SS Amerikanis

Amerikanis, formerly Kenya Castle, was a UK-built steam turbine ocean liner that became a Greek-owned cruise ship.

The ship in her mid-1960s form as Kenya Castle
United Kingdom
Name: Kenya Castle
Owner: Union-Castle Line (1952–67)
Operator: Union-Castle Line (1952–67)
Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Launched: 21 June 1951
Completed: February 1952
Maiden voyage: March 1952
Renamed: 1967
Identification: IMO number: 5185398
Fate: sold
Name: Amerikanis
Owner: Chandris Lines (1967–2000)
  • Chandris Lines (1967–80)
  • Costa Cruises (1980–84)
  • Chandris Lines (1984–96)
Acquired: 1967
Identification: IMO number: 5185398
Fate: Scrapped in 2001
General characteristics
Tonnage: 19,904 GRT
Length: 576 ft (176 m)
Beam: 74 ft 3 in (22.63 m)
Draft: 26 ft 6 in (8.08 m) [1]
Decks: 8[1]
Speed: 17.5 knots (32.4 km/h) (service speed)
Capacity: 920 (from 1967)
Crew: 400
Notes: sister ships: Rhodesia Castle, Braemar Castle


Harland and Wolff built Kenya Castle in Belfast, Northern Ireland, completing her in 1952 for the Union-Castle Line of London England. She had one-class accommodation for about 530 passengers, and considerable refrigerated and general cargo capacity. She was the second of a trio of sister ships built between 1950–53; the others being Rhodesia Castle and Braemar Castle.

Passenger and cargo service to Africa

Kenya Castle began service on Union-Castle's route around Africa from London in March 1952. However by 1962, due to dwindling patronage, the voyages were terminated at Durban, South Africa. Kenya Castle and her sister ships then retraced their (now all eastward) journeys back to Britain via the Suez Canal. During an early 1960s refit the passenger complement was reduced to 446, while technical upgrades included the ship's funnel being raised by the fitting of a streamlined, ventilated dome.

Faced with continual decline in demand for its services, Union-Castle withdrew all three sister ships from the Africa trade in 1965–67, each vessel having operated for around 15 years. Kenya Castle was laid up in the River Blackwater, Essex in early 1967, while her sisters went for scrap.

Conversion and cruising career

In July 1967 the Chandris shipping family, (now Celebrity Cruises) bought Kenya Castle and renamed her Amerikanis ("American maiden"). She went to Greece to be refitted as a full-time cruise ship. Her cargo holds were replaced with additional cabins, increasing passenger capacity to about 920. She became known for being the first passenger ship to have a television in every cabin. All public rooms were refurbished in contemporary European style. Her hull was repainted white. Other than the removal of cargo handling gear, Amerikanis retained much of her original profile.

While intended to work trans-Atlantic cruises in her first season, delays to her refit caused Amerikanis to go directly into an autumn 1968 programme between New York and Bermuda. She later moved to the Caribbean, based at Puerto Rico for the northern winter and operating Mediterranean Sea cruises in the summer. Retaining her name, Amerikanis was leased to the Italian operators Costa Cruises (vessel remained owned by Chandris) from 1980–84. For this charter her funnel was re-painted yellow with Costa's trademark blue "C". After regaining the distinctive white Chandris "X" ("Ch" – for Chandris – in the Greek alphabet) on her blue funnel, Amerikanis served for another 12 years.


In 1996 Amerikanis was laid up in Greece while decisions were made about her future. Nothing materialized and she was sold for scrap in either 2000 or 2001.

  • "Photographic Memories of Working on Chandris Lines". Retrieved 26 November 2006. by a former employee


  1. Ward, Douglas (1995). Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships. Oxford: Berlitz. ISBN 2-8315-1327-8.
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