My Favourite Ocean Liners
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THE OCEAN LINERS
The passenger ocean liner is, without question, the greatest of all man-made construction, especially as exhibited at the peak of its development from the 1930s onwards. They were as large then as any skyscraper or any of the world’s greatest railway stations. But unlike these edifices, locked to the earth, static upon their foundations, the passenger ocean liners, fitted with machinery as large as that of any power station, were powerful, mobile monuments of man’s engineering prowess. Cleaving the waves at anything up to 30 knots, they were the leviathans and monarchs of the oceans, and truly were floating cities.
Of course other equally large ocean vessels have been built such as large crude oil supertankers and aircraft carriers to name just two. But none of these have incorporated the same level of complexity or ornamentation as that which is characteristic of the true ocean liner. Passengers as their “cargo”, required creature comforts, as far as possible, a real “home from home” which could delude them into feeling far removed from the ocean’s fury (only a hull’s thickness away), as if they were still on dry land. The same is true of today’s cruise ships although they are built more as holiday resorts and not for speed and a means of travel as the ocean liners were.
In their heyday there was great rivalry between shipping lines, especially on the transatlantic route, as the liners were symbols of national prestige and you had to be the fastest and the best. It was the ocean liners and their scheduled liner routes linking Britain (and other ocean liner countries) with the diverse corners of the world that enabled people for the first time to travel long distances between continents on a regular basis. Thus the ocean liners enabled trade, communication and migration across the world and laid the foundations of the modern globalised world we live in today. This traffic has since been succeeded by the aeroplane and today’s airlines serve a similar role but in less time that the ocean liners and their shipping companies did before. Today, as communication improves via air travel and the internet, we live in an ever more globalised world. But the foundations of this modern, globalised world were laid by the ocean liners and their liner routes. Even today 90% of trade is by sea. Ever since the jet age arrived in the 1960s and 70s the ocean liner has declined, but instead they have evolved into today’s cruise liners. But there are now very few true ocean liners left and their number is continuing to dwindle until eventually there will be none left.
Now the last true
ocean liners are in their twilight years and before long there may be
none left. This is why we believe that now is an opportune moment to
create an Ocean Liner Museum to tell their remarkable story and
interpret it and make it relevant for present and future generations.
Great Britain is the birthplace of the ocean liner and has been home to
many famous shipping companies and their ships, thus we believe that
Britain is the most appropriate
place to have the Ocean Liner Museum. The ocean liner has a remarkable and
inspirational story to tell and has taken part in many epic events of
the 20th century and has played an important role in travel
and human history but yet there is no museum in the world that tells
I am often asked by people: "what are your favourite ocean liners?" There are so many to choose from and there is such diversity of types and styles of ocean liner making a definitive choice of favourites is extremely hard. But if pressed I have to say that the following liners would probably rank among my top 10 favourites. Although it is always subject to change!
My Favourite Ocean Liners:
RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (1967) - Cunard Line
S.S. Canberra (1960) - P&O Line
S.S. Rotterdam (1958) - Holland America Line
S.S. Normandie (1932) - CGT French Line
RMS Queen Elizabeth (1938) - Cunard Line
RMS Queen Mary (1936) - Cunard Line
M.S. Kungsholm (1965) - Swedish American Line
M.S. Vistafjord (1973) - Norwegian America Line
RMS Windsor Castle (1960) - Union Castle Line
RMS Athlone Castle (1936) - Union Castle Line