RMS Empress of Britain (1955)


RMS Empress of Britain was a transatlantic ocean liner built by Fairfield Shipbuilding at Govan on the Clyde in Scotland in 1955-1956[1] for Canadian Pacific Steamships (CP). This ship — the third of three CP vessels to be named Empress of Britain[2] — regularly traversed the trans-Atlantic route between Canada and Europe until 1964, completing 123 voyages under the Canadian Pacific flag.

Kobe topaz01s3200.jpg
SS The Topaz at Kobe, Japan in 2006
  • 1955–1964: Empress of Britain
  • 1964–1975: Queen Anna Maria
  • 1975–1993: Carnivale
  • 1993–1994: Fiestamarina
  • 1995–1997: Olympic
  • 1997–2008: The Topaz
  • 2008: Topaz
Port of registry
RouteLiverpool-Greenock-Quebec-Montreal (1965, Haifa-Piraeus-New York City, Cruising)
BuilderFairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering, Govan, Scotland
Yard number731
Launched22 June 1955 by Queen Elizabeth II
Christened22 June 1955
Maiden voyage20 April 1956
In service1955-2008
Out of serviceApril 2008
FateSold for scrap in 2008.
General characteristics
Class and typeOcean liner
Tonnage25,516 GRT (1965, 21,716 GRT)
Length640 ft.
Beam85.2 ft.
Draught29 ft.
Installed power30,000 shp
PropulsionGeared turbines, Twin screw
Speed20 kn (37 km/h; 23 mph)
CapacityAs built, 160 1st-class & 894 tourist-class passengers (1965, 168 1st class, 1,145 tourist. 741 one class when cruising)


Empress of BritainEdit

Empress of Britain was built by Fairfield Shipbuilding in Govan near Glasgow, Scotland.[3] She was launched on 22 June 1955 by HM Queen Elizabeth II.[4] This was nearly fifty years after the first CP Empress of Britain was launched from Govan in November 1905. Eleven months later, she set out on a maiden voyage from Liverpool to Montreal, leaving Liverpool on 20 April 1956.[5]

The 25,516-ton vessel had a length of 640 feet, and her beam was 85.2 feet. The ship had one funnel, one mast, twin propellers and an average speed of 20 knots. The ocean liner provided accommodation for 160 first class passengers and for 984 tourist class passengers.[5]

Queen Anna MariaEdit

In November 1964, the former CP Empress was sold to the Greek Line; and the ship was renamed SS Queen Anna Maria. This Queen was rebuilt with a new lido area at the stern and remeasured under Greek rules to 21,716 gross tons, implying a significant reduction in size. In fact her genuine tonnage had been increased by superstructure extension at the stern and the measurement was an attempt to reduce dock dues. With accommodation for 168 first-class passengers and for 1,145 tourist-class passengers, she sailed on the Piraeus to Naples to New York City route. Later, she provided service on the Haifa to New York route. In due course, these liner services were replaced by full time, one class, cruising. In 1975, she was laid up at Piraeus for a time.[5]


The Carnivale in Miami, Florida on June 15, 1984.

In 1976, the former Greek Queen was sold to Carnival Cruise Lines; and the ship was renamed — this time as the SS Carnivale. As Carnival's market expanded and the company could afford to buy new ships, the ship transferred into a Latin market subsidiary cruise line.[5]

Fiesta MarinaEdit

In 1993, Carnival Cruise Lines transferred registration of the Carnivale to a subsidiary cruise line, Fiesta Marina Cruises; and the ship was renamed SS Fiesta Marina. She became something of a test ship in a cruise line expansion venture which proved ultimately to be unsuccessful.[5]


In 1994, Fiesta Marine sold ex-FiestaMarina to Epirotiki; and the ship was renamed Olympic. In 1996, she was transferred to Royal Olympic Cruises, operating under the same name.[5]

The TopazEdit

In 1997, the former Olympic was sold to Cyprus-based Thomson Holidays; and the ship was renamed The Topaz.

In 2003, the vessel was chartered, and then later sold to Topaz International to sail for Peace Boat operating under the name Peace Boat – she was repainted white with a blue funnel and her name painted in large letters across both sides of the hull. In October 2005, The Topaz was inspected and found to be in immaculate condition, the steam turbines engines operating flawlessly. Topaz International were looking for a buyer for The Topaz and they had maintained the ship in excellent condition. It was hoped that a buyer could be found as The Topaz offered any potential buyer the opportunity of a ready to work ship. However, rising oil prices combined with inefficient 50-year-old engines proved too much for any potential buyer. In April 2008, The Topaz was retired from the Peace Boat organization.[citation needed]

After retirementEdit

After Topaz was retired in April 2008, she was laid up. On 15 June, while she was anchored, she was struck by the tanker Champion Brali. The collision severed off part of her bow.[6] During her lay up, she was sold to the breakers. In the late summer of 2008, Topaz was beached in Alang, India to be scrapped. She was placed not too far away from where the remains of the SS France/SS Norway are located.[7] The ship began demolition a few months after being beached. As of November 2009, most of the ship had been scrapped.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The disambiguation date used in this article's title is the year in which the hull is launched, not the year of the vessel's sea trial or maiden voyage.
  2. ^ The second of three ships named SS Empress of Britain (1931) was built for CP; and the first SS Empress of Britain (1906) was also built for CP some years earlier.
  3. ^ Johnston, Ian. "Govan Shipyard" in Ships Monthly. Archived 11 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine June 1985.
  4. ^ "Canada: Economical Empress," Time (New York). 4 July 1955.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ship List: Description of Empress of Britain Archived 4 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Cruise ship news, shipping reports at MARITIME MATTERS : CLIPPER PACIFIC Back On The Atlantic". Maritime Matters. Archived from the original on 31 August 2008.
  7. ^ "Outside / CIMG3339". 26 August 2008.


  • Musk, George. (1981). Canadian Pacific: The Story of the Famous Shipping Line. Newton Abbot, Devon: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-7968-2

External linksEdit

  • Shipping Times: Clydebuilt Database