Big passenger ships, also known as cruise ships or cruise liners, have been a very important part of travel life as we know it. Early cruise ships were built with more functionality in mind than comfort or leisure. Their purpose was to travel the oceans and seas, delivering passengers and goods to distant places. Transatlantic crossings took several days and were often perilous. The journey between North America and Europe was never shorter than four days. The introduction of steamships made the trip safer, faster and more reliable.
As cruise ships became a more popular and viable form of travel, the ships became ever more luxurious. The Titanic is likely the most famous cruise ship worldwide. Construction of the ship included ballrooms, luxurious dining areas and staterooms. The Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world, and many people looked forward to her maiden voyage. Because of the tragic events that followed, many maritime laws were passed to ensure the safety of future luxury ship voyages.
Today, millions of passengers each year take advantage of the accommodations a variety of cruise ships have to offer. These massive ships are built with comfort in mind. In recent years, they’ve been used as vacation getaways, taking passengers on fantastic voyages lasting several days or a week. A few remote destinations in the world may only be visited by cruise ships, airplane or helicopter. Some of the most popular destinations for cruise ships are the Caribbean, the Balearic Islands, Europe and Alaska.
Retired Cruise Ships Become Much More
The introduction of air travel and cheap holidays caused a decline in the number of passengers on cruise ships. Many people chose to fly in lieu of setting sail on a cruise ship simply because it was faster. Fortunately for tourists who enjoy water travel, many cruise ships still operate today. More cruise ships are being added often to accommodate the growing number of people who enjoy cruising.
When the time comes to retire a cruise ship, they are often put to use in other areas. The SS United States, or “The Big U” as it is often called, made its maiden voyage in 1952. It has been out of service since 1969 and is currently docked in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania awaiting a new future. The Big U still holds the record for the fastest westbound transatlantic crossing.
The RMS Queen Mary, named after Queen Mary, was one of the most spectacular ships of her time. She played a very important part in World War II. One of her passengers was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, whom she carried across the Atlantic for meetings. In 1942, she captured and still holds the record for the most passengers ever transported on one ship. She carried 16,082 American troops from New York to Great Britain. The RMS Queen Mary is now berthed in Long Beach, California, where she serves as a hotel and museum.
The RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, commonly known as QE2, is one of the most recent ships to be decommissioned. The QE2 commenced her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City in 1969. In 1999, she celebrated her 30th anniversary in Southampton. Her 30 years of service had seen almost 5 million nautical miles and carried more than 2 million passengers.
The QE2 was given a multi-million-dollar makeover in 1999 that included refurbishing several rooms and cabins. Since 2004, she’s made several trips to the Mediterranean. She is now moored at Port Rashid in Dubai, where she will be converted to a floating hotel.
Not all decommissioned cruise ships are forgotten and left to rust. Many cruise ships have been retired and go on to become hotels, casinos, museums and luxury restaurants. Millions of passengers per year enjoy cruises to the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, the Caribbean and many other exotic or remote destinations. Those ships become a special point in the memories of the passengers who enjoyed the trip. The ability to turn those ships into floating hotels or other tourist attractions is a great asset to the tourism industry.