The ShipWatcher Blog

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pacific Jewel

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I was at a restaurant in Sydney yesterday and just happened to see Pacific Jewel leaving port on her maiden voyage for P&O Australia . Here’s a few photos I took with my mobile phone. It was a gloomy day, and I’m sure everyone on board was glad to be heading north into sunnier weather.

But any time of year, Milson’s point is a pretty place with some spectacular views – especially if you love ships!

Pacific Jewel, (formerly known as Crown Princess, A’Rosa Blu, AIDAblu, Ocean Village Two).

Built in 1990.

Tonnage 69,845 GRT

Length 245m

Beam 32.5m

Draught 7.9m

Capacity 1990 passengers

Pacific Jewel

Pacific JewelPacific JewelPacific Jewel

Pacific JewelPacific JewelPacific Jewel

Pacific JewelPacific JewelPacific Jewel

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Ships – Ocean Village & Ocean Village 2

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I’ve added Ocean Village and Ocean Village 2 to ShipWatcher.

They’ll soon be transferred to P&O’s Australian fleet, but by adding them now, you’ll be able to watch them on their final voyages for their current company.

You can follow them here:

Ocean Village on ShipWatcher

Ocean Village 2 on ShipWatcher

Ocean VillageOcean Village Two

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hindenburg LZ-129

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A Postcard from Dan in Georgia. Dan is a kindred spirit who loves Ships, Airships Old Aircraft and postcards.

Thanks for the fantastic postcards, Dan. I’ve sent a couple more in reply.


Length: 245m

Beam: 41m

Payload: 500,000 pounds

Cruising speed: 125km/h

Max speed:: 135 km/h

Passengers: 50 crew, 72 passengers

Much has been written about this amazing airship. You can see some great pictures of the interior and read more about her at Dan’s site:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

MV Italia

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GRT 20,223

Length 609 Feet

Breadth 78 Feet

Built by Blohm & Voss of Hamburg in 1928 for Swedish American Line (SAL) she was named “Kungsholm”. She ran on the North Atlantic route between Europe and North America in the 1930’s.

She was requisitioned by the US Government during World War II and renamed “John Ericsson”. During the war she operated as a troop carrier and took part in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day in 1944.

Sold to Home Lines in 1948, she was refitted and renamed “Italia”. She served until 1964 when she was sold to Freeport Bahama Enterprises who renamed her “Imperial Bahama” and used her as a floating hotel.

She was sold for scrap in 1965.

This is a Postcard from Dan in Georgia. Dan is a kindred spirit who loves Ships, Airships Old Aircraft and postcards. He runs the AirShips.Net website dedicated to the Hindenburg and other Zeppelins.

Thanks for the fantastic postcards, Dan. I’ve sent a couple more in reply!

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Ship: Carnival Dream

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Carnival Dream

I’ve added Carnival’s latest ship, Carnival Dream to ShipWatcher.

At over 1000 feet in length, Dream is the largest ship in Carnival’s fleet.

She was built by Fincatieri in Italy, and leaves on her maiden voyage today, from Civitavecchia near Rome.

Even though you might not be able to be there on her maiden voyage, you can still enjoy the view from your computer screen and follow the voyage of Carnival Dream via ShipWatcher.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Schütte-Lanz Airship Over Warsaw

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Schütte-Lanz Airship Bombing Warsaw


An old WWI propaganda postcard I bought recently which shows Schütte-Lanz Airship SL2 bombing Warsaw in 1914.

The SL2 was 144 metres in length, but she was later extended to 156 meters, with a beam of 18 metres.

She could carry a payload of 8 to 10 tonnes at about 88km/h (47 knots).

“What’s an airship doing in a ShipWatcher blog” you may ask? Especially in a wartime setting. The Schütte-Lanz Airships were the precursors of the more well-known Zeppelins of the 1920’s and 30’s. The ship in this picture (and it IS a ship – even if it does fly) is about the same length as a small to medium sized cruise ship.

In fact, later designs of the Schütte-Lanz Airship reached a length of 275 metres – about the same size as a modern ocean liner, although these later designs were never actually built.

The most famous relative of these flying ships was the ill-fated Hindenburg. A Zeppelin measuring 245 metres in length, capable of carrying 70 passengers at speeds over 130km/h (70 knots). On one flight in 1936, the Hindenberg carried a specially designed aluminium grand piano – the first ever piano to be carried in flight.

Airship technology is now over a century old. Who knows? Perhaps soon we’ll have modern safer airships conducting cruises similar to those of the 1930’s.

Queen Mary 2 in Hamburg

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A postcrossing post card from Claus in Hamburg.

