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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Italian Line's Leonardo Da Vinci

Another one of my favorite ships is Italian Line's sleek and modern Leonardo da Vinci of 1960. Built as a replacement for the lost Andre Doria, the Leonardo da Vinci was a new design of ship. Maintaining the centrally located funnel, she has the right proportions and her sleek bow gave her a distinctive profile.

Build by Ansaldo Shipyard in Italy, the modest size 33,340 ton ship was 764 feet long. She began her maiden Voyage on June 30, 1960. She was primarily used on the New York to Genoa run along side the Cristoforo Columbo.

When delivered, the Leonardo had a dark colored hull, but as the ship was use more extensively for cruising, her hull was painted white.

An interesting fact about the Leonardo is that she was constructed with the intent that one day she could be converted to Nuclear power. Unfortunately this never happened.

As time passed, the ship was used on Caribbean cruises but Italian Line kept returning to the transatlantic trade unwilling to let go of its roots. The Leonardo da Vinci's Caribbean cruises became seasonal and sometimes erratic, with Italian Line cancelling Caribbean sailings and replacing them with Transatlantic voyages. The Leonardo was the final Italian Line liner on the transatlantic route in 1976 outliving her sisters - Michelangelo and Raffaello, who were laid up in 1975. In June 1976, the Leonardo da Vinci was also laid up.

In 1977, she returned to service from Miami to the Bahamas on 3 and 4 day cruises with Costa Cruises serving as her general agents. Unfortuantley the Leonardo consumed more fuel tied up at her berth than most newer ships consumed under full speed. Her life on this route was short lived and she returned to La Spezia, Italy in September 1978 where she was laid up.

The Leonardo was laid up until July 4, 1980 when a mysterious fire erupted on-board the ship quickly engulfing the entire ship. After 4 days of burning, the Leonardo was a total constructional loss. What a tragic end to this wonderful ship.

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