties back aft were the best!:D

 

Please post your old pictures if you have any? I remembered the 11 ports in 14 days.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi - My name is Paul and I was Ship's Photographer on the Veracruz in 1980/81. I thought I'd post a few old photos. The colours are faded but then it was nearly 30 years ago. :) Thats me in my avatar but bear in mind I am now much older! The Veracruz was my favorite ship that I worked on. I have some more photos somewhere. I'll try and find them.

 

 

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I can't remember where this was. Maybe Bonaire?

 

 

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Crew Lifeboat Drill

 

 

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Veracruz Cruise Staff

 

 

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Veracruz Cruise Staff

 

 

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Veracruz Crew & Cruise Staff

 

 

 

Blimey, posting this has bought back some memories. If any old friends see this - I hope you're all OK.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Happy Snapper!

Those pics brought back some memories .. looks like we should have changed the fixer more often though. :)

 

Remember sharing the cabin with you as well as our last cruise to NY....

 

Happy daze .. hope all is well.

 

R.

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Really enjoy reading everyones memories of the Veracurz never thought when I started this thread it would keep going so long.

 

Paul --Happy Snapper Loved the pictures brought back many memories of photos we took with our uncle and people we meet on cruise. Went and found them some seemed to be taken in same place as yours, which with the size of the ship is not surprising.

 

Hope people keep posting there memories of a fine ship. Have sailed on one of the smallest ships and soon to be sailing on the biggest ship. We are sailing Feb 20 2010 on Oasis of the Seas. Oh how cruising has changed!!!!

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  • 1 month later...

My father and I took this ship, although I can't remember exactly what year (have to research this further). This was my first cruise and it left from Tampa to Playa de Carmen and then to Cozumel overnighting there. Overnighting was apparently rare for cruise ships due to increased port costs but I had been told that because the ship was named after the port in Cozumel it got a prefered rate. (at least thats what I remember!). We did this cruise in January because it was soooo cold in Winterhaven, Florida that we jumped last minute on this criuse to get some sun and warmth in Mexico while I was on holiday visiting him from Ontario. I do remember having the ship turn back to the US 200mile territorial limit to medivac someone back to the US and arriving in Playa de Carmen late. This cruise was probably in the later 80's. Anyway, I see it burnt and sank as did my next cruise ship (greek island cruise) my wife and I took in 1990 which was Greek...MS Pegasus (sank in later years). Its Ok though..no others we've been on have burn't or sunk since so if you see us it should be OK!:D

 

Still cruising...thanks all for the memories!

 

Phil:)

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  • 3 months later...
Does anyone know if the SS Veracruz went from NY to Canada around '82? I am trying to put together a list of all the ships I sailed but I can't recall the name of one I took during the summer of 82. I think it was this one but an not sure.

 

Thanks a bunch for any info!

 

 

Yes it did, up(and down) the St Lawrence 7 days each way

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I've enjoyed reading the stories about the VeraCruz. My husband and I sailed that ship in celebration of our 25th anniversary in 1984. The cabin was so small that we backed out into the hall in shock when we opened the door the first time.:confused: It turned out to be a fun cruise..we met some great people. In 2009 we cruised for our 50th anniversary-with a group of 40 friends and family. There have been over 25 cruises between those two.

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  • 4 months later...

Hi Paul, my name is also Paul, and I was the piano player in the casino, alternating with the trio, about the time these pictures were taken. I think about the amazing time I had, with Roy, Ioli, Cliff, the whole gang, even Ci Ci in the bar who would balance his tray on his head. I have a whole album full of faded pics as well, hope life's been good to you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents. I have never been on a cruise until I was invited on the Veracruz. There was about 40 of us that went on a cruise to no where (2 days) for $99+tax, back in the early 80's leaving from the Tampa harbor. We had so much fun met alot of nice peoples on board. The buffet was awesome which was included with the price and shows on board as well. I would go again!!!

 

 

My father and I took this ship, although I can't remember exactly what year (have to research this further). This was my first cruise and it left from Tampa to Playa de Carmen and then to Cozumel overnighting there. Overnighting was apparently rare for cruise ships due to increased port costs but I had been told that because the ship was named after the port in Cozumel it got a prefered rate. (at least thats what I remember!). We did this cruise in January because it was soooo cold in Winterhaven, Florida that we jumped last minute on this criuse to get some sun and warmth in Mexico while I was on holiday visiting him from Ontario. I do remember having the ship turn back to the US 200mile territorial limit to medivac someone back to the US and arriving in Playa de Carmen late. This cruise was probably in the later 80's. Anyway, I see it burnt and sank as did my next cruise ship (greek island cruise) my wife and I took in 1990 which was Greek...MS Pegasus (sank in later years). Its Ok though..no others we've been on have burn't or sunk since so if you see us it should be OK!:D

 

Still cruising...thanks all for the memories!

