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Princess Grace, Cary Grant and Lucille Ball on the S.S. Constitution

Princess Grace, Cary Grant and Lucille Ball on the S.S. Constitution

The S.S. Constitution was a passenger ship owned by American Export Lines and had a very glamour career.

  • She was commissioned in 1951, sailing on the New York-Genoa-Naples and Gibraltar route to Europe.
  • The Constitution was a sister ship to the SS Independence.
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1955: Officers and crew assemble aboard the SS Constitution docked in Manhattan.

  • The ships were two of the world’s most famous, popular, and innovative ocean liners, following World War 2.
  • They were symbols of American maritime design and construction. They were big, fast, and very comfortable.

Beginning her career in 1951, the Constitution was a new kind of ship for a new kind of traveler.

  • Far less intimidating than pre-war ships like the French Line’s Ile de France or Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary, the ship was conceived with glamorous informality in mind.
  • Unlike European steamship lines, American companies realized that indecipherable French menus and starchy staff had become off-putting to passengers.
  • The owners of the new vessel, American Export Lines, meant to give their clientele a new, less demanding, kind of elegance.
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1956: American actress Grace Kelly on the way to be married in Monaco trying out the captain’s sextant on board the liner SS Constitution.

Grace Kelly sailed to Europe on the S.S. Constitution on a pre-marriage cruise that turned into a major media coup.

Grace Kelly, Princess Grace, SS Constitution

Grace Kelly sailing on the SS Constitution.

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Marriage in the future for Grace Kelly when she arrives in Europe.

The Constitution was seen in several episodes of the television situation comedy I Love Lucy starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, starting with episode 140, “Bon Voyage,” which first aired 1 December 1955.

Lucy Ricardo missed the sailing of the ship and had to be ferried by air to the ship by helicopter.

Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in “An Affair To Remember” aboard the S.S. Constitution.

Grant and Kerr on the SS Constitution.

  • The ship also played a prominent role in the 1957 film, An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant & Deborah Kerr.   Location – the pool on the Lido Deck.
  • Following service on American Export’s “Sunlane” cruises to Europe in the 50s and 60s, the two ships sailed for American Hawaii Cruises for many years in the 80s and 90s; because they were US ships with US crews, they were able to cruise the Islands without sailing to a foreign port.

It was decommissioned in 1995 and, while under tow to be scrapped in 1997, sank 700 miles north of the Hawaiian Islands.

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