SS "LEONARDO DA VINCI" a remarkable liner with a short career

The SS "LEONARDO DA VINCI" was an ocean liner built by ANSALDO SHIPYARDS at Genoa in 1960, the ship was intended as a replacement for the ill-fated ANDREA DORIA to operate on the North Atlantic run with ITALIAN LINE, she was as built 33.340 GRT and had a top speed of 25.5 knots. The ship left on her maiden voyage on the 30th June 1960 from Genoa to New York, she was kept on this service until 1965 when the new superliners MICHELANGELO and RAFFAELLO entered service, LEONARDO was then used on cruising in the MED, CARIBBEAN, SOUTH and NORTH AMERICA, after the withdrawal of the new superliners from service on the North Atlantic due to lack of passengers  LEONARDO was back on the transtlantic service, but only for a brief spell, she went back to cruising until 1978 when she arrived at La Spezia in Italy to be laid up, she caught fire in 1980 and was considered a total loss, she was finally scrapped in 1982, a brief career for such a beautiful ship, she was not a lucky vessel unfortunately, she has never properly been converted to full time cruising, so never very profitable. Images of my private collection


  1. From what I have read she also had a very high fuel consumption, which undoubtedly had a negative effect on her performance both as a cruise ship and as a liner.

  2. Hi Kalle
    thanks for your comment, yes very true, these 50's and 60's liners propelled by steam turbines had an extremely high comsumption, to be later converted as cruise ships many saw their engine rooms cut in half, like FRANCE, propellers changed, CANBERRA,QE2 saw a radical change, LEONARDO unfortunately was left as original, so never really profitable, also on short cruises, turbines are too expensive, too many manoeuvres, they don't feel comfortable, they were conceived for long distance voyages, so that they could keep stable, learn that on the GUGLIELMO MARCONI's engine room in 1976, also apparently many of leonardo's cabins were left untouched so therefore never used, shame, she had a very short active life, deserved better luck

    all the best

  3. Hello
    From the published information on Da Vinci, Ansaldo threw her together. Apparently they stretched the Doria/Columbo hull by 100 feet. This increased her weight. It also altered the optimum hull form, increasing draft causing the engines to work harder propelling the ship forward. Increased work, increased fuel consumption. The engineers and builders of Da Vinci did lots of things wrong. Italia could have prevented design flaws had management understood the problems. They redeemed themselves with the super liners M & R but face it, Italia was not too swift managing these ships either.

  4. Sailed on the Leonardo di Vinci in August 1978. We sailed from Miami to the Bahamas. It was my honeymoon. I am assuming this is the same liner. Truly enjoyed the liner and the service.

  5. hello...after reading your article, I just want to correct a date. I came to the u.s. in 1969 with the beautiful ship DaVinci...therefore it was not kept for voyages till 1965 as you state in your article. It was years after 1969.

  6. On July 20, 1967 I was nine and my family sailed First Class on the LdV from Pier 90 in NYC to Lisboa, Gibraltar, Palma de Mallorca, Genoa, Palermo and disembarked in Napoli. Our 1965 Oldsmobile Jetstar 88 was loaded into the hold and pulled out in Naples for us to drive to Den Haag. I can remember like it was we pulled away from the per (streamers and all) the First Class band played "I could have danced all night" and "Arrivederci Roma" What a privilege to experience what it was like as the "Golden Age of Transatlantic Crossing" was just about to end.

    1. My family did similar trips. Once in 69 and once in 72. We got off in Genoa both times. We went in Tourist class if I remember correctly. I also remember the streamers and party as we left NYC.

      I don't remember stopping in Gibraltar, but do remember stopping in Lisbon and Palama de Mallorca. I think on one of the trips we stopped in Malaga, Spain.

      I don't remember which leg/trip, but we also sailed on the SS Columbo as well.

  7. I came to the U.S. on 11.29.62 on this ship and would like to know if there is anyone out there who came on the same voyage. I'd like to know where we disembarked in N.Y. and if there is a manifest somewhere. I'm trying to locate two friends that I made on this ship, an Italian and a French Canadian.

  8. My bride and I sailed on the Leonardo leaving New York July 10 1962 for Naples with a stop in Gibraltar. We were on our honeymoon and are still together 53 years later. We have wonderful memories of that voyage. I wish I could find a passenger list but no luck so far.

  9. In 1975 I took the Leonardo home after a year abroad studying in Rome with several of my classmates, student rate. It was cheaper than flying. We boarded in Naples, with stops in Genoa, Barcelona, Gibraltar, and Lisbon. I want to say it was a 12 or 14 day trip. As we were students, we were given cramped rooms below decks, but others got first class suites.A roommate was given to three of my female friends. She was obviously mentally unstable and disappeared one night after departing Lisbon. It was assumed she jumped overboard, which was concluded at an inquest. The actor Donald Sutherland was aboard and frequently dined with us. My first taste of brains, served at the midnight buffet.

  10. I remember. many times accompany my maternal grandfather (Nonno) to the Italian Lines on the west side of NYC for passage aboard the Leonardo da Vinci, Cristoforo Colombo, and the Michelangelo during the early 1960s. Magnificent cruise ships of their day, I recall very ornate like the Titanic. Great era for travel👍🛳


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