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TSS Stella Solaris

At the end of 1997 we embarked on an eleven day Christmas Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean aboard Stella Solaris. I saved a lot of items from the trip including daily itineraries and other memorabilia. Much of it is shown below. I wish I had taken more (and better) pictures of the ship which is now long gone. I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to sail on one of these classic old steam ships. Today the breed is extinct. In 1997 Stella Solaris was sailing for short-lived Royal Olympic Cruises.

For a great history of the Stella Solaris and a lot of good pictures check out www.classicliners.net.

Trivia: Stella Solaris was used for special Mediterranean episodes of The Love Boat TV show. Do a YouTube search on Stella Solaris and you'll find some clips.

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Postcard.

Exterior Pictures

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Best Guess: This may be the outer pier at Prince George Wharf in Nassau, looking north from town with Paradise Island visible in the background behind the stern.

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Best Guess: Old San Juan, maybe pier 1 or 3. Note the fuel barge beside the ship.

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Best Guess: Great Bay at Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. This was a tender port of call predating St. Maarten's modern cruise port facilities.

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Ready to board passengers for the trip ashore.

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Best Guess: Port Castries, St. Lucia at Berth 5 along Manoel Street.

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Looking over the Lido Deck from the Sports Deck.

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Funnel painted for Royal Olympic Cruses. Note how the emblem combines elements from predecessor companies Sun Line and Epirotiki Line.

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Starboard bridge wing.

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Remember the days of bridge tours? Here's a peak into the wheelhouse.

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Looking aft from the starboard bridge wing.

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Looking over the bow from the starboard bridge wing.

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Best Guess: Deep Water Harbor at St. John's, Antigua. This was not one of the main cruise piers near the center of town, but the cargo pier near the end of Dickenson Bay Street. At most every port of call the newer mega ships preempted Stella Solaris for the choice docking locations.

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Returning to Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale. This was the only gloomy day of the trip.

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Disembarking at Port Everglades. I believe this shot is looking north from Pier 25.

Deck Plans

I like looking at deck plans. But the best deck plan I had for Stella Solaris was from a 1998 Royal Olympic catalog. It was small and not easy to read. So I went to eBay and found a 1974 Sun Line pamphlet that folds out into a huge 27" x 19.5" double-sided display. About the only difference I see is the Gymnasium and Children's Room on Golden Deck were replaced by the Daphine Spa (the Spa was apparently added during a refit around 1996). Otherwise, not much appears to have changed in the 24 years that separate these two sets of plans. We had Outside Deluxe Suite B33 on the Boat Deck which was pretty darn nice.

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1998 Deck Plan. Click picture for much larger image.

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1974 Deck Plan. Click pictures for really huge images.

Daily Itineraries

Four page daily cruise itineraries are shown below. Click any thumbnail for the larger image. There are a few typos here and there. For example, this was a round trip cruise from Fort Lauderdale, not Miami as indicated on the first day's itinerary.

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Day 1. Saturday, December 20, Fort Lauderdale. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Day 2. Sunday, December 21, Nassau. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Day 3. Monday, December 22, at sea. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Day 4. Tuesday, December 23, San Juan. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Day 5. Wednesday, December 24, St. Maarten. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Day 6. Thursday, December 25, St. Lucia. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Day 7. Friday, December 26, Antigua. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Day 8. Saturday, December 27, St. Thomas. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Day 9. Sunday, December 28, at sea. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Day 10. Monday, December 29, at sea. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Day 11. Tuesday, December 30, Fort Lauderdale. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Entertainment and film summaries. Click thumbnails for larger images.

Most of the daily itineraries also came with a four page "newspaper" summarizing the previous day's news. I didn't feel like scanning all that, but an example of one is shown below. Click any thumbnail for the larger image.

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Four page "newspaper" for Wednesday, December 24. Click thumbnails for larger images.

Interior Pictures

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Outside Deluxe Suite B33 on the Boat Deck looking from the bedroom toward the sitting room.

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Dining Room forward on Solaris Deck.

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Solaris Lounge.

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Solaris Lounge looking aft toward the Piano Bar.

