Prinz Regent Luitpold
The North German Lloyd Steamship Company
The Norddeutscher Lloyd or North German Lloyd (NDL) had owned the Prinz Regent Luitpold. They were a German shipping company founded on 20 February 1857 by Hermann Henrich Meier and Eduard Crüsemann when the Ocean Steam Navigation Company, a joint German-American enterprise, went into dissolution. Between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, NDL was among the most important German shipping companies. Much later, on 1 September 1970, it was merged with the Hamburg American Line and eventually the Hapag-Lloyd (HAPAG) was born.
The New York Times of 22 September 1894 reads: ‘Two new and fast steamers, which will ply from Bremen to Asia and Australia, have been added to the fleet of the North German Lloyd Steamship Company of Bremen. They are named, respectively, Prinz Regent Luitpold and Prinz Heinrich, and are sister ships. They were built by F. Schichau in Danzig, Germany. They are twin-screw steamers of 7,000 tons and 6,000 horse power engines, with a speed of 15 knots. The engines of each vessel consists of two-cylinder compound engines, built on a new system, which was first introduced by the builder in the Austrian iron-clad Tegathoff, by which there is no vibration or noise when they are going at full speed.’ The report did not leave aside the passenger amenities as well: ‘The passenger accommodations are of the best. The first and second cabins are on the upper deck, the first cabin being forward, and the second cabin aft of the engine hatch. The passenger rooms are unusually large and well ventilated by large portholes, and in bad weather by patent ventilators, and on the inside by a wide gangway and skylights. The staterooms are fitted with extending berths. The saloons are arranged in the modern English style. The saloons and social halls for first cabin passengers are forward of the engines on the promenade deck. The dining saloon opens on three sides, and is lighted and ventilated by twenty large windows and a mosaic glass dome skylight. Connected with the first cabin is a promenade deck 200 feet long and protected by a shelter deck. Special attention has been paid to the second cabin. The dining saloon, which accommodates eighty passengers, the ladies cabin, and the smoking room, are in deckhouse under the poop. For third-class passengers there are 1,000 berths, and several special compartments accommodate from two to twelve persons additional.’ The report ended with the information that: ‘The Prinz Regent Luitpold left Bremen on her maiden trip [on] Aug. 29.’
Prinz Regent Luitpold , a twin screw vessel with a single funnel, was built as an imperial mail steamer. With length and beam of 455.3 feet and 50.2 feet respectively, the ship had one chimney with two masts and could accommodate 224 first class, 101 second class and 850 third class or steerage passengers. In September 1899 an additional deck was added to her in the newly constructed dry dock at Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven. On 29th August 1894 the Luitpold had sailed on her maiden voyage from Bremen to Australia via the Suez. On 1 May 1897 she took her first Bremen — New York voyage, and continued in the same route till December 1900.
When her Australian Voyage came to its end in 1910, the Luitpold was put to in the Far East services.In May 1904 she began sailing in the Bremen — Suez — Far East route. At the advent of the First World War in August 1914, Luitpold was interned in Italy. Later, when Italy joined the War, she was seized by the Italian Government, renamed to Pietro Calvi, and put to sail with the Italian Flag. In 1928 the ship was scrapped.
Swami Vivekananda boarded the Luitpold from Naples on 30 December 1896. In the early morning of 15 January 1897 he first glimpsed the coast of Ceylon, the then British crown colony. Referring to that great moment his biography reads: ‘Gradually the harbor of Colombo with its majestic cocoa palms and its yellow-sanded beach came into view.’ But the Swami had no idea what awaited him in Colombo. One of his English companions aboard the ship later wrote: ‘We reached Colombo at 4 o’clock on Friday, January 15, and caught sight of a steam launch coming out with a sannyasi on board, who proved to be Swami Niranjananada. …It took us a long time to put ashore, but when we did, we found a dense crowd waiting, who cheered the Swami vociferously. The Swami then entered a carriage drawn by two horses, and with coachman and syces in gorgeous livery. …We drove slowly through the city to the Cinnamon Gardens. There, in Barness St., a new house, never before occupied, was placed in our disposal. …The road leading up to the house for a quarter of a mile was beautifully decorated with palm branches, and with, at either end, a very beautiful triumphal arch of bamboo, and the words, “Welcome to Swami Vivekananda”. Flags and banners were everywhere. …The procession was headed by the native band, tomtoms, etc., and the sacred umbrellas and banners brought out only when a God or idol is in procession, were also used.’
Before he went to his second visit to the West, Vivekananda remained in India for around two and a half years. He established the Ramakrishna Mission which led the course of Indian spiritual aspirations to a unique path. On 2 June 1899 the Indian Mirror, an eminent Indian newspaper, wrote: ‘Swami Vivekananda … has decided to leave for Europe and will probably embark early in June. The Swami, we believe, has a double object in view, viz., to benefit his health by the voyage, and to resume his work in England and America after complete recovery.’
Thus on 20 June 1899 the Swami left the Calcutta port on the River Hooghly aboard the SS Golconda.
Hermann Henrich Meier
SSPrinz Regent Luitpold
NDL Prepaid passage ticket
NDL'S Emblem (Courtesy: Till F. Teenck, Wikimedia Commons)
Mail transported by SS Prinz Regent Luitpold
Colombo Port in 1890s