Adapted by her owners, the Blue Star Line, for pleasure cruising, the Arandora Star takes a limited number of passengers on long or short voyages to some of the most attractive regions in the world
THE DISTINCTIVE APPEARANCE of the Arandora Star is partly due to the blue stars painted on her funnels. Built originally with two masts and two funnels, she now has only one mast. The Arandora Star is a twin-screw steamship of 15,305 tons gross built at Birkenhead in 1927. Her length is 512 ft. 9 in. (531 feet overall), her beam 68 ft 4 in. and her depth 42 ft. 6 in. Her port of registry is London.
HIGH above the Thames, on one of London’s tall buildings, there flashes nightly from an electric sign the words “Arandora Star” — conjuring up to the minds of toilers in the great city the vision of a ship that might transport them to the far-off pleasure grounds of the world.
Cruising is not a new recreation, but appreciation of it has grown enormously in recent years, and it is no longer a pastime confined only to the wealthy. Many a fine passenger liner is now sent cruising when traffic conditions warrant her release from other duties; but some fleets include ships that, are specially intended for long pleasure voyages to all parts of the globe. Into this category falls the Arandora Star, the famous cruise-ship of the Blue Star Line.
Her graceful white hull, with its distinctive funnels, bearing their blue star emblems, gives promise of a comfortable home to ensure the happiest of headquarters from which to see the world or such delightful portions of it as time and circumstances will permit. Having been adapted solely for the purpose of carrying out the luxury cruises that have made her famous, the distinctive appearance of the Arandora Star has been increased by the suppression of one mast.
A striking feature of the ship’s exterior is the amount of absolutely clear deck space available for recreation. On the Upper Games Deck, flanking the forward funnel, are two enclosed spaces reserved for deck quoits. Abaft the after funnel is the court on which Padder tennis is played, and right aft is the lounge gallery, extending the full width of the ship (65 feet), and overlooking the Games and Sun Deck.
E deck is the largest and most important of the five main decks in the ship, and it is 410 feet long. Right forward is a glass screen which, extending aft a short way on either side, affords shelter to those resting on the Sun Deck. Here are to be found easy chairs and refreshments.
On the after part of the Sun Deck, under the shadow of the navigating bridge, is the gymnasium, where “the daily dozen” can be done with the aid of a number of mechanical “animals” and energy evoking devices. The animals comprise a pair of “horses” and a couple of “camels” — electrically operated to simulate galloping, cantering or just riding. Riding, too, can be undertaken on cycles —and the cycles work their own pointers on a “clock” facing the riders. No cycle can move (there are no wheels), but by dint of energetic pedalling against the pull of a revolving disk one pointer can be made to beat the other to the post, and the best man or girl wins. There are also rowing machines where the robust can pull “against the tide” for hours on end. Punch balls, boxing gloves, Indian clubs, foils, vibro-massage machines are all there for those who prefer something more strenuous than an easy chair on the Sun Deck.
Proceeding aft along broad promenade decks to port or starboard, we pass special single staterooms, ideally situated in this cool position, and reach the great open space of the after Games Deck, with its tennis courts flanked, high up, by large motor launches under their special automatic davits. These launches serve as tenders between ship and shore in foreign ports and roadsteads.
Below the after rail of the Games Deck is the open air swimming pool, tiled in azure blue and flood-lit for the night bathing to be enjoyed in the warmth of distant seas. On either side of the pool are sun bathing divans and large gaily coloured umbrellas. Then immediately aft of the pool is the Lido, with still more divans for those who whether they have bathed or not, are content to rest awhile and watch.
Below the Games Deck is the Promenade, or D Deck, with spacious single staterooms forward. The promenades stretch right aft, ending at a writing-room and lounge on the port side and a card-room to starboard. At the forward end of the promenade are two glass side screens and between the two screened spaces is a fine lounge and music-room, with a double staircase leading to the main entrance on C Deck below. Adjoining the lounge is a passenger lift to the other decks. Admidships on this deck is the smoking-room, designed and furnished on a lavish scale.
Adjoining the smoking-room is the ballroom, which also contains a large stage and a screen for the display of the latest talking films. A beautiful place, too, is this ballroom, with a perfect floor and decorations carried out in green and ivory Here are held most of the dances, concerts and other entertainments that are linked with social life on board.
Below the Promenade Deck is C Deck, comprising for the most part staterooms and private suites along either side of the ship, with the main entrance hall, the bureau, purser’s office, shop, ladies’ and gentlemen’s hairdressing saloons, and other departments along the centre line.
From the entrance hall down the main staircase is the foyer on B Deck. The foyer leads to the magnificent Louis XIV Restaurant where the whole of the passenger complement is served with a meal at one sitting. Further staterooms are situated on A Deck.
The passenger list is limited in the Arandora Star to about 375 people. Consequently the ship is not overcrowded and the staterooms are large and exceptionally well equipped. There are no bunks; sprung beds are the rule and every room is furnished with dressing-tables, wardrobes, cane easy chairs, carpets, hot and cold water supply electric light and fans and punkah-louvre ventilation. Many staterooms are intercommunicating and have private bathrooms.
