‘MR. OCEAN LINER” – Bill Miller

Cruising The Past salutes: ‘MR. OCEAN LINER” – Author and lecturer – William “Bill” Miller


Preview of new documentary on Bill Miller.


Bill Miller interviewed on NBC News in connection with the recent New York Normandie exhibit.

Bill Miller is probably the major living authority on the subject of ocean liners & cruise ships.

Miller has written some 60 books on maritime history and the “Golden Age” of ocean liners and the modern cruise industry: In all, he has written over 1,000 articles for newspapers, magazines, journals and maritime newsletters, and publishes his own quarterly, the Millergram. He has made 275 or so voyages to date: crossings, cruises, coastal runs and even trips on container cargo ships and tropic banana boats. He has appeared in over two dozen video and television series including Castles of the Sea, The Floating Palaces, The Superliners, Inside the World of a Cruise Ship, Sea Disasters and Deco: Age of Glamour. He has been guest lecturer aboard 50 different liners, sailing with likes of Celebrity, Azamara, Carnival, Cunard, Crystal, Holland America, Princess and Radisson-Seven Seas cruise lines.

A native of Hoboken, New Jersey, the once busy port just across the Hudson from new York City, Miller was named the outstanding American maritime scholar in 1994. He was chairman of the Port of New York Branch of the World Ship Society, served on the selection committee for the American Maritime Hall of Fame, Created the passenger ship database for the Ellis Island Museum and currently serves as adjunct curator for ocean liner studies at New York City’s South Street Seaport Museum. He organized a 14-week college course on ocean liners, helped create the US Merchant Marine Museum and has written commissioning books for three new cruise ships. His private collection includes 3,000 books on ships, over 12,000 photos and some 750 miniature ocean liner models.

He spends a good deal of time at sea lecturing on all facets of maritime history and the great liner. Join him on a cruise by checking out his website – click here.

Here are a few of Bill Miller’s great books on liners of the past. Including his most recent and upcoming editions.

SS FRANCE – SS NORWAY. Completed in the early 1960s, the France was the last of the great French Line passenger ships on the celebrated run to and from New York. She was not only the national flagship, but the longest liner yet built, and a ship with fantastic interiors, superb service, and the most exquisite food. Highly successful, she did lose out in the end to the unsurpassable speed of jet aircraft, was laid-up, and lingered for five years before becoming a hugely successful cruise ship. In 1979–80, the indoor France was converted to the outdoor Norway.

She became the largest cruise ship in the world, an innovator, a great prelude to today’s mega-liners. She endured until 2005 and has since ended her days at the hands of scrappers in far-off India. Indeed, she was one of the greatest, grandest, most beloved of all 20th-century ocean liners.

THE LAST ATLANTIC LINERS. Profusely illustrated with color and black and white illustrations. Author’s last book was Book of the Month with Ships Monthly.The Author’s 80th book.The decade from 1950 to 1960 was the Golden Age of ocean liner travel. Airliners had yet to make an impact on the transatlantic run, the ships were as glamorous as they had ever been, they were faster than they had ever been – but it was all to end rather abruptly with the advent of the Boeing 707 and the eight hour transatlantic crossing by air. From 1960 onwards, ocean liner travel was in serious decline, a downward spiral that would only have one outcome – the death of sea travel on the Atlantic.

William H. Miller tells the story in words and pictures of this decline and how it affected the liner companies. While we all think of Cunard and the French Line as the main companies on the Atlantic, ships of Holland America, United States Lines, Norwegian American Line, Swedish Amerika Line, as well as the Italian Line and Hamburg Amerika.

SS NIEUW AMSTERDAM – THE DARLING OF THE DUTCH. Entering service in 1938, the Nieuw Amsterdam was the Holland America Line flagship until the construction of the Rotterdam in the late 1950s. Her pre-war life was short and she was used as a troopship during the Second World War, carrying many thousands of Allied troops to all corners of the world. Of 36,000 tons, she was the largest vessel built in Rotterdam and was launched by Queen Wilhelmina in April 1937.

