Chapter One: History of Cruising
Chapter Two: Cruising Routes
Chapter Three: Features & Life on-board
Chapter Four: Cruise Lines & Ships
Chapter Five: Selling Cruises
Chapter Six: Cruise Terminology
Chapter Seven: Service Excellence
Chapter Eight: Career Opportunities
Chapter Nine: Job Hunting
CHAPTER ONE – The History of Cruising
Whilst cruising has become an extremely popular form of holiday in recent years, it has been in existence for more than 200 years.
The history of cruising is a fascinating one and anybody interested in developing a career in this industry should take the time to familiarize themselves with how the industry has developed.
Some of the early cruise lines are still in existence, albeit under different ownership, and some of the standards and ideas about what makes cruising so special are still valid today.
In this Chapter you will learn about the history of cruising from those early years to contemporary times.
On completion of this chapter you will be able to:
- Identify three key facts relating to the early history of cruising
- Identify three shipping lines associated with early cruising
- Name the Big Four shipping lines of today
- Identify three innovations of current cruising
- Identify two key factors that have affected the popularity of cruising today
The Early Years
Cruising has been in existence since the early 1800’s with a Scottish businessman called Arthur Anderson proposed the idea of sailing for pleasure as a passenger in an ocean going vessel. His early ideas included cruising between Scotland and Iceland during the summer months and to cruise further afield to the Mediterranean during the winter.
Their early ventures in shipping largely attracted people who were travelling for work or to live overseas, leaving Falmouth in the UK for destinations in Portugal, Spain, and Madeira. Passengers booked passage on the steamships which were contracted to deliver mail to overseas places. By 1840 the shipping company were also awarded contracts to deliver mail to the ‘Orient’ which had previously been served by land transport. Ports of call included destinations in India, China, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and some years later the ships added services to Egypt, Greece and ports on the Black Sea.
These early shipping services were hazardous and extremely difficult to organize, with none of the communications we enjoy today! Checkout this description from P&O’s early service to Egypt:
The celebrated Overland Route across Egypt gave the company the biggest headaches. Now that the passage from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea is accomplished by means of a comfortable transit through the Suez Canal it is difficult to image what it would have been like in those early days. The transit involved a voyage in a stuffy canal boat from Alexandria to the river Nile, a second voyage in a bug infested steamer to Cairo then an 84 mile journey in a cramped horse-drawn coach to Suez. To make the overland journey as comfortable as possible for the passengers P&O had special river steamers built, deployed horse drawn carriages and established well-appointed rest-houses. Remember also, it was not only the passengers that had to be transported overland but their baggage and, of course, the mail. The mail, however, had priority because of penalty clauses in the contract and was transported more quickly by camel. There were obviously complaints from the passengers fearing that they would be delayed and miss their connection at Suez but, all in all, the operation was a success, so much so that, within a few years, Egypt saw a considerable influx of tourists from Europe. Fortunately, a rail link constructed during the 1850’s eventually improved passenger comfort.
The success of the venture in Egypt encouraged P&O to look at the potential for travelling by ship for leisure, and in 1844. the year that Thomas Cook (credited with being the founder of modern tourism) ran his first railway excursion, P&O invited a rising young novelist to embark on an all expenses paid tour of the Mediterranean. The tour included Malta, Athens, Istanbul, Jerusalem and Cairo, and his published accounts of his travels led to a demand for similar tours from wealthy young men in Europe. These early tours forms the basis of the future cruising industry.
These early ‘cruises’ appealed largely to wealthier members of the aristocracy, and the cruise lines ensured that their ships were fitted to the highest standards to ensure the comfort of their fare paying passengers. At that time travelling on board a steamship was a luxurious experience for the passengers, who enjoyed luxurious cabins, beautifully equipped lounges and dining saloons, and every home comfort. They were often referred to as ‘floating palaces.’
A typical ships’ passenger list of this time would include civil servants bound for India, diplomats, soldiers, bankers, industralists and missionaries. Female passengers including young ladies looking for husbands or wives travelling to join their husbands already overseas. (Interestingly the young ladies were known as the ‘fishing fleet’ and if they failed to ‘catch’ a husband were forced to return to Britain and were known as ‘returned empties’!
In 1881 P&O converted their liner Ceylon into a cruise ship, a daring experiment in those days. Ceylon is regarded as the first cruise ship in history, and consequently, P&O consider themselves the inventors of cruising . Up till now, ship owners had used liners for off season cruising when passenger loads in liner service were low. Full time cruise ships did not exist before Ceylon.
