MS Astor is a cruise ship owned by the Germany-based Premicon, under charter to the Germany-based Transocean Tours. She operates voyages to Europe, South Africa, and Australia. She is due to leave the Transocean Tours fleet in May 2021 and be refurbished and renamed to Jules Verne. From May 2021, she will sail out of Le Havre and Marseille for Cruise & Maritime Voyages's new French brand.
Astor departing from Fremantle Harbour, 2016
|Namesake:||Fyodor Dostoevsky (2nd name)|
|Port of registry:|
|Builder:||HDW, Kiel, West Germany|
|Launched:||30 May 1986|
|Acquired:||14 January 1987|
|Maiden voyage:||14 January 1987|
|In service:||14 January 1987|
|Length:||176.25 m (578 ft 3 in)|
|Beam:||22.60 m (74 ft 2 in)|
|Draught:||6.15 m (20 ft 2 in)|
|Decks:||7 (passenger accessible)|
|Speed:||18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)|
The ship was built in 1987 under the name Astor by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), Kiel in West Germany for the Mauritius-based Marlan Corporation, although originally ordered by the South African Safmarine as a combined ocean liner/cruise ship for the Southampton-Cape Town service.
In 1988, she was sold to the Soviet Union-based Black Sea Shipping Company and renamed Fedor Dostoevskiy (some sources spell the name Fedor Dostoyevskiy, Russian: Фёдор Достое́вский), but spent her time under charter to various West German cruise lines. In 1995, she reverted to the name, Astor. Since 1996, she has been under charter to Transocean Tours.
Concept and construction
The South African Safmarine had restarted ocean liner service between Southampton and Cape Town in 1984 by acquiring the 1981-built cruise ship Astor from the West German Hadag Cruise Line. In service the first Astor's engines proved too underpowered to maintain liner service. As a result, Safmarine decided to order a new ship in 1985 from the HDW shipyard in Kiel, based on the same design as the 1981 Astor (which had been built at HDW's yard at Hamburg) but with additional facilities and more powerful engines, making her better suited for liner operations as well as cruising. Confusingly the new ship was also decided to be named Astor. Even though the second Astor was not to be delivered until 1987, the first Astor was sold to the East German Deutsche Seerederei (via a West German intermediary) in 1985. Soon after this Safmarine decided to abandon their passenger operations, and in January 1986 the second Astor's construction contract was sold to the Mauritius-based Marlan Corporation. The ship was launched from dry dock on 30 May 1986 and delivered to the Marlan Corporation on 14 January 1987.
Immediately following delivery on 14 January 1987, the Astor set on her maiden voyage from Hamburg to Genoa and from there further to South America. After this she was used for cruising on the Caribbean and to other destinations around the world.
1988–1995: Fedor Dostoevskiy
On 3 October 1988 Marlan Corporation sold the Astor to the Soviet Union-based Black Sea Shipping Company. Renamed Feodor Dostoevskiy and re-registered to the Soviet Union, the ship was chartered to the West German Transocean Tours in December 1988. She stayed in Transocean Tours service until March 1990, when she was chartered to Neckermann Seereisen. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Feodor Dostoevskiy's ownership was transferred to Fedor Dostoevskiy Shipping Co., a Bahamas-based company, and reregistered to the Bahamas. Apart from the change of flag, this had no effect in her operations.
1995 onwards: Astor (again)
Following the end of Feodor Dostoevskiy's charter to Neckermann Seereisen, she was chartered to Aquamarin in December 1995 and reverted to the name Astor. In 1996 the ship was sold to Astor Shipping Co., and again chartered to Transocean Tours. At some point prior to 2008 her owners changed to the Germany-based Premicon, but she continues under charter to Transocean. According to a company statement, Transocean Tours are planning to retain the Astor in their fleet at least until 2013.
On 28 November 2008, the German Navy reportedly prevented Somalian pirate speedboats from attacking Astor. She was sailing in the Gulf of Oman en route from Sharm-al-Sheikh in Egypt to Dubai, when the German Brandenburg-class frigate Mecklenburg-Vorpommern detected pirate speedboats apparently attempting to attack Astor. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern entered the path of the oncoming speedboats while they were still some three miles from Astor. Warning bursts of machine gun fire were used to ward off the threat without those on the cruise ship becoming aware of the situation.
Astor has recently been chartered for three years commencing in 2013 by Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) in a bid to fill the "gap" in the Australian market after the exit of Classic International Cruises. Astor is scheduled to embark on a visit from Europe, in addition to several around Australia and short cruises before arriving back in Europe in time for the European Summer.
Recently, Cruise & Maritime Voyages purchased the vessel from its bankrupt owners, Premicon. The vessel is planned to sail a winter 2015 season with Cruise & Maritime Voyages before briefly moving back to the fleet of Transocean Tours where she will sail a summer season from Germany before switching back to CMV for the winter 2016 season.
Externally, the 1987-built Astor was designed to be almost identical to the 1981-built Astor, but approximately 12 metres (39 ft) longer. Due to the similar design the ships were distinguishable only due to the additional windows below the first lifeboat on the 1987 ship. Both Astors were designed with a sharply raked bow, a relatively low, terraced superstructure and a large, square funnel.
In Marlan Corporation service, the Astor was initially painted with a white hull and superstructure, a red decorative stripe separating the hull and superstructure, and red/blue funnel with a large white cross painted on it alongside the letters ML. This was later altered so that the decorative stripe was extended to cover the entire lowest superstructure deck, while the funnel was painted white with red stripes. As Feodor Dostoevskiy, the decorative stripe on the hull reverted to the same form as in the original livery, while the funnel was painted white with blue exhaust pipes and a wide red stripe with the hammer and sickle emblem on it.
In Transocean Tours service the ship received a livery with a narrower light/dark blue decorative stripe on the hull, a white funnel with blue exhaust pipes, a thin light/dark blue stripe with Transocean Tours' large T logo in the middle.
As with the exterior, the interior layout and decorations of the 1987-built Astor were very similar to the 1981-built Astor, down to the bathroom fittings. However, the 1987-built ship was designed with a larger number of suites, improved crew quarters, an added casino and added conference facilities.
Like the 1981-built ship, the 1987-built Astor was furnished in traditional style using large amounts of dark wood, with many of the public rooms having high ceilings. The author Douglas Ward described the ship as having "a certain degree of style, comfort and elegance".
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- Message #6 27.10.2011, 13:31 Archived 26 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine (in Russian)
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- "German Frigate Chases Off Pirates". Spiegel Online International. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 December 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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- Bröking, Klaus (2007). MS Astor - MS Astoria: eine deutsche Geschichte (in German). Königswinter: Heel. ISBN 9783898807951.
- Transocean History about Ms Astor & Ms Astoria & Saga Pearl 2
- Transocean Tours official website for Astor