Queens of the Sea

I have always admired a fine ship, and I can think of few things so beautiful a great three masted clipper under full sail.

As a young boy in the 1930s I was also enthralled by the sleek ocean liners plying the North Atlantic.  The Queen Mary and the Normandie were immense vessels carrying passengers back and forth between New York and Europe. Each carried more than 3,000 passengers per trip. Later, shortly before World War II, the Queen Elizabeth joined the parade of great ships.  There were also many somewhat smaller liners.   Air traffic across the Atlantic was still in its infancy, and the ocean liners had little competition for the luxury trade.

The Normandie was perhaps the most beautiful ship of them all. 

The Normandie

Unfortunately, the outbreak of war in 1939 interrupted these liners’ careers, and the Normandie was interned in the port of New York when France exited the war in 1940.  The United States military decided to convert her and other big liners into troop carriers, and during renovations the Normandie caught fire and capsized at its Manhattan dock. Damaged beyond repair, she was eventually scraped.

Some people admire the looks of the new cruise ships.  They are indeed handsome and immense, and they dwarf the old liners.  But they are also a bit ungainly, and I do not think they match the Normandie and the Queen Mary as objects of beauty.

Modern Cruise Ship

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