75 Years Ago – The Clarke Steamship Co’s All Outside Cabin 335-berth TSS North Star Began The First Regular 7-Night Cruises From Miami

North Star at Bonne BayThis photo brings us another reminder of cruising history. On the night of January 14, 1938, Lord Beaverbook, Lord Forbes, the Governor of Florida, the Mayor of Miami and the presidents of the Chambers of Commerce of Miami and Miami Beach and their wives were all invited to an inaugural dinner and dance on board the North Star in the Port of Miami. The host was the Clarke Steamship Co of Quebec and Montreal.

On the following day, Saturday, January 15,  that company began the first 7-night cruises from Miami, with calls scheduled for Port au Prince, Haiti; Kingston, Jamaica, and Havana, Cuba, using the 6,893-ton 335-berth cruise ship North Star. This was the first time since 1927 that weekly cruises had been operated from Miami. The last time it had been by the same company’s 3,445-ton New Northland, sailing on 6-night cruises from Palm Beach and Miami every Wednesday for Nassau and Havana. In 1928, she had entered the more frequent Miami-Nassau trade.

On arrival at Port au Prince, on January 17, the North Star was welcomed by Haitian President Stenio Vincent, who particularly went out of his way to greet his French-speaking brethren from Quebec. Today, 75 years later, that welcome comes from closer to home for Montrealers, as Haitians now drive most of their taxis!

The North Star was just one of a busy parade of ships that arrived at Kingston the next day, Monday, January 18.  Among the others were Holland America’s 15,450-ton Veendam on a cruise from New Orleans, United Fruit’s 2,519-ton Telde from Saint John, New Brunswick, via Havana, Pickford & Black’s 1,571-ton Norwegian charter Lillemor from Halifax, Elders & Fyffe’s 6,878-ton Carare, to load fruit for Avonmouth, and two 5,236-ton sister ships from the Colombian Line, the Colombia, northbound for New York, and the Haiti, southbound to Colombia.

Kingston, Jamaica’s “Daily Gleaner” carried an advertisement for the ship: “TSS North Star. Palatial new British liner, especially designed and built for luxury cruising. Aboard the North Star you will enjoy the gracious living and perfection of service and cuisine for which the Clarke Steamship Company’s ships are famous.”

The North Star arrived at  Havana early, however, and not for festive reasons. In the early morning hours of January 19, after sailing from Kingston, it had been noticed that Frank Bell of the Dade County Publicity Bureau had gone missing. The North Star increased her speed in order to reach Havana two hours early, so that Mrs Bell could catch the departing Miami steamship Florida and reach her six-year-old son a day early.

The North Star had joined the Clarke fleet in the spring of 1937, having been acquired from Canadian National Steamships, who had been operating her as the Prince Henry. Under that name she had made half a dozen cruises from Miami to Havana and Veracruz for National Tours in January and February 1937.

This photo of the TSS North Star was taken not in the Caribbean, however, but in the Gulf of St Lawrence, where she is shown at scenic Bonne Bay, on Newfoundland’s west coast, in July 1937. She called here on her summer cruises from Montreal and Quebec to Gaspé, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador. On her upper decks can be seen framing for the shade awnings that she used in Caribbean waters.

For details on the best cruises available today in the Caribbean and the Gulf of St Lawrence please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

The Growth of Cruising: A Twenty-Five Year Comparison – Norwegian Cruise Line Float – The New SuperStar Gemini

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 28th January 2013

Royal PrincessIn 1984, Princess Cruises introduced the 44,348-ton Royal Princess, at 761 x 96 feet and 1,200 passengers.

Riviera - OceaniaIn 2011-12, Oceania Cruises introduced the 66,048-ton Marina and Riviera, at 777 x 105 feet & 1,250 passengers.

Twenty-five years ago, the main players in the cruise industry operated a fleet of around forty ships offering berths for some 37,000 passengers. Today, the same players operate a fleet of around 125 ships capable of carrying in excess of 250,000 passengers at any one time. Not only has the industry grown almost seven-fold during that period but it has in effect divided into the best and the biggest, with seven or eight lines offering the best in service and experience and another seven or eight offering another type of seagoing experience, on very large scale ships at affordable prices. This week, we look at this phenomenon. Elsewhere, Norwegian Cruise Holdings has floated at a 30% premium and another SuperStar Gemini has made her début.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                        (See previous columns)

Two Trios of Mega Ships A Century Apart – Norwegian Cruise Line Flotation – Costa Concordia One Year On

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 14th January 2013

Imperator courtesy of Ocean Liners of a Bygone Era A hundred years ago, Hapag’s 50,000-ton Imperator, Vaterland and Bismarck were the largest in the world

A hundred years ago, the Hamburg America Line introduced the largest ship in the world when it christened its 52,117-ton Imperator, first of a trio, in 1913. And last month Royal Caribbean announced that it had ordered a third ship of its 225,000-ton Oasis class, for delivery in 2016. Hamburg America Line’s successor, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, is this year introducing its Europa 2, which if not the largest in the world may be the most luxurious for today’s generation, something that the Imperator boasted as well. Elsewhere, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it is floating on the NASDAQ and Costa Cruises commemorates the first anniversary of the loss of its 114,137-ton Costa Concordia, the largest passenger ship loss ever, at Giglio.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                       (See previous columns)

The New Crop of Ships – 100th Anniversary of Florida’s First Cruises – Tere Moana Is Christened in St Martin

