For the following information we wish to thank Lars Hemingstam and his excellent website on the Swedish American Line – click here to visit.

The First Class Lounge on board MS Kungsholm – by many regarded as one of the most beautiful rooms afloat.

Cruising The Past – 3 Part Youtube – A 1929 cruise aboard Swedish America Line’s MS KUNGSOLM from Sweden to the Caribbean.   From Worldcruiser2 at Youtube.  The video is from home movies of a Swedish couple sailing in 1929.  The cruise The musical score is dramatic to say the least. Many scenes aboard ship. Very elegant – right before the Great Depression.  J. D. Salinger (Cather In The Rye) was cruise director aboard the MS KUNGSHOLM.

Heading toward Jamaica in 1929 on-board the MS KUNGSHOLM. Many filmed sequences aboard ship. Also, great scenes of Jamaica.

Departure from Sweden in 1929 for a trans-Atlantic crossing and connection to a Caribbean Cruise – a far cry from today’s cruising. Scenes aboard ship, crossing the Atlantic, of the Statue of Liberty, and passing other ships.

Great shots of the Panama Canal and aboard the MS KUNGSHOLM.

Our thanks for many photos and background for this feature from the wonderful website: A TRIBUTE TO THE SWEDISH AMERICA LINE – View by clicking here.

The MS Kungsholm (II)/Italia – 1928 – 1965

The MS KUNGSHOLM was built in Hamburg, Germany in 1928.

Her gross registered tonnage was 21,256 and her passenger capacity 1,544.

The Kungsholm inaugurated cruises for SAL on January 19, 1929, when she first visited the Caribbean.

The chic liner made many trans-Atlantic crossings and cruises out of New York.  Exceptional Swedish service, cuisine and atmosphere helped propel SAL to a first class operation until it went out of business in the 1970s.

On January 20, 1940, the Kungsholm made the first South Seas Cruise.

In February 1941, J. D. Salinger (the famous author – Catcher In The Rye) took a position on the entertainment staff of the M.S. Kungsholm, touring the Caribbean for nineteen days.   Upon leaving the ship, Salinger attempts to join the army but is deferred due to a minor heart irregularity.  During the summer, he begins a romantic relationship with Oona O’Neill, daughter of the playwright Eugene O’Neill.

The Kungsholm was taken over by the U.S. government on December 12, 1941. On January 2, 1942, the Swedish flag was lowered and the American flag was raised as the vessel was named John Ericsson.

During World War II John Ericsson served with distinction as a troop transport in the Pacific, the Mediterranean, as well as during the invasion of France in 1944.

She was repurchased by SAL in 1947 and operated by the Home Lines as the Italia. While in Swedish American Line service, the Kungsholm carried 82,745 transatlantic passengers and 58,779 cruise passengers.

In 1941, the position of entertainment director for the M.S, Kungsholm of 1928 was held by J. D. Salinger.  Mr. Salinger would go on to become a world-renown author with the publication of “The Catcher in the Rye” in 1952. Undoubtedly the Kungsholm’s most famous crew member. No doubt he used this experience when writing his short story “Teddy” (republished in his collection Nine Stories) which takes place on an ocean liner.

A Masterpiece of Art Decó Design

Although the Kungsholm of 1928 was a masterpiece of Art Decó design, and the architect Carl Bergsten was a Swede, Art Decó was not a typically Swedish style at that period. The style was primarily chosen to suit the American market. A similar design can be found in the Empire State Building.

MS Kungsholm in Curacao – 1935.

At this period there were two different trends in Swedish design. Carl Bergsten had designed the Swedish pavillion at the 1925 Paris Exhibition, and the Swedish participation had been a great success, especially the display of exclusive Orrefors chrystal glassware. At the same time the Swedish welfare state was evolving, favoring a functional, but attractive, design at a price range the workers could afford. The Kungsholm was a combination of both these trends.

First Class Stairway and Entrance to Public Room

The Art Decó interior was primarily to be found in the first class sections. The first class public rooms were decorated in black, grey, red and gold, with geometrical patterns and Egyptian details. There was a red grand piano in the first class lounge. Grey seal skin was used in some of the tapestry and carpets. The first class smoking room was inspired by the Orient. In the main embarkation hall, there was a round table with an Orrefors glass top, decorated with astrology symbols. The furniture was mostly manufactured at the NK factories in Nyköping, Sweden.

The First Class smoking room.

As a contrast, and a special feature of the first Kungsholm, was the general upgrading of the third class sections. The dining room had bright colors and tables for four or six persons, instead of the long tables that were customary in third class dining rooms at that period. The public rooms were inspired by Swedish rural life, with much influence from Carl Larsson paintings.

When the ship was seized by the US Government in December 1941 (soon to be purchased) and converted into a troup transport ship, all the furniture was thrown on to the pier in New York. None of it has been found, with the exception of a mirror that appeared at an auction in New York some years ago.

The lovely profile of Sweden’s Kungsholm.  See the pool at the bottom of the ship – pictured below.

The first class swimming pool.


About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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