Claus says that when QM2 is in town, people go crazy, and over a million people may watch her.

She looks beautiful, Claus.

Thanks for the postcard!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

NYK Kamo Maru

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smh 13 Nov 1931

nyk ad sydney Mail 11 Jul 1934

Kamo Maru  Leaving Pinkenba 04.06.1934

An old photo from fellow cruising adict and friend, Jo.

Kamo Maru was built in 1908 for Nippon Yusen Kaisha line, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi.

Although there is no official record available, she was probably built in the shipyards of Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Ltd, in Nagasaki.

At just over 8,500 GRT and 470 feet long, she operated as a passenger, cargo and mail ship, regularly visiting Australia, China and other Asian ports.  In fact, as you can see from the ad from the Sydney Mail, NYK offered regular cruises out of Melbourne and Sydney via Queensland, Thursday Island, Phillippines and Hong Kong to Japan.

In 1931 The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Kamo Maru had to drop off a passenger from Shanghai who had been diagnosed with Smallpox. The ship was then quarrantined for several weeks at North Head in Sydney while the passengers were monitored to see if anyone else contracted the disease.

In 1936 she was involved in a collision at sea with another vessel while sailing to Sydney.

She continued to visit Australia until the outbreak of war with Japan in 1941.

In July 1944, the submarine USS Tinosa torpedoed and sank Kamo Maru in the East China Sea west of Kyushu. 

Thanks for the fascinating photo, Jo!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Primexpress / Karina

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A postcrossing post card from Judit in Belgium

The ship in the picture is “Carina” (you might be able to see the name КАРИНА in cyrillic on her bow).

Length: 122m, 7600GRT, 328 passengers.

She is currently known as “Rochale One” and operates as a static ship for student accommodation in Amsterdam.

She was built in Nantes, France in 1977 for the then Soviet government and named “Aywasowski”. She operated cruises out of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

She was renamed Carina after she was bought by German company Phoenix Reisen in 1997. She changed hands again in 2000 and was renamed “Primexpress Island”, operating out of Cyprus.

The ship was impounded in the port of Limassol (Cyprus) because of unpaid bills.

She was eventually purchased by a consortium of three Dutch housing companies acquired the vessel, towed it to Amsterdam and configured it for use as hotel accommodation for students.

Her engines are kept in working order, so she is capable of sailing as and when needed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Regal Princess in Vladivostok

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A postcrossing postcard from Alla who lives in Vladivostok and actually studies at the University of Southern Qld.

Vladivostok is Russia’s largest pacific sea port, and home to the Russian Pacific Fleet. It is located near to the Russian border with China and North Korea.

Among the numerous naval vessels, you can see two cruise ships. The one on the left is Regal Princess, which was renamed Pacific Dawn in 2007. I am not able to name the cruise ship on the right.  My friend Geoff from Oz Cruise Club tells me the ship on the right is Norwegian Wind (now Superstar Aquarius), which cruises the Asia Pacific region most of the year.

Thanks for the postcard, Alla!

HINT: Click on the image if you’d like to see a larger version

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

RMS Baltic

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A Postcard from Miry.

RMS Baltic is the twin funnelled ship whose stern is visibile in the picture.

At the time she was built in 1903, RMS Baltic was the largest ship in the world, with a GRT of 23,876 and a length of over 222 metres.

She was the third of a set of four ships dubbed “The Big Four”, abd built for the famous White Star line by Harland and Wolff in Belfast – the same yard that made RMS Titanic.

Her maiden voyage was from Liverpool (the port seen in the picture) to New York in 1904. Her Captain, Edward J Smith was later to be the captain of RMS Titanic in 1912.

In 1909 she rescued survivors of the collision between another White Star Liner, RMS Republic, and SS Florida off the coast of Newfoundland.

In 1912 she transmitted ice warnings to RMS Titanic before that ship’s fateful collision with an iceberg.

In 1929 she rescured passengers of the sinking ship, Northern Light.

She was scrapped in Osaka in 1933.

This postcard was mailed in 1928 from Liverpool to France (see reverse side for details).

So much history in one postcard. How wonderful!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

SS Orford

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A postcard from Grant in South Australia.

Built for Orient Lines in 1928, SS Orford was loaned to France during WW2 as a troop carrier. She ran aground in Marseilles while evacuating troops in 1940. It took seven years for her to be refloated, after which she was scrapped.

She made many journeys between Australia and England in the 1930’s. In 1934 she carried Don Bradman’s cricket team “The Invincibles” from Australia to England along with the Australian Davis Cup tennis team.

