World’s Oldest Passenger Ship?

Have you ever wondered what the world’s oldest, ocean going,  passenger ship was?  Well wonder no more:


The Medina was built in 1914 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for the Mallory Steamship Company of the United States. She was a freighter serving the Atlantic; during World War II she served with the United States Coast Guard.

The Panamanian company Naviera San Miguel SA acquired the Medina in 1948; they renamed the ship the Roma, and converted her into a passenger ship with cabins for 287 people, and dormitories for an additional 694 people.

In 1952 Naviera San Miguel resold the Roma to Linea Costa, an Italian company. At this time the SS Roma, a steamship, was converted into a motor vessel and renamed the MV Franca C. She carried passengers between Italy and Argentina. In 1959, the Franca C was adapted into a cruise liner, principally cruising the Mediterranean.

In 1977, Gute Bücher für Alle (Good Books For All) acquired the Franca C, and renamed her the Doulos (Greek for servant). She was manned by a volunteer crew and made sea port visits worldwide as a missionary ship. The MV Doulos held the biggest floating library in the world. Normally there were somewhere between 3000 to 5000 books on the shelves and half a million in the hold.She made her last world tour in 2009 and was de-commissioning at the end of 2009 due to expense of making her compliant with SOLAS (maritime safety) regulations .

On March 18, 2010, Doulos was handed over to her new owner, Mr. Eric Saw, Director and Chief Executive of BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd in Singapore. The new owners plan on preserving the historic ship. She will be renamed Doulos Phos, or Servant Light, in this process.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Malcolm Says: So I got to go on-board MV Doulos in 2004, when she visited Southampton. Her interiors were quite a mess, looking more like a Hippy peace-camp  than an historic ship. However you could certainly still see some of the Costa décor in places.

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7 Responses to “World’s Oldest Passenger Ship?”

  1. David, Toronto Canada Says:

    Whilst not in the same league as an ocean-going ship, the 125-year-old RMS Segwun still steams on the Muskoka lakes in Ontario, Canada. Originally a side-wheeler named Nipissing it was rebuilt as a propellor-driven ship. It still burns coal and has an open engine-room as befitting a former side-wheeler. It is a Royal Mail Ship by special arrangement with the Canadian Post Office (a Crown corporation) and my cards posted on board last year were marked with the special RMS Segwun cancellation.

  2. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Interesting info David, thanks. I was not aware of Segwan, I will google her.

  3. Fredrick V. James Says:

    I’m always searching the internet to find the oldest ships still in service, I’ve been cruising for the past 25yrs and suddenly realize my only choices are gigantic mega liners decorated like whore houses from other planets. Are there any smaller liners left? I don’t need or even expect a rock climbing wall or a water park…I’m on a ship! I want a promenade deck to circle the ship for long peaceful walks on deck. A theater for movies. Cozy bars, wood paneling, brass and mirrors. I know there are ultra luxury lines that cater to the wealthy which still supply such amenities, but are there any affordable, older ships still in service?

  4. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Hi Fredrick. In the UK we are pretty lucky. Mega-ships came her somewhat later than America got them. We still have Fred Olsen’s fleet (4 old ships) the Saga fleet, Thomson and ‘Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ (Marco Polo, Discovery & Astor). All offer ships that are 30+ years old (often under 35,000 gt) at reasonable fares, in fact some mentioned are ‘budget’ priced. Check out my Olsen & Marco Polo reviews.

  5. Fredrick V. James Says:

    Thank you so much! I miss traveling on the Norway, she was always a pleasure. I’ll look into the ships you’ve listed.

  6. Capt. Rick Says:

    The oldest complete passenger ship in the world is the Edwardian SS KEEWATIN,built in 1907 in the Clyde Scotland five years before Titanic.
    350 feet long and weighs 8 million pounds it is in Port McNicoll Ontario North of Toronto and is open to the public..Check it out on Google.

  7. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Thanks Capt Rick, did not know about that one. However I think the Doulos is still used somewhere as a ships, although not a cruise ship?

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