|Belgic IV / Belgenland II|
Belgenland II (a/k/a White Star's Belgic IV) was built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast. Although she was launched in January 1914, she was not completed when World War I began later that year and work was halted. She was eventually completed in 1917, but as a troop transport and freighter rather than the liner she was designed to be. Moreover, she entered service as Belgic since Red Star had suspended operations when its European base, Antwerp, was overrun in 1915.
As Belgic, she was a 24,547 ton ship with two funnels, three masts and no superstructure.
After the war she was extensively rebuilt, and emerged in 1923 as Red Star's Belgenland II, a tripple screw, 27,132 tons, 697 feet long — 78 1/2 feet wide with three funnels, two masts and a four deck superstructure and accommodations for 2,700 from which 454 in first class. Belgenland II was by far the largest ship ever owned by Red Star, nearly 50% larger than the 18,694 ton Lapland.
Belgenland II made her first -carrying voyage on 4 April 1923, from Antwerp to New York, with a call at Southampton. Often used for cruising, she made her last commercial Atlantic crossing in March 1933 and was laid up for most of the next two years. In January 1935 she was sold to Atlantic Transport, renamed Columbia and placed on Panama Pacific's New York-California service.
This service proved unprofitable, so in April 1936 she crossed the Atlantic for the last time, to be scrapped at Bo'ness.
In the arrangement of her decks, and also in her living quarters for passengers in all three classes, the Belgenland II possesses a number of striking features. Her staterooms and private suites in first class meet the demands of a fashionable and luxury-loving traveling public, while her rooms in second and third class set a standard that is not excelled.
The first class sleeping apartments of the Belgenland II are distinguished by their varied and luxurious character. In the suites, both large and small, are found double beds of metal with hair mattresses, quite as large and luxurious as the finest beds on shore. Still another important feature of the Belgenland's staterooms is the installation of wash basins with hot and cold running water.
Buffets in the dining saloon have electric devices keeping dishes warm during a meal.
Small tables predominate in the Belgenland II's ultra modern restaurant. Out of a total of 370 seats in the main dining hall, 180 are at two-seated tables. The remainder are at four-seated and six-seated tables.
Connected with the main saloon are private dining rooms for families or passengers who may desire to entertain or may wish more privacy than the main dining hall affords.
Forward of the dining saloon, and separated from it by a glass screen as clear as crystal, is another apartment, which, like the dining saloon, is the full width of the ship and of generous length. This is the reception hall, or palm court, as it might more properly be called, since it is embowered in palms. This apartment is designed to be the social center of the ship for those who love conversation, a cigarette, or after-dinner coffee.
And here, too, the orchestra — with a superb grand piano as one of the instruments — gives concerts and plays for dancing.
The general atmosphere is that of a fashionable club at a Continental pleasure resort.
The Belgenland II's second cabin has broad deck space, a very large verandah cafe, a handsome smoking room, a children's playroom, a gymnasium, and a dining room fitted, like that in first cabin, with small tables. Second class passengers also enjoy a library and a large lounge, both looking out on the promenade deck and having bay windows like those in a spacious house.
The staterooms in second class are large and handsomely equipped. Most of the rooms have hot and cold running water, and all have ample light and ventilation, electric light and fine fittings throughout. Some rooms contain two berths, others four.
In a word the Belgenland II has been designed to provide the greatest possible degree of comfort for every passenger.