On the lowest passenger deck — A Deck — are yet more staterooms, bathrooms and a special room for ladies’ hairdressing. Among other services at the passengers’ disposal is a bureau where trips ashore are arranged, a library, a fully-equipped laundry, a photographic department with dark-room, and a complete valeting service.
Crossing the Line
Equipped with geared turbine-driven twin screws, the Arandora Star has a speed of 15 knots — a comfortable cruising speed with no vibration. The cruises range the Seven Seas — south across the Line with fitting ceremony and a visit from Neptune. Or the ship may be northward-bound for the wonderlands of Scandinavia, Iceland and the lands of the Midnight Sun.
The somewhat unusual history of the Blue Star fleet is an interesting story of commercial ambition and enterprise. The line was founded to carry the refrigerated products of the Union Cold Storage Company from its far-distant refrigerating centres to the markets of Great Britain and of Europe. Both storage company and steamship line are to-day enormous concerns employing thousands of people, but at one stage in its career the Blue Star fleet had ambitions on its own account. It paid increasing attention to passenger traffic and now, in addition to cargo carrying, the Blue Star Line maintains a service of fast steamers and motorships between London, Brazil, the River Plate, Australia and New Zealand.
In development of the passenger trade the company decided to inaugurate a cruising service all the year round, and for this purpose the Arandora Star was suitably altered.
AT HONOLULU, the most famous centre in the Hawaiian Islands. This photograph shows the Arandora Star before the mainmast had been taken out. One of her cruises involves a voyage of 22,030 miles. The ship steams from Southampton to Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands, and then across the Atlantic to Trinidad. After a call at Grenada (Windward Islands British West Indies), the Arandora Star goes through the Panama Canal to the Pacific. Two calls are made at the Hawaiian islands the first at Hilo, in Hawaii, and the second at Honolulu, in the island of Oahu. The next ports are San Francisco and Los Angeles. From Los Angeles the homeward voyage is made via La Guaira (Venezuela) and Barbados, whence the ship sails home across the Atlantic by the southerly route, with a halt at Madeira.
Cruises are varied in their duration. A voyage to Honolulu may take seventy-five days, but a trip to the fjords of Norway may occupy only a fortnight. Long cruises are available for those with plenty of spare time at their disposal; short cruises to correspond with shorter vacations. Most of these voyages reach seas and territories that link the Empire with Britain’s past and the wonderful part played by her seamen in bygone years. The Honolulu cruise of the Arandora Star touches on the ports where Drake was wont to call — cities of the Spanish Main. We can, with a little imagination, follow this cruise, starting in mid-winter from Southampton. First we cruise down the English Channel, round Cape Finisterre, and across the Bay of Biscay to our first port of call, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canary Islands. We have put more than 1,500 miles of sea between our floating home and the great docks of Southampton, and sea and sky have changed — grey to blue, steely chill to the warmth of sub-tropical waters where native divers plunge to the clear depths. Above the port there towers the great peak of Tenerife, 12,100 feet high, which watches over the scene as the great liner’s motor launches land happy parties for their twelve-hours stay.
Then off again to the westward. The island of Trinidad is the next objective and here, off Port of Spain, we stay for most of a day and night before steaming north through the blue waters of the Caribbean to Grenada. Off this lovely island, with its palm trees and its attractive scenery, we pause for eight brief hours and then steam on to Cristobal, gateway to one of man’s mightiest achievements — the Panama Canal. To appreciate this triumph of the scientist, the engineer and the humble toiler under their leadership, it will suffice to note the swift passage of the Arandora Star from Atlantic to Pacific. A journey of a few hours sees the great liner through the canal.
At Balboa we stay for thirteen hours before the ship steams westward again, to the Hawaiian Islands. Enchanted islands these, with golden beaches, palm-fringed, that run down to meet a sapphire sea. Overhead stretches the wonderful blue dome of the sky and everywhere are seen a thousand kinds of tropical flowers—an unforgettable kaleidoscope of colour.
Hilo on Hawaii is visited first — Hilo with its marvellous crescent bay, having the volcanic peak of Mauna Loa, 13,800 feet high, in the background. Here are ancient temples, the famous Boiling Pots, the Kaumana Caves, sugar plantations, the Rainbow Waterfalls, to name only a few of the sights and attractions of this wonderland. Standing by in the bay is our white-walled floating home — ready with every comfort after the strenuous pleasure of sightseeing is done; ready for the run to Honolulu, on the south coast of Oahu Island.
The very name of Honolulu holds a world of romance — print is inadequate to describe this place to which the Arandora Star has brought us. Surf bathing in warm tropical waters, riding in outrigger canoes, viewing tropical fish through the glass bottom of a special boat: these and more are the incidents of cruising. More than seventy hours are spent at Honolulu — time in which to visit the wonderful pineapple plantations, and to snatch an hour or two for a trip by aeroplane to the neighbouring island of Maui. Here is the volcano of Haieakala, 10,000 feet high with a crater that measures nineteen miles in circumference, with a drop of 2,000 feet down inside the mountain.