A perennial favorite of the Dutch and their finest Ship of State, Nieuw Amsterdam remained in Holland America Line service until 1974, the last ship to retain the Holland America Line’s familiar green, yellow and white funnels. Despite boiler problems in 1967, she was refitted with US Navy-surplus boilers and sailed on, cruising, until withdrawn from service in 1974. Sailing to the breakers, the Art Deco ‘Darling of the Dutch’, as she was affectionately known, was broken up.

All books can be ordered from Amazon. Click here for full information.

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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.

One comment

  1. michelle wilcox

    Hello,
    My name is Michelle C. Wilcox. I recently inherited a vast collection of china tea cups and saucers from all over the world. The pieces date back to the early 1900’s. I have spent countless hours researching the china and other memorabilia that was also part of the collections and I wanted to inquire as to whether you may have interest in selling the items at your auction.
    During my research I came across several articles pertaining to the pieces of my collection. One such article was written by Richard de Thuin, “Single Owner Sale of Ocean Memorabilia with No Reserves”. The article references Wayne LaPoe who had similar china pieces representing the major steam lines including the Cunard Line, French Line, Italian Line, Swedish Line, Boston Mail, North Deutcher Lloyd, Holland-America, the White Star Line, and Radif Genova for Richard Ginori. Wayne Lapoe’s collection netted sales of $317,403.00 at a Christies New York City sale in 2004.
    Yet another article researched was written by Manuela Hoelterhoff titled “Christie’s Sets Sail with Rare Auction of Ocean Liner Items”. This article also referenced the sale of Art Deco and mid-20th century furnishings as well as smaller ticketed items still from those same ocean lines and time era. It was expected to bring in $900,000.00 – $1.2 million. Gregg Dietrich of Christie’s said the market was on a resurgence and the demand for sea-faring items are now on the rise because of increased interest in ocean liners.
    I have also learned Christie’s held another auction in 2008 at Rockefeller Plaza (Sale 2073) in which the auctioned items included lots from the same time era and same ocean liners as the above mentioned sales.
    Based on my research it is apparent you have an interest in these china collections and I wanted to share with you some information on my collection. Below is a list of the ocean liners and companies from which I have pieces:

    C.FIELD HAVILAND
    GDA FRANCE
    OLD DOMINION STEAMSHIP CO. 1920
    AMERICAN BANNER STEAMSHIP LINE
    SWEDISH LINE -GRIPSHOLM 1942
    CUNARD LINE USED ON THE LUSITANIA AND MAURETANIA
    THE ITALIAN LINE 1939 -GINORI
    US NAVY SHIP -VINTAGE MAYER
    US COAST GUARD 1920
    PORSGRUND PORSELEN STREAMING PENNANT
    HOLLAND AMERICAN LINE 1924
    HOLLAND LLOYD CIRCA 1931
    SS REX 1916-1992
    RMS QUEEN MARY
    RMS QUEEN ELIZABETH
    CGT – FRENCH LINE
    ANDREA DORIA
    GINORI CIRCA
    MITSUI LINE 1942
    NORITAKE FOR THE NIPPON YUSEN KAISHA
    BRITISH TANKER LINE
    JOHNSON LINE
    DE LA MAISON G.D.A. USED ON NORMANDIE
    MAYER CHINA VINTAGE TEXACO CUP AND SUACER 1881-1930’S
    THE PORT LINE
    BANK LINE
    ELLERMAN & BUCKNALL
    BLUE STAR LINE

    All of the china pieces are in immaculate condition and most of them are numbered.

    I also have a trunk full of ephemera from the dredging and opening of the Panama Canal Zone including original pilot passports, various correspondence from the White House, paycheck stubs, maps, and pamphlets. I also have two original Schaeffer Quill Pen sets, vintage stamps, and photos of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh when they visited the Panama Canal Zone in 1953. The pictures were taken in the control house of Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal Zone .

    For your review I have attached copies of the articles mentioned above, one of photos of the Queen II, and a photo of my china collection. As mentioned above, I am interested in selling my collection as well as some of the other memorabilia. Please let me know if I can provide any other information.

    Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Michelle C. Wilcox
    504-228-2291
    New Orleans , La

    CHRISTIE’S AUCTION FROM 2008 OCEAN LINER MEMORABILIA

    LAPOE COLLECTION ARTICLE 2004

    CHRISTIE’S SETS SAIL WITH RARE AUCTION OF OCEAN LINER ITEMS 2005

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