1960-1965 Co-operation with Costa Line

provence in SGTM colors
by courtesy of Ian Boyle of Simplon Postcards
12.04.1961 First voyage Genoa-Buenos Aires after conversion
1962 Costa charters the PROVENCE
Summer 1963 New York-based cruises as replacement for BRETAGNE
On 5 April she set out for trials in the Ligurian gulf, in order to test the engines, and on 12 April 1961 the PROVENCE sailed again on her traditional route between Genoa and Buenos Aires. The route was modified somewhat however. It was not aimed at the French market anymore, so she didn’t call at Dakar any longer (partly because this French colony had become independent in the meantime). Spain and Portugal with their traditionally close links to South America were included rather intensively: Thus starting from Genoa still the first harbor was Marseille, then however she additionally sailed to Lisbon, then to the Portuguese island of Madeira, before crossing the Atlantic ocean. She then arrived at Brazilian Recife as the first South American port. In contrast to the Costa liners the PROVENCE also called at (Salvador de) Bahia. So by these two ports of call the north of this large Portuguese-speaking country was won as catchment area for the South America service. The other ports of call with Rio, Santos, Montevideo and Buenos Aires resembled the old route. In contrast to the flagship of the Costa fleet, the FEDERICO C, which traveled the distance on the shortest way in 14 days with few ports of call, the PROVENCE, which was no fast ship anyway, should cover all the ports, which were not served by the FEDERICO C. Frequently she sailed also to Naples as second Italian port of embarkation. The ship was fully employed for the whole year with 8 voyages in either direction, one direction taking 19 to 21 days. Home port remained Marseille, where she stayed for a couple of days every 3rd or 4th South America trip, probably for maintenance purposes.
These journeys ran successfully enough for Costa to sign a permanent charter contract with SGTM in the following year (1962).
 Provence 1961-5    © Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum, Bremerhaven
Meanwhile her sister BRETAGNE (renamed BRITTANY) had been chartered to the American Caribbean Cruise Line for the summer of 1963 cruise season in the Caribbean. But the opportunity of selling the ship to the previous charterer Chandris occurred, and SGTM took the chance. Since the ship was no longer available for Caribbean cruising, the PROVENCE was sent to New York in her place for the summer of 1963 season and carried out the New York-based Caribbean cruises. While her unfortunate sister ship still in spring 1963 caught fire during repairs in the Greek shipyard of Skaramanga, and thereupon her demolition ended her short life, the PROVENCE, after the end of the cruise season returned to her old route to Buenos Aires.
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