Voyage of 22,000 Miles
Even Honolulu must be left at last and the steamer sets out for the Golden Gate of San Francisco — where palm trees of tropical islands have given place to the skyscrapers of a vast city. After two days in San Francisco we steam on to Los Angeles and there the ship stays long enough to allow of a visit to Holly wood and Pasadena — passwords, for a few, to fame and fortune on the films.
HIGH ABOVE THE SEA in the Gatun Locks system of the Panama Canal. At the Gatun Locks vessels have to be raised in three stages, to a height of 85 feet above sea-level. The photograph shows the Arandora Star in the second lock, with the water at high level. Each lock chamber is 1,000 feet long and 110 feet wide. The passage of the Panama Canal from Cristobal on the Atlantic to Balboa, on the Pacific side, takes only a few hours. A halt of thirteen hours at Balboa enables passengers to visit the city of Panama.
Then begins the homeward voyage, down the coast of Lower California, skirting the south-western coast of North America to Panama again. Having left the canal behind us we call at La Guaira (Venezuela) and Barbados and then steam steadily eastward to Madeira.
Finally the run home brings us on an April morning to Southampton Water and to a scene vastly different from that we left two and a half months earlier. Winter has given place to spring. Fit and bronzed, we look forward to the wonder of an English summer after a voyage of 22,000 miles. That is but one of the cruises that are accomplished regularly by the Arandora Star. Sierra Leone and other ports on the west coast of Africa offer yet more variety in the form of native life and tropical scenery.
The Mediterranean, too, offers an endless change of scene — Tunisia, Rhodes, the Dardanelles, Istanbul, Athens, Cyprus, Palestine, Egypt — all glamorous in their beautiful setting round the wonderful shores of this inland sea.
In contrast with the warmth of these southern beauty spots is the rugged grandeur of Scandinavia, the Baltic and the far North. The Baltic holds a special charm for the cruise traveller.
One specially attractive cruise begins generally at the end of June and lasts for thirteen days. Southampton is left on Saturday and the great port of Hamburg is reached early on Monday morning. Then, after a stay at Hamburg, begins the daytime journey through the famous Kiel Canal from Brunsbiittel to Holtenau. Next follows a voyage along the northern coast of Germany to Zoppot, adjoining the much-discussed city of Danzig. From there the run continues to Helsingfors or Tallinn and thence to Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm, where a stay is made from noon on Friday to four o’clock on Saturday afternoon, just one week after the luxury liner has sailed
from Southampton. Then begins the homeward run, the next call being at historic Copenhagen, which is reached at noon on Monday. The approach to Denmark’s capital is enchanting. When the ship has sailed through the Kattegat the coast of Sweden lies off the starboard beam, and then comes the narrow entrance to Elsinore Sound between shores covered with magnificent beech woods that provide a setting for pretty cottages and fishing villages and also many fine villas with gardens leading down to the waterside. Sweden is again visited on the run home with a stay of some eight hours at the famous old city of Gothenburg. Tilbury welcomes the travellers home again on Friday morning after a cruise of 2,665 miles.
North of the Arctic Circle
It is from Tilbury that a much longer cruise begins, a voyage of over 5,300 miles which lasts for nearly three weeks. The first call to be made is in the Faeroes. Then follows a brief visit to Reykjavik in Iceland. After she has passed the island of Jan Mayen, the Arandora Star arrives at Spitsbergen, or Svalbard, as this northern Archipelago is officially called. Many hours are spent cruising round the bays and harbours of Spitsbergen, and the voyage south begins, past Bear Island to Norway’s famous North Cape, the great headland that is Europe’s northern outpost. In calm weather the launches of the Arandora Star land those who may wish to climb the steep summit with its northern outlook to the desolate Arctic Ocean. Hammerfest is the next port of call, the most northerly town in the world. Surrounded by bleak and barren rocks, the timber-built town is full of interest, and its harbour, thanks to the Gulf Stream, is never closed by ice.
The steamer continues her voyage in this wonderland of mountain, snow-filled gorge and gleaming glacier, still attended by the midnight sun. The beautiful places of call can be described only briefly here. Lyngen Fjord, still north of the Arctic Circle, is within reach of a settlement of Lapps. Next come other marvellous fjords — the great inlets of the sea that twist and turn in the mountains. The greatest of the fjords is the famous Sogne Fjord, 112 miles long, varying in width between two and five miles and believed to be nearly 4,000 feet deep in places.
Into many of these marvellous waterways the Arandora Star thrusts her way between the flanking precipices — an unforgettable voyage, amid unspoilt scenes of wild grandeur that has its counterpart only in the entrancing loveliness of the Southern Seas.
IN NORTHERN WATERS. The Arandora Star at Ulvik, Norway, near the head of the Hardanger Fjord 70 miles long. A three weeks' cruise from Tilbury, Essex covering 5,300 miles, includes calls at the Faeroes, Reykjavik in Iceland, Spitsbergen (Svalbard) the North Cape and Hammerfest. Hammerfest is the most northerly town in the world. Here the sun does not set from May 13 to July 29, and it does not rise from November 18 to January 23. Going south, the Arandora Star finds her way into one or other of the Norwegian fjords before returning to England. The longest of these is the Sogne Fiord 112 miles long.