THE AROSA LINE – Immigrants and Students – Compañia Internacional Transportadora 1952-1958

Cruise History: The Compañia Internacional Transportadora or Arosa Line was founded by Nicolo Rizzi.  He was a Swiss/Italian financier.   A little known shipping service – THE AROSA LINE – it provided Trans-Atlanitc service for immigrants and students.

The company was known as a Swiss organization – all the ships were registered in countries of convenience – such as Panama and Liberia.

These were small ships, without stabilizers and could provide a very rough crossing.

A limited amount of first class passengers were carried on each liner.  This was done to secure a lower tourist class fare.  It was a required by the Trans-Atlantic Passenger Steamship Conference.



During the 1950s, it was difficult to operate an all tourist class ship because of the association.  Passenger companies had to belong to the TA Conference in order to sell easily to travel agents and have an exchange for tickets should passengers want to return on another line.

These are  various shipboard photos of sailing aboard THE AROSA LINE in the 1950s.  Many students were carried.

Rizzi took advantage of the immigrant trade, along with students and tourists on limited budgets, sailing from Canada, the USA to Europe.

His company filled a niche for half a decade.

But cheaper air fares, the jets, competition from mayor companies such as Cunard, French Line, US Lines, etc. – who were matching his fares and had newer ships – soon forced the Arosa Line into bankruptcy.

Exchange students going to Germany ’58-59. Sailing under the auspices of American Friends Service on the SS Arosa Star.

German students sailing to Canada – Captian’s party aboard the SS Arosa Star.

The Arosa Line had quite a collection of ships that operated for other lines.  They are:

SS Arosa Kulm – Built in 1919 by American International Shipbuilding Corp., Hog Island, Pennsylvania | ex- Cantigny (US Army transport), ex- American Banker 1924 for American Merchant Lines, 1934 transferred to United States Lines, 1940 sold to Société Maritime Anversoise, Belgium renamed Ville d’Anvers, 1945 returned to USL, 1946 transferred to Isbrandtsen Line renamed City of Athens, 1947 sold to Incres Line renamed Protea, 1952 sold to Arosa Line renamed Arosa Kulm, 1959 scrapped at Bruges. (8,929 Tons) Flying the Panamanian flag, she sailed from Bremen on 18 March 1952 for Zeebrugge, Southampton and Halifax.  Starting Arosa Line service.

First and Tourist Class Passengers facilities aboard The Arosa Line.

MS AROSA SKY – Was Arosa Line’s most modern ship but her career was brief.

MS Arosa Sky – Built in 1944 by Société Provencale de Construction Navale, La Ciotat.  Launched as Marechal Pétain but scuttled in German retreat, 1947 raised and renamed La Marseillaise, 1949 entered service, 1957 purchased from Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes renamed Arosa Sky, 1958 sold to Costa renamed Bianca C, 1959 rebuilt 18,427gt, 22 October 1961 explosion in engine room when anchored at Grenada abandoned by passengers and crew and foundered in deep water. (17,321 Tons).  This was their best ship but saw very limited service.

Rizzo begun assembling a trans-Atlantic passenger line after World War II. He chose the name “Arosa” in honour of the Swiss village where he and his wife had spent their honeymoon. With the purchase of La Marseilles the Arosa line acquired a new flagship. She underwent a three month re-fit at Marseilles and was transformed from a luxury liner to a more utilitarian vessel with accommodation for 64 first class and 834 tourist class passengers.

Re-christened the Arosa Sky, the largest and newest liner of the Arosa Line left Marseilles on 10 May 1957 for a cruise to Le Havre and Bremerhaven where she arrived on 16 May. Under the command of Captain Clemens Broering she sailed the next day on her maiden trans-Atlantic voyage via Southampton and Halifax to New York. The passengers included a large number of immigrants as well as refugees from Hungary. The crossing was rough in heavy seas but the ship arrived safely in Halifax on May 24th and then continued on to New York where she arrived on May 26th. The Arosa Sky began her last voyage from Bremerhaven on September 21, 1958, and arrived in New York on the 30th. On her return to Europe, she was sold to the Costa Line.

Accommodations aboard the SS AROSA STAR.


Arosa Star - Built in 1930 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Quincy, Mass. | ex- Borinquen built for New York & Porto Rico Steamship Company, ex- Puerto Rico 1949, 1954 purchased from A.H. Bull, New York renamed Arosa Star, 1959 sold to Eastern Steamship renamed Bahama Star, 1969 sold to Western Steamship Co. renamed La Jenelle, 13 April 1970 destroyed while under tow on her way to being converted into a floating hotel. (9,070 Tons)


Arosa Sun - Built in 1930 by Ateliers & Chantiers de La Loire, St. Nazaire | ex- Felix Roussel and 1955 purchased from Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes renamed Arosa Sun.  In 1960 she was sold to Dutch Hoogovens and used as a stationary hotel ship, 1974 scrapped.

Hungarian Immigrants going through Canadian Immigration aboard the SS AROSA SUN and dockside photo of relatives waiting.

Routes and voyages:

– Regular – Quebec, Le Havre, Southampton, Bremerhaven. Southampton and / or Le Havre sometimes omitted on eastbound voyages.
– Return Bremerhaven to Quebec, normally with calls at either Zeebrugge or Hoek van Holland, and with occasional calls at Southampton and Le Havre.
Hamburg, Southampton, Le Havre, Quebec.
– One westbound voyage to Montreal instead of Quebec.
– Eastbound voyages from Quebec (one from Montreal) called at Cuxhaven with debarkation for Hamburg; one voyage from Quebec to Bremerhaven instead of Cuxhaven.
– Regular – Bremerhaven, Southampton, Le Havre, Montreal.
– One westbound voyage to Quebec instead of Montreal ; one non-stop Bremerhaven-Montreal.
– One eastbound voyage from Quebec instead of Montreal ; Southampton omitted on one voyage.
– One voyage from Bremerhaven to Southampton, Le Havre and Quebec. Return from Quebec to Zeebrugge and Bremerhaven.
– One voyage from Bremerhaven via Zeebrugge to New York. Return from New York to Le Havre.
– One voyage from Le Havre to New York. Return from New York to Le Havre and Bremerhaven.

In 1957 there was a decline in passengers to and from Canada and the Arosa Line undertook a series of Caribbean cruises from New York between December 1957 and April 1958 and also cruised from Miami, but the results were disastrous owing to several mishaps with the ships.

In September 1958 the Arosa Line was forced to sell the AROSA SKY to the Costa Line and in December that year the AROSA STAR was arrested at Bermuda for debts. On 10 April 1959 a judge at Geneva declared the company bankrupt.

The AROSA KULM was scrapped at Bruges, the AROSA STAR sold for further services and the AROSA SUN was bought by a Dutch concern as a floating hostel for their workers at Ijmuiden.

The SS AROSA STAR ended up wrecked off the coast of California. Click here to read more about the SS AROSA SUN wreckage.


About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

One comment

  1. My parents and I were on the last Trans-Atlantic crossing of the SS Arosa Sky in September 1958. It was during that time that the ship and passengers encountered Hurricane Helene delaying our arrival in New York. So many years ago!

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