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The Aquarama called Buffalo home from 1995 to July 15, 2007. Owners were hoping to use the ship as a floating casino
Aquarama Facts (from 1952): 520 ft. long 71 ft. 6 in. beam, 9 decks high. Displaces 10,600 tons, 10,000 horsepower – oil fired, turbine propelled, single screw. Cruising speed 22 mph. All-steel construction, fire-resistant furnishing. Radio, gypo pilot, radio-direction-finder, ship-to-shore phone, closed circuit television. Accommodations for 2,500 passengers. Two decks for auto transport.
Many a Western New Yorker will remember the large, derelict, rusting monster of a ship that spend 12 years resting near an abandoned Route 5 grain elevator. It was despised by many as a daily reminder of the lack of development on Buffalo’s grand historic waterfront. In fact, it was a historic vessel that not only helped win World War II but added luxury to Great Lakes travel in an era when the Great Lakes were truly “great.”
Originally named the Marine Star, the craft was a “Liberty” ship, built in 1945 in Chester, Pa., to act as a transoceanic U.S. troop carrier. It only made one trip across the Atlantic before the war ended.In 1952 a Detroit industrialist bought it and spent $8 million converting the USS Marine Star into a cruise-ferry ship named the S. S. Aquarama. It was a frequent site on Lake Erie as it took passengers between Detroit and Cleveland with the occasional stop in Buffalo. The new Aquarama had nine decks containing four restaurants, four bars, movie theatres, recreation areas and room for 160 cars and 2,600 passengers. It was remembered by many for its Great Lakes grandeur.
The Aquarama was mothballed in 1963 and was moored at a slip on the Detroit River until it was towed to Buffalo in 1995 with hopes of being converted into a casino ship. As you can see, the plans did not work out. To the joy of many, the ship shuffled out of Buffalo on July 15, 1997.
Promotional postcard of Marine Star, Aquarama model
Aquarama 1952 Brochure
Aquarama 1952 Brochure
Aquarama 1952 Brochure
Shuffleboard on-board the S.S. Aquarama
The Carman Dello Orchestra on the Main Stage, Main Dance Deck on the Upper Deck
Corner of the Club Lounge on Club Deck
Corner of the Main Lobby on Upper Deck
The Main Bar on Upper Deck
View of the Club, Sports and Sun Decks and "Flying Bridge"
Looking Down on the Club Deck
Lounge Buffet Forward on Upper Deck
Part of Mariner's Bar on Upper Deck
Aquarama/Marine Star called Buffalo, NY's waterfront home until 2007
Plans are 'still moving ahead' for entertainment/cruise ship By TOM ERNST Buffalo News 1/24/2005
Take a good look at the Marine Star; it might not be there by this time next year. Or, maybe it will. But rest assured that even after nearly 10 years, it is not intended to join the grain elevators as a permanent fixture on the Buffalo waterfront. Plans to convert the 520-foot vessel into an entertainment and cruise ship remain very much alive. And since it is costing its owners about $1,000 a week to have it sit there, they would like to see progress as well. "We're still moving ahead; that's all I can tell you," James A. Everatt, a St. Thomas, Ont., industrial contractor, said Friday. But he said that it is reaching the point where a decision will likely be made in the next few months to either proceed with the $40 million project or sell the ship. And while the Marine Star looks like a rusting hulk to passers-by, it is actually in excellent condition because it has had very little use, Everatt said. Most of the rust is on the four upper decks, he said, and since the plan is to replace them with three decks featuring a lot of glass and viewing areas, there is no point in spending a lot of money to maintain them.The plan is to sail on the Great Lakes, Everatt said, but it remains to be seen what ports would be used. He said he recently agreed to meet with some Buffalo-area people who are interested in having the ship sail from here. One of the things that has delayed the project is the need for various government officials to agree to it and find suitable ports. While the Port of Buffalo is well maintained and dredged, Everatt said, the overall decline in Great Lakes shipping has meant that many ports in both the United States and Canada are not. "This is the year a final decision gets made," Everatt said. But it is possible the ship might still be sitting in the South End Marina next winter if it cannot be moved to a shipyard for refitting before next shipping season ends. Everatt described himself as a shareholder in Empire Cruise Lines of Delaware, which owns the ship, previously named the Aquarama. He said dock rental, insurance and other costs run $50,000 to $70,000 a year, so the owners would like to make a decision soon. There has been some confusion over the ship's history. Apparently it was built in 1945 as a troop carrier but made just one trip across the Atlantic before World War II ended. It was renamed the Aquarama and served as a cruise ship between Detroit and Cleveland in the late 1950s and early '60s. It was mothballed for 27 years and then bounced around before being mothballed again in Detroit, now as the Marine Star, before being towed to Buffalo in 1995 with plans to convert it into a casino ship