RMS Orion / SS Orion

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23,300 GRT, and 203m in length.

A postcard from Grant in South Australia.

Built as RMS Orion by Vickers Armstrong in 1934, she was the first single-funnelled ship to be built for the Orient Line since the turn of the century. She was also the first ship to be painted in the Orient Line’s corn-colored livery, sporting a pale yellow hull.

She was the first British ship to ever have air-conditioning. In fact her entire interior design was ground-breaking in that she departed from the formal english styles found in wealthy British homes of the time, and adapted a more open-air and spacious layout that was better suited to tropical cruising. Wide promenade decks, slideing glass doors, removable walls, and chromium / bakelite fittings made her feel roomier and breezier, which was a welcome relief in the hot ahd humid tropics.

She was launched by the Duke of Gloucester. But, unusually, he was in Brisbane at the time, and the ship was in Lancashire, UK. He launched the ship by pressing a button in Brisbane, which transmitted a radio signal to the dockyards untimatley causing the ship to slide down the slipway into the water – quite revolutionary for the 1930’s.

She served as a troopship during the second world war, and was involved in a damaging collision with Battleship HMS Revenge when Revenge’s steering gear jammed.

She had an extensive fit-out after the WW2, and voyaged to Australia and the USA.

The National Archives of Australia record that she brought many immigrants to Australia during the late 1940’s, and the 1950’s, eventually being broken up fopr scrap in 1963.

What a fascinating history.

Friday, July 31, 2009

New Instant Slideshows!

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I’ve upgraded ShipWatcher so you can view slideshows of recent images for any ship.

If you have a look under each image, you’ll see a new green arrow that looks like this:

The new

The new "Play Slideshow" but for all ships

Click on that arrow, and you’ll see slideshow of recent images from the database.

ShipWatcher keeps a photo archive of interesting photos from each webcam, but it doesn’t record ALL photos.  So if some of the photos you see in the slideshow are older than you expect, that’s because it’s been a while since ShipWatcher automatically captured any photos from it.  The best way to make sure there are more photos in the archive is to click on the Camera button () and manually take some photos.

You can run slideshows for several ships at once, but the more ships you select, the longer it will take to display a new picture.

While the SlideShow is running, the green arrow will change to a “Stop” button that looks like this:

Click on the Stop button to stop the SlideShow.  The most recent image from the camera will then be displayed.

It took me a while to work out how to do this, so if you use it, please let me know.  If I know that people are using some of these new things, I’ll add more fun toys!

Why don’t you try it out now?

Monday, July 27, 2009

New Webcams: Crystal Serenity / Crystal Symphony

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Thanks to Robert Heuman for suggesting we add ships from Crystal Cruises.

Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony are now available on ShipWatcher. They have three webcams each: forward, port and starboard.

Friday, July 17, 2009

We've Moved!

This blog has moved!

The new address is

Please update your browser and RSS reader to the new links. All of our existing articles have moved too.

I'm now using WordPress as my blogging platform, and really like it.

If you've got any comments or suggestions, please let us know.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Suomen Joutsen

A Postcrossing postcard from Anne in Finland.

The three masted, full rigged "Suomen Joutsen" was built in 1902. She has a steel hull and plied the trade routes between ports in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Since this was before the days of the Panama Canal, this means she frequently passed through the treacherous waters of Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America.

In 1930, the Finnish Navy purchased this beautiful ship for use as a Training Vessel.

From the mid 1950's she was a stationery seamen's training vessel, but in 1991 she was purchased by the city of Turku and operates as a museum.

What a beautiful grand lady of the sea. And what a gorgeous painting by Håkan Sjöström.

Thanks Anne. You made my day!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Minor fixes to ShipWatcher

Some of the ShipWatcher features weren't working when you viewed the site using the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE8), so I've fixed those problems.

Basically if you held your mouse over a webcam image, you were supposed to then see information about the ship. This didn't work in IE8. While I was testing this, I found out it wasn't working properly when you used the Firefox brower either.

ShipWatcher should work fine with these browsers now. If it doesn't, please let me know.

I've also applied these fixes to VQE2.COM - the Virtual QE2 webcam site.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Something Old, Something New

Two postcards I came across this week which highlight how ocean travel has changed over 70 years.

Tegelberg PostcardDawn Princess Postcard

Tegelberg: (Info from Ronald Turner's web page)
Dutch passenger ship
Built at Nederlandscae Sb hij in 1938
Capacity: 640 passengers.
GRT: 14140,
Length: 170.5 metres,
Width: 22 metres,
Speed: 17/18 knots
Converted to a Troopship and chartered for the Ministry of War, Liverpool, in 1942, capable of housing 2681 troops.
Broken up at Kaohsiung in 1968 after 30 years of service.

