the Star Sapphire

The Star Sapphire was inspired by a real ship Winona sailed on when she was young.

In the summer of 1971, Winona sailed with her mum, her sister, and a friend, from Montreal to Liverpool (and back again, some months later) aboard the Empress of Canada. The Empress of Canada was a Canadian Pacific steamship that sailed a regular route across the Atlantic . However, because of the growth of cheap air travel, her days were numbered, and in November 1971 she was retired from service. 

Here's a photo of the Empress of Canada in her "1971" livery:

Photo credit: Nick's Cruise Corner
No copyright infringement intended.

The Star Sapphire is very similar to the Empress of Canada.... 

The Empress of Canada was built by Vickers-Armstrong of Newcastle, England, and was launched on May 10th, 1960.  Her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Montreal was on April 24th, 1961. She was 650 feet long, 86.6 feet wide, and weighed 27,300 gross tons. She had a draught of 29 feet. Her published service speed was 20 knots, and she was fitted to carry 192 First Class and 856 Tourist Class passengers.

As well as passengers, she was designed to carry 262,000 cubic feet of general cargo. She had two forward holds, and two aft holds, with access via five hatchways.

After retirement from Canadian Pacific....

...the Empress of Canada was sold, in January 1972, to newly founded Carnival Cruise Lines,.where she was refitted and renamed Mardi Gras and became their very first ship.

Here she is, in her new Carnival livery, and now minus two of her forward and both aft cargo cranes, which were no longer needed: The two upright structures aft of the funnel are air intakes for the engine room.

Photo credit: Marshall Christie
www.timelink.org.uk

As the Mardi Gras, she had a long and successful career, cruising the Caribbean, until 1993, when changing market demands made her obsolete.

In the fall of 1993 she was transferred to the Greek operator Epirotiki Lines, where she underwent several name changes as she was chartered out to other companies. In 1995 Epirotiki merged with Sun Lines to form the new company Royal Olympic Cruises, who chartered her, as the renamed Apollon, to UK's Direct Cruises starting in 1999. But when Direct Cruises was acquired by Airtours, the decision was made not to continue the Apollon's cruising schedule, and so she was returned to Greece, where she ran short 3-4 day cruises.

Here she is as the Apollon, looking quite splendid in navy blue and white livery: 

Photo credit: Mike Tedstone
www.simplonpc.co.uk/EmpressOfCanadaPCs.html
No copyright infringement intended.

The end of the Empress of Canada's story....

...is both poignant and sad. Like so many well-known ships before her, she was laid up and ultimately sent to the breakers' yard, despite many attempts from preservation groups to save her. She was beached at Alang, India on December 9, 2003, and ultimately broken up for scrap. 

Here she is, still recognizable... 

Photo credit: www.midshipcentury.com/videoalang1.shtml
No copyright infringement intended.

And so a beautiful ship is lovingly remembered....

In the novel Cold Play, entertainer Jason Davey is in love with his ship, Star Sapphire. Winona felt the same way about the Empress of Canada, so her ship became Jason's ship. In the novel, you'll encounter descriptions and references that came directly from Winona's memory. The Deck Plans on this website were based on the original deck plans for the Empress of Canada / Mardi Gras.

Below you'll find images from the Empress of Canada / Mardi Gras / Apollon. They came from a variety of sources, and the credits are mentioned underneath each picture. Wherever possible, the real shipboard location is linked to its fictitious location aboard the Star Sapphire.

Enjoy the voyage....


Click on the picture above to see the full-size version. This is a brilliant "cutaway" of the Empress of Canada, showing her original Canadian Pacific livery. The painting was created by Laurence Dunn and was the centre-piece of an introductory brochure. 

The cutaway scan was provided by Raymond L. Kennedy, Old Time Trains Archives.
www.trainweb.org/oldtimetrains

In the novel Cold Play, Jason Davey's cabin is located on the starboard side of the ship (shown), on "A": Deck aft. On this graphic, "A" Deck is called "Lower Deck" and is underneath "Restaurant" Deck.

Rick and Carly Redding's stateroom, and the stateroom belonging to Diana Wyndham, are both at the forward end of the ship, on Deck 7 (called "Promenade" Deck in the novel, and on the graphic above shown as "Empress" Deck).

