WEBSITE OF THE MONTH: THE WARD LINE

JULY 2012 – Cruising The Past: Website Of The Month – THE WARD LINE

We applaud Michael Andelson’s THE WARD LINE terrific website!

The Ward Line is best remembered for the ill-fated Morro Castle of 1930.

Andelson’s site not only explores the Morro Castle disaster but gives you a unique history of The Ward Line.


Footage from the fire of 1934 to the aftermath of the Morro Castle luxury liner.

The turbo-electric liners Morro Castle and Oriente were the largest and finest Ward Line ships ever built, though hardly the most successful.

Launched in the early stages of the Great Depression, the so-called “millionaire’s yachts” were fast, well-appointed, and safer than most ships of their era.

On the Oriente in 1939 – The bar of the Oriente of 1930 was one of the few shipboard locations that betrayed her Art Deco origins. All in all, the interiors of the Morro Castle and Oriente were quite traditional.

But a strange series of circumstances led to the Morro Castle’s destruction by fire in September 1934, resulting in the loss of 134 lives– the largest loss of life at sea in peacetime in U.S. history.

This tragedy has been the subject of many articles, books, and television programs, so this page is dedicated solely to images and memorabilia related to the Morro Castle and her sister.

Hopefully, these images give a better insight into the ship before her tragic loss– the “feel” of the ship, how she was advertised, and life onboard the Ward Line’s most infamous liner.

The Morro Castle, like the Titanic, was a scene of great tragedy.


The Deck Ballroom, Circa 1932 – Many passengers preferred the less formal feel of this space, which was likened to a nightclub.

Michael Alderson’s THE WARD LINE website is a unique and dedicated historical program.   The site is devoted to the ships and services of the Ward Line, officially known as the New York and Cuba Mail Steamship Company.

For 115 years, the Ward Line provided freight and passenger service to Nassau, Havana, and Mexican Gulf Ports.  The company was a critical link between these ports and the New York City, and its ships played a major role in the history of the nations they served.

Burned out hulk of Morro Castle disaster opposite Convention Hall, Asbury Park N.J..

Many people know the Ward Line only through the Morro Castle of 1930, the liner whose tragic loss by fire in September 1934 changed Safety of Life at Sea laws forever. The Ward Line site goes beyond the tragic loss of this ship (the single worst loss of life in U.S. history in peacetime) to explore the larger company history through images and memorabilia.

As you look through these pages, keep in mind that Ward Line ships were not transatlantic giants. They did not offer the luster of the White Star Line, the style of the French Line, or the speed of HAPAG and NDL. But they were critical links for U.S. interests in Cuba, Mexico, and the Bahamas, and they served a cross-section of the American public for nearly twelve decades.

The Ward Line weathered the storms of revolution, war, poor profits, fickle subsidies, tragic losses, and changing technology to serve the U.S. Merchant Marine from 1840 until 1955… the oldest U.S. shipping company at the time of its liquidation.


Lounge on the Morro Castle of 1930 – The impressive first class lounge on the Morro Castle and Oriente rose through two decks. When fire broke out on the Morro Castle in 1934, this room was quickly engulfed by flames from the adjacent writing room.

Please click here to visit Michael Alderson’s great historical view of the this unique steamship company of the past.

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About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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