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The final break for great ship of Cape
Another old friend of Southampton, remembered with great affection by many in the city, is making that lonely one-way voyage to the breaker's yard.
In the 1960s the elegant shape of the 32,697-ton Transvaal Castle was a familiar sight in the port as part of the famed Union-Castle fleet that linked Southampton with South Africa.
Now known by the far less flattering name of The Big Boat she is at present under- taking her final trip to be scraped in India.
When in the future historians recall the ship it is likely that she will be seen as one of the most influential in shaping the modern cruise industry of today.
In 1977 the vessel had passed into the hands of the then emerging Carnival operation as the company's first cruise ship and from those small beginnings the corporation grew to become the most powerful operation of its kind in the world, including Cunard and P&O Cruises within its empire.
In her time she was a lovely ship and even four years ago, when the vessel, then known as Island Breeze, was chartered to a major High Street holiday company for Mediterranean cruises, vestiges of her hey-days still remained on board.
There was still a fine traditional wooden promenade deck, the library was as if someone had just turned the lights off and shut the door three decades earlier and not been back since, the dinning room remained stylish, although perhaps outdated, while the cabins were basic compared to a modern day ship but at the same time recalled a past era of ocean going travel.
The ship might have been given a new livery but her classic appearance was unmistakable as a true liner and if you looked carefully along the hull one of her former names, SA Vaal, could still be seen etched into the metal.
Soon the ship will just be a memory, a photograph in the maritime history books as she disappears under the cutting equipment of the breaker's workforce.
Built by John Brown and Co on Clydebank, she was launched as a one-class mail-ship on January 17, 1961 by Lady Cayzer, wife of the chairman of the owners.
The new ship arrived in Southampton at the end of the year to prepare for her maiden voyage. She settled down well on the 12,000-mile round trip and there was a marked absence of teething troubles.
There was accommodation for 728 passengers who shared the public rooms and open deck space. The most luxurious suites on board cost £700 per passenger for the voyage from Southampton to Cape Town.
Until the arrival of Transvaal Castle passengers on the Cape route had always been served at meals by waiters in smart company uniform.
However, with the agreement of the National Union of Seamen waitresses were introduced for the first time on the ship.
The first contingent comprised of 38 women, all recruited from hotels ashore. Two women supervisors were also appointed and the whole group was managed by a head waiter.
It seemed that the mail ship service would continue well into the 1980s particularly with announcement that Safmarine, Union-Castle's operating partner, would provide the next new passenger liner.
Things did not work out that way. Instead of building a new liner, Safmarine bought Transvaal Castle, together with Pretoria Castle, renaming them SA Vaal and SA Oranje and continuing to employ them on the Cape route.
By 1975 SA Vaal had completed her 100th voyage on the service. The mail service was going through an unhappy time facing strong competition from container ships.
Within two years SA Vaal had been sold to Carnival who renamed her Festivale.
In recent years the ship was put up for sale again and was operated as Island Breeze becoming well known around the Mediterranean.
The owners went into bankruptcy and the ship awaited an uncertain future in the Bahamas until she was eventually sold for scrap.