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Service of Raffaello



T/N Raffaello (1965 - 1983) - Tonnage: 45.933 gross tons - Lenght: 276,2 meters - Width: 30,3 meters
Deep draught: 10,4 meters - Hull No.: 1864 - Radio Callsign: IBLO - 1.775 passengers: 535 First Class, 550 Cabin Class, 690 Touris Class - Crew: 725 persons








  The second ship of Italia Line's new duo was launched from the shipyard "San Marco" of Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico in Monfalcone (Trieste), in March 24, 1963. As well happened for the Michelangelo, at the launch was present the President of the Italian Republic, but this time, the ship was launched by Mrs. Giuliana Merzagora, the wife of the president of the Senate.

Although the magnificence and futurism of its interiors, during her career the Raffaello was never as celebrated as her sister, and generally her life proved to be much more uneventful.


After the first tests on sea, Raffaello soon received some modifications to the screws and to some parts of the transmission that fixed the strong vibrations generated when the ship steamed at the maximum speed. The modifications were finished in June 1965. Successively, the same modifications were successively applied also to Michelangelo.


In 10 July 1965 she was finally ready and as a last rehearsal before her maiden voyage, she made a 7 days Mediterranean cruise, passing through Cannes, Malta, Piraeus and Naples. Among the 1,200 passengers were the President of the Italian Senate Merzagora and his wife, Mrs. Giuliana Merzagora, was the godmother of the ship.

On 25 July 1965 she left Genoa with 1.121 passengers for New York for the first time on the route that was intended to be her main playing field.


  The Raffaello (or Raf, as she was nicknamed) provided perfect service from the very beginning, with her luxurious and very Italian restaurants, her six swimming pools, and generally by being one of the most beautiful ships both on the inside and the outside to ever serve on any route. Originally she was also faster than her sister, probably owing to her slightly longer and narrower hull. however, when the Michelangelo's screws and transmission were changed during her first winter overhaul in January 1966, she overtook her sister on that front.



  Differently than Michelangelo, the Raffaello suffered a certain unluckiness to her propeller apparatuses during her life.

  In October 31, 1965 (her 5th only voyage) while she was en route to Gibraltar a fire suddenly broke out in the aft engine room. One crewman, removing a thermometer had accidentally caused hot oil to spray on an electrical control panel. Luckily the fire claimed no lives, but forced the ship to steam by only the right screw and without one pair of stabilizers. The sea conditions were also foreseen to get worse, with 30 knots wind speeds and 20 meter high waves, so Captain Oscar Ribari wisely decided to turn back. During the turning in the storm, the ship's rolling caused minor injuries to about sixty passengers. The ship arrived to Genoa in 6 November where she was repaired and was soon back in service.

  On 17 October 1966 her departure from Genoa was postponed because of one serious problem with boiler n. 1.

  On 19 May 1970 Raffaello accidentally collided with the Norwegian tanker Cuyahoga in Algeciras Bay, on the southern coast of Spain. Luckily there were no casualties and  only tore one empty oil tank of the tanker. Raffaello's crossing was delayed and the ship stopped 8 days for temporary reparations at Gibraltar. During these days the passengers where hosted aboard at total costs of the navigation Company, and offered tourist also excursions to the city. In this page you can found some rare images of the damage.

  On 28 September 1973, under the command of the captain Dario de Visintini, Raffaello had once again turn back en route, after only 40 miles away from Naples, because of problems to the propeller apparatus. She returned to Genoa for the reparations which endured until 6 October, with 1.144 passengers aboard, at total cost of the Company.


  After the deadly accident in 1966 that happened to Michelangelo during a storm, also Raffaello's forward superstructure's sheets made by aluminium alloy were replaced by steel. One abnormal wave tore the forward superstructures of Michelangelo, claiming three lives onboard the ship and many injured. So Italian Line wisely decided not to take any chances. For more details please see the page "Michelangelo accident".


But in the same year the Raffaello was the protagonist of an unique event. The Alfa Romeo carried some models of the Spider 1600 on the Raffaello, to be presented to the American market. One Spider was exhibited in the party lounge of the first class, during the whole journey. Meanwhile for the first time in the navy history, 2 cars run using the first class lido as track. You can see some photos of this event in the photo gallery "Interiors Raffaello".


The magnificent 1st class restaurant of Raffaello - Il favoloso ristorante di 1a classe della Raffaello

Even though the Raffaello was slightly bigger then her sister (only 22 tons to be exact) and equally wonderful, the Michelangelo was always the main ship of the Italia Lines, and Raffaello simply her little sister. So when the transatlantic liners started losing more and more of their passengers to the jet airplane, the Raffaello was the one who was sent to gather alternative income from cruises while the Michelangelo remained on the Atlantic route. The times when the ships were simultaneously travelling on the transatlantic route were very exciting for the passengers. The two beauties would pass each other on the sea, both travelling at approximately 26 knots, thus passing each other with combined speed of over 50 knots. The ships would blow their horns, passengers would fire flares, fly balloons and the powerful waves shake the other ship. The ships were ordered to pass each other as near as was safely possible to get the most from such occasions.


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