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CRUISE   SHIPS

By the late 1970s, all the companies operating passenger liners had realized the days of commuting by liner were over. By that time, jet aircraft were traveling throughout the world in a fraction of the time it took by sea. Many companies tried to keep their liners in service by operating them as full time cruise ships. This too was a hard time for these companies as cruises were expensive and normally had long voyages to reach their exotic destinations.

The television series Love Boat began in 1977 and ran until 1986. This series, mainly shot onboard the cruise ship Pacific Princess, became an instant hit. Soon after that program began, the number of bookings for cruises increased dramatically. The Norwegian Cruise Line bought the 66,348-ton liner France in the late 1970s for conversion to a cruise ship. This ship re-entered service in 1980 as the worlds largest cruise ship named Norway. At that time, skeptics thought people would not want to travel on large cruise ships, and the cost of nearly $100 million, to buy and convert the ship, was a gamble that would not pay off.

Norway soon proved the doubters wrong as with her being by far the largest cruise ship in service at that time, she received a great amount of free publicity and became extremely popular and profitable. This ship offered people the chance to visit exotic locations while enjoying a new level of entertainment and facilities that only a large cruise ship could offer. The success of Norway soon proved larger cruise ships were more economical to run and more profitable. By the early 1980s, all the large cruise lines had begun ordering midsize cruise ships around 30,000 - 50,000 tons. The first purposely-built large cruise ship entered service in 1988, this ship being the Royal Caribbean Cruse Line’s 73,192-ton Sovereign of the Seas. The cruise industry was booming by that time as the aircraft that once threatened to put and end to passenger ships, were now being used to take passengers to the cruise ships based at ports in Florida and Canada. This allowed the cruise lines to offer shorter cheaper cruises to the most sought after destinations in the Caribbean and Alaska.

To build theses large cruise ships, shipyards developed the technique of building ships in sections then welding the modules together to complete the ship. This way of building ships became useful in another way, as it was then possible to lengthen these ships at a later date. A few ships have since been sent back to their builders to be cut down the middle and have a new section fitted. The shipyards that have build up their reputations and received most of the orders for these new ships are, Kvaerna Masa of Finland, Fincatieri of Italy, Chantiers De L’ Atlantique of France and Meyer Werft of Germany. Some shipyards that once built the largest Trans Atlantic liners were slow to develop the new technologies in shipbuilding, so soon lost out to this new generation of shipbuilders.

By the end of the 20th Century, the more successful cruise lines had bought up many of the smaller companies. The largest company ‘Carnival’ had taken control of the Holland America Line, Cunard, Costa, Windstar and 50% of Seabourn. The second largest company ‘Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’ had taken control of Celebrity Cruises. The third largest company ‘P&O’ had taken control of Princess Cruises, Swan Hellenic/UK, Aida Cruises/Germany, Seatours/Germany and founded P&O Australia. The fourth largest company ‘Star Cruises’ had taken control of the Norwegian Cruises Line and the Orient Line. A few smaller companies have managed to stay independent and some are even managing to expand in what is an ever-increasing industry.

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