When Sunderland kids got to spend two weeks on a cruise ship

The Devonia at Corporation Quay in 1967.
The Devonia at Corporation Quay in 1967.
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It’s that time of year when thoughts in schools turn to trips out for pupils.

In the 1960s and 1970s, one school trip stood above all others – the Educational Cruise. Some places were reserved for disadvantaged pupils but usually the cost was between £70 and £90 for a two-week cruise.

Nevasa leaving Sunderland Harbour in June 1967.

Nevasa leaving Sunderland Harbour in June 1967.

The ships used were the SS Nevasa and the SS Devonia. When they arrived on Wearside, the riverside was packed with parents.

Philip Curtis, of the Sunderland Antiquarian Society, remembers the good old days.

The Nevasa usually visited places with hot climates such as Tenerife, Madeira, Italy (Venice), Lisbon and Casablanca. The Devonia went to milder countries such as Norway, Poland and Denmark.

As departure grew closer, so the excitement of the children rose to the same level as the anxiety of their parents. The day itself saw families crowding the dockside to bid farewell to their children.

Sleeping accommodation was in dormitories with comfortable bunks and not, as rumoured back at school, hammocks! There were well-stocked games rooms, open air swimming pools and organised games. There was a cinema, discos for evening entertainment

Philip Curtis

Sleeping accommodation was in dormitories with comfortable bunks and not, as rumoured back at school, hammocks! There were well-stocked games rooms, open air swimming pools and organised games. There was a cinema, discos for evening entertainment. Before arriving at each destination the teachers delivered history and geography lessons and how it could be experienced first-hand.

For many it was the journey of a lifetime with the days going too quickly but it was the very opposite for many parents and the days could not pass quickly enough until the ship finally returned.

The scenes at the Corporation Quay were likened to the return of the service-men after the War with hugs, kisses and tears.

Alas the two ships are no more. The Nevasa was scrapped in 1975 and the Devonia in 1968. However diaries and journals of the voyages were often kept and the memories linger on.

Children boarding SS Devonia.

Children boarding SS Devonia.

If you travelled with your school on either ship, email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk.

The Nevasas excellent facilities included a pool.

The Nevasas excellent facilities included a pool.