Norwegian Cruise Lines acquires the classic SS United States

May 17, 2003
Author: P&S

The following press release has been issued by Norwegian Cruise Lines, confirming Ports & Ships’ earlier report of the purchase of this ship (see report in Cruise News dated 6 May).

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has announced that it has purchased the S.S. United States, one of the USA’s most venerable ships built in the glory days of trans-Atlantic sea travel. The ship ranks with the old “Queen Mary" and the first "Queen Elizabeth" as a “classic ship” and still holds the record for the fastest transatlantic passage back in the early 1950’s.

NCL intends to convert the vessel to a state-of-the art, modern cruise ship and to add her to NCL's planned US flagged fleet. A re-launched S.S. United States will add more than 1,000 American maritime jobs and 5,000 shoreside jobs to the 3,000 maritime jobs and 17,000 shoreside jobs that NCL's US flag initiative with Project America is predicted to generate.

Widely considered to be the greatest superliner ever built in North America, the S.S. United States was engineered to be faster, safer and more technologically advanced than anything else afloat, when she was christened. To this day, her Atlantic crossing record has never been matched and she remains the holder of the fabled Blue Riband.

Knowing that S.S. United States faced an uncertain future, NCL moved swiftly to purchase the vessel. NCL is now evaluating options for use of the ship under US flag and determining the extent of renovations needed to convert her to a state-of-the-art, modern cruise ship that will appeal to today's holidaymaker. The ship is expected to offer mainland US itineraries where cruise products are not currently available. The refurbishment of the hull and superstructure will be done at US shipyards with the outfitting completed overseas. NCL is no stranger to such conversions, having converted the fabled North Atlantic liner the S.S. France into cruising's first Caribbean mega ship, S.S. Norway.

"When we discovered this American icon was in jeopardy, we saw an unique opportunity and acted immediately. The ship is a classic, she was built in America and is eligible to operate in domestic service under existing law and regulation," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "The S.S. United States would be a phenomenal addition to our US flag operation down the road. We remain focused on completing Project America and successfully introducing our innovative US flag cruise ships in Hawaii, but we will now organize a project team to work with US yards, naval engineers and architects to develop plans for what should be the fourth vessel in our US flagged fleet."
On her maiden voyage the S.S. United States set an unbroken record by crossing the North Atlantic Ocean in 3 days, 10 hours and 42 minutes. Her service speed exceeded 35 knots and she was rumoured to be capable of 50 knots. Designed by William Francis Gibbs, the ship is the longest passenger vessel ever built in the United States, at 990 feet 6 inches (301.8m), was considered an engineering marvel at the time, and held a near perfect operating schedule.

Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the modern cruise industry beginning in 1966 with the first dedicated cruise ships in the Caribbean and is recognized for innovation in the industry, most recently with its popular Freestyle Cruising concept. NCL also has a history of developing creative itineraries as the first company to acquire its own Caribbean island, with the development of the 7-day Hawaii/Fanning Island itinerary, and now with its Homeland Cruising program, where 13 North American port cities host NCL ships.

For further information, contact American Express Travel Services in Cape Town: Tel (021) 408-9700 or fax (021) 408-9766. Please quote Ports & Ships as your source

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