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AROUND THE WORLD CRUISE for $854 First Class… American flag ships before the “Costa Concordia” at sea nightmare…

AROUND THE WORLD CRUISE for $854 First Class… American flag ships before the “Costa Concordia” at sea nightmare…

In the 1950s… an APL ships sails from San Francisco for an Around The World Cruise…

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 First Class lounges during the 1930s… 

In the 1930s… a thrilling, luxurious trip Around the World was available on a regular basis aboard the Dollar Steamship Lines. 

In 1935, these great liners were sailing every week of the year from New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco via Hawaii and the Sunshine Route on a big smooth riding President Liner.

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The President Harrison, inaugurated (APL) Dollar Line’s round-the-world service in 1924.

You could take 85 days to 2 years to sail the world. Hawaii, the Orient, Malaya, India, Egypt, Europe with many side trips. Starting at $854 First Class.

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This is when a dollar was worth something and Americans proudly displayed their passports.

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American President Lines took over the Dollar Steamship Lines in the late 1930s.

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passenger_04For celebrated American author Alex Haley, APL ships offered solace and an environment very conducive to writing. Haley, like many of the passengers who sailed on APL vessels from 1973 to 1987, welcomed the chance to escape from a busy life. In contrast to the Cleveland and Wilson, APL’s cargo vessels provided passage to only 12 stalwart individuals.

According to a crew member from this era, “Ships weren’t as connected to the rest of the world as they are today. No one used fax machines the way they do now, and many of the passengers who sailed on these ships enjoyed being beyond the reach of their day-to-day lives back home.”

Because of this, Haley and his assistant traveled often on APL ships. Described as a night owl, the author was very much at home on freighters because he had sailed on Coast Guard vessels for many years before turning his attention to writing. Even years after the success of his best-known work, Roots, Haley continued to seek the solitude afforded by life at sea.

Although APL no longer offers passenger service, the company’s rich history of luxuriously slow voyages gives us pause. It gives us the opportunity to wonder how it must have been to see the world from a deckchair on a steamer, book in hand, pleasantly out of reach.

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Lack of fire sprinklers delayed Round the World cruises in 1937…

From TIME MAGAZINE

Monday, Nov. 08, 1937

Demoted Liners

Streamers of colored paper linked ship and pier, bright specks of confetti dotted the air between waving throngs on the dock and the gay crowd on the liner’s deck high above them. “Good-by,” “Don’t let a Jap bomb get you,” “Take care of yourself.” Through milling travelers on deck stewards wove their way, intoning, “All ashore that’s going ashore.” Ninety passengers aboard the Dollar Line’s President Jackson thought last week they were bound on a long voyage from Seattle to the Orient.

But no ropes were cast off. The traditional sailing hour of the ship, 11 a. m.. passed into afternoon before puzzled passengers were told that “departure had been delayed” until 4 p. m., then 6:15 p. m. Mystified, passengers watched 99 of the 206 crew, mostly Chinese, their belongings on their backs, shuffle off the ship, followed by manicurist, barber and orchestra. Finally they were told the reason and 78 of 90 passengers of the President Jackson were politely asked to pack up and debark. Only the first twelve who had booked passages would be allowed to sail. The indignant “left behinds” booked on other lines, and at evening the 14,000-ton President Jackson sailed from a deserted dock, demoted, in almost the twinkling of an eye by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, from a liner to a freighter.

These happenings showed that the safety-at-sea law passed last year had teeth. By these terms all U. S. ships carrying 50 or more passengers were required to install, by July 1, 1937, automatic sprinkler systems or gain exemption by such other safety devices as steel decks, electric fire detection, patrols, manual alarms and an ample complement of fire extinguishers. The 109 U. S. Merchant Marine ships affected included the whole famed, globe-encircling Dollar Line and its subsidiary, the American Mail Line. Three months’ extension was added to the effective date—making the deadline Oct. 1. While other lines docked their vessels to install sprinkler equipment, Dollar Line spent the summer arguing over Government subsidy, left its ships incompletely equipped to qualify for exemptions.

In Manhattan, all but twelve passengers were ordered off the President Polk, in San Francisco 48 round-the-world tourists were turned out of the President Harrison and both vessels were given freighters’ licenses which limit passengers to twelve. Passenger certificates lifted from other lines included the British owned Western Prince, which sails under U. S. Marine inspection certificate and United Fruit’s liner Tivvies. Quickly the Dollar Line found means to make the long delayed alterations. Within a week the Presidents Pierce and Taft were extending their fire detecting systems and plans were completed to equip the line’s remaining ships at a cost of $25,000 to $50,000 per ship.

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