SS Florida from Miami to Havana


In the 1950s, you could cruise from Miami to Havana, Cuba for $42.00 per person aboard the S.S. Florida.  This fare included all transportation, two nights aboard ship, a day in Havana and all meals.

YouTube video of cruise ship arriving in Havana – this was recent – but it would have been the same view in 1958 aboard the S. S. Florida.  Nothing much has changed including the cars which are mainly American – vintage 1950s.

Sailing to Cuba aboard the S.S. Florida.

Up until now, due to the US embargo, no cruise ships visit Cuba from the States, and any ship that calls there cannot dock in the USA for six months afterwards.

The Peninsular and Occidental Steamship Company was a pioneer in today’s billion-dollar Florida cruise business.

Until Castro’s regime closed Cuba to cruise ships in 1960, the SS FLORIDA was sailing three times a week from Miami.

The SS FLORIDA had first sailed from Key West to Cuba until the 1934 devastating hurricane destroyed the terminal and rail connections to Miami.

Built in New Port News, Virginia, in 1931, the SS FLORIDA accommodated 612 passengers in first class and 130 in second class.

After World War 2 the overnight ship was turned into a one class liner.


The S. S. Florida approaching Havana and picking up the pilot.

Today, Americans can travel to China but not Cuba. Seems one kind of Communist regime is okay for the current administration but not another.

Aboard the S.S. Florida.

Maybe that will change should President Obama lift the ban for travel to Cuba and Americans will be able to sail again to Havana!



Painting of the SS FLORIDA.


The S. S. Florida, P&O Steamship Company’s Flagship during the 1950’s. The ship was a favorite sailing between Havana and Miami.  It also carried cars, so Cubans could bring their cars along when they came up to Miami to shop and visit.




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.


  1. I sailed on the SS Florida in 1955 from Miami to Havana and back.. I was about 15 at the time. I remember the ship shining it’s search lights on Morrow Castle at night, and youg boys in the water begging for passengers to throw coins which they dove for. I remember all of the old cars, the drivers used their horns more than the brakes. My mother and I visited a rum factory. I had been sampling a banna daquri (sp? but when my mother realized I was drinking rum, that ended that. Another thing I remember in Cuba was that their capitol building was a scaled down copy of the US Capitol building. There were armed guards posted around the residence of Juan Batista.

    Note to Gloria who made previous post. I have 8mm footage taken on the Isle of Pine in 1957 of sugar cane processing, if anyone on the Cuban history page would be interested in that.

  2. Thanks a lot! This is a beautiful blog with meaningful info. I have shared the poster of the cruise and the link in Cubahistory page.
    Thanks, again.

Leave a Reply