The St. Lawrence Club / Showboat Lounge (TopDeck Lounge)....

Below are some images of the St. Lawrence Club, the first class lounge aboard the Empress of Canada, renamed the Showboat Lounge when she became the Mardi Gras. The real lounge was located at the forward end of Deck 8 (called the "Promenade" Deck in the cutaway graphic above). 

In the novel Cold Play, the St. Lawrence Club became the model for Jason Davey's venue, the TopDeck Lounge. However, it was magically moved from the forward end of Deck 8, to the forward end of Deck 9 ("Sports" Deck), which on the cutaway above is actually the First Class Promenade, a large open area forward of, and underneath, the Bridge, overlooking the bow. 

Above is the Empress of Canada's St. Lawrence Club, aka TopDeck Lounge in the novel, with its original fittings and colour scheme.
Photo credit: www.midshipcentury.com

And here's the St. Lawrence Club / Showboat Lounge, as it was on the Apollon:

Photo credits: www.midshipcentury.com
No copyright infringement intended

The Banff Club / Point After Disco / Club Disco (Disco)....

The Empress of Canada was built before disco's were invented, and so no space was ever formally set aside for that sort of dancing and socializing. However, when the ship became the Mardi Gras, the Banff Club (the Tourist Class cocktail lounge), located at the aft end of "Empress" Deck (Deck 7), was turned into the Point After Disco. 

In Cold Play, DJ Pedro's Disco is also located at the aft end of Deck 7, but the deck has been renamed "Promenade".

Below is the Banff Club, as it was originally designed for the Empress of Canada.

Photo credit: www.simplonpc.co.uk/EmpressOfCanadaPCs.html
No copyright infringement intended.

Below is the same room, called Point After Disco after the Mardi Gras refit, and renamed Club Disco on the Apollon.

  
Photo credit: Marshall Christie
www.timelink.org.uk

The Mayfair Room / Showboat Casino (Casino)....

When the Empress of Canada was built, ocean liners didn't have casinos. They had Bingo in the public rooms, and slot machines on the main public decks, and informal card playing in libraries and smoking rooms.

When the Empress of Canada became the Mardi Gras, her Mayfair Room (the principal First Class lounge) was turned into the Showboat Casino. The venue was located at the forward end of Deck 8 ("Promenade), just behind the St. Lawrence Club (aka Showboat Lounge).

In the novel, the Casino on Star Sapphire is also located at the forward end of Deck 8, but the deck has been renamed "Lido".

Below is the Showboat Casino.


Photo credit: Marshall Christie
www.timelink.org.uk

The Windsor Lounge / Carousel Lounge & Bar / Castaways Lounge

The Windsor Lounge (the main Tourist Class leisure space) was located on Deck 7 ("Empress"), forward of the Banff Club. After her Mardi Gras refit, the Windsor Lounge was renamed Carousel Lounge and Bar. 

In Cold Play, the Carousel Lounge & Bar became Castaways Lounge, where ship's entertainer Jason and Captain's Secretary Sally, spent much of their off-duty hours, observing "ship life."  Castaways is located on Deck 7, renamed "Promenade" in the novel.

Below is the Windsor Lounge, as it was designed for the Empress of Canada


Photo credit: www.cabinclass.com
No copyright infringement intended.

And here's the Carousel Lounge & Bar, completely redesigned for the Mardi Gras.


Photo credit: Marshall Christie
www.timelink.org.uk

The Canada Room / Grand Ballroom (Atrium Room)

The Canada Room, on board the Empress of Canada, was unique in that it was used by both First and Tourist Class passengers. It had a dance floor and a stage, and was actually two decks high, as the dance floor was overlooked by a balcony underneath a decorative dome ceiling. .

The Canada Room was located midship on Deck 7 ("Empress") and its dome and balcony were on Deck 8. After its Mardi Gras refit, the venue was renamed The Grand Ballroom 

On Star Sapphire, this grand space is called The Atrium Room. It's where passengers gather for their lifeboat drill before Sailaway. It's the Muster Station that Jason's assigned to for drills and real emergencies. And it's one of the ship's main lounges. 

Below is a photo of the Canada Room, from the perspective of the original dance floor.


