Cristoforo Colombo was an Italian ocean liner built in the
1950s, sister ship of the famed and tragic SS Andrea Doria.
Origins and construction
The origins of the Cristoforo Colombo lie in the situation of
the Italian Line at the end of World War II. The war had been
devastating to them, as two of their newest and largest ships -
the SS Rex and SS Conte di Savoia - had been destroyed. The
Italian Line at this point decided to build only
moderately-sized ships that were very luxurious, comfortable,
The Cristoforo Colombo was built in Genoa at the Ansaldo
Shipyards. The Andrea Doria was already built by the time
Cristoforo Colombo was completed. She was launched in 1953 and
was ready for a 1954 maiden voyage. When launched, the
Cristoforo Colombo was larger than the Andrea Doria. Hence, the
ship was the largest merchant ship in Italian service.
Italian Line service
After the Andrea Doria was sunk after a collision with the MS
Stockholm in 1956, the Cristoforo Colombo was on her own until
1960 when the ship was accompanied by the Andrea Doria's
replacement, SS Leonardo da Vinci.
In the spring of 1964, the Cristoforo Colombo carried the Pietà
from the Vatican to the 1964 New York World's Fair. Pietà was
put in a crate that was filled with plastic foam, which was
lowered onto a rubber base in the first class pool where the
least damage was likely to happen to it. During the actual
loading, the Cristoforo Colombo had been put in dry dock so that
she would not move and jeopardize the crate and its content.
Only easily removable snap hooks secured the crate so that it
could be released easily in case of accident. In case the
Cristoforo Colombo sank during the voyage, the crate had the
ability to float. In New York, the crate was lifted by a
heavy-lift floating crane onto a barge that was put alongside
The Cristoforo Colombo and the Leonardo da Vinci were kept as
the flagships and the prime Italian ships on the North Atlantic
until 1965, when the new SS Michelangelo and SS Raffaello were
placed into service. She was painted entirely white in 1966 in
order to match with the other ships in the Italian Line, who had
abandoned black as a hull color.
In Popular Culture
The Cristoforo Colombo is prominently featured in the 1962
Warner Bros.' film Rome Adventure starring Suzanne Pleshette,
Troy Donahue and Rossano Brazzi.
Retirement from Italian Line service
In 1973, the Cristoforo Colombo gave up the New York service. It
was therefore redirected to the
Genoa-Barcelona-Lisbon-Rio-Montevideo-BuenosAires service to
replace the MS Giulio Cesare that had suffered serious
mechanical problems. As the South American service accepted a
ship of sub-standard maintenance, she stayed, in part riddled
with cockroaches, until 1977. She was then sold to Venezuela,
where she was used as an accommodation ship for workers at
In 1981, the Cristoforo Colombo was sold to US scrappers.
However, upon arrival at Kaohsiung, Cristoforo Colombo was towed
to Hong Kong with hopes of returning to service. As the ship was
expensive to operate (she was designed to operate on an Italian
subsidy) and was in poor condition after her time in Venezuela,
the Cristoforo Colombo was towed back to Kaohsiung in the autumn
of 1982 and scrapped.