Sailing aboard Alcoa Lines to the West Indies… in the 1940s and 1950s…

Sailing aboard Alcoa Lines to the West Indies… in the 1940s and 1950s…

  • Social and Travel History: Alcoa to the Caribbean.
  • When ALCOA operated three passenger cargo liners to the West Indies.
  • Modern ships – elegant yet casual service.  A look to the cruising past.
  • Because of shipping shortages in World War I, Alcoa (formerly the Aluminum Company of America) developed its own shipping line to carry bauxite from its source in what is now Suriname and Guyana to aluminum mills in the United States and elsewhere.
  • At first the line operated under foreign flags. From 1940 to 1969 it operated under the US flag.

Following World War 2, Alcoa Steamship Company acquired three unfinished Victory ship hulls in 1946.

The ships were redesigned and finished with accommodations for 96 first class passengers.  Alcoa hoped that by entering the passenger business, this would give the company an edge on any rival who might want to lure away some cargo, thereby reducing income per voyage.

In 1947 the ALCOA CAVALIER, THE ALCOA CLIPPER and the ALCOA CORSAIR established regular service between New Orleans and South America.  The ships were modern and provided excellent service.  But the mounting costs of U.S.-flag operations, forced the company to abandon their passenger service in 1960.

Portion of deck plan showing public rooms and suites.

The three cargo passenger liners.



About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…