The SS America
The SS America was christened by First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt in 1939. Then, it was the biggest, fastest, and most luxurious passenger liner in the world. Back then, it was a treat to be able to take a cruise on this ship. In 1978, a cruise was offered on the ship that people couldn’t pass up. The tickets were being sold for as little as $99 for a two-night cruise from Manhattan. Venture Cruise Lines was selling the tickets, and they promised passengers the most luxurious cruise of their lives. People say that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. This was the case with the SS America.
From the beginning of luxury cruise ships back in 1844, taking a cruise had a luxurious label. When the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company announced in 1844 that it would be the first passenger liner, only the incredibly wealthy could afford to get on board. The cruises were so expensive that only celebrities, royalty, and the incredibly rich could afford to take a cruise.
Not So Luxurious
Although these cruises were considered a luxury and they were very expensive, they were nothing like the cruise ships of today. The bathrooms were located at the end of the hallway, and all passengers shared them. The rooms were 50 percent smaller than the cabins on modern cruise ships. There also wasn’t much when it came to entertainment. The ships had a library, playing cards, shuffleboard, and dancing. Dinner was a formal sit-down dinner, with a strict dress code. There was no 24-hour dining, so you had to wait until mealtime if you were going to eat. The destinations were also lacking compared to today.
The 60s and 70s
By the 60s and 70s, things were changing. Ships were larger and offered more. Thanks to the TV show, The Love Boat, cruise life was deemed luxurious, so real-life cruise ships had to meet the standards. Today, cruise ships are floating resorts with casinos, night clubs, Broadway shows, and amusement parks.
Even before the ship set sail in 1978, the cruise line had issues. There was often ticket confusion that caused delays. Many passengers complained that their tickets never arrived, and some passengers’ names were left off the list entirely. When things got very confusing, passengers would hear a voice over the loudspeaker saying, “Get on board, ticket or not tickets.” The ship needed to leave on time, so they did whatever they could to get the passengers on board.
Reasons For Bargain Prices
Now let’s get back to the SS America. The people who got on board suddenly understood why the tickets were so cheap. Some described the ship as a floating trash can. Many reported seeing cockroaches, flooded cabins, and the pool was filled with trash. People thought that it would be fantastic since it was the largest cruise ship ever built in the United States. Since it got White House approval before its first voyage, people were sure that it would be amazing. Sadly it wasn’t. Some of the beds had no sheets and mattresses, the dishes were dirty, and many of the toilets didn’t even flush.
As if the condition of the ship wasn’t bad enough, many of the amenities advertised didn’t exist. The promised salon, sauna, and disco didn’t exist. When 100 passengers got on board, there weren’t enough rooms for everyone. It turned out that the ship was overbooked.
“We Want To Get Off!!!”
The people on the ship who didn’t have rooms were furious. They stood outside the ship’s purser’s office, chanting, “We want to get off!” When nobody was doing anything, a violent fistfight broke out between the ship’s crew and the passengers. Moments after a cruise ship left New York; a nightmare unfolded that resulted in mutiny. Things like this were not common on a cruise, d something needed to be done before things got even worse.
Getting Off the Ship
The ship’s captain knew that something had to be done, so he docked at Coney Island. The 250 angry passengers were able to get off the ship on rope ladders, and they got into tugboats. The boats took them to Staten Island and left them stranded there. Many of the passengers were angry because they were promised limo rides after the ship docked.
Shockingly, after the cruise ended, the cruise line offered a 5-day cruise to Nova Scotia. None of the issues were fixed after the first disastrous cruise. After this, the cruise line was fined $500,000 for various violations. That summer, they went out of business. The people on the ship say it was a horrible experience they will never forget.