Dawn Princess: (Info from Wikipedia)
Built by Fincatieri, in Italy in 1996.
Capacity: 1950 passengers, 900 crew.
GRT: 77,500
Length: 261m
Width 32m
Speed: 21 knots

My father travelled on Tegelberg between India and the UK in 1945. He tells me he remembers being aboard the ship, and how all the children were told to stay below decks at one point during the voyage while they buried a recently deceased Italian prisoner of war at sea.

Despite having 1/5 the GRT of a modern day cruise ship like Dawn Princess, Tegelberg was required to carry over 2,000 crew during her war service. One can only imagine how crowded that must have been.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Here's a video of our sail-in to Sydney Harbour, past the Opera House, under the Harbour Bridge as the ship's horn blasts a couple of times.

Sydney Harbour is spectacular, and sailing in during the day is a fantastic experience.

Video: Harbour Pilot boards Dawn Princess entering Sydney Harbour

Here's a video from our recent cruise aboard Dawn Princess.

We arrived late into Sydney, which was fantastic, because we got to see everything in broad daylight rather than in the early hours of the morning.

As we approached "The Heads" at the entrance to Sydney Harbour, the Pilot pulled alongside our ship and jumped aboard.

If you ever get the chance on your next cruise, keep an eye out for the pilot. It's quite spectacular watching them come aboard.

SS Kaisar I Hind

A painting of ship "Kaisar I Hind" outside the Wheelhouse bar aboard Dawn Princess.

Kaisar I Hind was built in Greenock for P&O in 1914 as a passenger liner.

At 11,430 GRT and 158m (520ft) she had a cruising speed of 18.5 knots, and operated a seasonal passenger service between UK and Bombay.

"Kaisar I Hind" is Hindi for "Empress of India".

Although she didn't have much cargo space, she had electric fans in every cabin, which were very popular with passengers.

She was almost hit five times by U-Boat torpedos during WWI. In fact, she was hit the fifth time, but luckily the torpedo failed to explode.

More info available here:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dawn Princess: "A Day in Brisbane"

Ship Dawn Princess is currently receiving maintenance at a drydock on the Brisbane River.

Brisbane is beautiful in winter, so I thought I'd record and upload a timelapse video from her webcam of a day on the Brisbane River, from sunrise to sunset.

The view is across the river from the cruise terminal where most ships berth. You can see the CityCat ferries zipping across the water all day, taking passengers into the city, and traffic moving up and down the river.

I hope you enjoy it. And if you're looking for a pleasant, relaxing place to visit during June, you can't go past Brisbane!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Coral Princess in Alaska

I've been watching Coral Princess over the last few days as she tours Alaska.

Her webcam has been sending back some amazing shots of this beautiful part of the world.

If you'd like to look through the webcam archives, just go to and browse away. If there's a specific ship you're interested in, just select it from the dropdown.

If you find any you like, please let me know and I'll let everyone else know about them!

Friday, May 8, 2009


A postcard I sent home to Liz and the kids during my cruise between Sydney and Auckland.

The purser very kindly stamped it with the big black ship stamp before I posted it.

Unfortunately Aurora had problems with a thruster bearing during that leg of the voyage, so we missed a few ports, but it was still very enjoyable.

Built in 2000 for P&O, Aurora is 270m long, and over 76,000 GRT. She normally cruises at about 24 knots and usually does one circumnavigation in Feb / March each year.

Pacific Dawn Webcam Slideshow

Some random shots from Pacific Dawn's webcam visiting some great places in the South Pacific. Browse more photos at

Monday, May 4, 2009

Postcard: RMS Queen Mary 2

RMS Queen Mary 2
Originally uploaded by MagicTyger
A postcard from Wendy, who works on Cunard's flagship RMS Queen Mary 2. This postcard was sent recently while she was crossing the North Atlantic from Southampton to New York.

Thanks Wendy!

Queen Mary 2 was launched in 2003.

She has a length of 345m (1,132 feet) and a tonnage of 148,528 GRT. With a displacement of about 76,000 tonnes, she is the heaviest passenger ship in the world, eclipsing RCI's Freedom of the Seas, which although having a higher tonnage, only displaces 64,000 tonnes.

QM2 cruises at about 30 knots, making her the fastest ocean liner on the seas today.

She's too wide (41m / 135 feet) to pass through the Panama Canal, which means that during circumnavigations she must sail around Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of South America.

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New Ship: Carnival Splendor

I've added Carnival Cruise Line's new ship, Carnival Splendor to ShipWatcher.

