I had the privilege of working on the SS Britanis, a luxury ocean liner launched on 10 October 1931.
It was the third of the four ships of the Matson Lines “White Fleet“ and I was part of the crew from October 1994 to November 1994. Working on the Britanis was a unique experience for me as it was my first cruise ship.
During the time I was there, we completely cleaned up the casino, wrapped up everything and took it ashore. The SS Britanis was a magnificent ship, with beautiful interiors and luxurious cabins.
It served as a troopship during World War II and was later used as a cruise ship in the Caribbean during winter and Europe during the summer. In May 1982, the Britanis cruised between New York and Bermuda with a smaller capacity of 1,200 passengers.
In 1986, the Britanis underwent a major overhaul and was given parts from her sister Ellinis (ex–Lurline) and Homeric (ex–Mariposa). She served another eight years of Caribbean cruising until 19 November 1994, when she was chartered by the US Government as a floating barracks for military personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Sadly, after being maintained in Anchorage until 1998, when she was sold to AG Belofin Investments of Liechtenstein and renamed Belofin–1, the Britanis was sold to scrappers in 2000.
During the voyage, the ship took on water and listed, and was eventually cut free by the towboat crew only to capsize and sink some 50 nautical miles south of Cape Town, South Africa on 21 October 2000.
To this day, I still have a soft spot for the SS Britanis, for it was the first cruise ship I ever worked on. The experience provided me with a wealth of knowledge and shaping of my career, and I’ll always remember my time working on the ship with fondness.