Below is a group photo from the Solaris Lounge of the ship's entertainers. It's been far too long to put any names to the faces with the exception of Laughing Larry Larkin (back row second from right). I can pick out Larry because we bought his souvenir VHS tape. A full list of the entertainers, staff and crew can be found in pages of the Guest List booklet shown below. Names include Florin Duo, The Ray Kennedy Entertainers, Ballet Espanol, McDermott Trio, The Riga Dancers, Mikhail Victor, Peter Nowak and Dave Levesque.

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Ship's entertainers. Click picture for a larger image.

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Piano Bar aft on Solaris Deck.

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We pause before dinner for a photo with Santa.

Memorabilia

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Two-sided flyer from Creative Travel. Note the celebrity guests James Earl Jones, Cliff Robertson and Prof. Richard Brown. None of these people were on the ship. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Luggage Tags.

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General shipboard information. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Do not disturb.

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Early morning room service - one of my favorite aspects of cruising. Click picture for a larger image.

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Souvenir photograph.

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A slot machine token from the Monte Carlo Club on Solaris Deck. It's the size of a U.S. quarter.

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Shore Excursions Brochure. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Shore excursion coupons. Click picture for a larger image.

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Landing Card.

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Select pages from the Guest List booklet showing crew, staff, entertainers and guests (287 by my count which is nowhere near capacity). Click picture for a larger image.

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Laughing Larry Larkin was part of the shipboard entertainment. Here's a souvenir VHS tape we bought during the trip.

In 2016 I acquired an 8 ½" by 11" drawing of Stella Solaris by artist Frank Camarda. Camarda offers dozens of liner and cruise ship drawings via eBay.

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ROC's Stella Solaris by Frank Camarda.

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Here's another eBay find - a collection of older postcards from the Sun Line days. Click thumbnails for larger images.

Recommended Shopping Guides

For each port of call we received a two-sided Recommended Shopping guide. We're not much into shopping, but if nothing else the maps were sometimes useful. The guides are shown below. Click thumbnails for larger images.

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Recommended Shopping. Click thumbnails for larger images.

Bibliography

Without doing any hardcore research, here's a list of stuff I've found regarding Stella Solaris. Most of it can be found on the Internet.

Wikipedia - As with most everything, there's a page about Stella Solaris.

www.classicliners.net - Website with a great history and lots of pictures from Stella Solaris.

www.shipparade.com - Website with a bunch of interior pictures from Stella Solaris.

www.timetableimages.com/maritime/ - Website with lots of pictures from Stella Solaris.

Stella Solaris Ship Profile by Mark H. Goldberg - An informative online review of Stella Solaris during the declining years of Royal Olympic Cruises. Goldberg was aboard during our cruise. I remember attending his lectures.

The Rise & Fall of: Royal Olympic Cruises - Another online article about the rise and fall of Royal Olympic Cruises.

Royal Olympic Cruise Lines Inc. History - Yet another online history article (albeit outdated) about Royal Olympic Cruises.

Cruise Ships an Evolution in Design by Philip Dawson - Great book. Pages 138-140 describe the conversion from Cambodge to Stella Solaris.

Friends of TSS Stella Solaris - A Yahoo! Groups board with tons of pictures and conversation.

Friend of Sun Line Cruises Stella Solaris - A Facebook page.

Maya World on board the Stella Solaris - A documentary I found on YouTube that's well worth the watch.

The Love Boat - Search Stella Solaris on YouTube and you'll find some condensed clips with much of the Stella Solaris footage used for special Mediterranean episodes of the TV show.

On the Road to Alang - A DVD showing the salvage of art and other fittings from Stella Solaris while being scrapped at Alang. Also some good interior video from when the ship was still in service. A subsequent DVD, The Sands of Aland, includes a brief salvage yard shot of the bar from the Bar Grill Room.

Cruise Travel; June 1982 - Stella Solaris is featured as the magazine's "Ship of the Month" in a six-page article with color pictures and deck plans. There's also a full-page ad promoting the ship and its involvement in upcoming episodes of The Love Boat TV show.

Cruise Travel; October 1983 - Sun Line is featured in a two-page "Cruise Line Profile" article.

Cruise Travel; October 1987 - Stella Solaris is featured in a four-page article with color pictures.

Cruise Travel; August 1988 - Sun Line Cruises is featured in a three-page "Company Profile" article with color pictures.

Cruise Travel; August 1989 - Stella Solaris is again featured as the magazine's "Ship of the Month" in a six-page article with color pictures and deck plans.