The Last Ocean Liners

Companhia Colonial

Santa Maria / Infante Dom Henrique


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Companhia Colonial The Companhia Colonial de Navegacao of Portugal ordered three handsome medium-size ocean liners in the 1950's for their routes out of Lisbon. First came the Vera Cruz for South America service, but with growing turmoil in Angola, she was used mainly as a troopship after 1960. A sister ship, Santa Maria was introduced for Brazil service, but with significant competion and demand for migrant passage to Venezuela she opened a new transatlantic route to La Guaira in 1956, also calling at Ft. Lauderdale and Caribbean ports.

Companhia Colonial Santa Maria was ahead of her time in design with substantial use of aluminum allowing a higher superstructure, more in the style of modern cruise ships than of ocean liners. The well-designed interior featured decorative touches like murals, wall hangings and a variety of inlaid woods used in paneling and carvings of saints.

Companhia Colonial She was a three class ship with 78 First class staterooms and suites with private facilities and 75 relatively large Cabin class staterooms on B and C-Decks. There were also 194 simple 2, 4 and 6-berth cabins in Third class on D, E and F-Decks. Each class had its own lounge and smoking room with bar. First and Cabin classes each enjoyed an outdoor swimming pool and all dining rooms were on D and E-Deck.

Companhia Colonial Lastly in 1957, Companhia Colonial de Navegacao ordered Infante Dom Henrique for the colonial trade to Angola and Mozambique. She was the largest Portuguese ocean liner to date. The interior design was 1950s modern in metal and glass which was in marked contrast to the beautiful woods used in the earlier ships.

First class occupied the Boat Deck, which included suites, staterooms and the pool area aft. A-Deck included the First class lounge and smoking room and the Tourist class smoking room and swimming pool. B-Deck had First class staterooms forward and the Tourist class lounge, gallery and bar aft. The two dining rooms were on C-Deck and Tourist class cabins on D and E-Decks.

Companhia Colonial "The comfort and luxury awaiting you are virtually indescribable... dining will be an exquisite and continuing adventure, for the artistry of our Portuguese chefs is world renowned. Once onboard, you'll exchange cares for the carefree relaxation induced by tangy salt air and the excitement of one of the most elegant, modern luxury liners afloat."

Santa Maria continued on the transatlantic route for Companhia Colonial de Navegacao for the remainder of her days, except for a notorious 12-day hijacking by 24 revolutionaries in 1961 who opposed the Portuguese prime minister and forced the ocean liner to follow a secret route off the coast of Brazil. Infante Dom Henrique was retired upon independence of the Portuguese African colonies, eventually becoming a cruise ship for new owners.

Sample minimum one-way fares from Ft. Lauderdale to Lisbon: First class $420; Cabin class $308; Third class $246; from Lisbon to Lourenco Marques: First class $455; Tourist class $252; All fares are per person in U.S. dollars.

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Santa Maria (Companhia Colonial) 1953
Santa Maria Companhia Colonial
Built: 1953 by Cockerill, Hoboken, Belgium Gross tons: 20906 Length: 610ft (186m) Width: 75ft (23m) Draft: 27ft (8m) Speed: 20kn Power: 22500 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 156 First 200 Cabin 680 Third End of service: Scrapped 1973
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Infante Dom Henrique (Companhia Colonial) 1961
Infante Dom Henrique Companhia Colonial
Built: 1961 by Cockerill, Hoboken, Belgium Gross tons: 23306 Length: 641ft (195m) Width: 80ft (24m) Draft: 27ft (8m) Speed: 21kn Power: 22000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 156 First 862 Tourist End of service: Laid up 1976; sold 1977 as Vasco Da Gama then Seawind Crown; scrapped 2004
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