The renamed AUSTRALIS as the Venture Cruise SS AMERICA
The AUSTRALIS was sold by Chandris to Venture Cruises of New York in 1978 after been layed up in New Zealand. She returned to New York and again was renamed 'AMERICA', her hull was repainted blue with white upperworks. Her funnels were also painted blue with a red band and black capping. Venture Cruises intention was to create short cruises "Las Vegas afloat"type of affair.
It is often said that it is bad luck to rename a ship an old name, and althought there were no problems renaming WESTPOINT back to AMERICA, bad luck hit her this time.
|Chandris old livery is painted over by the royal blue colours of Venture Cruises - photo courtesy Herb Frank - Copyrighted by Peter Knego and taken from his CD "The worlds passenger fleet" ©|
On 30th June 1978
she set sail but was arrested shortly after by order of the US District Court
on 18th July 1978 for non-payment of debts. This was due to her arriving for
her first cruise somewhat incomplete. She was seriously overbooked and cabins
had not been assigned until sailing time and subsequently furious passengers
' mutinied' and forced the captain to turn around and head back to New York,
she had only just passed the Statue Of Liberty, where 960 passengers disembarked.
Upon sailing again that day and traversing the Hudson a further 200 disgruntled passengers disembarked by tender at Staten Island. On 3rd July 1978 The 'AMERICA' left for a five day cruise to Nova Scotia , upon her return she was met with $2,500,000.00 worth of claims from irate passengers. Further problems and cancellations saw all of her bookings and trips cancelled. Overbooking, plumbing problems, poor accommodation and poor management were just a few of the complaints mentioned.
The company attributed blame to the pier where she was docked, stating that the ship required a 10m draft and the pier was only at it's best 10m deep. They claimed the ships water intakes and discharge valves were clogged with river mud causing many problems with plumbing - this however did not contribute to the many other complaints.
The US Public Health Service gave the 'AMERICA' an inspection score of 6 out of 100 - only two other ships had ever scored so low. The US District courts ordered the AMERICA to be auctioned on 28th August 1978.
SS America, orders full ahead after awaiting for the container ship this photo was taken from to pass, taken on 1st July 1978 passing under the Verezano Bridge New York by Captain K.W. Smith and sent by Hans Hoffman ©
How to build a cruise ship SS America style by Peter T Eisele as printed in the Steam Boat Bill Magazine - I apologise in advance folks for the quality of the photos used as I don't have the originals, but these are from a magazine and shows the ship in her hap hazard make over
|Step 1 - put ship into dry dock for hull repairs and painting - make shipyard stay as brief as possible (America shown in Bayonne N.J - photo Willie Tinnemeyer||Step 2 - Tow ship from drydock to a local pier. Have the crew continue the conversion during the move. America under tow by Moran tugs - photo Fred Sommers||Step 3 - Remove all traces of former ownership|
|Step 4 - Place crew over side and paint quickly whilst at terminal - photo by Frank Duffy||Step 5 - Depart on "Gala maiden cruise" with full complement of passengers - some who had not even been assigned cabins - ss America on her cruise to no where - photo by Frank Duffy|
|CAUTION - under no circumstances should you put back into port to land unhappy passengers nor should you land them by launch, at least not if the press is around - America at anchor off Staten Island landing passengers - July 1 - photo by Fred Sommers||ABANDON SHIP - ABANDON SHIP ! - the lifeboats lower disgruntled passengers and her fate is sealed|
The auction notice
|SS America, taken in 1978 by Marie Lacey who was reportedly the first person born on the SS AMerica, however it has now deen discovered that a baby boy was born on the ship as the USS WESTPOINT - be sure to read her story later in this website|