Photo credits: www.midshipcentury.com
No copyright infringement intended

And here's the same room, fitted out as the Grand Ballroom.


Photo credit: Marshall Christie
www.timelink.org.uk

The Carleton Restaurant / Flamingo Dining Room (Seawind Dining Room)

Typical of her time, the Empress of Canada had two formal passenger dining rooms, and no informal eating spaces. All meals were taken in the First Class Dining Room (the Salle Frontenac) and the Tourist Class Dining Room (the Carleton Restaurant). Both dining rooms were located on Deck 4 ("Restaurant"), and were separated by the Galley. 

After the Empress of Canada became the Mardi Gras, most of the Salle Frontenac was converted into new passenger cabins, with a smaller portion of its original space given over to Officer and Staff eating areas. The larger Carleton Restaurant, aft of the Galley, was retained for formal passenger dining, and renamed the Flamingo Dining Room.

In the novel Cold Play, this venue has been renamed the Seawind Dining Room. We often join Jason in the Officers' Mess, which is located on the same deck (Deck 4, renamed "Caribe"), but forward of the Galley, in what would have been the Sapphire's First Class Dining Room in her transatlantic steamer days.

Here's a photo of what the Carleton Restaurant looked like aboard the Empress of Canada.


Photo credits: www.midshipcentury.com
No copyright infringement intended

And here's the same venue, renamed the Flamingo Dining Room.


Photo credit: Marshall Christie
www.timelink.org.uk

The Cinema (Showcase Lounge)

The Empress of Canada had a built-in cinema, located on Deck 5 ("Main"), forward. It had two separate accesses so that First Class and Tourist Class passengers could enter separately. It seated 210, with First Class passengers given the choice "aft" seats furthest away from the screen. Like the Canada Room, the cinema rose through two deck levels, with its upper level occupying the space behind the Purser's Desk on Deck 6 ("Upper").  During long 5-6 day transatlantic crossings, the cinema featured several daily showings of first-run movies, and Winona particularly remembers seeing Alistair MacLean's When Eight Bells Toll there, as the cinema proved to be an extremely good distraction during rough seas (and inevitable bouts of seasickness). 

During her career as the Mardi Gras and Apollon, the cinema was retained as both a venue to show films, and as a conference centre. 

In the novel, Cold PlaySapphire's cinema has been converted to a venue for the ship's nightly stage shows. It's called Showcase Lounge, and its entries and exits are also on Deck 5 (renamed "Baja"). 

Here's a photo of the Apollon's Cinema and Conference Centre.


Photo credit: Marshall Christie
www.timelink.org.uk

A closer representation of what the Showcase Lounge aboard Star Sapphire looks like can be seen below. This is the main showroom aboard another ship Winona sailed on - Fair Princess (built as Carinthia for Cunard Lines, renamed FairSea for Sitmar, Fair Princess for Princess Cruises, and finally China Sea Discovery. Sadly, this lovely ship has also been broken up for scrap.)


Photo credit: www.ssmaritime.com
No copyright infringement intended.

And here's a photo of the corridor outside the Cinema aboard the Mardi Gras, largely unchanged from its original decor as the Empress of Canada. If you've read Cold Play, you'll recognize this important location from Chapter One, as Jason is "going home" for the night, and once again, from much later on in the novel, during a highly dramatic turning point for Jason and his companions.


Photo credit: Marshall Christie
www.timelink.org.uk

The Main Foyer and Purser's Desk

Winona couldn't find any photos of the main entrance foyer, or the Purser's Desk, from the Empress of Canada / Mardi Gras / Apollon. However a lovely photo of the main foyer and Purser's Desk exists from Fair Princess. The Fair Princess was of the same vintage as the Empress of Canada, and so her layout was very similar. 


Photo credit: www.ssmaritime.com
No copyright infringement intended.

In Cold Play, the main entrance foyer and Purser's Desk are located on Deck 6 ("Aloha"). This is where Purser Quentin MacPherson and Chief Purser Barry Charles work, and where passengers initially board and disembark the ship. This is also where associated offices like Shore Excusions (Shorex) and Security are located.

The Bridge

Elsewhere on this website you can do a virtual tour of Star Sapphire's fictitious Bridge, complete with photos.

