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.
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.
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.
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