Just 2 weeks ago, I was on board a beautiful cruise ship in the Holland America line, spending 7 days at sea and visiting 4 ports of call. So, being the curious historical researcher I am, I thought it might be fun to look up the history of cruise ships.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Would you believe the birth of leisure cruising began in 1822? Hard to imagine anyone would use a ship for anything other than intentional travel with a specific purpose in mind. Traveling via ship purely for fun, though? Yet, they have been doing so for nearly 200 years! The honor of the first company to own and launch such ships was the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.
|RMS Strathaird, a P&O cruise ship of the early 20th century.
The company began offering luxury cruise services in 1844.
Some sources mention Francesco I as the first cruise ship, though. She was built in 1831 and sailed from Naples in early June 1833, boarded by nobles, authorities, and royal princes from all over Europe. In just over three months, the ship sailed to Taormina, Catania, Syracuse, Malta, Corfu, Patras, Delphi, Zante, Athens, Smyrna, Constantinople, delighting passengers with excursions and guided tours, dancing, card tables on the deck and parties on board. However, it was restricted to the aristocracy of Europe and was not a commercial endeavour.
|Prinzessin Victoria Luise was the first
purpose-built cruise ship.
The practice of luxury cruising made steady inroads on the more established market for transatlantic crossings. In the competition for passengers, ocean liners added luxuries — Titanic being the most famous example — such as fine dining, luxury services, and staterooms with finer appointments.
In 1896, there were three luxury liners for transportation, for the Europe to North America trip. These were European-owned. By 1906, the number had increased to seven. Luxury cruising continued for the more elite and upper class travelers well into the 20th century and beyond WWII. With the advent of large passenger jet aircraft in the 1960s, intercontinental travelers switched from ships to planes sending the ocean liner trade into a terminal decline.
|Queen Elizabeth 2 was reinvented as a luxury ocean
liner following the advent of the jet airliner.
Queen Elizabeth 2 also inaugurated "one-class cruising" where all passengers received the same quality berthing and facilities. This revitalized the market as the appeal of luxury cruising began to catch on, on both sides of the Atlantic. The 1970s television series Love Boat, helped to popularize the concept as a romantic opportunity for couples. Funny little insert here from my recent cruise. We were in port at St. Thomas with one of the Princess ships, and as we were leaving, we passed her. Our captain sounded the ship horn with a single blast, then the sound continued. It took me a moment to realize a tune was being played...and it was the beginning of the theme song from the TV show! I recognized it almost immediately. What fun!
|Oasis of the Seas (2009)
There have been nine or more new cruise ships added every year since 2001, all from a variety of cruise lines. In two short decades (1988-2009), the largest class cruise ships have grown a third longer (268 m to 360 m), almost doubled their widths (32.2 m to 60.5 m), doubled the total passengers (2,744 to 5,400), and tripled in weight (73,000 GT to 225,000 GT). Also, the "megaships" went from a single deck with verandas to all decks with verandas. Whereas it might seem the golden age of ocean liners has faded, the golden age of cruise ships may well be these recent decades and decades to come.
|Joe Lando, Jane Seymour, Kim Campbell
NOW IT'S YOUR TURN:
* Have you ever taken a cruise? If so, when and where?
* If you haven't taken a cruise, is it something you might want to do in the future? Why or why not?
* What has been your experience with, exposure to, or knowledge of the concept of a cruise or cruise ship?
* Do you currently have a cruise planned? When and where?
Leave answers to these questions or any comments on the post below. Come back on the 9th of April (my son's birthday) for my next appearance.
Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those childhood skills to become an author and speaker who has partnered with Nerium International in the anti-aging, wellness, and personal development industry, helping others become their best from the inside out.
She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have one girl and one boy, and a Retriever mix named Roxie. She has sold twenty (21) books so far and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.