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


M/S Franca C is seen when she commenced her new career as a luxury cruise ship

From the author’s private collection

MV Doulos

“A Ship Like no Other”

By Reuben Goossens 


--M/S Franca C--

Chapter Four

Part One

“The Cruise Ship” - 1959 - 1970

In 1959, Linea C withdrew her from the Atlantic trade and decided to once again rebuild and refit her, but this time they intended for her to become the world’s first ever year-round cruise ship. She was taken to the OARN Shipyards at Genoa, where she was transformed into a high quality, fully air-conditioned cruise ship. Franca C would not only be the companies first fully-dedicated cruise ship, but also the world’s only all first-class-only cruise ship!

Pre release cruise promo image of the M/S Franca C the cruise ship

From the author’s private collection

Most of the cabins would be twin bedded and would have a private bathroom with the majority having a bath, and the balance a shower. Passenger numbers were reduced to a maximum of 552 berths. Cabins were located on Lounge, Promenade, Upper, A and B decks. Lounge Deck had been extended far aft and contained fine new cabins.

Both Lounge and Promenade Decks contained all the superior accommodations. There were three two-berth cabins, and no inside cabins. All cabins were located aft of the Lounges or the Dining Room on Promenade Deck. Main Deck cabins were the same in size and style as those on the two upper decks, twin bedded rooms with a bath. However, there were many more two-berth and indoor cabins and rooms with a shower. Like on Lounge Deck, only on Main Deck could you walk (inside the ship) forward or aft of the ship. Cabins on A and B decks were located in sections and these were reached via the clearly marked, allocated stairwells.

Décor and furnishings were entrusted to Nino Zoncada who created a delightfully light but elegant ambience throughout the ship. The Restaurant and galleys were greatly enlarged and modernised and made ready for the one class role. The Ballroom was decorated with sculptures by Marcello Mascherini, and the room had tones of grey, violet and sky blue. Whilst in the Restaurant the main colours were royal blue, sky blue, with sky blue, grey and ochre in the cabins complemented with yellow velvet chairs. Located aft on Lido deck, with the removal of the aft “mainmast,” a new sculptured swimming pool had been installed into the aft hold, with a bar located just forward, together with a host of sporting facilities.

The yacht like Franca C refit was completed in July 1959 and now listed as 6,822 GRT, and she was ready to commence her first cruise in the Mediterranean and Black sea. But, at the conclusion of the European summer season a whole new venture awaited the Franca C!

Franca C the American Cruise Trend Setter!

Having already thought for some time about basing themselves in America, Linea C, Costa Cruises made a decisive move and set up the “Atlantic Cruise Line Inc” based in Miami to operate the ship as a General sales agent in the USA. She was marketed as: The New M/S Franca C “Happy-Go-Luxury Cruise to the West Indies” operated by “Atlantic Cruise Line Inc” Miami Florida – Operators. In advance Costa Cruises had made the decisive move to set up this Company in Miami to operate the ship, and it operated as their General sales agents in the USA.

 The very first “Atlantic Cruise Line” (Costa) Franca C 1959 -60 Caribbean cruise brochure

From the author’s private collection

Thus, after debuting in the Mediterranean, on November 7, 1959 Franca C departed Fort Lauderdale on Cruise number 1, being a 4 night cruise to Port au Prince, Haiti, which was followed up by a 3 night private charter. Cruise number 2 was a 13 night Caribbean cruise that departed on November 14, sailing from Port Everglades (Miami) to San Juan Puerto Rico, St Thomas Virgin Islands, Fort de France Martinique, Bridgetown Barbados, Port of Spain Trinidad, Curacao Netherland’s Antilles, and Port au Prince Haiti and back to Port Everglades on November 27. In all there were eight 13 night cruises as well as cruises of 7, 9 and 11 nights long, a total of 14 cruises between November 7, 1959 and April 22, 1960. After this season she made a fully booked Trans Atlantic cruise back to Italy and resumed cruising the Mediterranean.

