American flag cruise ships and liners during the 1950s…

American flag cruise ships and liners during the 1950s…


This is a wonderful historical video of a 1954 sailing aboard the SS ALASKA on a cruise to Alaska and the Inside Passage.

A retro 50s look at a style of cruising and travel now vanished. Views of the ship leaving the Port of Seattle, with streamers, confetti and visitors waving goodbye — something rarely seen today. See the ship sail up the inside passage… with passengers dancing, dining, playing shuffleboard and man nostalgic scenes of an Alaska steamship far different from the massive ships sailing the Inland Passage today. The Alaska Steamship Company operated passenger service from Seattle to all ports in Alaska from 1895 until 1954. During the summer weekly sailings visited the Inside Passage. The line challenged all kinds of winter conditions and operated year round offering regular sailings as far north as Nome. These are family films and footage taken during the 1920s through the 1950s. Alaska Steamship operated until the 1950s…

In the 1950s America’s fleet of ocean-going passenger ships was fast diminishing. The year before, Alaska Steamship Lines had gone out of business with the loss of four passenger ships and the Bull Line serving Puerto Rico laid up their last passenger ship.  In examining cruise ship history in 1955, there were still 40 active American-flag ships with a total passenger lift of 12,168 passengers and directly employing 8112 officers and crew.  There were nearly three crew for every passenger.  A far cry from today when there are barely one crew for every three passengers. American ships were known for safety, excellent accommodations and modern ships.  Moore-McCormick and the Grace Lines were already replacing older ships that would appear in the late 1950s.  Matson Lines and American President Lines would add ships in the late 1950s.

Today, the Pride of America is the only ocean going passenger ship flying the American flag.  She was the first new U.S. flagged cruise ship in nearly 50 years. She operates on a 7-Day Hawaii Cruise for Norwegian Cruise Line.

Here is part one of the passenger ships operating under the American flag in 1955:

African Endeavor (Farrell Lines) New York to South Africa
African Enterprise (Farrell Lines) New York to South Africa
Alcoa Cavalier (Alcoa Steamship Co.) New Orleans to the Caribbean
Alcoa Clipper (Alcoa Steamship Co.) New Orleans to the Caribbean
Alcoa Corsair (Alcoa Steamship Co.) New Orleans to the Caribbean
America (United States Lines) New York trans-Atlantic to UK and Europe
Ancon (Panama Canal Co.) New York to Panama Canal
Argentina (Moore-McCormick Lines) New York to West Indies, (East Coast) South America
Brazil (Moore-McCormick Lines) New York to West Indies, (East Coast) South America
Chiriqui (United Fruit Co.) New Orleans to Cuba and Guatemala



About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…