Is always nice when we manage to find people that have direct links to any new wreck that is found. Read below the story from Peter Bruce detailing his connections to the wreck.
The large ferry ‘Al Qamar El Saudi’, which you found on the bottom of the Red Sea off Hurgada, is a most interesting ship. My father is from Aalborg in Denmark and he photographed what was then the Trekroner when in very new condition. The ship was one of five similar car and passenger ferry-liners built in Italy for the big Danish shipping company DFDS in that latter-1960s/early 1970s. Two were on the Aalborg-Copenhagen route, but the service was not a success for a variety of reasons and the ships were quickly withdrawn. They were given a pretty radical rebuilding in Marseille in France to convert them from overnight ferries into more luxurious cruise-type ferries with outdoor swimming pools and like facilities. Then, they were placed in service by DFDS in the Mediterranean as the Dana Sirena and the Dana Corona. I remember them at this stage in their careers and they were very beautiful – and rather luxurious.
The architect who designed the interiors, Kay Korbing, was a good friend of ours and he made a splendid job of these ships. Throughout, they were panelled in rosewood and paduak veneer and he purpose-designed all the furniture and lighting (the latter used thick Swedish Orrefors crystal – very expensive!) When DFDS got into some financial difficulties in the 1980s, they closed their Mediterranean routes and sold the ships – one to China and the other to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-purchase was re-named the Al Qamar El Saudi II, which I think means ‘Saudi Moon II’ in Arabic. She later passed to Egyptian owners and seems to have fallen rapidly into decline. The travel broadcaster and ex-Monty python star Michael Palin sailed on her from Suez (Port Twefik) to Jeddah in 1988 when making ‘Around the World in Eighty Days. The programme showed a lot of the ship onboard and she looked pretty grotty.
By 1994, she was apparently in a very poor mechanical condition and there were reports in Lloyd’s list that her voyages between Jeddah and egyptian ports were taking a very long time, suggesting that latterly she could maintain no more than 10 knots. I guess that the boiler explosion and fire were inevitable!
Many thanks Peter for the information that you have provided to us so we can share it with other Technical divers.