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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Emerald Seas - Another of My Favorites

One of my favorite ships of all time is Eastern Steamship Lines (Later Admiral Cruises) S/S Emerald Seas.

Originally built as the troop transport, General W.P. Richardson she was launched on August 6th 1944. She was constructed by Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co, in Kearny, New Jersey.

After serving as a troop transport she was Laid up in March 1948.

Eventually she was chartered by American Export Lines from the US government. The ship was refitted at Ingalls shipyard, Pascagoula, Mississippi at a cost of $5 million. She was renamed LaGuardia and sailed on her maiden voyage on May 27, 1949, from New York to the Mediterranean. She continued sailing from New York the Mediterranean until 1951.

In December 1951, the LaGuardia was returned to the government and laid up in the James River Reserve Fleet.

In 1955 she was sold to the Hawaiian Steam Ship Company, Textron Inc, The LaGuardia received another refit and was renamed Leilani for California to Hawaii Service. Her maiden voyage was from San Francisco to Honolulu on February 5, 1957, and she sailed this route for two years.

The ship was laid up again and eventually taken over by the government.

The Leilani was purchased by American President Lines on July 25, 1960. The ship was sent to Puget Sound Drydock in Seattle for an $8 million refit

Emerging as the President Roosevelt, she sailed from Seattle to San Francisco May 10, 1962, and then from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Yokohama, Japan on May 11, 1962.

After 8 years of sailing for American President Lines, the President Roosevelt was sold to Chandris in 1970 for $1.8 million dollars. The ship underwent a refitted at Perama, Greece for $8.5 million dollars. The entire refit was managed by Chandris' in house refitting team. In June of 1971 the President Roosevelt emerged as the sleek and modern Atlantis. She was immediately deployed to weekly service between New York and Nassau - competing with Home Line's Oceanic on this popular route.

In October 1972 the Atlantis was sold to Eastern Steamship Lines and renamed the Emerald Seas. The ship was very popular on the 3 and 4 day cruise circuit from Miami to the Bahamas. Her fuel hungry engines were somewhat economical on the short cruises which kept her tied to the pier most of the time. Her last cruise as the SS Emerald Seas left Port Everglades on 20th February 1992.

In 1992 the Emerald Seas was purchased by Festival Cruises, sailing between Egypt and Israel as the Sapphire Seas. She was later laid up at Piraeus in October 1994.

She was later sold to Majesty International Cruises of Greece in 1998 and was renamed Ocean Explorer I. She was used as a hotel ship and later found a charter in May 2000, with The World Cruise Company of Canada. She was taken out on service in the middle of one of her world cruises and laid up at Eleusis, Greece on March 25 2000. Again her fuel hungry engines made her un-economical on the long cruises and many days at sea experienced during world cruises.

Sold to Indian breakers in July 2004, the Ocean Explorer I, she left Greece under tow in late November. The Emerald Seas was driven up on the beaches of Alang India on December 11, 2004 for scrapping to commence.


  1. This was the first ship I cruised on and my first love. Many many cruises later, she still remains fondly in my memory! Cruising was so different then, wish it was still like that

  2. My wife and I cruised on this ship for our honeymoon, October, 1988. It was marvelous to two kids from Kentucky. We cruised with Disney in 2008 for our 20th anniversary, the only other cruise we have ever taken.

  3. In 1988 I won a 3 night bahama cruise, not sure what month we went. I took my mom. This was also my first cruise. I have many fond memories of the Emerald Seas. My wife and I gave sailed many times, however the Emerald was and is my favorite.

  4. In 1975 my mom and dad returned from a trip to Nassau and told us of a "giant" cruise ship that was in port. As big as a hotel on water. That's when I fell in love of crusing. That next year, 1976 ( my wife and I were 23) I booked a three night cruise on the emerald seas. Back then crusing on a ship was a big deal, it made the local papers. We could not believe how "big" it was, it's own swimming pool, amazing dinning, review shows, a casino. You dressed for dinner every night, you ate breakfast lunch and dinner in the dinning room, the midnight Buffett was not like anything we had ever seen. Since then I've been on over 50 cruises. My next one is August to Cuba. Today is nothing like back then, when they combined short cruises with ocean liner service and food. I miss those days .

  5. Sailed on the Emerald Seas summer of 1979. Great memories. I remember another class from North Carolina was there as well. We were from Moultrie Ga. Does anybody know how big this ship was? Seemed to me to be so big at the time. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks in advance!

    1. The ship was 19,000 gross registered tons. The smallest ship now is 80,000 tons.

    2. Thanks Jim. In 1979 the ship was huge! Appreciate the information.

  6. Looking now to send the family on a cruise this Christmas. Which cruise line offers the best in terms of service and food like the days of old? Thanks in advance for any response.

  7. I sailed on the Emerald Seas when I was a kid in the 80's. There was a fire and explosions on board and we had to cut our trip short. It was a scary experience, but I still love going on cruises.