In 1840 Samuel Cunard inaugurated regular passenger transatlantic service which become famous Cunard Line. German empire joined to market in 1897 with ships Hamburg-America’s Deuthland and Kron-prinz Wilhelm. In those days vessels were small by today’s standards, averaging only 15,000 to 20,000 gross tons. Typically they held around 2,000 passengers (700 first class) and they were not very comfortable.
It’s interesting to note that the word ‘POSH’ originates from this period. In these days before air conditioning Britons travelling on a vessel to India would favour a cabin on the shaded side of the ship, away from the glare and heat of the sun. Thus travelling from UK to India a north facing port cabin cost more than a south facing starboard one. The opposite applied on the return journey. So only the richest could book a cabin that was PORT OUT STARBOARD HOME. This became shortened to ‘posh’.
During the first half of the twentieth century opulent liners were built to serve the passengers travelling between Europe and North America. Bigger and better ships were built and competed to make the fastest crossing of the Atlantic. Shipping companies started to market their transatlantic passages as ‘pleasure cruises’ on board standards were improved with the emphasis on luxury rather than speed. New features were introduced, such as on board swimming pools on White Star Line’s Adriatic in 1907, and HAPAG Lloyd’s Amerika featured the first a la carte restaurant on a ship, along with the first electric passenger lifts ever to be built on board a passenger vessel.
Shipping was enjoying a wave of success and shipping companies were engaged in ship building to meet this new demand. In 1911 the White Star Line company built three new, 40,000 tons ships and names them named Olympic, Titanicand Britannic.
The Titanic sailed from Southampton on April 10, 1912 with 2228 passengers and crew. Only 705 people survived the voyage after the ship struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on the night of April 15 and sank.
Things turned sour unfortunately with the Wall Street Crash in 1929. Shipping companies were badly affected by the downturn of the economy and the subsequent world depression. Some years passed, and as the economy slowly revived in the mid 1930’s shipping companies fortunes turned upwards again, and new ships were built. New routes were added, and for the first time it was possible to travel by ship from England to Australia.
By the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 ships were travelling to most far flung corners of the world, often with migrants seeking new lives in parts of the British Empire. During the war many ships were commandeered and used as troop ships carrying soldiers to fields of conflict and back home again. Hundreds of ships were lost during the hostilities and the shipping fleets significantly reduced.
After WWII the numbers of passengers seeking to travel on ocean going liners (known as ‘line voyages’) significantly reduced. Many countries imposed restrictions on the numbers of immigrants allowed into their country, thus reducing the numbers of passengers seeking cheap passages to Australia, New Zealand and Canada. But it was the introduction of the jet aircraft as a means of travelling for both work and leisure that was the major factor in the steady decline in the popularity of travelling by sea. The decline began in the late 1950’s and resulted in ships like the Queen Elizabeth becoming redundant. In 1959, six months after the first commercial flight across the North Atlantic, for the first time more people flew across the Atlantic rather than sail on a liner.
By the 1970’s the advent of the Jumbo jet really saw the end of the golden period of transatlantic cruise liners. Many ships, including the famous Queen Elizabeth, were sent to the scrap yard during this time, and those that remained were introduced into the cruise service with shipping lines keen to market their ships for leisure travel. This was a tricky period for shipping lines and many did not survive. Those who did had to remodel their ships to reflect the new cruise market, with a single ‘class’ rather than the old fashioned first, second and third classes of travel by ship which saw the wealthy passengers enjoying luxurious top deck travel while the third class passengers enjoyed cramped dormitories in the bowels of the ship. (Think Titanic!)
The famous Queens (Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth) the France, the United States and the Italian Michelangelo and Raffaello were all completely unfit for cruising without spending vast amounts of money on rebuilding these ships. For example their lay-out couldn’t be changed to one class without major alterations, they lacked air-conditioning and outside swimming pools, and their draft was to deep to visit small ports popular in cruise service.
Cunard Line tried to adapt the Queens for cruising, by installing outdoor pools and solving the airco-problem, but both were a financial disaster and were taken out of service in 1967 (the Mary) and 1968 (the Elizabeth) respectively.
By the 1970’s with the introduction of the jumbo jet the age of transatlantic cruise liners had ended, and with it the golden age of travelling by ship.
Despite the death of the transatlantic shipping business the shipping companies continued to reinvent themselves. Some turned to cargo and others turned to leisure cruising. A combination of clever marketing, packaging of cruises as all inclusive holidays, TV programs based on cruising and a desire for people to experience new types of holidays saw the reinvention of cruising not just a way to travel to a destination, but as a travel product in its’ own right.
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