FRIDAY, APRIL 27: In her heyday the Sea Venture was the pride of Bermuda.
With her gleaming white features and luxurious internal decor, she was a pioneer of a new breed of cruise ship.
For nearly four years in the early 70s the liner’s arrival into the Number 1 Shed at Hamilton prompted excited crowds to gather harbourside and watch the spectacle.
But today the ship that went on to achieve worldwide fame by featuring in the American sitcom, The Love Boat, lies idle in a port in Italy and looks destined for the scrap heap.
Potential investors are looking at the possibility of resurrecting the old iconic ship and turning her into a floating hotel, but her final resting place looks set to be Turkey where she will be dismantled.
The Sea Venture was built in West Germany in 1971 for Flagship Cruises specifically to carry tourists from New York to Bermuda and back.
The ship was owned by Piers Lawrenson who lived in Tucker’s Town and she employed several Bermudians.
Between 1971 and 1975 she spent the spring and summer months ferrying Americans to the island on a weekly basis.
But she would also take sick islanders to the US for treatment as well as groups of disabled children for a holiday, free of charge.
She even once came to the rescue of the QE2 off Bermuda when the ship experienced major engine trouble.
In 1975, the vessel was bought by Princess Cruises and for the next 27 years she sailed across the world under the new name of the Pacific Princess.
It was during this time that she shot to global fame as the setting for the American sit-com, The Love Boat, where lonely passengers found love on the seas.
However, her wholesome family image was dented in 1998 when the ship was impounded by police in Greece after 25kg of heroin was found on board.
Two Filipino crewmen were implicated in the plot and this in turn sparked further rumours that the ship had become a ‘major tool’ for drug smugglers to traffic their hauls.
The Pacific Princess made her final trip for Princess Cruises in 2002.
She then lost Princess from her name and sailed around the Caribbean as Pacific for Pullmantur Cruises
In 2008, the ship was bought by Quail Cruises and operated out of Valencia in Spain.
A year later she was seized by the Italian Coastguard in Genoa for a repair debt that remained outstanding.
The Italian authorities tried to auction off the vessel three times between 2010 and 2011, but there were no takers so she remained idle in the port of San Giorgio Del Porto in Genoa.
According to Martin Cox’s website www.maritimematters.com, the old Sea Venture was sold at the beginning of March 2012 to a Turkish company called Cemsan that specializes in ship breaking, for $3.3 million
It was expected that the liner would soon be taken to her final destination in Aligia in Turkey to be broken up and sold for scrap metal.
But in a final twist to the story, Maritime Matters reported on March 20 that the vessel was being inspected by potential buyers who wanted to preserve the vessel as a floating hotel.
Maybe the final chapter of this famous ship, which started its life in Bermuda, is still to be written?