The Italian cruise ship was built between 1939 and 1947 as MS Willem Ruys, a passenger liner for the Rotterdamsche Lloyd. In 1965, she was sold to the Flotta Lauro Line, or Star Lauro, (now MSC Cruises) and renamed the Achille Lauro (after the company owner).
The ship became world news when it was hijacked by members of the Palestine Liberation Front in 1985. In 1994, the ship caught fire and sank in the Indian Ocean off Somalia.
Ordered in 1938 to replace the aging ships on the Dutch East Indies route, her keel was laid in 1939 at De Schelde shipyard in Flushing, Netherlands, for Rotterdamsche Lloyd Interrupted by World War II and two bombing raids, the liner finally departed for her maiden voyage on 2 December 1947, as 'Willem Ruys'.
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