Here's a photo of the real Bridge aboard the Empress of Canada / Mardi Gras


                                                                                               Photo: Rich Turnwald
                                                                                              www.classicliners.net
                                                                                  No copyright infringement intended.

Passenger Cabins

The Empress of Canada had two classes of cabin - First and Tourist. But the layout and design of each cabin varied, according to where it was located on the ship. All of the First Class cabins had private toilets and either a bath or a shower. Seventy percent of the Tourist Class cabins had private toilets and number of them also had private showers.  

By today's standards, all of the cabins were fairly functional and basic, although their decor was notable for their wood panelling in both classes.  

Below is an example of one of the Empress of Canada's twin-bedded First Class cabins - similar to the cabin that Diana Wyndham occupies, aboard Star Sapphire, in Cold Play.


Photo credit: Marshall Christie
www.timelink.org.uk

Here is that same category of cabin on the Mardi Gras, now renamed "Category 12" (one of the more expensive ones).


Photo credit: Rob Obrien collection
www.classicliners.net/MARDI-GRAS.html
No copyright infringement intended

Here's a "Category 5" cabin aboard the Mardi Gras - typical of the kind of Tourist Class cabin passengers would have enjoyed aboard the Empress of Canada. Indeed, this is exactly like the cabin Winona occupied on her voyage aboard the ship in 1971.


Photo credit: Rob Obrien collection
www.classicliners.net/MARDI-GRAS.html
No copyright infringement intended

Officer and Crew Cabins

Because Winona wasn't able to locate photos of Officer and Crew cabins aboard the Empress of Canada, Mardi Gras or Apollon, she fell back on her knowledge of Officer and Crew cabins aboard ships she travelled on as an adult, in order to write about Sally and Jason's cabins on  Star Sapphire.

On the Empress of Canada, Officers' cabins were located forward on Deck 9 ("Sports"), just below the Bridge. Her crewmembers were housed forward on Deck 6 ("Upper"), forward on Deck 4 ("Restaurant"), and through most of "Lower Deck" (the deck below "Restaurant").

On Star Sapphire, the Officer cabins are located on Deck 10 ("Sun"), behind the Bridge. This is also where Sally (the Captain's Secretary) has her office, although her cabin is down on Deck "A", in the same general area as Jason's cabin. All of the crew, staff and entertainers  aboard the Sapphire are housed on Decks "A", "B" and "C".

Here's a cabin which might be typical of the sort of accommodation a ship's guest entertainer, like Jason, might be housed in.

That's not my cabin!

Cheeky! Whose cabin is it then? I gave you that little stuffed yellow bird, Jase! And I was with you when you bought that blanket in Cozumel!


And here are two view of the sort of cabin a Captain's Secretary like Sally might occupy....

That's definitely your cabin, Sal! I recognize the posters!  We won't tell anyone the curtains are fake and there's nothing but rivets behind them :)


Run Away to Sea (I)

In the novel Cold Play, Jason has run away to sea after a personal tragedy. Hanging on his cabin wall is a poster which actually illustrates his decision. The poster is real. Winona has it on her wall too!

.Printed: 1966

                      Printed: 1958

These posters were part of a campaign created originally in 1958 by David Ogilvy (later Ogilvy & Mather) for the Orient Line and later revived to advertise P&O-Orient Lines and P&O Worldwide services. The young boy was four-year-old Anthony Ashbolt of Sydney and P&O Officer, Roy Cookman photographed by Tom Hollyman on board ORONSAY.
Photo credit: P&O Heritage
No violation of copyright intended.

Run Away to Sea (II)


                                                      Two unusual views of the Empress of Canada / Mardi Gras, in drydock in 1986.
                                                                                            Photos: Rich Turnwald
                                                                                              www.classicliners.net
                                                                                  No copyright infringement intended.


                                                    This picture is actually of Fair Princess, but it typifies the sort of
                                                       open decking that could be found on ships like Star Sapphire.
                                                                       (photo from Winona's personal collection)


                                                                                           The view from the stern.
                                                                               (photo from Winona's personal collection)


                                                             A photo Winona took aboard the Empress of Canada in 1971.
                                                                         (photo from Winona's personal collection)


                                         Somewhere between Montreal and Liverpool, 1971, aboard the Empress of Canada.
                                                                        (photo from Winona's personal collection)

 

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