MV Doulos (1977-2010) - MS Franca C (1952-1977) - SS Roma (1948-1952) - SS Medina (1914-1948)

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A superbly built American built ship that sailed into History and she remains with us to this very day!

With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author

Commenced in the Passenger Shipping Industry in 1960


A superbly built American built ship that sailed into History and she remains with us to this very day!

Please Note: All ssMaritime and my other related ssMaritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues and I hope that the well over 675 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers ships I have written on will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts and continue a great deal of information and pleasure!


SS Medina (1914-1948) was sold and renamed: SS Roma (1948-1952)

MS Franca C (1952-1977) - MV Doulos (1977-2010)

Doulos (2010 - ) A land-locked Hotel at Bintan, Indonesia

MV Doulos

“A Ship Like no Other”

By Reuben Goossens 

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Maritime Lecturer

Chapter Three

--MS Franca C--


“A New Beginning”


Here we see the Franca C during her South American days with her original funnel

She received a more modern funnel late in 1957

Photograph from the author’s private collection


Please Note: This work is owned, protected under International © copyright laws and is the property of Reuben Goossens of No part of this work including any of the images shown therein may be copied, or neither reproduced by any means nor reproduced in any format, be it for private or commercial usage without prior written permission from the author. Email me: see email button down the page. *Photographic credits are usually shown under each image, however if a photograph is marked “Photographer unknown” please see the bottom of the page


A photograph of the liner Franca C taken in the early 50’s whilst in the West Indies

From the Joanne Boot family collection

The Liner

The SS Roma was put up for auction in April 1952, and she was sold to the only bidder present, being the famed Giacomo Costa Fu Andrea, from the great Italian shipping Company “Linea C” or “Costa Lines,” a company we still know today as the famed “Costa Cruises.” The final contract of sale for 570 million Lira was signed and finalised on May 28.

Linea C obviously thought there was still good life left in the old girl she was registered in Genoa and according to the Costa family tradition all Linea C ships would carry the Christian name of a family member and in this case she would be named Franca C. Later, she was taken to La Spezia and the Ansaldo S.A. shipyards at Muggiano where she was converted for her future South American & Caribbean liner service. In addition they removed her worn out, much troubled, oil fired steam engines and replaced them with a double-acting six-cylinder diesel, which was built by Fiat Grandi Motori Turin in 1949. The new Fiat Diesel engine was able to develop 4,200 HP that gave the ship a respectable speed of 15 knots. Remarkably, this engine was originally purchased from the Italian Navy and Costa was going to use it in another ship, the Maria C, but decided to place it in their newly acquired Franca C. In January 1953 the gleaming all white MS Franca C was completed and was registered as being 6,549 GRT. Soon after she made her sea trials with great susses.

The 1949 & 1953 builder’s plate was still on the Doulos in 1999

but was nowhere to be found in 2008 - PS: It was found again in 2009

Photograph by & © copyright 1999 - Reuben Goossens

Exterior changes could be seen at the extension of the forward enclosure and windows on promenade deck (lower open deck), as well as a raised deck level over the stern, a new modern funnel, all white super structure, blue Ribband around her hull, yellow funnel with a dark blue cap and the famed Costa “C” logo on it, as well as a few other minor alterations.

She had accommodations for 362 First and Tourist class passengers who would be berthed in two, three and four berth cabins, which were located on the upper decks, whereas the 458 Third class passengers slept in dormitories in the lower decks aft and forward. Each class had a dining room and a lounge with a bar. Both First and Tourist class facilities were said to be quite attractive and typical of the modern Italian style of the day. Third class was simple, yet sufficient and provided ample to satisfy the revellers on their way to South America.

Franca C the liner seen with her new funnel received in 1957

*Photographer unknown

On January 31, 1953, Franca C departed Genoa for her maiden voyage to La Guaira, sailing via Naples, Barcelona, Funchal, Las Palmas, Curacao, Fort de France and Pointe a Pitre.

In January 2008, I received an email from a Mr. Kurka who had sailed on Franca C as an eight year old boy whilst she was a liner on the South American service. I thought it was interesting reading! We thank him for his insight and his little adventure during some rough seas!

“In 1955 my family and I migrated to Venezuela on the Franca “C” in tourist class, of course. I enjoyed the trip thoroughly. I don't think my family did though. For me, an eight year old boy, it was an adventure. I was the only one who did not get seasick. One of my most vivid memories is weathering a rather severe storm during which I went on deck, hanging on to an air shaft and of a desperate crew member snatched me way to safety. I thought it was lark. F. Kurka.”

Franca C receives a Refit:

As she continued her South American liner services, she soon became a popular ship on both sides of the Atlantic. However, Linea C began to notice the changes in shipping and decided in 1957 to make further alterations, including to her funnel making her look more modern as well as aiding to her smoke. They also erected a quarter deck far aft on Lounge Deck, providing extra deck space up on Boat Deck aft.


Franca C the liner seen with her new funnel received in 1957

*Photographer unknown


Tourist Class Menu October 4, 1958 – on show on “Main Street” on MV Doulos today 

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens


 Same Menu, but translated into English 

Photograph by & © 2008 Reuben Goossens


 An original Linea “C” ashtray from the Franca C – 1959 whilst she was on the South American liner service

Item from the author’s private collection - photograph by & © 2010 Reuben Goossens



Franca C seen in Willemstad, Curacao around 1958

Caribbean Photo Studios - Rich Turnwald Collection


Franca-C is seen in the later days as a Trans Atlantic liner – note the new added stovepipe extension

Author’s private collection


The cruise ship MV Franca C as she son will be, seen in port with the Israeli Zim Lines SS Theodore Herzl in the 1960s

Author’s private collection

As services and passengers numbers increased, it was soon realised that a larger ship was required and Linea C – Costa Lines decided that the Franca C would be better fitted for another service, one that was proving to be popular around the world. Thus in 1959 Linea C withdrew her from the Atlantic trade and transformed her into a full time all first class cruise ship in Genoa.

A Request:

If you or a relative have sailed on the MS Franca C at any time and can share some information about the voyage and the ship, even a photographs or any memorabilia you may still have be it a menu, etc, I would be very happy to hear from you!

Email me at:

Go to Chapter 4 – A New luxury Role MS Franca C the cruise ship – 1959 to 1969 & 1970 to 1977

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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are: 1. By the author. 2. From the author’s private collection. 3. As provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are photographs provided to me without details provided regarding the photographer concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me, that due credit may be given.

Copyright: “MV Doulos - A Ship Like No Other” is owned, protected under the International © copyright laws and is the property of Reuben Goossens of No part of this work including any of the images shown may be copied or reproduced by any means or reproduced by any format whatsoever, be it for private or commercial usage, without prior written permission from the author. is owned and © Copyright by Reuben Goossens - All Rights Reserved.