The Port Everglades / Miami cruise programme proved to be a brilliant move and Costa Cruises became the first shipping company in history to offer winter cruises, but also basing a ship for five months in Florida, for the American public to enjoy cruising the Caribbean. With the success of the first season, Costa extended the 1960/61 season and added additional short break cruises of 3 and 4 day voyages to the Bahamas and this this what is now known to be the “pioneer cruise ship”, became a regular sight in Florida and the Caribbean for many years to come. In this way Franca C started a whole new product identity and Costa Lines contributed to the future of the Miami cruise industry that has become the world busiest cruise port, but the little Franca C was the first ever cruise ship to call Port Everglades / Miami home way back in November 1959 the very early days of cruising. There is a plaque there that commemorates this fact!

And here is another first attributed to the Franca C. In 1968 the Franca C was the very first ship to offer a d new kind of luxury package that became known the “Fly/Cruise” package for the Caribbean. This formula revolutionised the concept of vacations. Now for the first time, passengers were offered an all-inclusive vacation which included their flights, a luxury all inclusive cruise as well as a land based package if they chose to do so.

A colourful 1963-64 Brochure

From the author’s private collection


 A menu as printed in the 1963-64 brochure

From the author’s private collection

Each year Franca C would cross the Atlantic and base herself in Miami and her cruises out of Miami and as Franca C was of the first of the international cruise ships to do this, she was became greatly loved by the American public, for she was a ship that was also “all class.” Today Miami and Port Everglades has become the world’s major cruise, with cruise ships operating up to a good 210,000-tons, yet the whole cruise scene was started by a ship that was more like a luxurious 6,822-ton yacht with just 350 first class only cruise passengers.

In 1963 Franca C made a rare call to Newport USA, the very place where she had been built 49 years earlier. Whilst there, she received a much deserved coat of paint!

Franca C - Photo Album One

Please Note: All images of the Franca C on Album One & Two have been sourced from Franca C brochures some of which were (originally) provided by Sven Benseler onboard the Doulos. However, the author has since obtained his own copies, as well as others as seen on this page and the new “Franca C brochures” Page. Thus ALL images are owned and © Copyright 2008 by Reuben Goossens - These images may not to be copied by any media or format and used, be it for personal use or professional purpose without prior permission obtained from the author at

A general colour Franca C brochure with cabin plan from November 1963 – Note the narrow stove pipe atop the funnel 


The San Remo Lounge/Ballroom was designed by Nino Zoncanda

The wall sculptures were made by famed artist Marcello Mascherini


The Portofino Lounge and Bar was located just aft the San Remo Lounge

This spacious room stretched from starboard to port. The Bar was on the starboard side


The Card and Games Room was located starboard aft of the Portofino Lounge

With the Writing Room located on the Port side


Gift and Duty Free Shop


This is a photo of the shop located far forward port side on Lounge deck

Taken from the 1959 brochure 


The Rapallo Restaurant

This mural was eventually removed and we have no record what happened to it after 1970


Lido Deck and Pool


Deck games – Horse racing a popular game!


The pool – Note the funnel had a narrow stove exhaust pipe, which would change to a new one in 1970.


A typical twin bedded cabin with a porthole


A fine night photograph of the Franca C

Mr & Mrs Cook take a cruise on MS Franca C in 1964.

I received an email from Ms Pamela Cook with details of her Grandparents, Mr and Mrs Joseph Cook who undertook a 13 day Caribbean cruise on the famed MS Franca C. They departed Port Everglades Florida at 3 PM on February 22, 1964. This voyage visited many colourful and fascinating ports such as; San Juan, St. Thomas, Martinique, Barbados, Grenada, La Guairá, Curacao and Nassau, returning to Port Everglades at 8 AM on March 6. The cruise was obviously a huge success as they retained a number of their menus! Upon their return home and their local (obviously a monthly edition) newspaper the “Stuart News” proudly reported on their voyage and that they had won several trophies during their cruise. In addition to this news clipping, Pamela kindly sent several menus from that voyage has had been retained over the years!

