was July 17, 1956 when Signor Benito Curcio arrived at the Genoa pier
where the Andrea Doria was waiting for her 51st crossing to New
York. The boarding doors opened at 8 a.m. and for the next three hours
Benito and other passengers would board the ship and begin to settle into
their cabins for their nine day crossing.
Ballet dancer Nora Kovach and her husband Istvan
Rabovsky boarded the ship and found they had been assigned Cabin 56. The
assigned cabin was $60.00 more than they cared to pay and they were
moved to Cabin 77. Their frugality saved their lives.
Alessandro Forza, Giuseppe Mocchi and Salvatore Molino were officers on
a Liberian tanker, Esmeralda and they were returning to the tanker
docked in New Jersey after
their vacation in Italy.
Barboni took an airplane to Italy to visit his dying mother. The
flight made him so nervous that he decided it would be safer to travel
by ship and he boarded the Andrea Doria.
was scheduled for 11 a.m. and shortly before the departure time, the
ship's loudspeakers informed visitors it was time to go ashore.
At 11 a.m. the announcement is made, "La nave e in partenza!"
(The ship is departing). After the spumante-soaked buon voyage parties,
it was time to go to the Belvedere Deck of the Andrea Doria.
Whistle steam billowed against the red-white-green bands on her funnel,
the blasts echoing against the hills of her home port of Genoa, as she
slips her moorings.
First stop in the
commuter rounds of the Mediterranean Sea is Cannes on the French Rivera
only a few hours from Genoa.
Mr. and Mrs. Thure Peterson from New Jersey boarded the ship and were
assigned to Cabin 56, the cabin Nora Kovack and Istvan Robovsky
refused to take.
Julianne Mclean, a concert pianist, was making her third trip on the
Andrea Doria, she was returning from Brussels where she
participated in the Queen Elizabeth Concours. Tired and homesick she was
happy to be aboard an "old friend".
The next day, July 18, is the Italian port
of Naples. In Naples a large groups of Italian immigrants came on
Antonio De Rubeis, his ticket in hand, stood on the pier and said
goodbye to his wife and five children. A round of hugs for all led to
tears, the hope of finding work and a better life in a new
Santino Porporino boarded with his pregnant wife, Antonietta, and their
two young children, Giuseppe and Bruna. They made there way to C Deck
and settled into two separate cabins.
Angela Moscatiello boarded with her two son's Luigi and Michael, they
were on their way to Troy NY to live with cousins. Her three older
children would follow at a later date.
and Maria Russo
and their two small children Giovanna and Vincenza were on their way to
Venezuela to live. They came from a town called Ruvo del Monte. They day
before they left for the trip, they visited their aunt Filomena.
Maria went in desperation, she told her aunt. "Aunt Filomena, I
don't know why but I feel in my heart a terrible thing, really terrible,
I don't want to leave." Her aunt attempted to calm her down and
told her that if she didn't like Venezuela Michele had promised they
would return back to Italy. The following morning they left their house
and while boarding the taxi, 8 year old Vincenza turned around, screamed
and cried and started climbing back up the many steps to her home.
Michele went up after her and brought her back. Traveling along with the
family was Michelina
Suozzi, a neighbor from the same town. Michelina was going to
Philadelphia to join the rest of her family. She was a quiet and afraid
of making the trip by herself and she waited until the Russo family was
going so she would be in the company of friendly people she knew. Maria
and Vincenza's premonition of trouble was correct, the family would
never reach New York.
After leaving Naples, the Andrea Doria arrived at
Gibraltar on July 20. The Andrea Doria did not dock at Gibraltar,
but anchored offshore, forcing the passengers to take a launch out to the ship.
As they approached the liner Francis
Thieriot, a Phi
Beta Kappa scholar who thrived on detail, looked up at the ship.
"See that doorway?" he asked his son Peter. "That leads
to the foyer where we'll board." Francis pointed out the portholes
to the right of the Foyer door. The first porthole was the Purser's
Office and the next was his and his wife's cabin. Peter's cabin was the
second porthole to the left of the Foyer doors.
By 12:30 p.m. the Andrea Doria weighed anchor and left the entrance of
the Mediterranean Sea heading west into the North Atlantic ocean.
Calamai noted in his own logbook : A total of 1,134 passengers (190
First Class, 267 Cabin Class, 677 Tourist Class), 401 tons of freight, 9
autos, 522 pieces of baggage and 1,754 bags of mail. One of the
automobiles in the garage was a $100,000.00 car called the
"Norseman". Hand built by Ghia in Italy for Chrysler, the car
was two years in the making. This was an "idea" car, one of
the first aerodynamic cars built in aluminum to reduce weight.
This trip was to be
the last commanded by Captain Calamai, upon the Andrea Doria's return
to Genoa, he was to take a scheduled vacation and then transfer to the Cristoforo
Colombo as the Italian Line's senior master. For Calamai it was the
apex of 40 years at sea which had included being Staff Captain of Conte
Grande, Augustus and Conte di Savoia and Captain of Saturnia,
Ugolino, Paolo Toscanelli and Santa Cruz.
the 572 man crew, each day had its routine of work and rest. The crew
consisted of the ship's officers and sailors who were responsible for
the operation of the ship and the support staff (waiters, chambermaids,
cooks, musicians, busboys etc..) that saw to the comfort of the
passengers. Each man and woman in the crew had his or her job to do and
knew his or her specific role in the chain of command on the ship.
Lido life beckons: a Campari in the bar, perhaps a poolside luncheon of
melone con prosciutto and foccacia; shipboard aromas of pesto, garlic,
espresso, linoleum polish and sun warmed teak decks; the umbrellas and
the sunburn of the lido, the magnificent public rooms; the Italian poste
flag at the fore.
Astern lies a wide, white wake as the Andrea Doria, engine
telegraphs at "tutta forza" (full speed) and wheelhouse doors
open to the breezes of the warm afternoon, steams to a rendezvous with
The voyage had been routine,
nothing marking it in any way different from any of the previous fifty
trips to New York. For the 1,134 passengers, the sea voyage had been a
time to unwind, to settle into the luxury of being served and
entertained. It was a time to cast off one's everyday cares and worries,
to marvel at the vastness and power of the sea and to sense one's own
individual place in the world. The routine of shipboard living,
adjusting one's walk and digestion to the rhythm and roll of the ship,
had become a way of life after a day or two at sea. Each day was marked
by certain regular events. There were religious services each morning in
the ship's chapel, the daily movie, the sports events on the open deck,
swimming in one of the three pools, cocktails, after-dinner games, drinking, dancing and ,above all, the
enormous and elaborate meals.
Laura Bremermann was berthed in A Deck Cabin 228 with three other
Italian women, and on July 24th she sent a wireless message to her
husband Floyd that she was arriving in New York on the 26th so he could
pick her up when the ship docked. There was packing to be
done, and there were custom declarations to be filled out and good-byes to be said to
shipboard acquaintances. They were scheduled to dock in New York at 9 a.m. Thursday, July
the season, the passage was enjoyed in fine weather. And just as
typically, the last full day out (Wednesday, July 25th) as the liner
coursed toward Nantucket and her rendezvous with New York the next
morning, the midday sun grew hazy and the air humid. As the the haze
turned into fog the eerie feeling made everyone rather subdued. It was a
quiet and uneventful day, the passengers packed their bags and placed
them outside their cabins. They would be picked up and placed on the
starboard deck for off loading in New York.