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Willem Ruys


Willem Ruys.

The Willem Ruys was laid down in January 1939, shortly before the outbreak of WW2. Little work was carried out during the war, often held up by resistance groups. Willem Ruys was finally launched in July 1946, and delivered in November 1947, with the maiden voyage Rotterdam-Indonesia starting on December 2nd. This service was operated until December 1957, when political changes caused its cessation. Willem Ruys ran a number of transatlantic crossings before being rebuilt for a round-the -world service, which started in 1959. This was not a great success, and she was sold to Achille Lauro in 1964. She was named after her new owner, but did not enter service until April 1966 following an explosion and fire during conversion work. The route was from North Europe (Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Southampton)-Genoa-Sydney-Wellington, which operated until 1972 when Achille Lauro became a fulltime cruise ship. Lauro Lines were in financial trouble by the late 1970s, and the Achille Lauro was arrested in Tenerife in 1982. She lay there for a year, until the Italian Government arranged to have her brought back to Genoa. After a further year's lay-up, a joint charter arrangement for Mediterranean cruises was made between Lauro and Chandris. Chandris pulled out after the much-publicized hijacking in October 1985 affected passenger numbers. Lauro struggled on until 1987, when it was bought by the Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Company, who rebranded the company as Starlauro Cruises. This venerable ship served with them until November 1994, when she caught fire on a Genoa-South Africa cruise. The ship was abandoned, and sank two days later.