Guests relaxing in a ships lounge.

Guests relaxing in a ships lounge.

Many Wilhelmsen vessels used to carry passengers in addition to cargo. It was a service that boomed in the years following the Second World War.

Words & photos: Wilhelmsen

While people previously travelled by cargo liner more for work than for pleasure, in the absence of other means of transport, such voyages acquired an increasingly recreational character. Those with plenty of time and money could enjoy the combination of peaceful days at sea, relaxation, an intimate shipboard community and exotic ports rarely visited by big passenger liners.

The restructuring of liner services after 1970 had consequences for passenger traffic as well. That applied to the sailing pattern, with fewer and shorter port calls, and not least to increased cost because of new crewing regulations and higher crew expenses. Three stewardesses were now required, for instance. There used to be just one of two.

Talisman, built in the 50’s and equipped to carry passengers to far away places.

After a thorough review of future profitability, Wilhelmsen decided on a gradual reduction and winding up of its passenger services from 1970, initially from Scandinavia and Europe to the USA, West Africa and the Far East.

Talabot and three sister ships delivered by Mitsui in 1967-68 were the last of the company’s cargo liners to be outfitted for 12 passengers, while conventional cargo liners were all replaced by RoRo carriers without passenger facilities. However, Wilhelmsens passenger department continued its business as Wilhelmsens Reisebyrå (Wilhselmsen’s Travel Agency).

The former passenger cabins were taken over by crew members, giving better facilities for the crew as well as some reduction in net tonnage and therefore port fees.