Cruising on the SS United States

By | Category: Travel news
SS United States in her heyday. ©  SS United States Conservancy

SS United States in her heyday. © SS United States Conservancy

Older readers might recall the SS United States, a sleek and powerful that will be forever linked with the golden age of passenger transport across the seas along with the Mauretania, Queen Mary, Bremen and Normandie.

The SS United States was launched in 1952 and captured the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage – a record to this day that still stands.  She remains the largest passenger ship ever designed and built in America. Before her retirement in 1969, the SS United States was the most glamorous and elegant ship in the world, having transported four US presidents, international royalty, many of Hollywood’s “golden era” celebrities, as well as a million passengers.

For the last 45 years, she has been moored whilst many tried to come to terms with what do with her. For some years, a non-profit body called the SS United States Conservancy has maintained the ship but, last year, it announced that the costs were becoming too great. Public support grew and people rallied to preserve the ship.

the SS United States as she is today © SS United States Conservancy

the SS United States as she is today © SS United States Conservancy

Into this stepped Crystal Cruises who have announced an audacious plan to not only save the ship but turn it into a luxury cruise ship that will once again sail the seas. Upgrading a ship that hasn’t been to sea in a long while will take money and time. Norwegian Cruise Line bought the ship in 2003 vowing to do something similar. That idea came to nothing so will Crystal succeed where others have failed?

Crystal say that in order to meet modern demands and be in full regulatory compliance, the SS United States will have to be extensively re-built to meet over 60 years of new maritime rules and shipbuilding practices.  The modern United States by Crystal Cruises will be transformed into an 800-guest-capacity vessel, featuring 400 luxurious suites measuring about 350 square feet with dining, entertainment, spa and other luxury guest amenities that are true to the ship’s storied history. Features of the original SS United States such as the Promenade and Navajo Lounge will be retained, while new engines and sophisticated marine technology will be installed to maintain her title as the fastest cruise vessel in the world.

The Conservancy will continue to expand its curatorial and archival collections as it advances its mission of educating the public about the SS United States’ history.  The organisation will work with Crystal to establish shipboard displays and other educational programmes.  Planning is also underway for a land-based museum dedicated to preserving the legacy of America’s Flagship along with broader design, innovation and discovery themes. The museum will feature a wide range of original artefacts and historic components from the ship’s heyday.

as Crystal Cruises see her when she is refillted

as Crystal Cruises see her when she is refillted

How long will it take for the conversion and before passengers can cruise in her? It is hoped that a feasibility study can be completed before the end of the year and only then will Crystal Cruises, the Conservancy and we future cruise passengers have any idea whether and when the ship will join the fleet of the world’s great cruise ships.

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