Ocean Countess

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Ocean Countess at Helsinki, 5 July 2010.
Name: 1975–1996: Cunard Countess
1996–1998: Awani Dream II
1998–2002: Olympic Countess
2002–2004: Olympia Countess
2004–2005: Ocean Countess
2005–2006: Lili Marleen
2006–2007: Ocean Countess
2007: Ruby
2007 onwards: Ocean Countess[1]
Owner: 1975–1996: Cunard Line
1996–1998: Awani Cruises
1998–2002: Royal Olympic Cruises
2002–2004: Royal Olympia Cruises
2004 onwards: Maximus Navigation Ltd.[1]
Operator: 1976–1996: Cunard Line
1996–1998: Awani Cruises[1]
1998–2002: Royal Olympic Cruises
2002–2004: Royal Olympia Cruises
2004–2005: Majestic International Cruises[2]
2005–2006: Holiday Kreuzfahrten[1]
2007: Louis Cruise Lines[1]
2007: Monarch Classic Cruises[2]
2009: Quail Cruises
2010 onward: Cruise & Maritime Voyages[2]
Builder: Burmeister & Wain, Copenhagen, Denmark (hull)
Navali Mechaniche Affini, La Spezia, Italy (outfitting)[1][2]
Yard number: 858[1]
Launched: 20 September 1974[1]
Completed: June 1976[1]
In service: 14 August 1976[1]
Status: In service
General characteristics
Tonnage: 17,593 GRT
Length: 537 feet
Beam: 75 feet
Height: 20 feet
Propulsion: Diesel
Speed: 17 knots
Capacity: 800

Ocean Countess is a cruise ship owned by Majestic International Cruises of Greece, on long-term charter to the UK-based Cruise & Maritime Voyages. She was completed in 1976 as the '4-star - Premium' style Cunard Countess for Cunard Line. Cunard Countess had an almost identical sister ship Cunard Princess, introduced in 1977. The new ships soon became popular with the North American and British/European cruise market, particularly for their contemporary facilities and variety entertainment. The pair are the only non 'Queen' purpose-built Cunarders still in existence, along with Louis Cruise Lines' Coral (formerly Cunard Adventurer).


Cunard Countess was built in Denmark in 1974-75 and initially registered in Southampton, England. The vessel was fitted-out at the INMA shipyard at La Spezia, Italy, from where trials were conducted and the vessel completed in July 1976. The ship proceeded to her Caribbean sea base port of San Juan, Puerto Rico, via Barcelona, Spain and Antigua. A part-ship charter group of passengers were carried on this maiden voyage, between Barcelona and Antigua. On the eve of entering full commercial service in August 1976, Cunard Countess was christened at San Juan by Mrs Armstrong, wife of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.[3]

Cunard Countess became one of the better-known cruise ships to ply the Caribbean and middle Atlantic ocean, becoming a staple at the San Juan ship dock and later at Miami, Santo Domingo and many other places around the area. Cunard Countess was notably one of the few ships to regularly visit the Caribbean island of Grenada during the revolutionary period of that island (1979–1983) and thus played a major role in supporting the local tourist industry during those years.[citation needed]

Two of Cunard Countess's competitors in the Caribbean during the late 1970s - 1980s were the much earlier but also very popular SS Amerikanis and Carla C, all three being of similar dimensions and capacity (recently built cruise ships are invariably far larger). Other contemporary ships in this market were the P&O/Princess Cruises' MS Sun Princess (1972) and MS Island Princess (1971), both also having similar dimensions and capacity to that of Cunard Countess.

In October 1982, after the conclusion of the Falklands War, the ship was chartered for 6 months by the Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom), to support troop movements between Ascension Island and Port Stanley whilst the Falkland Islands airfield was being reinstated.[4] Families and friends of British personnel lost in the conflict were also carried on one round voyage, to enable commemorations both at sea and ashore. At the end of the charter, Cunard controversially awarded the contract for the refurbishment of the vessel to Malta Shipyards, at a reported cost of 2 million UK Pounds.[5] Cunard Countess returned to Caribbean cruising in July 1983.

In 1990 the ship's port of registry was changed to that of Nassau, The Bahamas.

In 1996 - before Carnival’s buy-out of Cunard Line in 1998 - Cunard Countess was sold to Awani Cruises and renamed Awani Dream II, to cruise along with the original Awani Dream. The Awani cruise company ran into financial trouble and, in 1998, the ship moved to Royal Olympic Cruises, as Olympic Countess.

File:Ocean Countess off Santorini.jpg
Ocean Countess anchored off Santorini, July 2008.

Re-styled as Ocean Countess in 2004, the vessel was chartered as Ruby to Louis Cruise Lines in May 2007, resuming the name Ocean Countess in December of that year. During this employment, cruises usually departed from Piraeus, visiting destinations like Mykonos, Patmos, Crete and Santorini in Greece as well as Kusadasi in Turkey. During 2009 the ship was leased by the Spanish operator Quail Cruises, for a series of Mediterranean cruises from Valencia.

The white-hulled Ocean Countess is currently[when?] registered at Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

In April 2010, the refitted Ocean Countess joined MS Marco Polo in an extensive cruise program from British ports for the recently formed company, Cruise & Maritime Voyages.[6]


The fully air-conditioned Ocean Countess has deluxe cabins and suites as well as standard cabins, all with private facilities. Passenger capacity is 800 in 400 cabins, with a crew of 350. A small number of cabins can be adjusted for guests with special needs. There are 7 passenger decks. The vessel has a main lounge with dance floor, several bars, a casino, an outdoor swimming pool/lido with 2 whirlpools, fitness center, movie theater, shopping gallery, hair salon with beauty spa, a large restaurant, two smaller casual eateries and a medical center. The sun terrace (top deck), exterior boat deck and aft lido deck are sheathed in traditional teak.

The accommodation, public rooms and decks were refurbished and re-named with British themes in early 2010, in preparation for Ocean Countess's charter to Cruise & Maritime Voyages.[7]

General specifications

GRT:17,593 Length:163m Breadth:23m Draft:6.20m Cruising speed:17 knots. Stabilizers.[8]


External links