 

Phil:)

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  • 1 month later...
Pete Where are you know.

Steve - Controller Bermuda Star

Hey Steve,

 

How are you? It's andrew.

 

I have very fond memories of the Veracruz. My father was President of the cruise line and I basically grew up on her. Very sad that she is gone almost twenty years now as well as the Bermuda Star and Canada Star. Bet I ran past a few of you as a child. I am very proud of the impact my dad had on the indusy=try and all the routes he started are still used today.

Edited by VeracruzI
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Andrew, last time I saw Steve was when he visited with me in New Port Richey around 2006/7. He was living in PA. Prior to that, ISTR visiting with him on the Bermuda Star (I think it was) in Key West around 198x/199x. (Losing my memory <g>). We were in touch by email until his addy suddenly disappeared a couple years ago. I went to Key West with Steve's brother David. Can't find him anymore either. (Steve and I shared a flat in Miami Lakes in 1984.)

 

When I was on the VeryCrude, ISTR the Prez of BCL was Julio Del Valle. Any connexion?

 

Jens Thorn was captain. Last I saw, he was with Peter Deilmann.

 

~~~Peter.

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Yes, I am his youngest son. He passed away in 95 and I have very fond memories of him and those ships. My home is decorated with any piece of memorobilia I can get my hands on. Someone once sent my father a framed photo of Veracruz in Quebec, it hangs next to my Stephen Card print of the Bermuda Star. I spoke to Steve around then very briefly. I look up names from time to time on Google and never seem to find anyone. I saw a video with Jens on youtube about the ship he now captains.

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Reading all this brought back many happy memories of two weeks spent onboard Veracruz in may 85 shooting a documentary & promo video for UK Travel Agents to try to develop the European leisure cruising market at a time when cruising was still perceived as a very staid formal affair. Our charming host and Captain at the time was Charles Anderson & Cliff Nelson looked after our every need. The atmosphere, quality and sheer fun of the boat were truly captivating !

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This ship was a beauty.. they do not put that much wood and varnish on anything anymore. I have some great pictures from my trip... Did the baked Alaska's catch the ship on fire? just kidding. So glad to see many many other people enjoyed this ship too..

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  • 1 month later...

I am so amazed I found this thread on the Veracruz. We sailed on her many times out of Tampa to Playa and Cozumel. We had one memorable New Year's Eve on board with our two young sons and friends. What a great time we had back in 1988!! We also sailed many times on both the Bermuda Star (our first cruise in 1985) and the Canada Star. Since then we have sailed 42 times and still love it!!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi All,

 

It's been realy wonderful reading your experiences on the Veracruz. I too have fond memories, unfortunately though, Hurricane Gilbert comes back too often to me. I was a Croupier named Slicky Aka (Pee Wee) and I can tell you I had a wonderful time on-board her with my fellow Croups, Shoppies (I think one still owes me $100 bucks) and Passengers alike. I was quite young then and even younger at Heart :) We were like Students on a gap year!! and what a place to spend it. Id like to say Hi to anyone who remembers me... Joe, Hi Joe Mate! Fellow Croup who came to Fort Lauderdale to drive me to join her in Tampa, In a red Convertible Corvette whilst listening to... "Let's go Surfing Now.. everybody's"... Also Nicky Chip, Docker. I'm not going to get the Photo's out Just yet or it will be a very long list.. Maybe tomorrow though ;) For a poor boy like me from North! o' England It was like winning the lottery ten times over, the People and places I will never forget!! ever. Not the fanciest ship, But lots of Wood, Varnish, and Red Velvet curtains in the Casino, oh and did I forget Tons of Character. Loved Tampa, St Petersburg, Tampa Hilton! Posh Hotel I booked on my days off... Loved watching the Veracruz sail away on a Nowhere cruise whilst going down to see the pelicans...Yes!! Two days off!! :) Couldn't wait to get back on when it returned though. Oh And to all the residents eating there Christmas Eve dinner in 88' who had to listen to 20 young Croups and 10 shoppies or so Dressed in Bermuda shorts Tuksedo Jackets and Shades (Too late to get fancy dress) singing 12 days of Christmas and drinking a B52 in between each verse that Christmas, we all Apologise... to do it all again... What days... What Wonderful days.

Edited by Amarok11
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  • 2 months later...

Hi everyone,

 

When I first started this thread I never dreamed there would be such a response. I check from time to time and really enjoy reading about everyone's memories. I think some people have been able to connect with old friends through this thread. We are still cruising and enjoying every minute of it. Hope to read about more people's time on the Veracruz!

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