S.S. Prinzessin Victoria Luise

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Pablo Edronkin

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The Prinzessin Victoria Luise was the first ship designed and constructed to be a holiday cruise; it had a short yet significant career.

Albert Ballin[1.157], director of the HAPAG shipping company is considered to be the inventor of the holiday cruise ship (see Albert Ballin). Realizing that one of the most important passenger ships lay idle during the winter because people at the time traveling the North Atlantic routes would prefer to do so during the summer, he organized a "pleasure voyage" to the Mediterranean Sea, targeting high-income, first class passengers.

He was had many critics both inside and outside his company but the trip proved a success; however, due to the design of the ship some limitations became evident. The then normal transatlantic could be used for pleasure voyages but it would be better to have a ship designed specifically for such and use, and have it available the whole year instead of just one season.

In 1899, as director of HAPAG, he commissioned the Blohm & Voss shipyard to construct one such ship, which was named in honor of the German Kaiser's daughter; thus, on June 29, 1900, the Prinzessin Victoria Luise was launched.

The ship was designed to accommodate first class passengers only; it looked like a private yacht and Kaiser Wilhem II himself made many suggestions regarding its interior fittings; it was, by all accounts, a luxurious and stylish vessel that became very fashionable among the socialites.

In 1901 it began operating across the Atlantic and into the West Indies; she also visited the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The ship and the pleasure voyage concept were became an instant success. However, on the night of Dec 16, 1905, the ship hit some underwater rocks near Kingston, and ran aground.

According to news reports of the time, the captain had asked for a pilot to enter the port but since he received no answer from the port authorities, decided to detour to Port Royal. The captain then interpreted wrongly two red lights aligned and headed towards a lighthouse instead of the harbor[141]. Later, an official investigation found that the accident happened due to an error made by the captain, who of course, was responsible for the ship.

Passengers were evacuated, but the captain committed suicide in his cabin; after the evacuation of the passengers, an inspection revealed that the Prinzessin Victoria Luise had suffered major structural damage and it couldn't be repaired. It was then written off and scrapped.

S.S. Prinzessin Victoria Luise
S.S. Prinzessin Victoria Luise, the first cruise ship; Pablo Edronkin.

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