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 7th January 2013

Norwegian Breakaway WaterfrontThis year and next see the introduction of four major new classes of cruise ship. First to arrive, in 2013, will be Norwegian Breakaway (boardwalk shown right), one of a pair from Meyer Werft, and Royal Princess, first of another pair from Fincantieri, both of which debut in Southampton. In 2014, these will be followed by Mein Schiff 3, one of a pair from STX Finland for the German market, and an as yet unnamed ship from Meyer Werft for Royal Caribbean International, known only as “Project Sunshine.” Most will not realize it, but today marks the 100th anniversary of the first cruises offered from Florida, when the original Evangeline sailed from Key West on an 11-night cruise, the first of eight, to Panama, Jamaica and Cuba. Finally, Paul Gauguin Cruises christened its latest addition, the 90-guest Tere Moana, in St Martin at the end of 2012.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                       (See previous columns)

Today Marks The 100th Anniversary Of The First Cruises From Florida


The original Evangeline, built on the Clyde in 1912 and owned by the Plant Line, offered the first cruises from Florida in 1913

One hundred years ago today, on January 7, 1913, not long after the completion of Henry Flagler’s Oversea Railway from Miami across the Florida keys to Key West,  the 3,786-ton Evangeline sailed from Key West on her inaugural cruise from Florida. She is shown here in a fine portrait by prolific Danish-American maritime artist Antonio Jacobsen (1850-1921). The Evangeline operated a season of eight 11-night cruises, the first such program to be operated from a Florida port. Priced from $110 per person, they were sold as “Winter Outings on Summer Seas“: – The s.s. Evangeline will leave Key West direct for Colon, Panama, remain at that port two days, and sail direct to Kingston, Jamaica, remain at that port for two days, thence sail for Key West, Fla, via Havana, Cuba. Persons desiring to stop in Havana may do so at will, and return to Key West on any of the P&O ships with no extra charge. These first Florida cruises were offered between January and April 1913 by the Jacksonville-based Peninsular & Occidental Steamship Company, a joint venture of the Plant Line and Henry Flagler. They were followed by seven similar 14-night cruises in the winter of 1914, but this time from Jacksonville, much closer to the main population centres, with fares from $125.  All these cruises included a visit to the Panama Canal, then still under construction, as well as calls at Kingston and Havana, but with the First World War, no cruises were offered in 1915. The Evangeline, first of the name, had been completed in October 1912 by the London & Glasgow Shipbuilding Company of Govan for the Canada Atlantic & Plant Steamship Co Ltd of Halifax. She was named for Longfellow’s epic poem of the same name, and like her predecessors cruised both in the north and in the south.  She succeeded a number of other ships owned by the Plant interests, which had routes both between Florida and the West Indies and between Canada and New England.

s.s. Olivette

The Plant Line’s Olivette of 1887 carried the Young Winston to Havana in 1895

One of these, the 1,611-ton Olivette, had carried a 20-year-old Winston Churchill on the event of his first visit to Cuba. On November 19, 1895, Churchill sailed in her from Tampa to Havana, where he developed a particular taste for Cuban cigars. The Olivette had been built in 1887 by the famous William Cramp & Sons shipyard in Philadelphia as the second ship in a new service between Tampa, Key West and Havana. The first had been the 884-ton Mascotte of 1886, which features today on the crest of the City of Tampa. Starting in July 1892 the Olivette joined the 1,738-ton Halifax in summer service between Boston, Halifax and Charlottetown PEI, and then the Halifax started coming south by winter to assist the Olivette.

HalifaxThe Halifax (left) had been built by the London & Glasgow Shipbuilding Company in 1888 for the Boston, Halifax and Charlottetown run. Early in her career, in March 1891, she had taken “an excursion of 185 Americans from Boston” to Jamaica. She also operated a series of experimental cruises from Tampa to Nassau and Jamaica in the winter of 1893. These ships had been joined briefly in 1899 by the 5,018-ton La Grande Duchesse, a white elephant that ended up being sold in 1901 to the Savannah Line, but that’s another story. Miami also had a Peninsular & Occidental ship to its name in the 1,741-ton Cramp-built Miami, introduced in 1898, but she operated essentially as a night boat, crossing to Nassau two or three times a week, depending on the season. Similarly, the 1,414-ton Prince Edward ran between Miami and Havana in 1901-03, as did the 1,619-ton City of Miami in 1921-23. Although new passenger services were started between Miami and Philadelphia in 1923 and  New York and Baltimore in 1924, it would be January 1927 before regular cruises began operating from Miami. Its first foreign cruise ship, Blue Star Line’s 15,501-ton Arandora Star, would arrive in February 1932 and in January 1935, the Miami-Nassau route would offer its first all-inclusive cruises.

Oceania's Riviera

Oceania Cruises’ Riviera offers some of the finest itineraries through the islands of the West Indies

But what could one think of today to reach something close to the original golden era of cruising? One needn’t look far. Oceania Cruises’ 66,084-ton Riviera is now conducting a series of 10-14-night cruises from Miami to “Sun Splashed Isles,” most of which are sold out.  One of the best of these leaves Miami for 14 nights on March 3, for two days at sea, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Grenada, Barbados, St Vincent, Antigua and St Barts before two more days at sea on the way back to Miami. No San Juan, no St Thomas, no Cozumel, no Labadee, what could be better? The Riviera will be back in the Caribbean in 2014 sailing a series of ten similar 10-14-day cruises, so ask now while they are available. Please call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail us at cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.