To see her webcam, just click on "Preferences" scroll to the bottom and look in the "Carnival Cruise Lines" section.

She has two webcams, although it appears that the "aft" cam is pointing at the swimming pool.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rotterdam V in Bar Harbour

A Postcard from fellow ship watcher, Dave.

Built for Holland America Line (HAL) in Rotterdam in the 1950's, she was the biggest passenger ship ever built in the Netherlands.

At almost 40,000 GRT, 228 metres long, she could carry almost 1,500 passengers on Trans-Atlantic crossings, but also with single-class cruises in mind. The staircase and dividing walls were able to be altered to allow passengers to enjoy the entire ship during cruises.

She was the first ship to be built without traditional funnels. an idea which was taken up by P&O when they build Canberra in 1960.

She served for 38 years with HAL until 1997 when she was sold to Premier Cruise Line (PCL), operating out of the Carribean.

PCL went bankrupt in 2000, and the ship suffered an uncertain fate until she was purchased by a consortium of two Dutch companies, Eurobalance and Woonbron.

She's currently berthed in her home port of Rotterdam, awaiting refurbishment as a Museum.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ships in Storms

Thanks to Kevin for emailing me this slideshow of ships in storms.

Server problems fixed.

I apologise for the unavailability of over the last few days.

Our server failed, so we bought a new server, which also failed.

Not being one to give up easily, I've been on this issue since Friday lunchtime, and am relieved to say that as of about 10pm last night, everything is now working fine.

What was most disappointing for me was missing the lovely shots of QE2 as QM2 sailed into Dubai.

On the bright side, we have a larger, faster server so things should run much better than before.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New QE2 News Feed

I've set up a news feed for information about QE2 at

It contains an archive of news stories about QE2, as well as information about the new ship Queen Elizabeth which is to be launched in 2010.

To make it easy for you, I've also added a "QE2 News" section on the lower right section of ShipWatcher and VQE2 just above the "Cruising News" stories.


Sunday, February 22, 2009


I've improved the accuracy of the location reports for the following ships:

  • Queen Mary 2
  • Queen Victoria
  • Fram
  • Arcadia
  • Oriana

Friday, February 20, 2009

Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

A postcard from fellow cruise lover, Fiona (Cruisenut) who's on a south pacific cruise at the moment.

She says that the weather is good, and she thinks her ship is beautiful.

They're already planning their next cruise.

Thanks for the postcard Fiona, I've got a nice QE2 postcard here for you that I'll send away soon.

Enjoy the rest of your cruise!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Auckland's Amazing Acrobatic Tugboat

We recently sailed from Auckland's beautiful harbour aboard P&O's Oriana which is currently on a world voyage.

The local tugboat captain skillfully helped the 65,000 tonne Ocean Liner gracefully reverse from her berth, and sent her on her way to Sydney.

But after he'd done the job, the Tug Boat captain showed us what he, and his powerful tug could really do.

To the Auckland Port Authority, and their Tug Operators, thanks for giving us a memory that will stick with us for years!

Please forgive the camera movement in the video. It's very hard to hold a mobile phone camera still while trying to celebrate at the same time.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rob's new QE2 Website / Forum

Ocean Liner enthusiast, Rob Lightbody has created a new website dedicated to QE2 at

He's set up a discussion forum at

Rob's done an great job in preserving the legacy of QE2 for future generations by his photos and recollections. I'm grateful to him for helping me understand why she's such a wonderful ship.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Where old ships go to die

Here's a CBS video about the ship graveyeards of Bangladesh.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"M/S Funchal"

A Postcrossing post card from Vitoria in Portugal.

Funchal was originally built in 1961 to cruise between Lisbon, Madiera and the Azores. At 153m in length, she's much smaller than many of today's cruise ships, but she still has all of the essentials, including two restaurants, three bars, a theatre, a library and a casino.

She can accommodate over 400 passengers, and regularly cruises around the world during the Northern winter.

Thanks for the lovely postcard, Vitoria!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Improvements: Speed & Accuracy

Over the last few days I've improved the response time of most ShipWatcher functions. It should be loading a lot faster now. If you notice delays, please let me know.

One other thing I've improved is estimating where a ship is. Some ships don't broadcast their position. They only tell us where they came from and where they're headed. I've given ShipWatcher a bit more intelligence so that it can guess the latitude and longitude of a ship, even if it doesn't know its exact position. It does this by looking at journeys from other ships that may have travelled a similar route in the past.

If any of the information seems incorrect, please let me know. I can't watch every single ship all the time, so sometimes I don't see when the data is wrong.