Giants of the Seas, The Ships that transformed Modern Cruising

B1933

The author traces the origins and key stages of the development of what is now a significant industry that is already worth $30 billion and continuing to grow. The well-written text is supported by lavish illustration, that covers the growing size of cruise ships, their luxurious appointments and services, but also includes the specialist cruise ships that now provide luxury cruising on the great rivers of Europe.

The author has drawn on his own extensive experience of cruising and provided an excellent selection of vessels to provide a very good picture of the industry and its operations. This is essential reading for anyone intending to take up cruising and an enjoyable insight for those who love ships and are interested in their capabilities in cruising.

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NAME: Giants of the Seas, The Ships that transformed Modern Cruising
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 040214
FILE: R1933
AUTHOR: Aaron Saunders
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 550
PRICE: £35.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Merchant marine, passenger ships, liners, cruise ships, naval architecture, technology, design, style, deployment, cruise holidays, luxury afloat
ISBN: 978-1-84832-172-4
IMAGE: B1933.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/orxhdvs
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The author traces the origins and key stages of the development of what is now a significant industry that is already worth $30 billion and continuing to grow. The well-written text is supported by lavish illustration, that covers the growing size of cruise ships, their luxurious appointments and services, but also includes the specialist cruise ships that now provide luxury cruising on the great rivers of Europe.

Cruising is not a new industry, but its major growth has come since the aeroplane began to replace the passenger liners that had previously held a monopoly of travel between continents. In the early years, cruising was a way of selling spare capacity on merchant ships that primarily carried cargoes on coastal routes, offering a more comfortable method of travelling around countries than was provided by the stagecoach. Some will argue that this was not truly cruising, but there is evidence that small numbers of wealthier people made great use of cargo and passenger ships to enjoy the passage between ports. Their numbers were constrained by the fact that the holiday was not a common concept and the cost of travelling for enjoyment was not small. Conditions were rarely different from those enjoyed by travellers and crew and therefore this form of leisure travel was notably different from that offered routinely today by cruise ships.

The real start of the cruise industry was probably during the period between WWI and WWII, when the concept of holiday travel began to establish and expand. Cruise ships of this period tended to be more like large private yachts than passenger ships. They prospered in the Mediterranean and established the pattern of service that was to develop after WWII on much larger ships that could undertake longer voyages and offer an expanded onboard entertainment.

There were however important exceptions. The Germans built large passenger vessels specifically for cruising as part of the Nazi program to divert attention from reality. Liners were also allocated to this program. The other exception was to re-use of trans-Atlantic liners. Before 1914, the Atlantic passenger trade depended on the highly profitable ‘steerage class’ passengers making the one-way trip to the US and Canada as immigrants. As this trade began to re-establish after 1918, the Great Depression brought with it a rapid slow down and halt of permitted immigrants, removing unexpectedly the highly profitable steerage class passengers. Cruising began to establish as a form of adventure for the wealthy middle class and for the rich and famous. WWII came to interrupt this trade and liners were again adapted, this time as troop ships. From 1945, the use of liners for cruising began to re-establish, but one issue was the construction and layout of the vessels. All shipping lines included luxurious First Class accommodation for a relatively small number of wealthy passengers, less luxurious accommodation for the more numerous Second Class passengers, and very basic accommodation for the Third Class passengers who were the most numerous. Cruising traded on the reputation for luxury that had been offered to First Class and to fully exploit the cruising trade, shipping lines needed to offer luxury for all and devote more space to entertainment areas. Fully adapting a liner was difficult and costly, encouraging the construction of new vessels specifically to meet the demands of the growing cruise market.

The late 1980s saw the cruise industry beginning to expand rapidly with vessels designed specifically to provide a luxury town afloat that could move between ports, providing excursions ashore and make use of the aeroplane to take passengers out to the cruise area and fly them back at the end of the cruise. As a result, this enabled the cruise ship to operate in the more exotic areas without wasting any time in sailing out to the area and back home again, to pick up the next group of passengers.

Where the early cruise liners were very similar to the older passenger liners, they did extend the level of luxury that had previously been the preserve of the First Class Passenger. The construction of swimming pools and theatres expanded and the consumption of food developed into its own art form.

The size of cruise liners has continued to increase and some vessels now make continuing circumnavigations, picking up passengers for stages of the voyage and dropping them off again. The wealthy may of course undertake extended cruises, rarely returning home and there is some evidence that the appetite for extended cruising is beginning to cater for those who cruise perpetually, making cruise ships their homes. Cruising has also become more ambitious, voyaging to the Polar regions.

As the industry has developed and the size and luxury of the vessels has continued to develop, it is easy to think of a cruise ship as being a safe environment. Periodically, we are reminded that any ship is still subject to the laws of the oceans and the attendant risks. Occasionally, a cruise ship will sink, people will be placed at serious risk and that this can occur even in the normally more benign waters of the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. As cruise ships increase in size, they are also potentially vulnerable to the spread of illness through the passengers. That these risks are relatively rare, is an indication of the effort cruise ship operators must go to in ensuring the safety and comfort of their passengers.

The author has drawn on his own extensive experience of cruising and provided an excellent selection of vessels to provide a very good picture of the industry and its operations. This is essential reading for anyone intending to take up cruising and an enjoyable insight for those who love ships and are interested in their capabilities in cruising.

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