These beautiful menu cards with images of traditional Indonesian boats date from February 1952. The cards were made for the Willem Ruys, the famous flagship of the Rotterdam Lloyd. The menu on the left depicts three Madurese vessels with raised sails; the menu in the middle depicts a sailboat from Sulawesi; and the menu card on the right depicts two traditional Malay fishing boats.
History of the Willem Ruys
The Willem Ruys is inextricably linked to the history of the Netherlands and Indonesia. In 1938, the shipping company gave shipyard De Schelde in Vlissingen the order to build a big ocean liner that could accommodate 900 passengers. Due to WWII the construction was delayed, but the ship survived the war unscathed. This had to do with a special installation: in the ship, salt water could be converted into fresh drinking water. The Germans therefore decided not to destroy the ship still under construction. A later attempt at the end of the war to blow up the ship with explosives was sabotaged by employees of the shipping company.
These two watercolor paintings by Victor Trip show the Willem Ruys in Indonesian waters. The flagship of the Rotterdam Lloyd was often depicted with smaller vessels next to it. Perhaps that is how the idea for the menus with Indonesian boats came up.
The ship was christened and launched on July 1, 1946. It was named after Rotterdam Lloyd director Willem Ruys (1894-1942), who was taken hostage and shot during the war. On September 28, 1947, the ship left the yard for the first trial run, after which it was moored at the Lloyd quay in Rotterdam for the final outfitting work. On December 2, 1947, the Willem Ruys for the first time set sail to the Dutch East Indies.
Repatriation from Indonesia
The Willem Ruys sailed on the regular service to Indonesia between 1947 and 1958. In this period the ship transported many returnees to the Netherlands and emigrants from the Netherlands to Australia and New Zealand. For many of them, the crossing with the Willem Ruys marked the beginning of a new life.
Renamed and hijacked
After 1958 the Willem Ruys was used as a cruise ship for world trips. In 1964 it was sold to an Italian shipping company, which changed the name to Achille Lauro. Under that name, the ship became world news when it was hijacked in the Mediterranean Sea on October 7, 1985. Ultimately, the Willem Ruys sailed until 1994. On November 30 that year, a fire broke out in the engine room. The ship sank off the coast of Somalia.