1965-1972  A new name - a new life

ENRICO C. 1965
by courtesy of ARCHIVIO STORICO of the COSTA FAMILY. c/o IL PONTE KS, Genoa, Italy
1965 Sold to Costa. Renamed ENRICO C.
23.05.1966 First voyage Genoa-Buenos Aires after conversion (see previous page)
01.05.1968 Three north-atlantic-crossings between Naples and Port Everglades
1972 End of liner service to Buenos Aires
In 1964 SGTM was taken over by Cie. Fabre, which soon was swallowed by the Chargeurs Reunis. As a result SGTM decided to close down passenger service activities for good, and so the PROVENCE, not wanted by Chargeurs Reunis, was put up for sale. Costa thereupon took her over after approval by the French government. As an Italian enterprise Costa had a strong position among Italian emigrant customers to South America and was in the position to employ the ship profitably. By the way, already in 1959 the labor costs of French seamen had risen far beyond those of their Italian colleagues. The PROVENCE received the new name ENRICO C, taken from the Costa family in accordance with the tradition of this company, that changed its name to Costa Armatori in 1967. Enrico Costa was one of the three heirs of the founder of the Costa enterprise Giacomo Costa in 1916. The enterprise only engaged in olive oil production in this time. The heirs Federico, Eugenio and Enrico Costa decided in 1924 to buy some cargo ships to lower the transport costs of their olive oil. Thus they became the founders of the shipping company. Some family members already had received their monument during the built-up of the emigrant fleet to South America since 1948 (like Federico with the FEDERICO C.), now it was Enrico´s turn. Before, there had been two freighters that carried this name. The ship now received the blue "C" on a funnel painted all yellow as the colors of the new owner. The blue „C“ symbolized the sea and the yellow paint symbolized the color of the olive oil, carried by the first Costa freighters.

The ship set sail for the first journey after conversion (see previous page) on the Genoa - Buenos Aires-service under the new name on 23 May 1966. After two journeys she departed from Genoa on 3 August for her inaugural Mediterranean cruise from Genoa. She was an exceptionally luxurious ship for the emigrant trade to South America now, in particular, if you bear in mind, what comfort the Tourist Class passenger enjoyed. This is surely caused by the already visible shift in the use of the ship, that undertook more and more cruises in addition to the regular River Plate-service, for example to the Canary Islands in 1969 and in the Western Mediterranean in 1970.

Beginning on 1 May 1968 the ship carried out two voyages from Port Everglades to Naples and one retour as a temporary replacement for the FEDERICO C., which was to be converted meanwhile. A line service journey and a Costa cruise differed in the fact, that the port stays were reduced to the absolutely necessary; also no excursion program was offered; besides there was the class separation with separate deck areas for the First Class and the Tourist Class. First Class Passengers had a larger choice in their restaurant than Tourist Class passengers. The entertainment on board was very poor compared to a cruise. On such journeys each passenger could carry 100 kg of luggage free of extra charge (or up to a half cubic meter) and beyond that for an extra fee unlimited luggage quantities. Even a piano could be transported (extra fee: 80 $) or a car (at least 200 $). In 1969 the lowest rate for a passage Genoa-Buenos Aires in First Class cabin was 465 $ (2-bed cabin), in Touristclass „B“ 270 $ in a double cabin inside without shower. Touristclass „A“ had a shower, but cost at least 335 $. The lowest fare on the distance Lisbon - Brazil cost 220 $ (6-bed-inside, public baths). On emigrants of Italian or Iberian origin a special rate applied. The thrift season was November to June on southbound voyages and August to March on northbound voyages.

In 1966 the Costa fleet on the La-Plata-service received reinforcement by the EUGENIO C. This ship was the second largest ever built for this route (the largest was the short-lived French L'ATLANTIQUE of 1931). The speed of up to 28,4 kn set a new standard. The rates therefore were at least 10 % more expensive than on the ENRICO C. But actually, this ship came too late, because the jet-propelled passenger-aircraft also became generally accepted on the route to South America. But the flight was still more expensive, taking 50 % more than the passage by ship. So in 1966 there were at least 9 passengerships of a size above 10.000 GRT, which sailed regularly from Europe to Buenos Aires. The 60's were however characterized by an economic upswing in Europe, followed by shrinking emigrant numbers. Therefore more and more cruises appeared beside the line-voyages of the ENRICO C. On these cruises the distinction between classes was reduced to dining in the A-la-Carte-restaurant for passengers of more expensive cabins.

In 1972 Costa Armatori decided to use the ENRICO C for cruises exclusively. This step fitted into the economic surroundings: the FEDERICO C. was taken out of the River Plate-service too, and the very same year the Messageries Maritimes had closed down their last service on this route, carried out by the PASTEUR. The South American shipping companies had gone out of that business already sometime before. Only the state-run and highly  subsidized Italia S.A.N. remained on the La Plata service with the CRISTOFORO COLOMBO, the sister ship of the ANDREA DORIA, and the GUGLIELMO MARCONI until 1977. Nevertheless about 1 to 2 times per year Costa announced line-voyages to Buenos Aires on the ENRICO C. and EUGENIO C. The ships called at Cannes, Barcelona, Lisbon, Rio and Santos.
In fact the voyages of the ENRICO C. were mere positioning cruises, intended to move the ship between her European an South American cruise regions. Only the EUGENIO C. still traded as a real liner to South America: She had the necessary speed for that task. But even that service ceased in 1989.

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