We are sailing: The Sea Venture in all her glory. *Photo
courtesy of the National Museum of Bermuda
The cruise liner Sea Venture left an indelible mark on the lives
of many islanders while she sailed into Bermuda.
And although she only made the journey between New York and
Bermuda for a few years, the ship and her crew caught the country's
imagination with the happy environment on board and the community
work on the island.
Those who knew the ship best will remember her for coming to the
rescue of the QE2 when her engines failed off Bermuda and
transporting every last passenger back to land.
They say the Sea Venture engaged with the Bermudian public in a
way which few ships have done since by allowing people with
disabilities to take their first trip off the island on board for
The news that the iconic vessel, which later became known as the
Love Boat, has recently been sold for scrap in Europe, came as a
surprise to most islanders who had lost track of her
But her destruction will signal the end of a golden and unique era
in Bermudian history.
Russell Southern was the island's Harbour Master when the Sea
Venture started to visit Bermuda.
He and his wife, Jennifer, were regular visitors on board the ship
and got to know captain Erik Bjurstedt and Staff Captain Torbjorn
Hauge well during their time in Bermuda.
Mrs Southern also helped to arrange for islanders with
disabilities to go on the ship and travel to New York and back.
Mr Southern, pictured right, said: "I always felt the Sea
Venture was a happy ship.
"She was one of the ships that really connected with Bermuda the
"Everyone loved her crew and we became very good friends with the
captain and the staff captain. We are still in touch with them to
"The crew really got involved in the community here and the ship
itself was in a league of its own."
Mrs Southern added: "It is so sad that she has been sold for
"She's a lovely old ship with so many happy memories for lots of
people in Bermuda.
"The crew were always so happy to help people in Bermuda.
"And for some of the people with disabilities that got to travel
on board of her, it was the first time they had ever been off the
'Than' Butterfield, who worked as operations manager for
Watlington and Conyers, was the agent for the ship and greeted the
Sea Venture and her skipper every time she arrived in
He also joined the ship on its maiden voyage back from Bermuda to
Mr Butterfield said: "The ship was quite beautiful and very
"It was a more modern style of ship than we were used to in
Bermuda. She had all the mod cons.
"It was quite a coup for Bermuda in those days to get a ship like
the Sea Venture coming in every week.
"I was the boarding officer and would make sure the captain had
everything he needed when he arrived in Hamilton.
"She was quite a ship and a part of our history.
"It does not surprise me that the ship has been sold for
"But it is a sad day for the many people in Bermuda that have
happy memories of the ship and its crew.
"It was wonderful to sail in her. We were treated like
Pilot Harold Millet helped bring the Sea Venture into Bermuda on
her maiden trip to the island in 1971.
He told the Sun: "I brought her in countless times over the
Russell Southern's wife
Jennifer, pictured above centre, arranged for islanders with
disabilities to travel on the Sea Venture for free. Pictured front
are Edna Fox, left, and Sandra Trott. *Photo
"Her steering capacity was superb and she was super
"She was ahead of her time in many ways and a one-off in those
"She had this glorious balcony and beautiful interior.
"I remember on one voyage it was too rough at sea for me to get
off her so I ended up going all the way to New York and having a
"She was a great ship and I am lucky to have piloted her.
"It is unfortunate that she is nearing the end of her life, but
they say that old boats become our razor blades and that may be the
case with her."
Former Mayor of St George Henry Hayward also has many fond
memories of the ship.
"When the Sea Venture first started coming to Bermuda it did cause
quite a stir on the island.
"I was lucky enough to get invited on board several times for
parties and it was a first class ship.
"She was quite a big part of the year for Bermuda.
"It is a shame that she will end her days as scrap especially as
it is the sort of size that could still get into St Georges.
"A little bit of Bermuda will disappear with the end of that
In her heyday the Sea Venture was the pride of Bermuda.
With her gleaming white features and luxurious internal decor, she
was a pioneer of a new breed of cruise ship.
For nearly four years in the early 70s the liner's arrival into
the Number 1 Shed at Hamilton prompted excited crowds to gather
harbourside and watch the spectacle.
But today the ship that went on to achieve worldwide fame by
featuring in the American sitcom, The Love Boat, lies idle in a
port in Italy and looks destined for the scrap heap.
Potential investors are looking at the possibility of resurrecting
the old iconic ship and turning her into a floating hotel, but her
final resting place looks set to be Turkey where she will be
The Sea Venture was built in West Germany in 1971 for Flagship
Cruises specifically to carry tourists from New York to Bermuda and
The ship was owned by Piers Lawrenson who lived in Tucker's Town
and she employed several Bermudians.
Between 1971 and 1975 she spent the spring and summer months
ferrying Americans to the island on a weekly basis.
But she would also take sick islanders to the US for treatment as
well as groups of disabled children for a holiday, free of
She even once came to the rescue of the QE2 off Bermuda when the
ship experienced major engine trouble.
In 1975, the vessel was bought by Princess Cruises and for the
next 27 years she sailed across the world under the new name of the
It was during this time that she shot to global fame as the
setting for the American sit-com, The Love Boat, where lonely
passengers found love on the seas.
However, her wholesome family image was dented in 1998 when the
ship was impounded by police in Greece after 25kg of heroin was
found on board.
Two Filipino crewmen were implicated in the plot and this in
turn sparked further rumours that the ship had become a 'major
tool' for drug smugglers to traffic their hauls.
The Pacific Princess made her final trip for Princess Cruises in
She then lost Princess from her name and sailed around the
Caribbean as Pacific for Pullmantur Cruises
In 2008, the ship was bought by Quail Cruises and operated out of
Valencia in Spain.
A year later she was seized by the Italian Coastguard in Genoa for
a repair debt that remained outstanding.
The Italian authorities tried to auction off the vessel three
times between 2010 and 2011, but there were no takers so she
remained idle in the port of San Giorgio Del Porto in Genoa.
According to Martin Cox's website www.maritimematters.com,
the old Sea Venture was sold at the beginning of March 2012 to a
Turkish company called Cemsan that specializes in ship breaking,
for $3.3 million
It was expected that the liner would soon be taken to her final
destination in Aligia in Turkey to be broken up and sold for scrap
But in a final twist to the story, Maritime Matters reported on
March 20 that the vessel was being inspected by potential buyers
who wanted to preserve the vessel as a floating hotel.
Maybe the final chapter of this famous ship, which started its
life in Bermuda, is still to be written?