Sunday, February 07, 2016

Crystal Cruises Signs Option to Resurrect S.S. United States

Concept rendering of the resurrected S.S. United States
I have always loved ships and the husband and I love to cruise - we have booked another cruise for this coming October which will take us to the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Grand Turk.  Years ago before it was moved to Philadelphia to languish I had the privilege of being aboard the S.S. United States.  Even in severe disrepair the ship was impressive.  Adding to local interest is that the ship - still the fastest liner ever built - was build just a few miles from where I sit at Newport News Ship Building.  Now, in what will hopefully lead to a full resurrection of the S.S. United States, Crystal Cruises has signed an option to buy the ship and transform it into a luxury liner once more.  Here are highlights from Conde Nast Traveler:

It wasn't that long ago that we made the bold claim that "Crystal Cruises may change cruising as we know it"—and it looks like the luxury cruise line isn't slacking. On the heels of an announcement that it plans to pivot the brand from a cruise-only company of two ships to a veritable lifestyle fleet of ocean, river, and small ships, Crystal also just signed a deal to resurrect the famed S.S. United States—once the fastest, largest, and at times, most glamorous passenger ships ever built in America—as a 400-suite, 800-guest ocean liner.

"It will be a very challenging undertaking, but we are determined to apply the dedication and innovation that has always been the ship’s hallmark,” Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez said in a statement. Crystal Cruises will work with the S.S. United States Conservancy to conduct a technical feasibility study this year, to see how much work will be required to bring the 64-year-old ship up to modern standards; Crystal says it will cover all costs associated with the preservation. When the ship made its debut in 1952, it was a $70+ million beauty, more than 100 feet longer than the Titanic and the ship of choice for the glitterati, everyone from Marlon Brando to Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly. But it was retired abruptly in 1969, and has been docked (and seemingly doomed for the junkyard) on the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

[T]he United States’s mid-century modernism both influenced and helped popularize a newer, fresher, more forward-looking aesthetic.  

So why the need for speed? Per the S.S. United States Conservancy, the S.S. United States was developed to be a "super ship" as part of a Cold War–era Pentagon project; it could transform into a troop carrier, "able to transport 15,000 military service members 10,000 [nautical] miles without refueling" and reach 38 knots, or 44 miles per hour, at sea.  

When the S.S. United States sails again, it will join Cunard’s RMS Queen Mary 2 as the only true ocean liners still on the waves. 

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