Cruising Around the Historical Bloc

Looking back at the cruise industry

The larger passenger jets came into fashion around the 1960s. This meant that the intercontinental travelers had to find some ways of changing the way that they travelled. They started to change from the ships or cruises to the airplanes. It was much faster and cheaper to travel this way. Moreover this was some sort of novelty that they were only too willing to take on board. The traditional ocean liner was no longer the latest fashion accessory and in the end it started to decline. There had to be some way of rescuing the industry and the operators were faced with this daunting task in an effort to get back to the situation whereby they could safely manage the different expectations of the customers and yet deliver a first class service. There was also the commercial pressure to manage costs and reduce the incidence of bankruptcy which was becoming commonplace in the industry. The age of unbridled luxury was also in its last stages and something more practical had to take its place.

There were certain issues with the ocean liners which made the transition to cruise ships somewhat complicated. They had ludicrously high fuel usage rates. They also had some deep draughts which made it difficult for them to enter the less deep ports. Many of the cabins that they had did not have windows because they were meant for customer numbers rather than individual comfort levels. Of course for the rich it was another matter altogether. They had exceptional facilities. Thus the ocean liners were largely dead in the sense of transportation. However the Cunard Line still did some transatlantic crossings. This was largely a niche market for the eccentrics or traditionalists that enjoyed the history that went with the ocean liners.

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The cruising lines then had the freedom to express themselves and they gained plenty of traction in the popularity stakes. The redundant liners were used in the initial phases but eventually they came up with their own formulas. We had the great SS Norway that was magnificent in its proportions as well as the Caribbean super ship industry. There were new innovations such as the multi storey balconies and glass elevators. The deck had some private balconies. These began to run like hotels. It was no longer the case that the ship was due to take you from one place to another. Instead it was some sort of adventure where you took your time at sea.

Alternatively you might stop at certain vantage points and get some amenities. Given the commercialization of the cruise industry it was inevitable that safety would become a priority. The idea that you could possibly injure hundreds of people on holiday filled the insurance companies with dread. The claims alone could bring down an entire company. That meant that the operators had to be very careful about the manufacturing standards that were used in those cruise ships. They also had to import engineers that ensured the safe movement of the vessel.