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RETRO look at Mid-Century ship travel and cruising in the 1950s and 1960s
Crossing the Equator aboard the SS Mariposa in 1959.

RETRO look at Mid-Century ship travel and cruising in the 1950s and 1960s

Travel by cruise ship or passenger liner in the 1950s and 1960s was far different from today’s cruising.

SS MARIPOSA, CRUISING, CRUISE HISTORY, RETRO, MID-CENTURY, MATSON LINES, MICHAEL L GRACE, THE LOVE BOAT

Many passengers were traveling from one point to another, they had a destination, while others were taking cruises.

  • You could be sailing across the pond to Europe for business or pleasure, heading out of New York to the West Indies or South America or cruising from California to Hawaii, the Orient or South Pacific.

SS MARIPOSA, CRUISING, CRUISE HISTORY, RETRO, MID-CENTURY, MATSON LINES, MICHAEL L GRACE, THE LOVE BOAT

Bon Voyage Parties and Passenger Lists

There were going away bon voyage parties in your stateroom for friends and families to see you off.

  • They would gather on the pier as the ship’s orchestra would play upbeat tunes connected to you by streamers that would break as you sailed away.
  • There would be passenger lists to let you see friends onboard and new acquaintances you’d meet.
  • You’d unpack, then head perhaps for a drink in the bar followed by dinner.

SS MARIPOSA, CRUISING, CRUISE HISTORY, RETRO, MID-CENTURY, MATSON LINES, MICHAEL L GRACE, THE LOVE BOAT

Elaborate Meals, Caviar and Baked Alaska 

  • You would have first or second sitting and meet your dining companions for the voyage.
  • Sailing days and nights before arrival in a port were slightly informal.
  • What we would call today business dress today which meant coat and tie or dresses for the ladies in all public rooms after 6 PM.
  • Black tie or suits were required for the remaining nights at sea except for costume night or a theme night, such as a Hawaiian or Caribbean night.

SS MARIPOSA, CRUISING, CRUISE HISTORY, RETRO, MID-CENTURY, MATSON LINES, MICHAEL L GRACE, THE LOVE BOAT

Ballroom Dancing, Horse Racing, and First Run M0vies

After dinner, you could see a first run movie or play bingo or bridge or Canasta which was very popular, but there was always dancing to the ship’s orchestra every night in the ballroom.

  • There would be captain’s cocktail parties along with entertainment including guest vocalists, dance acts, ventriloquists, and magicians.
  • A light buffet would be available around midnight.

SS MARIPOSA, CRUISING, CRUISE HISTORY, RETRO, MID-CENTURY, MATSON LINES, MICHAEL L GRACE, THE LOVE BOAT

Morning Bullion, Deck Tennis, Hula Lessons and Crossing the Equator

During the day there would be early morning coffee, late morning bullion, and afternoon tea.

  • Plus room service for all meals and late night snacks. Meals offered extensive menus with many more choices that are provided today, even on the most expensive cruises.
  • Deck sports included swimming, shuffleboard, ping pong, deck tennis, skeet shooting and golf from the aft part of the ship.
  • There were also movies to see during the day along with deck horse racing with par mutual betting, dancing lessons, Hula lessons on Hawaiian cruises, port talks and bridge lessons.
  • There were libraries, writing rooms and bars opened from noon on. Ship’s newspaper was delivered every morning with world news and a list of all activities.
  • Crossing the Equator meant passengers participated if they were newbies.
  • Beluga Caviar was many times on the menu, unlike today.

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