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Delivered in April 1982 as Atlantic in January of this year she was bought by Mediterranean Shipping Cruises for $70 million
By Arturo Paniagua Mazorra (07-10-97)
In the late 1970s, the cruise industry suffered a setback with the oil crisis and the subsequent rapid inflation of operating cost.
But the turn of the decade shown a dramatic revival, with a record number of new vessels on order.
In those days, Home Lines chose to replace the old Doric with a newbuilding.
The new ship was contracted with the French yard Chantiers du Nord et de la Mediterranee for theprice of $110 millios.
Construction began on the slipway in December 79, the vessel was launched in February 1981 and delivered in April 1982 as Atlantic.
The Atlantic was designed for weekly cruises between New York and Bermuda in the summer, and Caribbean itineraries in the winter.
However, growing competition and the building cost of the new Homeric forced Home Lines to cease operation in 1988.
The last Bermuda cruise of the Atlantic was in September of 1988.
Holland America purchased the ship and chartered out Atlantic to Premier Cruise Line as Starship Atlantic.
A Family Cruise Ship
Premier sent the vessel to Bremerhaven for an extensive refit, which involved increasing passenger capacity to a total of 1,652 by enlarging existing cabins with 452 pulmann berts, and a complete refurbishment of public rooms.
She came out as an excellent family-oriented, fun-filled cruise ship, with red hull.
She sailed the same 3-and 4 day cruise itinerary between Florida to Bahamas for nine years, as Walt Disney official ship.
But Premier lost the Disney contract and her owners decided to draw back from the cruise busiess.
In January of this year, she was bought by Mediterranean Shipping Cruises for $70 million, a high price which reflect her good maintenance.
A third-generation liner
The Atlantic was a low density passenger vessel and carried in her first years a maximum of 1278 passenger.
She had an upperdeck pool with a retractable glass roof, an handsome funnel aft, and a forward limited cargo capacity served by two electric cranes.
She lacks of forecastle, has a disappointing bow, looks forward like a containership, meanwhile her stern is very pleasant, with soft curved surfaces.
The Melody has now a passenger capacity of 1,600 in 549 cabins (392 outside and 157 inside) in six decks (with a size between 14 to 20 square metres).
The international crew is of 535 persons, with Italian and Croatian officers.
With a gross tonnage of 35,143, her passenger space ratio (all berhs) is 21,9, in line with the others MSC's ships (mass market).
She doesn't provided any cabin with balcony.
The cabins are simply furnished, and they are gifted with toilet/shower compartment, individual air conditioning, ship-to-shore phone and a television set.
The cabin insulation is poor. Many cabins can accommodate three or four passengers. At the top of the range there are six suites fitted with sitting room, queen sized bed and bathroom with tub.
The interior decoration is a work by the well know Greek designer A&M Katzourakis. She has a good and spacious lay-out, plenty of public rooms extended throughout the uppermost decks, with high ceilings.
The horizontal layout of the public rooms encourages passenger to circulate from one area to another and different lighting, music or colour schemes help passenger to mix more.
As a curiosity, all the publics rooms have maintained the same names that they have with Premier. It seems that have been only changed the hull colour, the ship's name and the funnel logo.
The lower dining room (deck 2) is a consequence of the passengers' preference for taking most day time meals on open decks or near the pool.
Thus, the full beam Galaxy dining room, with its dome overhead, is mostly used at dinnertime (two sittings).
There is also here the Mid Night Buffet which has tables for 4, 6 or 8 persons (but the tables are very close). It is an actractive place with a certain sense of intimacy.
Above the restaurant's dome (deck 4) is located the concave build Mercury Theater, now used as cinema, which houses 251 guests.
There are two film each day, in four languages. Children can enjoy Pluto's playhouse and Wadding Pool in the Children's Recreation Center at the stern of the Premier deck.
All other public rooms are located in the two upper decks, called Lounge (6) and Pool (7). The deck six (Lounge) houses the handsome full wide Club Universe, for evening and night shows, with live music until 1 a.m.
Its illumination is especially interesting, but there are big pillars that obstruct views. This deck also boasts the Lucky Star Casino (with roulette, craps table, six blackjack tables and lots of slot machines), shops and photo gallery, the Teen Center (the high tech on board disco) and the Junkanoo Bar and Club, also with live music, and an external terrace over the stern.
The former video games room has been closed.
The Pool deck sees the most of the day time activities.
Forward (below the bridge) is located the Sunrise Terrace, with floor to ceiling windows and marvellous views.
Sunrise Terrace is a calm place frequented by the oldest passengers, with old style tables and chairs.
The Riviera Terrace is fitted with a sliding roof above the pool (decorated with a dolphins mosaic). In the night it is used as a live music lounge.
Aft is located the Calypso Pool, surrounded by a natural teak deck, with two jacuzzis, (one adjacent Lido bar) and a lot of sun bath chairs.
Deck 7 also houses the Satellite Cafe (port & starboard) for buffet breakfast and lunches, the fitness center (with massage room and beauty saloon), and an aft small, nautical decorated and intimate local, the Blue Riband Pub.
A jogging track overlooking the Pool deck is located on the Sun deck, the highest deck of the Melody.
The Melody was deployed, since June 1st, for a program of seven day cruises from Genoa through the Mediterranean peak season until late December.
These cruises are marketed mainly for families.
After a transatlantic crossing, she will be positioned in Fort Lauderdale to perform nine 11-day cruises in the Caribbean, with two different itineraries, until April 22nd, 1998.
These cruises will be mainly for Europeans, in the majority retired people.
The Melody has a high speed 23,5 knots. She is propelled by low speed diesel engines and fixed propeller, a noisy propulsion system.
There are on board only four passenger elevators, crowned when the ships is full.
The Melody is fitted with fin stabilizers, which run very well. Thanks her very high dead weight, she is very stable at sea.
MSC and Melody future
Mediterranean Shipping Cruises is the European fastest growing cruise ship operator, with a fleet of four ship, now looking for a fifth one.
This year, MSC is trying to improve its position worldwide: in South Africa with the Symphony, in South America with the Rhapsody and, for the first time, in the Caribbean with the Melody.
In 1996, MSC handled 70,000 passengers, with a 94 % occupancy rate, and this year hopes to raise turnover from $65m.
The Melody is one of the better cruise ship of the Mediterranean, a fresh addition to a fleet composed by classic old passenger ships.
It is supposed to see in the next years a tremendous competition against the Costa hegemony in the western Mediterranean cruise area.
The service onboard is great and the crew is very personable and pleasant. The ship looks pristine both inside and outside, is very spacious and the cabins are roomy, generously equipped and very confortable.
The Melody is the first ship built in the eighties that has left the Caribbean, and I think that she would not be the last, due both to the growing importance of other cruise areas and to the arrival of the new 100,00 grt plus megaliners in the Caribbean.
For further information: Mediterranean Shipping Cruises