1955: Officers and crew assemble aboard the SS Constitution docked in Manhattan.
The SS Constitution was a passenger ship owned by American Export Lines. She was commissioned in 1951. She sailed on the New York-Genoa-Naples and Gibraltar route to Europe. The Constitution was a sister ship to the SS Independence. 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.
12th April 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.
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.
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.
SS Constitution being loaded at dock in New York City – 1950s.
It was decommissioned in 1995 and, while under tow to be scrapped in 1997, sank 700 miles north of the Hawaiian Islands.