The Last Ocean Liners

Union-Castle Line

Windsor Castle / Pendennis Castle / Edinburgh Castle / S.A. Vaal / S.A. Oranje / Rhodesia Castle / Kenya Castle

 

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Union-Castle Line This famous British shipping company traditionally linked England and South Africa via the "Cape Mail Express" service, with a sailing every Thursday at 4pm from Southampton taking 14 days to reach the first South African port. In July 1965, a faster schedule was introduced with sailings from Southampton every Friday, overall saving two days in each direction.

Union-Castle Line Only seven ships were required instead of eight, which included Windsor Castle, Pendennis Castle, Edinburgh Castle, S.A. Vaal and S.A. Oranje. The last two were built as Transvaal Castle and Pretoria Castle respectively and were transferred in 1966 to Safmarine South Africa while still managed by Union-Castle Line. Two new fast freighters were also required.

Union-Castle Line First class aboard the mail ships was extremely spacious and provided fine cuisine and attentive service. Staterooms were in the forward part of the ship on the higher decks and included private facilities. Tourist class was located aft and attracted immigrants, students and budget tourists. A typical two-class deck plan aboard Windsor Castle, Pendennis Castle, Edinburgh Castle and S.A. Oranje included a separate lounge, smoking room, veranda cafe, dining room and swimming pool for each class. S.A. Vaal was a one-class ship with a similar layout, but with a uniform standard of onboard services.

Union-Castle Line A large selection of African vacation packages was arranged by Union-Castle Line with the long sea voyage and wildlife safaris as the centerpieces. "Sea Safaris" included round-trip from Southampton by sea plus two or three weeks touring in South Africa. "Air/Sea Holidays" combined a one-way sea voyage, one-way by air and up to four weeks touring in a range of countries including South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and more.

Union-Castle Line "The 6000 mile journey to or from South Africa can be a leisurely, refreshing holiday in itself. You sail, in the main, through warm, sunlit seas. It's relaxation and enjoyment all the way, backed up, of course, by the traditional, friendly Union-Castle service."

Freight and mail had a very important role in the economics of the express service. Southbound holds were filled with general cargo, but gold, copper and fruit prevailed on the northbound run. The last passenger sailing on this historic route was completed in 1977.

Union-Castle Line Another Union-Castle Line route provided passenger-cargo service completely around Africa via both the east and west coasts. The route was cut back in 1962 to the east coast of Africa from London to Durban, where connections with the mail express ships on the west coast route could be made.

Union-Castle Line The last ocean liners especially built for this "RA" run were the Rhodesia Castle and Kenya Castle. A third sister, Braemar Castle was withdrawn from service in 1965. They were one-class vessels, which was more pleasant for the passengers who had full run of the ship. Most public rooms were on Promenade Deck, including a forward lounge, bar, gallery and smoking room. A swimming pool and pool bar were on A-Deck and dining saloon on C-Deck.


Sample minimum one-way fares from Southampton to Cape Town: First class $588; Tourist class $269; from Southampton to Durban: First class $680; Tourist class $327; All fares are per person in U.S. dollars.


Continue to the ships below ...



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Windsor Castle - 1960 - Union-Castle Line
Windsor Castle Union-Castle Line
Built: 1960 by Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, England Gross tons: 37640 Length: 783ft (239m) Width: 92ft (28m) Draft: 32ft (10m) Speed: 23kn Power: 49000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 237 First 585 Tourist End of service: Sold 1977
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Pendennis Castle - 1958 - Union-Castle Line
Pendennis Castle Union-Castle Line
Built: 1958 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, N Ireland Gross tons: 28582 Length: 763ft (233m) Width: 84ft (26m) Draft: 32ft (10m) Speed: 22.5kn Power: 46000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 197 First 539 Tourist End of service: Sold 1976
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Edinburgh Castle - 1948 - Union-Castle Line
Edinburgh Castle Union-Castle Line
Built: 1948 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, N Ireland Gross tons: 28705 Length: 747ft (228m) Width: 84ft (26m) Draft: 32ft (10m) Speed: 22kn Power: 35000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 214 First 541 Tourist End of service: Scrapped 1976
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S.A. Vaal - 1961 - Union-Castle Line
S.A. Vaal Union-Castle Line
Built: 1961 by John Brown & Co, Clydebank, Scotland Gross tons: 32697 Length: 760ft (232m) Width: 90ft (27m) Draft: 32ft (10m) Speed: 22.5kn Power: 44000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 736 One-class End of service: Sold 1977 Later names: Festivale, IslandBreeze
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S.A. Oranje - 1948 - Union-Castle Line
S.A. Oranje Union-Castle Line
Built: 1948 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, N Ireland Gross tons: 28705 Length: 747ft (228m) Width: 84ft (26m) Draft: 32ft (10m) Speed: 22kn Power: 35000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 214 First 541 Tourist End of service: Scrapped 1975
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Rhodesia Castle - 1951 - Union-Castle Line
Rhodesia Castle Union-Castle Line
Built: 1951 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, N Ireland Gross tons: 17041 Length: 576ft (176m) Width: 74ft (23m) Draft: 26ft (8m) Speed: 17.5kn Power: 14400 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 526 One-class End of service: Scrapped 1967
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Kenya Castle - 1952 - Union-Castle Line
Kenya Castle Union-Castle Line
Built: 1952 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, N Ireland Gross tons: 17041 Length: 576ft (176m) Width: 74ft (23m) Draft: 26ft (8m) Speed: 17.5kn Power: 14400 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 526 One-class End of service: Sold 1967 Later names: Amerikanis
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