The short item in the “Stuart News”

Provided by Pamela Cook - California


Luncheon menu cover Wednesday March 4, 1964

Provided by Pamela Cook - California


 Luncheon menu cover Wednesday March 4

Provided by Pamela Cook - California


The “Adios” - “Godspeed” Captain’s Farewell Dinner menu cover - Thursday March 5

Provided by Pamela Cook - California 


“Captain’s Dinner” menu cover - Thursday March 5

Provided by Pamela Cook - California

I am most grateful to Ms Pamela Cook for providing the menus and clipping of her Grandparents voyage on the delightful MS Franca C back in 1964, I was happy to provide the actually details of the ports of call and dates as I happen to have the actual brochure of that voyage as can be seen further above, as well on the next page entitled: “Brochures” – See link at the bottom of the page.


Part Two

“The Luxury Cruise Ship” - 1970 - 1977

The new 1970 Franca C ready to cruise on – Note the new funnel configuration

Franca C continued cruising until Costa decided to retain her in European waters in 1970. With the Franca C, already a good 56 years old, the company were thinking of letting the old girl go and sell her to be scrapped. Instead, they decided that she would operate a few luxury cruises during the summer of 1970, from Genoa to the Northern European Capitals, after which she would be taken to the ship yards of Cantieri del Tirreno in Genoa, were she was given her second brand new fiat diesel engines, a four stroke, 18-cylinder unit capable of 8,100 HP.

The point was, Franca C had become so popular, Costa decided to upgrade her even further, thus her interiors received new carpets throughout, including a host of other improvements. Cabins and public rooms were again refurbished for her new role as a luxury all first class cruise ship and cabins on the lower B deck were no longer in use. Additional features were the installation of a cinema booth in the main lounge and a small casino. Her bright new contemporary interiors featured modern art works and a host of fine Italian murals. Again, Franca C was also one of the few ships in the world to have private facilities in every cabin. She was simply a fine, boutique-style, fully air-conditioned cruise ship accommodating a small number of passengers in the ultimate of luxury and style of the day! Passengers would come from afar just to sail on this gracious old lady. Her style, service and cuisine had become renowned.

Franca C - Photo Album Two

The refurbished Rapallo Restaurant with new carpets and fine ceramics

The above circle ceramic mural feature is currently located on the entrance wall of the stairwell on MV Doulos


The large blue ceramic mural on the back wall was moved and is currently in storage, we believe in Germany

In 2008, MV Doulos still uses the 1970 Franca C carpets in the Dinning Room


A Buffet feast in the Rapallo Restaurant


During the refurbishment the Portofino Bar had been moved further aft and to the external wall of the ship on the starboard side.



Above and below: All cabins were upgraded, including adding new chairs



The spacious Lido Deck seen aft of the pool


A delightful stern view of the cruise ship Franca C during her latter cruising days

Photographer unknown

On February 4, 1971, Franca C departed Venice looking fresh as she commenced a series of 14 day cruises in the Mediterranean. In 1974 she returned across the Atlantic to operate out of La Guaira, offering a series of 3 and 4 night cruises to Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Margarita, returning thereafter to Europe. However, Costa Cruises had decided to lay up the Franca C at the conclusion of the 1977 Mediterranean cruise season. However, certain passengers on Franca C’s very last cruise would soon have a decisive effect on the ships future!


A photograph of the Lido/Sun Deck taken during her final cruise

Provided by Sven Benseler & used with permission


This photograph of the Lido/Sun Deck was taken when Franca C was about to be sold

Provided by Sven Benseler & used with permission


When Franca C was sold, the sculpture from the San Remo Lounge had been relocated to another

Costa ship, but it is currently located on the 114,500 GRT (ton) Costa Concordia, built in 2006

Author’s private collection

The author’s first experience with the Franca C was in Italy in 1971, the next time he saw her would be some twenty eight years later in Sydney Australia, but she had been renamed - MV Doulos – The story continues. The Index is located below the following item!

Franca C seen in the height of her cruising career at Dubrovnik

Taken from a slide – provided by Stephen Moore Australia

Go to Franca C - Brochures1959 to 1977

View her very first Cruise Menus from Nov/Dec 1959

Also - Cabin Plan One - 1959 – 1970 & Cabin Plan Two 1970 – 1977

Next Chapter 5 - A New Role for a Grand Old Lady of the Sea - MV Doulos - 1979


Return to the Author’s – MV Doulos “A Ship Like No Other” Main Index


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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.