Taking a holiday on a cruise ship has become a very important part of the travel industry over the years, as the industry has changed from catering almost exclusively to the upmarket tourist to offering holidays to the masses. The very 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 probably the most famous cruise ship unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. Construction of The Titanic included ballrooms, luxury 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 accommodation 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 holiday 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, airplanes, or helicopters Some of the most popular destinations for cruise ships are the Caribbean, the Balearic Islands, Europe, and Alaska.
The introduction of air travel caused a sharp decline in the number of passengers on cruise ships. Many people chose to fly instead 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 her 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 the 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 she had carried more than 2 million passengers.
The QE2 was given a multi-million-euro 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 into a floating hotel. So, not all decommissioned cruise ships are forgotten and left to rust. Many cruise ships have been retired and gone on to become hotels, casinos, museums, and luxury restaurants.
Millions of passengers per year enjoy cruises to the Balearic Islands like Menorca with some passengers disembarking to enjoy a week or two holidays in Menorca plus 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, and will the cruise industry will see many new passengers next year.