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Le Diamant

Le Diamant as seen passing the Buitenhuizen ferry at Spaarnwoude when sailing the Northsea Canal from Amsterdam at the13th of june 2004.

In 1973, the Fearley & Eger Group launched the first of two roro-trailerships that were chartered out to the Dutch company Stoomvaart Maatschappij Oostzee (Baltic Steamship Company). The first was named Begonia and the second one, launched in 1974, was named Gardenia. Although the name of the company suggests differently, the ships were employed from Florida sailing in the Caribbean between 1974 and 1977. From 1977 onwards, the ships were employed in the Baltic as well as in the Mediterranean, before returing to services from Florida from 1980 onwards. Four years later, the Begonia was bought by the German Lloyd Werft at Bremerhaven, to be rebuilt into an exploration cruiseship. This rebuilding took two years and in 1986, the ship emerged as the Explorer Starship. She was placed in the fleet of the Exploration Cruise Line, a company that was also part of the Fearley & Eger Group. For them, she sailed exploration cruises in the waters of Alaska, as well as cruises in the Caribbean. Her services only lasted for a short while, because the company was declared bankrupt in november 1988 and the ship was laid-up at Willemstad, Curacao to await a buyer.

In 1989, she was bought by a new Japanes firm called Meiyo Corporation. She was rebuilt in Norway into a luxury cruiseliner and recieved the shape she is pictured in above. The ship now measured 8.282 tons, she has a lenght of 124,20 meters, a width of 16 meters and a draft of 4,90 meters. Some 200 passengers can sail her, cared for by 144 crewmembers so this passenger to crew ratio shows her style. The ship had now 6 passengerdecks and she was renamed Song Of Flower Mamiko Matsunari. For her, Meiyo Corporation started up a new venture called Seven Seas Cruises and the ship was named in february 1990 at Singapore before she took up Asiatic sailings for the very wealthy. Because her long name semed not too easy, this was quickly altered and shortened to just Song Of Flower. Seven Seas Cruises was bought by K-Line in october of that same year, and in 1993 the company merged with Diamond Cruise, another one-ship operation who was sailing with the SWATH-ship Radisson Diamond. Together with the Radisson group of hotels, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises was formed and the line profiled itself as a very upmarket cruiseline.

In 1996, K-Line pulled out of its cruising operations and the ship was sold to a company called Taiship, based at Hong Kong. This company chartered the ship to Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, so the ships kept sailing for them and for the public, nothing big changed. After Radisson Seven Seas Cruises introduced more modern tonnage, ths ship was eventually sold to the French company Compagnie des Iles du Ponant, who bought the ship together with the French company Tapis Rouge Croisieres. At the 24th of may 2004, she sailed her first cruise for Compagnie des Iles du Diamant, that was created by her owners and for them she was renamed Le Diamant. At the time she entered service, she was by far the largest ship for the company, that sailed with only smaller sized luxury cruiseyaughts since their formation in 1988.

When a new trio of ships was built for Cie. des Iles du Ponant, L'Austral, Le Boreal and Le Soleal, the ship became out of date, of course being built in 1974. In 2012, Le Diamant was therefor sold to Quark Expeditions and started her sailings for them under the name of Ocean Diamond. For her new company, the ship offers a novelty to her passengers as she is the first ship in history that is certified as a carbon-neutral expeditionship. Especially in delicate surroundings, as she mostly sails Antarctic cruises, this is becoming much more of an important issue due to environmental awareness. Popular also is her well stocked library, the possibility to interact with photography instructors during cruises and the panoramic observation lounge. Ocean Diamond is now also one of the most comfortable polar expeditionships you can choose for. 

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