Back in 1900, when German shipping magnate Albert Ballin commissioned the world’s first cruise liner, he encountered many doubters. One colleague told him that people “would surely not submit themselves to the hazards and discomforts of a long voyage just for the incidental fun of it.” Some 120 years later, though, it’s safe to say that colleague was wrong! Through stunning vintage photographs, we’re exploring how cruise ship travel has evolved over the decades.
1. Crowded on an ocean liner
This photo was taken in 1931 on the Duchess of Bedford cruise ship during a transatlantic journey. These third-class passengers enjoying the Sun on the deck are packed as tightly as possible into the limited amount of space they were afforded.
To put it into context, the ship could hold 1,570 passengers, 510 of which were designated third-class. Yet the areas of the ship they were allowed to access would have been much smaller than the space afforded to the 580 first-class passengers.
2. The “crossing the line” ceremony
What is happening in this snap from 1934, you may ask? It’s a “crossing the line” ceremony, an intriguing naval rite of passage dating back to the 19th century. It’s meant to initiate newcomers into the “Ancient Order of the Deep” when a ship crosses the equator.
If it’s your first time crossing, you are brought before “Neptune’s Court,” tried and found to be “guilty.” Then, you’re dunked in water, shaved, and given something foul to swalllow “cure” you of any evils! Here, passengers on board HMS Sussex take part in this centuries-old tradition as their ship crosses the Equator en route to Australia.
3. Stevedores carrying milk churns
Every port in every country needs stevedores, the dock workers who load and unload a ship’s cargo before it leaves and when it returns. Way back in 1921, there was a strike among the stewards of the RMS Aquitania, the third of the Cunard Line’s grand trio of ocean liners.
This photo shows hardworking stevedores lugging heavy milk churns on board the ship for their striking colleagues to drink as they tried to force the company into giving them what they felt they were worth.
4. Bon voyage!
When the Orsova set sail on May 3, 1954, from London, the P&O cruise ship was embarking upon its first voyage to Australia, but it was far from the first liner to travel to that destination.
You see, during this period, many Brits were seeking a new life Down Under. Between 1947 and 1972 an enormous number booked a one-way fare: more than 1 million, in fact! At one point the price was £10, so they were nicknamed “Ten-Pound Poms.”