The ShipWatcher Blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New MAP Feature

I've added a new facility to Shipwatcher so that you can see a map that shows the locations of all the ships that are in the database.

When you click on the "Map" link on any of the Shipwatcher pages, you will see a Google Map that shows blue pins for each ship for which we have info.

If you click on that blue pin, you'll see some recent data, and a recent photo from the ship's webcam.

Why can't all software projects be as much fun as this?

Please let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fairsea - ASC

Fairsea - ASC
Originally uploaded by MagicTyger
A replica of an old Fairsea postcard I purchased while at the National Maritime Museum.

This is from the era shortly after World War 2 when she was bought by Alvion.

An interesting comparison to this postcard from Lesley that I wrote about earlier this week:

Old Cunard Postcard

Originally uploaded by MagicTyger
A beautiful replica of an old Cunard postcard showing RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth that I recently purchased from the National Maritime Museum.

The golden era of Ocean Liners!

VQE2 - A new page for QE2.

I've added a new page to Shipwatcher dedicated to QE2. shows the Queen Elizabeth 2's virtual webcam. The pictures on the webcam update every one or two minutes, and show webcam pictures that have been captured from some of her many journeys.

I've also gathered all of the Shipwatcher videos of QE2 on the same page so you can watch them without having to search through youtube.

For those of you who haven't guessed it yet, VQE2 stands for Virtual Queen Elizabeth 2. is a much easier way for you to get to the webcam photos for this great ocean liner.

If you have any QE2 webcam photos you'd like to add, please contact me at mail [at} Shipwatcher {d0t] c0m. I'll gladly give you credit for the photo on the main page.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pacific Dawn

Pacific Dawn
Originally uploaded by MagicTyger
A Postcard from CruiseCritic friends Kym and Martin.

Originally built in 1991 at the Fincatieri shipyard in Italy, she was named "Regal Princess", and operated as part of the Princess Cruise Line until 2007.

She was sold to P&O Australia in 2007 and renamed "Pacific Dawn". She currently operates out of Sydney and cruises the South Pacific.

This postcard was sent via Tin Can Mail at Tin Can Island in Tonga.

Ellinis, Fairsea

Postcards from CruiseCritic friend Lesley. Thanks Lesley!

Chandris liner Ellinis circa 1971.

This one makes a lovely match to another postcard I have of Ellinis here:

The "X" on the funnels is a greek "Chi" and stands for "Chandris" - she was part of the Chandris line.

This was the ship that my family migrated to Australia aboard in 1965. She carried many migrants to Australia in her time.

Built in 1932, she was originally named "Lurline" of the Matson line, and had distinguished herself during WW2 serving as a troop carrier, and was fortunate to have left Pearl Harbour in 1941 about 3 days prior to the Japanese attack.

Former Australian PM John Curtin sailed on her as part of a voyage to meet with President Roosevelt.

She was scrapped in the 1980's and parts of her were cannibalized for use on "Britanis" another Chandris ship.

She may not be as pretty as some of the more modern ships, but with a history of over 50 years she touched the lives of many people who, todoay, would probably never have had the chance to cruise.

Sitmar liner Fairsea.
You can read a more detailed history of Sitmar ships here:

Fairsea was built in 1941, and originally named "Rio de la Plato". She was taken over by the Royal Navy in 1941, renamed "HMS Charger" and fitted out as an aircraft carrier. She was later handed over to the US Navy who renamed her "USS Charger" after which she spent most of her war service in the Pacific.

Purchased by Alvion Steam Ship Corporation in 1949, she was converted into a Passenger Liner, and renamed "Fairsea", and operated as a Passenger Liner and Cruise Ship until 1969 when she was eventually broken up for scrap.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Added: More QE2 Photos

I've added several hundred more webcam pictures of QE2 in Edinburgh and Rotterdam. I've also added the remainder of the Panama Canal Transit.

That takes the total QE2 photos to over one thousand.

I still have quie a few more to add.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Added: More QE2 Webcam photos

I've added several hundred QE2 webcam images from her last visit to Sydney, and her east-bound approach to the Panama Canal. I've just completed a bulk upload facility so I should be able to add more images more quickly over the next few weeks.

