Ear: Astoria

A story about the MV Astoria, purported to be the oldest cruise ship at sea, was posted on AzCentral.com, in the travel section. The bad news is that the Astoria is retiring, after a long and convoluted history.

As the MS Stockholm, launched in 1946 and the largest cruise ship built in Sweden, she collided with the Andrea Doria in heavy fog off Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 1956, almost slicing the Andrea Doria in two. Forty-six were killed on the Andrea Doria, which sank; five died on the Stockholm. 

Rebuilt in the 1960s, the Stockholm was sold to East Germany, renamed Volkerfreundshaft, and used by Communist party officials for leisure cruises.

By 1985, another name change had come about: She was called the Volker. But then she was bought by the Swedish government in 1986, and renamed Fridtjof Nansen.

The ship kept moving, and the name kept changing: Italia I, Italia Prima, Valtur Prima and Caribe. As the MS Athena, she was attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia in 2008, and later renamed Azores.

By then the ship must have had a full-blown identity crisis, but in 2015, Cruise and Maritime Voyages (who provided the photo shown) contracted to use the ship, and she was renamed Astoria — at last! — in 2016. She even has an on-board historian to explain her long and multi-named time at sea.

But not for long. Cruise and Maritime Voyages will not be renewing the 550-passenger ship's contract, as they've ordered larger vessels. MV Astoria's farewell cruise is from Hull, England, to Norway in October. Want to go? Put your name on the waitlist at bit.ly/LastAstoria

Sadly, after Astoria's October adventures to the "Land of Northern Lights," her future is uncertain. (bit.ly/MVAstoria1, bit.ly/MVAstoria2)

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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