As mentioned in the "Marine News" section of this issue, the Greek vessel GALAXIAS will not be able to carry out a projected series of lake cruises during 1974 due to commitments in the Aegean area. Nevertheless, the Kavounides group (Hellenic Cruises) has managed to free another of its ships for the lake route and, come April, we will see the steam turbine vessel ORION heading into our inland seas.
ORION was built as ACHILLEFS (we take this name with a grain of salt, but that is the way it is reported in the American Bureau of Shipping) by Ansaldo at Leghorn, Italy, and was completed in 1953. Measuring 415.3 feet in length, 55.2 feet in the beam and 26.7 feet in depth, her original gross tonnage was shown variously as 5509 and 5566 but is now listed as 6064. She is a twin screw vessel with geared turbines and her shaft horsepower is 8,000. At some point in her early career, her name was changed to the more probable ACHILLEUS.
Along with her sister ship AGAMEMNON, the ACHILLEUS was built for the Greek government under repatriations account and was placed on the Southern Europe to Eastern Mediterranean route. Ports of call included Venice, Brindisi, Piraeus, Alexandria, Limassol, Beirut, Naples and Marseilles. She also made occasional cruises. ACHILLEUS carried 146 first, 148 second and 102 tourist class passengers. She had a succession of owners including Nomikos Lines, Olympic Cruises and Dorian Cruises.
In 1966 ACHILLEUS and AGAMEMNON were put up for sale but no immediate purchaser could be found. Eventually Kavounides Shipping Company bought ACHILLEUS and in 1969 she was rebuilt. She now has 128 cabins and can accommodate 328 passengers. The ship is fully air-conditioned and each stateroom has private facilities. She was renamed ORION at the time of the purchase in 1968.
A brochure issued by Midwest Cruises indicates that ORION will operate weekly from April through October and that she will follow the same schedule as that previously announced for GALAXIAS. Fares for the one-way trip between Montreal and Chicago will run from $340 to $665 per person - a bit steep, we should think, but beggars can't be choosers. The fares, incidentally, do not include $25 per person canal fees, $30 per person fuel surcharge, embarkation or disembarkation taxes.
(Credit for their help on ORION goes to Gordon Turner and Herb Frank.)
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.