FIXED: Photo page was running slow.

The Photos page was taking ages to load.

I've fixed this problem by improving the way the database is organized, so you won't have to wait so long for the photos page to load, or to do any searches.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Ile de France"

Originally uploaded by MagicTyger

"Ile de France", French Line. Built 1927. A Postcrossing Postcard from Maren who lives in the west of Germany on the River Rhine.

The "Ile de France" was the first major ocean liner built after WW1, and was entirely decorated with Art Deco designs. She was considered the most beautifully decorated ship built until the SS Normandie.

Her dining room was said to be magnificent - three decks high, with a grand staircase.

She boasted a gymnasium, shooting gallery, a gothic style chapel and merry-go-round/

Her entrance foyer was four decks high, and cabins boasted beds instead of bunks.

She was the fastest mailship of her time. Not because of excessive speed, but because she had a sea-plane catapult at her stern. When the ship was within 200 miles of land, she would launch the mail in a seaplane. Thus the mail would arrive sooner than if it had stayed aboard the ship.

She had a distinguished record in World War 2, on loan to the British admiiralty.

She was eventually sold to Japansese scrap merchants in 1959.

What a grand old ship.

Thanks for the postcard, Maren!

More info:

Friday, December 12, 2008

New: QE2 Virtual Webcam

The big news in the last month is that QE2 is no longer in service.

Normally I'd remove the webcam from ShipWatcher because it's not transmitting live pictures any more.

But QE2 is special, so I've modified her webcam to show images from our archives of webcam images. Rather than showing what's happening now, her webcam on ShipWatcher will show images from her previous voyages.

QE2's "virtual" webcam still updates every two minutes, and the pictures are in chronological order. So as far as possible, it looks like a live webcam.

I have a few thousand images to add to the archives over the next few weeks to make the experience more realistic.

If you have any copies of QE2 webcam photos that you'd like to share on ShipWatcher, please let me know and I'll give you info about how you can add your pictures.

Please have a look at QE2's virtual webcam and let me know what you think - if there are any problems, or if it doesn't behave as expected.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New webcam Photo Database

I have just completed the webcam photo database.

Instead of uploading photos to Flickr, ShipWatcher now stores photos in a database and lets you search it.

Click on the "Photos" link on the right hand side to see what it looks like.

You can search by ship name, company, port of call, etc, and see where the ship was at any point in time in the past.

At present the images only go back a few weeks, but I'll be adding more webcam photos from my archives soon. Plus I'll be giving you the ability to add your own photos.

I'll be enhancing this over the next few weeks to add a lot more fun things.

Please try it out and let me know how I can improve it.

This move was forced upon me because the folks at Flickr deleted all my photos without warning, and have yet to give me a specific reason.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Two beautiful old ships

Marco PoloP&O Fair Princess

Here's a couple of postcards that Shiona from Cruise Critic sent me.

Marco Polo
Built in the old communist East Germany in 1965 as the "Alexandr Pushkin", she was renamed "MS Marco Polo" in 1991 when she was purchased by Orient Lines. At just under 20,000 tonnes, and 176m long, she was capabile of carrying about 650 passengers. Some unusual things about her: Some cabins had six berths. All cabins had an outside view. Bathrooms had 3 taps: Hot, Cold and Seawater. She also had a reinforced hull to allow navigation through ice. She also was built with potential military use in mind. Her larger than usual storage capacity meant a cruising range of over 10,000 nautical miles.

Fair Princess
Originally built in 1955 for Cunard as "RMS Carinthia", she sailed under a myriad of names: Fairland (1968 - 1970), Fairsea (1970 - 1988), Fair Princess (1988 - 2000), Emerald Fortune (2000 - 2001), China Sea Discovery (2001 - 2005), Sea Discovery (2005 - 2006). Weighing in at almost 22,000 tonnes, she was 185m long and could carry about 1,300 passengers. She was build in the same shipyard as QE2 (John Brown & Co, Clydebank), and was eventually broken up for scrap at Alang in India.