The Greek Line's first vessel was an older liner, which entered service in 1939. As the business grew they added several second-hand ships until 1953 when, with an aging fleet and seeing a bright future, the company launched the first new ocean liner to be built for Greek interests.
After some controversy, the Olympia, built in Scotland and flying the Liberian flag, began transatlantic service between Bremerhaven and New York. Olympia finally began regular Greek Line service between Greece and New York in 1955, carrying migrants and tourists to the U.S. and Canada. Later, some Caribbean cruises were added each winter and some voyages were extended to Israel.
Tourist class occupied most of the ship, while First class enjoyed an exclusive club-like area on the Sun Deck, with some interchangeable cabins in between. Olympia was successful and well-regarded for good food and for the hospitality of the friendly Greek crew.
When the eight-year-old Empress of Britain was up for sale, and with liner services to the Mediterranean less affected by jet travel than the North Atlantic, she was bought by Greek Line and renamed Queen Anna Maria. She was updated for a dual purpose role as an ocean liner and cruise ship, and entered service in 1965.
The increase in fuel prices as well as airline competition were the main reasons for the collapse of the Greek Line in 1975. Both of their ocean liners were sold to become Florida-based cruise ships, with Queen Anna Maria becoming Carnival's Carnivale, followed by Olympia becoming Commodore's Caribe.
Sample minimum one-way fares from New York to Piraeus: First class $512; Tourist class $307; from New York to Haifa: First class $543; Tourist class $360; Fares are per person in U.S. dollars as of spring 1969.
Go to Greek Line sailing schedules or select schedules by ship below:
Built: 1953 by A Stephen & Sons, Glasgow, Scotland
Queen Anna Maria
Built: 1956 by Fairfield SB & Eng Co Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland