Sunday, 12 September 2010

Leisure World

During my recent visit to Singapore, I finally met up with Jonathan Boonzaier (who writes for the international maritime newspaper Tradewinds). Jonathan is very widely travelled (his photographs on Flickr under 'World Discoverer' are worth checking out) and has as unique an accent as I do (South African/Canadian, as opposed to my own peculiar Danish/Scottish mix). He is also a sceptical liberal and a life-long ship enthusiast - just like me. All in all, a very splendid chap.

He very kindly fixed up a visit to the casino ship Leisure World, owned by New Century Cruise Line, which spends most of her time at anchor off Singapore, alternately near the Indonesian and Malaysian coasts. To reach the ship from Singapore, one must take two fast ferries - but the trip is very worthwhile. The Leisure World was originally constructed in 1969 as the Skyward of Norwegian Caribbean Line, arguably the world's first purpose-built mass market cruise ship (if one discounts the Nazi Kraft durch Freude liners of the 1930s). During the past decade, she has been somewhat rebuilt to suit her current operation, with new casinos added in glassfibre deckhouses towards her stern. Inboard, she is a fascinating mix of 'first generation' Caribbean cruise ship and Asian casino vessel. Notwithstanding her quirky decoration, she remains in remarkably good condition - although it is obvious that she will never return to international service as a 'proper' cruise liner.

Approaching Leisure World on the fast ferry (left) and toilets with a view (right)

Heffalumps - do not touch the precious artwork!

Hallways - still largely intact from the NCL era

Show lounge and restaurant

The exclusive Tuna Suite

Captain's cabin and builder's plate

Things forbidden inside the casino - and a little shrine on deck

The Tropicana Deck

Jonathan - creature of moderation at all times - and karaoke in the (otherwise empty) Tropicana Lounge

The sort of joint my father warned me about (but that, hitherto, I've rarely found next to the funnels on a ship)

The shapely bridge and forward viewing deck

Leaving Leisure World, again by fast ferry


  1. Great story and photos, as only a "skeptical liberal" could show and tell. Thanks so much.

  2. Absolutely fascinating. Thanks.