Maybe it's because her maiden voyage was the same year as my birth. Perhaps it was because she was built on the spot from whence sprang Titanic¸ the great Belfast shipyard of Harland & Wolff. Whatever the reason, Canberra has always been one of my favorite ships - and the newest of "David's Dozen." With classic lines that bespeak her rich heritage yet modern touches which foretold the future, 1961's Canberra was a beauty. Built to respond to the exploding Post-War immigration from Australia and New Zealand to Great Britain, Canberra and her sister Oriana became instant classics, and instant emotional favorites with passengers. With her unique side-by-side twin funnels aft, Canberra's physique cut a pretty path through the waves. Also, her alignment of lifeboats "tucked" away between decks as opposed to being arranged topside foretold what is now common practice. Also, at an official top speed of 29.7 knots, she was a thoroughbred, slicing a full week off the Sydney to Southampton run. Canberra cemented her legend while serving as a troop ship during the Falkland's War of 1982. Several times, though under heavy fire from Argentine forces, she escaped being hit. Although in the front lines of delivering troops, Canberra returned unscathed to a heroine's welcome, having earned a new and affectionate nickname, "The Great White Whale." Unfortunately, her noble service was the beginning of the end. Even with her popular warm weather cruises augmenting her regular runs, the "Whale" was losing money for P&O. In 1996 she was retired and sent out for a series of "farewell cruises." I was lucky enough to be aboard her when she stopped in San Francisco, every inch the proper British Lady complete with tea and crumpets overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Sadly, she was sent to the breakers. The Great White Whale was beached in Karachi, Pakistan . By the end of 1998, her noble carcass had been picked clean.