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Canberra cried in Madeira island goodbye

Updated on August 27, 2012

Ships can "cry"

Canberra. That's the cruise ship name. She was a beautiful cruise ship launched to the sea in 1961 with much pride for the British company P&O. She entered service in May 1961, and took her maiden voyage starting in June.

The ship She was built at theHarland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Initially, P&O commissioned the Canberra to operate the combined P&O - Orient Line service between the United Kingdom and Australia.

But the arrival of the jet airliner caused a drop in demand for this services like this maritim line. For other side the reduction in emigration to Australia and the closure of the Suez Canal make company thought in new planes to Canberra.

Because that, in 1974, P&O make a refit in Canberra to adapted to cruising. They don't need to change many things, that occurred without any major external alterations, and with only minimal internal and mechanical changes over the years.

Canberra carried thousands of passengers around the world and maid thousands of cruises in all world.

In 1982, Canberra served also to transport British troops to the conflict with Argentina in Malvinas (for the Argentines) or Falkland Islands (for the British).

Because those things, the cruise ship became a symbol for passengers and for everybody who worked in Canberra. And also for who see it many times in ports, like in Funchal Port, in Madeira island, Portugal.

For the Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Canberra the cruise ship was like part of Funchal port. There was a real empathy with the cruise ship from the people of the island and I believe that happened in the all ports where she gone more times.

But, the years passed.

The company decided that was time to build a new vessel to replace the old Canberra cruise ship.
The P&O option was to build the cruise ship Oriana. She following the architectural lines of Canberra but have the most modern lines and better and new equipment.

So, the historic cruise ship with yellow chimneys, like the Olivia legs was out the company plans.

The tradition, history and the passion generated around Canberra cruise ship was gone. It was like the gum that is used, chews and disposed to trash.

For the company's account, the cruise ship was only an active that will be changed for another one with less spending maintenence.

Almost an hotel in Madeira island

when it began to hear that the ship would be removed I remenber an entrepreneur in Madeira island who wanted to buy the old cruise ship. His idea would be to place the ship in a protected area on the north coast of Madeira island to serving as a hotel. Was an alternative to the ship and a great asset to the Madeira tourism destination. But unfortunately not happened.

And nothing have happening around the world to save the ship.

Because all this, in 1997 the white cruise ship was sold for scrap. Yes, you read right, the charming Canberra that captivated so many people around the world was sold to a scrap dealer in Asia. She made the last trip to Pakistan where she has been completely dismantled with a hammer without dignity, because I believe a ship like Canberra have some "life and a soul". Like I read somewhere, in Gadani Beach she did not give up without a fight however. Her deep draft meant that she could not be beached as far as most ships, and due to her solid construction the scrapping process took nearly a year instead of the estimated three months.

Anguish in last trip to Madeira island

Finnaly, only say that I felt the anguish of the Canberra cruise ship when she left in last time Funchal port. In that time Madeira did a short ceremony and in that ocasion I felt that she realy have that "life and soul". She whistle sounds with difficulty, like someone who cries and can't speak with so much sadness. I have taped all of that sounds..

Honestly, I felt a lump in my throat.

Canberra datail




the last cruise


the last voyage


the end in a Pakistan beach


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